Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Secretary of State William R. Day
Washington June 20,1898.
In view of the departure of the Spanish squadron under Admiral Camara from Cadiz,1 and of the possibility that its destination may be Manila, the Department requests that the Department of State will instruct its agents, throughout the route to the East, via Suez,2 to throw every possible impediment in the way of coal and other necessaries being supplied to that squadron; and very especially that such agents object strongly to the authorities in neutral ports, against either furnishing coal, or permitting the act of coaling from transports within the waters under their jurisdiction; upon the plea that this is not a case of enabling a vessel to reach a home port, but aiding and abetting a formidable expedition, destined to act in remote quarters of the globe against a squadron and land forces of the United States.3
The recent action of the French authorities in Martinique, and of the Dutch in Curacao, may be cited as sustaining the objections herein suggested.4
Even should it appear to our agents aforementioned that the authorities at the ports where they are stationed will grant the Spanish ships permission to take coal, etc., it is still very important, by protests and other obstructive proceedings, to prolong the squadron’s stay in port as much as possible, as every day that it can be delayed in its progress towards Manila is of very great importance to the United States.5
Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 29. Addressee: “The Honorable/The Secretary of State.” Printed on John D. Long’s stationery.
Footnote 1: RAdm. Manuel de la Cámara y Libermoore’s fleet set sail for the Philippines on 16 June, and a portion of it passed through the Suez Canal, but returned to Spain on 11 July. He was recalled because the Ministry of Marine in Madrid learned that the United States Navy planned to attack Spanish ports. State Department representatives in Egypt (Consul General Thomas S. Harrison) did prevent Camara from obtaining coal either through protests or purchase.
Footnote 2: That is, the Suez Canal.
Footnote 3: Long is referencing neutrality laws set forth in the Declaration of Paris (1856). Neither the U.S. nor Spain were signatories to it.
Footnote 4: A reference to RAdm. Pascual Cervera y Topete’s failed attempt to get coal and provisions for his fleet between 10 and 13 May, at Martinique and between 14 and 15 May, at Curaçao.
Footnote 5: State Department files are filled with numerous requests of this kind from the United States Navy. See: RG 59, Roll M171.