Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, For the Year 1887, Transmitted to Congress, With a Message of the President, June 26, 1888
to Mr. Curry.
Washington, November 23, 1886.
Sir: I transmit, with a reference to previous instructions concerning the vexatious impediments which the Cuban passport system opposes to beneficial and enlarged intercourse between our respective ports, a copy of a dispatch from the consul-general at Havana.
It is to be noted that with one exception the instances cited by Mr. Williams relate to the issue of Spanish passports to persons quitting the island. Oar correspondence heretofore has had reference to the demand for United States passports for all persons going from our shores to Cuba.
I am, etc.,
Mr. Williams to Mr. Porter.
Havana, November 9, 1886. (Received November 16.)
Sir: I beg most respectfully to call the attention of the Department to the several within inclosures, all going to show the inconveniences to which American citizens as well as American shipping and discharged American sailors, are subjected in this city by the operations of the passport system enforced by the island government.
Enclosure No. 1 is the English translation of a letter that I addressed on the 29tb ultimo to the civil governor of the province, presenting the case of two “American citizens, Mr. Antony P. Hamilton and Mr. Christopher Ahrens, who arrived here from New York the day previous in the American steamer Niagara on their way to Vera Cruz. On these Americans going to buy their tickets for the continuation of their voyage to Vera Cruz, as passengers in the Spanish steamer Reina Mercedes, they were refused passage by the agent until they could present passports from the civil authorities of the city, notwithstanding same authorities had allowed them to enter the city without passports. In this dilemma these citizens called at this office for assistance. This I rendered by officially explaining the case, and asking for the issuance of passports in my note addressed to the civil governor, as above cited.
After considerable delay and inconvenience to these two Americans, and upon the payment of $4 gold each, passports were issued allowing them to continue their voyage to Mexico.
Inclosure No. 2 is copy of a certificate under form 24 of the Department of State, dated the 30th ultimo, and given under my signature and the seal of this office, to Mr. Frank Stevens, the master of the American steamer Manhattan, for six seamen discharged at Matanzas by Consul Pierce, from the American bark Deda E. Clark of Harpswell, Me., and sent to me to be forwarded home to some port in the United States. Although the Manhattan is an American ship, and the seamen are also Americans, and this consulate-general likewise, yet the consignees objected to taking the [Page 976] men without a passport from the civil governor, upon the ground that the master would thereby transgress the local law, and, in consequence, expose the ship to a fine, besides to a good deal of trouble. In order not to inconvenience the master or bring trouble upon the ship, I complied with the request of the consignees, and asked for and obtained the visa of the civil governor, though I do not believe that outside of the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico a passport is required for the shipping home of discharged seamen of any nation.
Inclosure No. 3 is copy of an introductory card from Mr. Guillermo Zaldo, of Messrs. Hidalgo & Co., agents here of the Alexandre and Ward lines of American steamers, in favor of Mr. Henry Draper, the writer of the letter copied under inclosure 4.
As Mr. Draper represents, he left New York in the steamship City of Alexandria for Mexico, in company with two American ladies; but owing to the very rough passage from New York, the ladies became sick, and left the ship in this port and went to a hotel to recover, resolving to desist from the continuance of the voyage, and to go back home on the return trip of the same steamer from Vera Cruz. But upon Mr. Draper calling at the office of the agents to arrange for their passage to New York, he was told that it could not be given him unless he presented a passport for himself and the ladies. At this juncture he came to the consulate, and, after handing me his letter explaining the facts of his case, I addressed a communication to the civil governor of the province, asking to be informed, officially, if passports were necessary in this instance. A copy of this communication is contained in inclosure No. 5. No answer has yet been returned to me from the civil governor, but a passport was issued gratia for this party, the only expense incurred being a stamp of 5 cents, collected under the new stamp act.
Inclosure No. 6 is copy of a letter from Mr. P. M. Moffer, another American citizen who, having come here to do some work for an oil refinery of this city, was refused passage to return to New York. This office had likewise to interpose in his behalf. A passport was then issued to him on the payment of a stamp of five cents.
