No. 272.
Mr. Langston to Mr. Evarts.

No. 55.]

Sir: The constitution of Hayti requires that the Corps Legislatif assemble on the first Monday of April annually. The members of this body do not, however, seem to trouble themselves about any rigid observance of the day named for their assembling. Individual and business convenience seems rather to be consulted. Not even public threatened danger moves them. Not even difficult problems of national finance and revenue, involving public credit and the maintenance of good order, animate their purpose to be punctual in meeting upon the day designated by law. Hence the national assembly, composed, according to the constitution, of the members of the senate and the chamber of deputies, and which is to be convened and organized at the annual session of these bodies, did not meet this year till the 16th day of this month. More than a month and a half had elapsed before a quorum could be had in these branches of the government so as to organize this assembly. The opening of the assembly was imposing. The president of the senate, assisted by the president of the chamber of deputies, presided. The President of the republic, the members of the cabinet, the corps diplomatique and consularie, the civil and military authorities of the capital, and many of the more prominent and distinguished citizens of the country were in attendance.

As reflecting the general sentiment and purpose of the nation, certainly as reflecting the sentiment and purpose of the earnest and thoughtful portion of the community, that patriotic and sagacious portion upon whose manly resolves and efforts the declining condition of the country is to be changed, and the impulses and activities of the people quickened and guided in its real interest and welfare, as it is to be hoped, I have translated and transmit, herewith inclosed, marked respectively 1 and 2, the addresses of Dr. M. Hippolyte, president of the national assembly, and of Boisrond Canal, President of the republic, delivered on this occasion.

The national assembly includes in its membership several of the more distinguished and influential politicians and statesmen of the republic. There are several persons members who are men of real ability and patriotism, and who very much surpass in their accomplishments and power as statesmen the most advanced Haytian lawgiver of former days. In this fact is to be noted a hopeful promise. Were revolutions less common and expatriations less frequent, this class of more intelligent, efficient, and useful men would be much more numerous.

How far the goodly sentiments and purposes, the appreciation of the unfortunate condition of the country and government, as expressed in the addresses herewith inclosed, and the expectations and aspirations of the people with regard to change and amelioration, will be realized by wise action on the part of the legislature and executive, remains to be determined. No prophecy with regard thereto at this juncture seems to be wise.

I am, &c.,

[Page 451]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 55.—Translation.]

Address of Dr. Hyppolyte.

“Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth; and good will toward men.’

Gentlemen, Senators and Deputies: We are here gathered for the third time since the revolution, ever memorable for having ended the odious tyranny of the Domingues-Rameaux. We are now in the sanctuary of liberty, whither we have been delegated by the people of Hayti to guard, with jealous eye, their interests; to work, at the same time, with peaceful conscience, for their weal and prosperity.

You must not forget, gentlemen, that the session which is now being inaugurated is the last one of a legislature which in three months, and at the utmost four, will be committed to the impartial scrutiny of history. It is now more urgent than ever that we should unite all our efforts to obtain, if possible, a page of glory in its immortal tablets.

The first legislature witnessed the bloody record of an administration which, after having exhausted our riches, ruined our credit, even compromising the nation’s honor, only left us fearful ruin on every hand to work upon, terrible wounds to cure, and a chasm to bridge. We went bravely to work; but is the work accomplished? Alas! there is much yet to be done. The condition of our finances is far from satisfactory. Its most important problems must yet be solved to the satisfaction of all. A desolating contest, which must be terminated, has for two years retarded this much-desired solution. It becomes an urgent necessity to defend Haytian interests against all unjust demands, illegal pretensions, and also against those who contribute the most, by their waste, in ruining the national credit. Want, fearful public misery, the fruits of a financial situation not yet generally known, through prejudice existing on all sides, stands erect, displays its hideous rags, calling upon us loudly for a final solution. This is of grave importance, gentlemen, and yet it is not all.

From one end to the other of the republic, as you are aware, a strange, undefined uneasiness has settled for some time past on our people, banishing whatever hope they might have enjoyed. The least rumor causes disquietude, for we know that blind criminal passions are agitated, disturbing the country and threatening to destroy our internal peace, the only boon which remains to us. It is not only at Limonade and a few other little villages that these fears have been entertained. At Port au Prince, even, the capital of Hayti, blood has flowed; bullets, criminally destined to overthrow our liberal institutions, have been shot among women and other defenseless people.

President of Hayti: Since you have added by your presence to the luster of this ceremony, allow us to use this opportunity to congratulate you, in the name of our constituents, upon the decisive victory the government has obtained over the enemies of public order in the events which have lately occurred. You have no doubt felt happy, Mr. President, in witnessing the readiness evinced by our good citizens, who have on all sides proffered to you their courage and their arms. This is the just reward of your political honesty. In remaining faithful to your constitutional oath, you have identified yourself with the nation. You have ceased to maintain, as have so many of your predecessors, a personal cause. Your cause has become that of the nation. You have found her, and you will always find her, between you and your enemies. Persevere, Mr. President, in this path of uprightness and loyalty, and when the time arrives to resign your seat, you will bear to your retreat abundant glory—the glory of being pointed out by your fellow-citizens as a model to your successors.

