Mr. Thompson to Mr. Bayard.
Port au Prince Hayti, August 18, 1888. (Received August 25.)
Sir: Various reports having been received from Cape Hayti touching upon revolutionary topics, on Saturday, the 4th instant, General Anselme Prophète, commander of the four corps of the guard stationed at Port au Prince, was sent by the Government on board of the man-of-war Toussaint l’Ouverture direct to Cape Hayti. Two hours after his departure an express brought news to the Government that General Séide Théléaque, commanding the arrondissement of Cape Hayti, and perhaps the most popular general in the Haytian army, was at the head of a movement against the Government. On reception of this news one of Rivière’s fast steamers was sent to overtake General Prophète with Instructions for him to use every caution and reconnoiter well before entering into the harbor of Cape Hayti. General Prophète went to Port de Paix and found that everything was true concerning the insurrectionary movements under General Thélémaque. From there General Prophète went to Gonaïves, gave certain orders, and returned to this city. On the 9th instant I received a dispatch from Consular Agent Dupuy, of Gonaïves, copy of which I inclose herein, marked A.
Rivière’s steamer that left here Wednesday, the 1st instant, for the north, was taken possession of by the rebels, and it is said armed for warfare.
On Wednesday, the 8th of this month, General Tirésias Sam, minister of war and marine, left here for St. Marc and Gonaïves by the war vessel Toussaint l’Ouverture, taking with him one battalion of the St. Marc regiment that arrived here the 16th ultimo. Before his departure Mr. Brutus St. Victor called here and requested me to accompany him to the palace, as the President wished to talk with me. I went there with him, and then his excellency requested me to send for two war vessels, as the revolutionary party appeared to be gaining power.
Finding myself asked by the chief of state of the country to which I am accredited to send for war vessels for his dependence morally, if not physically, and knowing that outside of a tropical climate this country is in a perfectly healthy state, I felt the situation such in our relations with a friendly Government as to justify the following cable dispatch, which was taken to the Mole St. Nicholas by the minister of war and marine, and which read:
Your 114. Urgent. Two immediately. One pass Cape Hayti. Reply. Details 18 instant.
On Thursday President Salomon again sent for me and informed me that he had made up his mind to quit the presidency.
Friday morning, the 10th instant, occurred the closing event in the presidential career of General Salomon. At 9.20 a.m. a messenger arrived in all haste at this legation requesting me to go immediately to the palace, as President Salomon desired to see me on a matter of the utmost importance. I commenced to prepare myself to answer the request, when a gentleman, Mr. Charles Heraux, rushed into the front office crying out, “Mr. Thompson, Mr. Thompson, they have taken up arms against the Government; for God’s sake go to the palace and save the old man’s life.” Naturally this hurried me. My horse not being in the city and a carriage unable to be found, I immediately started for the palace on foot. I was ushered into the President’s presence. He informed me that bad news had come in from the north telling of the success of the insurgents in their march toward Port au Prince, and since our war vessels were not here his intention was to ask the British consul-general to allow him to go aboard H. M. S. Canada, in preference to the French vessel, there await an American war vessel or the Dutch steamer for New York on the 18th instant. He then asked me if I would accompany him aboard that night. I put myself at his disposition, and the plan was that Vice-Consul-General Terres and myself were to go to him with two half-closed carriages at the back of the palace grounds, and thus quietly we would be conveyed to the wharf, and he would embark on board the steamer that he would take for the United States, where he intended stopping for a month or so.
During the time that I was there the generals of the arrondissement and Place both arrived before him, explaining that there was a panic in the city.
In returning to this legation I noticed a great amount of commotion, which continued to augment, from the irregular firing of guns at all points of the city; armed companies of men took stations along this street, half hiding themselves behind any available pillars or posts. The arsenal was attacked and resistance made. A little later Mr. Huttinot, employé at the French legation, coming here, informed me that General Herard Laforest, commanding the arrondissement, had joined the revolutionary party. I waited awhile, then descended to the arrondissement, carrying a small flag in my hand, anxious to see if such was a fact; after awhile General Laforest passing, I heard the soldiers crying out, “Vive la révolution,”A bas Salomon,” “Vive Varrondissement” I rode up to Laforest, and taking him aside from the rabble and confusion, inquired most seriously if his men were with the revolution. He replied, “It seems so, Mr. Minister, and I, alone, am incapable of doing anything.” Ex-President Boisrond Canal at that moment was descending the street on horseback and we met him opposite the French legation. General Laforest said: “Let us enter here and see what can be done to change the situation.” We entered. The French minister was there, General Laforest, and myself. After discussing the aspect of affairs, General Laforest having said he could keep the soldiers in order for an hour or an hour and a half, but not for two hours, continued, “I propose that Minister Thompson go to the palace, explain to the President my inability to keep order among the soldiers longer than an hour or so, and as they demand that he (the President) leave, it will be best that he do so within an hour, as after that I fear he will run great personal danger.” About this time the British consul-general came in and said he would attend to the bringing of boats for the occasion. As there were frequent small skirmishes in the direction [Page 907] of the palace I knew danger surrounded the enterprise; but without hesitation I accepted, mounted my horse, and started on my mission. When on the rue du Peuple, while in the middle of the block, I found myself between two rival parties, who were blazing away at each other; my horse was almost unmanageable, but I succeeded in turning through an alley that led to another street. Sharpshooters were stationed behind every pillar in the palace grounds, and it was only by waving my flag, while shouting my title at each one, that they refrained from firing upon me. I arrived at the palace. The President informed me he was entirely at my disposition; that his confidence in me was such that if I thought it best he would depart immediately.
