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Mr. Gresham to Mr. Pringle.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, March 14, 1894. Ascertain and report fully charges, what punishment is proposed, and whether service under Vasquez was voluntary. Make no agreement without instructions.
Mr. Pringle to Mr. Gresham.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
Guatemala, March 30, 1894. (Received April 19.) SIR: Referring to my three cablegrams of March 10, March 12, and March 14, and to the Secretary's cablegram of March 15, I beg leave to report as follows:
It being very apparent that my telegrams to Mr. Peterson were not being forwarded and being under the impression that Mr. Imboden and Messrs. Barnhart were in jail, I discussed the matter with Capt. Longnecker of the U.S. S. Ranger, who had brought the Honduranian refugees mentioned in my No. 73 of March 13, 1894, and he informed me that he had discretionary orders as to going north or returning to Amapala, and could easily take me to Amapala, if I so desired. I therefore made the suggestion to the Department of my meeting Mr. Peterson at Amapala, for the purpose of learning the true state of affairs, and having received the Department's cable of March 15, referred to above, I left San José de Guatemala on the evening of Friday, the 16th, and arrived at Amapala on Sunday morning, the 18th.
I found that all telegraphic communication with Tegucigalpa was interrupted. After waiting three days without hearing anything from Mr. Peterson, and when about to return, I received a telegram informing me that he was on his way to Amapala, where he arrived on the night of the 22d. After conferring with him for two days I returned here on the 26th.
In the first place I found that I had misinformed the Department as to the fact of Mr. Imboden and Messrs. Barnbart being in confinement.
As Mr. Peterson, in his telegram to me dated March 12, made use of the words "in limbo,” I cabled the Department, under the impression that they were in confinement. Mr. Peterson and myself differ very materially upon the meaning of the words "in limbo." I claiin, and am supported in my assertion by Webster, that "in limbo” means in “confinement” or “detention.”
Heurged me very strongly to go to the capital with him for the purpose, as he expressed it, of “making an agreement" of some kind with Presi. dent Bonilla relative to the punishment of Mr. Imboden and Messrs. Barnhart. This I declined to do without positive instructions from the Department.
I inclose copy of letter which I requested Mr. Peterson to write to me while at Amapala, as his verbal statements to me were somewhat vague and differed materially at different times.
As President Bonilla up to that time had taken no action against these Americans, I failed to see where anything could be done until such time as an overt act was committed. Mr. Peterson differed with
me, and seemed to think something ought to be done, but failed to explain in what way or how it should be done. I deem it best to inclose copies of all his correspondence, which I found on my return here.
I advised Mr. Peterson to be very careful in his communications or conversations with President Bonilla, as he was in no way authorized, either officially or unofficially, to discuss such matters with the President of Honduras.
The point raised by President Bonilla, and referred to by Mr. Peterson, namely, that of organizing a military commission, may prove, in my opinion, serious. The Department will, however, judge of this point when it is raised. As matters now stand, I infer that it will be some time before an action is taken against any of these men. I therefore shall do nothing more unless further instructed by the Department.
In conclusion I beg leave to state that, in my opinion, the moral effect of the Ranger returning, with myself on board, will prove very beneficial and useful, thereby showing that some interest is being taken in the welfare of American citizens in Honduras. Trusting that my action in this matter may be approved, I have, etc.,
D. LYNCH PRINGLE, Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.
(Inclosure 1 in No. 75.)
CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES,
Tegucigalpa, March 22, 1894. (Now at Amapala.) SIR: I have to report to you in regard to the cases of American citizens, compromised in the late revolution in Honduras, as follows:
Mr. Bonilla, the provisional President of Honduras, informed me, unofficially, that it is his purpose to expel from the country each and all foreigners who were engaged in favor of Gen. Vasquez, the late President. He stated, in more than one conversation, that he regarded the said foreigners as guerillas, and in no sense entitled to the treatment accorded to regularly enlisted soldiers. He stated that he knows that the foreigners went out with Gen. Vasquez as sharpshooters and as volunteers, but held no commissions and signed no rolls. This is true of all of them with the exception of John Haas and H. O. Jeffers, Americans, and Fred. Budde, a German.
At the same time Bonilla had foreigners in his own army, who maintain the same status as those in Vasquez's army, but they, being on the “winning side,” are to be unmolested.
Bonilla stated to me that if amicable arrangements could not be made in the cases of the compromised foreigners, he would organize a military commission and regnlarly try, not only foreigners, but natives also, and the decision of the commission would be final. He proposes, if said commission is organized, to try the foreigners, not as regular soldiers, but as guerillas, and I might say that the decision of the commission can be easily predicted, that is, that every man of them will be convicted and the sentence will most certainly be expulsion from the territory of Honduras.
The following are the names of the American citizens who are under the ban: C. W. Cleaney, H. M. Barnbart, H. C. Barnhart, J. P. Imboden, and Charles Cadalso, who are in Honduras, and John Haas, McClelland, Brown, and H. O. Jef fers, who are, I think, in Salvador.
