Mr. Patenôtre to Mr. Olney.


Mr. Secretary of State: The president of the council, minister of foreign affairs, having been interrogated on this point by the United States ambassador at Paris, has just informed him that in the opinion of the French Government, the maintenance of the treaty concluded May 13, 1881, between the United States and Queen Ranavalo is not compatible with the new state of things created by the taking possession of Madagascar, but that the Government of the Republic is quite willing to extend to the great African island all the conventions whereby the Government and people of the United States are benefited in France and in the French possessions, and on the basis of which they maintain relations of all sorts so advantageous to both countries.

In instructing me to confirm this communication to you, the president of the council, minister of foreign affairs, charges me also to bring to your knowledge the following information relative to the administrative reorganization of Madagascar and to the new situation growing out of the taking possession of that country by the French Republic.

Being specially desirous of securing a uniform and regular administration of justice, the French Government has, in the first place, established courts organized after the pattern of those which exist in France and in our colonies. A Presidential decree, the text of which you will find inclosed, was promulgated to this effect on the 28th of December last, and magistrates of French nationality have been appointed at Tananarivo, Tamatave, and Majunga. The Government of the Republic trusts that the Federal Government, appreciating the advantages of this judiciary reform, the object of which is to secure to foreigners, as well as to our own citizens, all the legal guarantees which they enjoy in our colonies, will be pleased to issue instructions to its representative in Madagascar looking to the discontinuance of the American consular court, which will henceforth have no raison d’être.

The minister of the colonies of the Republic has moreover laid before the Chamber of Deputies a bill providing for the introduction of the French tariff into Madagascar and its dependencies. Pending the adaptation, however, of the new system to the requirements of the country, foreign goods will continue to be admitted, provisionally, into the island on the basis of the old tariff.

The adoption of our tariff will involve, in the case of some articles imported from America, the imposition of specific duties higher than the duty of 10 per cent ad valorem which is now levied in Madagascar. Ample amends for this increase of duties will, however, be made by the general advantages which commerce will derive from the administrative [Page 125] reforms which we shall carry out, and especially from the improvement of the means of communication, the primitive condition of which has hitherto rendered intercourse with the interior of the island so difficult and so costly.

The Government of the Republic entertains the hope that the Federal Government, taking into consideration the heavy pecuniary sacrifices that France is making in order to carry out this programme, will be pleased, so far as it is concerned, to facilitate the accomplishment of this work of progress and civilization.

Be pleased to accept, etc.,