Mr. Gresham to Mr. Eustis.
Washington, April 10, 1895.
Sir: Press telegrams printed in this country and in Europe last month announced that Mr. John L. Waller, late United States consul at Tamatave, had been tried by the French authorities in the Island of Madagascar and sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment. The nature of the charge against him is not fully understood, but it is believed that the proceedings were before a military tribunal, and it is asserted that the charge grew out of valuable concessions of rubber lands made by the Malagasy Government to Mr. Waller in March, 1894, a year before his arrest and trial.
The Department at once endeavored to learn the facts, and instructions were telegraphed, March 27, to the United States consulate at Port Louis, Mauritius, the nearest post accessible by cable, directing a full and prompt report. Mr. Campbell replied, March 28, that late reports from Madagascar were to the effect that the French authorities had found compromising papers in Mr. Waller’s possession and that he had been condemned to twenty years’ imprisonment as a Hova spy.
Mr. Campbell was thereupon directed by telegram to communicate with Consul Wetter at Tamatave and report further. To this a reply has just been received stating that Mr. Waller has been sent to France (presumably as a prisoner), and that his son had been expelled from Madagascar, and also sent to France.
The United States have a treaty of amity and commerce with the government of Madagascar, guaranteeing to American citizens rights of residence and trade in the island.
The circumstances warrant the President in directing you to request of the Government of the French Republic a copy of the charges against Mr. Waller and the evidence upon which his reported conviction was based; also a copy of the sentence of the court.
Of native birth and parentage, Mr. Waller went to Madagascar as consul of the United States, and on the appointment of his successor, less than two years ago, he remained temporarily there with a view to establishing relations of trade between that country and the United States. Abundant evidence of his intention to return to and dwell in the United States has been filed with this Department.
You will at once represent this case to the French Government and briefly report the result by telegraph.
I am, etc.,