As Spain and the United States moved toward war, both nations attempted to find a peaceful solution. In Washington, McKinley led the search; in Madrid, it was Moret. The McKinley administration's objective was to separate Cuba from Spain. To save face for Madrid, the United States was initially willing to allow nominal Spanish sovereignty over the island. But the threat of force was always evident, and as emotions rose, war itself became an acceptable means. Spain wanted to retain the island. Its fading hopes clung to autonomy, and it sought more time to solidify the new regime. Ironically, faced by war, Madrid looked to the autonomous government to deal with the insurgents and to do what Spain could not: cut the tie between the mother country and its colony.
At the beginning of March, Woodford asked McKinley a series of questions that highlighted the need to be more aggressive in solving the Cuban problem. With the Cuban rainy season starting about 1 May, he