Mr. Smythe to Mr. Gresham.

No. 2.]

Sir: Replying to your No. 2, of 23d ultimo, it seems that the question of the detention of sailing vessels treated of in your dispatch was placed in an attitude of easy solution by the declaration of the Chief Executive of Haiti in his annual message promulgated in 1891, in which he says it has been found from an examination of the bureau of commerce that no law imposes the obligation to detain sailing vessels until the duties on their inward cargoes are paid. The message also recites that “the measure is perhaps only supported by the decree of 30th April, 1869, which was not inserted in the Official Moniteur nor in any law bulletin of the Republic, so that it is not known from what source it emanates. In any case, the date (30th April, 1869) recalls a troubled epoch of the Republic, when it was impossible to render a ‘decree in constitutional form.’” In the same document the President says that he “regards the custody of the cargo as an ample safeguard to the fiscal agents.”

I can not but believe that upon the proper presentation of the subject in this light an executive decree or declaratory order will follow directing the customs officers to expedite the departure of sailing vessels in the way desired. A careful examination of the records here fails to disclose any instruction from the Department for the guidance of this legation, but I will accept your No. 2 as an instruction to proceed in the [Page 353] matter in the way outlined in this dispatch, as soon as my status will permit, and at such time I will not omit to urge the reasons in this behalf suggested in your No. 2. In response to your suggestion that the matter has been discussed with Messrs. Douglass and Durham I beg to refer you to Mr. Durham’s No. 228, which suggests alternative remedies, and to which I can find no reply.

I am, etc.,

Henry M. Smythe.