Mr. Sherman to Mr.
Department of State,
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.
[Inclosure in No. 10.].
Mr. Wetter to
Consulate of the United States,
April 18, 1897
. (Received May
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith
a copy and a clipping from the Journal Officiel, which may prove
interesting to the Department.
The copy alluded to is of a notice appearing in issue No. 76, of
April 3, 1897, of said newspaper, and calls for submission of all
concessionary titles to General Galliéni for examination under
penalty of forfeiture sale.
I am, sir, etc.,
Edw. Telfair Wetter,
United States Consul.
[Snbinclosure in No.
10.—Translation.—From Journal Officiel No. 76, April 3,
The resident general, desirous of proceeding to the recognizance and
the examination of the concessions granted by the Malagasy
Government, invites those at interest:
- To cause to reach, within a delay of two months, the
resident-general or the resident of their province, a copy
either of their title of concession or their title of
- To attach a detailed statement of the object of their
concession, of its compass, of the obligations which it
places to the charge of the Malagasy Government and to their
personal charge, of the rights and advantages which it gives
- To say whether they have executed all or a part of their
obligations, whether they have acquitted the custom duties
in kind or in cash; in case where they have not acquitted
them whether they have been relieved thereof, and by
- To say whether the Malagasy Government has executed the
obligations where-unto it was bound.
- To say what are, in résumé, their actual pretensions
vis-a-vis of the French Government.
- In case where they are desirous of continuing an
exploitation already entered upon, to make application
before the resident of the province for the obtension of a
provisory exploitation permit, to submit themselves to the
control of the French agents, to conform to the provisions
of the French law affecting public order.
In default of their furnishing the informations which are demanded of
them, and of placing themselves in accord with the local residents,
those at interest will be considered as renouncing their
concessions, and the Government will dispose thereof at their risk
The present notice does not imply in any manner recognizance of the
validity of any concession, no more than it implies the renunciation
on the part of the French Government of the damage rights which may
be due to it, and of the right of taking advantage of either the
nullity of any concession or of the forfeiture which the
concessionaries may have incurred.