No. 632.
Mr. Thompson to Mr. Bayard.

No. 186.]

Sir: Saturday, the 2d instant, I believe was only the end of the prologue in what might be called a political drama that commenced here the 24th ultimo, causing great excitement and trepidation in this [Page 888] city, and which, sooner or later, must begin again, but with increased vigor. The facts of the whole movement appear to be as follows: As reported in my No. 181, trouble has been brewing in Hayti since the wide-spread belief in the illness of President Salomon. From utterances lately attributed to him it was thought, should he retire, he would cast such an influence for ex-Minister of the Interior General Frangois Manigat, a deputy of the people, that he would become his successor. To counteract this influence those remaining of the Liberal party joined with others of the National party, in order to be prepared when the opportunity arrived to combat the candidature of General Manigat; they had consequently chosen as their candidate General F. D. Légitime, a senator of the Republic.

Comparisons had been drawn between the two abovementioned. Senator Légitime being eulogized as a humane man, honorable, brave, and without any prejudice as to color. Deputy Manigat, by his action when commander of the Government forces at Jacmel, in 1883, has been called barbarous, blood-thirsty, and accused of great hatred toward the whites and mulattoes, yet generous to a fault towards his friends. Both of them are black men. I have known Mr. Manigat intimately ever since my arrival here. Mr. Légitime I knew by reputation only.

Referring to my No. 181, I can say, from observation on May 24 last, from facts gleaned in consular dispatch No. 313, dated September 25, 1885, to the Department from Vice-Consul-General John B. Terres, from inquiries made by me and statements given by foreigners and natives, that the general opinion is, that the same tactics were about to be employed on May 24 past as were so disastrously put in force September 22 and 23, 1883. In such dispatch above quoted you will observe how all the fearful disasters of September, 1883, resulted from an attack of some young men to the number of sixteen or twenty; then the President had said how he could not control the friends of his government against his enemies. The mob, furious in their drunken frenzy and lust, burned down stores and private dwellings, pillaged them, and placed in danger, by their constant use of fire-arms, the lives of men, women, and children.

Mr. Burdel, minister of France, was at that time dean of the diplomatic body, and, had he used decision of character, firmness, and moral influence at the beginning of the disorders, very likely he could have materially bettered the situation; for when the ultimatum was sent to the palace the effects might be said to have been magical. Inclosed herein, marked “A,” with translation “B,” I transmit copy of the speech made by President Salomon in public audience on May 27 last. It is noticeable that while his excellency assures the people that all is perfectly quiet, nevertheless he says he will take measures to chastise the propagators and authors; and, furthermore, he alleges to have known something concerning a conspiracy menacing public peace, hence martial law is proclaimed in this city and at this date it remains in vigor.

Also inclosed, marked “C,” with translation “D,” is an editorial from La Vérité, an independent newspaper, treating of the situation on the 2d instant.

As I reported in my No. 185, Senator Légitime and Deputy Manigat each had a separate vessel placed at his disposal by the Government to convey him from Hayti, the former to Kingston, Jamaica, the latter to Europe via Santiago de Cuba.

This treatment of men thought to be conspirators is somewhat novel and rare in the history of Hayti; but had either one or the other been summarily dealt with, and particularly Légitime, the great probability [Page 889] is that now we would be in the midst of a most savage and sanguinary warfare. I transmit, herein, with translation, respectively marked E and F, copy of a published letter sent to the editor of the Courrier d’Haiti-from Mr. Légitime, while on board the steamer in which he took his departure. Sending away the leaders of these opposing factions has calmed the people and we may hope for a short respite from civil troubles. No doubt President Salomon in his wisdom had to oppose by an iron will the opinions of his councilors regarding the action he has taken in not executing either of these men, but by so doing he has shown that he fully appreciated the necessity, in-order to keep from civil strife, of following out a line of conduct to pacify the dual political factions and likewise tranquilize factions and the non-politic natives. As a question of our present peaceableness, he has done well, but the fear must be entertained that it is momentary, so to speak, for the danger does not lie in any outside party; treason is being fostered in his own camp. All depends upon the President’s health. Let him re-main sound in body as at present; all is likely then to go well.

