Mr. Powell to Mr. Hay.

No. 1434.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose to the Department a copy of the law regarding Syrians, which took effect June 8, and which was passed at the last session of the legislature.

I call Department’s attention to the following Articles: Articles 3, 4, and 5.

We have here in the several cities of the Republic about 200 who claim to be American citizens; there are about 20 who claim to be English citizens, and about 400 who are under the protection of the French Minister, but not French citizens.

There has been a demand on the part of the small Haitian merchants and those who peddle their goods into the interior of the country to the government, that these people should not be allowed to land and those that are here should be expelled; also that they should strictly conform to the laws of the country in regard to commercial matters; that is, they should not sell at retail nor be allowed to sell in the interior by means of peddlers.

The government endeavored for a long time to resist the demand, but finally acceded to the request of their citizens, hence the present law. It is claimed on the part of the Haitians that these people do not spend any money in the country; that as fast as made it was sent abroad, and that it was not the intention of the Haitian Government to give these people the same rights as held by their citizens.

In behalf of the Syrians, those that are naturalized as American citizens and those who are not, they are economical in their mode of living, their daily sustenance costing less than a Haitian’s. They are close buyers and liberal in selling their goods; that is, they will sell to the country people goods on time, receiving from them a certain sum a week, and often before the bill for the goods is paid the article sold is worn out. This manner of selling subjects them to loss. They are also persevering, traversing the mountain districts and visiting every house in the district they happen to be in. This manner of selling has compelled a large number of the Haitian retail merchants to close their stores and retire from business. The same may be said of those who carry their goods on their heads in the country district; these also have been compelled to give up, as the Syrians could undersell them.

It is for the causes named that the present law was enacted. The intention of the framers of the law was to compel these people to leave the country in order that the Haitian merchant and peddler can resume business.

I have, etc.,

W. F. Powell.
[Page 394]

The legislative corps, using the initiative that article 69 of the constitution gives to it,

Considering that the arrival in mass of individuals called Syrians, or thus named in the popular language, far from remaining a moderate immigration, takes the proportion of a veritable invasion.

That their very great number merits to call the attention of the public powers, and may become the source of grave dangers;

That conflicts have already risen between them and the natives, and others threaten to break out every day;

Considering that the Syrians in devoting themselves only to commercial operations render to the nation no service that merits the solicitude of the state; that the experience of nearly fifteen years has not shown any benefit that the Haitian nation detracts from their presence on our soil; that no fusion seems to be possible between their habits and ours, and that they form in our midst as it were a foreign state;

Considering that one of the principal duties of a government is to protect its citizens, and to facilitate to them the means of living and ameliorate their state of existence;

That all the laws on direct taxes from 1804 to 1900 guaranteed to the native commerce a treatment of favor, justified by the social state of inferiority that the want of capital placed the Haitian people at the time, and the sacred obligation to assure to it the benefits of the independence;

Considering articles 4 of the constitution and 14 of the civil code;

Considering the laws of October 27, 1876, and August 3, 1900, on direct taxes;

Has voted the following law:

Art. 1. From the promulgation of the present law no individual called Syrian, or thus named in the popular language, shall be admitted into the territory of the Republic, and ministers, chargé d’affaires, and consuls of Haiti in foreign countries are forbidden to deliver passports to any of them.

“All harbormasters who shall violate the provisions of the present article in permitting the debarkment of Syrians unprovided with a passport or even provided with an irregular passport shall be indicted before the correctional police and punished by dismissal and inflicted with a fine of 200 gourdes.

Art. 2. Henceforth the President of the Republic shall not grant to a Syrian any license to open any other commercial establishment than that of consignee merchant.

Art. 3rd. The licenses delivered up to this date to Syrians to do commerce in any other quality than that of consignee merchant shall not be renewed.

“A delay of six months from the expiration of the year is given them to liquidate and close their wholesale and retail places of business.

Art. 4th. It is forbidden to any Syrian in possession of a license to have more than one commercial establishment.

Art. 5th. All Syrians who carry on any commerce without being provided with a patent and the license, or who shall be caught exercising the profession of a peddler, colporter, speculator in produce, shall be fined five hundred dollars and punished by an imprisonment of from three to six months. In case of a repetition he shall be expelled from the territory of the Republic.

Art. 6th. Any communal magistrate who shall deliver to a Syrian a patent to which the latter has no right or without having required the production of his license.

“Any commandant of a commune who shall allow Syrians to establish themselves and circulate the circumscription of his commune to transact a commerce that is forbidden to them by the law, shall be liable to dismissal and the infliction of a fine of two hundred gourdes.

“The patent thus delivered shall be null by full rights.

Art. 7th. Pending the promulgation of a law on naturalization, naturalization shall be granted to Syrians only after a sojourn of ten years in the territory of the Republic.

Art. 8th. Any director of the custom-house who shall inspect merchandises for a Syrian without having assured himself that he is provided with the patent and the license required by law, shall be dismissed and inflicted with a fine of five hundred gourdes.

Art. 9th. Immediately after the promulgation of the present law the secretary of state of the interior shall publish in the Official Moniteur: [Page 395]

  • “First. A list of the naturalized Syrians, the date of their naturalization, their place of residence.
  • “Second. A list of those who have requested and obtained a license of the President to carry on commerce in Haiti.

Art. 10th. Any Syrian who shall try to violate the law in presenting to the Haitian authorities an act of naturalization, a patent or a license that may have been delivered to any other than himself, shall be inflicted with a fine of one thousand dollars and punished with an imprisonment of from six months to one year.

“In case of a repetition of the offense he shall be expelled from the territory of the Republic.

Art. 11th. The present law abrogates all laws or provisions Of laws that are contrary thereto. It shall be executed by the secretaries of state of the interior, of finances, and of commerce, of foreign relations, and of justice, each one in that which concerns him.

“Given at the national house, at Port au Prince, July 24th, 1903, year 100 of the independence.

“Given at the national palace at Port au Prince, August 13th, 1903, year 100 of the independence.

“By the President:

Nord Alexis.