DUTY HAS BEEN THE MOVING POWER IN MY LIFE (JULY 12, 1891)

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manner, and he felt it necessary to undeceive them. A man to rule successfully must either be loved or feared, and since the people of the capital of Hayti did not love Hippolyte he was determined to make them fear him. It may well be remarked that the Government of Hayti is hardly old enough to have developed a character that invited destruction. The country has been torn and rent by revolutions, and is now staggering under a heavy debt brought upon it by repeated resorts of violence. What the country wants is peace and stability.”

“What do you think, Mr. Douglass, will be Hayti’s future?”

“I answer without the least hesitation that I still believe in Hayti and believe that she will fight her way upward and onward. I feel that their wars and revolutions will eventually wear themselves out, and out of the chaos left by these perturbations a sober, happy and prosperous people will yet come.”

“Do you think that the last revolution was due to the fact that some of the Haytiens still prefer Legitime to Hippolyte and would like to recall him?”

“I do not think that they expect anything of the kind. It is not the fashion with Haytiens when a man has once been exiled for them to receive him again into power.”

“It has been said, Mr. Douglass, that Gen. Hippolyte has been kept in power on account of his purchase of the standing army, and not because the people loved him or were satisfied with his administration. Is there any truth in this statement?

“This question I decline to answer,” replied Mr. Douglass. “Hippolyte may or may not be popular with the citizens, but, in my opinion, it will be a good and most fortunate thing for Hayti if he can maintain himself at the head of the Haytien Government. Hippolyte is a man of unusual force of character, and his country needs his controlling hand.”

Mr. Douglass is expecting his friend, Secretary Firmin, to pass through here on his way from Paris. ‘12 He says that he is a very intelligent black man. Mr. Douglass said that it gave him much pleasure to see a black man succeed in making a name for himself as Mr. Firmin has done.

12. The New York World carried reports that Joseph-Anténor Firmin, the former Haitian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Finance, had departed Port-au-Prince on 16 July 1891 on a trip to Paris via New York City. Ebenezer D. Bassett wrote to Douglass that he had visited with Firmin during the Haitian's stop in New York City from 22 to 25 July 1891. Firmin told Bassett that he traveled to France for reasons of ill health. Ebenezer Bassett to Douglass, 26 July 1891, reel 6, frames l68—70, General Correspondence File. FD Papers, DLC; New York World. 27 July l89l.

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“Is it true that it is the policy of Gen. Hippolyte to elevate the blacks at the expense of the mulattoes?”

“On the contrary,” said Mr. Douglass, “Gen. Hippolyte’s policy was to do away with all distinctions. He is far above anything of that kind.”

I then asked him: “From your experience in Hayti do you think that the black race is capable of governing itself?

He answered: “I think it may become so. Hayti is a good specimen of what the negro race can do. As I have often said before, Hayti must not be measured by other nations. In speaking of the negro one must consider the depths from which he came. Hayti became free under great difficulties. She gained her independence under very unfavorable conditions. She was surrounded by a cordon of slave-holding powers. France was slaveholding; Great Britain was slave-holding; Denmark was slave-holding; Portugal was slave—holding—they were all against her—none of these nations wanted to tolerate such an example as Hayti was giving. It is the only instance in the world where an enslaved people rose up and declared their independence. When she asked for recognition among the great powers of the world France demanded a sum of money, I forget how many francs, millions I think, as the price of her recognition. '3 England was slow to recognize her, and the United States did not recognize her until Abraham Lincoln became President.

“When the question was brought up in the House of Representatives, Henry A. Wise, leading the discussion, said that: ‘The Haytiens have been slaves, and I will never recognize as freemen negroes who gained their freedom by cutting their masters’ throats.’ ” ‘4

“In the matter of Rigaud, do you think that France will make a demand for indemnity, and, if so, will the Haytien Government pay it?”

“Very likely it will. She will at first refuse to do so, but in the end will

13. In 1825 Haitian President Jean-Pierre Boyer negotiated a treaty with France that recognized his country's independence. This treaty granted France preferential trade privileges with Haiti and promised payment of an indemnity of ISO million francs. Failure of the Haitians to pay the indemnity caused this treaty to be suspended. A new set of negotiations reduced the amount ofthe indemnity to 60 million francs and France finally granted recognition of its former colony's independence in 1838. It took Haiti exactly fifty years to pay off the French indemnity. Heinl and Heinl, Written in Blood, I68— 72, 20l; Rotberg. Haiti. 66—67. 77, 86.

14. Virginia Congressman Henry A. Wise condemned the idea of the United States extending diplomatic recognition to Haiti in a public letter to his constituents in 1841 . John Quincy Adams quoted the letter in a speech before the House of Representatives in January I842. This provoked Wise to make a lengthy reply, attacking Adams, abolition, and Haiti. Craig M. Simpson, A Good Southerner: The Life ()fHenry A. Wise (Chapel Hill. 1985), 42—43.

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yield to the demands of France. She is a weak power and will eventually yield to the stronger.”'5

“lfan attempt should be made to deprive the Haytiens of their indepen— dence what do you think would be the result?”

“They are not prepared to admit any foreign power to control them. They would say in the language of Christophe, '6 ‘My master, Gen. Toussaint l’Ouverture, is the Governor here, and if you attempt to enter we will burn the town and fight you upon its ashes.’l7 Yes, Hayti is fire; do not touch her, you will burn your fingers.”

