Mr. Eustis to Mr. Olney.

No. 511.]

Sir: Referring to previous correspondence concerning our treaty rights in Madagascar I send herewith a copy of a note dated May 12, which I addressed to Mr. Hanotaux in compliance with your instruction, and a copy of a note received in reply dated June 3.

To our categorical inquiry whether the authority of the French Republic had completely superseded that of the Hovas and whether our treaties with France were to be extended to Madagascar, Mr. Hanotaux replies that the introduction in the Chamber of Deputies of the bill declaring that island a French colony gives the positive assurance you desired. He hopes, therefore, that the understanding with us is now complete on the basis of his note to me of April 16 and of M. Patenôtre’s note to you of April 18, and he adds that in taking the necessary steps for the organization of the new order of things the French Republic will be governed, with regard to American citizens, by the sympathies which unite the two countries.

The bill above mentioned has been referred to a committee of eleven members, all of whom, with the exception of one, are in its favor. It is preceded by an explanatory statement of motives, a translation of which, clipped from the Times, I inclose herewith, together with a translation of Mr. Hanotaux’s note.

I have, etc.,

J. B. Eustis.
[Page 130]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 511.]

Mr. Eustis to Mr. Hanotaux.

Sir: On April 14, writing under instructions from my Government, I addressed a note to Mr. Bourgeois with regard to the rights and privileges conceded to the Government of the United States by its treaty with Madagascar concluded May 13, 1881, inquiring particularly whether that treaty was to remain operative and stating that, in the opinion of my Government the precise status of the United States in the matter ought to be definitely and clearly defined.

Under date of April 16 Mr. Berthelot replied that the maintenance of the treaty of 1881 was inconsistent with the new order of things created by the taking possession of Madagascar, but that the Government of the Republic was disposed to extend to the great African island the whole of the conventions applicable to the Government or citizens of the United States in France and in French possessions.

I sent a copy of this note to the Secretary of State at Washington, who, in the meantime, had received a communication from Mr. Patenôtre, repeating substantially the same thing.

In the opinion of my Government, it is desirable that the statement made to me by Mr. Berthelot and to Mr. Olney by Mr. Patenôtre be so confirmed as to leave no question touching the extinction of our Madagascar treaty and its replacement by those the United States have with France in virtue of complete absorption of Madagascar and the substitution of a wholly French Government for that of the Hovas with which my Government has heretofore maintained relations.

Recommending this important matter to the attention of your excellency, I avail myself, etc.,

J. B. Eustis.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 511.—Translation.]

Mr. Hanotaux to Mr. Eustis.

Mr. Ambassador: Under date of April 16 last, my predecessor made known to your excellency that in the opinion of the Government of the Republic, the maintenance of the treaty concluded May 13, 1881, between the United States and Queen Ranavalo was incompatible with the new order of things created by the conquest of Madagascar. M. Bourgeois added that, on the other hand, the whole (l’ensemble) of the conventions whereby the Government and people of the United States are benefited in France and in the French possessions would be extended to the great African Island.

In acknowledging the receipt of this communication on May 12 last, you were good enough to express, in the name of your Government, the wish that no doubt should remain as to the complete taking of possession of Madagascar by France and as to the substitution in the island of French sovereignty for that of the Hovas, with which the Federal Government formerly negotiated.

The Government of the Republic has just introduced in the Chamber of Deputies a bill declaring Madagascar and the neighboring islets to be a French colony. This measure will convey to the Government of [Page 131] the Union the categorical assurance to which is subjected its adhesion to our view in regard to the treaty of 1881. We, therefore, take pleasure in hoping that the understanding can be considered as complete between the two Governments under the terms of the note addressed to you April 16 and of the one which our representative at Washington handed to Mr. Olney on the 18th of the same month. Besides the Government of the Republic will be inspired by the sentiments of sympathy which exist between France and the United States in facilitating the incorporation of the new régime with regard to the citizens of the Union, and in assuring the continuation of the development of the relations which they have with our new colony.

I beg your excellency to kindly bring this information to the knowledge of your Government.

Please accept, etc.,

G. Hanotaux.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 511.—From the London Times.]

Bill for the annexation of Madagascar, introduced in the French Chamber of Deputies May 30, 1896.

