Minister Dawson to the Secretary of State.

No. 111.]

Sir: Referring to the efforts to secure a peaceful acceptance of the pending negotiations on the part of the virtually independent governor of Monte Christi, I have the honor to report that on the morning of January 25 President Morales showed me a telegram from Governor Arias, in which the latter protests against any arrangement with the American Government, and announces his intention of resigning his office. I thereupon telegraphed to Consular Agent Petit as follows:

Santo Domingo, January 25, 1905.

American Consul, Monte Christi:

Strongly advise governor to defer action until he knows the real provisions of financial arrangement. Interests of Monte Christi will be respected.


[Page 327]

And to Admiral Sigsbee as follows:

Santo Domingo, January 25, 1905.

Sigsbee, care American Consul, Puerto Plata:

Arias telegraphed the President last night he would resign to-day. Probably means trouble there.


A few hours later I received the following telegram from Petit:

Monte Christi, January 25, 1905.

American Minister, Santo Domingo:

Action deferred pending receipt details agreement.


I thereupon sent the folowing telegram to the Department:

Santo Domingo, January 25, 1905.

Secstate, Washington:

Governor of Monte Christi last night telegraphed his resignation. This indicated refusal to accept convention and probable revolt. On my telegraphic instructions consular agent counseled governor, who agrees to defer action. Have advised Sigsbee, Puerto Plata. The rest of the Republic quiet. Unless I receive contrary instructions will make following temporary arrangements pending arrival expert: Leave Puerto Plata as it is; name Balch, American citizen now in Abbott’s employ, collector of Monte Christi. At the other ports present Dominican collectors, requiring them to account to me.


And to Admiral Sigsbee the following:

Santo Domingo, January 25, 1905.

Sigsbee, care American Consul, Puerto Plata:

I instructed consular agent Monte Christi to advise governor against hasty action. Consular agent answers that action is deferred pending receipt details agreement.


Shortly afterwards Admiral Sigsbee and Commander Dillingham reached Puerto Plata, and the former telegraphed me as follows:

Puerto Plata, January 27, 1905.

American Minister, Santo Domingo:

Have wired consul Monte Christi to arrange conference with governor for to-morrow. This allows time for consideration. Notified governor that Newark takes with her terms of agreement.


When the contract with Mr. Michelena—referred to in my No. 110, of this date—was made on January 29, the Dominican Government requested Governor Arias by telegraph to secure the observance of its terms at Monte Christi, and suggested that I secure Admiral Sigsbee’s and Commander Dillingham’s cooperation. Thinking that an order to this effect should properly come from the Department, I telegraphed you as follows:

Santo Domingo, January 31, 1905.

Secstate, Washington:

Respectfully suggest State Department instructing Dillingham to facilitate operations American banker. Believe governor will yield if firm attitude is maintained by us.


[Page 328]

On February 1 Commander Dillingham telegraphed me as follows:

Monte Christi, February 1, 1905.

Dawson, Santo Domingo:

Have General Government telegraph at once to Governor Arias definite instructions to carry out terms of the convention. Governor Arias is inclined to carry out these terms for Monte Christi, but Arias awaits instructions, which he should have. Arias should have the greatest consideration. His position is very difficult.


and on the same day I received through Lieutenant Sellers, of the Stewart, the letters from Admiral Sigsbee and Commander Dillingham, of which I inclose copies.

In view of the fact that I was not authorized to take any action under the ad referendum agreement of January 20, I could not comply literally with Commander Dillingham’s telegraphic request to have this government send instructions to Governor Arias to carry out the terms of that agreement, but I replied to Admiral Sigsbee as follows, Commander Nicholson, of the Tacoma, kindly putting the message into the navy cipher:

Santo Domingo, February 2, 1905.

Sigsbee, Monte Christi:

Congratulations on success. At present only necessary that Michelena, American banker, receive customs pagares. He will pay Arias weekly budget in cash, and arrive Cherokee. Please facilitate his understanding with Arias.


To this Commander Dillingham replied as follows:

Monte Christi, February 3, 1905.

Dawson, Santo Domingo:

Awaiting Michelena. All quiet. Congratulations. Sigsbee wires Nicholson place Stewart your disposal for communication whenever needed.


The same day came the following telegram from the Department:

Washington, February 3, 1905.

Dawson, Minister, Santo Domingo:

The United States Government, deeming it necessary under the terms of the award in the Santo Domingo Improvement Company case, proposes to take possession of the customhouse at Monte Christi, with the consent of the Dominican Government. The Department is informed by Dillingham and Sigsbee that the governor of Monte Christi now favorable to this step and that immediate possession should be taken. Act promptly.


I immediately telegraphed Commander Dillingham as follows:

Santo Domingo, February 3, 1905.

Dillingham, Monte Christi:

You will soon receive instructions from Washington. Until they come have Michelena defer action as to Monte Christi.


