Mr. Preston to Mr. Bayard.


The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the Republic of Hayti, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note which the honorable Secretary of State of the United States addressed to him on the 4th instant.

The Secretary of State of the United States informs the undersigned that the American consul at Cape Haytien announces to him that an

Organization has been formed at Gonavïes, assuming to act as the government of Hayti, of which General Hyppolite has been elected provisional president, with a council of five ministers and a council of state of fifteen members.

In other terms, it appears from the communication of the honorable Secretary of State that [there are?] upon some points of the Haytian territory certain individuals, pretending to have been elected or chosen, it is not said by whom or in virtue of what constitution, one of them provisional president, others ministers, and others still as councilors of state, although this latter office is unknown to the constitutions of Hayti. But in what respect can this fact modify “the attitude necessarily occupied by the United States,” as the Secretary of State writes? This is what the undersigned, and he says it with regret, can not comprehend.

There exists, in fact, in Hayti one sole government exercising by just title the functions of sovereignty, and that is the government which is [Page 514] the regular representative of the country, and it is established by virtue of a constitution. It has the support of the majority of the representatives elected 5 it has the support of the national judicial power; it is in relations with the foreign powers; it is the power and the sole power bound to the United States by a solemn treaty. Lastly, it occupies the capital of the country, and holds in its hands the mainsprings of the administration. What, on the other hand, are the individuals of whom the note of the Secretary of State speaks?

They are simply secessionists, in quest of a foreign protectorate, and the learned Secretary of State is not unaware of the opinion of the United States regarding those secessionists who, a quarter of a century ago, did not hesitate to take up arms for the purpose of withdrawing from the National Government. But, moreover, the United States could still less, in the presence of the revolt which has occurred on certain points of the Haytian territory, feel any embarrassment as to the line of conduct laid down by the precedents of their own history. Let us recall the words which were spoken on a grave occasion by the illustrious President of the United States, who, after having crushed secession in the United States, assured, during his incumbency of the chief magistracy, the maintenance of the neutrality of the United States, and by patient negotiations succeeded in causing the principles of such neutrality to be accepted by the British Government. President Grant expressed himself as follows in a message addressed, on the 13th of June, 1870, to the House of Representatives, on the subject of the Cuban insurrection:

During the whole contest the remarkable exhibition has been made of large numbers of Cubans escaping from the island * * * congregating in this country at a safe distance from the scene of danger, and endeavoring to make war from our shores, to urge our people into the fight * * * and to embroil this Government in complication, and possible hostilities, with Spain. It can scarce be doubted that the last result is the real object of these parties.

Mr. Monroe concisely expressed the rule which has controlled the action of this Government with reference to revolting colonies pending the struggle by saying, “as soon as the movement assumed such a steady and consistent form as to make the success of the province probable the rights to which they are entitled by the laws of nations as equal parties to a civil war were extended to them.”

And, in conclusion, President Grant added:

There is not a de facto government in the island of Cuba sufficient to execute law and maintain just relations with other nations. Spain has not been able to suppress the opposition to Spanish rule in the island, * * * the question of belligerency, however, which is to be decided upon definite principles and according to ascertained facts, is entirely different from the manner in which, the strife is carried on on both sides, and the treatment of our citizens entitled to protection. (See the special message of President Grant of 13th June, 1870.)

These principles so firmly exposed and so much in accord moreover with the numerous precedents cited in the “Digest of International Law,” edited by Dr. Francis Wharton, are those which, as the undersigned is convinced, the Government of the United States will uphold in the present circumstances.

The organization of which the learned Secretary of State speaks is evidently inconsistent; it has not its origin in free suffrage; it is one of the numerous and deplorable incidents which have so often taken place during the last eighty years in a number of States of Central and South America; the United States have taken no account of them except in rare instances and when certain well determined facts have been presented.

The undersigned asks himself, however, why for some time past so unusual a movement has occurred in the United States in regard to the insurrection which has broken out in a part of the Republic of Hayti, [Page 515] If it be compared with those recorded in the annals of the island it is far from presenting the importance of certain revolts which every one familiar with the history of the Antilles could immediately name, and yet the press is filled with the most audaciously-false news of the events occurring in Hayti, and on the other hand preparations in violation of the laws of American neutrality appear to be in progress at this very moment upon the territory of the United States, what then is the cause of this movement, so unaccustomed and so difficult to comprehend?

The undersigned will briefly state it herein: A little band of revolted Haytians and a small number of American speculators, who are vainly endeavoring to conceal their names behind persons of little weight and whose schemes are, besides, perfectly known, are attempting to profit by the agitation in order to make money.

To this speculation, founded in part on the published false news and excited by eventual financial projects, is due the persistency of the Haytian insurrection, whose real headquarters are at New York. This is the cause of the evil and that is its seat.

Therefore, in thanking the learned Secretary of State for the desires he has expressed to the undersigned in favor of peace in Hayti, the undersigned expresses in turn to the Secretary of State the firm and sincere conviction he feels that the laws of the United States will strike if occasion demand ail those who may render themselves liable within the limits of the territorial sovereignty of the United States for acts contrary to the principles of neutrality.

The undersigned has the honor, etc.,

Stephen Preston.