No. 221.
Mr. Bassett to Mr. Fish.

No. 238.]

Sir: President Saget’s message was submitted to the corps legislatif and read before that body by the minister of interior and foreign affairs on the 13th instant. I send herewith inclosed two copies of the offical organ, Le Moniteur, of the 16th instant, in which the message is printed, and of which it covers, as will be seen, a little more than twenty columns.

In some respects, it is a remarkable document. Its length is believed to exceed that of any former paper of the kind from the executive to the legislature in Hayti, and has been interpreted in some circles here as an evidence of a desire and purpose on the part of the executive to be franker and more outspoken than has been the practice heretofore with the people and their representatives. In tone it is, as a whole, candid, cheerful, conciliatory, and, perhaps, commendably progressive. I presume that the recent accession to the cabinet of General Lamothe and Mr. Charles Haentjens will account for this and some other distinctive features in the message. * * * * * *

In explaining, as required by law, his motive for availing himself of his constitutional privilege to convoke the corps legislatif in extra session, the president lays particular stress upon the foreign claims against this government, and in the same connection makes prominent a reference to the avoidance of new complications with foreign powers on account of those reclamations. The opening paragraph in which he gives this statement of motive, I have heard criticised in official circles here as being in unbecoming taste. Inclosure A is a translation of those paragraphs. It will be noticed that, notwithstanding the rather emphatic if not figurative language employed in them touching the claims, seven other subjects are brought forward for legislative consideration and that of the twenty columns of Le Moniteur given up to the message, only about three are devoted to foreign affairs.

The president proceeds to refer to the retirement of the paper currency; to defend the executive interference with the elections here in January of this year, as well as the terrible and bloody action taken by the authorities at Gonaives, following the outbreak there in March last; to speak with some detail on several items relating to the condition and management of internal affairs, recommending in them several improvements, and then comes to the chapter on foreign affairs.

This chapter touches upon so many points of interest that I send a translation of it herewith, inclosed and marked B. What is there said of the Batsch affair, and especially of San Domingo and the reclamations on the government, if in some respects adroitly stated, seem to me, nevertheless, well worthy of attentive perusal. The allusion to my colleague, Her Britannic Majesty’s minister resident, is thought to carry with it a commentary which some have thought not in complete accord with the perfect impartiality generally required of a diplomatic representative as to the internal affairs of the country to which he is accredited. The peculiar language used in speaking of Senator Sumner has rendered it noticeable that no mention is made in the message of political changes favoring the progress of liberal ideas in Europe, or elsewhere; none of emancipation in the neighboring island of Porta Rico, and none of other changes anywhere especially relating to that [Page 476] branch of the human family of which the Haytian forms part. Mr. Preston is spoken of as the (Haytien) representative in the United States, and not as minister plenipotentiary. It is observable, in view of the paragraph relating to the Haytien legations in Europe, that no mention has, I believe, ever been made in Le Moniteur of Mr. Preston’s promotion to the grade of minister plenipotentiary.

The manner in which the legislature is urged to neglect nothing for the definite regulation of the spoliation claims is gratifying, and shows the effect of the representations made to this government from time to time, as I have faithfully reported to you, by my colleagues and myself on this subject.

The remarks and recommendations relative to the claims which arose to our citizens from transactions with this government under the administration of President Salnave, have been evoked, it is believed, entirely by our efforts to secure a just and equitable settlement of those reclamations. In this class of claims my colleagues have scarcely at all interested themselves. A day or two ago, for instance, my colleague, the French chargé d’affaires, read to me the dispatch, under cover of which he was about sending the message to his government. In it he alludes to what is said of our action on these so-called Salnave claims, and says, in rather a cold and indifferent way, that he believes there is one French citizen, a Mr. Defly, who has some interest in them. I think, therefore, that we may congratulate ourselves that in spite of prejudice, in spite of a lurking disposition, and I think purpose, to repudiate this class of reclamations, one branch of the government has at last been led to the point of formally urging a just and equitable settlement of them.

