Mr. Tillman to Mr. Olney.

No. 68.]

Sir: I have the honor, and it is my duty, to report that on the 9th of this month I received a note from the minister of foreign affairs asking permission to pass through a large door on the street, by which the rooms of this legation are entered, for the purpose of entering rooms in the rear of the legation, in order to make arrest of Colonel Hidalgo and to search for arms.

As the rooms of the legation were entirely above and separate from the rooms which are freely entered by the public, I made no objection. Colonel Hidalgo, finding that he could not escape, requested me to tender his surrender to the two officers who came into the court below, which I did, and secured for him a promise of kind treatment and a fair trial. The copies of the notes, with translation of that of the minister of foreign affairs, are herewith inclosed (Nos. 1, 2, and 3).

I find also in a morning paper of this day a similar correspondence on the same subject between a minister of the former government and myself of date August 14 and 15, 1895. This last correspondence has not been forwarded to you for the reason that in the collapse of the former government and the excitement incident to it and the removal of the legation rooms the letter of the minister to me had been misplaced before it was registered. The publications were made by the government here, that of the 9th of this month in the Official Register and that of the 14th and 15th of August in the Scyri of to-day. I inclose copies of the latter, with translations (inclosures 4, 5, and 6), and also an editorial from the Scyri (inclosures 7 and 8).

One of the greatest difficulties which a foreign minister has to meet here in times like those I have had grows out of the mistaken notion that legations are “cities of refuge,” where every class of lawbreakers are safe from arrest. It were better, of course, that diplomatic and consular officers should have rooms entirely separate from all others, but this is almost impossible without great expense, the houses being very large and costly or small and unsuitable, and often unclean.

I have, etc.,

James D. Tillman.
[Page 111]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 68—Translation.]

Mr. Montalvo to Mr. Tillman.

Mr. Minister: The Government has information that in the house yon occupy, in the lower part, there is concealed the Colonel Antonio Hidalgo. This subject is one of the principal conspirators against the Government, and on whom its enemies count to execute their premeditated plans.

The Government, therefore, finds itself under the necessity of putting this individual in security, but desires permission of the minister to enter the house (or building) to the end of possessing itself of that man and to make a search for the arms which, it is said, exist there.

Very sorry am I, Mr. Minister, to find myself obliged, on account of the duty of the preservation of the Government, to trouble your excellency, but I hope your excellency will be pleased to justify this proceeding and to accede to so equitable a request.

I avail, etc.,

Francisco Montalvo.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 68.]

Mr. Tillman to Mr. Montalvo.

Sir: Your polite note of this date has been received, and in reply will state that I have no control over the rear rooms of the building which I occupy and the entrance to them.

I am not fully informed who occupies them, but the persons seem to be friends and servants of the owners of the house.

My apartments are only occupied by ray diplomatic household. As the rear rooms can only be reached through the court by which my own rooms are entered, I can make no objection to an orderly entrance by officials of the Government of Ecuador. My Government, in accordance with the rules of international law, has instructed all its diplomatic agents not to permit the rooms of their legations to be used as asylums for the violators of law or conspirators against the peace and order of the country.

It says:

While indisposed to deny temporary shelter to any person whose life may be threatened by mob violence, it deems it proper to instruct its agents it will not approve of attempts to knowingly harbor offenders against the laws from the pursuit of the legitimate agents of justice.

This provision of the law of nations I have read and related to many persons since the supremacy of the present Government, and during the supremacy of the one which was overthrown in September last.

I am, etc.,

James D. Tillman.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 68.—Translation.]

Mr. Ribadeneira to Mr. Tillman.

Mr. Minister: The Government has knowledge that in the house in which you live there are meetings of conspirators against constitutional [Page 112] order, and though you are not the owner of said house, it pleases me to ask your consent to enter said house to capture said persons, who falsely believe that they are protected by the flag of the United States to mature their plans of sedition.

Accept, your excellency, this courteous deference to your legation, although as respects the owner of the house it would be sufficient to issue a decree for entrance and proceed to the capture.

I am, etc.,

A. Ribadeneira.
[Inclosure 4 in No. 68.]

Mr. Tillman to Mr. Ribadeneira.

Señor Ministro: Your polite note of the 14th instant in which you state that your Government has knowledge that there are being held meetings of conspirators against constitutional order in the building occupied by me, and asking permission for authority to enter said building was received at too late an hour yesterday for me to reply in writing.

The rooms of the legation of the United States are all of the upper rooms of the building to which you refer. Under the well-known rules of the law of nations, as you are well informed, these quarters can not be searched under process of local laws or local authorities. My statement that these rooms are only used by my diplomatic household must be, and no doubt will be, conclusive to you. The remainder of the house (the lower rooms), the large garden and grounds, and stable form no part of this legation, and I only ask that in case of a search in these for the supposed conspirators you will send an intelligent and prudent official. I think it proper to say that some weeks ago I informed my native servants that the flag of this legation could not be used to protect Ecuadorians seeking to avoid military duty, and later I informed friends of wealthy people who had fallen under suspicion of your Government that they could not be received or concealed in this legation. So strange appeared these statements, I felt it necessary to show these parties the instructions of my Government and the rules of the law of nations.

My Government sanctions the use of its legations as an asylum against mob violence, to noncombatants in time of actual conflict, and to the officials of an overthrown administration, who are not conspiring against the new order and the actual authorities. These rules will be applied with impartial rigor and vigor.

I am, etc.,

James D. Tillman.
[Inclosure 5 in No. 68.—From the Scyri, Quito.—Translation.]

The American minister and Colonel Hidalgo.

It may be interesting to the learned conspirators who are criticizing the American minister for surrendering Colonel Hidalgo to know, in the first place, that he did not surrender Colonel Hidalgo; in the second place that Colonel Hidalgo was not concealed in the rooms of the United States legation; and that the American minister will not do anything which he has to conceal either from his own Government or the Government of Ecuador. He did not conceal the presence in his house of General Serasti and Julio Salazar from the last of August to the first of September passed.

Colonel Hidalgo was in rooms below and in the rear of the rooms of the United States legation when the minister rented his present apartments. To these rooms in the rear the owners of the building and their friends and servants and arrieros had access by means of the large door on the street, passing under the rooms of the legation.

[Page 113]

The Government of Ecuador asked permission to pass through this door to the rooms in the rear, and the American minister would have been less courteous to the Government of Ecuador than to arrieros and servants if he had refused the request.

He did not know for two months after he took the house that Colonel Hidalgo was in it, while perhaps a dozen servants and half, the city knew where he was concealed.

It may be most interesting of all to the learned international lawyers to know that in August last Señor Apericio Ribadeneira (the head of the old Government) asserted his right to make a search of the Juana Narranjo premises and asked permission of the American minister to look for Señor Peñaherrera and others who were supposed to be concealed in the premises in part occupied by the American minister, and this petition of Ribadeneira was not denied by the minister. Read this interesting correspondence which we publish.

The American minister knows the laws and will obey them whether the Government of Ecuador is clerical, liberal, or radical. Under international laws the legations of all countries are regarded as asylums for persons pursued by mob violence, whether the applicant is shoemaker or cavalier (zapatero or caballero), but not for conspirators against the actual government or violators of the laws of the country when they may be demanded by regular proceedings from the proper officials.