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Secretary of the Navy John D. Long Transmitting President William McKinely’s Proclamation of Blockade to Commander James M. Forsyth, Commandant, Key West Naval Base


Dated at Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. April 22nd,1898

The following is a proclamation by the President of the U. S. concerning a blockade of Cuban ports.  Furnish copies to all Naval Vessels at Key West, and also forward to the Commander in Chief of the North Atlantic1 at the first opportunity.


“Blockade of Cuban ports by the President of the United States of America.  A proclamation. Whereas by a joint resolution, passed by the Congress and approved April 20th, 1898,2 and communicated to the Government of Spain, it was demanded that said Government, at once relinquish its authority and government in the Island of Cuba, and withdraw its land and naval forces from Cuba and Cuban waters, and the President of the United States, was directed and empowered to use the entire land and Naval forces of the United States, and to call into the actual service of the United States, the Militia of the several States, to such an extent as might be necessary to carry said resolution into effect, and,

     Whereas, in carrying into effect said resolution, the President of the United States deems it necessary to set on foot and maintain a blockade of the North coast of Cuba, including ports on said coast including between Cardenas and Bahia Honda,3 and the port of Cienfuegos on the south coast of Cuba,4 aforesaid in pursuance of the laws of the United States, and the laws of Nations5 applicable to such cases.  An efficient force will be posted so as to prevent the entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid.  Any neutral vessels approaching any of said ports or attempting to leave the same without notice or knowledge of the establishment of such blockade will be duly warned by the Commander of the blockading forces, who will endorse on her Register the facts and the date of such warning.  Where such endorsement was made, and if the same vessel shall again attempt to enter any blockaded port, she will be captured and sent to the nearest convenient port for such proceedings against her and her cargo as prize, as may be deemed advisable. Neutral vessels lying at any of said ports at the time of the establishment of said blockade will be allowed 30 days to issue therefrom.

     In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.


     Done at the City of Washington, this 22nd day of April A.D. 1898, and of the Independence of the United States, the One Hundred and Twenty-second.

William McKinley.

By the President,

     John Sherman, Sec. of State.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 50. Addressed above: “To Naval Station, Key West, Fla.,” Docketed on separate sheet: “April 23r 98-/Respectfully forward-/ed for information/of Comdr in Chief/Jas. M. Forsyth-/Cmdr.-/USN/Comndt.”

Footnote 1: RAdm. William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Squadron.

Footnote 2: See: McKinley’s Proclamation.

Footnote 3: The shoreline distance between Bahia Honda and Cardenas is about 160 miles and includes the cities of Mariel, Havana, and Matanzas.

Footnote 4: Cienfuegos was blockaded because of its port facilities and rail line connection to Havana. See: Pre-War Planning.

Footnote 5: The “laws of nations” are otherwise known as international law.

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