Inclosure No. 7 is a letter from Messrs. Lawton Brothers, a highly respectable American firm of this city, and agents of the “Morgan” and “Plant” lines of steamers, plying, respectively, between New Orleans, Tampa, Key West, and this port; and Tampa, via Key West; also with this port. In this letter Messrs. Lawton Brothers report that the consul of Spain in Key West has informed Purser Giroux, of the steamer Hutchinson, that he will refuse clearance for Havana to any steamer whose passengers do not all possess passports visaed by a Spanish consul.
Inclosure No. 8 is copy of a letter received from Sister M. Francis Mitchell, addressed to this office from the Convent of the Good Shepherd on the 7th instant, informing me that the civil governor had refused to issue a passport gratia to return to New Orleans in favor of a poor American girl who had been given refuge at that convent. Under date of the 8th instant I wrote to the civil governor, presenting this case to his attention and consideration, and presume my request will have been granted.
The above few sample cases will give the Department an idea of the many vexations experienced by American visitors, as well as of the extra labor thrown on this office by the passport system ruling in this island. Our citizens on going abroad are not subjected to this sort of inconvenience by the Governments of the continental or other insular neighbors of the United States. Rather to the contrary, facilities are given for the attraction, instead of the presentation of obstacles for the repulsion of American visitors.
In submitting these facts to your consideration, it is in the hope that if a total suppression of passports between the United States and Cuba can not be obtained, at least some mitigation of the present annoyances may be reached by the Department either through its relation with the minister of Spain at Washington or through our minister at Madrid.
I am, etc.,
Mr. Williams to the civil governor of Cuba.
Havana, October 29, 1886.
Excellency: I have the honor to inform your excellency that by the steamer Niagara, which arrived from New York on the 28th instant, Messrs. Anthony P. Hamilton and Christopher Ahrens, citizens of the United States, came passengers en route to Mexico.[Page 977]
But upon endeavoring to take passage at this port in the Spanish steamer Reina Mercedes, which leaves for Vera Cruz on the 31st instant, the consignees of said steamer exacted passports of them from the civil government.
I have, therefore, respectfully to request that you will be pleased to issue passports to these gentlemen in order to avoid the interruption of their voyage.
I am, etc.,
Mr. Williams to the civil governor of Cuba.
Havana, October 30, 1886.
Excellency: I have respectfully to ask your excellency to be pleased to visa the accompanying certificate of passage to New York, per steamship Manhattan, for the following seamen: James Mumford, A. Soderholm, Joseph Davis, Hans Norman, and Frank Linguist, in order that no obstacle be placed to the departure of said seamen.
These seamen were discharged according to law from the American bark Deda E. Clark, at Matanzas, and sent to this consulate-general by the United States consul at said port with the object of sending them to the United States.
I remain, etc.,
[Form No. 24.—Certificate given to masters of American vessels when required to take to the United States destitute American seamen.]
Havana, October 30, 1886.
I, the undersigned, consul-general of the United States of America for Havana, Cuba, and the dependencies thereof, do hereby certify that I have sent to New York by the American vessel Manhattan, of New York, 1,154 tons burden, whereof Frank Stevens is master, the following-named destitute American seamen:
|Names of seamen.||Name of vessel on which they last served.||Port belonging to.||Remarks.|
|Henry Childs||Deda E. Clark||Harpswell||Discharged at Matanzas and sent to Havana by United States Consul Pierce.|
And have agreed with the said master that on presentation of this certificate at the Treasury Department, bearing an indorsement of the collector of customs of the port of New York aforesaid that the seamen herein mentioned have arrived in said vessel within his district, he shall and will be entitled to receive the sum of $60 for their passage, being the sum of $10 for each seaman.
U. S. Consul-General.
Visto en este Gobierno Civil. Bueno para los Estados Unidos.
Habana, 30 de Octubre, 1885.
[Seal of the civil government.]
My Dear Mr. Williams: The bearer, Mr. Henry Draper, who came highly recommended to me, is here without a passport. Can you arrange anything to get him off without extra expense?
Mr. Draper to Mr. Williams.
My Dear Sir: I would like to call your attention to a matter which has occurred to me during my visit to Havana.
I left New York on October 14, 1886, in the steamer City of Alexandria, meaning to take the round trip to City of Mexico and return, two ladies and myself making the party. The trip from New York to Havana being so very bad, the ladies were made very ill. We therefore concluded to remain in Havana and wait the steamer and return home (New York).
