Mr. Douglass to Mr. Blaine.

No. 85.]

Sir: I have the honor to send to you herewith inclosed a translation of that part of the annual message submitted by President Hyppolite to the national assembly on the 9th ultimo, which treats of the relations of Haiti with foreign powers, together with some brief observations on other portions of that document, and I send to you also herewith two printed copies of it.

[Page 531]

What is said in the chapter herewith sent in translation of the satisfactory and pleasant relations between the United States and Haiti can be accepted as a graceful and appreciative recognition of our really friendly dispositions toward this Republic.

The chapter is not wanting in interesting details, but it is also characterized by an intelligent and just appreciation of that which concerns the position and relations of Haiti in the family of nations, and I commend it as being worthy of an attentive perusal.

In the chapter on finance, presenting, on the whole, a hopeful view, there are full statements concerning the public debt, and there is no lack of reference to the unsatisfactory financial situation alleged to have originated and left by the Légitime administration.

The comparative statement near the end of the chapter, concerning the ratio between the annual payments on the public debts of different countries and their annual revenues, would be more encouraging to Haiti if the rate of taxation bore the same ratio to the wealth and population in all the states mentioned.

There was quite a desire to know exactly what position this Government would assume toward the obligations left by the Légitime administration. The message recognizes and urges a legislative vote to pay the so-called Légitime loan of $600,000 on the ground that the value was actually paid over to the public authorities, and this appears to be the ground on which the Government has placed itself in reference to the so-called Légitime debts. The message speaks, moreover, of an administrative commission that was named on the entry of the Provisional Government into Port-au-Prince, and that has ever since been, and still is, at work on the classification and verification of those debts in order to be able “to indicate those which are regular and those which for one cause or another deserve to be annulled.”

The succeeding chapters of the message conspicuously show an intelligent appreciation of the needs of the several other branches of the public service. It does not seem possible that this Republic, with the resources at command, can fail to advance in all that relates to the development of an independent state as long as there are at the head of affairs, as at present, men, citizens of the country, who evince so thorough an understanding of the elements that make up and sustain such a State.

I am, etc.,

Frederick Douglass.
[Inclosure in No. 85.—Translation.]

President’s annual message.

Senators and Deputies: The painful events that have taken place in the country have unfortunately thrown everything into confusion. During the crisis of the civil war party passion left no place for justice, for wisdom, and truth. It is thus that facts, designedly disfigured and badly interpreted, plunged us at a certain moment into the strangest confusion. Ordinarily civil troubles have a direct result upon the foreign relations of a state. They often create certain constitutional, or simply governmental, transformations, which stir up, contract, or cool down the relations with foreign powers and condemn the suffering country to a kind of international instability, which lasts until the moment when a new condition of things, being consecrated by time and strengthened by policy, comes at last to be accepted generally. For, as at present, these ordinary results of a change of government are complicated by some limited circumstances which render them more prominent.

The same confusion to which I have above alluded, had passed from the interior to the exterior of the country. The greater number of the powers friendly to our [Page 532] young Republic, desirous of continuing with it the good relations which existed under General Salomon, and deceived by erroneous or interested reports (of the situation), hastened to recognize the power of General Légitime without waiting for the result of the strife begun for the triumph of right and justice. This strife ended in the downfall of the usurper, and the general, disowned by the whole Republic, was obliged to quit the soil of the mother country, which his ambition and his obstinacy had bruised and stained with blood. Such a misunderstanding created, fatally for us, a delicate situation in our international relations,. Nevertheless, from the day when the Provisional Government entered the capital I have made it my duty to restore the confidence and gain the sympathy of all the foreign powers in demonstrating to them by the eloquence of facts the rectitude of my principles. I would here speak of the correct conduct and honorable attitude observed by my several corps d’armée when they came within the walls of the capital, of the moderation employed in the treatment of former enemies who hastened to become friends. Testimony of this has been given to me by all the representatives of the diplomatic corps at Port-au-Prince, and the number of the Moniteur which contains this flattering correspondence will always be for me the most honorable parchment.

Unanimously elected President of the Republic by the constituent assembly freely assembled at Gonaives, I hastened to give notice of my election, according to diplomatic usage, to all the friendly governments. The United States of America immediately responded to my notification and recognized my Government. Afterwards came the Dominican Republic, Denmark, Greece, Spain, Liberia, Germany, the several Republics of Central and South America, Austria-Hungary, and lastly Portugal.