What Bonilla means by "an amicable arrangement," in my judgment, is that agreements shall be made between him and each of the parties interested, approved by you as the diplomatic representative of the United States to the effect that each person shall be given time to settle up his business, and then voluntarily leave the country, never to return. All of these men have business interests in Honduras of more or less importance, and it is proposed to grant them more or less time, according to the importance or peculiar state of the business of each.
The business of some of these men is suffering for lack of attention, because, while no one is under arrest, all who are in the country are practically debarred from doing business, and from going from place to place freely, and those who are not in the country can not return.
When I telegraphed to you the state of affairs I used the following expression: "American interests in danger.” That same day, having an appointment with Mr. Bonilla, I went to see him, and was informed by him that my telegram had been delivered to him and read before transmitting it, and he demanded of me an explanation of what I meant by Americn interests being in danger, stating that I was endeavoring to make it appear that he was plundering or robbing Americans, etc.
I courteously informed him that I did not recognize his right to demand or request of me any explanation of my official conduct, but would, as a personal favor, make the explanation. I then referred him to the fact that the business and interests of all Americans mentioned above were suffering for lack of attention, and that I had claims from other Americans asking for damages for wrongs committed upon their persons and property, and desired that you should come to Honduras to take personal charge of all these matters. I further told Bonilla that I was not treating with him officially, but whatever I said to him was unofficial, and I desired to have his views in order that I might report to you.
Bonilla appeared to be somewhat angry with me, saying that I was making these matters official by communicating with you, and he then and there refused to treat further, leaving matters in statn quo until you should arrive at Tegucigalpa, where he has been expecting you.
The conversation ended quite friendly after Bonilla understood my motives in asking you to come to Honduras. I have had several conversations with him, and I must state, to do him justice, that I do not think he wants to take any unfair advantage of anyone.
He thinks he is right in expelling from his country the men above mentioned, and many of his people are demanding it at his hands.
In addition to the Americans mentioned who were compromised with Vasquez there are some British and German subjects. There is and has been no discrimination that I know of.
As I said above, Bonilla expects you to go to Tegucigalpa, as he told me that he would not treat concerning the cases of the Americans mentioned except it be with someone fully authorized to arrange the question diplomatically.
The mails and telegraphs have been interrupted many times for days in succession. I did not receive a single telegram from Mr. Heyden, notwithstanding he wrote and telegraphed to me that you were here.
I am of the opinion that Mr. Bonilla's officials are to blame for the interruption, and are tampering with both mails and telegraphs.
I wrote you full particulars to Guatemala by the last inail, which, I presume, you will receive on your return. Hoping this report will be satisfactory, I am, etc.,
JAMES J. PETERSON,
U, S. Consul.
Mr. PRINGLE: In addition to the persons mentioned in my letter to-day as being comproinised with Vasquez, and is now in Salvador and can not come back with safety, is Maj. E. A. Burke, late of Louisiana.
Maj. Burke and George S. Scott, of New York, are the de facto owners of the Montserrat mines at Yuscaran, which are now shut down because Burke and Richard Crow, the superintendent, a British subject, are in Salvador. Yours, very truly,
James J. PETERSON. AMAPALA, March 2, 1894.
[Inclosure 2 in No.75.)
Mr. Peterson to Mr. Young.
CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES,
Tegucigalpa, January 30, 1894. Sir: On the 22d instant I sent to you the following telegram:
“ The President returned to Tegucigalpa yesterday. He lost many men and arms in the battle of Choluteca. Salvador has offered men to Honduras. Telegraph me at once if you can secure a war vessel soon. The situation in Ilonduras is serious.”
To-day I forward to you the following telegram: “Enemy attacked Tegucigalpa 23d; bombarded city 26th, without much damage. Shells fell near consulate. Siege continues. Government expects reen forcements. Can not predict results."
Will you please to write me whether or not you receive the telegrams I send to you. I sometimes think that they do not transmit the telegrams I send.
It is now eight days since this city has been besieged by the Nicaraguans. Fighting has been gomg on every day, more or less, since the 23d, but the enemy has not yet entered the city. They gained the heights on the west of the city, from whence they bombarded the town on the 26th, sending about 30 shells into the town. Most of thein fell near this consulate, and had the cannon been elevated a small fraction they would have struck this building, as they struck immediately west of it, within a block. It was a matter of barbarity to shell this part of the city, as the quarters of the soldiers are in another part of the town. The only public building near here is the telegraph office, and that is some tive blocks distaut, and only a few shells fell in or near it.
Since the 26th there has been desultory shooting with cannon and rifles. There has been some rather hard fighting on the south of the city, within 3 miles. The headquarters of the enemy is within 2 leagues of the palace of the Government.
The number of the enemy is estimated from 2,000 to 4,000 men and the Government has here not over 2,000. The Government has been expecting reenforcements from the north for days, but it seems that something is wrong, because they do not
I look upon the situation of the Government as serious, and the enemy, animated by the Choluteca success, are more determined than ever.
An assault upon this city is expected every day, and in my opinion it will eventually be taken.
The Government holds the heights all around the city except on the west. The tactics are something wonderful and pass all understanding.
