to Mr. Dichman.
Washington , May 12, 1879.
Sir: Your dispatch No. 58, of the 17th of March last, has been received. It relates to the right of transport claimed by this government across [Page 285] the Isthmus of Panama, pursuant to the thirty-fifth article of the treaty between the United States and New Grenada of the 12th of December, 1846. The protocol which accompanies the dispatch, and which embodies the results of your conferences with the minister for foreign affairs upon the subject is approved. It is regarded as creditable to your prudence and skill and a proof of a liberal view on the part of that government of its obligations under the treaty, and of the heavy contingent liability which those obligations impose upon the United States. Perhaps, however, the third article of the protocol may have scarcely been necessary.
It is well known that almost always a civil officer is sent abroad to receive a prisoner whose extradition may be demanded. Usually he adopts sufficient precautions to prevent the escape of the prisoner after he shall have received him into custody. The same course would probably be sufficient for carrying prisoners across the Isthmus of Panama. It might, therefore, have been preferable if the third article had at least left it optional to require national or State troops as a guard. Such a requisition might seldom be made except there should be cause to fear a rescue.
I am, &c.,