Works of Annie Fields


Diary of a West Indian Island Tour
by
Annie Fields
1896

Part 6

February 10 - 15

Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic


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[ Monday 10 February ]

Monday 10th found us tired and sick at Mayaguez on the island of Puerto Rico -- our first Spanish colony.  We went ashore to find a cool rather clean Spanish Town, looking like a scene in a theatre.  The houses are not unlike in Pompeii,* it seems to us; brick or brick covered with cement which is colored every gay color ^hue^ imaginable.  The hills are very pretty behind the town and we hear that there are some pretty houses also upon their sides; they do not look volcanic like the mountains at Cape Haytien but soft and with scattered foliage.  At C.H. we saw the first real volcanic peaks.  We enjoyed this new glimpse of human life.  The naked Children, the powdered Spanish women, the sweet fresh air, ^the shops where we found some pottery in quaint style^ and came back somewhat invigorated to the "Hermione" where we were still further restored by an excellent dinner.  In the evening the American consul came aboard bringing his mother.*  Such a yacht had never been seen in these waters and the good woman who is a Parisienne but who has  been here for three years was eager for the little pleasure of coming here -- so we showed them everything to their vast entertainment and she told me in turn of the difficulty they found in maintaining life here.  The colored people do not work -- there are only 200 whites and there is neither good beef nor mutton nor vegetables{.}

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Of course this is a complaint which can be made of poor half settled places everywhere, and I offered her the poor consolation of suggesting that she should try to do as the natives do, live on their food, but prepared after the fashion she prefers.  Also the conserving of June apples, etc. -- of which she seems never to have thought.*  In spite of all she misses she has made herself a lovely rose-garden here which gives her great pleasure and she has dogs and cats and chickens and is evidently very busy among them all.  As she spoke no English, the rest of the company was not much edified by the presence of the poor woman and they stayed until our host nearly dropped with fatigue.  However we were stimulated to fresh conversational exertions continually by their evident enjoyment and when they dropped into their boat over the shipside with the dark we had a sense of having given a little pleasure to rather hungry fellow creatures.

 Notes

Puerto Rico -- our first Spanish colony:  Claimed by Christopher Columbus (1450-1506) as a Spanish colony in 1493, Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule until the Treaty of Paris ended the Spanish American War in 1898, ceding Puerto Rico to the United States.

Pompeii:  Precisely what Fields means by comparing the houses of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, to those of Pompeii in Italy is somewhat puzzling, as the houses of Pompeii could be seen mainly as ruins, excavated after being buried in ash in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.  She seems to refer mainly to their construction.  Perhaps this particular association arises from her thinking about the volcanic mountains at Cape Haytien.

Pompeii

Image of Pompeii courtesy of Wikipedia.

American consul came aboard bringing his mother:  The identity of the American consul at Mayagüez in 1896 has not been discovered.  Assistance is welcome.

conserving of June apples:  The term "June apples" usually refers to early season apples that flourish in temperate climates.  However, there are some varieties of apples cultivated in tropical climates.  Whether Fields's suggestion really is practical is unclear.




[ Tuesday 11 February ]

Tuesday 10th*  A cool lovely day in the bay of Mayaguez.  We thought of going ashore but the Captain who went early to market declared there was not a living thing of fresh interest beyond what we saw yesterday{.}  Also a huge pelican has been fishing close beside us.  The climate here is most lovely -- the skies are more or less clouded throwing shadows on the lovely hillsides and making the streets cool.  For eight

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months in the year there is little change.  often there ^But^ in July, the rain descends and for three or four months they must live in a hot steam.  It is said, on the whole, to be a most healthy climate which I can well believe if one could get away from the months of rain.  There appears to be social life in Mayaguez.  They have lately introduced electric lights which make the little place look like a beautiful [unrecognized word, Coronet ?] resting on a mirror after nightfall{.}  They also make artificial ice.

Tuesday 11th [11 appears to be written over 10]  We steam away for San Juan our last station before reaching St. Thomas where we expect to find some letters.

Notes

10th:  Fields has mistaken the date for this entry.  She apparently corrects this in her second entry for the day.

electric lights:  The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority says that electric lighting was introduced to the island in 1893.

artificial iceDr. John Gorrie (1803 -1855) patented the first ice-making machine in the United States in 1851.  For a detailed history of ice-making in the nineteenth century, see J. F. Nickerson, "The Development of Refrigeration in the United States," especially, pp. 170-1, in Ice and Refrigeration, Volume 49, Nickerson & Collins Company, 1915.

San JuanSan Juan is the capital and the largest city in Puerto Rico.  From Mayagüez to San Juan by sea is roughly 125 miles.