Of the nations which have important relations with Haiti, there remain only France and England that abstain from responding to my letter of notification, and seem thus not to recognize the Government which came from the sovereign vote of the national constituent assembly of the Republic. Mention must also be made of His Majesty the King of Italy, who has not yet recognized my Government.

If one wished to rest on the principles of international law, one could rationally infer from what I have just said that all diplomatic relations have ceased between my Government and those of the three nations last mentioned, But, happily, this is not at all the case.

The secretary of state for foreign affairs continues to correspond and regulate all questions which arise with the representatives of those nations. Her Britannic Majesty has had the graciousness to accord an exequatur to Mr. B. C. Carvalho, our consul-general at Kingston, on the request of Mr. Firmin, the present incumbent of the department of foreign affairs.

These considerations prove, with the opinion of the most distinguished publicists, that the international recognition necessary to a country whose duty it is not to isolate itself from the concert of civilized nations has for its object only to cause to be recognized the title of the chief of state and not his right to govern. In view of this right, the important thing will always be the national recognition, and every independent state is alone qualified to express this recognition, which is the most elevated act of its sovereignty. Therefore, the Government awaits with calmness and dignity the time when all the governments of the powers which constantly entertain relations of friendship with the Republic shall be pleased, in virtue of the courtesy which must form the basis of international reljations, to respond to my letter of notification.

In short, I am justified in saying that our relations with all foreign powers are of the best.

From the installation of the Government the Republic of the United States hastened to bestow upon us with profusion every testimony of a sympathy of which the country ought to feel proud. Vice (Rear) Admiral Gherardi, having come into the harbor”of Port-au-Prince with three vessels of his squadron, testified to me the desire of receiving me on board, in order, said he, to render to me all the honors which the American Navy ordinarily renders to chiefs of state, commencing with the President of the United States of America. I deferred in effect to his amiable invitation (by going on board) with all the members of the Government. It was a great satisfaction for the country to see for the first time the flag of one of the first powers of the civilized world lowered (see baisser) with all the prescribed ceremonial before a Haitian chief of state.

But the greatest proof of respect which the Government of the United States has given to us is, without question, the sending to Port-au-Prince in the quality of minister resident and consul-general of the Honorable Frederick Douglass, the illustrious champion of all men sprung from the African race, himself one of the most remarkable products of that race, which we represent with pride on the American continent.

With these good mutual dispositions, the Government has had no difficulties in its relations with the American legation.

The Van Bokkelen affair, for the regulation of which the Government of General Salomon had the bold idea of having recourse to the arbitration of one person and of [Page 533] accepting as the arbitrator an American—that is to say, a compatriot of the claimant—has been decided against us since December 4, 1888. While the country was expecting a victory, or at least a condemnation not exceeding $10,000, the single arbitrator deciding without recourse according to the proctocol signed by Mr. Bayard, then Secretary of State of the United States, and Mr. Preston, then our minister plenipotentiary at Washington, condemned us to pay $60,000 to the heirs and assigns of Van Bokkelen. This sum was to be paid on the 4th of December, 1889. Nevertheless, the secretary of state for foreign affairs continues a discussion (des pourparlers) with the American legation, and everything leads me to hope that we shall obtain a reasonable delay in which to satisfy this excessive condemnation, but without recourse to compromise.

Responding to the invitation of the American Government, the Provisional Government had sent Mr. Arthur Laforestrie, whose aptitudes are known, to represent the Republic of Haiti at the International Conference which opened at Washington in October last, but falling ill in the course of his labors, Mr. Laforestrie was obliged to return to our country in fleeing from the climate of the United States, the effect of which showed itself so prejudicial to his health in the winter season. He was replaced at the conference by our envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Washington, the Honorable Hannibal Price. This conference adjourned on the 20th of April last in expressing a wish which has a sovereignly elevated character: the abolition of the right of conquest in the practice (or application) of American international law during the time that there shall remain in vigor a treaty of arbitration signed by the plenipotentiaries of the principal powers of the new world. This treaty, which, if it be everywhere accepted, would change the face of the world, will surely create a certain solidarity in well-being and justice among all those who shall have consented to it.

Our minister plenipotentiary has signed it. It is for you to study it and to reflect on the important consequences which it may have upon our national development in concert with the civilized nations of the new continent.

