Mr. Preston to Mr. Bayard.


The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the Republic of Hayti, has the honor to call the particular attention of the honorable Secretary of State of the United States to the acts of insurgent Haytians and their American and foreign accomplices, to divers purchases of vessels in the jurisdiction of the United States, to the fitting-out of said vessels with a view to strengthening them, to arming them, and to sending them from the port of New York for the purpose of committing hostilities against the Republic of Hayti, with which the United States is at peace.

The facts which the undersigned would bring to the attention of the Secretary of State of the United States will be more easily understood, if he will recall, in the first place, the questions presented in his note under date of the 24th of November last. Speaking of certain armed expeditions, the undersigned said:

But in the case of the steamer Saginaw and in that of the steamer Geo. W. Clyde the question is complicated by the interposition of the consul of a third power and by the sending of arms, munitions, and other articles contraband of war to a neutral port. It is for this reason that the undersigned has deemed it his duty to enter here into certain explanations. * * *

In this month of November the consul of St. Domingo at New York, as it appears from the deposition of Mr. Bassett, has twice delivered a permit similar to those which the undersigned has just mentioned, with a view to authorizing the sending of arms to a small port of the Dominican Republic called Monte Christi. An examination [Page 516] of the map shows that this port situated in Dominican territory, is the nearest to Haytian territory; moreover, that the village situated near said port has scarcely 1,000 inhabitants. There is no commerce whatever of importance in this forsaken spot. And yet it is for this point that the two certificates of permit have been issued by the Dominican consul at New York to the steamer Saginaw * * * and to the steamer Geo. W. Clyde.

Emboldened by his success in thus sending contraband of war, which, immediately after it was disembarked at Monte Christi, was again sent forth to its true Haytian destination to the very ones who had paid for it in New York with the funds of insurrection, Mr. Julia, although consul of a nation neutral and friendly to the Republic of Hayti, has applied himself anew to this work.

One Nemours Auguste, agent of the Haytian rebellion, and other individuals sent to the United States under different titles by the pretended organization of the north of the island of Hayti, have deposited in two commercial houses in New York, to wit, Jimenes, Haustedt & Co., and Kunhardt & Co., various sums of money amounting to about $200,000.

It is with this fund, evidently furnished by the rebels of Hayti, that there have been purchased in these last weeks the three ships which the undersigned is about to discuss.

(1) The steamer Novelty, of about 200 tons, has been purchased in Boston by Haytian agents with the assistance of Jimenes, Haustedt & Co., who have paid the money from the rebel fund. This is the same house that the undersigned has before called the attention of the Department to in his note of 24th November last.

The Novelty went secretly from Boston to New York with coal and arms. It arrived in the bay of New York in the night of the 9th instant. It anchored off Stapleton, Staten Island, and there it received the rest of its cargo. The next day, the 10th instant, at the same hour as the closing of the custom-house (4 o’clock in the afternoon), Mr. L. Julia, of whom previous mention has been made, cleared through said customhouse the steamer Novelty under the name of the Mercedes, and under the Dominican flag, the clearance being made out for Samana and Monte Christi. The Mercedes, according to her manifest, had nothing on board but a cargo of 200 tons of coal. This steamer remained at her wharf on the 11th, but perceiving that she was watched, she put to sea at 3 o’clock a.m. on the 12th instant. Three hours before this precipitate departure the captain had received the papers relative to the pretended Dominican registration, which appears, if we are to believe his own statements, to amount to a fictitious sale to Mr. Julia.

The undersigned will now invite the attention of the honorable Secretary of State to another transaction of Jimenes, Haustedt & Co. on the 12th instant. On that day this firm, which is of foreign nationality, dispatched the American schooner Lizzie May from the port of New York with the armament intended for the steamer Novelty, which had now become the Mercedes, and for the steamer Madrid. This armament, which consisted of cannons and munitions of war, appears in the manifest of the said schooner as wind-mills, bridges, tubing, iron bars, etc.

On the 14th instant the same firm of Jimenes, Haustédt & Co. dispatched to the above-named port of Monte Christi the American steamer Caroline Miller, with a cargo of merchandise for Cape Haytien, which port was closed by a decree of the Government of Hayti bearing date of December 10, 1888, and off which there is a Haytian naval force, whose instructions are to keep the port closed. Eight officers who had been recruited in New York sailed on board of the Caroline Miller.

(2) At the same time the said firm of Jimenes, Haustedt & Co, and [Page 517] that of Kunhardt & Co. purchased the steamer Madrid, which is at this moment being converted into a war vessel in the Erie Basin at Brooklyn, paying for it with the funds that had been deposited with them by the Haytian rebels, and that openly. According to the information received by the undersigned, as soon as the Madrid shall be ready to put to sea, a fictitious sale of her will be made (as was done in the case of the Mercedes) to Mr. Julia, consul of the Dominican Republic at New York, she will fraudulently hoist the Dominican flag, and thus, under false colors, will proceed to Cape Haytien.