[ Wednesday 12 February ]

Wednesday Feb. 12.  Our prospect changed suddenly.  The consul came on board to say that the whole island of Puerto Rico was considered "an infected [port ?]" because of one case of scarlet ^yellow^ fever on San Juan* and we could not get a clean bill of health for St. Thomas but must go into quarantine there for ten days!  This news threw our commander into a sad frame of mind; to be brought cheek by jowl in narrow quarantine [ground ?] with other ships crowded perhaps with sick persons and not to be able to move during that time was not to be thought of for a moment.  Every consul on the island, as far as he could be reached was summoned to advise us, either personally or by telegraph and the result was

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it was considered impossible to proceed.  Then and there it was established that we must return.  No want of spirit in ourselves was the cause; yellow fever quarantine was not to be encountered [partly written over some letters].  We had no very friendly feelings towards Mayaguez when we sailed away!  We thought we might have been warned of this sad result of merely touching on the coast.  The Dr. surely might have told us -- !  We held a long consultation among ourselves prescribing good cheer in spite of this last disappointment and turned the ship's prow soon after sunset back to San Domingo whose skirts we have been coasting as if she were a magnet we could not get away from.  We had a horrid night of sea-sickness -- The severe rolling never giving over until noon Wedy when we suddenly found ourselves as Columbus did! Safe in this quietest of harbors [at ?] the city of Santo Domingo.*

As soon as the rolling stopped and we could look about us, we saw the ship going up a beautiful ^noble^ river* with the most beautiful views imaginable upon its banks; not as grand say our travelled friends as Benares which it resembles, because the river there is a mile and a half wide and here not half a mile, but it has a beauty and a strangeness like no other and is unsurpassed in historical interest.*  The cathedral of 1510,* with its [unrecognized word, Marble ?], and remains of Moorish titles and altars that are almost Byzantine in their suggestions.

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Earthquakes seem to be have spared ^the city of^ San Domingo {.}  Therefore we still see the ruins of the palace built by the son of Columbus, the fort said to have been built by himself* and [deleted word] ^so [deleted word]^ of the earliest fortifications [written over other words].  It is on the whole the most considerable place we have seen.  Grimke is our consul here and goes about with the party.*

Notes

 ^yellow^ fever on San Juan":  Fields seems clearly to write "on San Juan," as if she were speaking of an island rather than the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, their current location.  Yellow fever, according to Wikipedia, "is an acute viral disease. In most cases, symptoms include fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle pains particularly in the back, and headaches. Symptoms typically improve within five days. In some people within a day of improving, the fever comes back, abdominal pain occurs, and liver damage begins causing yellow skin....
The disease is caused by the yellow fever virus and is spread by the bite of the female mosquito." 
   
The one reported case of yellow fever Fields refers to almost certainly was the death on 17 January 1896 of General Gami y Maladen, who was governor-general of the province.  John D. Hall, United States Consul at San Juan, reported this death and added that there had been several others in the city -- see Public Health Reports, Volume 11 (1897), Issues 1-52, p. 194.  Fields and her party apparently feel they are being treated unfairly and, for this reason, minimize the seriousness of the outbreak.  The rough fatality rate for the disease is 15%.  A few deaths indicates about 6-7 times more infections, which may warrant imposing a quarantine.  Though experts were aware in 1896 that mosquitoes probably carried the disease, it was not until 1900 that this knowledge was fully established in the medical community.
    It appears that the Hermione, by leaving Puerto Rico and sailing to the Dominican Republic to evade a quarantine at St. Thomas, risks spreading the fever, though the disease was not unusual in the Dominican Republic.

city of Santo Domingo:  Wikipedia says: "Santo Domingo ... known officially as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic and the largest city in the Caribbean by population."  From San Juan to Santo Domingo is about 250 miles.

^noble^ river:  Wikipedia also says: "Founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1496, on the east bank of the Ozama River and then moved by Nicolás de Ovando in 1502 to the west bank of the river, the city is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas, and was the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World."

    Aldrich published "Santo Domingo," his poem about arriving at this port later in the year: The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, 53 (November 1896),  p. 32:

SANTO DOMINGO

AFTER long days of angry sea and sky,
The magic isle rose up from out the blue
Like a mirage, vague, dimly seen at first,
At first seen dimly through the mist, and then --
Groves of acacia; slender, leaning stems
Of palm-trees weighted with their starry fronds;
Airs that, at dawn, had from their slumber risen
In bowers of spices; between shelving banks,
A river through whose limpid crystal gleamed,
Four fathoms down, the silvery, rippled sand;
Upon the bluff a square red tower, and roofs
Of cocoa fiber lost among the boughs;
Hard by, a fort with crumbled parapet.
These took the fancy captive ere we reached
The longed-for shores; then swiftly in our thought
We left behind us the New World, and trod
The Old, and in a sudden vision saw
Columbus wandering from court to court,
A mendicant, with kingdoms in his hands.

Benares which it resembles:  Benares (Varanasi), India, stands at the mouth of the Ganges River.  The Aldriches had traveled in India in 1895.  Thomas Aldrich summarizes this part of their extended trip in a letter to his twin sons of February 8, 1895 (See Thomas Bailey Aldrich, pp. 186-7).

The cathedral of 1510:  Wikipedia says that the Catedral Santa María La Menor was the first cathedral built in the Americas, begun in 1512 and completed in 1540.  It is not clear why she dates the church to 1510.  Also, the main construction material of the exterior is limestone, rather than marble.

