Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 1, 1884
to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Caracas, May 29, 1884. (Received June 10.)
Sir: Referring to the case of Mr. John Dalton, I have the honor to inclose herewith:
- A copy of a dispatch from Mr. Dalton to myself, of date 13th instant, relative to the case.
- A copy of my note, of date 27th instant, to Señor Amengual, relative to the case.
- A copy of my dispatch of this date to Mr. Dalton, relative to this case.
In view of the nature of the subject, I invite the careful attention of the Department to all these inclosures.
It will be seen that Mr. Dalton reports that he was not personally arrested, being confined by sickness at the time, but that, in his place his son, John Dalton, jr., was taken as a substitute, and kept in prison three days. I have taken the view that this was, in effect, equivalent to the imprisonment of Mr. Dalton himself. I feel so confident that this view is correct, and that to suppose else is“to stick in the bark” of the true meaning and substance of the matter, that I have to respectfully request that if the Department should by possibility think otherwise it will suspend final judgment on the point until I can have an opportunity to say something further in relation thereto.* * *
I am, &c.,
Mr. Dalton to Mr. Baker.
Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela, May 13, 1884.
Sir: I have the honor of acknowledging receipt of your valued favor of April 18, and for your kind endeavors in my behalf I beg leave to offer you my best thanks. I am sorry that your protest against my arrest was of no avail, but that could have been expected if you take into consideration the scandalous and unlawful treatment that the principal, merchants of this place have been subjected to, and for what? Because they made a representation against a contract made by the Government of Venezuela with a company who intend to create a grand monopoly to the great detriment of the merchants established here. They say in Caracas that the language of the representation he made was very disrespectful, but to show you the matter clearly I have had all the documents translated into English, and submit them to you for your careful consideration, and leave it to your good judgment to say whether we deserved such outrageous treatment.
- Inclosure 1. A contract entered into by the Venezuelan Government with Messrs. Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co., dated February 28, 1883.
- Inclosure 2. A representation made to the Government at Caracas by the principal merchants of this place in reference to the aforesaid contract.
- Inclosure 3. A letter written by General Guzman Blanco, President of Venezuela, to the minister of public means, in reference to the representation mentioned.
- Inclosure 4. An order of arrest issued by the President of this State in compliance with instructions received from Caracas.
- Inclosure 5. An article inserted in one of our local newpsapers, El Bolivarense, informing the public of the arrest of the principal merchants of this place.
- Inclosure 6. An article from the constitution of Venezuela, clause 10, article 14, regarding the liberty of petitions with right of obtaining resolutions, and clause 14, section 4, regarding arrests and imprisonment.
- Inclosure 7. Newspapers bearing on the case.
I have sent a copy of these documents to the Secretary of State at Washington for his consideration. I, personally, was not arrested, being confined by illness at the time; in my place they took as a substitute my son, John Dalton, jr., whom they kept in prison three days.
* * * * * * *
I am, &c.,
United States Consul.
From the Gaceta Oficial, No. 3003, Caracas, July 6, 1883.
The Congress of the United States of Venezuela, decree:
Sole Article. The following contract entered into by the minister of public works with Messrs. Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co., on the 28th of February of the present year, for the gathering of all the vegetable products of the territory Caura, is hereby approved, to wit:
- Article 1. The Government of the Republic of Venezuela grants Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co., for the term of twenty-five years, to be extended for twenty-live years more, at the discretion of the federal executive, the exclusive right of gathering all the vegetable products discovered or to be discovered in the federal territory El Caura, such as tonca-beaus, rubber, quinine, piassava, palms, agaves, copaiba, mazaranda, vanilla, reeds, almonds, called Para chestnuts, rosins, barks, &c.
- Art. 2. The Government will exempt from the payment of import duties the indispensable machinery and apparatus for the establishment and development of the cultivation of the vegetable products, which form the principal subject of this contract, to which effect and whenever it occurs the requisites of the law shall be complied with.
- Art. 3. The Government grants Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co. the right of extracting the grease and all that may be profitable from the alligators and turtles of the rivers, streams, lagoons, and marshes, situated within the boundaries of the actual State of Bolivar.
