Mr. Powell to Mr. Hay.

No. 1488.]

Sir: I have the honor to state to the Department that the bill in regard to the Syrians, passed by the legislative branch of the Government last year, has received the signature of the President on August 1, and is therefore a law, a copy of which was forwarded to the Department in dispatch No. 1434, of June 15.

The law forbids the emigration of Syrians to this Republic and refuses to allow them to become citizens, and those that are such takes this right from them after a certain date; also denies to them to do business on certain lines in the Republic; strictly forbids all traveling to sell goods in the interior and gives to them a certain length of time to dispose of their goods—that is, those in business—and leave the country.

As soon as it was known that the President had signed this bill making it a law, disturbances broke out in several sections of the Republic, whereby many of these people were injured, their stores in many instances being pillaged by the soldiers, and, in some cases, several were seriously injured by stones or beaten with sticks.

At a recent interview (August 4) with the President he informed me that he had signed the bill, as he had been informed that these people were the enemies of the present Government, were aiding his foes, and had secreted large quantities of the national metallic currency (silver) and were exporting it, so he thought it was best to sign this bill so as to be rid of them.

I informed him that I was very sorry to hear this as I thought he had been misinformed, and that this measure would lead to considerable difficulties with countries with whom they were now in friendly relations.

I have the honor to inclose copy of a letter which I have sent to the minister of foreign relations in regard to this class that are American citizens by naturalization.

I have, etc.,

W. F. Powell.
[Page 396]

Mr. Powell to Mr. Férère.

Sir: I have been informed that the law passed by the legislative branch of your excellency’s Government in regard to the Syrians, has received the signature of his excellency, General Nord.

I regret very much that such is the case, as I fear in the enforcement of this law your excellency’s Government will experience considerable difficulty.

A large number of these people are American citizens through naturalization; all such persons are under our protection and must be considered as American citizens, and as such they are entitled to all the rights in business as Haitian citizens as long as the present treaty remains in force. I must therefore inform your excellency that my Government can not permit this class of its citizens to receive any different treatment than your excellency’s Government accords to other American citizens.

I understand that your excellency’s Government states that many of this class have been giving aid to the enemies of the Government and conspiring against it. I request that before your excellency takes forcible measures in regard to anyone who may be so informed against and who may be an American citizen, your excellency will furnish our legation with the facts, so that we may ascertain whether your excellency has been correctly informed or not. I think your excellency will find that serious trouble will be obviated.

My Government believes that among the vital duties of the State is to protect and defend itself against its enemies. In accordance with this knowledge this legation will at no time give its protection to one who conspires or gives aid or comfort to the enemies of the State.

I have written thus to your excellency that you may know the position my Government occupies in regard to the enforcement of the present law.

I have, etc.,

W. F. Powell.