No. 212.
Mr. Langston to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 593.]

Sir: In transmitting to the Department, as herewith inclosed, the translation of a dispatch of President Salomon, addressed through me to the diplomatic corps, dated as of the 4th instant, I have the honor to invite your attention specially to the fact that after detailing the circumstances of the purchase of the ship Eider at St. Thomas, her change of the British for the Haytien flag on her arrival at Jacmel, her employment in the insurgent service, her probable disturbance of the coasting trade of Hayti, especially as respects the interests of foreigners engaged in commerce in this country, and referring to the fact that his Government, by a decree of the 20th of September last, had declared this vessel, known now in the change of her name as La Patrie, a pirate, the President asks the members of the corps to recognize this ship as in fact a real pirate, and have her pursued accordingly. It will be noticed, also, that the President refers in the closing portion of his dispatch to the circumstance that on the 23d of September last the diplomatic and consular corps had seen fit to land troops in Port au Prince, and even menaced the bombardment of his palace and forts, concluding that, if such action could be justly taken, the request which he made as to the ship in question could not be unreasonable.

[Page 294]

The fact as stated by the President in such regard is true. But upon due and careful consideration of the whole subject the corps, asking the counsel of the several commanding officers of the war vessels at the time in this harbor in that behalf, including our own captain of the Swatara, P. H. Cooper, could not agree with the President in his judgment in this matter; and accordingly addressed, through its dean, a reply to his dispatch, a copy of which, dated as of the 13th instant, is, as herewith inclosed, transmitted to you. From the date of the reply it will be perceived that it was somewhat delayed. This was so because the President was asked and promised to furnish facts as regards injuries done in fact by the La Patrie to the merchandise of foreigners found on Haytien coasters. Such facts, however, he did not furnish; and, after the reasonable delay, the reply was made. The corps declines, without presenting formal or extended argument in defense of its position, to take the action suggested by the President.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 593.—Translation.]

President Solamon to Mr. Langston.

Mr. Minister: The enemies of my Government at St. Thomas bought there an old steamer of the Royal Mail and sent it to the insurgents at Jacmel, where it arrived, at the end of August, under the British flag. On this occasion my consul at Saint Thomas exchanged correspondence with the Danish authorities and the consul of England in that place. But it was in vain that he told them that this steamer, then known by the name of the Eider, was bought on account of the insurgents, and would go to Jacmel to carry trouble and injury to Hayti, the Government of which is in good diplomatic relations with these two powers.

At Jacmel, the Eider, taking the name of La Patrie, replaced the English flag by the Haytien flag; and since this ship traverses the coasts of the South, the West, and the Artibonite of the Republic, capturing the crafts which it meets and appropriating to itself the imports and commodities which it finds upon them.

A decree of my Government of the 20th of September last declares this vessel a pirate and authorizes that she be pursued.

Haytien legislation does not accord to foreigners the right of conducting commerce by the coasting trade (which is exclusively reserved to its citizens). Foreign merchants, then, are obliged to confide to the coasting trade the cash which they forward to the different points for the purchase of commodities, which are sent them by the same means of the coasting trade. Then it results, at this moment, that the coasters which encounter the pirate steamer, being captured, the property of foreign merchants which is found thereupon becomes the booty of the insurgents, From which it follows that to avoid loss of their capital and merchandise, these merchants will be absolutely forced to suspend every commercial operation, which will render immobile their capital and will cause them, by consequence, considerable losses. One could comprehend such a situation if those actually in arms against my Government were recognized as belligerents; but not being, the acts which they commit are piracy.

If, the 23d of September, the diplomatic and consular corps, in presence of civil disorder which for the moment I was unable to suppress in this capital, had landed armed men and menaced the bombardment of my palace and the forts to arrest this disorder which brought injury to the interests of their citizens, I am authorized to hope that for the same reasons the diplomatic corps will judge it necessary to interfere to stop the depredations which the steamer of the insurgents commits.

In presenting to you these considerations, I am persuaded, Mr. Minister, that in the interest of foreign commerce threatened the diplomatic corps, whose president you are, will decide that it is proper to capture the Eider.

I am, &c.,

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[Inclosure 2 in No. 593.]

Mr. Langston to President Salomon.

Excellency: The corps diplomatique has, after duly considering your dispatch of the 4th instant, addressed to the undersigned and by him brought to the attention of the corps, assisted by the several commanders of the war vessels present in the harbor, concluded that so far as it is concerned no acts connected with the movements of the ship Eider, as the corps is at this time advised, would justify, as against such vessels the action which you have been pleased to suggest in your dispatch as proper to be taken by such body.

The undersigned, on behalf of the corps diplomatique, begs to present its sentiments of the most distinguished consideration to his excellency, and begs to assure him that the corps entertains the liveliest interest in all things appertaining to his Government and its continued good understanding with the great foreign powers of the world.