Assistant Secretary of the Navy Charles H. Allen to Secretary of State William R. Day
Washington, June 8th 1898.
Your letter of yesterday, relative to the Austrian gunboat “Maria Teresa”, and the representations of the Austrian Legation, has been received.
A telegram has been sent to Admiral Sampson, notifying him in accordance with the request of the Austrian Legation. It is to be hoped, however, that the vessel in question may, as far as possible, avoid coming within the lines of operation and of blockade, lest some unfortunate accident occur. Officers charged with blockade duty cannot be expected, in cases of doubt, to run the risk of their blockade being violated, and our large experience of blockading during the civil war was productive of frequent instances of the inconvenience and danger resulting from the approach of neutral ships of war.
The danger of mistake is undoubtedly much enhanced in this instance, by the resemblance between the Austrian and Spanish flags. It will be remembered that the “Donau” was recently reported as a Spanish vessel, off the Banks of Newfoundland, to the no small anxiety of our community. Should any unfortunate mistake occur, our government would of course be compelled, in judging its officer, to consider the responsibility of maintaining the blockade resting upon him, as well as the obligation to use all due care towards neutral ships of war.
Chaz H. Allen
Source Note: CbCyS, DNA, RG45, Entry 372, vol. 1. Addressed before opening: “The Honorable,/The Secretary of State.” The document is on Secretary of the Navy John D. Long’s stationery.