Mr. Vignaud to Mr. Sherman.

No. 50.]

Sir: Tour instruction No. 10, of May 29, to General Porter, directed him to call the attention of the French Government to the singular character of a notice issued by the French resident-general in Madagascar, whereby all holders of concessions granted by the Malagasy Government are asked to produce a copy of their concessions within a specified time, under penalty of forfeiture. This instruction was complied with in a written communication dated June 16, and on the 29th of the same month Mr. Hanotaux informed this embassy that it had been referred to Mr. Lebon, minister of the colonies. I am now in receipt of another letter from Mr. Hanotaux, dated July 22, stating that Mr. Lebon considers the notice referred to as being of a general character, and as having no other object in view but to establish the validity of the concessions in question. This measure, says the minister of colonies, can in no way affect property regularly acquired; it would be applied with great impartiality, and it is calculated to be to the advantage of those who can show that their title is regular and that they have complied with the conditions stipulated in their contract.

I inclose herewith a copy and a translation of this reply of Mr. Hanotaux.

I have, etc.,

Henry Vignaud.
[Inclosure in No. 50.—Translation.]

Mr. Hanotaux to Mr. Porter.

Mr. Ambassador: As I said in my letter of the 26th of June last, I had placed before the minister of the colonies your excellency’s communication of the 16th of the same month concerning a notice published by the residency-general of France in Madagascar on the 3d of the preceding April, which requested the holders of concessions granted by the Hova Government to produce, within a prescribed time, before the French authorities a copy of their titles under penalty of forfeiture.

Mr. A. Lebon has just informed me that the object of this order, the requirements of which are of a general character, is to enable the local administration to complete the data which it already possesses as to [Page 157] the manner in which were passed, and then executed, the contracts relating to the disposing of the concessions granted by the old Government of Madagascar, either to our citizens or to foreign colonists settled in the large island before our occupation.

The requirements which are in question have, therefore, no other end than to establish the validity of the sail concessions, and would therefore not affect property acquired in a regular manner.

My colleague adds that this inquiry, which will be conducted with the greatest impartiality to all interested parties, whatever their nationality, could not be other than profitable to those who show regular titles and who will justify the execution of the clauses contained in their contract.

Please accept, etc.,

G. Hanotaux.