Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 4, 1882
Mr. Langston to Mr. Frelinghuysen
Port-au-Prince, Hayti , May 17, 1882. (Received June 23.)
Sir: On the 6th instant there was published in the official section of Le Moniteur an address delivered by President Salomon, at a public audience held by him at the Cape on Sunday, the 23d of last month. A copy of this address, with a translation, is herewith inclosed and transmitted to the Department.
Upon the perusal of this address, it will be perceived that the President undertakes, after stating that wellnigh all the acts of his government have been misinterpreted at the Cape, to explain and justify the conduct of his administratisn, dwelling, as he classifies the various topics of his discourse, upon his circular No. 548, dated February 18, 1882, in which he advised the people to cultivate the soil; the expenses and annoyances occasioned by the conduct of certain wicked persons of the Cape; the non-acceptance of the bank by such persons, as advancing the financial condition of the country; the men of the Cape who foolishly feel that they are strong; the absurd idea of certain disloyal persons of the Cape who pretend that he seeks to have himself made emperor; the high honor that has been done him already, in applying to him the title of “father of the country”; the pamphlet of Jacot, an infamous paper, which he characterizes in severe terms of condemnation; the opinion entertained of the national money by certain persons at the Cape, and finally renewed reference to his circular, which is more fully explained and approved. Then, after assuring the people that he has come to the Cape to tranquilize the northern part of the country, and urging them to aid him in this behalf, he advises that it would not be well to arouse the popular wrath by firing a shot at the Cape, for no general, not even the President himself, would, in such event, should he desire to do so, be able to stay the chastisement which the people would inflict upon that rebellious city. Concluding, he exhorts the people to assist him in his work of pacification; to be his disciples, and proclaim everywhere peace, union, and concord.
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I have, &c.,
Address of President Salomon delivered on the Champ de Mars, at Cape Haytien, on Sunday, the 23d day of April, 1882, as published in Le Moniteur of May 6 last.
My Friends: When, eleven months ago, I quitted the Cape at the end of a grand tour, I did not think that I would have to return here so soon. After I had accomplished throughout the country two grand successful tours, I felt that I had the right to remain some time at Port-au-Prince occupied with the affairs of public administration. But no; the Cape was opposed thereto. The Cape is a center of conspiracy and disorder the Cape is a center of disturbance and of anarchy.
The entire republic is tranquil; the Cape only protests against this tranquility; either directly or indirectly, the Cape hinders the progress of my government and is the object of all its cares.
The city of the Cape wishes to establish a state in the state; I will not allow it; I [Page 356] will not permit it. Far be it from me to accuse all the people of the Cape. No; I know how to separate the good grain from the tare; I would render full and entire justice to the healthy part of the population, but let those who at the Cape are against my government know that I cannot submit myself to their will to satisfy their wishes without dishonoring myself; let them know that it is my duty to compel respect for the laws and cause them to be respected by all. This duty I will fulfill to the end.
Almost all the acts of my government are misinterpreted at the Cape.
The circular which I had addressed about three months ago to my commanders of arrondissements has been well accepted everywhere except at the Cape; it has found at the Cape traducers. They have sought to make the impression that I was treating the people as idlers in having counseled them to go to cultivating the soil in order to increase their revenues and establish their well-being. Well, as for me, my conviction is that my circular is one of the wisest acts of my government; one of those acts which honor a chief of state.
I know all those here who seek to overthrow my government. Yes, I know them! Let those who feel that the cap fits them wear it.
I have come to the Cape to proceed vigorously against those who wish to trouble in any and every case the public order. I shall not leave without having regulated their condition; I say it loudly; it shall be to my disgrace if I go hence leaving the Cape in the condition in which it is found at this moment.
the outlays and annoyances occasioned by the cape.
My friends, I have come this time to break all horns—to chastise all factionists; the men who occasion such sacrifices to the public treasury.
To cite only a part of such sacrifices, understand, my friends, that the two ships which have brought me and my troops here cost the state $500 per day. Calculate and you will see that $500 represent more than eight months of salary of a general of division. And such is the unfortunate state of things at the Cape, that if I had been susceptible of emotion I would have been here some several weeks since, for the news which has reached me has been of the most alarming sort.
The propaganda which organize themselves here have undermined credit and thrown into dismay the higher branches of trade which I know to be very much attached to my government, because it is believed that I am an honest man.
I say misfortune to the Cape if there is fired from here a single shot. Such shot would be the signal of massacre and incendiarism; and I will add, for I ought to tell you the truth, my friends, it would be the signal of pillage, for the entire republic is in anger against the Cape and has wrathful looks towards it.
I repeat to you, my friends, I have come to do justice, and in such justice I will separate the goats from the sheep, for if there are evil-doers here, there are good citizens.
Do you wish to have, my friends, an idea of the injury which the factionists of the Cape do us, marching in accord with the factionists who are found abroad? Listen Negotiations had been commenced, abroad in the interests of the state; they were interrupted at the news that the Cape was going to take up arms against my government.
