The Secretary of State to President Wilson

My Dear Mr. President: After a conference with Admiral Benson, who is acting Secretary of the Navy, he has submitted to me a memorandum embodying instructions to be sent to Admiral Caperton at Port au Prince. If you approve the instructions will you wire him to that effect as soon as possible?

I had a lengthy interview this morning with the Haitian Minister regarding affairs of that Republic. He tells me that the people there are doubtful as to our motives, although he personally realizes that we are acting in perfect good faith and are only attempting to assist Haiti. I assured him of our entirely unselfish motives and that in landing marines in Haiti we had acted on account of two reasons: first, that it was in the interest of humanity and, second, that in case we had not taken the step, in all probability some other nation would have felt called upon to do so. I further said to him that the intelligent Haitians should feel gratified that it was the United States rather than some other power whose motives might not be as unselfish as ours.

Faithfully yours,

Robert Lansing

Draft Instructions From the Acting Secretary of the Navy (Benson) to Admiral Caperton

Conciliate Haytians to fullest extent consistent with maintaining order and firm control of the situation, and issue following proclamation:1

“Am directed to assure the Haytian people United States has no object in view except to insure, establish, and help to maintain Haytian independence and the, establishment of a stable and firm government by the Haytian people. Every assistance will be given to the Haytian people in their attempts to secure these ends. It is the intention to retain United States forces in Haiti only so long as will be necessary for this purpose.”

  1. This proclamation, with slight verbal changes, was issued by Admiral Caperton at Port au Prince, Aug. 9, 1915; see Foreign Relations, 1915, p. 481.