No. 245.
Mr. Langston to Mr. Seward.

No. 112.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 51, and to transmit, herewith inclosed, a copy of the identic note of protest presented this day to the Haytian Government by the representatives of the French, the British, and German Governments against the consular impositions made under the law of the 23d of August, 1877. You will perceive on reading the protest that, while it covers the matter repealing the law, it says nothing as to reimbursement.

This branch of the subject may not be specially interesting to the governments making the protests; but to our government, whose citizens have already paid, under protest, if not more, certainly $50,000, and the estimate of the Haytian Government as income from this source for the the year 1878 is some $85,000, this branch of the subject is of special importance and must not be neglected.

Because this branch of the subject has already been presented by our government, and its importance is of such significance to our citizens, and it is wholly omitted in the note of protest herein inclosed, it may be well that I have not been instructed to join in making the same; and yet, of course, I shall await any instructions which you may hereafter see fit to give me, with the deepest interest.

I am, &c.,

[Page 554]
[Inclosure in No. 112.—Translation.]

Mr. Minister: An exchange of communications has taken place between the cabinets of London, Berlin, and Paris, upon the subject of the law voted by the Haytian Chambers 23d of August, 1877, consequent upon which I have received instructions to have understanding with the agents of Germany and France, and to protest in the same terms against the provisions of this law, which, in spirit and letter, are contrary to existing tariffs.

The law of the 23d of August, 1877, has for its object, according to the purpose of the law-maker, to create new resources to the Haytian treasury by levying upon foreign commerce a veritable tax. The preambles of the said law declare in fact:

Whereas it is necessary to take new measures to secure our customs duties, since the visas of our consuls abroad, borne upon invoices of merchandise and other documents such as they handle, render imperfect and incomplete the control exercised by our financial agents;

And whereas the imposts levied by the consulates in nowise profit the public treasury;

Upon the proposition of the secretary of state of finance and commerce, and upon the advice of the council of the secretaries of state, the Corps Legislatif has passed the following law:

Article I. After the 1st day of October next there shall be levied abroad, by the consuls or the commercial agents of the republic, charges of visas rated and fixed as follows:

One per cent. upon the amount of invoices of money.
One per cent. upon the amount of invoices of merchandise, &c.

Again, there exists a fact of which you seem to have forgotten to take account; it is that without modifying an international contract, that that consent is necessary which the government of Her Britannic Majesty cannot give; because, apart from the reasons which make it desirable not to aggravate the charges, already heavy, which weigh upon commerce, it could not in any case authorize Haytian consuls to collect in English ports a tax in favor of the Haytian treasury.

I am persuaded, Mr. Minister, that you will admit the justice of these observations, and that you will be willing to take measures necessary to place things in the condition in which they were before the promulgation of this law.

I seize, hastily, this occasion to renew to you the assurance of my high consideration.

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