To which he replied as follows:

Monte Christi, February 4, 1905.

Dawson, Santo Domingo:

All action suspended pending instructions.


In the meantime I had gone to President Morales and urged him at once to call a cabinet council to enact a formal resolution requesting American Government to take possession of Monte Christi custom-house [Page 329] under the Improvement Company award. I encountered an unexpected reluctance to do so, both on his part and on that of the ministers, who were called in for consultation. They said they feared that such a step would drive Arias to revolt, and that it would be safer to let the Michelena contract apply to Monte Christi until the protocol should go into effect. However, I soon satisfied myself that their real reason for objecting was the fear that Judge Abbott would be placed in charge. I refused to give them any assurance on this point, not positively knowing what the Department might intend to do, although I have slowly come to the conclusion that it is impossible to ignore or overcome the dislike of the Improvement Company, and of all persons who have been connected with it, which is felt by Dominicans of all parties. This hatred originally arose from the widely entertained belief that the main cause of all their present financial troubles was an alleged corrupt alliance between President Heureaux and the Improvement Company. This feeling has been exacerbated by the bitter controversies which have continually gone on during the last five years between representatives of the Improvement Company and the various Dominican administrations. While this feeling of distrust is not really directed against Judge Abbott personally, its existence was the principal reason why three months ago the Dominican Government refused to ask the United States to take over Sanchez, Samana, and Monte Christi custom-houses under award, notwithstanding that the terms offered by Judge Abbott were so advantageous and liberal to this government.

It was hopeless to try to persuade the president and cabinet on this point, even if there had been time, and I confined myself to representing that the present delivery of Monte Christi custom-house would put a stop to the surreptitious introduction of ammunition through that port; would immediately and effectively destroy Governor Arias’s power, and that anyway the step ought to be taken by them simply because my government, which deserved and must have their confidence, regarded it as essential.

They yielded, and within a few hours a formal cabinet meeting had been held, and I had received the communication, of which I inclose a copy and translation.

I thereupon sent the Department the following telegram:

Santo Domingo, February 4, 1905.

Secstate, Washington:

Dominican Government requests through me that the provisions of the improvement award be extended to Monte Christi until the protocol takes effect. Abbott is gone. Please send necessary orders direct to Monte Christi informing me. It is very important that security for banker advancing budget should not be seriously impaired. If he withdraws this government will break up. Dominican Government fears present demand foreshadows complete control by hated Improvement Company after the protocol takes effect, but they yielded to pressure. Signature of minister of finance absolutely necessary; will return 5th. Stewart can catch New York steamer at San Juan 8th.


To this I received the following reply:

Washington, February 4, 1905.

Dawson, Minister, Santo Domingo:

Orders have been given directing a naval officer to take possession of custom-house as fiscal agent of this government in conformity with the terms of the award of the Santo Domingo Improvement Company arbitration at the request of the Dominican Government. Assure the Dominican Government in case pending arrangement between the two governments [Page 330] is consummated the Santo Domingo Improvement Company will not have possession nor control of the custom-houses. The United States itself would collect the revenues and make distribution as contemplated by the pending arrangement. Explain fully and explicitly to Department the terms of the security for banker advancing expenses of budget. Is the sum $40,000 or $75,000? You have mentioned both.


I regret that my former telegrams in regard to the Michelena contract had not been sufficiently explicit. In my first message I mentioned $40,000, because I estimated that to be the maximum cash sum which the Dominican Government would owe at any given time on the advances of $18,750 a week, plus the salaries of the custom-house employees, and when I sent it I did not know whether the Department might not prefer to ask the Improvement Company to supply the necessary funds. In that case it would have been essential for you to know at once the exact credit to be opened.

I hereby confirm my reply, which I hope made the matter clear to the Department:

Santo Domingo, February 5, 1905.

Secstate, Washington:

American banker’s contract is simply that the notes representing duties shall be delivered to him as security for advancing $18,750 weekly. He will apply collection, when made by him, on the amount advanced. Balance will probably never reach $40,000, and be extinguished before 4th of March, without Puerto Plata. He understands that he takes subject to award, and will do what we desire in regard to Monte Christi. At his request contract is terminable on notice from me, and he will retain surplus in trust for Dominican Government, which agrees not to use it without my consent. This provision is intended to furnish fund to cover discrepancy between 45 per cent cash collections and Dominican expenditures during the first few weeks after the protocol takes effect.


On February 8 I received the following telegram from Admiral Sigsbee:

Monte Christi, February 6, 1905.

Nicholson, Tacoma, Santo Domingo:

Notify the minister Commander A. C. Dillingham is ordered home without delay. His dispatch referring, to the Clyde Line steamer received. Lieut. Commander E. F. Leiper has been appointed collector Monte Christi provisionally, under arbitration award. Installed probably Tuesday.