I now find I can not leave the city of Havana without considerable trouble, and perhaps at an expense.
This I consider anything but just or right, as the ladies who are with me, and myself, are all American citizens. I can not but feel that on application to our representative we should be able to pass without any delay upon our being identified as the persons we represent ourselves to be. All of which I submit to your notice, and remain,
Yours, most respectfully,
New York City, U. S. A.
Mr. Williams to the civil governor of Cuba.
Havana, November 2, 1886.
Excellency: I have the honor to inform your excellency that the American citizen Mr. Henry Draper, accompanied by the American ladies Mrs. E. T, Duncan and Mrs. E. F. Bartlett, embarked in New York on the 14th of last month, in the steamer City of Alexandria, en route to Vera Cruz; but, owing to a rough and tempestuous passage, the ladies were taken sick, and upon arrival at this port have desisted from continuing on to Mexico, and landed here, with the intention of recuperating their health, and awaiting the return of the same steamer to take passage by it to the United States. But, as they did not take out passports, in the United States not needing them to go to Mexico, in consequence they now find themselves here without that document, and tor the want of which, Mr. Draper informs me, the consignees of said steamer refuse to admit them on board.
Therefore, and in view of the circumstances narrated, I beg your excellency to inform me, officially, if it is necessary for these persons to take, out passports issued by the civil government in order to return to the United States.
I have, etc.,
Mr. Moffer to Mr. Williams.
Sir: I have visited this city to do some work at the oil refinery without a passport, and find that it is required before I can procure a ticket to return to New York.
I arrived here on the steamer Niagara on the 28th ultimo, and wish to return by the same steamer on the 4th instant.
Please inform me what I shall do to procure the necessary passport.
Latvian Brothers to Mr. Williams.
Sir: The circular of the gobierno civil of this province, dated at Havana July 29, 1886, and published in the Boletin Oficial of August 3, 1886, declares, in accord with the gobireno-general, that the authorities here shall cease to exact from foreigners [Page 979] landing here passports, or visa of Spanish consuls on passports, this being in harmony with the “law of foreigners” of 1870, but that such foreigners must present passports or documents proving their identity upon leaving the island.
The Spanish consul at Key West writes us under date of October 26, 1886, that on August 12, 1886, the governor-general cabled to the Spanish consul-general in New York: “Report that passports abolished is incorrect; ‘law of foreigners’ continues in force? by which presentation of this document is required,” this being in reply to an inquiry on this subject.
In consequence of this, the Spanish consul at Key West, Who has to clear all the steamers of the Plant Steamship Line from Tampa via Key West, and of the Morgan Steamship Line from New Orleans via Tampa and Key West, considers tkat no change has been made in the working of the laws of this island regarding foreigners arriving without passports, and has intimated to Purser Giroux, of the steamship Hutchinson, that he will refuse clearance for Havana to any steamer whose passengers do not all possess passports, duly visaed by Spanish consul.
We beg, therefore, that you will ask either the governor-general or the State Department of the United States, through the minister from Spain, to communicate to the Spanish consul at Key West the necessary instructions, that he may place no obstacle to the proper clearance of any American vessels clearing for Havana, amongst whose passengers there may be foreigners not possessing passports. Yours, truly,
Agents for Plant Steamship Line arid for Morgan Steamship Line.
Sister Francis Mitchell to Mr. Williams.
Havana, November 7, 1886.
Dear Sir: I hasten to give you Miss Buttenath’s and my best thanks for your kindness in procuring her passage free.
At the same time I would inform you that at the Gobierno Civil they refused to put her name on the sister’s passport (although the same was done last year for another girl). Would you have the kindness to give her one?
Most respectfully, etc.,
Mr. Williams to civil governor of Cuba.
Havana, November 8, 1886.
Excellency: I beg that your excellency will be pleased to order that a passport be issued, gratis, for the United States, in favor of Miss Susanna Buttenath, a native of the Ignited States, single, and twenty-four years of age.
This young lady arrived here from the United States the 8th of February ultimo, and after being here some time took refuge at the Convent of the Good Shepherd. M her request, and as an act of charity, this consulate-general has obtained for her a passage gratis to return to the United States.
I have, etc.,