No. 356.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Bassett.

No. 155.]

Sir: I transmit a copy of a letter of yesterday, addressed to this Department by Messrs. A. S. Lazarus & Co., of New York. It complains of a recent act of the Legislature of Hayti prohibiting the exportation of specie, which they say will operate to the disadvantage of those who had imported specie there for purposes of trade, as it deprives them of their option of again exporting it if such should be preferred.

It is usual for acts of the kind to be prospective in their operation, so that merchants may have due warning. If the Haytian Legislature should in this instance have disregarded the practice, parties who may thereby have been injured have an equitable claim to relief. You will so inform that government, and report to the Department upon the subject.

I am, &c.,


Messrs A. S. Lazarus of Co. to Mr. Fish.

Sir: A correspondent of ours in Port an Prince desires us to call your attention to the fact that the Haytian government has recently passed a law which prohibits the export from thence of any specie, and to inquire of you if such a law will be allowed to be enforced as against citizens of the United States who have imported American gold and silver coins into that country for the purposes of trade, and are thus debarred from re-exporting same.

In calling your attention to these facts we desire to exhibit to you in what an unfair manner this new law works, and to what loss and inconvenience it places many of our citizens doing business there.

During the era of paper money it was the custom of foreign merchants doing extensive business in Port au Prince to sell to persons who required to remit money out of the country bills of exchange on Europe and America, for which during the “saison mort” they took payment in paper money, and as at that season of the year this redundant currency could be bought from 20 to 50 per cent, less than during crop-time, these houses made a large profit on such transaction by investing this paper in produce after exchange had enhanced its value to a corresponding extent. The abolition of paper money having deprived these quasi bankers of this source of profit, they have now raised the price of their exchange to 8 and 10 per cent, above par, so that unless a merchant desiring to remit money to the United States or Europe consents to pay their extortionate demands, he has no means of paying for the goods he imports except by purchases of produce which leave a loss, or by exporting American coin. It necessarily follows if this law is enforced that the merchant has no possible means of meeting his engagements abroad except at a ruinous sacrifice. Requesting the favor of a reply,

We are, sir, your obedient servants,

A. S. LAZARUS & Co.,
Box 3934, P. O.

Hon. Hamilton Fish,
Secretary of State.