"… I have received your letter of the eleventh instant with the copy of the Official Gazette enclosed. I thank you very much for the trouble to which you have gone and shall welcome any further material you may obtain. President Roosevelt has asked me to supplement the preliminary reconnaissance which I made in Santo Domingo with a detailed written report. I shall begin work upon this at once and it is very likely that in connection therewith I shall revisit the Island late in the summer.
It will be important for me to remain in as close touch as possible with political and other developments in the Island. You of all persons are qualified to give this information with respect to perhaps the most serious phase. I should , therefore, be very glad indeed, if you could write me from time to time as fully as practicable concerning the situation…"
"… thank you for the documents … viz. the budget, and the list of licenses of the municipality of Monte Cristi. I hope to return to Santo Domingo later in the summer and would be very glad to hear from time to time in regard to any developments that may occur before my return …"
The Dominican Republic, which shared the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, was politically unstable and financially bankrupt when Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States. Unable to pay its national debts, the country faced the threat of military action by France and other European creditor powers. To prevent European intervention (and thus protect the routes to the future Panama Canal, then under construction), Roosevelt, pursuing his own version of the Monroe Doctrine and "Big Stick Diplomacy", assumed a virtual protectorate over the country, guaranteeing its territorial integrity against European intervention, while agreeing to help pay its European debts by taking over the Dominican Customs, the Republic's main source of revenue. With the unstated threat of landing US Marines if necessary, Roosevelt also sent Jacob Hollander, head of the Department of Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University, to the island to make sure that the country put its "financial house in order."
Hollander, descended from German-Jewish immigrants and a leader of the Baltimore Jewish community, had already served President McKinley, Roosevelt's predecessor, by negotiating a monetary agreement with the leading European powers; and by revising the tax laws of Puerto Rico. After writing these letters, he was to spend the next five years in the financial reorganization of the Dominican public debt.
Hollander's correspondent, US Naval Commander Edwards F. Leiper, was serving as Executive Officer of a US Navy warship sent to the Dominican Republic "to protect American interests", when the Admiral commanding naval forces in the Caribbean, of orders from Washington, "peaceably" – with an accompanying Marine guard – installed Leiper as Customs Collector at Monte Cristi, a little town on the northwest coast of the island, on the very day that an armed mob attacked the Customs House. Despite the outrage of the local Dominican Governor, the Admiral made it clear that if any "harm befell" Leiper, he would not hesitate to land a full detachment of Marines. By the time Hollander arrived for his "preliminary reconnaissance", the Dominicans had become angrily accustomed to indefinite US domination (Inventory #: 30782)