File No. 838.77/141

The Secretary of State to the Minister of Haiti

My dear Mr. Minister: In reply to your letter dated September 6, and addressed to Mr. Stabler, Acting Chief of the Division of Latin-American Affairs, in connection with certain information which you desire to receive from the National Railroad Company of Haiti, I have the honor to inform you that this matter was brought to the notice of the Railroad Company, and its reply thereto is as follows:

The construction of the railroad was begun on April 15, 1911. In the entire time between this date and that of the American intervention in Haiti (July 1915) namely,—four years and three months,—the periods during which there was no revolutionary movement prevailing aggregate one year and eleven months. Always while a revolution was on, the work of construction of the railroad was more or less interfered with and often times entire suspension was necessary. These conditions ultimately became so continuous and severe that all construction work was finally stopped in September, 1913. This record is important in view of the contention of the Haitian Government in its proceedings to foreclose, that the railroad failed to complete and deliver an average of five sections of railroad per annum.

When the proceedings to foreclose were begun in September, 1914, a serious revolution existed in Haiti against President Oreste Zamor, which resulted in his overthrow on October 29, 1914, and the succession to the Presidency of Davilmar Theodore November 6, 1914, who was not recognized by the Government of the United States, as his succession was due directly to the revolutionary overthrow of President Zamor. Moreover acute revolutionary conditions continued to prevail in Haiti during Theodore’s control of Government affairs, which only lasted three months and sixteen days, when he was forced out by Vilbrun Guillaume who also failed to receive recognition from this Government. The directors and officials of the railroad company did not consider that anything useful or final could result from negotiations with the officials of an unrecognized Government, and so confined their response to the foreclosure proceedings to those they made through the good offices of the State Department.

At all times from the commencement of the work of construction of the National Railroad of Haiti, in April, 1911, the management of the railroad company made every possible effort in the face of most discouraging labor and acute revolutionary conditions, to pursue as rapidly as possible the construction work, and ceased only when conditions became such that it was practically impossible to longer retain on the work the American engineers and other necessary skilled supervisors.

The said foreclosure never was consummated, but on the contrary several extensions of time were granted and before the expiration of the last extension noted (January 20, 1915) revolutionary conditions became so bad and Cabinet members and other high officials were changing so rapidly, it would appear that the matter of the railroad foreclosure was entirely lost sight of. Certain it is that no further communication of any sort has been received by the railroad company from any official of the Haitian Government in respect of this matter.

I beg to remain [etc.]

Robert Lansing