838.00/1275d: Telegram

The Secretary of State to President Wilson2

The Navy Department received late Saturday the following message which I did not see until this morning.

[Here follows text of telegram of August 7, 1915, from Admiral Caperton to the Secretary of the Navy, Foreign Relations, 1915, page 478.]

Admiral Benson informed me that he did not think we needed to occupy Mole St. Nicholas. I asked him to submit the matter to the General Board of the Navy Department which was then in session. He did so and brought back a report that “The General Board sees no necessity for naval purposes to have a station at St. Nicholas Mole.” The report goes on to state the reasons for their decision which is substantially the same one which they reached on October 17 last year.

In view of the telegram from Admiral Caperton above repeated, and the report of the Board, it is proposed to send the following telegram to Admiral Caperton if it meets with your approval:

“Allow election of President to take place whenever Haitians wish. United States prefers election of Dartiguenave.

United States appreciates generous disposition of Haitian people regarding cession of St. Nicholas Mole, but wishes to assure them United States desire no Haitian territory and has no other motive than the establishing of a firm and lasting government by the Haitian people, and to assist them now and at all times in the future to maintain their political independence and territorial integrity unimpaired.

The United States will insist that the Haitian government will grant no territorial concession to any foreign governments.”

I believe that the declaration in regard to Mole St. Nicholas and also our willingness to have the election of President proceed will have a very salutary effect upon public opinion in Haiti. I do not see why it would not be as easy to control a government with a president as it is to control the Haitian Congress and administrative officers. I would advise, therefore, sending the proposed telegram.

If possible it is advisable that an answer should be received by wire from you today in order that Admiral Caperton receive his instructions promptly.

Robert Lansing
  1. Then in Cornish, N. H.