Santa Maria

Catedral Santa María La Menor
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

ruins of the palace built by the son of Columbus, the fort said to have been built by himself:  Wikipedia says "The Alcázar de Colón, or Columbus Alcazar ... is the oldest Viceregal residence in America, and forms part of the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo World Heritage Site. The building houses the Museo Alcázar de Diego Colón... It was built under Diego Colón, the son of Christopher Columbus; when he became Viceroy of La Española and the Indies in 1509, he ordered the construction of a family home and governor’s mansion between 1510 and 1512."  When Fields saw the building in 1896, it was a ruin, but it was restored in the 1950s.
    Wikipedia says: "The Fortaleza Ozama is a sixteenth-century castle built by the Spanish at the entrance to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and overlooking the Ozama River. [It] is the oldest formal military construction of European origin in America."

 
Alcazar

Alcázar de Colón -- after restoration

Ozama

Fortaleza Ozama
Images courtesy of Wikipedia

Grimke is our consul here:  In the second 13 February entry below, Fields reveals that the consul is a nephew of the Grimké sisters, Sarah (1792-1873) and Angelina (1805-1879).  Wikipedia says they "were 19th-century Southern American writers, orators, educators, and Quakers who were the first American women advocates of abolition and women's rights.  Throughout their lives, they traveled to the North, lecturing about their firsthand experiences with slavery on their family's plantation. Among the first American women to act publicly in social reform movements, they were ridiculed for their abolitionist activity."
    Archibald Henry Grimké (1849 - 1930), according to Wikipedia, "was an American lawyer, intellectual, journalist, diplomat and community leader in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A graduate of freedmen's schools, Lincoln University and Harvard Law School, he later was appointed as American Consul to the Dominican Republic from 1894 to 1898....  Grimké was born into slavery near Charleston, South Carolina in 1849. He was the eldest of three sons of Nancy Weston, an enslaved woman of European and African descent, and her master Henry W. Grimké, a widower. They lived in a common-law relationship, and Grimke recognized his sons."

Grimke

Archibald Henry Grimké
Image courtesy of Wikipedia




[ Thursday 13 February ]

Thursday Feb. 13th  We were awakened by the market cries close at hand on the river bank; the morning making every ^thing^ beautiful once more.  The Captain passed my door bringing with him a red-snapper fish,* shining with color -- silver and pink; the colored people in their dug-outs (like giant wooden shoes) are moored at the bank bringing sugar-cane, wood, tufts of green fodder and a little fruit now a{nd} then -- to market.  In exchange they seem to bring bags of potatoes, or yams and demijohns or bottles suggestive of native rum.  I feel inwardly grateful that the project of annexation was never carried out and rejoice that Sumner carried the day;* -- a most difficult matter, standing almost alone -- his foes being those of his own household.  Dr. Howe, A. D. White & Fred­k Douglass being the committee chosen by Grant to who reported against him -- not to speak of nearly every republican in the house.  Our party went ashore to be presented to the President (Hourau ^Heurepeux^ ˅called Houro ˅ seems like his name -- a negro ^brown man^, but a man of some power who has held his place for 15 years)* --  The seeing of Santo Domingo is a great compensation to our disappointed party and every little corner of the small place will be enjoyed before we leave{.}

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It is an endless shifting scene of interest put before one on the shore{.}  The green tufts of fodder, chiefly it seems to me{,} the leaves of the sugar cane giving a fresh vivid green as inviting to my eyes as to the palate of the horses or cattle -- The sky is softly clouded -- the air cool and soft, and I could find it in my heart to regret not having gone ashore with the rest, if repose were not so dear to this stone-tired mariner!

When the party returned they gave a glowing description of the reception at the palace of the President.  He is not an African.  The people here being descendants of the ancient race originally inhabiting this island -- they were called the books say, Lucayans.  He has restored a square containing, when he took it the ruins of Spanish buildings and has made an imposing home and garden -- the latter containing 200 [deleted word] dollars worth of plants (hardly more than one hundred of our dollars by the way of our money) in order to bring variety and new beauty into this climate where everything grows with so great ease.  There seems to be very little if any imported labor here.  So far as any labor is done the people do it.  His ^[Past ?] Heurault's^ pastoral dignity and his manner of using our language delighted the party.  He was most courteous as well as kind -- and accepted an invitation to dine the next day upon the yacht, which was however deferred until Friday -- He has evidently the true power of governing and devotes himself body and soul to the development of his

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race.  They brought flowers back to the ship and a sense of having visited a new world while seeing this man.  They also saw the glass box containing the bones of Columbus.*

 Notes


red-snapper fishWikipedia says: "The northern red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, is a species of snapper native to the western Atlantic Ocean including the Gulf of Mexico, where it inhabits environments associated with reefs. This species is commercially important and is also sought-after as a game fish."

