GRANT, Ulysses S. Autograph draft message as President to the U.S. Senate, Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C., 11 January 1871. 4 pages, 4to, ruled paper, first four lines in pencil, the remaining 41 lines in ink, two small punctures at center of each sheet, likely from a paper spike. In a half morocco slipcase.
A CONFIDENTIAL MESSAGE ON THE CONTROVERSIAL PROPOSAL TO ANNEX THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
"In view of a proclamation having been published in newspapers... purporting to eminate [sic] from Cabral, a chieftain who now opposes the Constitutional authorities of the Republic of Santo Domingo, I deem it but just to communicate to the Senate of the United States the views of that Chieftain, and his followers, as voluntarily communicated by him, through the U. S. Minister to the Republic of Hayti [sic] last. It will be observed by the letter of Minister Bassett that Cabral did not wish his views to be made public before the question of Annexation was disposed of, in a way to work prejudice to his interest. But as the object which Cabral had clearly in view was to declare to the treaty making power of the United States, his views and those of his followers upon the subject of Annexation of the Republic of Santo Domingo, and as the Senate is a branch of that power, I deem it no breach of confidence to communicate this letter to the Senate. I ask however that it may be read in Executive Session, and that the request of Cabral be observed 'so that in no case they should be made public or used against him until the question of Annexation is disposed of.'"
José Marie Cabral was a former Dominican President forced into exile by the current rulers (led by President Buenaventura Baéz). In spite of continuous violent turmoil among the nation's ruling clique, Dominican leaders welcomed Grant's plan to annex their nation. Motivated mainly by the multi-million dollar payments that would be part of any deal, Baéz negotiated a treaty in 1869 which was ratified by the Dominican people in a popular referendum the following year. But Charles Sumner created strong opposition in the American Senate. He objected to Grant's principal motive for the annexation: creating a haven where black Americans could live in peace from white attack. Far better, Sumner thought, to achieve racial equality at home instead of forcing blacks to move to a new, unfamiliar island. Another strong factor in opposition was the notion that "Santo Domingo" as Grant, Sumner and many others referred to the Republic, had been the sight of a historic black-led revolution in 1803. To undo that revolution by making the country a U. S. state or protectorate would betray the cause of emancipation and abolitionism. Finally, many Southerners as well as some Northern Senators objected on racist grounds to allowing a large black and mulatto population of Dominicans to become American citizens. The treaty went down to defeat in the Senate, to Grant's bitter disappointment. The "Minister Barrett" referred to by Grant is Ebenezer Barrett (1833-1908), the first black American to serve in the diplomatic corps.