Minister Dawson to the Secretary of State .

No. 202.]

Sir: Continuing the subject of my No. 199a of December 20, political conditions in this Republic, I have the honor to report that in pursuance of my efforts to avoid a breach between the cabinet on the one side and the president and the Jimenista authorities on the other, I sent a letter on December 21 to the American consular agent to Monte Christi. (Copy inclosed.) Mr. Petit is in constant and amicable relations with Governor Arias, and I hoped the information given in regard to the determination of the cabinet not to interfere with the status quo in Monte Christi might tend to restrain the governor from rash action.

On the evening of the 21st I received the following telegram from the commander of the U. S. S. Nashville, then at Puerto Plata:

Puerto Plata, December 21, 1905.

American Minister:

Have received authentic information the vice-president coming here to remove forcibly present governor of Puerto Plata. He will resist defending constitutional government. Please communicate immediately with President.


Early in the morning of the 22d I called on the minister of foreign affairs, who told me that the vice-president did not intend to go immediately to Puerto Plata, that no action looking to the removal of Governor Perez had been taken, and none would be, at least until the receipt of further advices as to his attitude. I also called on the President, who said that no government decree on the subject had been adopted, that he hoped that the vice-president would not attempt to expel Perez without legal authority, because Perez would surely resist in such a case. I asked him to use his influence with Perez to avoid any violence, and he said that he, as in the past, would do everything in his power to prevent disturbances and civil war.

I thereupon sent the following telegram:

Santo Domingo, December 22, 1905.

Nashville, Puerto Plata:

Inform consul Government gives assurance to me Caceres has no intention forcibly to remove governor. Full letter has been forwarded to you from me on Seminole.


[Page 537]

On the afternoon of the 23d I was informed by the minister of foreign affairs that Governor Perez had ordered the arrest of the Horacista, commandante de Puerto, who had resisted and been shot; that the Government had thereupon adopted a decree removing Perez, but would give him every opportunity to comply before proceeding forcibly to put it into effect.

I thereupon telegraphed you as follows:

Santo Domingo, December 23, 1905.

The Dominican Government informs me governor of Puerto Plata since this morning barricaded in citadel and arresting Horacistas, causing general alarm.

The Dominican Government thereupon named his successor; resistance feared. The Dominican Government intends act with caution and legally.


This bad news was confirmed early the next morning by the following telegram from the consul at Puerto Plata:

Puerto Plata, December 23, 1905.

American Minister, Santo Domingo:

Captain of Port Miguel Ramirez was shot and wounded at noon resisting order of arrest from governor. Government position apparently strong. Anticipate further trouble.


which was followed shortly by this:

Puerto Plata, December 23, 1905.

American Consul, Santo Domingo:

Unless President will direct governor to comply with order of minister interior to vacate in favor of Cocco, trouble will ensue. Can you advise President to send order?


I sent for the minister of foreign affairs and asked him if the decree removing Perez had been adopted. He answered in the affirmative, saying that not only had the official order signed by the minister of interior been telegraphed, but that Morales himself had also telegraphed over his own signature. He added that no doubt Perez was urging Morales to break with the cabinet and that, hoping to get personal and secret orders to ignore the official telegrams, he might believe that the President’s signature had been placed to the telegram without his consent. I thereupon showed the minister the messages I had received from the consul and told him I proposed, in the interest of peace, at Puerto Plata to transmit to the consul a copy of any telegram which President Morales might inform me he had already sent, and to grant Perez temporary asylum if he should want it. The latter measure would, of course, tend to facilitate the peaceful transfer of the governorship, and the minister said that he and the President would be pleased if I should take it.

Accordingly I addressed a note to President Morales asking him to be kind enough to send me a copy of the telegram, if, in fact, he had sent one.

Later in the afternoon I received the copy in question and thereupon telegraphed the consul as follows:

Santo Domingo, December 24, 1905.

American Consul, Puerto Plata:

President informs me he sent following telegram: “Gobernador. Entregue á Manuel Cocco conforme telegramma anterior. Morales.”

If Perez wishes asylum you may give it. Government will not object. Keep me informed.


[Page 538]

Except the copy of his telegram I received that afternoon no message either written or by telephone from the President, and had no reason to think that he had changed his mind since my interview with him two days before. Indeed I since learn that he had spent most of the afternoon of the 24th in amicable conversation with Ministers Tejera and Velasquez.

