Mr. Thompson to Mr. Bayard.
Port au Prince Hayti , November 14, 1887. (Received November 29.)
Sir: On the 19th ultimo the National Assembly was called in extraordinary session, which ended the 10th instant; the members were called together in order that they might examine and ratify certain arrangements made by the minister of finance and the National Bank of Hayti on his recent visit to Paris. These were the projects:
- A law to establish a new treasury service.
- A law to substitute new paper money for that in circulation.
- Law converting the exterior debt and consolidating the floating debt.
- Law regulating the interior debt (caisse d’amortissement), also the back floating debt. All of these laws were passed.
By the first, a contract has been sanctioned between the National Bank and the Government to the effect that the sum of $283,333.33 is to be paid by the bank to the treasury department at the end of each month for the purpose of paying the current service, as employés, pensions, rations to the army, etc. The bank takes entire charge as guaranty, and pays out from the sum of all duties on imports into the Republic, receiving as compensation 2 per cent, per month on the amount paid out by them, and 9 per cent, per year on advances made. This contract is for five years.
In the second law the Government paper money in circulation at present will be replaced by bank paper, simply an interchange.
It is the third and fourth laws that are interesting to us, and particularly the latter, as affecting the value of the bonds held by American citizens, viz, those of Heuvelmann Haven & Arci, and of Mrs. Fanny Oaksmith.
I inclose herein, marked A, with translation B, copies of the law above named. You will observe that these bonds in value have been reduced 20 per cent., from $100 each to $80 each, and the interest from 6 per cent, to 5 per cent, per annum; and, furthermore, all back interest due thereon, and up to December 31, 1887, instead of being liquidated, is to be converted into the new $80 bonds.
As there is but little time for action (six weeks) before these bonds are to be changed, without losing six months’ interest, and in view of the fact that the above cited bonds were obtained for our citizens by instructions from the Department, and through the good offices of my predecessors, and believing I am only anticipating instructions had time permitted them to have been requested by me and received in the premises, I have addressed dispatches to the secretary of state of foreign affairs relating to these bonds, as to their value and the back interest. [Page 878] Copies of such dispatches are herein inclosed, marked, respectively, C and D. There are many thousands of dollars’ worth of similar bonds held by merchants and brokers here who have bought the same from time to time for a mere bagatelle, while our citizens received these bonds for their face value, probably with implicit confidence; therefore, I do not believe they should be placed in the same category with commercial speculators in this city. True, these were not international debts, but at the time the Department was interested in their payment, and the minister accredited here was instructed to occupy himself with their settlement; this is the reason for the action I have taken.
As soon as I can state anything relating to this subject, and at all events continuing the same line of argument unless instructed otherwise, I will inform you of the result when obtained from the foreign office.
I have, etc.,