Mr. Vignaud to Mr. Gresham.
Paris, February 19, 1895. (Received March 4.)
Sir: I saw Mr. Hanotaux yesterday and telegraphed you the result of our conversation.
With reference to the Cacavilli case, he thinks you have been misinformed. He asserts positively that he has abundant proof of the complicity [Page 400] of the authorities in the murder; that his mind is made up on this point, and that no investigation is being made by the French consular agency in this matter.
With regard to the position you have taken, he has no objection. He will assuredly exhaust all peaceful means of settling the difficulty before resorting to force, and should he be obliged to go to such an extremity, he will very naturally be guided by the principles of international law. But this does not mean that the existing American rights, which are altogether of a private character, can impair or check those of France, The French Government was no party to the contract made with the American company, and, like all other private persons, those interested in it would have to submit, temporarily at least, to the consequences of a conflict, in case such conflict became unavoidable. He had no doubt you understood this perfectly well, and would feel sorry if the Dominicans did not. At all events, the American company could not be mistaken in this respect, and it remained with them to bring the matter to a speedy and peaceful termination.
As stated in my telegram, Mr. Hanotaux was not so pressing as when I saw him the first time, but he seemed nevertheless quite determined to take proceedings against the Dominicans if they did not submit, although he was more willing to temporize. He said that a cabinet council had authorized him to act, but that it was a matter of indifference to him whether he ate the pie hot or cold. These are his own words.
Although he did not intimate it, I think he hoped you would have suggested to the American company that the best thing they could do under the circumstances was to pay the indemnity for the Dominican Government, a step which would, in his opinion, strengthen the hold of the company on that Government.
Parties interested in the company over here entertain, I believe, that view.
I have, etc.,