(3) Finally, Kunhardt & Co. have purchased the steamer Geo. W. Clyde, for which they have paid with funds deposited with them by Mr. Nemours Auguste, of whom mention has been made above. This steamer is being converted into a vessel of war at pier 15, East River, New York, under the very eyes of the public.

The undersigned knows, moreover, that the repairs which are now being made on the two steamers aforesaid are being paid for, and will finally be paid for, with the funds of the Haytian rebels.

The parties, furthermore, who are preparing the armaments for the two vessels just referred to, are Messrs. Reed, of Boston, and Hartley & Graham, of New York, and the funds with which these armaments are to be paid for are those furnished by the Haytian rebels.

Finally, the undersigned thinks that he knows that men for service, both at sea and on land, are at this very moment being enlisted in the city of New York.

These facts, which are for the most part public, and which are in all cases susceptible of absolutely conclusive proof if these various cases were brought before the courts of the United States, here appear in a very serious light.

The most open violations of the rules of neutrality are barely covered with the most transparent veil; the Dominican consul dispatches cargoes of arms, lends his name to fictitious sales, and screens all these violations of law with Dominican nationality. But what is the import of these criminal proceedings? The very essence of these transactions clearly reveals their true authors. It is the rebel Haytians who buy through intermediaries; it is they who pay from the rebel fund the vessels and their armaments; all belong to them.

Mr. Nemours Auguste, Mr. J. Haustedt, and Mr. William P. Clyde have boasted—very wrongly the undersigned is pleased to believe—of having learned from the mouth of the honorable Secretary of State that the Government of the United States considered these sales and these armaments of vessels transferred to a foreigner as simple commercial transactions.

The undersigned refuses to put the least faith in these statements when they refer to discussions relative to the duties of neutrals which have obtained the last quarter of a century. In 1871, when the United States presented their case to the Arbitral Tribunal of Geneva, they explained as follows the decision of Judge Story in the affair of the Santissima Trinidad, which was appealed to by England as a justification of her conduct, as far as regards a neutral power during the war of secession.

The undersigned feels obliged to reproduce here a passage of the case of the United States officially presented to the Geneva tribunal:

It may he assumed that a vessel of war is not to be confounded with ordinary contraband of war. Indeed the only respectable authority which has been cited even apparently to the contrary is an observation which Mr. Justice Story thrust into the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States upon the case of the Santissima Trinidad.

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If that eminent jurist had said that a vessel of war was to be regarded in public law as an article which might be legitimately constructed, fitted out, armed, equipped, or dealt in by a person in the territory of a neutral with the intent that it should enter the service of a belligerent, subject only to a liability to capture as contraband of war by the other belligerent, the United States would have been forced with great regret to ask the tribunal to disregard an opinion so at variance with common sense and with the whole current of the action of nations. Happily, they are under no necessity of casting an imputation on the memory of one of their brightest judicial ornaments.

And after having analyzed the facts of the affair, the recital of the United States adds:

It is apparent, he says, that she was sent to Buenos Ayres on a commercial venture.

* * * The whole of his subsequent remarks turned upon the absence of an intent in Baltimore in the mind of the owner before she sailed that she should in any and at all events, whether sold or not, go into the service of the belligerent. * * *

On the very next day John Marshall, * * * in the parallel case of the Irresistible, a vessel built at Baltimore, sent to Buenos Ayres, and there commissioned as a privateer, pronouncing the opinion of the same court, declared that the facts as to the Irresistible showed a violation of the laws of the United States in the original construction, equipment, and arming of the vessel and that, should the court decide otherwise, the laws for the preservation of the neutrality of the country would be completely eluded. (Gran Para, 7 Wheaton 471, case of the United States, Vol. I, pp. 82, 83.)

The undersigned can not but concur in the opinion so well expressed in the passage above cited.

He will call attention besides to the fact that one of the rebel cruisers, for which damages have been energetically claimed from the British Government, the Oreto, later the Florida, when it was signified to the Government of the Queen, was also reported to have been sold or destined to a neutral Government, Italy; they said it would go to Palermo, just as to day they say that the Madrid or the Geo. W. Clyde goes to Monte Christi.

The undersigned, without going further as to this point, will refer the honorable Secretary of State to the opinion of Hon. Charles Francis Adams, delivered in the Geneva Tribunal. The distinguished umpire for the United States spoke of a case precisely similar to the cases which we are discussing in such severe terms that the undersigned has nothing to add to them. (See the Opinion of Charles Francis Adams, Geneva Arbitration, Vol. IV, pp. 150 and following.)

The undersigned, without dwelling on the subject above mentioned as much as it requires, but which want of time compels him to avoid, must now call the attention of the Secretary of State of the United States to the duties of neutrals.

In conformity with the strict rules established by the treaty of Washington, and then declared an integral and essential part of the law of nations, as the United States had always understood it—

A neutral Government is bound, first, to use due diligence to prevent the fitting out, arming, or equipping within its jurisdiction of any vessel which it has reasonable ground to believe to be intended to cruise or to carry on war against a power with which it is at peace, and also to use like diligence to prevent the departure from its jurisdiction of any vessel intended to cruise or carry on war as above; such vessel having been adapted, in whole or in part, within such jurisdiction, to warlike use. Thirdly, to exercise due diligence in its own parts and waters as to all persons within its jurisdiction to prevent any violation of the foregoing obligations and duties. (Treaty of Washington, Article VI.)

