The British Ambassador (Howard) to the Secretary of State

No. 241

Sir: I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your note of April 2nd, regarding the claims of Mr. Barry, Mrs. Basden and Mr. Pickering against the Haitian Government. I note therefrom that “The Department has no information as to whether the Haitian Government will seek its advice with respect to the recognition to be accorded the claims in question and, in the absence of complete knowledge as to the facts and circumstances attendant upon the claims and the decisions of the Commission thereon, is not prepared to state what reply it would make in the premises should its advice be sought”.

When I wrote before, I was under the impression that the State Department were familiar with the details of these claims as I had been informed by Mr. Edwards, His Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires at Port-au-Prince, that Dr. Cumberland, the Financial Adviser to the Haitian Government, was in communication with the State Department and had sought the views of the United States Government on the payment of revolutionary claims. Mr. Edwards advised me, furthermore, that Dr. Cumberland would be prepared to settle these claims through His Majesty’s Legation at Port-au-Prince, should he obtain the authority of the United States Government to agree to the principle of payment of revolutionary claims.

From your letter under reference, I observe that the United States Government has declined in the past to question the awards of the Claims Commission, in whose good intent and sound judgment your Government has faith; and that, in the case of these claims, the Department had hoped that, in view of the fact that a British subject served as a member of the Commission during the consideration of the claims, His Majesty’s Government would consider as satisfactorily settled the claims of British subjects submitted to the Commission and adjudicated upon by that body. In this connection, however, I [Page 87] would venture to point out that Mr. Stoker, the British member of the Commission in question, registered a dissenting opinion in regard to the Commission’s award on these claims, and for your information I enclose herein a copy of this dissenting opinion, together with a copy of Mr. Stoker’s opinion in Claim No. 859, which deals fully with the same point.30

Furthermore, as already stated in my note No. 191, I would repeat that His Majesty’s Government have never agreed to the doctrine that Governments are not responsible for the acts of successful revolutionaries.

I have the honour to request, therefore, that you may be so good as to advise me at your early convenience of the attitude which the United States Government decide to adopt with regard to these claims.

I have [etc.]

Esme Howard
  1. Neither printed.