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Governor General of Hong Kong Wilsone Black to Commodore George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Station

Government House


23rd April 1898,


     I have the honor to inform you that I have received information from the Secretary of State for the Colonies1 that a state of war exists between Spain and the United States of America and that I am directed to give immediate notice to the Commander of all ships of war belonging to either of the belligerents within the waters of this colony that no warlike stores nor any coal beyond what may be necessary to carry such ships to the nearest port of the country to which they belong may be taken on board after receipt of this communication and all such ships of war must put to sea as soon as possible.

          I, therefore, beg to request that you will be good enough to comply with these instructions as regards to taking in of warlike stores and coal and that you will further be good enough to leave the waters of this colony with all ships under your command no later than 4 p.m. on Monday the 25th instant.2

          I have the honor to be,


your most obedient servant,

     W. Black     

Major - General        

Administering the Government                        

Source Note: ALS, DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 363. Addressed bottom of first page: “To Commodore Dewey/United States Navy.” Document reference No.: “US ”

Footnote 1: The British Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time was Joseph Chamberlain. It is likely that Chamberlain issued this order while personally disagreeing with it. On 13 May 1898, he publicly suggested a military alliance with the United States and made clear his desire for Great Britain to declare war on Spain and ally with the United States. John L. Offner, An Unwanted War: The Diplomacy of the United States and Spain Over Cuba, 1895-1898, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 199-200.

Footnote 2: Dewey complied with the order and steamed his fleet to Mirs Bay. See: Dewey to Black, 24 April 1898.  

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