The remaining portions of the message are devoted to the departments of finance and commerce, of war and marine, and of public instruction, worship and justice. Some interesting statements relative to the finances and commerce are given. A recommendation is made that a coinage of base metal (bullion) be issued to an amount not exceeding four hundred thousand dollars, ($400,000.) The establishment of a national bank is favored, and then there is advanced the important statement, which is, of course, intended to apply to Hayti, that “a country which has four millions and a half of revenue, and of which the public debt does not amount to more than five millions, does not show that its finances are in a desperate condition.” The full amount of all the ordinary expenses of the government for the fiscal year is given as two millions sixty-six thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven and 40/100 dollars, ($2,067,86740/100). There should, therefore, be an annual balance left in the treasury, over and above ordinary expenses, of nearly two millions and a half, and the whole public debt could consequently be easily extinguished in three years. For the year ending September 30, 1872, the exportation of coffee is set down at sixty-four million seven hundred and ninety-two thousand six hundred and eight (64,792,608) pounds French; the exportation of cotton at four million one hundred and forty thousand three hundred and fifteen (4,140,315) pounds French.

What is said of the army and the navy may be taken together as a general recommendation to increase the efficiency of those branches of the public service. And the recommendation made for the department of public instruction and worship shows a commendable desire to be alive to those great fundamental elements which must underlie all true republics—education, morality and the Christian religion, permeating and springing forth everywhere among the masses.

I am, &c.,

[Page 477]



Nissage Saget, president of Hayti, to the national assembly.

Gentlemen, Senators and Representatives: The thirteenth legislature separated from the executive without deciding many pending questions of which the immediate solution was demanding its liveliest solicitude on account of their foreign character. From every side reclamations were poured in upon the government through diplomatic agents anxious of prompt satisfaction, and it was not without great difficulty that we were able to cause them to apprehend that your participation was indispensable for the resolution of such matters. We finally obtained a delay until your meeting, which, prevented by unforeseen difficulties, did not take place at the appointed time. To avoid new complications I was obliged, according to the terms of the seventy-sixth article of the constitution, to convoke you in an extraordinary session. The matters awaiting solution will be presented to your high appreciation, and my government will take advantage of the circumstances to demand of you—

To vote the annual imposts.
To vote the budget for the public service of 1873–’74.
Certain modifications to the law relating to the commune.
To re-organize the city and rural police.
The revision of the constitution, (if it is necessary.)
To replace the senators whose terms are about to expire.
And the sanction of different contracts passed with the object of promoting the public well being. Here are the definite motives of my proclamation of May 9, 1873.

foreign relations.

Our relations with the powers represented in Hayti continue to be satisfactory. The government of the republic attaches the highest estimate to the maintenance of this happy state of things, and it endeavors, by every means, to make known the sincere disposition with which it is animated on this subject. It finds a new motive to persevere in this policy in the reciprocal testimonies that it receives.

Thus was it particularly touched at the elevation to the rank of minister resident of Mr. Spencer St. John, who, up to the time of his recent promotion, had been chargé d’affaires of Her Britannic Majesty at Port au Prince, and who has acquired more than one title to our esteem. This elevation is a mark of consideration for our republic, and for its chief personally a proof of sympathy that it is our duty to signalize to your attention and that of the country.

san domingo.

It is already nearly one year since our absorbing preoccupations in regard to the Dominican republic have diminished in intensity. Was it possible for us to rest indifferent to what was taking place upon the same soil that we tread? Was it possible for us, at least in what concerned our Dominican neighbors upon our frontier lines, with whom we are in continual contact and, consequently, in view of what concerns the interior security of our population, not to take note of the consequences of a modification in the conditions of the sovereignty of that republic? This question has entered into a new phase, in which it still remains, into a phase which it belongs alone to the decision, to the sole will of the Dominican people to modify or maintain. However, from the first day that our attention commenced to be drawn to this subject until the present moment, our conduct has not varied. Our duties consisted, and still consist, in watching for the maintenance of the most complete order upon our frontiers, and in taking precautions against all that could trouble the tranquillity of our population, while at the same time we persevere in the observance of the prescriptions dictated by our firm will not to intermeddle in the affairs of the neighboring republic. Such is the line of conduct which we trace out for ourselves and which we continue to follow.

island of navaze.