- Art. 4. It is further granted to Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co. the use of the navigable rivers within the territory “Caura” for the purpose of establishing in same small steamboats for carrying the produce gathered by the company.
- Art. 5. Polly, Aurreeoechea & Co., on their part, hind themselves to pay the Government of Venezuela, as sole national impost, 50,000 bolivares ($9,615 United States gold) in cash for each 46,000 kilograms of tonea-beans, 50,000 bolivares for every 46,000 kilograms of rubber, and 2,000 bolivares for every 46,000 kilograms of turtle or alligator grease. After this contract has been in force five years they shall pay a conventional impost, stipulated by an additional clause to this contract, on all rosins, balms, and other marketable products.
- Art. 6. Polly, Aurreeoechea & Co. are bound to organize and preserve, with same carefulness as their own property, the tonca-bean, rubber, and other useful plantations, as well as to explore the virgin forests existing in the territory “Caura,” with the object of discovering all natural riches therein contained, reporting the result to the federal Government.
- Art. 7. The Government of Venezuela will dictate a special resolution, by which the custom-house at Ciudad Bolivar shall exact from the exporters of the products herein described a certificate, signed by the company, stating the true origin of the product to be exported and describing the quantity and place where it has been gathered. When the products proceed from the territories Upper Orinoco and Amazon as, the certificate will be signed by the authority appointed by the Government to supervise the explorations in said territories.
- Art. 8. Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co. bind themselves to co-operate to their best ability toward subduing and civilizing the errant tribes existing in the territory “Caura,” rendering to these natives the same protection granted to those from the Upper Orinoco and Amazon; and when said natives should build houses or huts, remain two years in civilized living, the federal executive will grant them the benefit stated in article 5, of the law of June 2, 1882, concerning natives and their respective securities.
- Art. 9. Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co. are authorized to transfer this contract in full or in part to another person or company, with no other requisites than its notification to the Government of the Republic.
- Art. 10. At the expiration of the stipulated term of this contract all the buildings, machinery, and properties purchased by the company for the cultivation and workings of these stipulated products, shall become the property of the Government, without any claim of indemnification on their part.
- Art. 11. The term of this contract shall commence from the date of its approval by Congress, and from same date all its stipulations shall be binding.
- Art. 12. Any difference which might occur concerning the present contract shall be settled by the courts of the Republic.
Given in the house of the federal legislative corporation, at Caracas, the 26th day of June, 1883, 20th year of the law and 25th of the Federation.
The president of the Deputies,
The secretary of the Senate,
The secretary of the Deputies,
Be it executed.
[l. g. s.] (Countersigned.)
The minister of works,
From “El Bolivarense,” No. 1079, Ciudad Bolivar, March 15, 1884.
To the Minister of Means (Fomento):
We, the undersigned, merchants resident in this city, do hereby most respectfully set forth: By the contract entered into by that department with Messrs. Polly, Aurrecoechea &, Co., on the 28th of February, 1883, it is granted to said gentlemen for the [Page 589] term of twenty-five years, to be prolonged twenty-five years more, at the discretion of the federal executive, the exclusive right of gathering all the vegetable products discovered or to be discovered in the federal territory “El Caura,” such as tonca-beans, rubber, quinine, piassava, palms, agaves (aloes), copaiba, mazaranda, reeds, vanilla, almonds (Para chestnuts), rosins, barks, &c. The greater part of the above-mentioned products are well known articles, and have been of free barter in this commerce for many years past, and as there is no reason that justifies the privilege granted to said gentlemen, we find it highly prejudicial inasmuch as it restrains the liberty of industry guaranteed by the constitution and laws of the Republic.
We beg leave to make a brief analysis of the above-mentioned contract in order to demonstrate its inconvenience; although it offers great advantages to Messrs. Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co., in detriment to traders in said article, the nation derives no benefit from it. This refers to article 1; as regards the others we shall have to make the following brief remarks:
- By article 2 the Government exempts from the payment of import duties the indispensable machinery and apparatus for the establishment and development of the cultivation of the vegetable products which form the principal subject of that contract, but Messrs. Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co. have not imported any kind of machinery nor apparatus for the better development of the concessions, which undoubtedly was the object of the Government in granting said privilege.
