No. 367.
Mr. Bassett to Mr. Fish.

No. 274.]

Sir: The assurance and air with which this government has from the first steadily and emphatically asserted that it has in no way interfered in the internal political affairs and domestic peace of Santo Domingo have been maintained until at last a revolutionary movement has overthrown General Baez, and once more driven him into exile. It is true that from time to time occurrences and evidences tending to a conclusion quite contrary to its assertions have been brought to its notice. But all these were unavailing; the presumption necessary to a denial of them was always at hand.

Nevertheless, certain statements came to me, during the progress of the recent revolutionary movement in Santo Domingo, which were of such a nature that I deemed it advisable to invite attention to them, and once more to remind this government of its reiterated pledge of neutrality, and of the responsibility which it might incur by a failure to adhere to that pledge.

For instance, the Haytian war-steamer L’Union was kept at Cape Haytien for months pretendedly, and perhaps in part really, to serve the interests of this government in that quarter, but it is thought that her mission was partly to guard and facilitate communication with the insurgents along the northern coast of Santo Domingo. Indeed Mr.—several times informed me of the trips of this vessel along the northern coast on supposed friendly missions to the anti-Baez insurgents. As soon as news reached the capital of the sinking of the ship L’Union in the harbor of Cape Haytien about the 20th of last month, this government made haste to purchase through some foreigner in a sort of underhand way, and at such an almost fabulous price as to give rise to very severe criticism even on the part of the populace, a small steamer called L’Haytien, belonging to the Liverpool line and carrying the English flag, with the view, it seemed to be quite generally understood, of keeping up the aid and succor which had, it was supposed, been rendered all along to the Dominican revolutionists by L’Union. I have even been credibly assured that the putting on board of her of arms, really intended for the Dominican revolutionists, was only stopped by a note of warning from my colleague, Her Britannic Majesty’s minister resident, to the effect that while L’Haytien carried the English flag such a step would not be permitted. Mr. —— has also written me that the authorities of this government at Cape Haytien openly furnished and forwarded aid to the anti-Baez revolutionists. Here at Port au Prince the agents of these revolutionists were busy with the government officials, who, in their joy at the then prospective overthrow of Baez, well-nigh forgot their cunning, and almost threw oft’ the mask of pretended neutrality. And when on the 15th ultimo a schooner came into port flying the Dominican flag, and her mission was known, by common and universal report, to be to this government in behalf of the Dominican revolutionists, it appeared to me that it would not be improper for me once more, as above intimated, to place it within the knowledge of the Haytian minister of foreign affairs, that, while we were still bearing in mind the pledges of neutrality as to the internal political affairs and domestic peace of Santo Domingo which his government had so many times given to us, we were not incognizant of the many and increasingly-numerous acts of those in its service which were in contravention of those pledges, and [Page 595] I wrote (inclosure 1) to him in that sense, taking occasion to remind him also of the responsibility which his government might, by the non-observance of strict good faith, incur, especially before those who have an interest in the well-being of the neighboring republic.

The present minister of foreign affairs enjoys the reputation of having a penchant for intermeddling in Santo Domingo affairs, and he seemed to avail himself of the opportunity afforded by my brief note to unburden himself of much that he and his government apparently have at heart on the subject.

It will be noticed that in his dispatch (inclosure 2) he still clings to the assertion that his government has faithfully kept to its pledge of neutrality, and that he speaks more frankly and with more freedom than any of his predecessors have spoken with this legation in that regard. He does not attempt to conceal the ill-feeling which his government entertained toward that of President Baez, and alludes approvingly to the then prospective success of the anti-Baez revolutionists.

I think he even foreshadows an attempt to enter into treaty relations with the revolutionists if they gain the ascendency, when he speaks of their cause as one “which is that of the establishment of peace and of cordial relations between the two peoples.” I regard the dispatch as embodying all that this government has to offer both in matter and in manner, and as its last word, regarding this subject, and I commend it to your attention as well worthy of perusal.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 274.]

Mr. Bassett to General Lamothe.

General: A schooner called the Margarita, and flying the Dominican flag, came into this harbor yesterday from Puerto Plata, under command of a Mr. Frith. It is a matter of common speech and notoriety that she came here to bring dispatches to your government from the insurgents in the eastern part of this island, and to ask from this government aid and supplies with which to carry on hostile operations against the established and recognized authority of the neighboring republic.

We have been many times assured, by direct communication from your government, that it did not and would not in any way intermeddle in the domestic peace and internal political affairs of that republic. But I will not conceal from you the fact that well-founded statements have continually reached us of such a character as to force upon us the painful impression that the countenance, support, and aid, moral and material, of the authorities of this government, have been mainly instrumental in keeping alive the unfortunate and unhappy civil strife in Santo Domingo during the past three years and more. We would, of course, fain believe that all this has occurred without the knowledge or consent of the responsible agents of your government, but it is remarkable that aid and supplies have been continually passed by those in official position under this government to the Dominican insurgents; that, during the alleged recent movements of those insurgents, succor has been regularly sent to then! from Cape Haytien and other points in this republic; that systematic communication has been maintained between them and the government of Hayti; and that now a vessel under the Dominican flag has been sent here by the insurgents to bear dispatches to the members of the Haytian government, and to solicit aid from this government for carrying on hostile insurrectionary operations in the neighboring republic. General, I wish simply to indicate to you that all these proceedings have hot been and are not taking place without our observation and knowledge, and in this friendly way to remind you of the responsibility which your government has incurred, and may now incur, by the acts which those in its service have committed, and are still committing, in rendering aid to those who are in open hostility and rebellion against the constituted government of Santo Domingo, in whose domestic peace and tranquillity others than yourselves, not unmindful of what is transpiring around us, or of the welfare of their neighbors, may have an interest.

