Mr. Olney to Mr. Eustis.

No. 676.]

Sir: I inclose for your information copy of a dispatch No. 139, of the 31st of March last, from the consul of the United States at Tamatave in regard to affairs in Madagascar.

You will observe that the French resident-general, in his note of the 13th of March last to Mr. Wetter, states, in effect, that France having taken possession of the island, it follows from this fact that foreigners and French citizens are alike amenable to the regular French tribunals, and that France has taken definite and entire possession of Madagascar.

I am, etc.,

Richard Olney.
[Inclosure in No. 676.]

Mr. Wetter to Mr. Uhl.

No. 139.]

Sir: I have the honor in continuation of my dispatch No. 133 of February 20, 1896, to hand you such further correspondence as has occurred between myself and Mr. Laroche.

Mr. Laroche’s letter (inclosure No. 1) needs no commentary. My reply thereto (inclosure No. 2) takes up the Martin matter reported in my dispatch No. 137 of March 18, 1896.

I have been positively informed that it is the town talk of Antananarivo, as well as here in Tamatave, that the discontinuance of issuing licenses, as reported in my No. 135 of March 17, was because of the raising of this jurisdiction question by the United States and British consulates. [Page 128] These licenses are now issued to Frenchmen only. Already the acting British consul’s premature announcement is bearing fruit. Per last English mail thirteen American and British miners reached this place and Vatomandry. Eight of these men were United States citizens from Matabeleland. Fortunately, these men have means enough for their subsistence for a year or two and have entered the country in the usual way. Should, however, any hairbrained attempts be made to come into the country on the west and southwest coast we will have a second edition of the Dawson fiasco of 1893, when eighty white men were landed by sailing ship on the west coast, whereof but seventeen lived to reach Antananarivo and but thirteen of these to reembark at Tamatave five months afterwards for the Transvaal again, starvation and fever doing the damage.

I am sir, etc.,

Edw. Telfair Wetter,
United States Consul.
[Subinclosure 1 in No. 676.—Translation.]

Mr. Laroche to Mr. Wetter.

Mr. Consul: I have had the honor of seeing you on my passage at Tamatave, and of commencing with you relations which I can not doubt will be always marked not only by courtesy but by sincere sympathy.

If I have omitted to notify you officially and by special letter of my assuming possession of the residency-general of Madagascar, rest assured that that omission has had nothing intentional in it.

France has taken possession of the Island, and from this fact it follows, naturally, that the foreign subjects and the French subjects therein will be amenable henceforth to our regular tribunals. Therefore, you would think without doubt, in consequence of this change of situation it was the duty of my Government to make it known to yours.

The letter of Mr. the Resident at Tamatave, announcing to you the approaching arrival of the French judges, can not take the place of this communication. I could not consider myself more qualified. These are communications (to be made) between Paris and Washington, and I acknowledge with you that from Washington solely, and not from Antananarivo, could you receive information upon the modifications which your mission to Madagascar doth assume.

Be that as it may, since you show the desire to be informed thereof by the residency-general itself, I hasten to confirm to you that which public rumor has already given out to be known, that France has taken definitive and entire possession of this country.

I repeat again, Mr. Consul, that I shall have great pleasure in continuing with you the good relations commenced in the month of January, and which both my sentiments of venerable and profound sympathy for the United States, which you represent, and the sentiments of high consideration which I have for your person, and whereof I renew to you here the expression, will render altogether easy.

Will you accept, etc.,

Hippolyte Laroche,
The Resident-General.
[Subinclosure 2 in No. 676.]

Mr. Wetter to Mr. Laroche.

Sir: I have the honor to own the receipt of your communication dated March 13, 1896, and would assure you that the feelings of good will and courtesy therein voiced are not only fully appreciated by myself, but that they are more than cordially and sincerely reciprocated.

There was no need, sir, to assure this consulate that the omission alluded to in the second paragraph of your letter was unintentional on your part, as it was already [Page 129] satisfied that such must have been the case, and had attributed same solely to the pressure of local business and the tension and confusion incident to a new incumbency. The expression in my letter to which your said paragraph was in response was not intended on my part as a reminder of such omission, but solely as a premise to the opening of an official correspondence between yourself and this consulate.

I am sincerely pleased to note that you are in accord with this consulate in the essential features of its position relative to this matter of “present jurisdiction,” and would again express the hope that you may find it compatible with your sense of duty to your own Government to cooperate with me in avoiding all controversial friction by leaving this question of present jurisdiction on your part in abeyance until such time as our Governments may have decided same and this consulate shall have been accorded appropriate instructions from Washington. In this connection I can inform you that as yet, although my last advices are dated February 7, no such instructions have been received.

In conclusion I regret to state that rumors have recently reached me about a matter of recent occurrence in Antananarivo, which more or less bears, if said reports are correctly founded, upon this very question of jurisdiction. In the very unsatisfactory form in which these rumors reach me I much prefer to leave all discussion or comment thereon until such time as same shall have been reduced to legal details and facts. To enable this consulate, therefore, to arrive at a correct conclusion as to whether the matter calls for its official intervention or attention or not, I would request that you courteously favor me with a detailed statement as to the trial or trials of a certain American citizen, William Beal Martin, in February last, before your civil or military tribunals, as the case may have been, for an offense alleged to have been committed against another American citizen in Antananarivo; likewise of a certain judgment or judgments rendered against him in that case, as also in a civil matter between said Martin and another American citizen named Owen.

Renewing to you, etc.,

Edw. Telfair Wetter,
United States Consul.