The Case of Mr. Waller

October 19, 1895


An ex-Consul was convicted and sentenced to twenty years in prison in Madagascar and the American Ambassador would not help to free him.


We have been of the opinion all along that Ambassador Eustice had not concerned himself about the case of ex-Consul John L. Waller, who was convicted and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment by a French military court in Madagascar.
Subsequent events seem to bear out this conclusion. The Washington Post in its issue of the 15th inst. attempts to defend the action of this French tribunal.
It has argued the matter with evident satisfaction to itself, but certainly not to the satisfaction of that liberal element, who love justice and equity.
No one will be able to explain satisfactorily why the Ambassador to a foreign county was denied the privilege of conferring with a citizen of his country who at one time represented the country itself.
There was a manifest disposition on the part of the French not to permit even an investigation into the merits of the case.
It is not for us – Americans, citizens of the United States to say that Mr. Waller is wrong. It is for the French government to prove him so. The question is, what crime did Mr. Waller commit? Did he receive a fair and impartial trial? Was he guilty of the offense with which he stood charged?
In the midst of the excitement at that time existing in Madagascar, it is not all surprising that he should have been made the victim of passion and sentenced virtually to life imprisonment for an alleged offense which would have really been no offense even in the city of Paris. Let the investigation proceed and let the Secretary of State demonstrate whether or not he is as patriotic and as color-blind as a large proportion of the American people have been led to believe.
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Cord Fox


“The Case of Mr. Waller,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed June 20, 2019,