Special Message to the Congress on the Need for Cable Communications with the Philippine Islands
Washington, February 10, 1899.
To the Senate and House of Representatives:
As a consequence of the ratification of the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain and its expected ratification by the Spanish Government, the United States will come into possession of the Philippine Islands, on the farther shores of the Pacific. The Hawaiian Islands and Guam becoming United States territory and forming convenient stopping places on the way across the sea, the necessity for speedy cable communication between the United States and all these Pacific islands has become imperative.
Such communication should be established in such a way as to be wholly under the control of the United States, whether in time of peace or of war. At present the Philippines can be reached only by cables which pass through many foreign countries, and the Hawaiian Islands and Guam can only Ire communicated with by steamers, involving delays in each instance of at least a week. The present conditions should not be allowed to continue for a moment longer than is absolutely necessary.
So long ago as 1885 reference was made in an Executive message to Congress to the necessity for cable communication between the United States and Hawaii. This necessity has greatly increased since then. The question has been discussed in the Fifty-second, Fifty-fourth, and Fifty-fifth Congresses, in each of which some effort has been made looking toward laying a cable at least as far as the Hawaiian Islands. The time has now arrived when a cable in the Pacific must extend at least as far as Manila, touching at the Hawaiian Islands and Guam on the way.
Two methods of establishing this cable communication at once suggest themselves: First, construction and maintenance of such a cable by and at the expense of the United States Government, and, second, construction and maintenance of such a cable by a private United States corporation, under such safeguards as Congress shall impose.
I do not make any recommendations to Congress as to which of these methods would be the more desirable. A cable of the length of that proposed requires so much time for construction and laying that it is estimated that at least two years must elapse after giving the order for the cable before the entire system could be successfully laid and put in operation. Further deep-sea soundings must be taken west of the Hawaiian Islands before the final route for the cable can be selected. Under these circumstances it becomes a paramount necessity that measures should be taken before the close of the present Congress to provide such means as may seem most suitable for the establishment of a cable system.
I commend the whole subject to the careful consideration of the Congress and to such prompt action as may seem advisable.
William McKinley, Special Message to the Congress on the Need for Cable Communications with the Philippine Islands Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/360588