Mr. Langston to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Port au-Prince , July 25, 1883. (Received August 8.)
Sir: The rebellion against this Government is extending itself, and the situation here is becoming more and more complicated. Yesterday it was reported at an early hour of the day that the city of Jacmel was in arms against the Government. The report proved to be true, and at 8 a. in. members of the diplomatic corps of this city were invited by note to meet His Excellency the President at the National Palace at 9 o’clock, to listen to an important communication which the President, deemed it prudent to make to such gentlemen. The corps met His Excellency promptly at the hour named, when he informed us that Jacmel had taken up arms against the Government; that the Commandant of the arrondissement his own chief aide-de camp, his delegate at Jacmel, and another prominent officer of the Government had been arrested and put in prison; and that he held the acting British vice-consul at Jacmel responsible for the existing condition of things, as he had received into his consulate persons inimical to the Government, and had allowed them not only to pass in and out of the consulate at their pleasure, but had allowed them to plot treason there, and finally accomplish the present condition of things at Jacmel, one of the chief cities of the Republic. He then asked the members of the corps not to grant such liberties as those indicated to persons taking refuge in their several legations; and to do not only what they could to secure the release especially of the persons arrested and imprisoned at Jacmel, but to instruct their several consular agents not to abuse the privilege that is granted in this country in connection with the reception of political refugees.
The members of the corps of course considered with becoming respect [Page 592] all that was said by the President, but concluded that, so far as any charges existed, in the estimation of the Government, as regards the conduct of the British consular officer at Jacmel, such matter might constitute a proper subject of consideration by the Haytian and British authorities, but not for the corps; and that each member of the corps, as regards any efforts that might be made for the release of the prisoners referred to, and the instructions to be given to the consular agents as requested, must act in his own name and for hiniself in such behalf. Such were my views, and being the dean of the diplomatic corps, I did not hesitate to declare them at once and with plainness.
One or two of the members of the corps felt at first that it might be well to address our agents in a collective or identic instruction. To this, however, I objected, and, as stated, it was finally agreed that each representative should, address his agents in his individual name and according to his own judgment.
It is understood by our agents in all parts of this Republic that the reception of political refugees into our consulates and agencies is in no way desirable, and is not to be adopted except in the most extreme and v unavoidable cases, and then in accordance with the well-established and accepted principles and precedents pertaining to this subject. I am not advised that a single refugee is to be found in any one of our consulates or agencies at this time.
It is my duty to advise the Department that yesterday morning, after the meeting at the palace, while my colleagues of the diplomatic corps were in conference at this legation, the President sent to me by his private secretary a letter from one of his officers at Cape Haytien, with a passage therein marked, in which the statement was made, as a matter of complaint against our consul at the Cape, Mr. Goutier, that he was the source of certain “propagandas,” to use the very word of the letter, against the Government. After reading the passage indicated, I explained fully to the secretary of the President that Mr. Goutier was not only an intelligent and judicious officer, but that he had always been favorably disposed to General Salomon and his Government, and, as I believed, would do nothing showing himself forgetful of his duty as our consul nor of his friendly regard for the President. I then read to the secretary Mr. Goutier’s very last letter, dated the 18th instant, in which he gives me an account of the condition of affairs at the Cape, and speaks cordially of the President’s actions as respects the maintenance of peace there. I thereupon asked the secretary to present as fully as might be my explanation as regards this subject to the President when he took his leave of me. I have no confidence in any report as regards a “propaganda” instigated by Mr. Goutier, and I shall be very much surprised to find that he does any other thing than that which accords with his duty as a conscientious and intelligent officer of our Government.
In view of the present condition of the country the Corps Legislatif conferred upon the President yesterday full plenary powers, to be used to conserve and maintain the public welfare, and thereupon adjourned without day.
Later yesterday the Government declared the arrondissements of Leogane, Port au-Prince, and Jacmel to be in a state of siege, and the port of Jacmel blockaded.
To-day the Government has, by its proclamation, declared its purpose to maintain the public order and to vindicate its authority j and to that end calls upon all good citizens to sustain its endeavors.
I am, &c.,