snapper 
Northern red snapper
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Sumner carried the day … Dr. Howe, A. D. White & Fred­k Douglass ... Grant
:  Fields refers to President Ulysses S. Grant's failed attempt to annex the Dominican Republic in 1869, with the promise of eventual statehood.  His stated purposes included securing an independent but weak nation from occupation by a European power. Senator Charles Sumner was among the leading opponents of the proposal, arguing that the treaty would have the effect of enriching American business at the expense of propping up a corrupt local government.  Further, he feared that this was a preliminary to annexing neighboring Haiti, "a Black republic."  Wikipedia says that after the initial failure of the treaty,"President Grant was able to get Congress to allow an investigation commission to be sent and make an objective assessment as to whether annexation would be beneficial to both the United States and the Dominican Republic. The Commission, sent in 1871, included [as secretary] civil rights activist Frederick Douglass and reported favorably on the annexation of the Dominican Republic to the United States. The Commission, however, failed to generate enough enthusiasm in the Senate to overcome opposition to Dominican Republic annexation. The whole affair never took into account the wishes of the Dominican people who desired to remain independent."  See Dominican Republic: Report of the Commission of Inquiry to Santo Domingo by Benjamin Franklin Wade (President), Andrew Dickson White, Samuel Gridley Howe.

HeurepeuxWikipedia says: "Ulises Hilarión Heureaux Leibert (1845 - 1899) was president of the Dominican Republic from 1 September 1882 to 1 September 1884, from 6 January to 27 February 1887 and again from 30 April 1889 until his assassination, maintaining power between his terms."  The self he presents to the Hermione party proves questionable throughout their interactions.  Though he claims primary descent from Lucayans, who inhabited the Bahamas when Europeans arrived, Wikipedia says that his ancestors are known to be of French and African slave ancestry.  While it is possible that he believed that one or more of his ancestors were Lucayan, this has not yet been documented.
    Of his government, Encyclopedia Britannica says:
Heureaux imposed order on the Dominican Republic by executing anyone who opposed him. Relative peace during his regime encouraged agriculture and trade and especially the growing of sugar, which became the country’s chief export. Under Heureaux, the economy improved, the infrastructure was modernized, and political order was established -- but at the price of dictatorship and corruption. His improvident dealings with the San Domingo Improvement Company of New York -- which floated loans, built railways, and took over the collection of customs -- left the country bankrupt and led to interference in the country’s affairs by the United States after Heureaux was assassinated by political enemies.
See also Wikipedia, History of the Dominican Republic.
    An interesting comparison with Fields's account of Heureaux is Frances L. Wills, "Heureaux and his Island Republic," in The National Magazine vol. 10, 1899, pp. 565-71.  Wills characterizes Heureaux as a ruler who assumed absolute power: "Strong, handsome as a typical black man can be, without the ordinary vices of drinking and smoking; but preserving one or more seraglios in various parts of his little empire, ... ready to slay without mercy, and still, in a way, honest in his beliefs and generous to strangers...." (564).  She says he often repeats his idea that "It is impossible to govern these people as you govern in the United States.  The black man can only be ruled by fear and the half-breed is even more treacherous" (564).  He was averse to foreign travel, saying, "Here I am general, president, everything -- in your New York or Boston I would only be a Negro" (565).
    It seems clear that, while white observers see him as African of mixed ancestry and he acknowledges that this would be the case were he to visit the United States, still he presents himself to the Hermione party as significantly different from "the black man" and "the half-breed."

    Fields's rendering of his name illustrates her somewhat frequent guessing about spellings of unfamiliar words.
   
restored a square
Dominica on Line / Architecture list significant 19th-century buildings in Santo Domingo:
    "Residence of Ulysses Heureaux (Residencia de Ulises Heureaux). Located at 204 Las Mercedes Street. Modified Colonial. Lower doorways and windows of equal dimensions, descending to the floor. Vertical straight lines with rosettes in their centers. Simply framed upper doorways and windows. Continuous ironwork balconies on wood beams."
    "San Nicolas de Bari Hospital (Hospital San Nicolás de Bari). Construction finished in 1522. The Dictator Ulysses Heureaux turned it into his private pasture. Corner of Hostos and Luperón Streets."
    Heureaux's palace is now Casa de las Academias ... or Casa de Lilis at the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña: "Seat of the Academies of History, the Language and the Medicine.... This house was constructed in 2 different centuries{;} thus the different styles. It was occupied by President Ulises Hereaux (Lilis). Later remodeled by Manuel Maria Gautier to add the balcony and the iron railings in the French tradition.  It has also been the home of Receptoria de Aduana / customs receiving, Banco Central / Central bank, Logia Masónic/ a Masonic lodge among others."

President's Palace

Heureaux's Residence
Image from Wills, p. 568.


the bones of Columbus:  According to Bess Lovejoy's "The Scattered Bones of Columbus," in  Lapham's Quarterly (October 15, 2013), the bones of Christopher Columbus were believed to have been discovered during renovation of the Santo Domingo cathedral in 1877.

Bones of Columbus

Casket in which Columbus's bones were thought to be found
Image from Frances Wills,  p. 566.



