Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Rear Admiral Joseph N. Miller, Commander, Pacific Station
Washington, June 30,1898.
I have to transmit, herewith, for your information, the enclosed extracts from a letter received in the Department of State from the United States Consul at Vancouver.1
“Thus far there has been no information that any Spanish vessel has applied for a coal supply at the great mines on Vancouver Island.2
“Large shipments of coal continue to be made from Vancouver Island to San Francisco, and other United States ports, consigned to merchants.
“I believe this is countenanced by the British and Canadian governments as not being in violation of the neutrality laws. Of course no coal is shipped directly to our war vessels.
“Arrangements have been made that will insure early information being received at this office of the approach of Spanish vessels, whether seeking coal or coming to this vicinity for other purposes.
“There is a rumor in the newspapers here that an agent of the Spanish Government is at Victoria, B.C., watching the shipments of coal to the United States.
“The newspapers also report that one George C. Brown of Victoria has applied to the Spanish Government for letters of Marque,3 promising to outfit vessels to prey upon the ships bringing gold from the Yukon Valley.4 I am informed that the officers at Victoria will prevent the sailing of any vessel intended for such service..”
Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 29, pp. 40-41. Addressed below close: “Commander-in-Chief/U.S. Naval Force,/Pacific Station.” File no. placed to the right of Washington and also on the right-hand corner of the following letter: “122932.” Stationery heading in left-hand corner: “John D. Long,/SECRETARY.”
Footnote 1: The United States Consul at Vancouver, British Columbia, was L. Edwin Dudley.
Footnote 2: For more information on the rumors of Spanish intrigue on the Pacific Coast, see: Long to Miller, 21 July 1898; and Lt. Cmdr. Jefferson F. Moser to Long, 21 July 1898.
Footnote 3: A letter of marque and reprisal was issued by a government authorizing a privateer or privately owned warship, to capture enemy vessels and collect the prize money. Spain and the United States were not signatories to the Paris Convention of 1856 forbidding such practices.
Footnote 4: The Klondike Gold Rush occurred between 1896 and 1899.
Footnote 5: Secretary Long also wrote to Secretary of State William R. Day on 30 June 1898:
...to request that [he would] caution the officials of the Department of State, on the west coast, generally, north of our boundary, to be very watchful to prevent the fitting and sailing of privateers against our Klondyke and Yukon commerce. DNA, RG 45, Entry 29, p. 42.