No. 46.

Mr. Hall to Mr. Frelinghuysen .

No. 316.]

Sir: On the 28th ultimo I was informed that the Nicaraguan Government proposed to arrest and remove from on board of the Pacific Mail Company’s steamer Honduras, then lying in the port of San Juan del Sur, a passenger in transit for Panama. No other particulars were given me, except that the passenger in question was a Nicaraguan named José Dolores Gomez, and that he was one of those who were implicated in the recent insurrectionary movement in Nicaragua, which I reported to the Department in my No. 254, of the 3d of September ultimo, from Managua. Gomez had been ordered to the Mosquito Reserve; from there he came to Guatemala and embarked at San Jose, as I first understood for Panama, but have since learned that it was for Punta Arenas.

Upon learning of the attempt referred to, I instructed our consul at Managua by telegraph “to say respectfully to the Nicaraguan minister for foreign affairs that our Government has never consented, and will never consent to the arrest and removal from an American vessel in a foreign port of any passenger in transit, much less if the offense is political.”

I had in mind the many cases of this kind which occurred at Havana during the Cuban insurrection and in every case, with one exception, where the Department was consulted as to the surrender of the party, a negative answer was returned.

The exception was that of one Olivares, who was charged with the crime of assassination.

A similar case to that of Gomez occurred at the port of San José de Guatemala, and was reported to the Department by the consul general, Mr. Whitehouse, in August last, during my absence.

It seems desirable that there should be more definite instructions for such cases; under certain circumstances there can be no doubt as to the right to arrest a person who, like Gomez, voluntarily enters the jurisdiction of a state whose laws he has violated, even should he be in transit for another state and on board of a foreign vessel.

I inclose a letter from the consul at Managua transcribing a telegram lie received from the minister for foreign affairs of Nicaragua, and reporting other particulars in regard to the case of Gomez.

I have, &c.,

[Page 71]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 316.—Cablegram.]

Mr. Hall to Mr. Leavitt .

Reported here arrest of a transit passenger bound to Panama, on board steamer Honduras, at San Juan del Sur. Say respectfully to Nicaraguan minister foreign affairs that our Government never has consented and never will consent to the arrest and removal from an American vessel in a foreign port of any passenger in transit, much less if offense is political.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 316.]

Mr. Leavitt to Mr. Hall .

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of the 28th ultimo. At the time the message was delivered in Managua I was in Leon. While in Leon, on the evening of the 27th, I received the following telegram from Mr. Castellon:

“Government has ordered the commander of port San Juan del Sur to arrest José Dolores Gomez, a fugitive prisoner, who is on board of the steamer Honduras, now en route to that port. I suppose the captain will not interfere with the action of the commander, but to avoid whatever difficulty likely to arise, I request you to send a telegraphic message to the captain of the Honduras at San Juan del Sur, stating that the order has been issued by the Government and recommending him to support the commander, as there is no grounds on the part of the captain to hinder the execution of the Government’s order.


I declined to send such a telegram. I returned to Managua immediately and found your telegram awaiting me. Mr. Castellon was absent from Managua, and to-day is the first opportunity I had of seeing him and informing him of your instructions to me. He requested me to send my instructions in writing. I did so, and sent the letter of which I inclose a copy. (Copied in continuation.)

I have learned that the Government requested the captain of the Honduras to deliver up Gomez, but he declined. He was then requested by the Government to go ashore. This he declined to do. He then was requested not to sail for twenty-four hours; This also he declined, and the Government alleges that he sailed in two hours without a license from the commandant of the port.

For these alleged offenses he, the captain, has been tried by the Nicaraguan Government and found guilty, but I have not yet been able to learn what sentence they have passed upon him. From the attitude of the Government, I am afraid they meditate some injury to the captain or his ship in case he returns.

I have tried, briefly, to outline the case and give the salient points.

* * * * * * *

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure in inclosure 2 in No. 316.]

Mr. Leavitt to Mr. Castellon .

Sir: In reply to your telegram of the 27th ultimo, and regarding the case of José Dolores Gomez, I have the honor to say that I am instructed by the minister of the United States in Central America “that the Government of the United States never has consented and never will consent to the arrest and removal from an American vessel in a foreign port of any passenger in transit, much less if the offense be political.”

I am, &c.,

United States Consul.