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Secretary of the Navy John D. Long to Commodore George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Station

From Secretary of Navy.

To Commander-in-Chief.

Date April 24, 1898.

Subject War declared.


War has commenced United States Spain.

Proceed at once to Philippine Islands.

Commence operations particularly against Spanish fleet.

You must capture vessels or destroy

Use utmost endeavor.1

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, PGD. Document was: “ Received at Hongkong/April 25, at 12:15 p.m./Received by Commander-in-Chief/at Mirs Bay, April 25, at 7 p.m.”

Footnote 1: The exact order of events that led to a response to Dewey’s request for instructions was a point of contention and the actual order written at the Navy Department was lost. This led to a number of rumors ranging from Dewey’s having made the decision to attack Manila himself to President William McKinley making the decision against the wishes of nearly all of his cabinet. Neither of these were true. President McKinley made the decision to send Dewey to attack the Philippines after being advised to do so by the Naval War Board and Secretary Long on 21 April, though he waited until 24 April, and Dewey’s having to request orders, to finally approve the action. Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Commo. Arent S. Crowninshield drafted the cable. It was then reviewed by both Secretary Long and President McKinley, coded and sent to Dewey. For witness descriptions of the preparation and dispatch of the cable, see: Long to Agnes Long, 9 October 1898; Humes H. Whittlesey to Long, 28 August 1901; and Samuel C. Hudwell to Capt. Henry A. Baldridge, 22 August 1940.

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