Mr. Sherman to Mr. Porter.
Washington, May 29, 1897.
Sir: I inclose copy of a dispatch and its pertinent annex from the United States consul at Tamatave, reporting a notification of the French resident-general, under date of April 3, 1897, whereby all holders of [Page 155] concessions granted by the Malagasy Government are “invited” to produce to the resident-general, or the provincial resident, a copy of their concession or title deeds within two months from the date thereof, and to make certain particularized statements in regard thereto, under penalty of forfeiture of their rights.
This Government could not regard such a notice as valid or binding upon American citizens who may have obtained concessions or acquired real property in Madagascar, inasmuch as it appears to be a purely administrative procedure, lacking the most elementary forms of judicial administration. It is observed that in default of the parties furnishing the information demanded of them and of their placing themselves “in accord with the local residents “(whatever that may mean), the parties in interest are to be considered as renouncing their concessions, and it is added that the Government will dispose thereof at the risk and peril of such parties.
This announcement is of so singular a character, that it behooves this Government to invite, through you, the attention of the French Government thereto, and to advert particularly to its failure to comply with the elementary requirements of justice and equity, so far as it might affect the rights of any citizen of the United States.