At 7 o’clock that evening he left the city alone, walked out 2 miles where 25 or 30 young men assembled on the pretext of a Christmas eve “sancoche” or supper were awaiting him. Only three of his bodyguard met him on the outside, and his most intimate political and personal friends, such as ex-Minister Sanchez and Pichardo, knew nothing of his intention.

Morales and his party seized some government cavalry horses from a pasture near our legation and about 8 or 9 o’clock rode west, arriving at the Jaina River, 10 miles distant, about 11. There they stopped for the night and were quickly joined by Rimaldo and Cesario Pimentel, two famous Jimenista jefes, who live in that neighborhood and can raise a considerable body of followers at a moment’s notice.

The news of Morales’s departure became known in town about 10 o’clock, and immediately the whole city was in an uproar. Early next morning a hundred or so government troops went in pursuit, and news soon came that fighting was going on this side of the Jaina.

I thereupon telegraphed you as follows:

Santo Domingo, December 25, 1905.

President left city suddenly and secretly last night. Government force pursuing him; general disturbances likely.


The minister and the governor informed me that I had better remove my family into the city since my house is situated on the road along which the night scouting parties of both sides would advance. Accordingly I and the other residents of the Guibia suburb brought our families into the city.

There was a great deal of firing along the line of the Jaina that night, but the Morales people seem to have confined their efforts to holding the Government forces back.

On the afternoon of the 25th the minister of foreign affairs sent a circular note to all foreign representatives, inclosing a resolution of the cabinet (translations herewith) calling the vice-president to the capital to take charge of the Presidency temporarily during the absence of the President.

I thereupon telegraphed you as follows:

Santo Domingo, December 26, 1905.

Dominican minister for foreign affairs notifies diplomatic corps that President having clandestinely abandoned capital leaving Government without acting head cabinet has called vice-president to take charge pending temporary failure of President to exercise his functions. See article forty-six Dominican constitution. Send instructions. City quiet. Cabinet exercising functions without interruption. President reported at Jaina among revolutionists; fighting there reported. New governor peacefully installed Puerto Plata.


and answered the minister’s note saying that I would ask for instructions from my Government. (Copy inclosed.)

[Page 539]

The chargé d’affaires of France and Spain and the consuls of Germany and England asked me how I had answered the note, and I understand that their answers are practically identical with mine. The Haitian minister takes the position that without instructions he is justified in recognizing that the presidency became temporarily vacant and that the vice-president is legally exercising its functions.

It seemed to me, however, that there existed no immediate necessity for foreign representatives to express themselves in regard to what is primarily a point of Dominican constitutional law, i. e., whether Morales or Caceres is at this moment the legal head of the Government. The cabinet formerly named by President Morales is still in possession and exercising their functions. The only power given the President by the Dominican constitution is that of naming and removing the cabinet ministers. Once named they are the executive, and until they are removed or attempted to be removed by either Morales or Caceres, or are expelled from the capital and government offices, the question of who has the right to remove them is largely academic.

In the meantime Perez, finding that public opinion in Puerto Plata was against him in his intention to resist the installation of the new governor, had given up. On the evening of the 24th, after the President had left, but before I knew of his departure, I received the following telegram from the United States naval officer in command at Puerto Plata:

Puerto Plata, December 24, 1905.

Scorpion, Santo Domingo:

Urgent: For American minister. Interior has appointed Manual Cocco, very popular, as governor; is satisfied present governor desires to attack constitutional authority, but having positive direct order from the President to resist vice-president and not to give up, he can not vacate without battle. If you can persuade the President to issue positive order, governor will obey gladly.


On the morning of the 26th came the following telegram from Consul Handley:

Puerto Plata, December 26, 1905.

American Minister, Santo Domingo:

Cocco in charge Gobernación. Perez sailed for Turks Island yesterday. Caceres arrive to-day.


Perez did in fact sail for Turks Island, but immediately left there for Monte Christi, accompanied by ex-Vice-President Eugenio Deschamps, Gen. Joaquin Barba, and other Jimenista exiles.

In the afternoon I was handed by a person unknown to me a letter from President Morales, of which the following is a translation:

Santo Domingo, December 24, 1905.

Mr. T. C. Dawson,
Minister of the United States, City.

Distinguished Sir: The brutal insults to the constitution and my dignity as President of the Republic have forced me to absent myself from this city with the purpose of reestablishing the rule of law. As soon as I reach an important center of population I shall constitute the capital and remove the cabinet that is personally hostile to me.

I salute you,

Morales L.,
President of the Republic.