On the morning of February 9 I received the following alarming telegram from Admiral Sigsbee:

Puerto Plata, February 9, 1905.

American Minister, Santo Domingo:

Governor Monte Christi withholds consent to American occupation Monte Christi customhouse under award of arbitrators Santo Domingo Improvement Company, and as directed from Washington. Much excitement here thereby. Please request Morales Government telegraph governor immediately. Situation threatening by delay.


At the moment I was confined to my bed, but in response to my urgent request the minister of foreign affairs kindly drove out to the legation, and from him I ascertained that through the neglect of a subordinate in the interior department the requisite order had not been telegraphed to Governor Arias immediately on the issuing of the order of the cabinet council. (Inclosure No. 3 herewith.) He also told me that telegrams had been received from Arias the night before (February 8) complaining that Lieutenant-Commander Leiper had surreptitiously and without due notice taken possession of the custom-house. [Page 331] These telegrams, he told me, had already been answered by the President in person, but I insisted that another and explicit message be immediately sent in a form which would remove the governor’s scruples, or at least demonstrate whether he was acting in good faith with Admiral Sigsbee.

As soon as I was assured that the telegram had gone, I telegraphed Admiral Sigsbee as follows:

Santo Domingo, February 9, 1905.

Sigsbee, Newark, Puerto Plata:

I have seen the government. Order has been sent to governor.


That day and the next passed, however, without my receiving any news from Admiral Sigsbee and without the Dominican Government hearing from Governor Arias. My anxiety was temporarily relieved on receiving the following telegram from the Department:

Washington, February 10, 1905.

Dawson, Minister, Santo Domingo:

The agent of the United States Government is in peaceful possession of Monte Christi custom-house under award.


but it was renewed when the following came late the same evening:

Washington, February 10, 1905.

Dawson, Minister, Santo Domingo:

Sigsbee cables that the governor of Monte Christi has not yet been instructed by the Dominican Government to turn custom-house over under award to Lieutenant-Commander Leiper, who has been designated as fiscal agent for the government. As Dominican Government consented to this arrangement, kindly have proper orders promptly forwarded to the authorities at Monte Christi. Telegraph lines reported down. If communication by wire still interrupted request senior naval officer present to forward Dominican Government’s instructions to Monte Christi by torpedo boat.


I immediately called up the President by telephone and he told me that he had as yet received no answer from Arias, and that he did not believe the telegraph line was or had been interrupted, because he had been receiving messages from other persons at Monte Christi. Next morning I saw Commander Nicholson, who ordered the Stewart to get ready, while I went to the telegraph office, where I soon assured myself that telegraphic communication with Monte Christi was open by having a test message sent. Thereupon I telegraphed the Department as follows:

Santo Domingo, February 11, 1905.

Secstate, Washington:

Dominican Government telegraphed governor 9th to deliver custom-house. Telegraph communication open. Nevertheless governor has not replied.


and to Admiral Sigsbee, as follows:

Santo Domingo, February 11, 1905.

Sigsbee, Newark, Puerto Plata:

Please telegraph me present situation there. All quiet here.


The latter telegram was directed to Puerto Plata because Admiral Sigsbee’s telegram to me of the 9th was dated there. But as I have received no reply I infer that he had in the meantime returned to Monte Christi, if, indeed, he had left there at all.

[Page 332]

Late the same afternoon the President telephoned me that he had just received a telegram from Governor Arias saying that the customhouse had been peacefully delivered, and I thereupon telegraphed the Department as follows:

Santo Domingo, February 11, 1905

Secstate, Washington:

Dominican Government has received a telegram from governor Monte Christi that he has delivered custom-house.


It is probable that the recent misunderstanding on the part of Governor Arias was partly due to the oversight of this government in not sending him timely official notice.

It is clear to me that Admiral Sigsbee and Lieutenant-Commander Leiper must have conducted these negotiations with him most tactfully.

Their success, and that of Commander Dillingham, in securing Governor Arias’s peaceful acceptance, takes away from the malcontents their last hope of being able to start a rebellion in possession of a port as a base of operation, and with an existing government as a nucleus. All the ports and large towns now seem secure, and while undoubtedly there is much loud talk going on among Jimenista sympathizers in the interior villages, they are without leaders of financial resources or real political prestige, and the government is confident that it can prevent any sporadic local uprisings. Nevertheless I feel that all concerned must continue to take every precaution.

I have, etc.,

T. C. Dawson.
[Inclosure 1.]

Admiral Sigsbee to Minister Dawson.

My Dear Mr. Dawson: I send this by the destroyer Stewart, which will remain at Santo Domingo City in order to preserve communications between you and myself in the event that wires are down across the island.

I send you herewith a translation of cipher telegram received by me from the Navy Department in order to show you the conditions prescribed for me.

