Mr. Langston to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Port-au-Prince , Nov. 20, 1883. (Received Dec. 13.)
Sir: During my absence on congé on the 22d and 23d of September last occurrences took place in Port-au-Prince in connection with the revolutionary movements of the country to which I deem it important even now to invite the attention of the Department in a statement which I have fully verified by careful and earnest investigation.
About midday of the 22d of September some twenty or thirty persons, known as Liberals, opposed to the present Government and in favor of the existing revolution, appeared armed in the streets of the capital, crying “Down with Salomon and long live the revolution!” These men proceeded at once with acts of violence and blood, among other things shooting and killing the commandant of the arrondissement, to the execution of their treasonable purposes. Very soon, however, finding that no general response of the people was made to their movements they skulked away, concealing themselves in private places or in several of the consulates here. Within, too, a half or three-quarters of an hour the Government brought its troops into action, and then followed a scene of popular excitement, in which the people and the soldiers bore conspicuous part, beggaring all description; but while all these [Page 595] seemed loyal, even devoted to Salomon and his administration, their demonstrations in that regard were shown in such displays of ungovernable violence, the firing of property, its destruction and pillage, as to terrify and sicken the heart. The number of lives lost was not large. The amount of property destroyed was immense, as one will perceive when it is stated that the very heart of the city, where the best and most valuable buildings, aggregating hundreds, were located, was left a charred and ghastly waste. The events of the first day of which I write were sad enough, and it was generally hoped that they would close the frightful drama of carnage and ruin which was being performed in the capital of this revolution-cursed country.
The 23d of the month, Sabbath, dawned auspiciously in seeming peace and quiet. It was felt that the storm of violence and destruction had passed, and order restored would be, for the time being at least, maintained. Such, however, was not to be the case. Early in the day General Piquant, commanding officer of the Government, formerly secretary of state of war, who had been wounded in a late engagement against the insurgents at Miragoâne, was landed in Port-au-Prince, and when his arrival and his condition became known in the city the wildest, most destructive popular furor broke forth again. The lives and property of any persons known or suspected of entertaining sympathy for the insurgents, or inimical purposes towards the Government, were generally in danger, and in very many cases certainly, as regards their property, destroyed. On this day so unmanageable and indiscreet was the fury of the people and the soldiers that, as respects Haytians and foreigners and the destruction of their property, even in the use of cannon, weapons, and kerosene oil and torches for setting fire, the least possible discrimination was made. No respect was really had finally for foreign flags, so that, eventually, the different legations and consulates, with their occupants, might be suitably protected, the diplomatic and consular officers residing in this capital, having war vessels in this harbor, had troops landed therefrom, and, in form of an ultimatum to the Government, demanded that the existing disorder, the destruction of life and property, as well as pillaging, be stopped by it, or force would be employed to that end, even to the bombarding Of the national palace. Order was restored, and the ravages of the infuriated populace and un-governed and disorderly soldiery were stopped. It is said that the troops, coming from English, French, and Spanish war vessels, were landed with permission of the Government. There was no American man-of-war in the port at the time, and our vice-consul-general, in the exercise of a wise discretion, did not sign the ultimatum referred to. I have the honor to transmit, as herewith inclosed, a copy of the ultimatum as translated.
In the general destruction of property on the 22d and 23d of last September the records, books, papers, and furniture of the department of state of foreign affairs, finances, and commerce were wholly destroyed, except, perhaps, two registers of bonds issued. This will, of course, entail the greatest possible inconvenience upon those who have heretofore been doing business with this department, and whose correspondence, as is the case with this legation, has been thus destroyed.
In connection with the occurrences mentioned I have to advise the Department that four American citizens, namely, Messrs. C. W. Mossell, Eugene V. Garrido, Richard Allen, and Mrs. Maria Hamilton, lost considerable amounts of property; and the first two named persons, especially Mr. Mossell, a missionary of the African Methodist Episcopal church, with his wife and child, were very shamefully maltreated even [Page 596] by the soldiers of the Government, without the slightest cause or provocation, as I am now advised.
These cases are all now being considered by me, and at an early day I shall bring them to the attention of the Haytian Government upon such demand for settlement as may seem to be just and reasonable under the circumstances.
I am, &c.,