No. 260.
Mr. Langston to Mr. Evarts .

No. 11.]

Sir: It is matter of gratification that peace and good order prevail at this time throughout the republic of Hayti. The usual crop of coffee is made, and producers are already making large sales of it for shipment abroad in this and other places along the coast.

It is claimed by those well acquainted with the affairs of this republic that it has not been, for years, so free from revolutionary tendency as at this time. And while the present administration is not wholly free from adverse, sharp criticism, as seen in the inclosure herein, taken from one of the most prominent newspapers of this city, it seems to be giving very general satisfaction, and may be said to be, in the main, popular.

It is certainly evidence of improving political health that such freedom of the press, as indicated in the inclosures herein, is tolerated. Freedom of debate, liberty of the press, agitation and instruction of the public mind, are the only moral agencies calculated to cure this government of its chronic and disastrous disorders.

I bring now to your attention the present apparently continuing peace, and the improving political condition of this republic, as promise, it is to be hoped, of its permanent condition at no distant day.

I have, &C.,

[Inclosure in No. 11.—Translation.]


The Moniteur of Saturday, November 17, contains the following circular of the ministry of finances:

“The Minister of Finance, who leaves niothing undone in order to give every satisfaction to the numerous holders of government obligations of the current service, regrets not to be able to settle these vouchers at the present moment, he not having at his disposal the ready money pertaining to this service.

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“The government, whose greatest anxiety is to extinguish this outstanding debt, intends to authorize the Secretary of State to make a loan to that effect. But before taking this step, it is made his duty to have paid in to the public treasury all the values belonging to the current service, and which still remain due in different localities, notably at Port au Prince, by certain houses of the higher commerce, amounting to about $313,000.

“The public prosecutor has already seized several accounts of debtors, and before long the superior administration hopes to be able to cause to cease the sufferings of the functionaries who are still in possession of their orders on the treasury for salary, dues, &c.”

We are aware that many persons having in their possession government vouchers and obligations of the current service have offered to the Minister of Finance to compensate or give them in payment for the fixed import duties of the same service.

The minister refuses. The debtors likewise refuse to pay. This is very simple. One owes to the government and is likewise holder of its signature for expenses of a similar service. Is there anything fairer, more rational, than compensation?

And for what reason, then, does the Minister of Finance now justify himself? As long as he shall persist in this course he will not advance one step. There does not exist a tribunal who can condemn a debtor of the government who is at the same time its creditor to an equal extent to pay first to the government and then to await the pleasure of the administration to be paid in turn. This surpasses all imagination and can only be witnessed in Hayti.

The principle which we defend is so sacred that the chambers even, and that is not saying little, consecrated it in its first law on the sinking fund in relation to both debtors and creditors of the government prior to the revolution.

Thus the justification of the Minister of Finance is not admissible. The numerous holders of government obligations of the current service suffer only through his doings. He has only to allow that which is just, that which cannot be refused by law, and the situation will soon have been changed; all these arrears, amounting to $313,000, due on the current service, will vanish. The government will find itself with its signature paid, which to-day is dishonored; and the debtors of the government will have accomplished their engagements to it.

The minister, Felix Carrié, shudders when one pronounces before him the word compensation. He is wrong in this, and one can easily see that he is prejudiced. As regards ourselves, suppose we are told that we must not receive a voucher bearing our signature in compensation, or in payment of an account, this could not enter our head; still more, we would be taxed as being of bad faith, and that rightly. But, in Hayti, one is so accustomed to treat government affairs outside of all prescribed rules, outside of all principles of justice and equity, outside of all common right, that to-day he has become accustomed to this.

And soon we shall no longer perceive that justice, reason, nature even, are outraged by the government which is placed there to protect them.

The minister, Felix Carrié does not wish that the government obligations be discounted under his administration. The means which he employs to this end give very negative results. What happens? The treasury not having the means to pay these obligations on demand, the bearers always have recourse to discount. In losing a little they obtain the money necessary to transact their business. The discounter at his turn gives them to the government in payment of the fixed duties for importation. The more favorably these papers are received in payment, or in compensation, the lesser the difficulty the government makes to receiving them, the smaller the discount. This is natural. In refusing to accept the government vouchers in payment, or in compensation, the discount becomes higher; and as the principle in virtue of which these papers depreciate misery augments. The employees not being able to have these papers discounted die of hunger. And as the principle in virtue of which one acts thus is unjust, one can say even immoral, your debtor, when the opportunity offers itself to him to do likewise, imagines himself as acting perfectly right.

Under date of October the 19th last, the Minister of Finance, in a circular addressed to the administrators of the finances of the republic, clearly establishes that without an express order of his department the treasurers shall receive only in compensation for duties of the current service but the government obligatians of the current service.

How can one write a circular like the above when he is the first to infringe it in not accepting, in compensation for duties of the current service, the government obligations of the current service?

In virtue of this circular, without an order of the Minister of Finance, the treasurers are positively invited to accept, in compensation of duties of the current service, the government obligations of the current service. And an order is only necessary when one desires to use the vouchers of one service to the discharge of the debts of another service.

It is, therefore, on purpose that we repeat so often, and that we underline in such a marked manner, the phrases of the circular which it behooves the treasurers to fully understand in order to carry on regularly the public service.

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It is, therefore, likewise on purpose that, in the number of the Constitutionnel of the 27th of October last, we dissected this circular, executed only in favor of a few favorites, and refused to others, who, nevertheless, have rendered the greatest service, to the country without speculation, without any hope whatsoever of reward.

The regrets of the minister of finance are therefore superfluous. They are without value, and the intelligent public accepts them for what they are worth. He well knows that it only depends on him to obtain the ready funds pertaining to the current service in order to liquidate the obligations of the government which are in arrears.

The greatest anxiety of the government is really to extinguish this arrear. The road which its minister of finance takes to that end may lead there some day perhaps, but is it necessary for that to go to Cochin China when it requires only to remain where one is? O, there are always people who manage to drown themselves in a glass of water.