Dillingham and I interviewed a lot of the leading men here yesterday, including Governor Arias and Gen. Dimetrio Rodriguez. Dillingham, I believe, has written you in the matter. Arias and Rodriguez go inland to-day, ostensibly for the purpose of communicating with other leaders. They say they will communicate with Velasquez and Casceres. They have spent all of last night, so I hear, preparing a protest to the Government at Santo Domingo. The ground of the protest, I am informed, is that the convention was not referred to the Dominican Congress. If nothing goes wrong at other points, I think that Monte Christi will come to a favorable conclusion after they have talked fully on the subject.

I have informed the Navy Department that I do not meditate any initiative in regard to the transfer of custom-house. That, I conceive, is not my affair. When I was asked yesterday at the interview what would be done in the event that the people here declined to transfer the custom-house, I replied that the convention stipulated that on and after February 1 the administration of the custom-houses were under the control of the United States, and that if Monte Christi took contrary action they themselves would be responsible for such action. I gave no other reply. I trust all is going well in Santo Domingo City.

Please communicate the contents of this letter and of the telegrams from the Navy Department to the senior officer present at Santo Domingo.

Yours, etc.,

C. D. Sigsbee.

P. S. Later.—Since writing in the foregoing, I have been informed by the United States consular agent here that Minister Velasquez has been recalled to the capital, hence the projected visit of this gentleman here can not take place. Also, I am informed from the same source that it is now intended to submit the convention to the Dominican Congress.

[Page 333]
[Inclosure 2.]

Commander Dillingham to Minister Dawson.

My Dear Minister: Arriving at Sanchez, the admiral landed Mr. Velasquez and offered to take him to Puerto Plata if he did not find it necessary to go up the valley. Mr. Velasquez decided that he would go to La Vega, Moca, Santiago, and Puerto Plata.

We proceeded on to Puerto Plata, and found that everything was quiet and very favorable.

There had been on one night a few shots fired at Moca and La Vega, but it amounted to absolutely nothing, and I can safely say that the entire country up to Monte Christi will accept the agreement without the slightest trouble. We arrived at Monte Christi yesterday, and, after receiving Mr. Petit, went on shore to meet Arias, Rodriguez, two or three members of Congress, and other important men that Arias desired to be present.

Arias declined to come on board ship; I think not from any fear or anything of that kind, but because he believed that if he came off to the ship the people thought he was making some secret arrangement; and I have no doubt that his decision to remain on shore, where people could hear what was being said, was the wiser one. The argument against the acceptance of the agreement by the politicians here is that it is not constitutional, and should be presented to Congress for approval before being signed; and this opinion is caused only by the distrust that the people of this province have for the Morales administration. Of course there was the usual talk—and then politicians seem to forget, as they always do, the great benefits to be derived from this agreement, and were ready to argue against it legally, but I am sure had not the slightest idea of resisting.

Arias goes to meet Velasquez and Caceres to-day, and I am sure that he will return and declare that the agreement is acceptable to the people of Monte Christi, his province.

Arias says nothing, but I am convinced by his manner that he sees for himself the only hope possible for his future in the acceptance of the agreement.

A curious coincidence occurred at the meeting. Dimetrio Rodriguez presented a letter from the minister of war, in which it was stated that the object of the Americans was occupation; and, though I did not read the letter, I took it that the minister of war was absolutely opposed to any kind of convention. This letter was read when we were discussing the favorable opinion of the cabinet concerning the agreement.

It was difficult to explain the position of the minister of war, but at this moment there arrived a telegram from the minister of war saying, “Long live the Republic. Accept the agreement.” This telegram closed the incident.

Admiral Sigsbee conducted the interview so adroitly as to make a most favorable impression, and my experience with Arias and Rodriguez makes me feel positive that we will have no trouble here.

Arias was to have left this morning to meet Velasquez and Caceres, as I have stated above, and we are only waiting the return of Arias to be convinced that everything will go on well in Monte Christi.

The defense of the reasons for not waiting for Congress to act in the premises was the emergency of the situation with regard to intervention by foreign powers with force and no consideration for Santo Domingo, and the necessity for accepting at once, without the delay of a day, the friendly offer of the United States, thus preventing the absolute partition of Santo Domingo.

After the return of Arias I will telegraph you, and if the cipher is necessary I will use the navy cipher.

The admiral joins me in very kind remembrances, etc.

Commander, U. S. Navy.

Telegraph the substance of this to State Department if you see fit.

[Inclosure 3.]

Mr. Garcia to Minister Dawson.

Dear Sir: The council of the government held to-day has ordered that it should communicate to you for the purposes set out that, the provisions of the award being so extended, the functionary that you designed should take charge of the custom-house of Monte Christi until the convention shall begin to take effect.

M. Lamarche Garcia,
Ad Interim Minister of Finance and Commerce.