Mr. Preston to Mr. Bayard.
New York, February 14, 1889. (Received February 15.)
The undersigned, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the Republic of Hayti, has the honor to bring the following facts to the notice of the honorable Secretary of State of the United States:
The steamer Carondelet, laden with arms and munitions of war, was seized on Wednesday, the 6th instant, by the United States district court for the southern district of New York.
The case was set down by the court for the Saturday following, the 9th instant, with the consent of the district attorney; the time allowed, in view of the importance of the matter involved, was quite insufficient. The case was thus heard without any preparation save that resulting from the evidence or facts which the undersigned had been able hastily to collect; consequently, owing to his not having requested the court to allow him sufficient time to collect all the details, together with the evidence in support of his facts, the honorable district attorney was unable satisfactorily to establish the guilt of the suspected steamer.
It is true that the case, which was begun on Saturday morning, was adjourned until the following Tuesday; this extension, however, was manifestly too short, and yesterday, the 13th instant, the evidence of the United States was so insufficient that the district attorney declared that he would carry the case no further. The decision against the seizure was thus assured, and it was rendered immediately.
In order to secure a different result, and even, the lawyers employed to defend the vessel and her cargo admitted the offense in their private conversations, the neutral, which in this case was the United States Government, should have taken the affair in hand and have made an investigation itself, showing something of the energetic skill and talent in preparing a case of which the undersigned was witness in 1883, when the case of the United States against the Mary N. Hogan was tried.
In fact, as the undersigned had the honor to remark in his note of the 25th ultimo to the Secretary of State of the United States, according to the letter of international law, as it has been understood and interpreted by the United States themselves, a neutral should exercise all due diligence “in its own ports and waters, and as to all persons within its jurisdiction, to prevent any violation of the foregoing obligations and duties.” (See Treaty of Washington, Article VI.) This point, however, having been elucidated in the note addressed by the undersigned to the honorable Secretary of State on the 25th ultimo, there is no need of his discussing it again; suffice it to say, therefore, that in case of the Carondelet the district attorney at New York formally declared to the undersigned that he had no means of seeking for the facts. Consequently, on this essential point, the undersigned can not regard the action of the United States Government as having met the obligations that were imposed upon it; this Government did not exercise “due diligence.” Doubtless the skillful and honorable officers of justice made the best use of the evidence hastily collected by the undersigned or under his direction, but it can not be admitted that the neutral in the case now under consideration sufficiently fulfilled his obligations.
As it was, the evidence indicated or suggested by the legation of Hayti was the only evidence that was considered.
The undersigned now comes to the steamer Madrid, to which reference [Page 523]was made in the note which he addressed to the honorable Secretary of State on the 25th ultimo.
It appears from the testimony of Henry R. Kunhardt, jr., of the firm of Kunhardt & Co., as given yesterday in the case of the United States against the Carondelet, that the Madrid was purchased by him, that it is being converted by him into a vessel of war, and being put in a proper condition to receive its armament.
This matter has been arranged with Nemours Auguste. Kunhardt declared, moreover, that Nemours Auguste had deposited with the firm of André, Giraud & Co., of Paris, a sum on which he (Kunhardt) is authorized to draw in order to re-imburse himself for his advances; that any surplus that may be due him will be paid at Samana, Santo Domingo, whenever the Madrid shall be delivered.
The undersigned scarcely need remind the honorable Secretary of State who Nemours Auguste is. A letter from Nemours Auguste, addressed to the Secretary of State of the United States, appears in Executive Document No. 69, which was communicated to the United States Senate on the 15th ultimo. (See No. 190, pp. 235 et seq. of the said document.) It is therefore admitted that the Madrid has been bought and paid for by Nemours Auguste; that the money is the Haytian rebel money is simply a matter of technical proof; in order to establish this nothing but a moral delay is needed, sufficient for the production of ample evidence in legal form.
In the meantime, the undersigned has learned that the steamer Madrid will probably sail on Saturday morning. He therefore requests that the collector of the port of New York may make use of the discretionary powers which are conferred upon him by section 5290 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, and that he may detain the Madrid provisionally. To this effect the undersigned begs the honorable Secretary of State to cause immediate instructions to be given to the said collector by telegraph.
At the same time, the undersigned asks that positive instructions may likewise be given to the competent district attorney, such instructions as may authorize that officer to use the due diligence which international law imposes upon a neutral.
The undersigned, on his part, will place all the evidence that he has already obtained or is likely to obtain, establishing the nature of the whole transaction relative to the steamer Madrid, in the hands of the officers of justice of the United States.
The undersigned can not conclude this note without adding the expression of his conviction that the honorable Secretary of State of the United States will appreciate, as he does himself, the necessity of causing the neutrality of the United States to be respected by all.
The undersigned has, etc.,