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The Spanish Declaration of War, 1898

Contributed and translated by Francisco Jose Diaz Diaz

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The following decree, dated April 23, 1898, is the Spanish declaration of war.

The Spanish Declaration of War:
"By agreement of my Cabinet, in the name of my royal son, the King Alfonso XIII, as Regent Queen of the Kingdom, I decree :

1st: War status existing between Spain and United States compels us to cancel the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of October 27, 1795, the Protocol of January 12, 1877 and all agreements, pacts and conventions that, until today, exist between both countries.

2nd: From the proclamation of this Royal Decree, all American ships anchored in spanish harbours can leave with freedom during the following five days.

3rd: Although Spain has not signed the agreement of Paris, dated April 16, 1857, because Spain has declared his purpose for not adhering to that agreement, my Government, in consideration of international law, wants to observe and orders to observe the following rules of maritime law:

A) Neutral flags protect the enemy trade goods, except contraband of war.

B) Neutral trade goods, except contraband of war, can not be confiscated when under the enemy flag.

C) Blockades, for being obligatories, may be effectives, held by a capable force to prevent the arrival at enemy coasts.

4th: Holding up our right to give letters of marque for Privateers, that was reserved by note of May 16, 1857, when Spanish Government answered to French Government  about the Spanish attachment to the Maritime Law's agreement of Paris, Spanish Government shall fit out, with Spanish Merchant Ships, a service of Auxiliary Cruisers that co-operate with the navy during the war and under its command.

5th: With a purpose to capture enemy ships, to confiscate enemy trade goods under its own flag and to confiscate contraband of war under any flag, the right of inspection on high seas or enemy waters can be exercised by the Royal Navy, Auxiliary cruisers and privateers, when these are used, according to international Law.

6th: Guns, machine-guns, howitzers, rifles and any fire arms or side arms; bombs, grenades, bullets, fuses, wicks, powder, sulphur, dynamite and all
explosives; equipment such as uniforms, cartridge boxes, saddle-horses, harness for artillery and cavalry; engines for ships, screw propellers, boilers and other goods which can be used for building, refitting or equipping warships or, in general, any instruments, items, or goods that can be used for war are considered as Contraband of War.

7th: Captains, skippers, officers of ships, or when two third parts of crew, not being Americans  make acts of war against Spain, will be considered as pirates and they will be judged with all law severity although they are protected by American letters of marque for privateers.

8th: State and Navy Ministers are entrusted to execute this Royal Decree and they can command the necessary orders to best carry it out.

Signed in Royal Palace on April 23, 1898.

Regent Queen Maria Cristina

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