Mr. Preston to Mr. Bayard.


The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the Republic of Hayti in the United States, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note addressed to him by the honorable Secretary of State on the 8th instant.

Although the Secretary of State considers that the questions relating to the steamer Haytien Republic are closed between the Department of State and this legation, the undersigned feels compelled to present a few remarks in reply to the aforesaid note. He regrets to be obliged to advert at the very outset to the discrepancy existing between the views entertained by the Secretary of State and the undersigned with regard to the proper interpretation of the arrangement, concluded at Port au Prince on the 15th ultimo by the Haytian Government, with the United States minister resident. To this end the undersigned, re-establishing the natural order of events which, owing to the shortness of the time at his disposal, he inadvertently changed in his note of December 6, will quote, in the first place, the language used by the acting secretary of foreign relations of Hayti. Mr. Magron wrote to Mr. Thompson as follows:

The courtesy observed on the occasion of these interviews, both of which were characterized by the utmost cordiality, furnishes fresh evidence of the kindly feeling entertained toward Hayti by the great American Republic, and in the discussions which have been held on this subject have, notwithstanding the difference of our views, but drawn closer the bonds which unite the two Republics, owing to the amenity with which they were conducted.

The Government of Hayti does not hesitate to refer to your Government the case of [Page 509] the Haytien Republic, all the papers relating to which will be laid before it by our minister at Washington.

Feeling convinced that the right is on its side, and entertaining every confidence in the impartiality of the great Republic, the Haytian nation does not in the least doubt that the American Government will admit the correctness of the decision pronounced by the prize-court at Port au Prince, and that it will respect the same, so that there will be no necessity of a recourse to arbitration.

It was evidently to this note, which was couched in such formal terms, that Mr. Thompson replied on the same day as follows:

I am in receipt of yours of this date, wherein you state that you do not hesitate to refer the case of the Haytien Republic to the Government of the United States.

After mature consideration of the question, * * * I have decided to comply with your request, and will therefore communicate to my Government, by the first opportunity, the tenor of your dispatch.

These two documents constitute, beyond all doubt, a synallagmatic contract. They form a whole, and the learned Secretary of State is so well read in law that there is no necessity of insisting on this point.

It is evident that the Government of Hayti understood, when it signed this stipulation, that there had at the beginning been an examination and a discussion between the Department of State and the undersigned, and that after both parties had communicated to one another the documents in the possession of each. Finally, if the matter could not be amicably settled, recourse to arbitration remained open. It was thus that the question came to Washington. The undersigned has communicated some of the documents in the order in which they were received, but not a single document in the possession of the United States has been communicated to him.

Moreover, the note which was addressed to the undersigned by the honorable Secretary of State under date of the 28th ultimo (which note reached him alter the departure of the last mail for Hayti) contained a number of allegations, some of which were of the highest importance. One of them will be referred to here. The Secretary of State of the United States alleged that the proclamation of a blockade could not have been known to the Haytien Republic before it was captured. This allegation, however, was the consequence of an error with regard to the facts. The Secretary of State thought that the official acts of the Haytian Government were promulgated by insertion in the Moniteur; the undersigned, in his note of the 6th instant, stated that on the contrary such acts were promulgated by being published in each commune. The undersigned had moreover declared his readiness to prove that the Haytien Republic, while at Miragoane, on the 17th of October last, was aware of the existence of a blockade. Consequently a question of fact was to be established, and the undersigned thinks that according to the terms of the arrangements concluded at Port au Prince on the 15th of November he had a right to be heard and to prove his assertion.

The undersigned in his note of December 6th referred to other statements of fact and law almost equally important, and he now simply refers to what he said in that note.

The undersigned, however, when he was addressing those observations to the Secretary of State, had no idea that a decision had already been reached and made known at Port au Prince, yet such appears to have been the case from the frank declaration made by the honorable Secretary of State, which the undersigned will here reproduce in the original:

This Government was therefore in possession of the complete and authentic history of the period and of the incidents to be reviewed, and proceeded without delay, and with the care and deliberation the case demanded, to consider and decide as to its duty under treaty and the sanction of international law in the premises.

[Page 510]

The decision so arrived at was promptly made known by the communication to you in my letter of November 28. As I informed you on the 28th of November and the 4th instant, instructions have been sent to the American minister at Port au Prince to inform the Government there of the decision of the President of the United States.

The undersigned has looked in vain in the note of the Secretary of State of November 28 for a word showing that a communication had at that time been sent to the United States minister resident at Port au Prince. However the case may be as regards this omission, the fact remains, that on the 28th November, as the Secretary of State declares, a decision had been reached; it was based upon ex parte documents and upon certain papers which had been furnished as they had reached the undersigned; also upon certain allegations whose correctness the undersigned, as soon as he had read them in the Secretary of State’s note of November 28, declared his readiness to contest.

In the note which the Secretary of State addressed to the undersigned on the 28th of November he also said: “On the 26th instant the Department received a full report upon the case by the captain of the U. S. S. Boston,” and on the 28th of the same month an irrevocable decision, it is stated, was adopted by the United States Government.

There is no occasion for making a formal protest now. Whatever incidents may arise at Port au Prince, whatever pressure force may exert, the Haytian nation being at peace with the United States, the Government of the undersigned instructs him to declare that its title as captor of the Haytien Republic can in no wise be affected by a decision of the nature of that which has just been adopted. That title and the rights connected with it consequently remain intact.

In his note of the 6th instant, and also day before yesterday by a telegram, the text of which is appended to this note, the undersigned submitted to the Secretary of State of the United States proposals for an arrangement which he still thinks would have been perfectly honorable to both powers. Those proposals were rejected.

In his reply, which bore date of the 8th instant, the Secretary of State said:

No greater or more friendly service to any government can be rendered by another than to assist in restraining the turbulence of anarchy and disorder within its borders and firmly maintaining the standard of law.

It is true that the following passage contains a sort of reservation:

The Government of the United States * * * will carefully confine its action within the canons of the law of self-preservation to its own citizens, in order that they may everywhere find protection under its flag.

Notwithstanding this reservation the undersigned read with surprise the declaration above quoted. Two cases have arisen since the overthrow of General Salomon in which citizens of the United States were interested, viz: that of the William Jones and that of the Haytien Republic. The former was settled to the satisfaction of the parties interested, while the undersigned has twice proposed a settlement of the latter.

The undersigned reserves his reply to a number of questions discussed by the honorable Secretary of State in his notes of November 28 and December 4 and 8, especially those relating to the blockade of the northern ports, which is fully recognized by Germany, England, France, and Spain, and which the United States Government itself has recognized, as is formally stated in the note addressed by the Secretary of State to the undersigned under date of the 29th of October last.

In conclusion, the undersigned will remark that the Secretary of State does not seem to have been correctly informed when, in his note [Page 511] of November 28, he spoke of the ports in the possession of the insurgents. The insurgents hold Cape Haytien, Port de Paix, Gonaïves, and St. Marc. The established government occupies the other seven ports, viz: Jacmel, Aquin, Aux Cayes, Jeremie, Miragoane, Petit-Goane, and Port au Prince, the capital.

Finally, the government of General Légitime is supported by the Constituent Assembly, the total number of whose elected members is eighty-four, forty-six of whom, that is to say, more than an absolute majority, have for some days been in session at the capital of the Republic.

Thanking the honorable Secretary of State of the United States for the wishes expressed by him for the re-establishment of public peace, the undersigned is happy to inform him that, from the news last received from Port au Prince, he is fully confident of success, which, he hopes will be retarded by no foreign intervention.

The undersigned has the honor, etc.

Stephen Preston.