In order to extend and strengthen our relations with the great European nations, the Government judged it necessary to create two new legations, one at Berlin and one at Madrid, and to send a minister resident, instead of a chargé d’affaires, to London. In effect, German interests, and especially the German colony, not very troublesome, it is true, have taken a sufficient extension in Haiti for us to feel the need of entertaining at Berlin relations as regular as those which we entertain at Paris and at London. The same reflections must be made in regard to Madrid; if we are not engaged in grand commercial interests with Spain, the Spanish colony, represented by Cubans, is considerable in Haiti. This colony, composed of artisans and workmen, is a peaceful element from which the country can draw the greatest advantages. Moreover, Spain belongs to the great European concert, and it is well that we should have near its Government an authorized representative placed in order to lead the two countries to understand each better and to profit better from the mutual advantages which closer relations can procure.

At Berlin, as at Madrid, our ministers have been received in solemn audience, with all the ceremonial of usage in each of the courts for the reception of diplomats of their grade.

Our relations with England, while awaiting the recognition of the Government, remain absolutely cordial. Mr. Zohrab, consul-general of Her Britannic Majesty at Port-au-Prince, hadofened a lively controvesy with the secretary of state for foreign affairs in regard, on the one hand, to the exemption which he claimed for his landlord from paying his subscription to the water company for water furnished to his habitation, and, on the other hand, relative to the practice of the custom-house of veryifying articles destined for his usage or for the use of his office, articles the free entry of which the Haitian Government has always had the courtesy to accord. His Lordship the Marquis of Salisbury, upon whose sense of justice and” enlightenment the department of foreign affairs had constantly counted, relieved Mr. Zohrab from his post and charged Mr. Arthur Tweedy with the English consulate ad interim. The Government has only to felicitate itself “in regard to the new representative of Her Britannic Majesty, whose character and proceedings are well calculated to cement the great sympathy which has always existed between the English and the Haitian peoples since the beginning of our history. We have no affair pending with the English consulate.

Our relations with France remain always on a footing of perfect accuracy. Before my arrival at the Presidency, the Count de Sesmaisons, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of the French Republic at Port-au-Prince, had left en congé according to notice given at that time to the counselor charged with the department of foreign affairs. He has not returned. Mr. Victor Huttinot, consul of France at Santo Domingo, directs ad interim the French legation at Port-au-Prince in the quality of chargé d’affaires. Divers litigious affairs have arisen between that legation and the department of foreign affairs, notably the reclamation of the French professors engaged by the Government of General Salomon.

[Page 534]

They have all been regulated iu a satisfactory manner. “When a state does not recognize a change in the constitution of another,” says an eminent French publicist, “diplomatic relations cease as in war, and the subjects of the obstinate state are recommended to the good care of a friendly or allied state; they are then protected unofficially instead of being protected officially.” Nevertheless, the Government has made use of all desirable condescension in accepting the official protection which the French legation has been pleased to accord to those within the limits of its care (a ses ressortissants), communicating in the meantime directly with the department of foreign affairs, while France has not recognized the new order of things constitutionally established in Haiti.

There remains, however, the affair Silvie-Debrosse, upon which correspondence is stillofen between the minister of foreign affairs and the French legation. Here are the details of it:

Under General Salomon, just as it was found well to accept an American arbitrator to take cognizance of an American claim, so French arbitrators were accepted to take cognizance of a French claim, leaving, it seems, to the French Government the exclusive right, to fix the amount ot the sum to be exacted from the Haitian Government. It is thus that it was decided by the arbitrators that the Government of Haiti is to furnish to the French Government a pecuniary reparation, representing the injury inflicted upon Mr. Silvie, a French subject, by reason of a decree of the court of cassation of August 9, 1883, and that Mr. Goblet, then minister of foreign affairs of France, fixed this pecuniary reparation at 500,000 francs.

The arbitrator’s decision, which arrived here during the Provisional Government of August 24, 1888, seems to have been accepted without observation, a value of 44,028.29 francs having been paid on the 500,000 francs.

The Government, not wishing in any way to begin a controversial discussion as to whether a provisional government has the quality to put a country under pledge, accepted both the arbitration and the sum fixed by Mr. Goblet. But our financial resources do not permit us to pay so large a sum in 1 or 2 years without sensibly deranging our budgetary equilibrium. Therefore, the secretary of state has requested a longer delay for the payment of the 455,971.31 francs forming the balance of the pecuniary reparation which is to be paid to Mr. Silvie. I hope that the French Government will finally feel that this debt is of a nature to lead it to use all its generosity in regard to the delay which has been requested of it.