Gentlemen, senators, and deputies: We have, as I have already said, a first and great duty to fulfill; it is to calm those fears and apprehensions that I have already reminded you as existing among our people; and in order to obtain this general sense of security, we must ourselves offer the example of concord, a sincere brotherly feeling among the members of this legislature. Ah! that I could command sufficient eloquence to drive far from these walls the discord which for thirty years has marred our progress and annihilated our noblest aspirations. Let us endeavor, my dear colleagues, to re-establish among us peace, kindness, and harmony; we owe it to our wives, our sons, our aged parents, who, far from this assembly, tremble when they hear the cannon of alarm, the signal of civil war, of blind passion, and brute force, or else we may have in the future to clash one against the other.

We have been subjected to ceaseless struggle since 1858; we have shed the best blood in order to secure in the management of our country intelligence, which then was accorded only a secondary position, while ignorance reigned supreme. Must we render fruitless this struggle at the very hour when we have every reason to believe that we have obtained a complete victory? Why, now that ignorance is confused, or, shall I say, convinced, and is wiped out from one end to the other of the republic, and then seeks refuge at Kingston, Paris, and elsewhere, conspiring to place discord in sction, are we to allow the obliteration of order by passions and ignorance? No; that shall not be. No; a thousand times no. Intelligent men of my country, yon will not [Page 452] offer this sad spectacle to the civilized world. You will not allow such a final verdict to he delivered against the black race, against a race which has furnished such noble natures that one should be proud of being its descendant.

Far from that, my dear colleagues. Each one of us, taking compassion upon our commune, and too unhappy country, will throw aside his anger and animosity, and, uniting in one bond the intelligence of some, the willingness of others, we shall be enabled to enjoy good-will, fraternity, and kindness one for another in all parliamentary contests that may occur during the progress of this session. What is necessary in order to obtain this? Let each remember that no interest other than a national one ought to be tolerated here.

In the name of the constitution I formally declare open the third session ohe fifteenth legislature.

Vive l’union.

Vive la liberté.

Vive l’independence.

Vive la constitution.

Vive le President d’Haïti.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 55.—Translation.]

Address of President Canal.

Mr. President of the National Assembly: In joining with you in the inauguration of the third session of your legislature, I have not only obeyed the dictates of duty, but have wished, at the same time, to give to the assembly, whose votes have confided to me the executive, renewed proof of my sympathy; and to the country that has intrusted its destiny in my care a fresh proof of the necessary alliance between the chief of the executive and the houses of legislature.

You have reminded us of the cost of our institutions and the difficulties they have encountered in the lamented past. In the deep embarrassments which fall upon this administration, is not concord among all politicians sincerely devoted to their country the first duty which enables us to surmount them? For my part, I have never doubted, whatever may have been the difficulties of my station, whatever the excitement or susceptibility caused by unfortunate circumstances, I have always imposed upon myself the duty of shaping my policy upon the necessity of unamimity between the great bodies of state, a necessity which, in my sight, predominates over all others, and must prove the stability of our institutions. This policy, perhaps, has been the butt of interested or passionate critics. All sorts of ambition and impatience have there sought refuge for pretext and arms. But the good sense of the public has done justice to the matter, and in face of the devotion with which the city of Port au Prince conducted, but the other day, the defense of my government, together with that of society, in presence of the flattering praise that you accord to the personification of the policy I represent, I have entirely forgotten the bitterness entertained by those critics, even the cruelty of treachery, in order to sincerely rejoice with you on the fruits of the inauguration of a system in which the chief of the executive, overlooking all personal interest, is merely a visible representative of the law and those institutions intrusted to his care.

These results, without belittling the difficulties that remain to be surmounted, must be protected by the maintenance of unity between the executive and the legislature, and in the appeal for unity which you have made to this assembly, I sincerely join my wishes to yours. I ardently hope that those intelligent men who, for different causes and at different periods, have already undergone the hard apprenticeship of revolutions and their consequences, will forget the past differences, their recent animosities, to join together their intelligence, and seek the remedy for our perilous condition.

Serious want burdens the country; the causes thereof are numerous. Can it be the disastrous legacy of our revolutions and of former administrations, or, if we will go further in our history, is not our situation caused, on certain sides, by the neglect of work and the diminution of production; or is this the logical result of laws which have alienated European civilization from our borders, not granting it the right to be incorporated with us, and replenish our soil by means of its example and capital? Whatever may be the solution, we here have a question of which urgent necessity demands an investigation; we here have a field of inquiry in which our native faculties, rising above party action, should find matter for wise effort.

Mr. President of the National Assembly: The legislature and I have assumed the direction of national affairs in one of the most critical epochs of our history. The legislative body and I must relinquish in a few months the mandates confided to us by the country. I would rejoice if, through our joint efforts, and by means of a stroke at [Page 453] on ce bold and prudent, through its instrumentality in preparing the future and at the same time keeping in hand the past, we could give luster to the community by our works. I would rejoice if we could hand to our successors, through the example of the unity which has dwelt among us, the fruits of a reform which would elevate our country from its ruin, that her thanks may be associated with the remembrance of the fifteenth legislature and my government. Such, gentlemen, is the wish I express, while assisting with you at the opening of this new session, and such, I am sure, are the sentiments that the country at large will discover in you.

Vive la constitution de 1867!

Vive la representation national!

Vive l’unité de la famille Haïtienne!