I immediately left him, ordered three carriages, and descended by the rue Miracles, where the shots were whistling so rapidly over my head, coming from another street and over some low houses, that I felt obliged to ride into Mr. Metzger’s, an American’s house, until they ceased. After remaining there a few moments, I again remounted and arrived at the arrondissement. All being ready, a ruse to send a great number of soldiers in other directions than we would take, was made, and the French minister, with the consul-general of Great Britain, the Spanish consul, and myself, rode to the palace, having in front of us, some 10 yards, more or less, a man carrying a large French flag. I carried all the time my small American flag. We descended from the palace, the President leaning on my arm. I placed him in the first carriage, where was also Lafontant, his private secretary, and Madame Salomon. Mounting my horse, I rode on the left side of the carriage. The French minister rode ahead; the Spanish consul, who was a little later joined by General Laforest, rode on the right side of the carriage. Thus we continued to Rivièré’s wharf, an enormous populace and mob following us, some read v to defend, others anxious to molest. At the wharf, with the President on my right arm, Lafontant on my left, General Laforest on the right of the President, the French minister ahead, the English consul-general behind, we proceeded to the boats that were waiting, having to force our way through an immense crowd, some yelling “A bas Salomon” “Vive la revolution,” and other incendiary cries. They were safely embarked. A squad of British marines probably gave such weight to the occasion that no real effort was made to molest the refugees.
It appears that after arriving on board H. M’s. S. Canada there were no rooms to put at their disposal; at all events they were conveyed upon a disabled Atlas steamer, the Alps, lying in the harbor.
After the departure of the Presidential party for the Canada, ex-President Boisrond Canal immediately had published an address to the people and the army, copy of which I inclose with translation, B and C.
The day following, Saturday, I took a boat in order to go aboard the Alps, and on arrival an officer informed me that no one could come on board without a permit from the consul-general of Great Britain or the captain of the Canada. The ex-President and Madame Salomon came to the side of the ship; he requested me to bring little Ida to him, but conversation was impossible on account of the wind and waves, and was scarcely attempted by either of us.
Obtaining the permit from Mr. Sohrab Sunday morning I took the little girl on board; my reception was so cordial that it became painful when the idea came to my mind under what different circumstances I had always before met those people. Mr. Lafontant came forward and, with tears in his eyes, said before them all, “Mr. Minister, to you I owe my life; I can never repay you, and can never forget your acts of humanity.” [Page 908] The President said, “We owe you a debt of gratitude from the heart that must always be warm in your praise, and that will last with life.”
Sunday evening, the 12th, the Atlas Steam-ship Company’s steamer Atlas left here directly for Kingston, Jamaica, to bring Senator Légitime and, I presume, any other of the political refugees there to this city. The ship returned with Légitime about 4 p.m., the 15th instant. An immense crowd was at the “Bureau de Port” to meet him, and the appearance of rejoicing was extreme; shots were fired so that the uninformed thought that it must be an attack on some point or other of the city. Légitime allowed himself to be placed in a carriage and driven through several of the principal streets of the city, hundreds of pedestrians and horsemen following. The city was a perfect bedlam for some hours. One or two men were killed by the carelessness of those using fire-arms and some twenty wounded.
On the 13th instant I received two dispatches from Consul Goutier, at Cape Hayti, copies of which I inclose, marked, respectively, G and H; also copies, with translation, of General Séide Thélémaque’s declaration to the people and the army, dated the 5th instant; his proclamation, dated the 7th instant, and several “orders of the day,” showing the adhesion of several different arrondissements to the revolution, marked, with translations, respectively, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P.
The minister of finance is at the British legation; the minister of justice at the French legation with the President’s brother-in-law., Emile Pierre, the ex-commander of the place, General Molière, and many others; the minister of the interior at his residence.
The minister of foreign affairs has remained at home in his fire-proof building ever since the departure of the President. The French legation opened its doors freely to any refugees, and there are many. I have invited no one here, but had made a determination that should any find themselves under this roof they would receive the same protection as is offered at other legations.
Sunday night, the 12th, General T. Sam, minister of war, returned from the north, where General Jean Jumeau, having repulsed the insurrectionists, captured stores, and in a battle killed several, and was aiding the Government when the news came of Salomon’s abdication. The minister of war immediately went on board the Toussaint l’Ouverture and started for this city. General Jumeau had them beat the roll-call, fired the alarm-guns, and proclaimed the revolution triumphant.
I found General Sam in the upper part of this building, over the legation, Monday morning. He asked my protection. I did not put him out. Before coming ashore he went to Her Majesty’s ship Canada. They said they could not take him aboard without certain formalities; the French war vessel made the same reply. He was landed at a point distant from the wharves and made his way during the night to this building. As I wished to communicate facts to the Department, although it was after 9 o’clock, I succeeded in stopping the Canada, and requested Captain Beaumont to deliver a note to our consul at Santiago de Cuba, instructing him to cable immediately on receipt the following:
State Department, Washington:
Salomon abdicated 10th instant. Anarchy.
On the afternoon of the 14th I, in common with all foreign representatives, received a dispatch from General Boisrond Canel, copy inclosed, marked Q, with translation marked R, to which I made reply, inclosure S.[Page 909]
On the evening of the 16th it is reported that the French minister, accompanied by Mr. B. Rivière, a Haytien, went to St. Marc to confer with General Séde Thèlémaque and persuade him not to come to Port-au-Prince with his army, but only with the members of the committee from the north.
The report is now that General Thélémaque is expected this evening.
Very respectfully, etc.,