838.011/131

The Minister in Haiti ( Munro ) to the Secretary of State

No. 489

Sir: With reference to the Department’s instruction No. 218, of August 13, 1932, I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of a note which I have today addressed to the Haitian Government.

Respectfully yours,

Dana G. Munro
[Enclosure]

The American Minister ( Munro ) to the Haitian Minister for Foreign Affairs ( Blanchet )

No. 180

Excellency: I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that my Government has observed that Article I of the new Constitution of Haiti, in defining the territory of the Republic, includes Navassa Island as a part of that territory. I have been instructed to bring the following facts to Your Excellency’s attention.

A proclamation was issued by the United States Government on December 8, 1859, to the effect that E. K. Cooper, as assignee of Peter Duncan, was entitled in respect to the guano on Navassa Island to all the privileges and advantages intended by the Act of Congress of August 18, 1856, to be secured to citizens of the United States who may have discovered deposits of guano.

The proclamation in question was held by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Jones vs. The United States (137 U. S. 202) as equivalent to a declaration that the President considered the Island as appertaining to the United States. Moreover, the Court held that the subsequent acts of the President, through the Departments [Page 708] of State and Treasury, had confirmed the indicated view. The acts referred to were the inclusion of the Island in a list of guano islands appertaining to the United States and bonded under the said Act of Congress, annexed to a circular of the Treasury Department of February 12, 1869; the denial by the State Department in letters addressed to the Haitian Minister on December 31, 1872, and June 10, 1873, of the claim of the Haitian Government to that Island, and the reassertion of the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States over the Island.

In a note sent to the Haitian Legation at Washington on July 14, 1915, the Department of State quoted that portion of the note of June 10, 1873, which stated that the United States had given careful attention to the claims of the Government of Haiti with respect to Navassa Island but had concluded that the position of the United States with respect thereto “is fully sustained by facts, by history and by the well settled principles of public laws.” In a further communication dated July 14, 1915, the Department of State said that it was unable to discover that the Haitian Government had produced since the note of June 10, 1873, “any argument or evidence that would affect the position then taken by the United States.” The last mentioned statement remains true to this date.

By a proclamation of the President of the United States dated January 17, 1916, Navassa Island was reserved for lighthouse purposes and that it is still used for such purposes. This action of the President was based upon the said act of Congress of August 18, 1856, and upon the further Act of October 22, 1913, providing for the construction of a light station on the Island.

In view of the above I have been instructed to make a formal reservation of the rights of the United States with respect to Navassa Island, which is now actually occupied by the United States for the purpose of maintaining a lighthouse thereon.

Accept [etc.]

[File copy not signed]