[ Thursday 13 February 2nd entry for this day ]

Thursday Feb. 13.  Took an exquisite drive through the city out to a ruined fort and the bathing place [Guiba ?] -- called [Wiva ?].*  nothing could be more picturesque -- the fort is nearly as old as the earliest occupation by Columbus -- The waves were beating up to its feet as it has been doing for centuries, but it is now draped with [deleted letter] vines, and the little "tourelles" are crumbling.*  They were sentry-boxes and Mr. Grimke our consul (the nephew of the celebrated ladies connected with the Antislavery times who came to New England to live)* said that one day returning to one of these places and shutting himself in for a moment after the gay party he was with, had departed, he discovered a bit of candle laid up above the window which the last sentry had put there.  He carried it to a student of archaeology who said the candle was at least two hundred years old [written over another word].  On our return we stopped at a little restaurant as we say, back a little from the road under cocoa-palms and drank some cocoa-nut water -- from the freshly gathered nut.  It was, to us, very pleasant and refreshing.  A.F. & S.O.J.  Mr. Pardo, the German agent of the Clyde Line of steamships* dined with us and told us of the bravery and character of the President. He is endeavoring to pass a law now by which the President ^he^ ^[ Two unreadable words may be inserted below the line. ]^ may 

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be re-elected as often as the people wish instead of going out after a term of years as the plan is with us* -- He is so important a person here where it is quite unlikely his equal can be found to succeed him that the welfare of his people appears to demand his continuance in office.  Mr. Pardo is one of the useful men of this world{,} knowing his work and his place thoroughly.  Mr. Pierce expressed sincere admiration for him and said he had usually found the German officials remarkably well fitted to be useful in the situations they attempt to fil {fill}.  Unhappily we cannot say this always of our people.  Grimke does not speak the Spanish of the country although he has been here 15 months.


 Notes

ruined fort: Fortaleza Ozama in the old colonial section of Santo Domingo.  See photo above, which shows the more recent restoration.

[Guiba ?] -- called [Wiva ?]:  It seems likely that Fields is reporting what she heard rather than read about these locations.  Playa de Guibia and Playa Viva Dominicus are beaches on the western side of Santo Domingo.

Mr. GrimkeWikipedia says the Grimké sisters, Sarah (1792-1873) and Angelina (1805-1879), "were 19th-century Southern American writers, orators, educators, and Quakers who were the first American women advocates of abolition and women's rights.  Throughout their lives, they traveled to the North, lecturing about their firsthand experiences with slavery on their family's plantation. Among the first American women to act publicly in social reform movements, they were ridiculed for their abolitionist activity."
    Archibald Henry Grimké (1849 - 1930), according to Wikipedia, "was an American lawyer, intellectual, journalist, diplomat and community leader in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A graduate of freedmen's schools, Lincoln University and Harvard Law School, he later was appointed as American Consul to the Dominican Republic from 1894 to 1898....  Grimké was born into slavery near Charleston, South Carolina in 1849. He was the eldest of three sons of Nancy Weston, an enslaved woman of European and African descent, and her master Henry W. Grimké, a widower. They lived in a common-law relationship, and Grimke recognized his sons."
    See above notes for February 12.

 Pardo : Fields's spelling of this name seems to vary between "Pardo" and "Prado." In 1903, a Mr. L. Pardo, German agent of the Clyde Steamship line in Santo Domingo, was involved in discussions about unloading the cargo of a Clyde steamship  during an insurrection. See PapersRelating to the Foreign Relations of the United States (1904), p. 396 ff.

 

Heureaux

Ulises Hilarión Heureaux Leibert
from Wills, p. 567

re-elected as often as the people wish:According to Encyclopedia Britannica (see above), Heureaux succeeded in making this change, which allowed him to rule without interruption until he was assassinated.At this time in the United States, a President could be reelected repeatedly, but none had yet served more than 2 successive 4-year terms.

 

 [ Friday 14 February ]

Friday 14th  St. Valentine's days! And we did not know until night that the President was our Valentine.  We went shopping in the morning --  The heat was great before we returned, but we bought Madras handkerchiefs such as the women wear on their heads, to carry home our other useful things.*  In the afternoon, Mr. Prado [ intended Pardo? ] accompanied us to the great sugar factory.*  It was very hot, and dusty with coal on the Hermione and we were glad enough to be pushed off out towards the sea to the point opposite the fortification whence we  could feel the refreshing air and could see the whole city below and opposite.  As we stood there a dark rider came up the hill with Sword and Spurs and jumping from his horse saluted us all in a charming manner and showed us over a part of the establishment until meeting the engineer he introduced him to us and vanished as suddenly as he appeared.*  He was a

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French officer who had been here only about two years but he was very dark and might be now easily mistaken for a handsome Lucayan.  Returning to the ship we found everything in a high state of preparation for receiving the President to dinner.  He was to come about six o'clock and the boat was sent for him punctually.  At the same moment our boat touched the wharf we saw a stately figure accompanied by Mr. Grimke* walking up the pier and another boat white full of dark men draw up.  It was the President's boat into which he stepped and in a few moments was received at the Hermione, first by Mr. Pierce and Mr. Aldrich at the land side of the ship and afterward by the ladies in the forward cabin.  He was in full dress with a straw hat of finest and most exquisite palm-leaf ^manilla or palmetto^ such as used to be considered the finest thing (they have always been the most expensive) which gentlemen could wear in the [summer ?].*  His diamonds were magnificent and his shirt embroidered.  His manners a little stiff at first, and I did not discovered until we came to the table, that one arm was utterly disabled the elbow joint being stiff.*  Anything more interesting than his conversation however would be impossible to find -- He ended just before we left the table by speaking of Cuba. He is inclined to believe that the day of Spain is over. The people are already conquerors in the interior and are approaching Havana. Spain will soon be compelled to retire to her coast defenses and she is sure to be driven thence in two years or sooner.* Of course if the [she has been changed to the] ^Cubans^ are recognized

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by the great powers they will triumph all the sooner.

