Mr. Thompson to Mr. Bayard.
Port au Prince Hayti , November 26, 1887. (Received December 12.)
Sir: Referring to my antecedent dispatch, No. 163, of the 14th instant, I have the honor to call to your attention inclosure A, with translation B, the reply from the honorable minister for foreign affairs relative to the new law governing the bonds of the Caisse d’Amortissement and those of such bonds held at this legation for our citizens; also the back interest due on the bonds. You will observe the honorable secretary of state refers me to his colleague of finance, after the question had been discussed at a cabinet meeting. I made haste to send a note to the minister of finance, and in reply thereto received a letter from him, wherein he regretted being unable to meet me before Tuesday, the 22d instant. At 4 p.m. that day I called at his city residence; was received most cordially, and we entered into the discussion, first, as to the manner the bonds were received by our citizens; secondly, as to the back interest, one year three months and fifteen days’ interest being due December 31, 1887.
I may here state that after the promulgation of the law regarding a diminution in the value of these bonds, I was called upon by the French chargé d’affaires at one time, and by the German diplomatic consul at another time, both of whom wished to find out my views as to the acceptation of or protestation against such law. I could give them no advice on the subject whatever, particularly as I have cause to believe that our citizens’ bonds are the only bonds that were in payment of contractual claims and settled through the good offices of this legation; but it is now generally understood by foreigners here that their Governments can not legally make this law a question for international claims, for if foreigners take risks outside of their own country they must run the risk of loss or gain; hence all are making the best of it.
By my argument in my private character, I was able to convince the Hon. Calesthenes Fouchard that the arrangement he had made was an injustice to my countrymen; that with such a precedent they later might again reduce the bonds until their intrinsic value became nil, and that a proper discrimination should have been made in their case. Our argument was long, and the details many, but I surpassed my most sanguine anticipations in an equitable conclusion, which was:
- First. That the sum of interest due to October 15, 1887, be paid in full on the 20th of December proximo.
- Second. That the three months and fifteen days’ interest (to December 31, 1887) be converted into the new bonds.
- Third. That in the exchange of the bonds for new ones we should simply make an interchange; that is to say, they will be exchanged for their face value, dollar for dollar, and bear the same title as at present, viz, cent piasters fortes, but will draw interest as the new law states, 5 per cent, per annum. In this manner, as there are at this legation bonds to the value of $176,800, our citizens have been saved, on the capital alone, $35,360.
By the new law all back interest and up to December 31, 1887, is to be converted into bonds now, instead of our citizens having all of their interest, which amounts to $12,818, converted into bonds, they will receive $10,608 interest to October 15, 1887, cash, December 20, [Page 882] 1887; and the remaining interest from October 15 to December 31, 1887, $2,210, alone will be converted into bonds; in fact, their loss will be simply nominal compared with the other holders, and for the future a loss of 1 per cent, per year on the interest is all they will have to sustain. I inclose herein, marked C, with translation D, the dispatch from the honorable Brutus St. Victor, confirming the agreement between his colleague and myself, to which I sent a reply immediately, and in accordance to his request, copy of which reply is herein transmitted, marked E.
According to the verbal instructions received from the Department last year, I notified all parties holding bonds (after receiving instructions that I could use my good offices for them) that the interest could not be collected unless the bonds were here. Some sent their bonds; the loss to the others is their own fault, and I can see no means of assisting them should they request, for I could only use my personal efforts to the utmost for those citizens who had deposited bonds at this legation. In making such an arrangement with the minister of finance, and I am confident none other will be so successful, I used every endeavor to save from pecuniary loss those who had placed bonds in my custody. Another fact is this: Many of the holders of such bonds, American citizens, have used them as means of commercial transactions in Hayti, while the bonds at this legation have been here solely for the purpose of collecting the interest thereon; consequently I think their holders should have received all of the protection possible, and flatter myself that they have been protected from material loss. I therefore respectfully submit this to the Department’s consideration, laying particular stress upon the fact that had no action with a profound earnestness been taken, our citizens, with implicit confidence in the integrity of the Haytian Government recognizing their debt, would have lost 20 per cent, of their capital and one year’s interest, aggregating nearly $50,000.
I have, etc.,