The Acting Secretary of State to Chargé Jay.

No. 757.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 973 of the 11th ultimo, asking whether American religious, charitable, and educational institutions in Turkey are authorized to fly the American flag on Sundays and holidays.

[Page 876]

In reply, I inclose for your information a copy of an instruction addressed to the American minister to Haiti in regard to a similar inquiry which came from that country, and refer you to Foreign Relations for 1903, pages 596 et seq., wherein you will find the Department’s views on the subject.

I am, etc.,

F. B. Loomis.

The Secretary of State to Minister Powell.

No. 354.]


* * * * * * *

The flag incident you describe in your No. 593 deserves separate treatment. It appears that the Compagnie Haitienne, in anticipation of the seizure of certain property, raised the flag of the United States above a station of the aerial tramways it has established in the interior of the island. The Haitien Government has requested that this practice cease, on the ground that such display of a foreign flag tends to excite popular feeling. You defend the practice as a right, while, however, requesting the company not to fly the flag pending the receipt by you of instructions on the subject.

The request of the Haitien Government appears not to be unreasonable. The right to display a foreign flag over foreign owned property is by no means established except in the oriental countries where the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the foreign flag is secured by treaty. In some countries it is forbidden so to fly a foreign flag. In Mexico the privilege of showing their national ensign is forbidden even to foreign consuls. The right of Haiti to regulate or forbid by law the display of foreign flags within Haitien territory could not well be questioned. It does not, however, appear that the request of the Haitien Government rests on any domestic law; on the contrary it seems to rest on motives of policy and domestic expediency, having regard to the particular circumstances of the case.

In Mr. Sandham’s letter to you, of June 21, he admits that the flag was raised above a station “owing to a threatened seizure of logwood” stored therein and that “this action was not diplomatic.” In this latter statement the Department concurs. The national flag is the symbol of the paramount authority of its government, which authority obviously does not extend, in the case of the United States, over private property situated in a sovereign foreign jurisdiction. In the present case, moreover, the property belongs to a company operating under Haitian charter and possessing no delegated authority to raise the flag as the emblem of any exercisable power of the United States Government in that quarter.

As the incident appears to have been terminated by the company’s own admission of the irregularity of its action in Mr. Sandham’s letter to you, and by its agreement to lower the flag in order to preserve harmonious relations, it does not appear necessary to pursue the subject further.

I am, etc.,

John Hay.