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a note received from the British Embassy in Washington regarding the acceptance of Haitian bonds in payment of British claims. I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:



The British Ambassador (Geddes) to the Secretary of State

No. 923

WASHINGTON, December 8, 1922. Sir: With reference to previous correspondence regarding the establishment of an Arbitral Commission for the settlement of outstanding claims against the Haytian Government, I have the honour, on instructions from my Government, to invite your attention to Article 5 of the Protocol between the United States and Hayti on this question.

This Article states that “the Claims Commission shall determine the proportion of each award which is to be paid in cash and the proportion to be paid in bonds of Hayti ...".12

I have the honour to inform you that His Majesty's Government are not prepared necessarily to accept whatever awards may be made as constituting a satisfactory and final settlement of the claims in question, if the proportion of these awards payable in Haytian bonds is calculated on the face value of these latter, and is in itself sufficiently large to reduce materially the net value of the awards.

His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires at Port-au-Prince has been instructed to make a similar communication to the Haytian Government. I have [etc.]




The High Commissioner in Haiti (Russell) to the Secretary of State No. 48

PORT AU PRINCE, August 5, 1922.

[Received August 17.] Sir: I have the honor to report that during the past two months the political situation in Haiti has been greatly aggravated by the attacks made on the President of Haiti by members of the old administration and other members of the existing Government. These

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attacks have been directed against development work and have been made through the newspapers, speeches and propaganda. ...

Unquestionably a bitter feeling has been developed among a certain number of people at Port au Prince and some of the coast towns against President Borno and his official family. The result of this has been the receipt of many anonymous letters by President Borno, members of his Cabinet and members of the Council of State, all threatening their lives. I have received anonymous letters threatening the life of Mr. Borno. At first little or no attention was paid to such letters other than to try and determine by whom they were sent but as time passed well defined rumours of a plot against the life of President Borno have developed.

The attempted shooting of the Mayor of Port-au-Prince, who was unearthing evidences of graft covering a period of many years, together with the strong probability that the man who fired the shot at the Mayor and killed the man standing next to him will probably get off with a light sentence, caused great uneasiness among the Government officials. The probable murder of Mr. Clément Denizé a few days after the attempt on the life of the Mayor, increased this uneasiness. Mr. Denizé was to testify on the following morning before the Judge of Instruction in the communal graft affair now being investigated.

A month or so ago I received a letter from the President of Haiti (copy and translation enclosed) 13 regarding the situation, but on talking the matter over with him at that time we decided that the Haitian courts and the new Commissaire du Gouvernement of Portau-Prince would be able to handle the situation. On August 2nd I received a letter from the President of Haiti (copy and translation enclosed) 13 drawing my attention to the seriousness of the political situation and requesting action on my part. After careful thought I decided to issue a proclamation, a copy of which is attached hereto. It is hoped that the mere issuance of this proclamation will be sufficient to clear up the situation but if such is not the case I feel certain that one or two examples will do so. I have [etc.]



Proclamation, August 4, 1922, by the High Commissioner in Haiti



It has been brought to my notice that a very active campaign has been inaugurated by certain persons directed against the officials of the Haitian Government and the development work being undertaken by said Government.

* Not printed.

Such agitation is a menace to the condition of law and order that now prevails, tends to undermine the authority of the officials of the Haitian Government, and looks to the destruction of the constitutional government, leading to anarchy with the possible consequent destruction of property and life and prolonged misery for the Haitian People.

The United States Forces in Haiti are engaged in aiding and supporting the constitutional government of Haiti and are required by treaty obligations to maintain the tranquility of the Republic.

Your attention is therefore directed to the proclamation of May 26, 1921 14 and especially to that portion of it which refers to propaganda of an incendiary nature attacking the President of Haiti or officials of the Haitian Government.



The Acting Secretary of State to the High Commissioner in Haiti


No. 26

WASHINGTON, August 28, 1922. Sir: The Department has received your despatch of August 5, 1922, discussing the political situation in Haiti and transmitting a copy of a proclamation issued by you to the Haitian people.

Your action in this matter is approved, but the Department would prefer that it be consulted in the future before any proclamations of general political importance are issued. I am [etc.]



The High Commissioner in Haiti (Russell) to the Acting Secretary

of State

No. 60

PORT AU PRINCE, September 6, 1922.

