File No. 838.00/871.
Port-au-Prince, February 20, 1914.
Sir: Referring to my February 12, the Department’s February 13, and my February 17, relative to the blockade of Cape Haitien by the Haitian Government, I have the honor to report as follows:
This Legation and all others were notified of the blockade in notes from the Haitian ‘Secretary for Foreign Affairs, dated February 11, 1914. On the morning of February 12, notice of the blockade was also communicated to the Diplomatic Corps as a whole by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
The question of the blockade was discussed at length at the meeting of the Diplomatic Corps the morning of February 12. The Minister for Germany evinced a disposition to recognize the blockade, but I was considerably in doubt as to his real position. Pending accurate information as to the effectiveness of the blockade, the Corps decided to take no action.
The sense of the Department’s instructions to me on February 13 was communicated to Secretary Leger in an informal note, February 14. Secretary Leger the same day sent a note to me in which he referred to his former note of February 11. Inasmuch as this note mentioned the Haitian gunboat Vertieres as the vessel which would attempt to make the blockade effective, and as I knew that the Vertieres was lying at anchor in the harbor of Port au Prince, there was not much assurance in Mr. Leger’s notes that the blockade was effective. From other sources I had been informed that the Haitian gunboat Nord Alexis had departed for the north to establish a blockade of Cape Haitien. Consequently, I asked Consul Livingston to report the establishment of the blockade, if it should be established. On February 16, Consul Livingston notified me that there was no Haitian gunboat at Cape Haitien, but that the Nord Alexis was approaching. As to whether or not the Nord Alexis has attempted to establish a blockade of the port of Cape Haitien, or attempted to so do, I have as yet been unable to ascertain positively. I am of the personal opinion that the blockade is effective at times and at other times is not effective.[Page 384]
Consequently, in view of this uncertainty, and the further fact that other foreign representatives, in particular the English Minister, held that recognition of the blockade would be looked upon as recognition of the Haitian Government as well as recognition of Davilmar Theodore as a belligerent, this Legation refrained from action in the matter, pending certainty as to the effectiveness or noneffectiveness of the blockade.
Had it been ascertained that the blockade was effective, this Legation would have recognized the blockade in absolute conformity to the Department’s cablegram of February 13, 1914, and I trust that my action, in view of the circumstances, may not be disapproved. The uncertainty of the Haitian Government itself, as displayed by Secretary Léger’s notes, was, in my opinion, sufficient ground for withholding action.
At present the Nord Alexis, according to information from the north, is chiefly engaged in operations against Theodore, and is sometimes at Cape Haitien and sometimes away from there. Accordingly, action as to the blockade is yet held in abeyance.
I have [etc.]