Santo Domingo: May 17, 1870.
2 pp. pen and ink, in Spanish, on "Residencia del Ejecutivo" letterhead, affixed at left margin to sheet and mounted with 1869 1 peso note from Banco Nacional de Santo Domingo. 4to (10 x 8 1/4 in.). Fine Item #239274
A fascinating unpublished letter from Buenaventura Báez, President of the Dominican Republic ,concerning the proposed annexation of his country by the United States.
Baéz (1812-1884), who served 5 non-successive terms as president, was a staunch proponent of annexation — seeing it as a solution to his country's financial troubles. Presidents Johnson and Grant were also in favor of annexation, in part because they wanted to establish a military base in Samaná Bay, and in part because, Grant especially, they were goaded by unscrupulous speculators. Congressional opposition to annexation was lead by Charles Sumner, who sensed irregularities in the proposed treaty and who feared encumbering the nation in the midst of Reconstruction.
Baéz writes here to Col. Joseph Fabens just one month before the final Congressional vote on annexation. Fabens (1821-1875), Minister Plenipotentiary of Santo Domingo, was a fierce supporter of annexation, and it is clear from this letter that he was in recent communication with President Grant and Senator Sumner on the issue. "I am highly satisfied to know the good reception that you received from his Excellency President Grant … I am very pleased with the flattering result of your talk with Mr. Sumner …" Baéz pleads his country's case and asks that in the event of further delay in ratification of the treaty of annexation that Fabens intercede on his behalf with Hartmont of London in negotiating a loan to rescue his bankrupt country: "It would be useless to exaggerate the need the country has of seeing ratified the Treaty of Annexation and to end our present provisional status, which is being extended further than we had anticipated ... In the unexpected case that the Treaty will be postponed for a longer period of time, this Government would find itself in the absolute impossibility of maintaining the present situation … it would be very useful that you talk to the Secretary [of the Treasury] about the Hartmont loan with the purpose of removing the inconveniences that lead us to avoid accepting it."
Annexation was ultimately rejected by Congress in June of 1870, falling short of the two-thirds necessary leading Báez to accept the onerous terms of the predatory Hartmont loan. Báez's term ended in 1873, but he again served as president in 1876 until being deposed in 1878. Baéz autograph material is scarce on the market.
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