Mr. Durham to Mr. Foster.
Port au Prince , January 6, 1893 . (Received January 17.)
Sir: Referring to my previous dispatches concerning the case of Mr. Mevs, I have to inclose the accompanying note from the minister of foreign relations. I regret that the pressure upon my time by the routine work of the consulate-general prevents my inclosing translation. In his note, the minister strongly protests against what seems to his Government as irregular conduct, and informs me that the case will be taken up by the new minister to Washington, who will sail immediately. He is careful to insert in the body of his dispatch the statement that the friendship for the country of Washington, Sumner, and John Brown, of which Haiti has constantly given proofs, makes it the duty of his Government to say that it could not in any circumstance have intention of “outraging the United States of America.”[Page 367]
Only two or three hours before, this new minister, Mr. Clément Haentjens, had left me with the understanding that the matter would be talked over by myself and the minister of foreign relations, or any other person whom the President might name with authority. Mr. Haentjens was a member of Firmin’s cabinet, and while I know his sentiments perfectly, I believe that his good sense had overcome his prejudices and that he was acting in good faith. The object of his visit must have been to get a better idea of our position, for the prompt arrival of Mr. Lespinasse’s note shows that at the time of Mr. Haentjen’s visit not only had the Hank movement of the Haitians been decided upon, but also that the note itself must have been in the course of preparation.
I of course promptly decided not to permit this to interfere with my observing your instructions. I thought it expedient, however, to accept the no intention disavowal as satisfactory, and to overlook their attempt to have the Department take the matter out of my hands. I indicated my purpose to maintain the firm attitude which I have assumed and to insist on my return that proper reparation be made. I inclose a copy of my note.
The case is regarded not so especially American in character but as representing all foreign interests in this Republic. The leading merchants and financiers of this capital without regard to nationality feel that their property and their liberty will be affected seriously if the United States should take one step backward in this matter.
The consuls have shown the deepest interest unofficially, and I regret that their utterances being entirely of a personal character can not be quoted in an official dispatch.
I therefore, with great insistance, urge that by the 16th of this month the commander of the U. S. S. Atlanta, now in these waters, be instructed by telegraph to cooperate with me in enforcing my request for reparation.
I am, etc.,