No. 15.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Reynolds.

No. 49.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 90, of the 5th of October last. It relates to the question of the right or privilege of affording asylum to citizens or subjects of the government to which a minister maybe accredited, and informs the Department of the refuge taken by Mr. Suariz, a citizen of Bolivia, in your legation, while you were temporarily absent, and of your refusal on your return to grant him asylum.

In reply I have to state that your action in the matter, as set forth in your dispatch, meets with the approval of this Department.

With reference to your request for the views of the Department upon this question, it may be remarked that it has been the universal practice of this Government to discountenance the granting of asylum by its diplomatic and consular officers.

Among other objections to granting asylum to a citizen or subject of a foreign government, I may state that if persons charged with the commission of offenses can be sure of being screened in a foreign legation or consulate, they will be much more apt to attempt the overthrow of authority than if such a place of refuge were not open to them.

The right of asylum to persons charged with the commission of political offenses within a foreign legation or consulate is believed to have no good reason for continuance, to be mischievous in its tendencies, and to tend to political disorder.

These views have been frequently expressed, and while this Government is not able of itself to do away with the practice in foreign countries, it has not failed on appropriate occasion to deprecate its existence and to instruct its representatives to avoid committing it thereto. Upon a recent occasion, occurring in the island of Hayti, where, as represented to the Department, the asylum was forced upon the minister, it was found necessary to give a renewed and emphatic expression to these views.

It is believed that this brief statement of the views of the Department will act as a guide to the legation in the future, should any person seek shelter within its doors, which, however, it is hoped will not be the case, as by so doing it could not result otherwise than as a cause of annoyance and embarrassment to the minister, and tend to bring about questions of a vexatious and troublesome nature, which it is desirable to the interests of the two governments to avoid.

I am, &c.,