Status: Complete

12 JULY 1891 469

tiations that were pending between the United States and Hayti in regard to
the Mole St. Nicholas?”

“Ask the Admiral. I refuse to answer.”

“Do you imagine that the United States will get this concession at a
later date?”

This question Mr. Douglass did not feel free to answer. He seemed[ ,]
though, to think that there was a chance of getting the concession.

“Referring to the probability of the United States getting the conces-
sion of Mole St. Nicholas, what influence was it that prevented the Domin-
ican Government from ceding us Samana Bay?”19

“Hayti’s influence. That nation looked upon that proposed cession of
the territory of its neighbor to a white government as a menace and United
States Senator Sumner said: ‘lt would be a menace to the life of the Haytien
Government.'20 At this time all negotiation failed, but since then condi-
tions have changed.”

“But,” said I, “do not these same conditions remain in force to affect
all endeavor to secure Haytien property?”

“Yes,” said Mr. Douglass, “and unless the United States adopts differ-
ent methods, so they are likely to remain.”

Here Mr. Douglass pleaded fatigue, but before closing the interview he

policy toward the blockade, they would grant important concessions to this country once in power. In
January 1891. the Harrison administration appointed Gherardi a special commissioner to cooperate
with Douglass in negotiating a treaty for the lease of the Môle St. Nicolas as a naval coaling station. The
State Department's failure to provide Gherardi with the proper credentials, however, allowed the
Haitians to drag out the negotiations. Gherardi ignored Douglass's advice and ordered most of the U.S.
Atlantic fleet to Port-au-Prince in April 1891. Rather than cowing the Haitians, this act stiffened their
will: Hyppolite's govemment rejected the proposed lease. His bluff called, the admiral's fleet had to
hoist anchor and depart. Douglass and Gherardi later traded angry accusations over who was to blame
for the failure of the Môle St. Nicolas negotiations. Douglass, Life and Times, 624—44; Logan,
Diplomatic Relations of the United States with Haiti, 4l3— 14, 420—23. 439—52; Heinl and Heinl,
Written in Blood, 309— l0. 312—20; ACAB, 2 : 633—34; DAB, 7 : 232.

I9. Diplomatic efforts by the United States to obtain a naval station at Samana Bay in the
northeastem portion of the Dominican Republic dated back to before the Civil War. The administrations
of Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, and Andrew Johnson had attempted to obtain a lease of this bay. The
site also was at the center of the controversial annexation negotiations during Ulysses S. Grant's
administration. As recently as l882, the Haitian govemment had pressured its Dominican neighbor to
reject proposals to lease Samana Bay to an American shipping company. Charles Callan Tansill, The
United States and Santo Domingo, 1798—1873:vA Chapter in Caribbean Diplomacy ( I938; Gloucester,
Mass, 1967), 133, 177—78, 180—97, 250—56, 362—64, 374—79; Logan, Diplomatic Relations of the
United States with Haiti, 245—46, 286, 323, 349—50, 368—69.

20. Douglass paraphrases the argument used by Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts in a
speech on 24—25 March 1870 in opposition to the United States annexation of the Dominican Republic.
Congressional Globe, 41st Cong, 3d sess., 226—3l.

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