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P. Chase, and Abraham Lincoln had a corresponding place in 1860. The considerations that have been presented in this paper may suggest some of the qualifications with which this view of history is to be accepted.
WILLIAM A. DUNNING.
Letters of Toussaint Louterture and of Edward Stevens, 1798-1800
The following body of documents will show how richly history is sometimes illustrated by the consular despatches preserved at the Department of State in Washington. In some cases, where a consular district has since been made a part of the United States, its history has become in the fullest sense a portion of United States history, and the despatches of our consuls at New Orleans, Galveston, or Monterey are to be correspondingly valued. There are other instances where, by the intention of the government or because of the absence of any higher representative of the United States, a consul has been obliged to assume quasi-diplomatic functions, and where consequently his observations and reports of action are important materials for American diplomatic history.
There are two reasons for valuing the letters of Edward Stevens herewith presented. In the first place, they give a vivid narration, written by an observer having uncommon ability, of the steps by which Toussaint Louverture rose to supreme power and independence of France. In this respect the letters may be left to tell their own story. It is a portion of a great and moving drama, more familiar to our great-grandfathers, who remembered Santo Domingo as the richest of all colonies, than to a generation to which the present island is insignificant. In the second place, the letters of Edward Stevens exhibit the manner in which the government of the United States dealt with an important crisis in its early diplomatic history. Mr. Henry Adams, in some of the best chapters of the most brilliant of American historical works, has shown how intimately the history of the l’nited States was from 1798 to 1803 involved with the fate of the most unhappy of islands. In the first part of that period Edward Stevens was the chief instrument of American diplomacy there.
The series opens with a letter of Toussaint to President Adams, of November 6, 1798. Eighteen months before, the Directory had made him general-in-chief, with military command over the whole colony. On June 13, 1798, Congress, under the pressure of French aggression, had passed an act suspending commercial relations with
France and her dependencies. How hard this bore on Santo Domingo, and on Toussaint in his struggles with rivals like Rigaud, may be seen by the step he took in writing this letter of 16 Brumaire an VII. It had apparently not been received when, November 30, 1798, Secretary Pickering, writing to Mayer, consul at Cap Français (the present Cap Haytien), called his attention in a significant manner to the fact that the prohibition of trade expressed in the act of June 13 had been limited to places under the acknowledged power of France, and added the suggestion that, in consequence, if the inhabitants of Santo Domingo had ceased to acknowledge that power there existed no necessary barrier to the renewal of commerce.
Toussaint repeated his advances in a letter to Adams of 17 Ventose an VII. (March 7, 1799). Meantime however Congress had passed the act of February 9, 1799, which left it in the discreation of the President to open the Santo Domingo trade by proclamation whenever satisfied that the period of spoliations had ended; Pickering wrote Toussaint, March 4, that it would be thrown open if the depredations of privateers in the neighborhood of the island should absolutely cease; joint policy with Great Britain was arranged between the Cabinet at Philadelphia and General Maitland on his way out to the West Indies; and Edward Stevens was sent out as consul-general, with diplomatic powers shaped in accordance with a policy which separated Toussaint from France, enabled him to crush Rigaud, and aided him toward ultimate independence.
Edward Stevens was a man of great intelligence and ability. A native of the West Indies, married to the daughter of the Danish governor of Santa Cruz, he had long resided in the islands, and understood French. In some manner not now distinctly traceable, he was closely related to Hamilton. In a memorandum written in 1822, Pickering says, after speaking of the determination to send out to Santo Domingo in 1799 an agent in the character of consulgeneral: " from my inquiries concerning Dr. Stevens, then in Philadelphia, he appeared in all respects singularly qualified for the office. . . . At the first glance, I was struck with the extraordinary similitude of his and General Hamilton's faces. . . . When young children, they lived together in the family of the father of Stevens, and were sent together to New York for their education." It will perhaps be remembered that Hamilton's precocious first letter, “Dear Neddy”, etc.,? was addressed to him.
Stevens's mission ended soon after the date of the last of the
letters here printed. In a letter dated May 31, 1800, he had asked for his recall on account of ill-health. Jefferson sent out Tobias Lear in his place. But the treaty of Morfontaine and the new relations with the First Consul had wholly altered the situation, and Toussaint Louverture proceeded to his doom without further assistance from the United States.
Of the letters here printed, the first eight (two of Toussaint, six of Stevens) are in “Consular Letters, Cape Haytien, vol. I.", the remaining eleven (of Stevens) in vol. II. of the same.
