File No. 839.51/1474

The Secretary of State to the Dominican Minister.

My Dear Mr. Minister: I have the honor to transmit herewith for your consideration a memorandum in which attention is most respectfully called to certain political and financial conditions now existing in the Dominican Republic and suggesting the adoption of some reforms which, if put into operation, will aid materially in securing permanent peace and prosperity in that country.

It is earnestly hoped that you may find it convenient to call at the Department at an early date in order that this important matter may be discussed with you personally. An expression from you as to the date when a conference with you can be arranged will be appreciated.

I am [etc.]

W. J. Bryan.

The Department of State to the Dominican Legation.


The United States desires to assist the Dominican Republic in putting certain needed reforms into operation to insure the peace and prosperity of that country.

First. A decree placing the collection of the internal revenues under the receivership. At the present time the internal revenue is hypothecated for many years in advance, and brings in no revenue to the Dominican Government. It is estimated that from this source the Government should receive approximately two thousand dollars daily, whereas at the present time it is receiving nothing. This Department is informed that revenue stamps can be redeemed at the present time for about ten cents on the dollar, and it is strongly recommended that all hypothecated stamps should be immediately redeemed at the best rate possible.

Second. Official recognition of Charles M. Johnson [Johnston] as comptroller of finances for the Dominican Republic, whose duties shall be: (a) to prepare a budget for the Dominican Republic based upon his knowledge of income and probable expenditures; this budget to be rigidly adhered to; (b) to approve and countersign all payments made by the Dominican Government, it being understood that no payment shall be valid unless countersigned by the comptroller. This reform is really essential if the finances of the Dominican Republic [Page 298]are to be rescued from the deplorable condition in which they are at present. It is estimated that under the present administration of Dominican finances the debt of the country is increasing not less than one thousand dollars daily. It may be of interest in this connection to state that the Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department, in a communication bearing date of January 4, 1915, reports that, carrying out instructions of this Department of September 15, 1914, October 23, 1914, and December 14, 1914, directing that the general receiver of Dominican customs pay to the Dominican Government the sum of five thousand dollars daily from and including September 1, 1914, and an additional sum of two thousand dollars daily for the period of October 23–31, 1914, inclusive, there have been paid to the Dominican Government sums in excess of the customs revenues properly accruing to that Government as follows:

For September, 1914 $114,194.17
For October, 1914 97,267.98
For November, 1914 (estimated) 58.147.19
For December, 1914 (estimated) 75,000.00
Total (estimated) 344,609.34

The Bureau of Insular Affairs further states that to reimburse the general receiver of Dominican Customs for the excess amounts paid by him to the Dominican Government as aforesaid it was necessary, or it will be necessary, to draw upon the convention fund with the Guaranty Trust Company of New York, and such withdrawals from the convention fund, amounting to $344,609.34, are treated “as advances to the Dominican Government to be paid at a future date.” He further suggests the advisability of asking for a ratification by the Dominican Congress of the advances from the convention fund that have been made solely upon Executive request.

Unless Mr. Johnson [Johnston], the recently appointed comptroller of finance, is given such authority as he must have in order to successfully carry on the work for which he has been selected, it will be useless to continue him in the service, and without the supervision of such an officer it is very evident that the finances of the Dominican Republic will continue to drift into an even more deplorable condition.

Third. As the Dominican Government is threatened by no external enemies, the presence of a Dominican army (which is always in an inefficient state of discipline) is regarded as an incentive to disaffected political leaders to start internal resolutions. As the expenditures of the military establishment amount to nearly fifty per cent. of the total budget, it is most desirable that President Jiménes issue a decree largely reducing the expense of the army, so that education and public works may receive their just proportion of the public revenues. The United States will be pleased to give President Jiménes any assistance he may desire in reorganizing the police force of the Republic, or in the creation of a constabulary, to take the place of the an and rural guard as now constituted.

Fourth. Amending the contract of Mr. A. J. Collett. It is necessary that clauses III and V of the present contract be amended in order that this official may have proper authority to render the most efficient service to the Dominican Government.

Proposed amendment to Clause III:

The Director General of Public Works shall be removed only for cause, satisfactory proof of which shall be first submitted by the Dominican Government to the Department of State at Washington.

Proposed amendment to Clause V:

The Director shall be given authority to employ and discharge his subordinates, it being understood that in recommending appointees to the Dominican Government preference shall be given to citizens of the Dominican Republic who may be qualified and competent in every way to properly discharge the duties which may be assigned them by the Director General of Public Works.

Fifth. Wireless and land telegraph and telephone systems. It is earnestly recommended that these systems be placed under the control of the Director General of Public Works. This change is recommended in order that the three services may be under one head, which means their most economical administration.

Superintendent of the wireless and land telegraph and telephone systems. The United States Navy Department recommends that these systems be placed [Page 299]under the direction of an American manager. Mr. Roscoe Kent, an experienced operator, has been selected for this work, and is ready to enter upon his duties when a suitable contract can be agreed upon. The compensation of this officer is to be three hundred dollars, gold, a month, and two hundred dollars traveling expenses, each way, from his home in the United States to Santo Domingo. He is to be allowed thirty days’ leave of absence each year, exclusive of the time occupied in traveling from Santo Domingo to New York City and return.

In order to insure an efficient service, it is necessary that the superintendent of the wireless and land telegraph and telephone systems shall be free to employ and discharge all subordinates; and that he shall be removed from office by the Dominican Government before the expiration of his contract only for proven incompetency or for malfeasance in office, and it is extremely desirable that in the event of his discharge written charges should be filed at the American Legation for transmission to the Department of State for its consideration, it being understood that the appointee shall not be removed by the Dominican Government without the approval of the Department of State.

This contract, as well as the one with Mr. Collett, the Director General of Public Works, should be for three years, renewable, however, with the consent of both parties.