Mr. Gresham to Mr. Smythe.
Washington, January 31, 1895.
Sir: Bernard Campbell, who thinks he is a native-born American, but in view of some doubt on that point has become duly naturalized, has filed with this Department a memorial asserting that he has suffered grievous injuries at the hands of the Haitian Government, and asking indemnity for the same.
The substance of Mr. Campbell’s statement is that early in the month of April, 1889, he made a contract in the city of New York for service [Page 812] as an engineer aboard a steamer in the West Indies. He says he supposed his service was to be on a merchant vessel.
On arriving at Cape Haitien on the 17th of April, 1889, the steamer Clyde, upon which he and others under similar contracts had sailed from New York, was boarded by officers of the Haitian navy—Admiral Cooper and Captain Compton—who informed Campbell that he was expected to serve on a Haitian man-of-war lying near by. This he positively refused to do. He was thereupon informed by those officers that he had been engaged for that purpose; that he would not be allowed to remain or return on the Clyde; that he was in their power, and that if he refused to obey their orders it meant death to him. He, however, still refused to enter the service of the Haitian navy.
On the 18th of April—the day following his arrival at Cape Haitien—he succeeded in securing passage on a small boat for Monte Christi, but while he was walking about the wharf waiting for the boat to leave he was assaulted by Haitian soldiers, beaten, and thrown into the sea. With great difficulty and after much suffering he managed to get back to New York, though his health has been permanently impaired by his injuries. His statements are corroborated by several affidavits and depositions accompanying his memorial, copies of which are transmitted to you. Some of these depositions were taken in proceedings instituted by Campbell in the courts of New York against the parties with whom he made the contract to go to the West Indies, but they contain some statements very pertinent to his present claim against Haiti.
The presumption is very strong that the assault upon Campbell, following as it did immediately after the threats made against him by Captain Compton, was made in consequence of his refusal to take service in the Haitian navy. It appears from the affidavit of William Hogg, one of the persons who went out from New York with Campbell, and who, having agreed to enter the Haitian navy, was in charge of some of their officers, that he saw Campbell struggling on the wharf with the soldiers and wanted to go to his assistance, but was not allowed to do so, and was, as he says, “shoved around the corner so he could not see Mr. Campbell.”
You will present the claim to the Haitian Government, and state that in the opinion of this Government Mr. Campbell is entitled, upon the evidence adduced in his behalf, to a substantial indemnity.
I am, etc.,