Mr. Hay to Mr. Powell.

No. 582.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your legation’s No. 1338, of the 21st ultimo, transmitting copies of correspondence with the department of foreign relations in relation to the license-tax law recently promulgated by the Haitian Government.

With reference to Mr. Férère’s contention that Article V of the treaty of September 3, 1864, between the United States and Haiti only relates to war contributions, I have to say that, as the provision of the treaty which is relied upon to prevent discrimination against citizens of the United States in favor of Haitians forms a part of an article of the treaty which relates to military duty and exactions, there is at first sight a plausible ground for the contention of the Haitian Government, but this is negatived by the ensuing stipulation, viz, “Nor shall they be compelled to pay any contributions whatever higher or other than those that are or may be paid by native citizens,” which stands complete and unqualified by itself and which in terms covers any tax; and in view: of the construction uniformly given this language by this Government (see rulings by Secretaries [Page 379]Fish, Evarts, Gresham, Sherman, Day, and myself, and Acting Secretaries Adee and Hill), during a period of nearly thirty years—a construction which has heretofore been acquiesced in by the Haitian Government—the view now advanced by the Haitian secretary of state for foreign relations can not be accepted.

It would be irrational, not to say absurd, to hold that a discrimination which is forbidden in time of war, when irregular expedients for raising revenue are too often attempted under the stress of necessity, should be of legitimate and normal application in time of peace. The phrase “any contributions whatever “must be given its full unqualified weight, now as in the past. Precedents have settled the question beyond dispute and settled it in accordance with reason, logic, and justice.

I am, etc.,

John Hay.