- By article 3 it is further granted to the contractors the right of extracting the grease and all that may be profitable from the alligators and turtles of the rivers, streams, lagoons, and marshes situated within the boundaries of the actual State of Bolivar; this concession, which deprives the State of Bolivar of its right of taxing such products, restrains at the same time the liberty of industry, preventing other Venezuelans from dealing in said article, which constitutes a small business for retailers.
- By article 4 it is likewise granted to the contractors the use of the navigable rivers within the territory “Caura” for the purpose of establishing there small steamboats for carrying the products gathered by the company. Messrs. Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co., however, have done nothing to that effect, inasmuch as they have not established small steamboats or vessels of any other description for the said navigation.
- By article 5 Messrs. Polly, Aurrecoechea sfe Co. bind themselves to pay the Government, as sole national impost, 50,000 bolivares for 46,000 kilograms of tonca-beans, while the exporters of this produce have so far paid, and are willing to pay, 175,000 bolivares for 46,000 kilograms; this causes a loss to the national treasury of 125,000 bolivares on each 46,000 kilograms exported.
- By articles 6 and 8 Messrs. Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co. bind themselves to organize and preserve with same carefulness as their own property, the rubber, tonca-bean, and other useful plantations, as well as to explore the virgin forests existing in the territory “Caura,” and to cooperate toward the subduing and civilizing of the natives existing in said territory. These gentlemen, however, have done nothing whatever toward complying with the regulations of said articles, for which reason the object the Government had in view in dictating same will not be attained, to wit, The discovery of all natural riches of said territory, and the settlement of natives inhabiting same. The contractors have confined themselves to coming to this city to appoint agents, with power to grant permits to gather tonca-beans, but with the express condition that they must be sold to them at the fixed rate of two and a half bolivares per pound.
By this uncommon pretension of Messrs. Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co. it is easily perceived the monopoly which they intend to establish, with evident prejudice to those who expose their lives in gathering said product, protected by a contract, without complying, on their part, with any of the obligations stipulated in same, and if they have not fulfilled the condition of their contract, which has been demonstrated, how can they consider themselves authorized to fix a price which is but half the value of the article, and to have the exclusive right of purchasing same at so low a price? The commerce of this city have advanced funds to the retail dealers of the district Cedeño and the territory Caura, contracting tonca-beans at 5 bolivares per pound. Would it be right, then, to let the contractors prevent traders in said product from selling their stock at the price of 5 bolivares per pound, because the merchants of Ciudad Bolivar have been deprived of their right of purchasing same, thus compelling stockholders to sell their products to them (the contractors) at 2½ bolivares per pound based on their privilege?
This, besides being restraint of liberty, is highly detrimental to the interests of traders of Cedeño, Caura, and to others, who, aspiring to some gain, come from other sections of the Republic to gather the tonca-beans. Hence the Government, which is in duty bound to protect industry and to watch over the rights and security of its citizens, cannot permit that, making use of its name and protected by a privilege which only favors the contractors, the legitimate interests of commerce are prejudiced, without the nation deriving any benefit whatever therefrom.[Page 590]
Tonca-beans, rubber, copaiba, piassava, and turtle grease are products which have long been exported through this market, forming one of the most important branches of commerce, as much in this market as in the other districts of the State and the territories El Caura and Amazonas. The Government in granting the exclusive privilege to Messrs. Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co. for speculating upon said products, deprives this commerce of one part of its transactions and causes great losses to other speculators from the moment the contractors only offer to pay one-half of its value, thus establishing an odious monopoly, which the Government is in duty hound to prevent in accordance with the guarantees of the liberty of industry and the rights of Venezuelans.
