The Chargé in Haiti (Finley) to the Secretary of State
[Received 5:15 p.m.]
71. Leger sent for me this morning and said that he and the French Minister had now worked out a final draft of a Haitian-French commercial convention and that it could be signed at once if the Minister [Page 588]received instructions to do so. De Kuli informed him in answer to a direct question that he did not have explicit instructions to proceed with the drafting of the convention but that inasmuch as he expected soon to go on leave he wanted to have the draft worked out and in final form. De la Rue has the draft and is examining it.
Leger expressed some anxiety that no recent reports have been received concerning the progress made by our Paris Embassy in the 1910 matter. He asked whether I would be willing to telegraph for a report about this and, incidentally, inquire whether Under Secretary Welles, while he is in Paris, could not by reason of his intimate acquaintance with the subject do something to assist. I said I would inform the Department of his request.
Leger then said that for some reason he could not yet understand, his Minister in Paris did not seem to be absolutely clear regarding his Government’s attitude in the 1910 matter. He had received the following telegram from Chatelain on August 28:
(Translation). “At the request of the American Ambassador I have promised to remain in contact with him. Yesterday morning I was called to the Quai d’Orsay where they spoke to me again regarding your offer and said that devaluation brings us more and more nearly together and that an agreement could now be reached on a basis of 840 francs in place of a thousand. They added that if things looked as though they could be arranged, I would be sent for again. I deduced from this communication that, first, the American Government has intervened; second, I would like to envisage the signature in the near future no longer of a provisional accord or a modus vivendi but of a definite treaty; third, that the Ambassador approves principle of the offer following my explanations on this subject but that the Government is bargaining still to obtain a little more than 500 francs. I have learned in the course of this conversation of the approaching arrival of the American Under Secretary of State and I see in that some connection with the communication made to me yesterday morning.”
Leger instructed Chatelain as follows on August 28:
(Translation) “Referring to your cable of August 28, I confirm to you that the Haitian Government considers itself entirely free from all engagements relating to the unofficial propositions previously envisaged. I desire that there shall be no mistake on this subject neither with the French Government nor with the American Government. You will not in any case accept their proposal to enter into discussions with the Quai d’Orsay on the subject of any transaction for regulating the 1910 matter. Work in strict liaison with the American Ambassador.”
Leger handed me copies of the above exchange of cables.