to Mr. Hall.
Washington, February 16, 1887.
Sir: Your Nos. 605 and 606, dated January 10, 1887, which relate to the status of foreigners under the laws of Salvador and Costa Rica, respectively, have been received.
As you are aware, a municipal law excluding foreigners from having recourse to their own sovereign to obtain for them redress for injuries inflicted by the sovereign making the law has, in itself, no international effect. The United States, for instance, would not be precluded from calling on Costa Rica for redress for injuries inflicted on a citizen of the United States by Costa Rica by the fact that the latter state had adopted a law to the effect that no such claims are to be entertained. By the law of nations, the United States have a right to insist upon such claims whenever they hold that such redress should be given; and they [Page 100] would not regard a statute providing that such redress should not be given; and would not regard a statute providing that such claims were not to be the subject of diplomatic action as in any way an obstacle to their taking such action. And I have further to say that the fact that a citizen of the United States was residing in the territory of a state passing such a statute at the time of an injury inflicted on him this does not preclude him from availing himself of the aid of the Government of the United States in obtaining redress; for even were such residence regarded as a tacit acceptance of such a law (which it is not) such acceptance would be inoperative, since no agreement by a citizen to surrender the right to call on his Government for protection is valid either in international or municipal law.
You will perceive that this instruction is, in a measure, a renewal of instruction No. 409, dated November 29, 1886. It may be proper, under the circumstances, for you to state to the authorities of Salvador the objections put in this and in my instruction No. 409 to the proposed legislation; but you are in no sense to express your assent to any amendment of or substitute for that legislation, or do any act which might cause it to be hereafter argued that the United States, being a party to any municipal legislation of either Costa Rica or Salvador, was bound by such legislation.
I am, etc.,