Mr. Olney to Mr. Tillman.
Washington, April 4, 1896.
Sir: Your dispatch No. 68, of March 12 last, in regard to the arrest of Colonel Hidalgo, a tenant in the building in which you reside, and covering copies of correspondence with the minister of foreign affairs in regard to the arrest of that person, sufficiently illustrates the illogical and embarrassing features of so-called “asylum.”
The circumstances under which Colonel Hidalgo sought shelter in the building of your residence and the time of his doing so do not appear, but it is presumed that you acted throughout the case, as you appear to have done at its close, in conformity with the Department’s No. 31 of September 25, 1895. According to the newspaper clipping you inclose, it would seem that when you took possession of the main floor, rented by you as a residence and legation offices, Colonel Hidalgo was already the occupant of a ground-floor apartment, in the rear of the same building, access to which was had through the same main doorway and passage by which your own quarters were approached. If this be correctly understood, it is not seen how any occasion could arise, even by an extreme stretch of deferential courtesy, for asking your permission to make the arrest, unless on the absurd assumption that a minister’s residential immunities embrace the entire edifice of which he may have rented a part. Under such circumstances, asking your permission to search other parts of the building than those you occupied, and to pass for that purpose through the common avenue of access, appears to have needlessly placed you in the false position of a consenting party, a position which, it may be remarked, was not apparently bettered by your kindly intervention at Colonel Hidalgo’s solicitation, to tender his surrender, in doing which you took occasion to secure for him a promise of kind treatment and a fair trial.
It does not seem necessary to make the matter the subject of further official correspondence, but the Hidalgo incident, coupled with that of the alleged conspirators rooming in the same building, which, although disposed of in August last, has been somewhat gratuitously revived by the current publication of your correspondence on the subject in the official and inspired press, may make it proper for you to seek an opportunity to state, orally, to the minister for foreign affairs that you are responsible only for such part of the premises as you may actually rent [Page 114] and occupy for residence and offices, and that, while you will neither invite nor tolerate abuse of your individual habitation as a refuge for evil doers or suspects, you can not permit, even by remote implication, any inference that you are to be regarded as accountable with respect to other parts of the building, or to be called upon to consent to the exercise of legitimate authority therein by the constituted Government.
I am, etc.,