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Friday, November 4th, 1898

Considerable time was spent this morning in translating to the other Commissioners the articles in the Figaro and Gaulois, which had obviously been inspired, if not actually written, at the Spanish Embassy. We at once accepted [them] as certainly outlining the course the Spaniards would take at the joint session this afternoon. I had also some information gathered last night at a dinner at the Duchess of ———[sic] (for whose children the Queen Regent has stood godmother, and with whom she appears to be in frequent correspondence). This confirmed our views as to the newspaper forecast, and also to the reasonable probability that the Spaniards were rather agreed to get rid of the Philippines. [They] wanted, of course, to make the best terms possible. It seemed also clear that they were “sparring for time” at present, in the hope of an administration reverse in the elections next Tuesday in America, which might weaken our attitude.

Secretary Day recurred to the subject of Hay’s recent dispatch warning us against yielding our claim to Manila by conquest, as well as through the protocol, and saying that we practically conquered Manila when Admiral Dewey sank the fleet. The Secretary [Day] vigorously rejected this view; declared it had not a leg to stand on in international law. [He] said he was sure the President had not given it full consideration; but that he knew the member of the cabinet who was constantly bringing forward that idea. He seemed strongly inclined to contest the ground, and had prepared a dispatch to the President about it, which he said he had revised carefully in order to avoid seeming impatient or insubordinate. He had prepared it so as to insert in the body of it the names of the Commissioners who had concurred with him in his view. I saw at once that Senator Davis would certainly disagree, and thought on a question of this sort it was undesirable to seem to be arguing about our own instructions with the State Department, and arraying the Commission pro and con on the question whether we approved the instructions we had received. I also thought it undesirable to meet the new Secretary of State [Hay] so early in our official intercourse with an intimation that he didn’t understand the subject as well as we did.

Part of these views I hinted at, but with sufficient distinctness to induce the Secretary [Day] to make some modifications, Senator Gray and Senator Frye had at once concurred with the doctrine of his dispatch. I suggested that on this he might, instead of inserting the names of those who agreed with him, simply say that a majority of the Commission concurred in his views, and this he accepted. [He accepted] also a few verbal changes, which I made tending to make the difference less pronounced. He also wrote one or two of the sentences himself and added some, and in the form his dispatch finally took I said I believed Senator Davis would consent to it. The Senator being absent, we sent for him. He was reluctant to agree to it even in the modified form, and suggested one or two slight verbal changes, which were made. Then he said he had no objection to it as far as it went. To which I replied with the inquiry whether it was necessary to go any farther, whether we might not leave further bridges to be crossed only when we reached them.

Finally, this general view was accepted. [However], Senator Davis prepared a dispatch of his own, explaining that in his judgment the ground of mere conquest was too natural, and explaining that indemnity, damages, obligations to the natives, dangers from the vicinity, imperilled commercial interests, etc., might also enter into it. It was finally understood, though not very definitely or formally agreed to, that both dispatches should be sent. The one being signed by Secretary Day, and the other by Senator Davis. . . .

The Spaniards were a few minutes before us at the Foreign Office, and the slight stiffness, which I fancied observable in their greetings at the last meeting, had entirely disappeared. In fact, they seemed rather more cordial than usual. The moment the protocols were approved, Montero Rios made a little statement to the effect that they had been greatly surprised and pained at the nature of the proposal submitted by the American Commissioners at the last session. While they found themselves unable to accept [the American proposition, they had prepared a paper setting forth a counter] proposition. Instead of handing this over as heretofore, he passed it with a word or two in Spanish to their Secretary Ojeda, who in turn ceremoniously delivered it to Secretary Moore with the remark that he was instructed to do so by the President of the Spanish Commission. The procedure seemed a little stilted, and I wondered whether they had any special motive for it. Moore passed it to Secretary Day, who in turn handed it to the translator. The Spaniards seemed rather to expect that we would immediately ask an adjournment in order to have it translated. Two or three of the American Commissioners suggested that even if the translation, which could be made at sight, had to be a little rough, it would be better to have the document read at once. Montero Rios assented with a shrug of the shoulders, and Mr. Ferguson began at once the translation.

