No. 272.
Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. West.

Sir: In 1878 and 1879 correspondence was had between your legation and this Department touching the claim of the Colombian Government that the custody of the papers of foreign vessels should lie with the local port officers, and not with the consul of the vessel’s nation. As this Department has advised your legation of the steps taken then and subsequently which led to the abrogation of the obnoxious Colombia law on which the practice was founded, it seems proper to now acquaint you with the circumstance that further correspondence on this subject has taken place at Caracas, by reason of the reported action of the authorities of Panama in continuing to require shipmasters to procure, at great delay and expense, collateral certificates from the various officers of the port that the vessel owes them nothing before permitting her clearance to be granted. The result, so far, has been the expression of the belief of the federal Government of Bogota that no local edict of the State of Panama exists, or, if it exists, that it can have no effect whatever at variance with the Colombian “law 109 of 1880.”

I have, &c.,