Microfilm Reel 288, File 612, "Haiti"

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All the microfilm scans from the file number 612, "Haiti," on reel 288 from the Executive Office files of the Woodrow Wilson Papers, series 4 in the Library of Congress finding aid.

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[612]

Secretary Bryan

States that Mr. Osborn is preparing for a trip to Haiti and Santo Domingo. As transportation is not easily arranged, suggests that the gunboat PETREL, now at Galveston and which has asked the Department for permission to go to Havana to give the crew shore leave, be ordered to take Mr. Osborn from Havana to Haiti and Santo Domingo, stopping at such points as he needs to visit.

Says he has found that the Mole St. Nicholas is a very desirable harbor, and proposes that Mr. Osborn undertake negotiations for a block of land ten miles square, embracing the harbor and affording sufficient land on the shore to prevent attack from the land.

Will submit proposal to Secretaries of War and Navy and ask them to let the President have their views on plan.

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June 14 1913.

My dear Mr. President:-

Governor Osborn is preparing for the trip to Haiti and Santo Domingo. Owing to the fact that it is not easy to move from place to place down there in the West Indies, it has occurred to me that it might be worth while to have the gunboat PETREL, which is now at Galveston and which has asked the Department for permission to go to Havana in order to give the crew shore leave for a few days, take the Governor from Havana to Haiti and Santo Domingo, stopping at such points as he needs to visit.

I have been looking at the charts and find that the Mole St. Nicholas, which we discussed, is a very desirable harbor. It is about a mile and a half across at the entrance and runs back probably between three and four miles. For the first half of the way it is a hundred feet deep or more, and then for here the remaining distance runs from one hundred down to thirty-five. I an satisfied that it will be of great value to us and even if it were not valuable to us it is worth while to take it out of the market so that no other nation will attempt to secure a foothold there. I would suggest for your consideration the following proposition, namely:

That we shall negotiate for a strip of land twenty miles wide,

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measured ten miles each way from the center of the mouth of the harbor, the strip to run back to a point ten miles beyond the eastern line of the harbor. This will give us the entire harbor and in the neighborhood of ten miles of land all around it so that the harbor could not be attacked from the land. Second, All persons residing on the land at the time of the purchase to be permitted, upon their own application, to become American citizens. Third, Those living on the land purchased who do not desire to become American citizens, may retain their citizenship in Santo Domingo and the United States Government will purchase any land which they own, at its market value, the price to be submitted to arbitration if it cannot be agreed upon between the parties and the United States. Fourth, The price paid to be a subject of negotiation between this country and Haiti, Governor Osborn to find out what they desire and submit the sum for your consideration.

I merely submit the above suggestions as a basis for discussion. Will submit a copy of this proposition to the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy and ask them to give you their opinion on the subject.

If you will let me know your wishes in regard to using the PETREL, we can have the necessary orders issued by the Navy Department at once.

In view of the disturbed condition in Mexico, I an wondering if it might not be advisable to have another battleship or two sent into the Gulf so that we may be prepared to bring Americans away in case of acute disturbance. We have three battleships down there now, – two at Veracruz, and one at Tampico. As they are battleships of the first class, they

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would be able to accommodate quite a large number of Americans in case they were needed at places or refuge, but as a matter of precaution it has occurred to me that one or two more might, with advantage, be sent into the neighborhood.

With assurances of respect, etc., I am, my dear Mr. President, Very sincerely yours,

W. J. Bryan

The President, The White House.

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[612]

June 17, 1913

My dear Mr. Secretary:

I entirely approve of your suggestion about requesting the Navy Department to put the gunboat PETREL at the service of Mr. Osborn for his visit to Haiti and Santo Domingo. I take it for granted that it is within our legal power to do so without incurring unauthorized expenditures.

I am greatly interested, as you know, in Governor Osborn's visit to the island and think that he is just the right man to make it.

Cordially and faithfully yours,

Hon. William Jennings Bryan Secretary of State.

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