It was soon apparent that the forecast of the Figaro and Gaulois had been semi-official. When the translation reached the point where they referred to the French yellow book, and then began quoting from the dispatches of M. Cambon, Secretary Day interrupted to inquire as to the date which they gave to a certain dispatch, in order to make sure that they were referring to a dispatch which in our documents bore a date one day earlier. Montero Rios explained that the discrepancy was probably due to the fact that all communications had been sent by Cambon to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, and had been by him transmitted to Spain. The date he had given was that marked on the dispatch indicating the date of its receipt, which they supposed to be also the date on which it was sent.

Secretary Day inquired whether the dispatch was transmitted from the French Foreign Office in the language in which it was received or whether it was there translated into Spanish, to which Montero Rios replied that he was not certain. He professed the greatest willingness, however, if the American Commissioners desired, to verify dates or text or for any other reason [wished], to procure the originals as received and filed in the Foreign Office in Madrid. The Secretary thanked him, but said he had only desired to clear up the little perplexity from the discrepancy in dates.

When the end of the argument on this point was reached in the translation of the Spanish paper, Montero Rios interrupted the translation to recur to this subject and explain it more in detail. He said that when the good offices of Mr. Cambon were employed in the negotiation, the Spaniards had requested of the French Foreign Office that they might communicate directly with Mr. Cambon from Madrid. The French Foreign Office had not assented to this suggestion, but had required that all communications with the French Ambassador in Washington should pass through the French Foreign Office. The Spaniards therefore were not responsible for this mode of transmission, but had, of course, no choice excepting to assent to it.

The translation was closed at twenty minutes before four o’clock. After a brief consultation among the American Commissioners, Judge Day remarked that he understood the paper to amount to a rejection of our last proposal, and an offer of other proposals in their place. In view of the time required for writing out a careful translation and considering the nature and scope of the document, it did not seem probable that the American Commissioners could be ready with their written reply before Tuesday next. Montero Rios replied that under the rules, the American proposal not having been accepted, the American Commissioners had a right to file a memorandum. As the paper presented today also set forth Spanish proposals, if these were rejected, the Spanish Commissioners would have the right to file a similar memorandum. He then agreed to the proposed adjournment till Tuesday. …

Judge Day whispered to me that he was anxious to see our Ambassador [Horace Porter] at once in order to challenge the explanations already given us by the French Foreign Office of their accidental omission from their summary of the protocol in their circular sent to their ambassadors of the clause relating to the control, disposition, and government of the Philippines. I promised to drive him up to the [American] Embassy. Being detained, however, for two or three minutes in taking leave of the Spanish Commissioners, I found on getting to the door that the Judge [Day] in his eagerness had already rushed off. Supposing that we could catch him at the cab stand or on the way to the Continental Hotel, I instructed my carriage to follow. Missing him, [I] went on to the Embassy, and thence to Gen. Porter’s house. At the latter place I found that he had already been there, and having missed the Ambassador had returned. On getting back to the hotel I found him in his room, where he
gave me an amusing account of his getting along with the French cabbies without my knowledge of French. He seemed to have made a success of it so far as getting over the ground quickly was concerned. His great anxiety was to get hold of Porter at once, so as to have him immediately see Delcassé and explain to him the use the Spaniards had attempted to make of this accidental omission in a French document. He believed that it would irritate Delcassé, and cause him not only to sustain our contention on this point, but to throw his influence a little against the Spaniards because of their obviously tricky and unfair effort to draw him into the controversy.

On our return the Spanish document was placed in the hands of the translator and typewriters with instructions to have the translation completed at the earliest moment for consideration at Saturday’s meeting. We were all agreed that the first reading had impressed us with a sense that it was a document requiring great care in the answer. We also thought the answer on most points would not be difficult, and on some points would need to be made somewhat positive if not aggressive. Judge Day was very clear in his conviction that he never had an easier task than to upset their contentions about the scope of the protocol. Senator Frye was a good deal disturbed about the claim that Manila ought to be returned under international law, and expressed the belief that this part of the answer would have to be treated by the legal method of conviction and avoidance. Senator Davis inclined to dissent from this, but preferred to wait for the full translation, and also to give the subject mature consideration. Senator Gray was quite impressed with the ability of the document, and repeated his old wish that we were well out of the Philippines with nothing but a coaling station.