At the moment when the thirteenth legislature adjourned last year the attention of the department of foreign affairs was especially absorbed by two reclamations to be [Page 478] followed up, one concerning the acknowledgment of our sovereignty over Navaze by the Government of the United States, the other having for its object the obtaining of redress from the imperial German government for the conduct of Captain Batsch. The affair of Navaze has not yet had a definite solution. It is pursued, however, with the most persevering solicitude, and the representative of the republic in the United States knows how much the government desires that he should neglect nothing in order to cause our valid right in this matter to be recognized and respected.

the batsch affair.

The mission of our envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Berlin, General Brice, has had a result of which the national honor can take note. Indeed, at the same time that it communicated to us the regret that it felt at what had taken place in our waters, and expressed the wish that this deplorable incident would not alter the good relations existing between the two countries, the imperial German government informed us that it had called Captain Batsch, then on a trip to America, to come at once to Berlin in order that his conduct might be made a matter of investigation. Our minister plenipotentiary thought it his duty to consider, and we felicitate him on his conclusion, that as sufficient satisfaction for the kind and sympathetic reception which he received at Berlin, and the declarations which were made to him by the imperial government, were undoubted testimonies of a spirit of moderation and conciliation, resulting from a sentiment of justice toward us which contrasted in a striking manner with the proceedings of Captain Batsch and constituted a severe blame for his conduct. At the termination of this delicate mission, for the accomplishment of which he had prolonged his sojourn in Europe, the chief of bur legations at Paris, London, and Madrid, General Brice returned to our midst after having represented the republic, near the cabinets of Paris and St. James especially, during a period of nearly three years.

European legations.

The legislative chambers had decided that after the return of our minister plenipotentiary the direction of our legations in Europe should be confided to a chargé d’affaires accredited both to Paris and to London. The government hastened to put into execution this resolution. However, it thought that in the interest of the effective prosecution of our diplomatic service abroad it would be preferable to establish a responsible chief for each legation independent of one another, residing at the very seat of his mission and in constant communication as well with us as with the department of foreign affairs where he is accredited. It was an application, more in conformity with the necessity of the case, of the thought which had dictated the measure adopted by the chambers, and this augmentation of the personnel of these legations could produce no inconvenience so long as it involved no augmentation of the expense voted to the bureau of foreign affairs for our representation abroad, that, thanks to a repartition that you will appreciate, we have been able to create two distinct legations, one at Paris, and the other at London, each one directed by a chargé d’affaires having with him a secretary of legation.

portrait of mr. sumner.

The department of foreign affairs has not failed to give effect to the generous resolution concerning the portraits of the Hon. Senator Sumner, that are to be executed and placed in the halls of the senate and house of representatives. The sum voted has been placed at the disposition of our representative in the United States, and we shall not be long delayed in possessing and seeing in the halls of your sessions the sympathetic figure of the man who has acquired so many titles to the veneration of the Haytian people.

arbitration of american claims.

We have been obliged to have recourse to arbitration in two cases with the view of determining and fixing the amount of indemnity to be accorded: first, to a claim comprised of those referred to the examination of the Americo-Haytien mixed commission; second, to another claim presented by the minister resident of the United States of America, in favor of Mr. Teel, consular agent of the United States, arrested some time since under suspicion, not substantiated, of fabricating false money. Mr. Henry Byron, vice-consul of Her Britannic Majesty, was chosen by both parties as arbitrator in each of these cases.

indemnity to france.

The government experiences a sincere satisfaction in bringing to your knowledge the fact that the payments on our double debt to France which have fallen due since your last session, and amounting to 2,792,234.40 francs, have been punctually paid. This regularity in the payment of our debt has permitted to undertake again the drawing of the obligations of the loan which has been abandoned since 1866. The government is happy and proud of this result, which raises the credit of the country, and shows it to be careful to meet its sacred engagements.

[Page 479]

consular convention with the united states.

The minister resident of the United States of America asked of the government of the republic, by virtue of instructions and of powers that he had received 10 that effect, to fix with him, conformably to the thirty-seventh article of the treaty of friendship, commerce, and for the extradition of fugitives from justice, existing between the two countries, the powers and immunities of consuls and vice-consuls of the respective parties. The government has hastened to respond to this demand by naming as its plenipotentiary Mr. Thomas Madion, who has been furnished with the necessary instructions in the premises.

foreign spoliation claims.

