Mr. Uhl to Mr. I. F. Fischer, M. C.
Sir: In compliance with my promise to you in our conversation of the 5th instant, I have the pleasure to inform you touching the present situation of the claim of the owners and master of the American schooner Henry Crosby for injuries received at Azua, Santo Domingo, at the hands of the Dominican authorities.
The facts of the incident are stated very fully in the inclosures to dispatch No. 6, of January 22, 1894 (printed in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1894, pp. 207– 213), from Mr. Henry M. Smythe, minister of the United States at Port au Prince, and also chargé d’affaires accredited to the Dominican Republic. The Department is also in possession of a report of the occurrence submitted by the commanding officer of the U. S. S. Kearsarge under date of January 2, 1894, made in pursuance of instruction to visit Azua and report concerning the affair.[Page 234]
Following the Department’s usual rule, a duly formulated claim on behalf of the aggrieved parties was awaited before considering the question of presenting a reclamation to the Dominican Government, This was not received until Messrs. Goodrich, Deady & Goodrich, of New York, attorneys for Henry Lord and others, owners, master, and crew of the Henry Crosby, presented a memorial, with accompanying affidavits, in substantiation of a claim amounting to $1,132.89 for expenses incurred at Azua by reason of the firing upon the vessel by soldiers of Santo Domingo in December, 1893.
The claim so presented was carefully considered, and on the 10th of April I, being then Acting Secretary of State, wrote very fully on the subject to Messrs. Goodrich, Deady & Goodrich, summarizing the facts related in the memorial, and reaching the conclusion that the owners of the vessel had no claim for damages except to a limited extent on account of the aforesaid action of the Dominican soldiers, embracing, for instance, injury done to the yawl boat, medical attention upon the wounded man, Smith, money paid for his board, care, and attention at Azua, injury to the bedding, which is mentioned in the claim and was supposed to have happened in the dressing of Smith’s wounds, or any other matters of expense necessarily incurred by reason of the attack made upon the yawl boat.
As to individual claims for damages, Smith was not entitled to the intervention of this Department, not being an American citizen, nor having come within the statute which provides that a foreigner serving as a seaman on an American vessel shall be entitled to American protection if he has declared his intention to become a citizen, as it did not appear that he had ever made such a declaration.
The chief officer of the Henry Crosby, Mr. William H. Brooks, I suggested might perhaps be entitled to a small indemnity, although no certificate of his naturalization had been presented. With this exception I was unable to see that any other of the officers or crew were entitled to any damages.
I further pointed out that in view of the recent assassination of the governor of Azua and the turbulent condition of that part of Santo Domingo, the conduct of the Henry Crosby could not fail to excite suspicion and fear in the minds of the authorities, and that it was clear that no insult to the flag of the United States was intended, since the governor of Azua, when called upon, expressed great regret at the occurrence, and Minister Smythe had reported that ample apologies were made.
My conclusion was that, after careful consideration, the Department could not present the claim to the Dominican Government in the shape in which it was formulated, or present it at all, except to the limited extent above indicated. I inclose for your information a copy of my aforesaid letter of April 10, to Messrs. Goodrich, Deady & Goodrich.
Here the matter rested until July 26, 1894, when Messrs. Goodrich, Deady & Goodrich sent to the Department an additional affidavit from Captain Stubbs, the master of the vessel, in the hope that it might throw some new light on the affair, and requested a reconsideration of the Department’s conclusion. Upon reexamination, Mr. Secretary Gresham replied August 1, 1894, that he saw no reason to change the opinion expressed in the Department’s letter to the attorneys under date of April 10, 1894.
Since that time no renewed presentation of the claim has been made.
I have, etc.,