Mr. Hollister to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have the honor to represent that for the last two weeks this city has been kept in a constant state of disturbance in the night season by a mob. It has not been safe for any one to go into the streets after dark, as muskets were fired off without reference to men, women, or children, not aimed at, but liable to be hit any moment by a chance shot. Last Monday General Salnave returned, and made his triumphal entry into the city at 12 o’clock, noon. The demonstration was noisy but not violent. The next day troops arrived from Gonaives, and were, in common with those already in town, furnished with ammunition. They ranged the streets in a turbulent way all the afternoon. In the evening I went to town and spent the night at the office of legation, which is kept at Mr. Conard’s house. The house was full of refugees, men, women, and children, Do the number of one hundred and fifty. The utmost consternation prevailed. On Wednesday morning I called on Mr. St. John, the British chargé d’affaires, and afterwards on Count Méjare and Mr. Alvarez. We concluded to meet Mr. Delorme, secretary of foreign affairs, and see what could be done to keep the peace. Delorme had already threatened to take the refugees out of the French consulate in the evening, but at last thought better of it, and wrote us all a note inviting us to meet him at 3 o’clock p. m., which we did. He was very conciliatory, and assured us that the peace should be kept and the city quiet. My apprehensions were lulled a good deal, but still the streets were filled with armed soldiers, and many of them were intoxicated. I had hardly reached home when I heard muskets go off, and at last whole volleys were fired in quick succession. To those in town it was a horrible night, and on my arrival in the morning I found that the stores and houses of many persons had been robbed, and several men killed and wounded, business suspended, and everybody in a state of alarm. It is believed that property to the amount of a million of dollars had been stolen during the night. I at once wrote Mr. Secretary Delorme the letter, a copy of which I send inclosed, and then waited on the chargés from England, France, and Spain, and proposed that we should draw up a joint letter of remonstrance, and beg for an early interview with the President. This was done. That my letter was timely and put an end to the mischief I have no doubt. I acted on the best advice that I could get at the time. I knew that nothing but firmness would bring the authorities to their senses. The more these men are flattered the more assured they are that they will be allowed to do what they please. We have had rest now for two nights, and the stores are again opened. The authorities are responsible for the mob, however stoutly they may deny it. Do please send me one or more ships of war at once, as the rebellion is still raging at St. Marc, Aux Cayes, Gonaives, Jacmel, and I expect new demonstrations here. The country is in a wretched condition. I also beg instructions in relation to the receiving of refugees. [Page 355]It does more mischief here than it does good, and is really, as it is practiced, little more than offering a premium for factious disturbances and a bid for sedition. The three chargés here are ready to recommend the discontinuance of this much abused custom if our government is ready to take the step. I have sent you a copy of my letter to Secretary Delorme of the 6th instant, but on account of the uncertainty of communication I thought it best to send you another. As I am confined to the office of legation every moment, and have no suitable stationery here, I beg you will excuse the appearance of this hastily written letter.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.
P. S.—Commodore Boggs arrived here last evening in the De Soto. I begged him to remain and protect us. The inclosed copies will explain the situation of both parties. Please send me a ship, with orders to remain until the troubles are over.
G. H. H.