Mr. Langston to Mr. Evarts.
Port au Prince, Hayti, July 25, 1879. (Received August 7.)
Sir: On the 1st instant at, an early hour of the morning, I received from the Hon. H. Byron, Her Majesty’s vice-consul in Hayti, in charge of the legation and consulate-general in the absence of Major Stuart, Her Majesty’s minister resident and consul-general, a note, the copy of which, with translation, constitutes the first inclosure of this dispatch.[Page 573]
Accordingly I came at once to the city, and made haste to advise him of my whereabouts, and that I, with my colleagues named, awaited his presence, as stated in the note, a copy of which constitutes the second inclosure hereto.
In a short time, Mr. Byron, accompanied by the secretary of state of the interior, and others, made his appearance; when, according to arrangements which I had caused to be made, I invited them into a private apartment to learn what was to be communicated, and whether the matter was one which required the assembling and action of the diplomatic corps., Besides, I informed Mr. Byron that if he had a written communication from the government or the insurgents it was proper to present it. He stated only as matter of communication and reply, that he had received a note from the government, that there was no time to be lost, and that he was going, whatever others might do, at once to the palace.
To this, I replied, “I cannot attempt, under the circumstances, to represent or act for the corps until I have taken their decision in regard to the subject about which the government is said to have made communication, nor will I go to the palace on my own responsibility, until I know what I am called there for.”
It was finally stated, however, that the government would make full statement and explanation of its desire when we reached the palace, and that it would be wise for us to go there without delay. I consented, then, and went.
There we met the President and his secretaries, when the former proceeded to state and explain what he desired. The service which he would have us undertake was to carry to the insurgents the proposition of amnesty which the government would offer, as contained in the order of the government, already transmitted to the Department as inclosure No. 1 of my dispatch No. 174; and in view thereof, if possible, to induce the insurgents to ground their arms and return to their allegiance. Bazelais and Paul only to be embarked.
When the President had finished his statement, I told him that the diplomatic corps had not considered this matter; that it had not been brought to their attention; that we had received no communication from him, directly or indirectly; that, therefore, I could not speak by any authority for my colleagues.
That the situation might be fully understood, through his kind permission I asked the President the three following questions:
Have you had communication with the insurgents?
Are they willing to hear and consider terms of amnesty from the government?
Does the government desire our counsel as to the course which it ought to pursue in this case?
To the first question the President answered affirmatively; to the second, he signified that he did not find the insurgents ready to listen to terms of amnesty; and to the third, he replied with clearness and decision, the government had decided upon its course, and will pursue it.
In this connection, I beg to state that, in order to render it proper and feasible for the diplomatic corps to enter upon the service suggested by the government, three conditions should exist.
In the first place, it ought to have received from the government and the insurgents communications by despatch or otherwise, certainly in proper form, that each desires it to undertake the service of reconciliation and adjustment as between them; in the second place, the assurance ought to have been given by them that each would abide by and [Page 574] observe the adjustment which was finally advised; and, thirdly, that all fighting should cease pending negotiations, and the flag of the corps, or that borne by its agents, as it or they might have occasion to go or pass under the guns of the one or the other party, should be entirely respected as one of truce.
In the light of such principles and the answers of the President to the questions propounded, it seemed to me the only thing left to be done under the circumstances was, as I said to the President, for the government to advance to the suppression of the rebellion.
And yet, leaving the palace and repairing to our legation, accompanied by the gentlemen present at the interview, Messrs. Byron, Huttinot, Lubin, and Denis, the president of the senate, I made an ineffectual attempt to secure a meeting of the diplomatic corps. One or two of the members of the corps were in the country; and such was the condition of affairs in the city, the firing of guns from the houses occupied by the insurgents, so incessant and dangerous, that another of them refused to leave his residence. Indeed, I came to and left our own office under the fire of the guns of the insurgents. Thereafter it became entirely impracticable, up to the 4th day of this month, to hold a meetiny of the corps. And hence no action was taken by it upon the matter submitted informally by the President, as stated.
But Messrs. Byron and Huttinot, the latter since the death of Gomte Rochechouart, in charge of the French legation, did, in their individual capacity, what they deemed proper to induce the insurgents to accept the proposal of amnesty tendered by the government. Their endeavors were, however, totally unavailing 5 and such result was apparent from the first, for the leaders of the rebellion had staked all they possessed on the results of this movement, and their followers were pledged to support them to the last 5 while any proposition of adjustment originating with and coming from the government was considered and treated by them as evidence of weakness on its part. And when Bazelais and his adherents, in the presence of Messrs. Byron and Huttinot, who had brought it to them, tore up and threw away with disdain the order of amnesty offered by the government upon condition of surrender, their action furnished the amplest proof of all that is here stated.
As showing the zeal with which Mr. Byron, assisted somewhat by Mr. Huttinot, labored, I have the honor to transmit, herewith inclosed, as published in the Moniteur of the 5th instant, with translations, three notes addressed by him to the President, together with the reply thereto, with translation, by his excellency. These notes need no comment.
It may be stated, however, that Mr. Byron has resided in this country for over twenty years, has contracted marriage with a Haytian woman; and it is reported that by such marriage he has been brought into close social relations with the leading liberal families of this city.
In presenting, with particularity, these facts and details, I do but simple justice to the diplomatic corps, of which I have the very distinguished honor of being, at this time, the dean.
I am, &c.,