The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• William McKinley
Message to the Senate
May 19, 1900

To the Senate:

In response to the following resolution of the Senate of April 28, 1900:

Resolved, That the President be, and he is hereby requested, if not incompatible with the public interest, to inform the Senate whether General Torres, one of the officers of the Philippine army, came to General Otis with a flag of truce on February 5, 1899, the day after the fighting commenced between our forces and those of the Filipinos, and stated to General Otis that General Aguinaldo declared that fighting had been begun accidentally, and was not authorized by him, and that Aguinaldo wished to have it stopped, and that to bring about a conclusion of hostilities he proposed the establishment of a neutral zone between the two armies of a width that would be agreeable to General Otis, so that during the peace negotiations there might be no further danger of conflict between the two armies, and whether General Otis replied that fighting having once begun, must go on to the grim end. Was General Otis directed by the Secretary of War to make such an answer? Did General Otis telegraph the Secretary of War on February 9, 1899, as follows: "Aguinaldo now applies for a cessation of hostilities and conference. Have declined to answer?" And did General Otis afterwards reply? Was he directed by the Secretary of War to reply, and what answer, if any, did he or the Secretary of War make to the application to cease fighting?

The President is also requested to inform the Senate whether the flag of the Philippine Republic was ever saluted by Admiral Dewey or any of the vessels of his fleet at any time since May 1, 1898. "Did Admiral Dewey, at the request of Aguinaldo, or any officer under him, send the vessels Concord and Raleigh to Subig Bay to assist Aguinaldo's forces in the capture of the Spanish garrison at that place? Did said vessels assist in the capture of the Spanish garrison, and after the capture did they turn the prisoners thus taken over to the Philippine forces?"

I herewith transmit a copy of a cable dispatch to General Otis, dated April 30, 1900, and of his reply, dated May 1, 1900.

General Otis was not directed by the Secretary of War to make such an answer as is set forth in the resolution, nor were any answers to communications upon the subject of the cessation of hostilities prescribed by the Secretary of War to General Otis, but he was left to exercise in respect thereof his own judgment, based upon his superior knowledge of the conditions surrounding the troops under his command.

I also transmit a copy of a cable dispatch from General Otis, sent from Manila February 8, 1899, received in Washington February 9, 1899, being the same dispatch to which he refers in his reply of May 1, 1900 as misleading. So far as I am informed, General Otis did not afterwards reply, except as set forth in his dispatch of May 1, 1900. He was not directed by the Secretary of War to reply, and no answer was made by him or the Secretary of War to an application to cease fighting. There appears to have been no such application.

I further transmit a copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Navy to Admiral George Dewey, dated May 14, 1900, and a copy of the Admiral's reply, dated May 17, 1900.


Citation: William McKinley: "Message to the Senate", May 19, 1900. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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