Mr. Bassett to Mr. Fish.
Port au Prince, March 9, 1874. (Received March 31.)
Sir: The official journal of the Haytian government, Le Moniteur, in its issue of the 21st ultimo, contained from the minister of finance an instruction (inclosure 1) charging the controllers of public moneys, (administrateurs,) who are subordinate to him, not to accept the new American trade-dollar in payment of duties or other taxes, thus practically prohibiting for the moment the circulation of that sterling coin here. Recently several thousand dollars of that type have been imported into this country, and the minister’s instructions to his subordinates was calculated to create considerable inconvenience and confusion in our commerce, especially as there is now confessedly a scarcity of specie, which has become practically the only circulating medium in Hayti.
Immediately after the appearance of the order in Le Moniteur, several merchants sought information from me on the subject, and I lost no time addressing to the minister of foreign affairs a note (inclosure 2) inviting his attention to his colleagues’ notice in the official journal, plaining the nature and the value of the trade-dollar according to the terms of our “coinage act of 1873,’ and especially making a favorable comparison of it with other American silver coins, which, for many months before the importation of the trade-dollar, constituted almost the only types of money in use here.
The minister sent me an acknowledgment (inclosure 3) of my note on [Page 602] the 28th ultimo, in which he expressed the hope that his colleague would not fail to do what was requisite under the circumstances. In Le Moniteur of the same date both my note to him and his response thereto were published. In the same journal of the date of day before yesterday, the 7th instant, the minister of finance inserts a” second order, (inclosure 4,) addressed, like his first one on the subject, to the controllers of public moneys, (administrateurs,) and charging them that as the government had since the publication of his first order received positive information as to the trade-dollar, that coin is henceforth to be accepted by them and their subordinates for one dollar specie.
By the proceeding above outlined on the part of this legation, I think that the public here has become convinced of the reliable nature and full value of the trade-dollar, and that thus our commerce in Hayti has been saved from some temporary inconvenience and annoyance. It seems to me a just cause for satisfaction and gratification that our coinage is gradually gaining preference in other countries, and that after all, our national good name and honor may be carried and made familiar in our types of money to the firesides of men all over the world.
I am, &c.,