Secretary of the Treasury Lyman G. Gage to Secretary of the Navy John D. Long
Washington, • June 8, 1898.
I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of May 14th stating that, in reply to the request made in my letter of May 3rd, the Commandant of the U. S. Naval Station at Key West and the Commander-in-Chief of the North Atlantic Squadron1 have been furnished with copies of my letter, and have been instructed to keep an outlook for and to apprehend any small vessels which it is believed intend to effect a surreptitious landing on the Florida coast.
In addition to this precaution I have to request that the proper officers of your Department be directed to forbid the transportation from Cuban, or other ports liable to be infected with yellow fever, on any of the vessels under the supervision of the naval authorities, of any refugees, also baggage, clothing, merchandise, or other material capable of conveying infection which is not strictly military or naval in character.2
I am informed by the Surgeon-General of the Marine Hospital Service3 that there is little apprehension of danger with regard to regular vessels of the navy, but that unusual care is necessary with regard to prize vessels and auxiliary vessels which do not carry medical officers, and I have to make additional request that through the proper officers orders be given that the quarantine regulations relating to the disinfection of suspected vessels and contents, and detention in quarantine of persons who may have been exposed to yellow fever be strictly complied with. This matter has been placed before Commodore Remey at Key West, who concurs in this recommendation.
I have the honor to remain,
Source Note: TDS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 231. Addressed before opening: To the Honorable/the Secretary of the Navy.” Note: Document is on “Treasury Department,” stationery and includes the instructions “In answering this letter please refer to the initials in upper left-hand corner.” Those intiials are “V.E.W.,” and are believed to be the document reference code.
Footnote 1: Commo. George C. Remey, Commandant, Key West Naval Base, and RAdm. William T. Sampson, Commander, North Atlantic Fleet. The letters of 3 and 14 May, have not been found.
Footnote 2: At the time of the Spanish-American War there was no clear medical consensus as to the cause of yellow fever. After the war it was discovered that mosquito bites were the disease vector and that the infirmed could not infect others, making quarantine of yellow fever victims unnecessary. Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American War, 710-11.
Footnote 3: Surgeon General of the Marine Hospital Service Walter Wyman.