Mr. Hollister to Mr. Seward.

No. 3.]

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.

Mr. Hollister to Commodore Boggs.

Sir: From information which I have received since I left your ship, I am compelled to enter my most earnest protest against your leaving the American citizens in this city in this defenseless condition. President Salnave threatens to burn the town, and I have good reasons to believe that he intends to do it.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Commodore Boggs, United States Steamer Be Soto, Harbor of Port-au-Prince.

Commodore Boggs to Mr. Hollister.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of this date.

I regret extremely my inability to comply with your request, from want of provisions, having only four days’ on board, and the positive orders from the rear-admiral commanding the North Atlantic squadron, I must sail this afternoon.

Should I find a vessel at Key West, I will immediately dispatch her to this port; in default of finding one, I will return as soon I have taken in supplies.

I am, respectfully,

CHAS. S. BOGGS, Commodore United States Navy, Com’d’g De Soto.

G. H. Hollister, United States Minister, &c., &c., Port-au-Prince.

Mr Hollister to Mr. Delorme.

Sir: I have the honor to represent that, according to my instructions, I have observed the most strict neutrality in regard to all political matters in this country. It is true that from what I had heard of the valor of the President, and of his struggles in the field, I came here inspired with great admiration for him, and prayed for his success. I had a further motive to desire such success from the fact that he had associated with [Page 356] him at the head of affairs a gentleman not unknown in Europe or America as a writer, scholar, and civilian, worthy to represent the sentiments expressed in that noble essay which you sent me a few days ago. I have looked forward from day to day, hoping to find an end to the disturbances in the streets of this city; but I have looked in vain. Things kept growing worse and worse. Only a few days before the return of the President a young girl was horribly mutilated in the street, and after that other outrages followed of a worse character.

When the chief arrived I expected, of course, a demonstration, and it passed off quietly.

Yesterday morning the representatives of the four great powers, the United States, England, France, and Spain, waited on you by your special appointment, and received such representations as to the protection of the rights of our respective nations, and of the citizens generally, as made us well assured of the future. I left the office of legation and went to my country seat with perfect confidence that all would be well. Still, I had observed a large number of soldiers walking about the city during the day in a lawless manner, many of whom were intoxicated. They were armed, and I am informed that ammunition was dealt out to them yesterday by the government in quantities sufficient to enable them, if they chose, to commit the outrages which followed.

About 8 o’clock in the evening a mob of soldiers gathered at the quay, and a musket was fired, and after that, others. At this time the presence of a single policeman or officer of the guard could have put an end to the disorder. So far as I know, not a single refugee has escaped from the asylum that he had chosen, although we had a right, under the arrangement made with you yesterday, to turn them all loose in the street at any moment.

It was at the will of your government to put an end to the disturbances in ten minutes. Yet this mob of intoxicated soldiers was allowed to have full range of the city for about two hours. During this time the most brutal excesses were committed— excesses not to be tolerated by civilized nations. Stores and warehouses were broken into and robbed. The sanctities of home were violated, and men were shot defending their property. There is now under my roof a respectable merchant, a native of Virginia, suffering from the agonies caused by a wound which he received defending his own dwelling. I refer to Mr. Hepburn, one of your oldest and most enterprising citizens.

The house of Mrs. Hamilton was assailed, and one bullet, at least, passed through her bedroom and near her bed. Several other houses and stores were broken open and robbed, under cries of “Viva Salnave.” In some of the houses thus entered, little children were taken from their beds and thrown upon the floor, and the pillows upon which they had slept carried off by the robbers.

Not even national flags were respected. As this armed rabble passed the house of Mr. Hubbard, consul for Brazil and Bremen, and an American citizen, they saw his flags flying, and cried out, “You may hang out your flags, and we will trample them under our feet.” Not even my own house of legation was respected. The soldiers stopped in front of it; one of them struck the gate with his sword, and another with some other weapon. It was proposed to fire on it, and I have reason to believe that this violence would have been done had not some one in the crowd called out to them to forbear.

They did fire off a volley near the back gate, but not at the house. Of course, in this condition of things, all business here is at an end. Many parties are taking refuge on shipboard, or fleeing into the country. Now, sir, with all kindness, but with all frankness, permit me to say that these violences must not be repeated.

If national flags have ceased to be the symbol of safe citizenship and free commerce, guaranteed by treaty, it must be understood that there is a nationality behind every flag. As regards myself I have no fears. It is for the citizens of the United States that I speak. If the city is constantly embroiled in this way, no matter whether the houses or stores of American citizens are invaded, still their business is ruined. If the goods of Haytien merchants are burned or stolen, who are debtors to the Americans, the parties who are robbed are not Haytiens but Americans. This is a small city of about thirty thousand inhabitants, the seat of authority, and having within its limits a large military force. A little care would have prevented all this crime and destruction of life and property.

I know you are in a state of war, but this makes it all the easier, armed as you are, to keep up a police adequate to the demands of the hour. Anticipating evil on my arrival here, I wrote for two or three ships of war to defend the rights of the citizens of the United States in the ports of this country. I expect one here soon. If the authorities cannot keep the peace here, so that persons under my charge shall be safe, I will undertake to do it, and have no fear but that I shall succeed.

The claim that the mob of last evening resulted from the opening of the prison cannot be sustained. Nor did it grow out of the escape of refugees from my house. Not a single refugee has left the shelter of the legation.

The house is filled with defenseless women and children, and the few men who came have remained. As to the receiving of refugees in the exceptional way practiced in [Page 357] this country, you know it is not for the benefit of the United States, but grows out of the unsettled condition of affairs in this country. Haytiens of all parties and factions have always received the benefit of it—we only the trouble and blame.

I shall forward a copy of this communication to the Secretary of State for the United States, and beg an early answer.

I have the honor to be, with high consideration, your obedient servant,


Hon. Delorme, Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.