No. 544.
Mr. Christiancy to Mr. Blaine.

No. 282.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose to you a copy of my letter of the 11th instant to B. H. Kauffman, our consular agent at Pacasmayo, [Page 894] Peru, in reference to the right of Peruvian or Chilian authorities to levy forced or extraordinary contributions upon American citizens, and to say further that those questions are likely to arise almost daily during the Chilian occupation.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 282.]

Mr. Christiancy to Mr. Kauffman.

Dear Sir: I have just received your letter of the 10th January last, with that of April 6, explaining the oversight in not sooner sending the former letter, informing me of the occupation of that province by the Chilian forces; that they have made requisitions upon the municipal authorities for sustenance, and that in the distribution of the quotas the authorities (Peruvian, as I understand it) have made no distinction between foreign neutral property and that of Peruvians, and asking my opinion whether neutrals are obliged to pay contributions thus imposed.

In reply, I have to say that if the contribution is imposed upon the real estate of American or other neutral citizens by the Peruvian authorities, such neutral citizens, so far as relates to such real estate and any taxes or burdens imposed thereon, are to be treated exactly as if they were Peruvians, such real estate and its immediate products, such as crops, partaking of the Peruvian national character. But if the forced contribution in question be imposed upon the person instead of the property of an American citizen, then it is safe for you to take the ground as against such forced or extraordinary contribution, that American citizens are exempt therefrom under the second article of the treaty of September 6, 1870, which, among other things, provides that American citizens “shall not be called upon for any forced loan or extraordinary contribution for any military expedition or for any public purpose whatever.”

There might, it is true, be a possible doubt whether this exemption would apply in behalf of an American citizen domiciled in Peru (that is, residing and having his house in Peru, especially with a family, and without any present intention of removing therefrom).

But whatever doubt there may be upon this last point, it is the safest course for you and for me to insist that the exemption applies as well to American citizens domiciled in Peru as to those who are here for a mere temporary purpose. I advised one American citizen, domiciled in Lima, and upon whom just such a forced contribution was proposed to be levied by the present provisional government here, to take the ground that he was exempt under the treaty. He called upon Mr. Calderon, the head of the provisional government, and took this ground, whereupon Mr. Calderon frankly admitted that he was exempt.

But Chili, having no treaty with the United States, is not bound by the law of nations to treat American citizens, domiciled in Peru, differently from native Peruvians, and may treat them in the same manner, and in some cases (such as the bombardment of a town or a battle in the country) they would not be bound, and in fact, could not make any distinction, though the American citizen might be there for a mere temporary purpose.

But in what is called the “Lynch raid” in September and October last, the Chilian Government had given orders to protect neutral property so far as possible, applying this even to real estate, and, I presume, they have such orders still, and they have quite generally sought to spare it here, further than they were bound to by the law of nations, except at Chorillos, Barranco, and Miraflores.

Finally, I would advise that if any American citizen shall be driven or induced, either by the Peruvian or Chilian authorities, to pay any such contributions, he should pay it under protest made through you, so as to save whatever rights of reclamation he may have.

I will ask you to do me the favor to make a copy of this letter and send it to Mr. Alfred Lapoint, our vice-consul at Chiclayo, and ask him to send a copy to each of our consular agents in his district, viz: Henry C. Smith, at Tumbez; Charles Stalpe, at Lobos de Afuero, and James H. Hayball, at Chimbote.

I am, &c.,