Mr. Powell to Mr. Hay.
Port au Prince, Haiti, August 29, 1899.
Sir: The subject of license I am compelled to call the Department’s attention to again. I thought this question was finally adjusted and [Page 404] settled for the future. During the time I was away last year the Chambers passed a law compelling every foreigner in business that they should make application to the President on a certain stamped paper and pay $5 for the same.
On my return the matter was presented to me. I immediately protested to the foreign minister, Mr. St. Victor, and also reported my action to the Department * * *. The Department in its reply * * * sustained my action. I informed the secretary, Mr. St. Victor, that the enforcement of such regulations was in conflict with certain rights granted us under the treaty, that we should pay no higher tax than Haitians in the same business.
In a personal interview with the secretary, held afterwards, he stated he was willing to concede this and promised to inform me later in writing. After waiting some little time, not hearing from him, I requested another interview, which was accorded me. At that interview he stated that he would accord to our citizens the rights claimed for them and that he would enter into a private agreement in regard to it, in order that my colleagues of the German and French legation should not demand the same concession. Before this action was communicated to me in writing the present financial difficulties took place.
I have waited to receive his answer; not receiving one, I called upon him to-day and requested a definite reply as to the purpose of the Government toward our citizens in regard to the patents for the coming year (October 1). As usual, a request was made for delay. I informed him that this extra assessment for patents would not be paid by Americans in business; that I would send him a list of our citizens that were thus engaged, to whom I requested that licenses or patents be issued upon the payment of the same sum as paid by Haitians in similar enterprises.
He agreed that no extra charge would be made, but refused to accede to the request as to the manner of procuring the same—that is, that Americans should not be compelled to make application to the President to enter or continue business, stating on his part that this was a police regulation; that the President should know of the business the party was engaged in; that it was a matter with which the treaty had nothing to do.
I contend that this information is unnecessary, as it is all furnished in the patent granted by the commune to enter or continue business; that the regulation is one made to evade certain rights that we hold under the treaty. I also claim that if this is allowed a precedent is established by which they may enact other laws that will impair the rights for which we have been contending for years.
Before I make another move in this matter I would like to have the views of the Department. Shall I still demand that no application be made to the President, or allow the matter to remain as it is—that is, to make the application so required, but without having to pay the tax imposed by the law.
This matter is important, as all licenses expire at the close of September throughout the Republic.
I have, etc.,