No mails are permitted to enter or leave, and I can not say when I will be able to send you this letter. Before sending this I will add whatever news there may be of interest. I am, etc.,
JAMES J. PETERSON,
U, s. ('onsul,
FEBRUARY 19, 1894. I can only report in addition that this city is still besieged by the Nicaraguans, and is surrounded on all sides. Cannonading and musketry are heard at all hours of the day and night. No mails enter or leave, and I improve the opportunity of sending this letter by two Americans who leave the city to-morrow by way of the enemy's camp.
The situation of the Government forces in the city is getting very serious for the lack of food supplies, which are becoming very scarce. No assaults are made, but only a continual firing of cannon and rities on all sides.
All hope of reenforcements for the Government has been given up, and it may be many days before relief may come in any shape.
I trust that this letter will reach you, but I have little expectation that it will. When I am able to do so I will report to you more fully.
(Inclosure 3 in No. 75.]
Mr. Peterson to Mr. Young.
CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES,
Tegucigalpa, February 28, 1894. Sir: I have to report to you that on the 24th of February, instant, I sent to you the following telegram: “Revolutionists took Tegucig:ilpa Thursday night. Vasquez escaped with few
Bonilla provisional President. Thirty-one days of siege. Some Americans escaped with Vasquez; all others safe.”
To-day I forward to you the following telegram:
“Can you not arrange to come here and stay a month or two? There are likely to be difficulties, and I consider your presence necessary. Wire me at once."
The mail will likely go ont by way of Puerto Cortez next Saturday. My letter sent on the 19th did not get through.
On the night of the 22d instant the revolutionists took this city, and Bonilla came in on the morning of the 23d as provisional President. All the departments of the Republic are in the hands of the revolutionists, so they say, except Amapala, and news is expected daily of the delivery of that port.
Gen. Vasquez escaped with a small force, in which were several Americans, and now, no doubt, he is in Salvador.
There have been no executions, but Bonilla has informed me that it is his intention to exile all foreigners who fought against him. Some American property has been destroyed or injured, and for these reasons I am very anxious that you come here at once. If your presence was ever needed, now is the time.
I bave had nothing from Washington for two months, nor have I heard from you. No mails have entered or left. Probably the correspondence which has been on the way will arrive some time in the future.
Everything now seems to be quiet, but I am afraid that difficulties will arise as soon as the new Government gets settled down a little. I will add a line on Saturday if anything occurs of interest. I am, etc.,
JAMES J. PETERSON,
(Inclogure 4 in No. 75.)
Mr. Peterson to Mr. Young.
CONSULATE OF THE UNITED STATES,
Tegucigalpa, March 9, 1894. SIR: I have to report to you that yesterday, March 8, I forwarded to you the following telegram: "When will you come here? It is extremely necessary for you to be bere. Telegraph me at once.”
To-day I forward to you two telegrams, as follows:
"Americans who took part in revolution in favor of Vasquez threatened with expulsion. Have received numerous reclamations. Situation urgent. Can you not come here at once? Have received nothing from you. Telegraph me at once and do not delay coming."
"Am informed that this provisional Government has filed complaint against me for becoming witness to a reclamation made by Guatemalan citizen. Do you know anytbing of it! Am strictly conforming to law, and not overstepping my duties. American interests in danger, and your personal presence extremely necessary. Come via Amapala.”
Before going further, I will say that I have frequently telegraphed you, and the telegram from Mr. Pringle, reported in my last letter to you, is the only intimation I have had that anything has been received. Of all my telegrams I have sent you a verification by letter, and if all have not been received someone should be held responsible, because of the principle that diplomatic and consular correspondence should be inviolate.
Now, in explanation of the above telegrams, I have to say:
1. I have received from several American citizens complaints of imprisonment, robbery, and maltreatment, so I have thought that if you would come here and examine these things in person, with the assistance I can give you, their adjustment can be very much simplified and also advanced; therefore I have telegraphed you that it is extremely necessary that you come bere.
2. I have been officially informed, but not in writing, by Policarpo Bonilla, the provisional President, himself, that it is his proposal to expel from his country all Americans who took part in favor of Vasquez. A number of foreigners, among whom are Americans, took part for him. (Bonilla) for whom he showed nothing but “the greatest consideration,” the question resolving itself into “Whose ox has been gored ?” Some of these Americans have property interests in Honduras, which must necessarily suffer if they have to leave. Bonilla says, however, that he will give them a reasonable time to settle up their business. How can a mining business be settled np "in a reasonable time” if that time is not, probably, extended to years instead of months ?
The probable suffering of these interests is another reason why I am anxious for yon to come to Tegucigalpa.
Among the men mentioned as belonging to the above category are J. P. Imboden, E. A. Burke, H. C. Barnbart, Charles Cadalso, and others.
The above, I think, explains my telegrams, and I am anxiously waiting for an answer from you to the effect that you will come here at once.
These people know that I am not in “a diplomatic capacity," and all I do is carefully watched, and probably exceptions will be taken to my actions.
From documents published within the last few days I learn that Bonilla organized bis cabinet as long ago as the 24th of December, 1893, and was recognized by Nica