Consul General Zohrab, of Great Britain, proposed to the French minister and myself the practicability of having always here an American, French, or English man-of war, one or the other, on hand in case of an emergency, as either in a moment of peril would be equally interested to protect the interests of the other. I believe such would be a good thing as giving a certain confidence to foreign residents, for the moment they see a war vessel of one of the great powers enter here each one feels out of danger. Commander Heyerman, of the Yantic, informed me that should he not receive orders to the contrary at Santiago de Cuba he would return to Port au Prince, as, having been here and made inquiries into the status of affairs, he thought we would certainly lose nothing by such representation. Her majesty’s steam-ship Beady is expected here shortly to relieve the Wrangler, and it is likely we shall have constantly for a while a French or British war vessel.

I have, etc.,

John E. W. Thompson.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 186.—Translation.]

the audience of may 27. —speech of president salomon.

Here are the words of the Chief of State to the audience of Sunday, May 27, last: Gentlemen: I begin my audience in saying to you that order and tranquillity is maintained and will continue to maintain itself whatever be done. The country reclaims peace. There is only a panic. Everybody is in an emotion, and it sufficed for a nothing that everybody became frightened. Thus the same thing happened in 1843, when it was question of the overthrow of the government of President Boyer, I myself, who speak to you, being in church I saw the gun of a soldier fall and the charge went off; on going into the street, as I saw everybody run, I also started off and ran.

But I will own that I was frightened. [Laughter.] Therefore, my friends of Port au Prince, I invite you to be calm. I take all precaution, all measures so as to chastise the propagators and authors of the rumors of the other day. My government expected that rumor; we have even talked it over in the council, my ministers and myself, the day when it was decided to suppress the discounting (of Government paper). I knew that once the public employés were regularly paid there would be some discontented—those who live by the discounting, the favored of yesterday. [Here there are cries of “Long live the President of Hayti.”]

The public mind is for peace—that peace that I have given to the country at the cost of so many sacrifices. I will maintain it by all means. If a shot is fired, which is not impossible, for there are persons who are crazy and foolish everywhere, the sun shall not go down without peace being restored. Avoid that, for bullets have no eyes; they may strike any one. It is not the merchants and people who work who are trying to disturb public order; it is the unclassified people who possess nothing [Page 890] and are jealous of the position of others. I say it, and I repeat it again, never has the country enjoyed so much liberty and security; never has property been so well respected and requited.

To-day every poor one is putting a post in the ground: this is a sign of the security that the country enjoys. I was eleven years minister of the Emperor Soulouque, and I was reduced during all that time not to be able to cross the portal. They came to me and made me thousands of propositions against the Emperor, and I never lent ear to them. It is only lately that I have come to know “Oakwood” and “The Martyr’s Cross.” I am acquinted with all that is going on. There is this difference between the Emperor Soulouque and myself; it is this: The police informed him of all that was going on, while it is I who give instructions to the police to watch the conduct of such or such other individual.

Before coming to a last extremity I take all my precautions. Therefore let them not try to disturb the public peace, my friends! They say that I am about to leave the country; to go and be treated in Europe. Nothing is more false. I solemnly declare that I am not going away. If I have consecrated all my life to the well being of my fellow-citizens, as there remains, I will not say a few years, but a few days to live, why should I not sacrifice them to the country? If I went away it would be a flight, a desertion, a cowardice. On returning to Hayti I have sworn to leave my bones here.

The situation is good, my friends; yes, it is good, because everybody to-day is a partisan of peace. I am alive and they are disputing about the power! They covet my heritage. [Laughter among the audience.] It is also to me a question of pride, of self-esteem, and of dignity to conserve that power. I am, above all, chief of state, and I will not permit that they vilify the power in my hands. I have taken it from no one.

To-day is not an audience day, but on account of the rumors that they circulate and of all that has taken place at Port au Prince the few days past only, I felt bound to entertain you on the state of affairs.

Order and tranquillity, I repeat it, reigns on all points of the Republic!

[Inclosure 2 in No. 186.—Extract from “La Vérite.”—Translation.]

the situation.

Still droll. That is all that can be said. On the whole no one knows much what there is. Only minds are uneasy; very unquiet even. We have seen last week a nothing but the population in a Slurry. Last Saturday the report of a gun caused a I great panic. Unfortunately, it seems to me that no great precautions have been taken to prevent these reports. The military and even individuals not belonging to the army are circulating with carbines on their shoulders. All have cartridges and sometimes their guns are loaded. It depends on the first comer to frighten families. It would be more prudent hot to allow the soldiers to go about with their arms, and ammunition, particularly, should not be distributed to them only at the last minute. Too much precaution can not be taken to prevent that order be not disturbed.

