No. 269.
Mr. Langston to Mr. Evarts.

No. 42.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 40, dated March 26, 1878, I have the honor to state that the three men, refugees, Laforest, Saintard, and Laraque, connected with the late revolutionary movement of Louis Tanis, and who took refuge in my legation, were embarked on the 3d instant, under the protection of the Haytian Government for Kingston, Jamaica. [Page 444] No disturbance took place en route from my residence to the steamship “Atlas,” of the Atlas line, upon which they, with seventeen others, were embarked. The crowd which assembled to witness this embarkation was immense, but in all respects manageable and orderly. In discharging their duty on this occasion the government officers were prompt and energetic. However, on the 31st ultimo, when, by previous arrangement with the government, this embarkation was to have taken place, the authorities were so slow and tardy in making their preparations for furnishing adequate protection to the refugees that it was impracticable to embark them on that day, the hour for the departure of the steamer, upon which they were to be sent away, having arrived some time before the escort was ready to leave its rendezvous. This may have been a fortunate circumstance, for it gave several additional days for the cooling of popular passion.

Generals Tanis, Chevalier, and Choisil still remain at the residence of the chargé d’affaires of Liberia.

The government has demanded these leaders of the movement, but it seems to have receded from its threat to take them if not delivered according to such demand. Counseled as to the position assumed by him, and sustained with regard thereto by his colleagues of the corps diplomatique in a unanimous judgment, General Lubin demeans himself in this matter with wisdom and courage. It is very apparent now that the government would be greatly pleased were these leaders even embarked; and, in all probability, within a very short time they will be permitted, under the protection of the government whose overthrow they attempted, as alleged, to take their departure beyond the limits of the republic. This seems to be the natural ending of Haytian revolutionary attempts. If they succeed, the administration of the government is changed; if they fail, their leaders, and a few of the more conspicuous followers, are exiled. Occasionally some more unfortunate one is shot by the mob.

It cannot be denied that asylum, as furnished in the legations and consulates located in this republic, is in very important senses objectionable. It is surprising to witness the readiness and assurance with which a defeated revolutionist approaches the door of such places, demanding, as a matter of right, admission and protection. And before the revolutionary attempt is made, when the probabilities of success and defeat are being calculated, this protection, in case of defeat, is regarded and accounted as sure; and by this means, refuge and escape are sought and gained. Exile is regarded as the only possible infliction; and this, tempered by that sort of care which results from diplomatic and consular interest and assistance. Such interest and assistance always tend, too, to dignify while they encourage revolutionary efforts. Antagonisms, also, as between foreign governments and that whose overthrow is attempted, under such circumstances, are quite inevitable, especially if the latter is earnest and decided in its purpose to deal vigorously and severely with the rebellious.

From the first, when called upon by the government, through Hon. F. Carrié, to do what I might, consistently, to prevent the destruction of life and property and maintain its authority, I have spared neither time nor effort in meeting what I conceived to be my duty. And I am fully persuaded that while no consideration of law or propriety has been violated on the one hand, no dictate of humanity or suggestion of Christian duty has been neglected upon the other. Mindful of the very great difficulty which our government experienced in the famous Canal case, I have sought to demean myself, in the matter of receiving refugees, with the greatest possible care and caution.

[Page 445]

The expense and trouble connected with this matter of asylum constitute another consideration in favor of its abolition. But upon this I do not dwell.

While it may not be practicable, as yet, to wholly surrender this right and practice of asylum in Hayti, a right and practice suggested and supported by considerations of humanity only, it is to be hoped that the day is not distant when the enlightened nations represented here will deem it wise to abolish it.

In this connection consideration is not made of temptations to unjustifiable courses of conduct, either on the part of diplomatic and consular representatives or foreign residents, and yet this is a branch of the subject, as far as this republic is concerned, which is fruitful of reflection and thought. It has even been reported, in connection with the revolutionary movement under consideration, that leading merchants, including foreign residents, gave, and promised to give, large sums of money to its leaders. Several such persons have already been called before the “commission d’Enquête,” to make answer to questions relating to such reports; with what result, it has not yet transpired. With respect to the officials referred to, none other than the most prudent and commendable course of conduct in this behalf has been pursued. And the government must ever regard with sentiments of gratitude their wise and salutary counsels and conduct.

I am, &c.,