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MAJ. GEN. LEONARD WOOD,
UNITED STATES VOLUNTEERS,
MILITARY GOVERNOR OF CUBA,
FOR THE PERIOD FROM DECEMBER 20, 1899, TO DECEMBER 31, 1900.
HEADQUARTERS MILITARY GOVERNOR,
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following civil report covering the period from December 20, 1899, to December 31, 1900. Embodied in this report will be found the reports of the civil secretaries of the government of the island, together with the reports of various civil and military officials.
In order that the conditions existing at the time of my appointment as military governor of the island and the reasons for the subsequent changes may be clearly understood, the following general preliminary statement is submitted, which sets forth in general terms the conditions at the close of the year 1899.
The military government of Cuba, as constituted and operating December, 1899, consisted of a military governor, with authority sufficient to conduct the government of the island and to institute such changes in the existing law and procedure, both in the general law of the land and municipalities, as he deemed necessary for the conduct of a just and stable government, ample to maintain order and to give adequate protection to property and vested rights, and to secure to the inhabitants of the island the greatest degree of liberty consistent with existing conditions.
The following order of the President sets forth fully the powers and scope of authority with which he vested the military governor of the island:
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE, Washington, July 18, 1898.
The following, received from the President of the United States, is published for the information and guidance of all concerned:
SIR: The capitulation of the Spanish forces in Santiago de Cuba and in the eastern part of the province of Santiago, and the occupation of the territory by the forces of the United States, render it necessary to instruct the military commander of the United States as to the conduct which he is to observe during the military occupation. 1
CUBA 1900-VOL I, PT 1
The first effect of the military occupation of the enemy's territory is the severance of the former political relations of the inhabitants and the establishment of a new political power. Under this changed condition of things the inhabitants, so long as they perform their duties, are entitled to security in their persons and property and in all their private rights and relations. It is my desire that the inhabitants of Cuba should be acquainted with the purpose of the United States to discharge to the fullest extent its obligations in this regard. It will therefore be the duty of the commander of the army of occupation to announce and proclaim in the most public manner that we come not to make war upon the inhabitants of Cuba, nor upon any party or faction among them, but to protect them in their homes, in their employments, and in their personal and religious rights. All persons who, either by active aid or by honest submission, cooperate with the United States in its efforts to give effect to this beneficent purpose will receive the reward of its support and protection. Our occupation should be as free from severity as possible.
Though the powers of the military occupant are absolute and supreme and immediately operate upon the political condition of the inhabitants, the municipal laws of the conquered territory, such as affect private rights of person and property and provide for the punishment of crime, are considered as continuing in force, so far as they are compatible with the new order of things, until they are suspended or superseded by the occupying belligerent, and in practice they are not usually abrogated, but are allowed to remain in force and to be administered by the ordinary tribunals, substantially as they were before the occupation. This enlightened practice is, so far as possible, to be adhered to on the present occasion. The judges and the other officials connected with the administration of justice may, if they accept the supremacy of the United States, continue to administer the ordinary law of the land, as between man and man, under the supervision of the American commander in chief. The native constabulary will, so far as may be practicable, be preserved. The freedom of the people to pursue their accustomed occupations will be abridged only when it may be necessary to do so.
While the rule of conduct of the American commander in chief will be such as has just been defined, it will be his duty to adopt measures of a different kind, if, unfortunately, the course of the people should render such measures indispensable to the maintenance of law and order. He will then possess the power to replace or expel the native officials in part or altogether, to substitute new courts of his own constitution for those that now exist, or to create such new or supplementary tribunals as may be necessary. In the exercise of these high powers the commander must be guided by his judgment and his experience and a high sense of justice.
One of the most important and most practical problems with which it will be necessary to deal is that of the treatment of property and the collection and administration of the revenues. It is conceded that all public funds and securities belonging to the government of the country in its own right, and all arms and supplies and other movable property of such government, may be seized by the military occupant and converted to his own use. The real property of the state he may hold and administer, at the same time enjoying the revenues thereof, but he is not to destroy it save in the case of military necessity. All public means of transportation, such as telegraph lines, cables, railways, and boats belonging to the state, may be appropriated to his use, but unless in case of military necessity they are not to be destroyed. All churches and buildings devoted to religious worship and to the arts and sciences, and all schoolhouses are, so far as possible, to be protected, and all destruction or intentional defacement of such places, of historical monuments or archives, or of works of science or art is prohibited, save when required by urgent military necessity.
Private property, whether belonging to individuals or corporations, is to be respected, and can be confiscated only for cause. Means of transportation, such as telegraph lines and cables, railways and boats, may, although they belong to private individuals or corporations, be seized by the military occupant, but unless destroyed under military necessity are not to be retained.
While it is held to be the right of the conqueror to levy contributions upon the enemy in their seaports, towns, or provinces which may be in his military possession by conquest and to apply the proceeds to defray the expenses of the war, this right is to be exercised within such limitations that it may not savor of confiscation. As the result of military occupation the taxes and duties payable by the inhabitants to the former government become payable to the military occupant, unless he sees fit to substitute for them other rates or modes of contribution to the expenses of the government. The moneys so collected are to be used for the purpose of paying the expenses of government under the military occupation, such as the salaries of the judges and the police, and for the payment of the expenses of the Army.
Private property taken for the use of the Army is to be paid for, when possible, in
cash at a fair valuation, and when payment in cash is not possible, receipts are to be given.
All ports and places in Cuba which may be in the actual possession of our land and naval forces will be opened to the commerce of all neutral nations, as well as our own, in articles not contraband of war, upon payment of the prescribed rates of duty which may be in force at the time of the importation.
The SECRETARY OF WAR.
By order of the Secretary of War:
H. C. CORBIN,
The military governor had as civil assistants four secretaries, who formed a cabinet or council.
The secretary of state and government was charged with the general supervision of the provincial and municipal administrations, consisting of six civil governors, one for each of the six provinces of the island, and of one hundred and twenty-eight alcaldes and municipal councils presiding over the municipalities of the island. The secretary of state and government was also charged, under the direction of the military governor, with the supervision of such affairs and relations of a civil character as existed from time to time with other countries. The duties of the office were important and the amount of work large, calling for great care, diligence, and good judgment, especially under the conditions existing in Cuba.
The department of justice and public instruction was in charge of an official designated as the secretary of justice and public instruction, who was in charge of the administration of justice and responsible for the proper supervision of the same. He was required to look into the character and qualifications of applicants for appointment in the department, and to him were referred all appeals for pardon, reduction of sentences, charges against courts, judges, and various representatives of the law. He was also the actual head of the department of public instruction, including the University of Habana, the six provincial institutes (Institutos), and the public schools of the island.
Public works, agriculture, industry, and commerce were grouped and administered under the charge of an official known as the secretary of agriculture, commerce, industries, and public works. This department was charged with the conduct and supervision of all public works, construction and maintenance of light-houses, buoying of harbors, repair and construction of public buildings, examination of applications for authority to construct highways, private railroads, wharves, fishing weirs, care of forests, supervision of mines, mining titles and grants, establishing of agricultural stations, registration of patents and trade-marks, etc.
The department of hacienda or finance was under the control of the secretary of hacienda, who was charged with the collection of internal revenue, supervision of municipal finances, safeguarding and care of public buildings, enforcement of the tax laws, payment of the employees of the General Government in the various departments, and collection of rents for public lands and rented property of the government of all kinds, etc.
These four general departments of the government were each supplied with their own personnel, necessarily quite numerous, and had throughout the various provinces of the island their assistants and deputies, in charge of the local administration of affairs pertaining to