     "Do these island republics take the part of Cuba?" some one asked.

     "I will tell you a little tale of a camel,{"} he said, "if you will allow me -- a camel greatly overladen who lamented his sad fate. {'}I am bent to the earth,{'} he said, {'}everything is heaped upon me and I feel as if I could never rise again under such a load. {'} Upon his pack was seated a flea who heard the lament of the camel. Immediately the flea jumped to the ground. {'}See! {'} he said, {'}now rise, I have relieved you of my own weight. {'}" --

"Thank you, Mr. Elephant," said the camel, ^as he glanced at the flea hopping away.^ The recognition of these islands would help Cuba about as much," he answered  ^added^ laughingly.

 The President is a very abstemious man, eating little meat at any time and drinking no champagne, no coffee and using for himself no delicacies.  His luxury is his garden of which he is fond and says he is his own gardener -- at least to the extent of cutting his own flowers when and how he wished, as our company discovered when they visited him.  His house too was a pattern of cleanliness in strange contrast to everything else although San Domingo is certainly much cleaner than Port au Prince and quite different in the spirit of its people. 

The President is the son of a Haytien soldier

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and he had seen wonderful changes he said even during his own life.  As a little boy at school they had only one lesson book out of which the children copied what they had to learn until his father bought another book for him for which he paid four dollars.  It would seem that his parents must have owned some property because he spoke with great sorrow of the man who had tried to make money out of his poor island, as indeed from the moment of the Spanish occupation seems to have {been?} the only idea of its governors.    He said when the day he took his seat as President they were so poor that he was obliged to take fifty dollars from his ^own^ pocket to buy pens, ink{,} paper books to make the proper furnishing of the desk so that records could be made.  Also he has given a large tract of land on the Samana bay to an American Fruit Coy for the cultivation of the same including a plantation of 200,000 Bananas of his own which they cultivate and send him the returns.

The wonder is as one talks with him, how this man has learned to be the finished gentleman, the scholar, the statesman, that he is, without ever having left his own soil.  He has never seen any other place.  "I might perhaps be somewhat discouraged he said, if I should see

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your rich and beautiful land.  as it is I do what I can to educate and develop my people{.}"  I told him I had observed a carpenter's school for the children here -- Yes he said it is carried on, on the apprentice system and those boys are excused from serving in the army unless there should be some occasion for national defense.  How many troops have you we asked.  Five thousand he replied -- The Haytiens have have [repeated word] thirty thousand, -- but in the long future I trust by careful markings of our boundaries to settle all quarrels between us until eventually we may become one people and there will be no danger of wars between us."  His English all this time was most carefully selected, his speech being rather slow but never dragging -- [deleted word] slow from the selection of phrases which was going on in his mind -- "I translate all the time I speak with you he said" of course he has few opportunities to speak English -- not enough to learn to think in it, as some Frenchman said was the test of knowing a language!

It appears that when he learns of any uprising or dissatisfaction at any quarter of the island that he goes to the place at once, learns

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the true cause of the [deleted word] trouble, nips it in the bud and thus far has always succeeded in preventing further [written over greater?] spread of it.  He is indeed the government.  There is a congress but one which works according to his suggestions  Mr. Pardo said, in order to satisfy the people{,} if any serious questions come up he would send for five members to come to see him and would represent to them the point he wished to carry.  If he succeeded in making sure that these men would vote on his side, he would then send for three others who were likely to be disaffected and feeling pretty sure of them the question could then be argued in Council and yet he would carry the vote.

After dinner he did not smoke but again examined parts of the yacht which interested him.  He had never seen the electric fan before and probably many other things were new to him of which he did not speak.  While he was taking this tour with Mr. Pierce, Mr. Aldrich took up his cane and discovered a long sharp sword in the sheath.  It appears that he goes always heavily armed.  Very soon after his return to us he took his leave.  His black boatmen in a long boat covered with white sail inside upon which their bare feet rested -- the light high in the prow, the fine figure of the President, as he stepped into it and rowed away, has left a picture in our

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 minds which will remain there.  His grace, including toasts at dinner, ^which took^ [taking ?] the form of short addresses, was delightful{.}

 

Notes

Madras handkerchiefsMadras is a light cotton cloth, often with colorful patterned or plaid designs, used for summer clothing.

the great sugar factoryRichard Haggerty describes the early development of the sugar industry in the Dominican Republic: 
Columbus introduced sugarcane to Hispaniola, but sugar plantations did not flourish in the Dominican Republic until the 1870s, much later than on most Caribbean islands. Investment by United States sugar companies, such as the United States South Porto Rico Company and the Cuban-Dominican Sugar Company, rapidly transformed the Dominican economy. These companies had established themselves by the 1890s, and between 1896 and 1905 sugar output tripled. During the United States occupation (1916- 24), the sugar industry expanded further, acquiring control of major banking and transportation enterprises.
sugar mill