As above stated, Messrs. Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co. have not imported any machinery or apparatus for the development of the products mentioned in their contract; they have established neither steamboats nor vessels of any other description for the navigation of the Caura River; they have taken no steps whatever for the subduing and civilization of the natives, nor for the organization and preservation of the tonca-bean, rubber, and other useful plantations, neither with carefulness, nor in any other way; moreover, they have not even taken the trouble to visit the territory which they intend to speculate upon with the Government’s consent and with the work of unfortunates who, stimulated by poverty, penetrate in the forests to return after many perils and sufferings, with a few products to support their families; and would it be just, we repeat, that being able to place these products at 5 bolivares per pound, they should be compelled to sell them in this city at 2½ bolivares per pound to the agents of Messrs. Polly, Aurrecoechea & Co.? We cannot believe it; we have rather the firm conviction based on the known rectitude of the Government, that upon being informed of the abuses which the contractors seek to put in practice, protected by a contract undoubtedly granted with laudable motives, the Government will hasten to declare same void on account of non-fulfillment of any of its stipulations, as they only have in view the advantages they have to profit, to the detriment of the legitimate interests of the commerce of this city and of other places in the Republic of Venezuela.
In view therefore of the above-stated facts we now beg to apply to you, entreating you to submit this petition to the President of the Republic, in order that, taking same into consideration, he may declare the above-mentioned contract rescinded as an act of strict justice which we do not doubt to obtain.
- John Dalton & Co.
- Hahn, Grillet &, Co.
- P. Battistini & Co.
- C. Vlcentini & Co.
- W. Kuhn & Co.
- Michelangeli, Figarella & Co.
- Palazzi Herms.
- Frustuck Herms.
- N. Gardes & Co.
- Monch, Kraft & Co.
- Louis A. Portillo.
From “El Bolivarense,” No. 1101, Cindad Bolivar, April 14, 1884.
Señor Minister of Means (Fomento):
The foresight of the Government in regard to the territories has been justified by the satisfactory result obtained during the last three years. This fact alone would suffice to prove that the administration that is about to terminate has been conducted with singular ability.
Before the consequences of the crisis we are now going through were felt in the country, I endeavored to create sufficient revenues to supply the decay of those that, existed. The territories being organized one after the other with laws, authorities, and administration, the cultivation of their natural products commenced to yield and soon after increased and is increasing in such a prosperous manner that the revenues of the territories have been sufficient to cover the deficiency caused by the depreciation of the coffee, as may be seen by perusing my recent message to Congress, now in session. But in opposition to and protesting against what has been done by the Government for the development of “Caura,” Messrs. John Dalton & Co., Palazzi Herms, P. Battistini & Co., Hahn, Grillet & Co., W. Kuhn & Co., N. Gardes & Co., C. Vicentini & Co., Frustuck Herms, Louis A. Portillo, Monch, Kraft & Co.. and Michel-angeli & Figarelia, of Ciudad Bolivar, having petitioned in terms truly inconvenient for its disrespectfulness, you will without a moment’s delay communicate officially to minister of the interior, who, on his part, will do the same to the president of the State of Bolivar, the constitutional agent of the federal Government in the present instance, to have confined in the barracks of the national garrison for three days the above-mentioned gentlemen.
Moreover, profiting by the departure of the first steamer, you will, with the ministers [Page 591] of finance and of the interior, communicate to your respective subordinates, recommending to them the most rigid fulfillment of all the regulations concerning the territories, especially regarding tonca-beans that have arrived or may arrive from Caura, inclusive of what may be in possession of merchants at Ciudad Bolivar, from whatever year the crop may belong to, and whether or no they have permits signed by Mr. Pazos, who has absconded without rendering any account of his administration of the territory under his charge, and for which it is also urgent to decree his impeachment.
I am, &c.,
Order of arrest.
Ciudad Bolivar, April 12, 1884.
(Year 21st of the law and 26th of the Federation.)
The citizen General Eafael Villanueva, military chief of this town, will receive in hi barracks, under arrest for three days, Mr. John Dalton, jr., in accordance with the resolution of the national Executive dated the 1st instant.
God and federation.
Note.—Mr. John Dalton, jr., representative of the firm John Dalton & Co.
Advertisement taken from “El Bolivarense,” No. 1101, April 14, 1884.