[Page 540]

To this I answered.

American Legation,

Santo Domingo, December 26, 1905.

Señor Carlos F. Morales, L., etc.

Dear Sir and Friend: I am in receipt of your personal letter of the 24th instant in regard to your intention to absent yourself from this capital, an intention which I am informed you have since carried into effect.

I will telegraph its contents to Washington and ask for instructions.

Yours, most respectfully,

(Signed) T. C. Dawson.

I thereupon telegraphed you as follows:

Santo Domingo, December 27, 1905.

Have received letter of President dated the 24th, saying that he is about to absent himself from capital in order to reestablish legal procedure, and later on will declare another city temporary capital, and will then name a new cabinet. He is reported to be 15 miles west, fighting. Troops sent by cabinet. American citizens interior alarmed, fearing that landing American seamen would be followed by violence to themselves.


On midnight of the 26th I received the following telegram:

Puerto Plata, December 26, 1905.

American Minister, Santo Domingo:

Your cable forwarded. Caceres sent commission Monte Christi on Dubuque to confer with Rodriguez.


And on the 28th following:

Puerto Plata, December 28, 1905.

American Minister, Santo Domingo:

Commission to Monte Christi failure. Rodriguez concentrating forces Guayubin, Horacistas, Santiago, and Navarrete. Perez arrived Monte Christi.


I thereupon telegraphed you as follows:

Santo Domingo, December 28, 1905.

Jimenistas advancing from Monte Christi against Santiago. The President still fighting near Jaina. His force small. City quiet, but apprehensive.


On the 29th the U. S. S. Dubuque arrived here from Monte Christi, bringing me a copy of Governor Arias’s proclamation, which I inclose for your information, with the translation thereof.

The same day the minister of foreign affairs informed me that the gunboat Independencia had left Macoris at 9 p.m. of the 26th with orders to carry $8,000 in cash, 60,000 rounds of rifle cartridges, 100 rifles, and some shells to the governors of Sanchez and Puerto Plata, but that her commander had disobeyed and taken his ship to Monte Christi, where he had placed himself under the orders of Governor Arias. The arrival of the Independencia at Monte Christi was confirmed by telegrams received by the commander of the Dubuque, and I accordingly telegraphed you as follows:

Santo Domingo, December 29, 1905.

Sec. State, Washington:

Gunboat Independencia, sent by cabinet to Sanchez with munitions, has deserted and gone to Monte Christi. Will probably bring expedition against Macoris or other point. Whereabouts of the President unknown. The vice-president arrives here to-day.

French chargé d’affaires offers, if agreeable to the American Government, to send Martinique for war ship to aid in protecting lives foreigners, which might be endangered by landing American seamen.


[Page 541]

The French telegraph line across the island had been cut various times since the 24th, and I had been trying to get my messages through by the government line to Puerto Plata. I could not, however, be sure that you have received my telegrams, and was relieved to receive your cable, as follows:

Washington, December 29, 1905.

Dawson, Santo Domingo:

Your cable December 29.

Instructions in my cable of December 6 should be followed strictly. In that case there will be no landing of troops under any such circumstances as to justify apprehension of danger to lives of foreigners.


On the 30th I received two notes from the minister of foreign affairs, the first asking that our naval forces detain the Independencia, and the second that she be prevented from carrying arms about the coast for the purpose of fomenting civil war. Copies and translations inclosed. I told the minister that I had no authority to give any orders to our naval vessels nor to give him any assurances on the subject; that such orders would be given from Washington. I agreed, however, at his urgent request to telegraph you and did so, as follows:

Santo Domingo, December 30, 1905.

Dominican minister for foreign affairs requests that naval orders be given to prevent gunboat Independencia from carrying arms, et cetera, from revolting governor of Monte Christi to other ports for the purpose of disturbing public order. Have answered that I have no such authority. This telegram sent you at his urgent request.


After receiving your telegram of December 29, I answered Señor Tejera’s notes in regard to the Independencia, calling his attention again to the fact that I would continue to act in accordance with your instructions to me of December 6 (7). Copy inclosed.

On the morning of the 29th, Vice-President Caceres and a large number of members of Congress arrived. The Congress met in special session on the afternoon of the 30th. An accusation for high treason against the President had been begun by the minister of interior, and a bill for a decree declaring him under impeachment was introduced in Congress and passed its first reading on the 31st.

I thereupon telegraphed you as follows:

Santo Domingo, January 1, 1906.