Sugar mill, possibly in Santo Domingo
Image from Shorey, p. 36

A. C. Shorey, "Resources of the Future in the Dominican Republic," p. 36 in  The Americas, v. 3,  National City Bank of New York (1916), indicates that in 1916, there were three major sugar operations with mills in Santo Domingo: Italia, San Isidro, and San Luis.  The San Luis mill was on the west side of the Ozama, as was the Fortaleza Ozama, and therefore, not the mill the Hermione party visited at this time, though it may be the one they visited the next day.  I have not been able to determine whether one of remaining two is the factory the party tours on 14 February.  Ownership and names of sugar companies changed often before the turn of the century.  Further information is welcome.

Sword and Spurs:  Though it seems odd that the dark rider actually carries a sword, this is confirmed when either he appears again or his twin does in the February 15 entry.  Capitalizing Sword and Spurs evokes the ceremony of investing a candidate for knighthood, which typically included presenting him spurs and sword.  Fields implies, then, that the rider seems like a knight.

Mr. Grimke: See above, notes for 12 February.

straw hat:  The hat probably is made from Manila hemp, which is also the color of manila envelopes.

one arm was utterly disabled the elbow joint being stiffIn Ulises Heureaux (1996), Fernand Lanore indicates that in his military career, Heureaux received a number of wounds, including one that disabled his right hand (p. 8).

The people are already conquerors in the interior and are approaching Havana:  Heureaux's description of the Cuban situation is accurate, though his prophecy is not.  Wikipedia says: "In a successful cavalry campaign .... the revolutionaries invaded every province [of Cuba]. Surrounding all larger cities and well-fortified towns, they arrived at the westernmost tip of the island on January 22, 1896...."

camel and the flea:  The President offers a revised version of the Aesopian fable of "The Camel and the Flea":
A Flea, chancing to sit on the back of a Camel who was going along weighed down with heavy burdens, was quite delighted with himself, as he appeared to be so much higher. After they had made a long journey, they came together in the evening to the stable. The Flea immediately exclaimed, skipping lightly to the ground: " See, I have got down directly, that I may not weary you any longer, so galled as you are." The Camel replied: " I thank you; but neither when you were on me did I find myself oppressed by your weight, nor do I feel myself at all lightened now you have dismounted."
    He who, while he is of no standing, boasts to be of a lofty one, falls under contempt when he comes to be known.
    From Terence. The Comedies of Terence and the Fables of Phaedrus. 1887. Reprint. London: Forgotten Books, 2013. 469-70.

son of a Haytien soldier:  While the information about Heureaux in notes above confirms that his father was Haitian, it has not been confirmed that he was a soldier.  Lanore says that little is known of his parents, of whom he was a "natural" child.  Furthermore, during most of his childhood, he did not live with them (pp. 9-10). 

a large tract of landSamaná Bay, in the eastern Dominican Republic, is north of Santo Domingo.  The Samaná Bay Fruit Company formed in the 1870s under the leadership of Julius H. Preston (1829-1899), who became its president, according to American Biography: A New Cyclopedia, Volume 10, edited by William Richard Cutter, (Section 29).  Lanore says that Heureaux's banana concessions of 1896 to this company and to Romana Bay Fruit, like most of his business dealings, were means of funding his extravagant spending and helped bring about his assassination within a few years (pp. 49-50).



[ Saturday 15 February ]

Sat. Feb. 15 -- before breakfast this morning two young messengers, colored of course, from the President, speaking English perfectly came on board bringing us gifts from their Chief -- One brought a live mongoose* in a cage and one a silver tray covered with the most magnificent flowers.  I took the leaves and flowers out, almost one by one, to examine their strange and wonderful beauty, leaving on the centre of the table, for dinner, a sea of roses.

We went ashore later and bought Madras handkerchiefs ^again^ and saw the shops, and in the afternoon when it was cooler climbed the hill near by to see the sugar works.*  We were glad enough to get out of the ship where they were coaling -- coal having been sold to us by the Clyde line of steamers under the auspices of two Jews for more than twice the price it costs at home.  Our commander is not a mean man nor does he haggle at trifles, but he simply mentioned this as an instance of the injustice which men inflict upon others sometimes when they have them at disadvantage.

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We could not go without the coal and the Clyde Line of steamers had it to sell with the permission of the President upon which they threw the ordering of the transaction but Mr. Pierce was wise enough to see that it was extremely unlikely that the President had anything to do with the price of the coal.  The disagreeable Jews who had the matter in hand were enough to account for the detail.*

On the hill of the sugar factory which was on one of the outmost points of the harbor we could look across to the opposite point where the old fort stands and see all the vine-covered cliff-side with its most picturesque buildings sloping down into the city.  The air was cool and the scene a lovely one.  A French gentleman, dark now as the native people showed us over the sugar factory.  He was in working costume with white jacket a{nd} trousers, sword and spurs; but he was manly and interested us much -- soon however he introduced us to the engineer and took his leave.  We should like to see him again; he seems like a gentleman doing manfully a stiff bit of work laid out for him here - /

Went to sea at night, coasting again toward westward; a bad night; very heavy seas breaking over the vessel, but no storm thank god!  The seas were bad enough without

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the excitement of a storm.  There was very little sleep and when a wave slopped down into our state-rooms we were rather uncomfortable as to our surroundings.  The men in the fo'castle were wet through and some of them are sick in consequence with cold and fever beside sea-sickness.


