Mr. F. W. Seward to Mr. Hollister.
Department of State,
November 2, 1868.
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
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
F. W. SEWARD, Acting
Gideon H. Hollister, Esq., &c, &c., &c.
Mr. Sanisaine to Mr.
Republic of Hayti,
September 30, 1868.
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
We expect justice from the great nation which is at the head of the
civilization of the New World.
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
We are your excellency’s very humble servants,
L. SANISAINE, Vice-President of the
Committee, and ten others.
His Excellency the Secretary of State,
Republic of Hayti,
September 30, 1868.
The committee of public safety of the
district to the consul general of the United States at
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
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
The Vice-President of the Committee,
C. LABIDOU, Secretary.
The Consul General
of the United States, Port-au-Prince.