Mr. Gresham to Mr. Gray.
Washington, January 12, 1894.
Sir: I have received Mr. Butler’s dispatch of the 20th ultimo, No. 183, giving a copy of his testimony, at the instance of the second civil judge of first instance, in the suit of Marcial Yslas vs. The St. Louis and Zacatecas Ore Company. The subject upon which he was called to testify was purely official, he being asked whether he knew, and whether it was of record, that the Congress of the United States had enacted a tariff law on October 1, 1890, by which 30 per cent duty was levied on the importation of metals. And he was further asked how and why he knew it. Mr. Butler asks approval of his action.
It is a well established rule that no public minister can testify in a civil or criminal case without the authorization of his Government. Moreover, he can not even testify as a private individual, for he may not waive his official character and immunities without express authorization of his Government.
I am, etc.,