Forward following telegram:

“Congress yesterday passed first reading impeachment of the President. President’s whereabouts still unknown here.”


Yesterday the bill passed a second reading, and to-day its third and final reading. If possible before the mail closes I will inclose copy. Its effect is to declare that the vice-president shall be acting president pending the trial of the president before the supreme court.

I inclose copy of a note from the minister of foreign affairs, announcing the passage of the bill just as I finish this dispatch. I have also sent you the following telegram:

Santo Domingo, January 2, 1906.

Dominican minister for foreign affairs has informed me that to-day, January 1, Dominican Congress has declared the President in state of impeachment, and that by virtue of this and of article 46 Dominican constitution the vice-president will exercise temporarily functions of president.


[Page 542]

This I send by a Dominican Government steamship to Mayaguez because all telegraphic and telephone communication with the United States is interrupted since this morning by the cutting of the lines in the vicinity of Puerto Plata.

Of the events at Puerto Plata you are probably better informed than I through the telegrams to the Navy Department. All I know at present is that the Independencia is in front of Puerto Plata threatening bombardment, has landed forces near the town, and that there has been some fighting.

There is no news yet as to the whereabouts of President Morales.

I have not had time to prepare translations of the inclosures herewith and beg that they may be translated in the department if necessary.

I also inclose marked copy of the Dominican constitution, calling your attention to the following provisions applicable to the question raised by the President’s action in leaving the capital: Article 6; article 25, section 4; articles 38, 39, 45, 46, 47, 50, 59; and article 69, section 2.a

I have, etc.,

T. C. Dawson.
[Inclosure 1.]

Minister Dawson to the American Consular Agent Petit .


Dear Mr. Petit: Fearing that exaggerated rumors of the events of November 27 and December 6 and their consequences may have reached Monte Christi, I think it best to inform you briefly of the truth.

There was a difference of opinion between the President and a majority of his cabinet about certain appointments and policies. Feeling arose to a dangerous point, the President was counseled to make a radical change in his cabinet, and certain extreme Horacistas advocated his resignation and a refusal to ratify the convention. Happily better counsels prevailed on both sides. The President determined to retain his cabinet, except Mr. Sanchez, and the opinion of Caceres and Emiliano Tejera prevailed with the Horacistas. They will sustain the President to the end of his term, and the convention will be ratified. The guaranties to Governor Arias remain as they were. Morales especially stipulated as to this.

I hear disquieting rumors from Monte Christi, but do not credit them, especially as I have not heard from you.

You may show this letter at your discretion. Please present my respects to Governor. Arias.

Yours truly,

T. C. Dawson.
[Inclosure 2.]

Minister Dawson to the Dominican Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of yesterday inclosing a copy of the resolution of the council of secretaries of state taken on account of the departure of President Morales.

[Page 543]

I shall immediately transmit its contents to my Government, and upon receiving the instructions that may be sent me will communicate with you further in answer to your note.

In the meantime I improve the opportunity to renew, etc.,

T. C. Dawson.
[Inclosure 3.—Translation.]

desiderio arias, civil and military governor of the district of monte christi.

Fellow-citizens: The President of the Republic being alarmed by the actions of the Horacista party, which until yesterday shared with him the functions of government, had ordered me to be on the lookout for what might occur.

A series of gross impositions on the sovereignty of the nation in the person of its chief magistrate have just occurred, causing a rupture between the President of the Republic and his cabinet.

As a matter of fact, dominating the army in the capital, the rebels prevented the President from exercising his constitutional rights, by which he was obliged to leave the city on the night of the 24th of this month, in order to establish in some other place a new cabinet, making use of the powers conferred upon him by article 50 of the constitution of the nation. Fellow-citizens, it is the duty of all good Dominicans to further by every means in their power the preservation of public order and the respect for the constitution and the laws.

I shall not spare any means to produce a legal reaction after the facts which I have just mentioned.

I invite you in the name of the sacred interests of the country, villainously trampled upon by the ambitions of those in authority, to lend your aid for the reestablishment of legal order, thus saving the Republic from the dangers which threaten it. Fellow-citizens, the responsibility for the present historical moment rests, and will rest, upon those wicked people, who, dazzled by the power which they were using to gratify their personal ambitions, turned their backs upon a national honor and throw the country into anarchy and into the horrors of a fratricidal fellow-citizens! Long live the constitution and let us save the Republic!

Desiderio Arias.
  1. Printed in Foreign Relations, 1905, p. 410.
  2. Not printed.