It is now eight months since the French troops entered Antananarivo, and the diplomatic and political system of the great island has not yet been defined. It is needless to insist on the inconveniences of such a delay, as well in reference to the internal pacification of our new possession as to the international problems raised by the conquest. From the beginning two systems have confronted each other, the one consisting in putting Madagascar under the protectorate of France, and the other in making the island a French colony. The Chamber knows that the cabinet presided over by Mr. Ribot decided upon a protectorate with all its consequences. This was the system established both by the treaty intrusted to General Duchesne, and by the unilateral document telegraphed on September 18, which was to be signed exclusively by the Queen. The cabinet of which we are the successors did not feel that this was the system to be adopted. The treaty signed by General Duchesne was not ratified, and the Queen had to sign a fresh document, which struck out the formula “protectorate with its consequences.” In the new document the Queen took cognizance of the declaration of prise de possession of the island of Madagascar by the French Government. A de facto situation was thus established, “not, properly speaking, implying cession or adjunction of territory.” It merely effected a “dismemberment of sovereignty” which left the Queen a portion of her authority; that concerning the internal administration of the island.

Such were the declarations made to the Chamber. The prise de possession of the island had, moreover, already been notified to the powers by the dispatch of February 11, 1896. That notification was the occasion on the part of the chief cabinets interested of an exchange of views, leading, in certain cases, to requests for enlightenment as to the bearing of a prise de possession de fait, as well from a diplomatic as from a juridical and legislative point of view. Those powers having relations with Madagascar, owing to previous treaties, do not deny that the disappearance of native sovereignty and the full and complete substitution of France for the Hova Government would result in causing ipso facto the old treaties to disappear. But they do not seem disposed to draw the same conclusions from a mere declaration of taking possession. If, however, owing to the sacrifices that France has made to establish her authority in Madagascar, we wish to insure our countrymen and our products a privileged situation in the great island, it is necessary for this question of the previously existing treaties to be settled as soon as possible.

It is in these conditions that the present cabinet has had to resume the study of the question. Could it retrace the past and endeavor to restore the protectorate system destroyed, so to speak, even before it existed by the unilateral document signed by the Queen on January 18? As Mr. Charmes said in a sitting of March 19, 1896, “The Queen having signed a second treaty, could she be made to sign a third?” Matters have advanced, declarations have been made and notified. Irremediable decisions have been taken. In presence of definite and accomplished facts, considering the great sacrifices made by France for the conquest of the island, taking into account the necessity of putting an end to the uncertainty and to a state of trouble which, if it continues, will menace all the interests in the country, the Government asks you to declare by a bill that the island of Madagascar and the dependent islets are henceforth a French colony. In the present state of things this solution has [Page 132] seemed to us the clearest, simplest, and most logical—the only one fitted to dispel the obscurities still enveloping the future of Madagascar.

This enactment, moreover, implies to our minds no change in the method to be applied in the Government and internal administration of the island. Forewarned against the inconveniences and dangers of every sort which would result from a too direct intervention in the affairs of the country, and from an excess of officialdom the Government intends in no wise to deal a blow at the individual status of the inhabitants of the island, the laws, customs, or local institutions. Two cases in point will permit you, moreover, both to determine and to define in this connection the significance of the decision solicited from you. According to the common-law system in colonial matters French laws will henceforth be extended to the island of Madagascar, but whether modified or not they will be applied only by degrees as they are made the object of special promulgation. It is likewise in conformity with the precedents applied by a certain number of colonial powers and by France herself that in internal administration the authority of the native rulers should be utilized. Queen Ranavalo will, therefore, preserve along with her title the advantages and honors which they confer upon her, but they are maintained in the conditions of the unilateral document signed by her under the sovereignty of France. So also with the native chiefs, with whose cooperation we feel that we ought to administer the populations not placed under Hova domination.

Such is in its main lines the system which we beg you to adopt, to put an end promptly to the uncertainties which have lasted too long as to the nature and principle of our establishment in the great African island. As soon as the questions of diplomatic order have been settled in virtue of the law which we solicit from you, we shall ask you promptly to settle the economic system of Madagascar, and we shall be ready to make known to you, if need be, in a special debate the view of the Government as to the general organization of our new colony in the Indian Ocean. The Government consequently submits with confidence for your approval the following bill: “The island of Madagascar with the dependent islands is declared a French colony.”