Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

President William McKinley to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

EXECUTIVE MANSION,

WASHINGTON.

May 19, 1898.

Sir:

     The destruction of the Spanish fleet at Manila, followed by the taking of the naval station at Cavite, the paroling of the garrison and the acquisition of the control of the bay, has rendered it necessary, in the further prosecution of the measures adopted by this Government for the purposes of bringing about an honorable and durable peace with Spain, to send an army of occupation to the Philippines for the two-fold purpose of completing the reduction of the Spanish power in that quarter, and of giving to the islands order and security, while in the possession of the United States.1 For the command of this expedition, I have designated Major General Wesley Merritt, and it now becomes my duty to give instructions as to the manner in which the movement shall be conducted.

     I enclose herewith a copy of an order which I have this day addressed to the Secretary of War,2 setting forth the principles on which the occupation of the Philippines is to be carried out. You are instructed to confer with the Secretary of War in order that measures may be devised by which any conflict of authority between the officers of our Army and Navy in the Philippines may be avoided.3

     I have given instructions to the Secretary of the Treasury4 to examine the subject of the duties and taxes imposed by Spain in the Philippines, and to report to me any recommendations which he may deem it proper to make in regards to the revenues of the islands. I have informed him, however, that the collection and disbursement of the duties and taxes collected there will, as a measure of military right derived from the laws of nations, be made under the orders of the Secretary of War and Secretary of the Navy by our military or naval commanders, as the case may be, at the ports or places which may be in possession of our forces.5

William McKinley

Source Note: TDS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 363. Addressed before opening: “To the/Secretary of the Navy,.” Printed on stationery. This letter was forwarded by Commo. ArentS. Crowninshield, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, on 21 May, with specific instructions that it be given to Cmdr. William C. Gibson on the City of Peking, then forwarded through RounsevelleWildman, United States Consul at Hong Kong, to RAdm. George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Squadron, at Manila.

Footnote 1: For more information regarding the dispatch of American troops to the Philippines, see, Cosmas, Army for Empire, 191-92 and 199-201.

Footnote 2: Secretary of War Russell A. Alger.

Footnote 3: There was constant inter-service bickering in Washington, DC and elsewhere, so President McKinley was attempting to forestall similar problems at Manila.

Footnote 4: Secretary of the Treasury Lyman C. Gage.

Footnote 5: Garnering profits from commerce was a crucial issue, especially to defray various costs from Washington and to maintain control over the Philippines. Although American troops occupied Manila on 14 Aug., Spain retained sovereignty until the Treaty of Paris (10 Dec.).  See, Elbert J. Benton, International Law and Diplomacy of the Spanish-American War (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1908), 260.

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