The High Commissioner in Haiti (Russell) to the Secretary of State

No. 1537

Sir: I have the honor to report that the day following my return to Haiti, I called upon President Borno and after discussing with him various unimportant Haitian matters I asked him if he would inform me regarding the political situation in Haiti and the coming presidential election. He replied that as he had before stated to Mr. Grummon, the American Chargé d’Affaires, and others, he had informed the members of his party that if they could get together and [Page 173]select a candidate he would gladly support such candidate, but that if they could not get together, that in the interests of his party he would feel it incumbent upon himself to again run for president.

I told President Borno that I desired to speak to him unofficially and to advise him. I pointed out that I was a strong friend of his and I believed that he had confidence in me; that during the past seven years he had written a brilliant page in the history of Haiti, but that it was my unqualified opinion that if he ran for the Presidency, he would besmirch this excellent record. Furthermore, I said that I felt sure that the United States Government would not recognize him in case of his election. On the other hand, if he waited a short time and then made an announcement to the effect that he would not run for the Presidency and that he thought that two terms, or according to the Constitution one term was sufficient, I was of the opinion that he would receive plaudits on every hand and he would go down in history as the greatest President of Haiti, if not the greatest of Latin-America.

After further discussion along the above line, President Borno finally and definitely assured me that he would not, under any condition, run for the Presidency or accept election. He then said that it was important that his successor be picked at once. He counted Colonel Nemours out of the picture and stated that in his opinion the choice lay between Mr. Sansaricq and Mr. Dejean. After stating the qualifications of each, he said that in his opinion Mr. Dejean would be the better of the two and he said that it was essential that we should support Mr. Dejean. I immediately informed him that as he was well aware, I could not support anyone but that I believed that if he, as leader of his party, selected the candidate and put all of his influence back of him, that his chances of success would be excellent, but that personally I could not forward the political aspirations of any candidate.

President Borno then asked me when he should make the announcement regarding his not running for the Presidency and I told him that in my opinion he could wait for a few weeks in order that it would not appear as if I had influenced him in his decision, and he could then make his announcement. After thinking over the matter for some time, he requested that the time of announcement be left to him; that until that time the matter should be kept in the strictest confidence and that he requested this in order that he might be able better to handle the political situation and secure the election of his candidate.

I have [etc.]

John H. Russell