Mr. Terres to Mr. Hay.
Port au Prince, April 19, 1904.
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of dispatch No. 598 of March 29 last,a in which the Department awaits further information from the legation on the subject of patents being refused to the house of Dejardin Luders & Co., in which firm Mr. G. Schwedersky, an American citizen, is one of the principal partners. The protest forwarded to the Department through this office explains fully the position in which the house stands. They have received no other communication since the receipt of the letter from the Haitian Government to Mr. Schwedersky notifying him that a patent had been refused the firm and that notice would be given him of the length of time that would be allowed to liquidate the business of the firm. Nor has the house had any correspondence with the government on any business matters. Without a patent they have no right to import, export, or enter suits in court—in fact all manner of business would be impossible for them. Such is the position in which the house finds itself at this moment and which renders it helpless to transact any business until this question of patents is settled.
The house of G. Keitel & Co., in which Mr. Anton Jaegerhuber, an American citizen, is largely interested, was also refused a patent (a letter of protest was forwarded at the same time as that of Mr. Schwedersky’s to the Department). This firm applied to the customs authorities for permission to make a shipment of coffee. The reply was that the President had refused to grant to the house a patent to do business and in consequence they could not grant permission to the house to make the shipment. The same reply would be received if the house of Dejardin Luders & Co. should make a similar request. These two firms represent a very large commerical interest in this country and have a large outstanding debt, of which, without a patent, not 1 cent on the dollar could be collected, as having no patent it bars them from entering suits in court. There are several other American houses that have not received their patents. They have repeatedly written to the government, and when any reply was received it merely stated that the President had not yet notified them that a patent would be granted.
This state of affairs places all American interests in a very uncertain and difficult position, and merchants not having their patents in hand hesitate to enter in any business transactions, and it is not only very detrimental to their financial interest, but it is ruin to American commerce in general.
I have hesitated to enter into any correspondence with the government on this important question for the reason that I have been expecting the return of Mr. Powell and that he no doubt would know better the attitude of the Department on this important matter [Page 388]than I do. I have communicated with him fully on the question of patents and on that of the repudiating tax law—two very important questions for Americans who have large amounts invested in this country.
My communications and the protest from American citizens concerning the tax law to the Department explain partially the great injustice to Americans investing in Haitian securities.
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I have, etc.,
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