No. 219.
Mr. Bassett to Mr. Fish.

No. 221.]

Sir: In my 210, of the 6th ultimo, reference is made to persons who had, some days after the insurrectionary outbreak at Gonaives, which is narrated in my No. 188, of the 11th of March last, sought refuge in our consular office at that point.

It seems that, after these refugees had safely escaped for the time the terrible persecutions visited by the Haytien authorities upon every one whom malice or supposition could bring within suspicion of complicity or sympathy with that insurrectionary movement, they very indiscreetly addressed a letter to President Saget, begging his intervention in their behalf to shield them from the fearful fate which would certainly be theirs if by any chance they should fall into the hands of General Benjamin.

This letter was of course intercepted, and only served to increase the indignation and vigilance of the implacable General Benjamin, who commands the district of Gonaives, and he forthwith stationed a guard around our consular residence there. Such a proceeding was liable to produce at any moment unpleasant results. And our consular agent, Mr. Heberlein, prudently came to Port au Prince to consult me about the matter. I at once called upon the Haytien minister and represented the case to him from our standpoint, particularly urging that the guard be immediately withdrawn from the near vicinity of our consular office at Gonaives, and that authority be given to at once embark the refugees. He promptly accepted the views which I expressed to him. He said he would call the subject up in cabinet meeting and there advocate my view of the case.

He actually did as he had promised me, and a day or two afterward sent me an unsealed letter, addressed to General Benjamin, directing the latter to withdraw the guard from the vicinity of Mr. Heberlein’s premises, and to afford every opportunity and assistance for the embarkation of the refugees. After Mr. Heberlein and myself had noted the contents of this letter, we sealed it, according to the minister’s request, and the former went with it to Gonaives.

I have learned that the minister also forwarded, by other means, a personal letter from himself and one from President Saget to General Benjamin, giving him to understand that there must be no deviation from the directions given in the formal letter sent by our consular agent, Mr. Heberlein.

The latter has subsequently informed me that the refugees and another person, named Bonhomme, who, as one of the supposed leaders of the insurrectionary movement was hotly sought after by the authorities, were all safely embarked for neutral territory.

* * * * * * * *

I think that the prompt and sensible action of the Haytien government in this case is due in no small degree to the friendly but wholesome lessons given to it in the cases of our vice-commercial agent at St. Marc and our consular agent at Miragoane last year.

I am, &c.,