to Mr. Thompson.
Washington, July 16, 1888.
Sir: On the 11th instant a telegraphic dispatch was received from you by way of Jamaica, as follows:
Jamaica, July 11, 1888.
State Department, Washington:
Send war vessel; political incendiarism; situation critical.
This is the third time within a very few months that the situation of affairs in Hayti has been such, in your judgment, as to call for the immediate dispatch of war vessels of the United States to Haytian waters, for the protection of American interests there in the event of anticipated civil disturbance.
On the former occasions it was found conveniently practicable to have certain of our vessels, at the time cruising or preparing to cruise in the West Indies, directed to call at Port au Prince, and both times the apprehended danger has been happily averted by the evident ability of the constituted authorities of Hayti to preserve peace. It is true that your full reports of the occurrences disclosed a very disquieting condition of affairs, which, in the light of past events in the island, might well give rise to alarm, but the event in each case afforded no ground for doubting the competence of the Government to maintain order.
Urgent calls for the presence of foreign war ships in Haytian ports, especially when frequently repeated in times of political excitement, necessarily form a somewhat conspicuous expression of distrust of the local government on the part of the diplomatic representative making such requests, and the prompt resort of naval armaments thither may not unnaturally convey an impression that the envoy’s government-shares such distrust. It is desirable in the intercourse of independent States that such an impression should not, without grave reason, be suffered to arise.
Moreover, at the present season of the year, when risk of yellow-fever contagion is always imminent in West Indian ports, it is the aim of this Government to employ its vessels in more salubrious service, so that the lives of its officers and men may not be endangered, except in case of absolute need. Such necessity must be thoroughly understood to justify the dispatch of a vessel of the Navy to unhealthy waters in the season of contagion.
For these reasons I have been constrained to answer your telegram [Page 901] as follows [via Santiago de Cuba, and by the courtesy of the French company having a connecting cable between that port and Hayti]:
Reimer, Consul, Santiago, Cuba;
Ask courteous transmission following to Thompson, Hayti:
“Impracticable this season, unless particulars of actual urgency furnished.
I am, etc.,