Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.

No. 1638.]

Sir: I enclose to you a translation of a communication of the 11th of November, addressed by Mr. S. Salnave, chief of the revolutionists in Hayti, to the Hon. Salmon P. Chase, Chief Justice of the United States, for the consideration of this government, from which it appears that with a view to the overthrow of the revolutionary party on that island, President Geffrard has, in order to obtain the co-operation of certain British naval vessels there, made proposals to cede portions of that territory to the British government.

It is suggested that to counteract numerous designs prejudicial to general peace, her Britannic Majesty’s government would cheerfully give assurances that they do not intend or expect to acquire territory in Hayti.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Charles Francis Adams, Esq., &c., &c., &c.


Mr. Salnave to Chief Justice Chase.

Sir: The undersigned has the honor to address to you this note to call your attention to a question of justice and of progress which cannot fail to interest you.

We have directed at the city of the Cape (Hayti) a liberal revolution, having only for its object the overthrow of the despotism of Mr. Geffrard and to establish in its place the democratic institutions which constitute the honor and power of the United States.

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The revolution has resisted for six months all the efforts of the tyrant, and we were on the point of overthrowing him when he had recourse to English intervention.

He pushed, by means unknown, the captain of the British war steamer Bulldog into seeking a quarrel with us, without a plausible motive, and in consequence to bombard our city. Seeing that we held out after this bombardment, he caused two other English vessels of war to come from Kingston—the Galope and the Lily. These two vessels presented themselves at the cape, with Mr. St. John, chargé d’affaires of the British government, and without choosing to listen to a single justification on our part, or to accept any reparation for what they called an affront to their flag, they demanded a dishonoring action—that of going on board their vessels to be deported, and upon our refusal to abase ourselves, bombarded all our fortifications, and thus favored the entrance of the army of Geffrard within our walls. It need not be told that if the English could, in contempt of the law of nations, intervene by force of arms with the policy of our country, to destroy a revolution which was to give to Hayti liberty and prosperity, it is because Geffrard has made them promises about certain portions of the territory of our island. Such an engagement would be disastrous to the country, and would break up the American policy of our country, as it has established the Monroe system, which extends over all the American nations.

We feel ourselves able to recommence the revolution, and end it in less than a month, if we obtain from the government at Washington the succor we need in arms, powder, and other munitions of war. We have in the country profound sympathies. Our cause is that of liberty and progress. If your government chooses to sustain us, we will make it triumphant for the happiness of our country and the extension of friendly relations with the great American republic. To obtain this aid, we offer to guarantee to the Cabinet of Washington the port of Mole St. Nicolas as a maritime station. It is not the policy of the United States to establish colonies, but a maritime arsenal in a central position on the ocean cannot but be of great importance to them. Without detaching the city of Mole St. Nicolas from the indivisible body of the Haytian nationality, we would come under obligation to establish a maritime station and arsenal for the government of the United States of America, to which we would bind us more strictly still by a treaty of friendship and commerce.

We would be very glad to receive your answer in this respect, if the proposal attracts your attention. Presented by a man of your importance to the Cabinet of Washington, it cannot fail of success. At all events, we ask of you profound secresy on this overture. If Geffrard should get the least news of it, he would not neglect to invite the English to the point in question. We hold out at Monte Christo, on Dominican territory, waiting the honor of a reply, which we beg you to make as soon as possible. Meantime we pray you to accept the assurances of our most distinguished consideration.


Hon. Salmon P. Chase, Chief Justice of the United States.