Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Henry D. White, Secretary of the United States Embassy in London, to Secretary of State John Sherman

 

Translation of cipher telegram sent from the Embassy March 8, 1898:--

 

Sherman, Secretary, Washington.

I have had an interview with Minister of Brazil,1 who is instructed to sell us, at cost price, Amazonas, now about to sail from Gravesend, and Admiral Abreu,2 building at Armstrong’s, sister to Amazonas, not yet launched, nor ready for nine months, together with two coast defence ships, building at Toulon.3 He is not authorized to sell cruisers without French vessels, Government of Brazil being anxious, for financial reasons, to dispose of all four. An offer has been received and money deposited in London, but not yet accepted, from another Power, doubtless Spain, for the two cruisers alone. Our Naval Attaché4 urges making every effort at Rio de Janeiro to purchase Amazonas and Barroso,5 another sister ship, now en route or just arrived in Brazil, whose sale the Brazilian Minister is not authorized to discuss. The latter thinks probable cost of the two cruisers offered about two hundred thousand pounds each.6 His advice, to which I concur, is that details of any purchase effected be completed by our Naval Attaché and the Agent of Brazilian Minister of Finance in London, thereby saving commissions to any Agents.7 He asks for prompt reply meanwhile has promised to detain Amazonas a few days.8

Source Note: Decy, DNA, RG 59, roll 993.

Footnote 1: The Brazilian minister was JoãoArthur Souza Corrêa.

Footnote 2: Amazonas (New Orleans) served during the Spanish-American War. The Almirante Abreu (Albany) was not allowed to leave England because of neutrality laws. The word “two” was handwritten.

Footnote 3: Toulon is a major French shipbuilding center and naval base.

Footnote 4: The naval attaché was Lt. John C. Colwell.

Footnote 5: The Almirante Barroso was not sold to the U.S.

Footnote 6: At this time it took around 4.87 American dollars to purchase one British pound. “Dollar Pound Exchange Rate,” last modified 2014, accessed 21 July 2014, http://www.measuringworth.com/datasets/exchangepound/result.php.

Footnote 7: The word “I” was handwritten.

Footnote 8: Negotiations between the Navy Department, the State Department, Armstrong’s, and the Brazilian Minister can be found in: DNA, RG 59, roll 993.

Related Content