I am, general, your obedient servant,

[Page 596]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 274.—Translation.]

General Lamothe to Mr. Bassett.

Mr. Minister: I have had the honor to receive the dispatch of the 16th of this month which you addressed me, to inform me (pour m’entretenir) about certain facts concerning the Dominican Republic, particularly about the arrival in our port of the schooner Margarita, and to represent to me, whilst expressing your apprehensions in this circumstance, how much you find it opportune that my government should at this moment have in sight the repeated assurances which it has given you of its firm determination to abstain, as far as it is in its power, from intermeddling in the interior affairs of that republic.

I have submitted to my government the reflections which you have exposed to me, and am charged to thank you for the amiable and cordial manner in which you have made this communication.

It is very agreeable to me to be able to say that no event, fact, or incident has taken place that could be for us the motive for a modification of the line of conduct which my government at its establishment adopted, and which it has since constantly maintained.

Nobody has failed to remark that, since three years, there have been constant contests, with the alternatives of success and defeat, between the government of General Baez and divers Dominican parties, and we cannot pretend that the echo of these contests, which have occurred on a ground common to both of us, have come to us without profoundly moving us. I believe I must even declare that the sympathies of the Haytian people have never been for a government which, although established and existing in the eastern part, has always endeavored to divide two peoples, intended from their situation and the identity of their interests to live in close union and to pursue the destinies of their autonomy in friendly understanding. However that may be, my government, without regard to these sympathies, the expression of which might have opposed its views and hindered a well-considered action, has, faithful to the duties which it had imposed upon itself, neglected nothing to make its neutrality constant and complete. Vague and undefined accusations, generally produced to mislead in regard to the true current of opinion in the neighboring republic, have been pronounced against it; but they could not fail to disappear before a scrupulous and impartial examination.

No attempt, whether conceived by private persons or by associations of men, to make use of our territory or of our resources to attack the order of things existing in the east, has been organized with the permission or aid of this government, and the legal authorities of the country would have violated our formal instructions in giving thereto support within the exercise of their functions. This is clearly the duty belonging to a neutral government, and we have been most anxious to fulfill it. During three years we have been constantly on the alert, and have made great efforts to secure our people and our own responsibility from the bloody uprisings and conflicts which have taken place almost before our doors, having for their theater the boundary-line between the two republics. But I must insist on this important point, that such a state of things, so sad for us, has to-day entirely ceased to exist. Just now, in the principal towns of the Cibao, and at a long distance from our borders, a revolution has been started, having for its leaders men who were quite recently the first lieutenants of President Baez; and the immense extension which this revolution has taken since its start is a fact not to be passed by unperceived. What influence could we have pretended to exercise over men who were only yesterday still the most fully authorized representatives of the policy of the government established in the east; and can the reading of the acts they have published leave a doubt regarding our conduct and allow any supposition of our participation, even indirectly, in the resolutions which they have taken? Still it is before a situation so clear to all that the General Baez, as we have seen from the documents which the last mail from the United States has brought us, denounces the people of Hayti as fomenting the division and the ruin of the neighboring republic. Whatever may be the injury offered to our character and our dignity, we look at this accusation with calm, for it does not astonish us, coming from a government which has always made it the rule of its conduct to distort the reality of things and falsify opinion on the protest of the Dominican people themselves; and, on the other hand, our confidence in the impartiality and the justice of the government and the great people of the United States, as well as of their honorable representative among us, is without limits.

May I not, nevertheless, be permitted to say that this last accusation, produced at such a moment and under such circumstances, gives the exact measure as to the value of all those that have preceded it and the notice they deserve? As to the visit of the Margarita in our waters, it will be sufficient for me to tell you frankly what has exactly [Page 597] taken place. That this schooner has brought us from the leaders of the revolution advice of the occurrences that have taken place in, the Cibao, and of the authority which they have established by force in that department, and that we have answered them that we took account of these facts and of their important communication. The Margarita has left again immediately without having received from us or from our territory anything that could be considered as a support. We shall always act thus in all analogous circumstances. May I nevertheless revert to the sympathies of which I have just spoken to you, and ought I to keep it from you that the government and the Haytian people could not deny this much to a cause which is that of the establishment of peace and of cordial relations between the two peoples. In the interest of the security and the well-being of our people it can never be indifferent to us, as you, Mr. Minister, will understand, to be exactly informed of all that passes so near to us; but we are determined not to deviate from the line of conduct which we have traced for ourselves, not because we could believe ourselves bound to any duty toward a government which, notwithstanding our conduct since three years, has neglected all its duties toward us, but because we value the consideration of the Government and the great people of the United States, who have received our assurances, and because, on the other hand, the accomplishment of its obligations, as far as it is in its power, is too precious to my government not to endeavor to subordinate to the same the satisfaction of any personal feeling or the manifestation of the sympathies of the Haytian people.

Be kind enough to entertain, Mr. Minister, the renewed assurance of my very high consideration.

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.