Work upon a railroad from Port-au-Prince to the lake had been retarded by reason of the same reports; and observe, my friends, that this same response was made us by all those with whom my government had commenced negotiations with a view to the advancement of our country.
Is such situation acceptable, and has the time not come to finish with those who have brought it about? What evil have I done, then, to these evil-doers at the Cape?
The Cape has been treated by my government as a spoiled child, as a preferred child. Have I not done more for the Cape than for any other part of the country, than for Aux-Cayes for example? I mention Aux-Cayes because it is my native city; there all my affections are found; there my family and all my interests are found.
the cape and the bank.
The bank, accepted by all as a source of benefit, is discredited at the Cape. Why? Because the bank established order and regularity in our finances; because with the bank there are no more jobs, no more thefts; because it thwarts all those who were in the habit of making of the public treasury their private treasury; because the bank cuts off the means of living to all lazy persons who would enjoy life without labor. They have permitted themselves to say that the bank has made no change in the financial condition of the country. The bank has up to this time furnished the funds for the various services, and more particularly for that of the army which ought to be paid by privilege and by preference, and the preference explains itself.[Page 357]
Soldiers! You who are always in requisition (an four et au moulin), as they say, is it not just that you should be paid before the employés of the civil order? The money has been sent here to pay you; if you have not been paid for such month, it is because the money which I sent you has been employed for the payment of other persons.
I ought to say, nevertheless, in extenuation of the incorrect conduct of the paymaster, that nothing proves up to this time that he has diverted anything to his own profit; his offense consists in having made a false application of the funds which he had received. If this act is repeated the employé shall be dismissed and punished. A commission now examines the accounts of the paymaster.
I have the consciousness that I have done everything which was possible to prevent the Cape from suffering. What has been my surprise, then, my dissatisfaction on arriving here, to understand among other things that there are due three payments at Fort Liberté. I have just explained to you the cause of this.
Then there is nothing which I have not done to give satisfaction to the Cape. I have done more still always to be agreeable to this city; I have taken from its midst three of its sons to constitute my ministry, composed of five members. Well, interrogate these three children of the Cape; they will tell you how they are chagrined, humiliated by the conduct of the Cape. (Demonstrations of approbation.)
The Cape is a black point for the republic. The Cape is an obstacle to its onward march.
the strong men of the cape.
Once more, my friends, in speaking as I do, I only undertake to speak of wicked per sons, the disturbers who are in your midst and whom you know. Here there are men who believe and who say they are strong. Well, those men deceive themselves; they are not strong as I, and I will prove it by breaking all the horns so lofty as they may be. Yes, my friends, I say I am strong because I know I am supported by you; because I know I am able to count upon the valorous swords of you all, my lieutenants who stand around me, of you all, my commanders of arrondissements, because I feel that I am supported by the bayonets of the army and by the love of my fellow-citizens.
I have preached union and concord. I have always and without ceasing preached them. For that my enemies have said that my language was that of fear or weakness; others even see therein nonsense. Having charge of the people, I have no right to be weak; I am not vulnerable to fear. I foolish? Permit me to believe that I am not.
The enemies within and without have made haste to circulate the report that I had given order to General Tirésias Simon Sam to arrest certain persons, and that he had refused to obey. Be convinced that a general to whom I may have given order to arrest any one, will execute such order. They say besides, these enemies, that I have given order to recruit and that my lieutenants have refused to do so. Error again. When I shall give order to recruit they will recruit.
the cape and the empire.
In their propaganda the wrongdoers have said that I wish to have myself proclaimed emperor. (Great sensation and movements of attention.) To have myself proclaimed emperor: this would be the act of a fool or an imbecile. I am neither a fool nor an imbecile!!!
At the moment when empires are crumbling, is this the moment in which I would determine to have myself proclaimed emperor? No; I am not capable of such folly, of such ridicule. Everything admonishes us that empires have finished their terms.
If in 1848 it was an error to found an empire in Hayti, to-day this would be insanity. As strong as I am as President, so weak I would be as emperor. The title of emperor, far from strengthening me in the esteem of my fellow-citizens, would cause me the loss of it. Named emperor to-day, I would fall to-morrow.
My friends, you have already wrought for me a very much more beautiful crown, much more rich than that of all the emperors of the world—a crown which even very few emperors wear, so precious is it. This crown you have awarded me in calling me the father of the country. (Prolonged applause; cries of long live the father of the country.)
Chief of state, am I not really the father of you all? Follow well my conduct and you will see that since I have been at the head of the country, I only cause my presence to be felt as a father, I only cite one example, and especially in response to—
the pamphlet of jacot.
In this infamous writing, Jacot says that I have refused to fire cannon to purify the atmosphere during the epidemic. Notwithstanding my modesty I have been obliged to publish in the Official Journal numerous documents proving the contrary.
You have read them, even you. I have done more; I have gone into the hospitals, [Page 358] and sometimes even with my wife, to visit persons with smallpox, talking to them, seeking to draw from them a smile in the midst of their sufferings, and giving them aid and consolation. It was necessary to gird up ones loins to remain in the midst of men in whose faces there remained nothing human, and nevertheless I did it, and I did it with pleasure, because I felt myself rather the father than the chief of my fellow-citizens. What chief of state in Hayti has done that which I have done in this regard?
