Mr. Bayard to Mr. Thompson.

No. 139.]

Sir: In further reference to the matter of the steamer Haytien Republic, and supplementing my instruction No. 137 of the 30th ultimo? with which I transmitted copy of my note of the 28th November to Mr. Preston, communicating to him the decision reached by this Government upon the question, I now inclose for your information copy of a letter addressed by me to the honorable the Secretary of the Navy on the 7th instant, in which, by direction of the President, I requested that a naval force should forthwith proceed to Hayti to receive the Haytien Republic, under the determination aforesaid, and to protect endangered interests of our citizens in that country. With this letter I also send copies of such of the inclosures therein mentioned as have not already been communicated to you.

Since my letter to the Secretary of the Navy I have received Mr. Preston’s response to my note of the 28th ultimo. It contained a proposal that the Haytien Republic shall be given up on condition of being brought to the United States by a naval vessel, and being there turned over to our courts for adjudication of her alleged violations of neutrality and the alleged rights of her captors thereunder. This proposal I declined, and at the same time informed Mr. Preston that the courts of the United States were open to foreign Governments, their agents, or private citizens to test any rights known to the law.

Copies of Mr. Preston’s note* and of my reply are herewith inclosed, and complete the history of the case upon your files.

I am this morning in receipt of a telegram from Mr. Preston, who states that he is empowered, as he proposes to do toward the end of the week, to sign a protocol for the surrender of the Haytien Republic.

Preparations for the departure of the U. S. S. Galena to-morrow morning, under instructions to receive the Haytien Republic from those holding her in custody, being fully made, it is not deemed necessary to delay her departure and the restoration to her owners of the Haytien Republic in order to confirm the conclusion already reached by this Government in the premises.

The commander of the U. S. S. Galena, in the execution of the instructions he has received, will confer with you as to the proper disposition of the Haytien Republic after she has been released.

I am, etc.,

T. F. Bayard.
[Page 488]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 139.]

Mr. Bayard to Mr. Whitney.

Sir: I beg leave to inclose for your information copies of certain correspondence lately had by this Department with Mr. Preston, the minister of Hayti at this capital, and with the United States minister at Port au Prince, in relation to the American steamer Haytien Republic.

The history and present status of the case are sufficiently and succinctly set forth in the correspondence now transmitted, and as the report by Captain Ramsay, of the United States steamer Boston, on this subject was made to your Department, and is therefore in your possession, repetition of its contents would be unnecessary.

The proceedings at Port au Prince in the seizure and condemnation of the steamer Haytien Republic were very properly deferred by the provisional government to the decision of the President of the United States, and his decision has been deliberately arrived at and has been conveyed to the Haytian minister to this country and to the provisional authorities at Port au Prince, under whose assumed authority the vessel in question was seized and is still held.

The instruction of this Department to Mr. Thompson, our minister to Hayti, defines the action to be taken and the result to be accomplished.

The presence and active co-operation with our minister of a vessel of our Navy in the Haytian waters at this juncture is deemed essential, and the instruction to Mr. Thompson will clearly indicate to the commanding officer of the vessel you may dispatch on this errand his line of duty in the event of a failure or refusal of the provisional government of Hayti or whoever else may be found to be in control on his arrival, in obtaining the prompt restoration of the Haytien Republic to her American owners or their agents.

Redress for any loss or injury to our citizens growing out of this incident, must await further investigation, in making which the commanding officer in question may be enabled to assist, and by free conference and counsel with Mr. Thompson, our minister, a satisfactory settlement may be promoted.

A telegraphic dispatch to this Department, dated yesterday, from the United States consul at Santiago de Cuba, of which I herewith inclose a copy, contains notification of a condition of affairs at Cape Haytien which renders the presence there, at the earliest possible moment, of a protecting naval force imperatively necessary for the safety of American interests.

I had hoped before closing this note to have received from the Haytian minister (who is in New York) a more satisfactory reply to my communication to him of the 4th instant. A telegram from that official, received last evening, promised a reply to-day, but it has failed to come.

I do not, however, conceive that the line of action and duty of this Government in the premises can be controlled by further correspondence with Mr. Preston on the subject, and the case being thus made up your Department will proceed to accomplish the results contained in the decision of the President, as hereinabove communicated.

I am, etc.,

T. F. Bayard.
  1. Printed infra, p. 504.
  2. Printed infra, p. 506.