Notes from the Past

No Mail to Spain in 1898 War

In war time all mail communication with the enemy ends automatically upon a declaration of hostilities.  Nevertheless, many unthinking citizens have attempted to mail letters to enemy territory.  We've seen examples from the Civil War period; also, during the recent World War, when such covers were handstamped and returned to the sender.  I have before me a cover from a large Wall Street banking house, to a firm in Havana, Cuba, during the Spanish-American war.  It is postmarked at New York, April 20, 1898, directed, "Via Tampa."  It never reached Havana, of course.  The Post Office at New York affixed a printed label to the piece, inscribed, "Despatch to Spain or Spanish Colonies Prohibited on Account of War."  The envelopes was then handstamped, "Do not post again in this envelope or wrapper."  These labels attached to their proper covers are comparatively scarce.
- George B. Sloane
Sloane's Column
May 28, 1949

Posted July 28, 1999

Editor's Note:  Sloane subsequently noted another hand stamped marking "Return to Sender.  Despatch to Spain or Spanish Colonies Prohibited on Account of War.  N.-Y.P.O." 

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