I. TOUSSAINT LOUVERTURE TO PRESIDENT JOHN ADAMS, NOVEMBER 6, 1798.
des États-unis d'Amerique. Monsieur Le Président,
C'est avec la plus grande Surpise et la peine la plus sensible que je vois les navires de votre nation abandonner, depuis quelque tems, les ports de St. Domingue; renoncer, par là, à toute espèce de relations Commerciales avec nous et ne plus nous porter, en échange de nos riches productions, les denrées et commestibles du crù du Continent.
Je ne sais point, je ne chercherai pas même à pénétrer quels sont les motifs qui ont pû porter les Citoyens des Etats-unis é ce raffroidissement pour les Colonies françaises, je me bornerai uniquement à nte concilier avec vous sur les moyens propres à rétablir la navigation et à faire arriver dans nos ports le pavillon Américain. Il est de son interêt, autant que du notre, d'étendre son Commerce: Il ne dépendra pas de moi, soyes en bien convaincu, d'y contribuer.
Si les intentions du Congré ou les votres étaient de changer quelque chose aux dispositions qui auraient pu être prises à cet égard et que j'ignore; S'il s'agit de faire respecter la Neutralité et de maintenir la bonne Armonie qui a toujours existé entre la République française et les Etats-unis d'Amerique ; Sil sagit de faire exécuter les Traités entre les deux Républiques, vous pourés être assuré, Monsieur, que les Americains trouveront dans les ports de la République à St. Domingue protection et Sureté; que le Pavillon des Etats unis y sera respecté comme celui d'une puissance Amie et Alliée de la france; que les ordres seront donnés pour qu'il le soit par nos Corsaires en croisière; que je faciliterai, par tous les moyens qui sont en mon pouvoir, leur prompt retour dans leur patrie et qu'ils Seront exactement payés des cargaisons qu'ils nous apporterons.
Si la promesse que je vous fais, Monsieur, de protéger les Bâtimens de votre nation qui se rendront dans les ports de la République française en cette Colonie, peut les décider à y venir encore, je me feliciterai d'y avoir contribué et d'avoir rétabli entre le Continant et la Colonie de St.
* The correspondence between Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin in 1804 shows miuch deliberation as to his claim for expenses.
Domingue ces relations qui, pour l'interêt des deux Républiques, n'au-
une et indivisible.
II. EDWARD STEVENS TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Cape François 3d May 1799 Sir
I avail myself of the earliest opportunity to inform you that I landed in this City on the 18th ultimo. The particular Agent of the Executive Directory was in Town, but the General in Chief* had returned to Gonaives three days before my arrival on very urgent Business.
As nothing could be done without his sanction, and I deemed it essential to the Interests of the United States to commence my Negociation without delay, I thought it prudent to write him the annexed letter (No. 1), and expressed myself in strong terms to hasten his return to the seat of Government. He answered it immediately (No. 2) and arrived at the Cape the next morning. I had an interview with him directly and explained at full length, the friendly disposition of the American Government towards this Colony, and the Conditions on which it was desirous of renewing the commercial intercourse between the two Countries.
He received me very favorably-expressed much satisfaction, at the attention which had been paid to his letter by the Executive of the United States, and seemed particularly pleased, with the Presidents humane Permission to afford a temporary supply to the Colony, at a moment when it was reduced to the extremest Distress, by a total want of all the articles usually imported from America. We waited on the particular Agent together, and after some Discussion it was agreed, that a proclamation should be published immediately in which the essential points required by the Government of the United States should be acceded to. The next morning I received a copy of the intended Proclamation accompanied with a note (No. 3) from the Secretary of the Agency. Upon perusing this instrument, I found it totally inadmissible. The regulations respecting Privateers, were not sufficiently strong to: repress their Depredations and the Language in which it was written was too loose and ambiguous. I therefore thought it best to state my objections in writing. I also added in plain, and precise Terms, the several concessions, without which it was impossible, the Ports of America could be opened. In the interview wch. succeeded this communication, the subject of the Arreté was very minutely discussed. I endeavored as well as I was able, to obviate all the Objections, which were urged by the particular Agent, against the terms required by the Government of the United States. In this attempt I met with powerful support, from the General in Chief. His penetration and good sense, enabled him to see the Justice and Propriety of the President's Demands,
* Citizen Roume, who was nominally at the head of the civil administration.
5 Toussaint Louverture, whose power was nominally confined to the military administration.