Mr. F. W. Seward to Mr. Hollister.

No. 14.]

Sir: I inclose a translation of a communication to this department of the 30th of September last, from Jacmel, signed by L. Tanismaine and ten others, calling themselves the committee of public safety, and of a protest which accompanied it, represented to have been addressed to you, against a bombardment, on the 20th of September, of the town of Petit Goave, and the sinking of two war steamers, the 22d of December, and the Liberté, by a war steamer under the American flag. The destruction of these vessels by the Alexandre Petion is mentioned in your dispatch No. 10, of the 22d of September, which, however, is silent upon the subject of the bombardment of Petit Goave.

It is supposed that the committee of public safety referred to may wish it to be believed that because the Alexandre Petion did, as they allege, fly the United States flag upon that occasion, this government is responsible therefor. They consequently threaten to take severe measures against all vessels under that flag, until justice shall have been done them. This department has no other information than that contained in the letter of the committee, that the Alexandre Petion did fly our flag. If, however, the statement of the committee should be true, the act referred to was probably adopted as a stratagem of war. You will make inquiries upon the subject, and if you should ascertain that the statement is well founded, you will address a note to the minister for foreign affairs of Hayti, protesting against a proceeding which was unauthorized, and which may lead to a fulfillment of the threat referred to.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

F. W. SEWARD, Acting Secretary.

Gideon H. Hollister, Esq., &c, &c., &c.


Mr. Sanisaine to Mr. Seward..

Committee of public safety of the district to his excellency the secretary of state for foreign affairs at Washington:

We have the honor to send you with this packet, copy of a protest which we have made known to the consul general of the United States at Port-au-Prince.

We expect justice from the great nation which is at the head of the civilization of the New World.

[Page 367]

You will blame, no doubt, the unheard-of act which has been committed by a ship of war under the American flag, against a city of the republic, which by the ties which connect it with the great American nation, by the sympathies which exist between the two countries, has a right to its entire protection.

Your excellency will not allow the flag of the noble nation, your care of which is well known to all, to cover the misdeeds of General Salnave, who, notwinistanding the strongly expressed will of the majority of the Haytien people, tries by all means to keep in power.

We are your excellency’s very humble servants,

L. SANISAINE, Vice-President of the Committee, and ten others.

His Excellency the Secretary of State, Washington.


The committee of public safety of the district to the consul general of the United States at Port-au-Prince:

Mr. Consul General: The town of Petit Goave has been the victim of an act of hostility on the part of a war steamer under the American flag. The 20th instant, an armed packet boat, bearing the American flag, entered the port of Petit Goave, which without doubt is known to you to be in the hands of the revolutionists that succeeded in all the departments of the south, all of the north, a great part of those of the east and of the west.

The people of Petit Goave had no alarm at the sight of the flag of a friendly power, a power with which Hayti had relations of commerce and friendship. This vessel came to anchor close to two of our war steamers, the 22d of December and the Liberte, and suddenly opened fire upon them; sunk them in a short time, and bombarded the town of Petit Goave, which it reduced in part to ashes.

We now protest, in the name of the nation, against this unjustifiable act, contrary to the law of nations, and demand justice from the government you represent.

This justice, we hope, will be done by the eminently civilized government of the United States. The deed done at Petit Goave, where a war vessel under the American flag was guilty, will compel us, you know, Mr. Consul, to take severe measures against all vessels under that flag until justice be done to us.

Accept, Mr. Consul General, the assurance of our high consideration.


The Vice-President of the Committee,


True copy:

C. LABIDOU, Secretary.

The Consul General of the United States, Port-au-Prince.