No. 455.

The military governor of Cuba directs the publication of the following official statement made to the Cuban constitutional convention assembled in the city of Habana, Cuba, November 5, 1900:

To the Delegates of the Constitutional Convention of Cuba.

Gentlemen: As military governor of the island, representing the President of the United States, I call this convention to order.

It will be your duty, first, to frame and adopt a constitution for Cuba, and, when that has been done, to formulate what, in your opinion, ought to be the relations between Cuba and the United States.

The constitution must be adequate to secure a stable, orderly, and free government.

When you have formulated the relations which, in your opinion, ought to exist between Cuba and the United States, the Government of the United States will doubtless take such action on its part as shall lead to a final and authoritative agreement between the people of the two countries to the promotion of their common interests.

All friends of Cuba will follow your deliberations with the deepest interest, earnestly desiring that you shall reach just conclusions, and [Page 360] that, by the dignity, individual self-restraint, and wise conservatism which shall characterize your proceedings, the capacity of the Cuban people for representative government may be signally illustrated.

The fundamental distinction between true representative government and dictatorship is that in the former every representative of the people, in whatever office, confines himself strictly within the limits of his defined powers. Without such restraint there can be no free constitutional government.

Under the order pursuant to which you have been elected and convened you have no duty and no authority to take part in the present government of the island. Your powers are strictly limited by the terms of that order.

Leonard Wood,
Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Military Governor.
J. B. Hickey, Assistant Adjutant-General.