Mr. Powell to Mr. Hay.
Port au Prince , August 31, 1904 .
Sir: I have the honor to inclose to the Department one of the naturalization certificates that I referred to in my dispatch No. 1500 of August 17.
This certificate is made out to Antoine Kalil Hage, a Syrian, who, from the face of the certificate, appeared before the circuit court of the district of Connecticut, in the city of Hartford, on April 6, 1904, and recited the facts as stated on the face of this certificate. I have had this man come to the legation, and in examining him have elicited the following facts;[Page 399]
That he was born in Mount Lebanon, Syria; that he came to New York in 1898, remained there one year, then went to Porto Rico. From there he came here; returned to New York in January of the present year and secured his certificate and returned here in April; that he had never been to Hartford, in fact, knew nothing of the place, and did not know the man from whom he received this certificate, and that this certificate had been given to him in New York. He also did not remember what he had paid for it. This is one case.
There is another here whose certificate I hope to secure within a few days, but too late for this mail, in which the party has not even been to the States, having bought the certificate from some one here, name not given. I have requested this man to come to the legation, in order that I might examine him as to how he secured this paper and to find out who the parties are who are issuing these fraudulent papers.
I believe there are a large number of these papers here, how many I am not able to state. I am waiting to hear from the Department as to the right of calling all who claim to be naturalized Americans and examining the certificates they hold. There is, beyond a doubt, some one, either in New York or Connecticut, who is securing such papers in large numbers and selling them to these people, from whom they receive a considerable sum, so that it is quite lucrative.
There are two reasons why these people desire these naturalization papers: First, for the protection it gives them; second, in having them they are not required to pay a license tax, as they would have to do if they were not classed as American citizens. This is a great saving to them, while at the same time it affords them special immunities in their business and places them in the same class as Haitian merchants in like enterprises.
While I have not an accurate return of the number of these people who claim to be American citizens, I believe in the Republic there are about 400 who make this claim.
I have, etc.,