Our article of last Saturday has produced a good effect. We warmly thank our readers for the kindly reception that they gave to it. The paper will be strong and will end in imposing itself, if it always marches in accord with the numerous public that reads it. We remain calm and moderate because we know that one imprudent word may occasion a great evil. We continue, therefore, to relate the facts with impartiality and to exhort our fellow-citizens to avoid all bloodshed. The country has need of the aid of all its children and of all without distinction. We will never urge on brothers to arm themselves against each other.

This language must astonish the authorities who detest us because we have never hesitated to examine their acts with independence.

The truth arrives to chiefs of state with difficulty. They are most often surrounded by persons interested in hiding it from them. They are therefore always inclined to consider as enemies those who from afar dare to make them hear it. As for ourselves, faithful to our programme, we will continue to tell the truth. According to all appearances the Chief of State was ignorant of the true state of affairs of the country, or at least of Port au Prince. He must be very badly informed. The panic of the few days past has doubtlessly revealed to him some curious things. Now that he is in condition to appreciate the situation we are certain that he will make all efforts to maintain peace.

He has declared solemnly that he did not intend going away; that he will not go away. This assurance has tranquilized those who feared anarchy and the disorders that might follow. It has produced a report very necessary, a report more accentuated by the news of the near departure of the two chiefs of parties.

The rumor is current that Messrs. Légitime and Manigat are about to take a short voyage of pleasure. They were advised to take this change of air. Mr. Manigat has [Page 891] already asked for a leave of absence, which the house of deputies has granted to him, in its session of May 28. Will the departure of Mr. Manigat suffice to completely reassure the public mind? Here we do but echo the opinions; we do bat relate what is said His with the power to hunt out the truth in what is being spread about. Well they pretend, the public, that they are persons, functionaries, who are preparing a blow in favor of the deputy, Manigat. And these functionaries will continue to cause uneasiness to families. Mr. Manigat in leaving the country certainly makes a sacrifice, for which they will be thankful to him. This sacrifice should not be useless. It should at least serve to calm, to entirely assure the public mind. Will it be imitated by those who, wrongly or rightly, they render responsible for the panic of That is what is being asked in a whisper.

On the whole, the horizon is clearing off. Thanks to the good-will of all, they will avoid the frightful catastrophe of which the perspective so frightened the families. And we think that our fellow-citizens will be wise enough not to cut each other’s throats. It would be fine to prove to our detractors that we know how to get out of a critical situation without violence, without cannon-shot! What a joyful spectacle for the country, if at the expiration of the power of the present chief we name a new one without putting the country in blood and ashes.

Is it an unrealizable dream? We do not think so. We address ourselves to all those who sincerely love Hayti; to all the good citizens. They will encourage certainly the efforts that we attempt to make the law triumph. No more bloody struggles, no more gunshots. Peaceful struggles, lawful but sincere. We want to see now where true patriotism is to be found.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 186.—Extract from “LeCourrierd’Halti.”—Translation.]

last hour.

We make it our duty to stop our press to publish the following letter received only at 4 o’clock at our office:

Mr. Georges Dauzon,
Director of Le Courrier d’Haiti:

Mr. Director: Before embarking for a foreign country and take the irrevocable decision to which I am condemned from a situation that I have not created and events of which I leave the responsibility to those who have provoked it, I believe it due to my honor and my dignity to make known to you that the Government, without doubt to give me a proof of its high deference, offered me a subsidy to defray the expenses of my voyage.

I accept the ostracism, but I do not accept the money, for when there is cause to make a sacrifice for his country the citizen should push self-denial to the extreme.

It is with regret that I separate myself from my fellow-citizens, but I esteem that the example of the sacrifice that I accept without murmuring will give all to understand that one must at certain moments know how to immolate his personal interests and his most sacred affections on the altar of his country.

I leave, confiding in their wisdom, happy if the sacrifice that is imposed on me, and to which I resign myself, could prevent new misfortunes to my country already so rudely tried. I am not one of those who have no scruples of trying to raise themselves to power on the bodies of their fellow citizens and the smoking ruins of their country. All true citizens, all men of honor, will understand and approve me.

Strong in my conscience and above all of sacrifices and devotion to the Republic in the past, I feel happy to give it this last pledge of my love. I am proud to bear to my retreat the harsh satisfaction of having fulfilled, up to the end, my duty.

Accept, Mr. Director, the assurance of my esteem and of my high consideration.

D. Légitime.