And in its comment on these articles the statement of the United States formulates the following principles:

That the belligerent may call upon the neutral to enforce its municipal proclamations as well as its municipal laws.
That it is the duty of the neutral, when the fact of the intended violation of its sovereignty is disclosed, either through the agency of the representative of the belligerent [Page 519] or through the vigilance of the neutral, to use all the means in its power to prevent the violation.
That when there is a failure to use all the means in the power of the neutral to prevent a breach of the neutrality of its soil or waters there is an obligation on the part of the neutral to make compensation for the injury resulting therefrom. (See case Geneva Arbitration, Vol I, pp. 58, 59.)

The principles above laid down are the very ones by virtue of which the undersigned calls the most serious attention of the Secretary of State of the United States to the facts above recited. They apply to them word for word in the most exact manner.

It is incumbent on the United States to examine these facts with the greatest care, and to act with firmness. In the accomplishment of this work the United States may count on the active co-operation of the undersigned; but the undersigned will remark once more, in the present circumstances, especially as certain agents of the Haytian rebels have boasted of having been received at Washington, and have pretended to find encouragement and sympathy there—all of this falsely, as the undersigned is convinced—he feels that he has the right to appeal to the honorable Secretary of State, and after reciting the facts to him, after telling him that almost all of them had become matters of public notoriety, to ask him to take immediate action.

Finally, in the absolutely impossible event that his just requests are not heard, he would have the right to reserve all ultimate resorts against the neutral whose negligence shall have eventually caused direct damages to the Government of the undersigned.

In 1883 a formidable insurrection broke out in Hayti. An agent, Mr. W. Bourke, was sent to Washington; the lamented predecessor of the Hon. T. F. Bayard hastened to get rid of him, and Mr. Frelinghuysen communicated to the undersigned the purport of the interview, when the rebel agent was not even permitted to explain himself. Attempts absolutely similar to those which the undersigned has above set forth were made in 1883, at Philadelphia and New York, but precise instructions had been given from Washington to the Federal functionaries in those States; and it is with gratitude that the undersigned here mentions the conduct then observed by the Government under circumstances which were particularly difficult. The Tropic expedition from Philadelphia led to the condemnation of two of the officers of the vessel, Pender and Rand. The Tropic would itself have been the object of a judicial action had the steamer not foundered on the voyage home. (See the Federal Reporter, Vol. XVII, pp. 142 et seq.)

The affairs of the Mary N. Hogan, which was bought at New York with rebels’ funds and fitted out for a military expedition, gave rise at the time to important judicial discussions, and to a judgment which is found printed in the Federal Reporter (Vol. XVII, p. 818 et seq.; Vol. XVIII, p. 529 et seq).

Lastly, her tender, the schooner Erwin, was in its turn the object of a prosecution before the United States court sitting in Virginia, and the matter terminated in this case again by the condemnation of the arms and munitions of war which were seized on board. (See the Federal Reporter, Vol. XX, p. 50 et seq.)

It is in the name of these precedents—of every sort, of every origin, some emanating from the Executive power, others from the judicial power—that the undersigned makes a solemn appeal to the honorable Secretary of State. He asks only the strict application of the principles established, proclaimed, and affirmed by this very Government of which he asks action without delay.

And the undersigned has the right to make this demand of the [Page 520] learned Secretary of State of the United States, whatever may be the political opinion which the latter holds regarding the strife now occurring in Hayti. The statute, called the neutrality act, contains in formal terms these words:

Every person who within the limits of the United States fits out or arms or attempts to fit out and arm or procures to be fitted out and armed, or knowingly is concerned in the furnishing, fitting out, or arming of any vessel, with intent that such vessel shall be employed in the service of any foreign prince, or state, or of any colony, district, or people, to cruise or commit hostilities against the subjects, citizens, or property of any foreign prince, or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States are at peace. (See U. S. Rev. Stats., sec. 5823.)

This section is applicable under all possible hypothesis, even in the very improbable contingency of the triumph of the Haytien rebels; consequently, if the United States do not wish suddenly to break with their glorious past and with the memorable precedents of their neutrality, and to enter upon a path which their eminent men have ever avoided, there is occasion in the present instance for a rigid inquiry, and, as the undersigned deems, for a strict application of the law. The undersigned demands, therefore, formally, that the Government of the United States shall fulfill its duties as a neutral.

In conclusion, the undersigned can not do better than invoke, in favor of his demand, the high authority of the Hon. Thomas F. Bayard, who wrote to him on the 29th of October last:

As to any movement in the United States for the sending of vessels to Hayti, armed for the purpose of participating in an insurrection in that island, the Department will take prompt measures whenever information is laid before it to advise the proper authorities to inquire into the alleged movement.

The undersigned has the honor, etc.

Stephen Preston.