Mr. Hay to Mr. Storer.
Washington , July 17, 1899 .
Sir: Your dispatch No. 17, referred to in your telegram of the 10th instant, has received the attention which its importance demands. The deep interest of Her Majesty, the Queen Regent of Spain, in the liberation of the Spanish prisoners now in the hands of the Philippine insurrectionists is shared by the President, who has done and is doing all in his power to execute the provisions of article 6 of the treaty of peace, by which it is agreed that the United States “will undertake to obtain the release of all Spanish prisoners in the hands of the insurgents in Cuba and the Philippines.”
Notwithstanding the fact that the troops of the United States have carried on a most successful campaign to the north of Manila in the island of Luzon, the insurrection, although believed to be in a great [Page 685] degree broken, has not, at the present date, largely owing to the intervention of the rainy season when an active campaign is impossible, been sufficiently reduced to procure the enforced liberation of the Spanish prisoners held by the insurgent leaders. Our military authorities have been strictly charged, however, pending the suppression of the insurrection, to leave nothing undone which might effect the release of the Spanish prisoners in the Philippines. As soon as it was suggested by the Spanish Government that they contemplated taking measures for that purpose by direct communication with the insurgents, General Otis was instructed to facilitate these efforts in every possible way.
* * * The steady policy of the President has been to pacify the Philippine Islands as a preliminary to the establishment of permanent order and security to life and property. The military operations have been of a vigorous and brilliant character, and will be sustained until the end is accomplished. It is the intention of the President to execute the provisions of article 6 of the treaty of peace in so far as it is in his power to do so, and the suppression of the insurrection, in which not only Spain, but the whole of Europe must be interested, would enable him to fulfill completely his desire in this respect.
You will note that the clause of article 6 of the treaty of peace relating to the release of prisoners not in the possession of this Government, is not an absolute engagement to obtain the release of Spanish prisoners in the hands of the insurgents, but a pledge that this Government will exercise its best endeavors in this direction.
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In reply to any question regarding the intentions of this Government upon the subject under article 6 of the treaty of peace, you are authorized to say that this Government will fulfill its engagement, and is preparing the way to do so by suppressing the insurrection in the Philippines.
I have, etc.,