Mr. Powell to Mr. Hay.
Port au Prince, August 4, 1904.
Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that this morning at an early hour an attempt was made to attack certain naturalized American citizens (Syrians) in business here.
The assault was made by throwing stones into their stores as soon as they were opened for business. Many fled with their wives to the legation for protection. I immediately sought an interview with Mr. Férère, the minister of foreign relations, and with him went to the President, General Nord.
I informed the President of the situation and stated that the government must immediately take steps to prevent this rioting and allow our citizens to conduct their businesses quietly, and take adequate measures to prevent pillage on the part of a class of Haitians who seemed to desire to get his Government into further trouble; that delay in the matter was dangerous. As soon as fire was placed in any of their stores pillage would at once take place, and not only property but many lives would be sacrificed.
During the excitement on Tuesday I had instructed this class of citizens to close their stores and to keep off the streets; I was not willing to do this longer; other stores were open and our citizens had the right to have theirs open, and the Government must protect them in this right.
* * * I informed the President that I * * * came to learn from the President himself whether his Government was taking the steps, as it should, to protect our citizens in their rights; this I demanded must be done and at once, as in a moment of time the situation would get beyond the control of the Government, and the lives and property of all foreigners would be at the mercy of a frenzied mob, and the three days of pillage of General Salomon must not be reenacted. * * *
The President replied that he would issue immediate orders to have the whole district carefully guarded; that our citizens and all other foreigners could open their stores and that he would protect them with all the force at the command of the Government. * * * He again assured me that full protection would be given, and that his Government would be equal to the emergency.
After leaving the palace I drove through this section of the city with the vice-consul, Mr. Battiste. On the way he met Gen. J. Carrié, the military governor of this district; we invited him to accompany us; we found troops had been posted at the most dangerous points and that the police of the section had been strongly reenforced. Those who had closed their stores were beginning to open them.
I returned and conducted the women and the men who had sought safety at our legation to their homes, and told them to resume business.
The excitement is somewhat intense and for a time affairs looked [Page 398]very dangerous, but I think the worst is over. The feelings against all foreigners is not of the best on account of the high price of food, the cause of which is laid to this class.
I have, etc.,