Since yesterday, the 12th instant, Messrs. John Dalton & Co., Palazzi Hermanos, P. Battistini & Co., Hahn, Grillet & Co., Kuhn & Co., N. Gardes & Co., C. Vicentini & Co., Frustuck Hermanos, Louis A. Portillo, Monch, Kraft & Co., and Michelangeli & Figarella are under arrest in the barracks of the national garrison by order of the federal Executive.
Taken from the constitution of Venezuela.
Clause 10, article 14, of the constitution of Venezuela grants the liberty of petition with Tight to obtain a resolution; same may be addressed to any functionary, authority, or corporation. If the petition be addressed by several, the first five subscribed shall be responsible for the authenticity of the signatures, and all for the truth of the facts stated.
Clause 14, section 4, regarding arrests and imprisonment, says neither to be imprisoned nor to be arrested without previous summary information of having committed a crime that deserves corporal punishment, and a written order of the authority ordering the imprisonment, expressing the motive of same, provided he is not caught flagrant.
Mr. Baker to Mr. Amengual.
Caracas, May 27, 1884.
Sir: Referring to my note to his excellency Mr. Rafael Seijas, of date 1st ultimo, relative to the case of Mr. John Dalton, United States consul at Ciudad Bolivar, also to Mr. Seijas note to me, of date 7th ultimo, in reply to mine, also to my note to Mr. Seijas, of date 26th ultimo, in rejoinder to his, I have now to add that I received last night a report from Mr. Dalton relative to the matter, in the light of which I deem it my duty to recur at the earliest possible moment to the subject.[Page 592]
I am now informed by Mr. Dalton to the purport that he was not personally arrested, being confined by sickness at the time, but that in his place his son, John Dalton, jr., was taken as a substitute and kept in prison three days.
Thus the father, the citizen and consul of the United States of America, was most effectively punished in his own person and humiliated in his own feelings by the substituted imprisonment inflicted upon his son.
It appears to me it will be vain to pretend that there is any exculpating difference between the extraordinary case as thus stated and the case as it would have been had Mr. Dalton been personally imprisoned, and I must logically presume, from the vicarious theory which appears to have been resorted to and acted upon in the matter, that no such difference will be claimed; and this is, to say nothing as to the rights which may attach to John Dalton, jr., himself, an aspect of the case which is for the present reserved.
As I am made more familiar with the details of the case, it becomes more intensely displeasing. I had supposed there might be something personally disrespectful in the terms of the representation or petition which was the occasion of the order for arrest, and which, although it would by no means justify a summary seizure and imprisonment, would have to be looked at as an extenuating circumstance. But upon an examination of a copy of this document, as sent me by Mr. Dalton, I am unable to discover so much as the slightest ground for any such extenuation.
Therefore, limiting myself strictly to the bearings of the matter on the rights of persons under the protection of the United States of America, I now regard the proceeding in question as having been wholly without rightful warrant or palliating extenuation—a view which I feel confident my Government will fully, promptly, and heartily take of the subject.
Deeply regretting the occurrence of an incident so painful, so uncalled for, and so gravely and justly offensive to my Government,
I avail, &c.,
Mr. Baker to Mr. Dalton.
Caracas, May 29, 1884.
Sir: Your dispatch of the 13th instant, in response to mine of the 18th ultimo, was received on the night of the 26th instant, and commanded my immediate attention. The proceeding in reference to which you write, I regard as an outrage without mitigation. The imprisonment of your son, as stated by you, I regard as tantamount—in its international legal effect—to your own imprisonment.
* * * * * * *
It is of much importance, as you will readily see, that the very truth in regard to what you describe—in as much extent and detail as possible, and supported by evidence of the particular facts—should be promptly brought to the knowledge of our Government.
Therefore I advise that you proceed at once to take the fullest and most detailed evidence practicable in the matter, being conscientiously and scrupulously careful to elicit the truth, and only the truth. A certified copy of this evidence should be sent to the Department of State, and another to this legation.
Also, in reference to one aspect of the case, please inform me of the place and time of birth of your son John, and of any other facts within your knowledge that may have a bearing on the question of his citizenship.
I am, &c.,