Notes

mongooseWikipedia says "Mongoose is the popular English name for 29 of 34 species in the 14 genera of the family Herpestidae, which are small carnivores that are native to southern Eurasia and mainland Africa."  They are an introduced species in the Caribbean.  In a letter of February 18, Jewett says:  "The President gave us a mongoose in a cage at San Domingo & we had great fun with it at first but it drooped under sea faring so today the chief engineer & a 'boy' rowed ashore and let him out. Bridget is quite bereft."

sugar works:  See notes for 14 February.  The remarkable similarity of the two accounts Fields gives on February 14 and 15 for touring a sugar factory creates some confusion.  Does she describe two different tours on subsequent days?  Or does she describe the same tour twice?

disagreeable Jews:   This incident is mysterious in several ways.  Was the price of coal artificially high in Santo Domingo in February of 1896?  Did the Hermione have to pay more than the current local rate for its coal?  To what extent were the two "disagreeable Jews" responsible for the price?  Why does Pierce believe that, even though the President exercises some control over the sale of coal, he could not be responsible for what they are charged?  As they have an agent of the Clyde company at hand in Mr. Pardo, why is he not part of this discussion?
    The final question is not answerable, but it sheds light upon the others, because the Hermione party apparently did not pursue it, indicating that they were satisfied with their own conclusion that the agreeable President
Heureaux hardly could have allowed his guests to have to pay more than twice the price they would be charged at home.  Therefore, the "disagreeable Jews" must be responsible for price-gouging.
    Authoritative numbers are difficult to obtain, but various sources available on-line provide some reasonably reliable facts about coal transactions at the turn of the 20th century.   

- While the 320 ton Hermione's coal capacity is not known, a fair guess is that she could carry about 50 tons, based on the Sunbeam, a contemporary 532 ton yacht, which carried 80 tons of coal.
- Coal exported from the United States to the West Indies in 1896 earned the sellers about $3.50/ton.
- At about the same time, coal for home heating in New York sold at retail for about $4.50 / ton.
- Commercial Relations of the United States with Foreign Countries during the years 1896 and 1897  v. 1, p. 762, says that hard and soft coal imported to the Dominican Republic from England and the United States sold for $12-13 / ton.
- The Report of the Isthmian Canal Commission, 1899-1901, says that imported British coal was selling elsewhere in the world in the range of $5.83 to $6.85 / ton in 1900.

If these facts are accurate, it is clear that the price of coal in the Dominican Republic was artificially high.  However, if it is literally the case that Pierce paid close to twice as much in Santo Domingo than he paid at home in Boston, his fuel would have cost him close to $9 / ton, which is less than 75% of the local current rate of $12-13 / ton.  If he purchased a full 50 tons, he would pay $225 in New York,  up to $343 for English coal at other world ports, $450 at twice the home price in Santo Domingo, and $650 at the maximum price given in the Commercial Relations document.
    It seems reasonably likely that Pierce and his party failed to understand the coal market in Santo Domingo and that, in fact, they should have understood it better.  Clearly, it was a monopoly.  Only the Clyde shipping line was authorized to sell coal to retail customers.  Only the President had the authority to establish and maintain this monopoly.  Though Pierce did not understand or appreciate the magnificent corruption of the
Heureaux regime, it should have been plain that the government's arrangement with the Clyde line stood to benefit Heureaux and the company.  Assuming that the "disagreeable Jews" were employees rather than owners of the Clyde line, their personal benefit from the transactions would likely be minimal.
    Since Pardo was also a Clyde line agent, he might well have been less than frank had he been asked about the coal market, but he may also have been able to point out what seems to be the case in this transaction, which is that the President may have personally approved a discount from the current retail price for the party that had treated him so graciously at dinner.
    President
Heureaux's charm seems to have immunized Pierce and his party against the racial stereotypes that might easily have led them to accept the coal merchants' claims that the President was responsible for the Clyde line taking advantage of their need to purchase coal at this time.  They could blame the duplicity and greed of a typical American Black man who has been "given an inch," or of the habitually corrupt Black islanders, but instead they turn to the Shylock stereotype of the Jew who enjoys exacting all that the market will bear when given an advantage, even if this brings him no personal gain. Fields, Jewett and Thomas Bailey Aldrich were generally above this petty sort of thinking, but during a tense time of their cruise and when they believe they are being misused, the anti-Semitic stereotype takes its bow.

       


Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.
The original of this diary is in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society.  My copy is from a microfilm, available courtesy of the University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence Kansas:  Annie Adams Fields Papers 1852-1912. Folio PS 1669.F5 Z462 1986, Reel 2.



 
Works of Annie Fields