Mr. Hay to Mr. Powell.
Washington , September 1, 1899 .
Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch No. 624, of the 14th ultimo, in which you comment upon the practice of so-called asylum in Haiti.
The observations you make to show the influence of this vicious practice in virtually inviting conspiracies against the established rule, and begetting a feeling of security in the minds of would-be conspirators, is quite in the line of what has been often said in the past by successive Secretaries of State, as you will see by reference to section 104 of Wharton’s International Law Digest. Mr. Fish wrote in 1870 to your predecessor, Mr. Bassett:
Among other objections to granting such asylum it may be remarked that that act obviously tends so far to incite conspiracies against governments that if persons charged with offenses can be sure of being screened in a foreign legation from arrest, they will be much more apt to attempt the overthrow of authority than if such a place of refuge were not open to them.
Mr. Evarts, writing to Mr. Langston in 1874, said: “The conspirators of to-day may be the government of to-morrow.”
So, too, Mr. Langston, writing from Port au Prince, April 10, 1878, aptly remarked:
It is surprising to witness the readiness and assurance with which a defeated revolutionist approaches the door of such places, demanding, as a matter of right, admission and protection. And before the revolutionary attempt is made, when the probabilities of success or defeat are being calculated, this protection in case of defeat is regarded and accounted as sure, and by this means refuge and escape are sought and gained. Exile is regarded as the only possible infliction, and this tempered by that sort of care which results from diplomatic and consular interest and assistance. (Foreign Relations, 1878, 444.)
The Department is glad that you find in its instruction No. 358 “all needed authority to act in the premises.” You should not, however, confine yourself to observance of that one instruction, which may not fit the particular circumstances of a particular case arising, but you should study and be governed in any applicable instance by the voluminous instructions of my predecessors, to be found on the files of your legation. They not only lay down the general principles involved with especial fullness, but they cover a larger field of varying conditions than those sent to any other country, inasmuch as with no other government have more numerous, intricate, and vexatious questions of abusive “asylum” arisen than with Haiti.
I am, etc.,