[Received September 19.] Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department's No. 67, of August 29th, 3 p. m.15

The trials of the three provost court cases mentioned therein were completed before the receipt of the Department's telegram. In accordance, however, with the Department's views, as expressed

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in the cable, although in each case the finding was "guilty" of violation of the lawful proclamation of May 26, 1921, and at the request of the President of Haiti, the sentences were remitted and the men at once released. A full report of the circumstances leading up to the trial of these men was made in my despatch No. 57 of August 28, 1922.16

Regarding the employment of provost courts in the past and my views on the necessity for such courts, I have to submit, in accordance with the Department's instructions, the following remarks:

Martial law in Haiti, with its attendant military tribunals, was proclaimed in September, 1915.? During the two years following it was freely employed and resulted in many trials and convictions by provost courts and a few military commissions. From 1917 until 1919 there was but little necessity for the exercise of its powers and consequently there were comparatively few trials. During the years 1919 and 1920 from five to six thousand bandits were operating in the interior of Haiti while in the large coast cities certain groups were formed to assist the bandits. As a result the use of provost courts greatly increased. With the end of banditism and the reestablishment of law and order in the country provost courts were used most sparingly and solely as a means of maintaining tranquillity. The mere fact that such court could be employed had, as a rule, the necessary effect. The power was there but lying mostly dormant, to be employed only on special occasions.

Prior to May 26, 1921, the mushroom papers that sprang up overnight were daily publishing personal and false attacks against officers and men of the United States Forces on duty in Haiti, Treaty Officials and members of the Haitian Government. The attacks of these irresponsible papers and the speeches made by their directors soon became such a menace to the continued tranquillity of the country, as well as to the future development and progress of Haiti, that it became imperative to take prompt and drastic action. The authority for such action was received on May 25, 1921, by the Brigade Commander, First Brigade, U. S. Marines, in the following telegram from the Secretary of the Navy:

“ The proclamation of martial law as proclaimed on Sept. 3, 1915, and ratified by Haitien Constitution 18 reserved from the jurisdiction of civil courts of Haiti those things which affect the military operations or the authority of the Government of the United States

18 Not printed.

17 Proclamation of Sept. 3, 1915, by Admiral Caperton, commanding the United States Forces in Haiti and Haitian Waters, Foreign Relations, 1915, p. 484.

Special article following title VII of the Constitution of June 12, 1918, Ibid., 1918, p. 502.


of America. Agitation against United States officials who are aiding and supporting constitutional government tends to undermine their authority and coupled with political agitation looks to destruction of the constitutional government, will lead to revolution and anarchy with consequent destruction of property and life and prolonged misery for Haitian people. Not only in self-defense of American forces but in self-defense of Haitian Government and therefore such measures must be taken as will suppress such agitation and prevent return of violent disorder. From the information before you, you will determine what action under martial law the crisis demands and act accordingly, keeping in mind the idea of acting only in self-defense of your command and Haitian Government and employing processes of martial law only where your conservative judgment admits the situation demands it. Cease exercise and then restrict penalties to serving the purposes of preventing rather than punishment. In respect to those who attack the Haitian President and Government direct rather than through the American forces it would be advisable to have the Haitian President request you or direct the Chief of Gendarmerie to proceed against them through the agency of martial law which is maintained for and in behalf of the constitutional government of Haiti. You would thereby have on record a statement of what the Haitian State construes the crisis demands in the way of prevention in order to preclude the engineering of domestic disorder and attempting to overthrow the constitutional government by violence. In cases of trial before Military Commission or Provost Court the charges should cite the offense against the military forces, the violation of a lawful regulation adopted to make martial law effective. Should there be insufficient regulations to cover the existing situation such should be promulgated. In the absence of approximate regulations on which to base a trial, those whom from the information before you, you have reasonable grounds to believe are concerned in unlawful opposition and the encouragement of domestic violence may be arrested and held in confinement until the exigency has passed, and the constituted authorities are able to execute the laws."

On May 26, 1921, a proclamation covering this telegram was issued by the Brigade Commander (copy attached). One or two offenders against this proclamation were tried by provost court, found“ guilty," sentenced and served their sentences. The proclamation had a most excellent effect and was thoroughly welcomed by all intelligent and law-abiding Haitians, whose only comment was that they thought it had been issued too late.

Immediately following the election of President Borno and his occupancy of the chair of state, his enemies, consisting mostly of those who had been affected by his election, seized upon the opportunity to plot against him and repeatedly reports were received of plots endangering the life not only of President Borno but of his Secretaries of States and even of members of the Council of State. All of them received threatening letters.

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