Mr. Powell to Mr. Hay.
Port an Prince, August 8, 1904.
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.,