Mr. Powell to Mr. Hay.
Port au Prince, Haiti , August 14, 1899 .
Sir: I have fully stated in dispatch No. 613 of August 2, 1899, of the attempted arrest of Mr. U. Duvivier, and the events that led to it. I have yet to add in answer to Department’s No. 358, of August 3, 1899, that Mr. Duvivier entered the legation without my consent, and I think without any intention on his part to do so. Seeing his life in danger he fled to the nearest place that would afford to him protection; happily for him, ours was the nearest. The officers of the Government, eager to effect his capture, in the heat of the moment forgot where they were, or that they were trespassers.
As soon as my request was made known to the President, General Sam, the man was returned to the legation, and an apology made for the act, which the Department has received before this. I am now awaiting further instructions.
The principal crime imputed to Mr. Duvivier, if crime it may be called, was an article that appeared in one of the papers here of which Duvivier was the author. In it he severely criticised certain military officers of the Government for the ruthless and arbitrary way, without cause for the most trivial offense, arresting without warrant innocent persons as enemies of the State; if they attempted to resist they were shot on the spot.
The article in question raised the ire of Gen. St. Fort Colon, in charge of the arondissement (district) which includes this city, by whose directions most of these arrests had been made. Duvivier was summoned to the office of this general. While there he was arrested—placed [Page 384] in prison. His friends secured his release from prison. Hearing that at the trial an attempt would be made upon his life, he was only represented by a lawyer. He was condemned by the court to undergo imprisonment, and in addition thereto to pay a fine. As soon as he was informed of the judgment, he surrendered himself to the prison authorities and paid the fine. Upon his release the implacable enmity of this man followed him.
The strained financial situation gave to him another opportunity to attempt to wreak his vengeance. Duvivier, with others, was said to be implicated in a plot to overthrow the Government. An order was given for his arrest; if he resisted he was to be immediately shot. Happily for him the posse of soldiers, under the command of the general of La Place, charged with his arrest met him in front of our legation. Before they could place him under arrest he had reached inside the doors of the legation. From thence, as I have stated in previous dispatch, he was taken by force.
It is unnecessary to renarrate the scene of arrest, as the Department has ere this perused the same in previous dispatch. I have simply to add, prompt action on our part saved this man’s and many other men’s lives and may have prevented an uprising of the masses that would have left the greater part of the city in ashes. The foreign colony, especially our citizens, would have been the greatest sufferers. As the legation is in the central or business part of the city we would have suffered with the rest.
It is due to the President, General Sam, to state that many of the acts of these generals are unknown to him. He has up to this time resisted with firmness the pressure of the enemies of these imprisoned men to issue orders to have them executed. He has only incarcerated them in prison. The most prominent, I understand, will be exiled. This will be the case with all those who have sought asylum at the various legations. Mr. Duvivier’s life will not be safe as long as the present military chiefs are in power, even though he should receive assurance of safety from the President.
We have two others in the legation, Gen. Cicero François, a former military officer under a previous government, and Seneque Pierre, an ex-member of the Senate. Arrests are still being made, but not to the same extent as a few days ago. Matters are generally quieting down, exchange is falling, and if the Government can solve the financial question which presses upon it it will remain in power; otherwise it must fall.
I have, etc.,