Mr. Durham to Mr. Foster.
Fort au Prince, February 11, 1893. (Received February 23.)
Sir: You instruct me to continue my efforts in the case of Mr. Mevs, using diplomatic means, as the President is unwilling to resort to naval force while there seems to be hope of an amicable arrangement. You also say that the principle involved is more important, and you suggest that a hint to that effect might be advisable.
From the beginning of my work on this case, except in making the request, I have dealt entirely with the principle. In the absence of instructions from the Department, I asked for the sum named by Mr. [Page 378]Mevs in his letter transmitted to you by Dr. Terres in December. Thus far we have received no reply to that dispatch from the vice-consul-general.
At daylight yesterday the Atlanta was seen to be getting up steam, and immediately it was accepted that you had abandoned the case. To attempt under existing conditions to treat for a small sum of money when the Haitian Government declines to pay anything, would only expose the legation to greater humiliation than it has already suffered in this case. In this phase of the matter, affecting as it does my official usefulness and my personal respect, and requiring actual presence here to form an intelligent opinion, I presume that you will permit me to exercise some discretion. The two replies of the minister for foreign relations make no reference to the sum of money. The minister says clearly that he decides that Mr. Mevs has no right to reparation.
To give out the impression that the naval vessel was sent here to support the rights of an American citizen, and to leave the legation without that support at the moment when the Haitian Government refuses to do anything and its officials publicly accused of making “another bluff,” leaves all American interests in a situation which, in my opinion, deserves your consideration.
It was in view of these facts and because I see no dignified way out of the difficulty, except to insist on an immediate settlement, that I sent you my telegram of yesterday that the Haitian Government had refused to accept the principle; that I had spared no effort to settle diplomatically that the withdrawal of the Atlanta is regarded as abandonment of the case; that the legation’s position grows more embarrassing, and that Americans are apprehensive. I urge that the admiral be sent here, on his way north, to settle the case.
I have, etc.,