The Acting Secretary of the Navy (Benson) to the Secretary of State

Sir: In regard to the anomalous situation in Santo Domingo, reconsideration is urged of the decision transmitted to the Military Government of Santo Domingo by the American Minister, the Honorable William W. Russell, in a letter dated July 24, 1919.41

From the letter of the Military Governor (File No. 1599–19–MF of August 2, 1919, to the Chief of Naval Operations),42 it is evident that the position in which the Military Governor is placed by the State Department’s refusal to withdraw the cable instructions to the [Page 159] Receivership of June 16, 1916,43 is untenantable. It in effect cancels a part of the Proclamation of Military Government and places the Military Governor in the position of carrying the responsibility for the conduct of Dominican affairs and yet not being trusted with the control of the receipt and disbursement of Dominican funds. It virtually takes the Department of Finance from his control and places it under the control of a representative of the War Department. It splits the government in two and divides the responsibility between Navy and War Departments. It makes the Military Governor, the executive power, entirely dependent upon the will of the General Receiver of Dominican Customs (a subordinate of the Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department) for the necessary funds to carry on the government.

The State Department, from the wording of the letter of the American Minister referred to above (copy attached) apparently is under the impression that a transfer of certain functions was requested by the Military Government. This impression is entirely erroneous. The Military Government merely desired the formal withdrawal of the cable instructions to the Receivership of June 16, 1916, and the approval of the handling of the finances in the manner set forth in the Proclamation of Military Government. The finances are now, and have been since the installation of Military Government, so handled, and it is a formal approval of the existing method, and not of a change, which is requested.

It is felt that the Department of State acted in this matter under a misapprehension of the true facts and without all the facts before it. The situation is so anomalous, so contrary to the Proclamations of Military Government and to the terms and requirements of the Convention, that this Department feels that it is duty bound to point out the facts of the matter and urge careful reconsideration of this most important matter.

Very truly yours,

W. S. Benson
  1. Not printed; see instruction No. 294, June 14, to the Minister in the Dominican Republic, p. 154.
  2. Not printed.
  3. See footnote 31, p. 151.