The Haitian Minister to the Secretary of State.


Mr. Secretary of State: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 29th of August last, in which you informed me that you did not think you could adhere to the interpretation of the law of August 10, 1905, set forth in my letter of the 11th of August, 1905, because the text of article 1 appeared to be ambiguous, and also because the Haitian tribunals had not yet declared that the measure was applicable to Syrians who might have been naturalized in the United States in good faith and without intention to violate the law.

In reply, and in order to enable you better to appreciate the intent of the Haitian legislator, I can not lay too much stress on the identical situation of the Syrians in Haiti and the Chinese in the United States. The purpose of the law of August 10, 1903, is to save the Haitians from the effects of a competition deemed injurious. To that end it excludes from the territory of the Republic every person styled Syrian, or so called in popular language. There is no ambiguity in the wording. The law contemplates the origin of the person and not his adopted nationality. This, if I mistake not, is the very principle you apply to Chinese when you deny them admission into the United States; you consider their origin, not their actual nationality.

Else would it be difficult to carry out the legislator’s will. In order to continue the immigration into Haiti which the law’s very object was to bring to an end, the Syrians would have nothing more to do than to have themselves naturalized French, American, or English.

After laying down in the first section of article 1 the general principle of exclusion for every person styled Syrian, the law saw fit to give special attention in section 2 to the case of Syrians who, having already resided in Haiti, might go elsewhere and be naturalized for the sole purpose of returning. It was intended thus, on the one hand, to give them to understand that no privilege was conferred by previous residence in Haiti and that it was useless to seek a naturalization with a view to residing again in the country, and, on the other hand, it was advisable to endeavor to prevent abuses and the conflicts that might arise from naturalization irregularly secured.

As for the Haitian tribunals, I would beg your leave to say that they can not test a law of their own accord. In order to examine a legislative measure to render a decision in the matter they must wait until the parties who claim to be injured thereby shall lay their grievances before them. No Syrian, as far as I know, at least, has yet applied to them; which fact leads me to believe that the interpretation of the law of August 10, 1903, has raised no question or difficulty.

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Hoping that you will not find it amiss that the Haitians, after the example of the Americans, who are endeavoring to protect themselves against the Chinese, may likewise endeavor to protect themselves against the Syrians,

I embrace, etc.,

J. N. Léger.