The secretary of state for foreign affairs has also had to sustain an important correspondence with the French legation in regard to the asylum accorded to two Haitians, Messrs. Phyrrhus Agnan and Horelle Monplaisir, who are under pursuit for common law crimes and whom Mr. Huttinot claims to have the right to shelter under the French flag, thus placing them beyond the reach of the laws of the country. The Government refused to permit the embarkation of these accused persons, who must still be at the French legation, because it can not be admitted that the chargé d’affaires has brought about a diplomatic discussion for the sole purpose of favoring the escape of the delinquents, whom he has called “his refugees.” Mr. Victor Huttinot, having ceased this discussion, has referred this question to the French minister of foreign affairs. The replacing of Mr. Spuller by the Hon. Mr. Ribot may, moreover, explain Mr. Huttinot’s seeming delay in the case.

Another fact much more worthy your attention is the toleration which the French legation accords to some Haitians who have never left the country to inscribe themselves at Port-au-Prince as Frenchmen, an inscription made in derogation of the Haitian constitution, as well as of the French law. It is thus that Messrs. Gauthier Ménos, Tracy Riboul, Auguste Riboul, Emile Riboul, Beaubrun Roux, Pétion Rivière, Ernest Rigaud, Michel Silavois, Louis Silavois, Pétion Silavois, Riobé Rigaud, Dénery Dejoie, Léon Dénery Déjoie, Justin Déjoie, Georges Déjoie, etc., have been inscribed as Frenchmen at the legation of France, while they were born Haitians and have always belonged to the Haitian nationality. These men are in no sense Frenchmen in France, while they claim to be Frenchmen in Haiti on the simple complaisance of the French legation. Mr. V. Huttinot has not even stopped at this inscription. A Haitian named Lovinski Rigaud, a soldier in the guard of His Excellency the President of Haiti, having been able to inscribe himsell thus, was arrested as a deserter, and the French legation did not hesitate to reclaim him in the face of this act legally exercised in regard to a reprehensible soldier. The department of foreign affairs in no way abandoned the right of the Haitian Government, and the said Rigaud, recognizing himself as a Haitian, was placed at liberty on the proper movement of the Haitian authorities.

I await the time when our relations shall be seriously and diplomatically reëstablished with the French Government in order to put a stop to a practice which can tend to nothing less than the national disintegration accomplished surreptitiously outside of national law and in derogation of our international personality.

The Government employs its most constant efforts not to depart from the moderation and the wisdom necessary to the good understanding which ought to exist between [Page 535] the country and the foreign nations to which it is bound by so many powerful interests; but it will never forget the national dignity and conservation, which must be placed above every other consideration.

In the first days of the month of February I had the great pleasure of receiving at Thomazeau, a commune of the arrondissement of Port-au-Prince, His Excellency General Heuraux, Constitutional President of the Dominican Republic. Never was an interview more cordial. The effusion of sentiment on both sides was sincere and profound, for outside the real sympathies which exist between the two sister Republics whose destinies we direct, there exist also between General Heuraux and myself remembrances which will always give us the liveliest pleasure when we meet hand in hand. This interview, which will have some happy influences upon the march of the two peoples, must contribute especially to the reopening of the conferences destined for the elaboration of a definitive treaty between our two countries. Therefore, the Government, sure of the good dispositions of the Dominican people and of General Heuraux, will soonofen the negotiations which must lead to that end.

The Provisional Government, of which I was the chief, paid the fifth term of the claims for damages at Port-au-Prince, the same falling due September 30, 1889, and amounting to $119,548.23, capital and interest. Two terms of the Domingue debt were equally paid in the beginning of January last in such a way as to bring us up to date with the bondholders. In this view the public service leaves absolutely nothing to be desired.

In brief, notwithstanding some questions which need to be elucidated and which have for us the greatest interest, our international interests are as good as possible. The foreign policy of the Government will tend to strengthen and extend them, in observing all the loyalty and all the courtesy which we ought to observe in our relations with friendly powers and in safeguarding by all means the dignity without which our country will never be able to figure nobly and advantageously among civilized nations.