Mr. Olney to Mr. Eustis.

No. 635.]

Sir: The Department is in receipt of a dispatch from Mr. E. T. Wetter, United States consul at Tamatave, No. 130, of February 18, 1896, treating of political and general news to Madagascar, from which I take the inclosed copy of a letter addressed by Mr. Ferraud, the French resident at Tamatave, of February 18, 1896, to Mr. Wetter, announcing the raising of the siege and stating that from that date American citizens would be under French jurisdiction.

I inclose also a copy of Mr. Wetter’s reply of the same date, requesting that the contemplated transfer of jurisdiction be suspended until he could receive instructions from his Government touching the matter.

It becomes necessary, in this connection, to apprise you of the receipt of a note from the French ambassador, of February 12, 1896, saying that his Government had been led, by difficulties that it had encountered in exercising its protectorate over Madagascar and in insuring guarantees for the future, to take final possession of the island.

On the 26th of February last I replied to Mr. Patenôtre that the Department had noted the contents of his note “with due reserve as to the effect of the action of the Government of France upon the treaty rights of the United States.” Copy of this correspondence is also inclosed.

In view of the foregoing facts, you are instructed to request of the Government of France an explicit statement of its understanding of the effect of this “definite occupation” of the island of Madagascar, in regard to the rights and privileges conceded to the Government of the United States by its existing treaty of peace, friendship, and commerce, concluded May 13, 1881, modifying its previous treaty of February 14, 1867.

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It is desirable to know whether that treaty is to remain operative or to be replaced by our treaty engagements with France. At any rate, the precise status of this Government in the matter should be positively and clearly defined.

I am, etc.,

Richard Olney.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 635—Translation.]

Mr. Ferraud to Mr. Wetter.

No. 2.]

Mr. Consul: I have the honor to inform you that by virtue of an order emanating from the Resident-General of the French Republic, the state of siege in the town of Tamatave will be raised from the date of to-day.

I think I ought to recall to you on this occasion that Madagascar having become a French possession, justice will be henceforth rendered to your nationality and those under its jurisdiction, by the French tribunals, according to the terms of competency provided for by the decree of the President of the Republic of date the 29th December last.

Be pleased to accept, etc.,

O. Ferraud.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 635.]

Mr. Wetter to M. Ferraud.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter No. 2 of to-day’s date, wherein you are kind enough to inform me of the raising of the “state of siege” in the town of Tamatave.

In the latter part of your said epistle you make use of these words:

Je crois devoir vous rappeler, à cette occasion, que Madagascar étant devenuo possession française, la Justice sera désormais rendue à vos nationaux et ressortissants par les Tribunaux français dans las conditions de compétence prévues par le décret de Monsieur le Président de la République en date du 29 Décembre dernier.

In view of the fact that no notice has been at any time received by me, as consul of the United States, in any way establishing the fact set forth by your said words, “that Madagascar had become a French possession;” in view of the fact that where inquiry was made of the military authorities of France in Madagascar, with the sole view of enabling my Government to instruct this consulate promptly as to any change in its judicial or quasi diplomatic functions, said inquiry was refused any satisfaction; in view of the fact that as yet no instructions have been by me received from my Government permitting me in any manner whatsoever to accept or acquiesce in any abridgment or change of American interest and of the powers of this consulate under the treaty of 1881–1883, I find myself compelled, Mr. Resident, to insist that the status of Americans and the functions of this consulate must remain intact and unchanged until such time as instructions can be obtained from the Government of the United States as will enable me to meet the wishes of your Government in this matter without violation of my instructions or prejudice to the dignity and rights of my nation.

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It is barely possible that the incoming mail may enable me to do this. In any case it will mean but a short delay to your Government and will serve to avoid all friction and complication, an object which I feel sure you will join me in desiring.

I am, etc.,

Edw. Telfair Wetter,
United States Consul.