Mr. Bassett to Mr. Fish.
Port au Prince, April 9, 1875. (Received April 30.)
Sir: Referring to my No. 353, of the 11th ultimo, in which it is stated that General Lamothe had sought and obtained refuge in the British legation because of an accusation preferred against him by the Corps Legislatif, on the ground that he had not faithfully fulfilled to the state his trust as President Saget’s minister of interior, I have the honor to represent that he was allowed, by a mutual understanding between my colleague, Her Britannic Majesty’s chargé d’affaires, and the authorities [Page 683] of this government, to resume his freedom and return to his home on the 27th ultimo.
After the date of my No. 353, communication, in one form and another, between my colleague and the government relative to the affair continued, but with unsatisfactory results, up to the 16th ultimo. On that day I went to Minister Rameau with my colleague, at his request, and on his representation to me that he wished to have the case presented from a humane point of view and in a friendly spirit. At the interview with the minister my colleague stated our united view of the so-called right of asylum; that it is generally regarded as an exceptional but humane measure, which, if continued at all, ought to be open alike to citizens of all parties in the country, and that when once a person has been received as a refugee in a foreign legation, the rule seemed to be not to deliver him up on requests or demands such as had been made for General Lamothe, without a guarantee for his personal security from irregular proceedings against him. We also intimated to the minister that if his government would formally express its desire and purpose to fairly renounce the so-called right without reference or prejudice to any case actually in hand, it was possible that our governments, in conjunction with any others having legations here, might acquiesce in an understanding to that end. The minister did not appear favorable to this intimation. He said that it raised another question, which his government might not be prepared now to decide, and went on to reiterate with some warmth his view; that the case of General Lamothe was not a political one, and that, therefore, the general was not entitled to the refuge he had obtained from my colleague. The suggestion was then made to him that if the government wished merely, as we inferred from his remarks, to place General Lamothe on trial for an alleged .misappropriation of public moneys, he might be relieved from further refuge in the British legation by entering on his part into security sufficient for the sums alleged to have been misappropriated, and the government, on its part, giving my colleague a guarantee that no irregular proceedings or persecutions should be taken against the ex-minister. This idea seemed to arrest the minister’s attention, and he said he would think well over it. Although during the conversation the minister manifested considerable warmth, and at one time said somewhat vehemently that his government would express itself and claim its rights before Her Majesty’s government in the matter through its legation in London, the interview ended in the utmost good feeling.
In accordance witti the terms of the suggestion above noted, General Lamothe came out from the British legation on the 27th ultimo. I doubt, however, whether he will ever be brought to trial. Nevertheless, I await with some interest the view that Her Majesty’s government may express upon the case, which was early referred to them.
I am, &c.,