The settlement of foreign claims for losses endured during our late civil war has not failed to claim a large share of the government’s preoccupation. These claims were submitted at the time, as you know, to the examination of mixed commissions. The report of the Anglo-Haytien commission was the first prepared and presented. But the representative of Her Britannic Majesty not finding in the principal decisions of that commission the application of the principles which, according to his government, should serve as rules in the examination of claims presented, a new commission was named on his demand. But the new report upon the subject was only presented after the close of the chambers. Two or three days before the close of the last session the Americo-Haytien commission presented its report, and the Franco-Haytien commission had only time to present a schedule of the claims admitted by it and the amount of the same. Nevertheless the government hastened to ask your authorization to satisfy the claimants. The response given was that the session was too far advanced for the chambers to have the necessary time to exercise their right of a general examination and create the means to be effected to the payment of the claims recognized to be legitimate. The settlement of these affairs was therefore sent over to the next session. The Count E. de Lémont, chargé d’affaires and consul-general of France, protested against this decision, and upon our declaration of our inability to pay immediately the amount assigned to his countrymen and admitted by the Franco-Haytien commission, he sent us a note in the form of a protestation, in which he declared that he would not accept the deductions made by the commission, and demanded that the sum total of these claims be paid, giving to us a delay of forty-eight hours for the payment, passing which delay, if the payment was not made, he would leave the prosecution of the matter to the admiral commanding the naval station of the Antilles.

It is well to remark here that the representatives of England and the United States confined themselves to the making known to the government of their desire that it should not send over to the next session the settlement of their claims, and they assured us that their governments would have an unfavorable impression of this prolonged delay.

A step so pressing as that of the chargé d’affaires of France caused us to apprehend some serious difficulties. To prevent them the government thought it wise to carry the question before the French government and to ask directly from it its consent to the delay that the chambers had fixed. The chargé d’affaires of France was informed of this design, in which he acquiesced. He did not delay to announce to us himself with a benevolent haste that he was authorized to make known to us that our demand was favorably received by the French government. Thus we have been happy to acknowledge once again that we never count in vain upon the high impartiality and the sentiment of justice which animates France and her government toward us.

Lately the representative of Her Britannic Majesty communicated to us the desire of his government to see regulated, as quick as possible, the claims of English subjects, and this department was obliged to make known to him the line of conduct that the government was obliged to follow. We feel persuaded that he has appreciated the considerations which have been set forth to him in this matter.

The government is convinced that you will give your most serious attention to all that concerns these claims, and that you will neglect nothing for their definite settlement according to the mode that it will propose to you, or according to some other method that you shall judge preferable. It has engaged itself to insist on it before you that no new delay should come to give birth to those difficulties which have already cost us great efforts to appease. Your wisdom and your patriotism will weigh this engagement and inspire you with salutary resolutions.

salnave claims.

The government recommends also to your solicitude the documents which will be communicated to you relative to the objections that the Government of the United States of America has thought necessary to formulate, through its representatives, against the application to its citizens of certain dispositions of the law of the 24th of August, 1872, fixing the method of settling the claims against the Salnave administration. It belongs alone to the legislative chambers to examine and appreciate this protest against [Page 480] a law already voted and promulgated. It belongs to them to conciliate in the measure that they may judge proper, and, as far as the case demands, to fix the satisfaction that can be accorded in a matter where important interests are at stake involving the principles of international and public law actually admitted and practiced in such cases by civilized nations.

The department of foreign affairs will spare no pains to facilitate the adoption of measures that may bring about a solution that shall be just, equitable, and satisfactory to the two governments.


Such is the summary and faithful exposition of what has taken place of importance in the interval of the two sessions. The secretary of state of foreign relations will hold himself at the disposition of the two chambers, to communicate to them all the documents, to furnish to them all the information which shall be useful to them in the accomplishment of their mission of controlling and of conscientiously examining the public affairs, for this is the indispensable condition of the adoption of the resolutions that you will judge necessary for assuring the well-being of the interests confided to this department.