Mr. Blaine to Mr. Abbott.
Washington, October 10, 1890.
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 120 of the 22d of August, in relation to the case of the estate of the late Mrs. Smith, at Colon, which formed the subject of Department’s No. 67 of May 29 last. It is regretted that the declaration of opinions made in the report of the minister of foreign affairs to the Colombian Congress should have anticipated the discussion of the matter with the legation of the United States, especially as that discussion had long previously been arranged for with the express object of endeavoring to effect a conciliation of the conflicting views held by this Government and the Government of Colombia on the question under consideration. What answer the Government of Colombia would have made, or may yet make, to the reasons set forth in your instructions for the position of the United States, the Department will not undertake to conjecture. It is enough at present to say that there is nothing, in the judgment of the Department, in the report of the minister of foreign affairs to affect the position of this Government; and if, before the publication of that document, the minister of foreign affairs had known and considered the views of this Government, it is not supposed that he would have been content with the definition of his position that the report contains. His arguments are anticipated, and more than anticipated, in the instructions of this Department; and, although he may, by reason of the publication of his report, find it somewhat difficult to meet our views, yet it can hardly be expected that this Government will, for that reason, abandon its position or abate anything of its demands until they shall be shown to be erroneous.
If the position of this Government had been understood, the effort made in the report to demonstrate that property can not be regarded as personalty merely because machinery may be devised to move it would doubtless have been deemed quite irrelevant and superfluous.
I am, etc.,