Such are the infamous things which they dare to publish against me. So I ought to count, officers, soldiers, that when I shall undertake to punish these wrongdoers, to crush their heads, I will find you on my side. (Hurrahs.)
What I have done is not for me, nor for fame, for I have enough glory of you, yourselves; what I do is for you, my friends.
I am old; you are young. I myself go; you yourselves remain. It is for you who remain that I consent to be at your head, laboring to escape the misfortunes which the enemies would call upon the fatherland. Yes, it is for you that I have made the sacrifice upon the altar of the fatherland of all hatred, of all ill-will; it is for you, and by love for you, that I consent to forget all that I suffered during twenty years of exile; to preoccupy myself only with the progress of the country, and with the good of my fellow-citizens.
the cape and national money.
Another perfidy. I have given money to the country. It is the best national money we have yet had in Hayti, or rather it is thereof the only good. On one side of this money the arms of the republic are found, on the other the head of a female. Would one believe that the idle of the Cape, the jobbers and agitators of this city, are taking advantage of this portrait to create a propaganda against my government? They say that I have put upon one side the portrait of my wife, who is white, which signifies that I wish to sell the country to the whites. (Prolonged laughter.)
They say this, these idle, vicious persons, because I have taken from them the keys of the public treasury. But how can this portrait be the likeness of my wife when it has for a head-dress a handkerchief? Do we not know that white women do not wear a handkerchief; that they wear only hats and hoods?
It is true that the Haytien women imitate them much, for some time in wearing also hats and hoods. I find myself that it is an error according to me, nothing is better for a Haytien woman than the handkerchief. (Renewed laughter.)
again my circular.
The treacherous here leave no stone unturned. I explain in my circular why coffee has fallen to so low price—many of the countries which had not been producers thereof, produce it to-day, in abundance; and the more merchandise abounds in the market, the less one demands it, and the less one finds purchasers. On the other side, according as the production of coffee is increased abroad, they invent machines for its preparation; hence, not only do these countries produce more coffee than we, but, besides, their coffee is better prepared than ours.
These causes are the only ones which operate to depreciate our coffee abroad. To improve its price I have striven to give you advice; I have told you our fortune lies in the earth; that nine merchants out of ten fail, although they never fail who work the soil. I was not content with these counsels alone; I offered the example of working myself the soil. It is, besides, my trade. At Kingston during my exile, I only did this, and I did well thereby. Well, they have said here that it is because of contempt for you that I have advised you to work the soil. Ah! it is necessary that I chastise these wicked persons of the Cape.
But to resume, my friends, I will tell you that 1 have come here to reassure the country; to reassure the inhabitants and the honorable fathers of family of the Cape. I have come to reassure those who possess as well as those who do not possess, but who wish to work honestly to make for themselves a position. I have come to reassure the commerce, the higher branches of trade especially—that is to say, that part of the commerce composed of men who have left native country, family, to come to establish themselves in Hayti. I have come here to reassure the world, and permit me to say, that I am persuaded that you will all aid me to attain this end. (Yes, yes!!)
Ah, let us avoid, yes, let us see to it that not a shot is fired at the Cape. Blood which flows from the explosion of powder is a drink very intoxicating. When one has commenced to drink it he experiences a devouring thirst. If, then, a gun is fired at the Cape I shall be impotent to stay the evil. In attempting to stay it, I would die, perhaps, even myself; I tell you this from experience.
My father was the most popular man of his department. A government to have been unjust towards him, to have exiled him, had not been slow to recognize this popularity.
At the voice of my father, in 1483, all the department of the south was on foot and in [Page 359] arms in less than eight days. Well, when I had seen in 1844 and in 1848 those men who obeyed as by enchantment the voice of my father, both he and I feared them, for those men were in anger, and a moment had arrived in which we would have been crushed by them if we had counseled them moderation. Let us then be careful not to provoke the anger of the people.
When I speak our enemies say that these are menaces for the purpose of causing fear. Nevertheless, that which I say is not to intimidate but to admonish; I know the history of my country.
You, General Joseph Edward, do you not know that they were angry with you for not having, when you occupied in military manner the Cape in 1879, permitted the sacking of the city? (Demonstrations of approval.)
At the present time, if a gun is fired at the Cape, no general, whoever he may be, and even the President of Hayti, will not be sufficiently powerful to make opposition to the chastisement they would seek to inflict upon the rebellious city. All those who would attempt to make opposition thereto would-be very quickly whitened. (Great hilarity.)
You all, my friends, who are of the conservative party—you all fathers of family; you especially who have interests at the Cape, and who wish to preserve them, be my apostles. There are some deaf, but perhaps they will be able finally through you to hear.
My friends, I pray you thereof, I conjure you, I adjure you, aid me in the work of pacification which I have pursued since my advent to power. Be my disciples, preach to all, and especially, peace, union, and concord. (Repeated vivats, numerous cries, of “Long live the President of Hayti.”)