Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

United States Consul at San Juan Philip C. Hanna to Assistant Secretary of State William R. Day

                   Consulate of the United States,

                        San Juan Puerto Rico, May 13, 1898.

Honorable William R. Day,

     Assistant Secretary of State,

          Washington, D. C.

Sir:-

     On the evening of May 12, I had the honor to send you the following cablegram:-

     Secretary Day,

          Washington.

Bombardment San Juan today. I consider such movements unwise until troops are ready to land to hold the Island.

                             Hanna.

          I wish to say that this was in no way intended to criticize the Navy for the bombardment, as I have full faith in their judgment. I simply spoke in the telegram my opinion from my knowledge of the situation in the Island, and I think the Navy will agree with me that Puerto Rico should not be touched again until a body of troops can be landed to co-operate with them, which troops can hold the Island after the fortifications are destroyed. Simply to bombard San Juan and then go away will leave a bad state of affairs in the Island and every American still there would be killed, all American property destroyed. All Cubans in Puerto Rico would suffer like fate and our friends who numbers thousands throughout the Island might lose faith in our ability to take Puerto Rico if we bombard and then leave them to the Spanish still. There are thousands of the best men in the Island today who want our Government to take the Island, and I firmly believe they will assist us if we go about it in a way that will cause Puerto Ricans to feel that we mean business and will not turn them over to the wrath of Spain after the Island has been taken.

     I understand that the Governor General1 has published all through the Island already that “the Pig Yankees” have tried their best to take the Capital and were badly defeated, and that we lost several ships.2 But the friends of the United States in the Island are accustomed to such reports and will make sport of it. They have faith in us and long to be included among America’s States.

                             I have the honor to be, Sir,

                                  Your obedient servant,

                                      Philip C. Hanna,

                                           Consul.

Source Note: TDS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 229. Document reference: “No.57.” The typist consistently did not put a spec between comma and the following word, but editors have corrected silently.

Footnote 1: Governor General of Puerto Rico Manuel Macías y Casado.

Footnote 2: The United States Navy suffered no ships lost during the bombardment of San Juan on 12 May 1898.

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