No. 313.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Bassett.

No. 227.]

Sir: Your dispatches numbered 364 and 365, of the 8th and 19th ultimo, respectively, have been received. They relate to the recent disturbances at Port au Prince, and to persons who have sought an asylum in the legation. It is regretted that you deemed yourself justified by an impulse of humanity to grant such an asylum. You have repeatedly been instructed that such a practice has no basis in public law, and, so far as this Government is concerned, is believed to be contrary to all-sound policy. The course of the diplomatic representatives of other countries in receiving political refugees upon such occasions is not deemed sufficient to warrant this Government in sanctioning a similar step on the part of the representatives of the United States. Among other objections to granting such au asylum it may be remarked that that act obviously tends so far to incite conspiracies against governments, that if persons charged with offenses can be sure of being screened in a foreign legation from arrest they will be much more apt to attempt the overthrow of authority than if such a place of refuge were hot open to them.

Mr. Preston has been here by order of his government to ask that you may be directed to set at large the refugees who have sought your protection. I answered him, however, that though it might have been preferable that you should not have received those persons, it was not deemed expedient to comply with his request. I added that if his government would apply to you for them, in order that they might be tried, you would be authorized to give them up, provided the government gives you its assurance that no punishment shall result from the trial, but that, if convicted, the parties will be allowed, without molestation, to leave the country. If, too, the persons who are with you should themselves or through you offer to surrender to the authorities on the same condition, and should it be acceptable, you will dismiss them.

Your course in this matter will be governed accordingly.

I am, &c.,