Mr. Thompson to Mr. Bayard.
Port au Prince Hayti, June 11, 1888. (Received June 20.)
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.,