“What influence do you think Admiral Gherardil8 had upon the nego-

l5. Immediately following the failed coup of 28 May I891. President Louis M. F. Hyppolite executed Ernest Rigaud. a French citizen and Port-au-Prince merchant. for complaining about the destruction of a French flag. France demanded and eventually received an indemnity for the death of its citizen. New York Age. ll July I89]; New York World. 23 July l89l; Heinl and Heinl. Written in Blood. 320.

16. Probably bom on the English island of St. Christopher. Henri Christophe (I767- l82()) was the servant of a French naval officer who took him to Savannah. Georgia. during the American Revolution. He gained his freedom soon afterward and became a hotel manager in Cap-Ha'iticn. He joined the revolutionary forces of Toussaint L'Ouverture and rose steadily in rank. After Toussaint's exile and death in France. Christophe became one of the top Haitian leaders and was one of three generals to sign the nation‘s proclamation of independence. Following the assassination of the nation‘s first ruler. Emperor Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Christophe became president ofHaiti in I806. A civil war ensued which divided the country into northem and southwestem regions. Christophe established a state in the north and ruled for thirteen years. eventually crowning himself King of Haiti in l8l l . Two monuments to his reign were the Citadelle. an armed fortress built atop a mountain. and the Royal Palace of Sans Souci at Milot. He also managed to revive many ofthe old plantations by forcing blacks back to work there. Christophe‘s autocratic rule alienated practically all popular support. ()n 8 October 1820. as rebel troops marched towards the Royal Palace. Christophe. unable to organize an armed resistance. shot himself. Hubert Cole. Christophe: King ofHaiti (New York. 1967); Pcrusse. Historical Dictionary ofHaiti. l7—- [8; Davis. Black Democracy. 99— l 13; Heinl and Heinl. Written in Blood. I23 -()2.

l7. Douglass alludes to an incident during the campaign of Napoleon l to restore French control over Haiti. In command of the garrison of Cap-Ha'itien. the old colonial capital. Henri Christophe refused to surrender the city to the French forces commanded by Victor Emmanuel Leclerc in February I802. After receiving a message from Christophe in language similar to that quoted by Douglass. Leclerc began an attack on Cap-Haitien. After an initial resistance. Christophe burned the city and retreated with his army into the interior mountains. Cole. Christophe, 81—89; Heinl and Heinl. Written in Blood. 102—03.

l8. Born in Jackson. Louisiana. to an Italian immigrant father and the sister of historian and politician George Bancroft. Bancroft Gherardi 0832—1903) received a commission in the US. Navy in I846 when his uncle was the secretary of the navy. After five years of service. he briefly attended the US. Naval Academy and graduated in 1852. Gherardi saw much sea duty during the Civil War on the blockade of Confederate ports. He held numerous assignments in the post-war navy and rose to the rank of rear admiral and commander-in-chiefof the North Atlantic Squadron (1889—92). During the Haitian civil war of 1888—89. Gherardi had advised the United States not to recognize the legitimacy of the blockade against ports controlled by Louis M. F. Hyppolite. At this time. Gherardi held many discussions with Hyppolite and his principal advisers and came to believe that. out of gratitude for the US.

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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 concession of Mole St. Nicholas, what influence was it that prevented the Dominican 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 conditions 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 different 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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said: “I never expected to see a man of my own color and race reporting for a great paper like THE WORLD.”

RESIGNATION BUT NOT RETIREMENT: AN INTERVIEW GIVEN IN WASHINGTON, D.C., ON 10 AUGUST 1891

Washington Post, I 1 August 1891. Another text in Miscellany File, reel 34, frame 515, FD Papers, DLC.

Douglass submitted his resignation as U.S. resident minister and consul general to Haiti on 30 July 1891 and President Benjamin Harrison formally accepted it on 11 August 1891. The press had been anticipating Douglass’s replacement as U.S. minister in Haiti as a result of the failure of the negotiations for the acquisition of the Môle St. Nicolas. Douglass granted several interviews to reporters seeking information about the circumstances of his resignation. The most detailed of these occurred at his home in Washington, D.C., on 10 August 1891, when Douglass answered questions from an unidentified reporter from the Washington Post. The published text of this interview displeased Douglass who immediately wrote a letter to the Post to deny making the statement that he had been asked to resign. In the letter Douglass observed that: “It is not surprising that in the hurry of an interview, a reporter should sometimes fail to get the exact truth into his report.” Douglass’s letter is reproduced in Appendix H. William F. Wharton to Douglass, 11 August 1891, General Correspondence File, reel 6, frame 190, FD Papers, DLC; Douglass to Editor of the Washington Post, 11 August 1891, in Washington Post, 12 August 1891; Washington Evening Star, 10, 11 August 1891', New York World, 10, 12 August 1891.

Frederick Douglass is no longer minister to Haiti. His resignation, submitted to the President on July 30, was yesterday made public by the State Department. It is a formal note and gives no reasons for retirement. Its acceptance follows as a matter of course.

In the course of a conversation with a POST reporter yesterday afternoon at his residence beyond Anacostia, Mr. Douglass intimated that he had been asked to resign and that his successor would be a white man.1 He

1. John Stephens Durham (1861—1919), another black diplomat, succeeded Douglass as minister resident and consul general to Haiti. Born in Philadelphia, Durham graduated from that city‘s wellknown Institute for Colored Youth in 1876. After teaching elementary school for a number of years, he attended the University of Pennsylvania and received a civil engineering degree in 1888. Instead of working as an engineer, Durham became a successful journalist in Philadelphia. Local Republican

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