Learn about the beta

Mr. Powell to Mr. Hay.

No. 1530.]

Sir: I have the honor to communicate to the Department a dispatch received from the foreign office from the Hon. M. Férère, in regard to the fraudulent naturalization papers of Syrians. In this communication he refers to certain statements made to him by the Hon. J. N. Léger, the Haitian minister at Washington.

I also inclose copy of my reply.

I have, etc.,

W. F. Powell.
[Inclosure 1.—Translation.]

Mr. Férère to Mr. Powell.

Mr. Minister: I thought it my duty recently, on the occasion of a step undertaken by your legation in favor of a Syrian residing in Haiti, to place you on your guard against certain individuals who might attempt to deceive your good faith by pretending to have acquired through naturalization the right to have recourse to your intervention and of claiming your assistance.

I would take good care against insisting more than reasonably on such a question, the more so as I am firmly convinced that you have not failed to take the most minute precautions to avoid mistakes, if an unexpected incident, of which doubtlessly you are already informed, had not come, recalling that fact and thus showing that the amicable observations that I had previously submitted were not entirely inopportune and that they deserved your attention. It has in fact come to me from an authorized source that the Department of State at Washington has in the few days past seized the occasion to give to our country a new proof of its good will and a testimony of its sympathy, for which we are particularly grateful. This is the subject: A Syrian, Habib J. Aflak, styling himself a merchant established in Haiti, applied to the American authorities lately for a passport. Suspecting that the certificate of naturalization produced by Aflak in support of his request might have been illegally obtained, the Department of State refused the passport. An inquiry was quietly begun, from which resulted, on the 16th of the present month, the arrest of Aflak on board of the Dutch steamer Prins Wilhelm II at the very moment that he was leaving New York for Port au Prince. “This arrest,” adds Mr. Leger, our informer, “led to the discovery of an organized band that for pay procured false certificates of naturalization for Syrians going to Haiti.”

While this affair is being judged, it may appear to you perhaps, as to me, that the moment has come to examine the situation of those Levantines who, residing on our territory, pretend to be citizens of the United States. Also, being aware that, besides the other requisite conditions necessary, a residence of five years in the territory of the Union is needed to become a naturalized American, I am convinced that you will not hesitate, being inspired by your habitual courtesy and equity, so perfectly in harmony with the sympathetic disposition of the Department of State, to lend us your powerful support in order to foil certain guilty maneuvers and to elucidate a question that interests in so high a degree the excellent relations so happily established between that Department and your legation.

And, to that end, I would thank you for furnishing me with a list of the names of all the Syrians or other Levantines residing in Haiti, and who pretend to have acquired by naturalization the quality of citizens of the United States of America.

With my anticipated thanks I renew, etc.,

M. Férère.
[Page 401]
[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Powell to Mr. Férère.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s favor, in which you call my attention to the naturalization of a certain class of persons who claim to be American citizens.

I have the honor to state to your excellency that this legation has been for some time engaged on this matter, and that it is awaiting further instructions from the honorable Secretary of State, Hon. John Hay, in regard to it.

Accept, etc.,

W. F. Powell.