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“In August last an outrage was committed and the terms of our
treaty with Tripoli violated by an insult to our
consul [Mr. Vidal] stationed at the port of Tripoli. As is the custom and right and duty of this government, prompt measures were taken for the protection of the consul and the maintenance of the honor and dignity of this government, and also to secure reparation and satisfaction for this insult. These measures were effectual and it is a source of satisfaction that an ample apology with the assurances against a recurrence of a similar indignity which was demanded by the United States, was accorded by the Tripolitan authorities. It is with much satisfaction that the President learns that the Porte promptly interposed the authority which it may exercise in Tripoli to the effect that reparation should be made; but this fact does not appear in the correspondence between the United States consul and the governor of Tripoli."
Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Mr. Maynard, min. to Turkey, Oct. 8, 1875, MS.
Inst. Turkey, III. 140.
“I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 5th ultimo, referring to your previous notes of the 9th and 30th of December last, in which, by direction of the Ottoman government, you request the recall of Mr. Vidal, United States consul at Tripoli, on account of the course pursued by him on the occasion of the controversy between him and the governor-general in August last.
“ You also state that 'on a recent occasion the consul of the United States at that place threatened, in a communication sent by him to the authorities, again to send for vessels of war by means of which he proposes to enforce inadmissible demands.' Mr. Vidal gives no intimation of such intention in any of his despatches to this Department. In the absence of any report from him on this matter this government can not undertake to express an opinion or make any decision in regard thereto. It is a cause of regret that Mr. Vidal, who is esteemed by this government as a valuable officer, has unfortunately lost the confidence of the authorities of the government where he has for several years been discharging his functions. The President is ever mindful of the sensibilities of those to whom he accredits public functionaries, and even though he may think that those agents of this government have lost the confidence of the Government to whom they are accredited, through misapprehension of the motives which have directed their conduct, he appreciates the duty of considering the wishes of a friendly power not to have retained a representative who has ceased to enjoy their kindly sentiments. In view, therefore, of the request of the Ottoman authorities for the recall of Mr. Vidal, and in consequence of the earnest desire of the United States to preserve and strengthen the cordial and intimate relations which have so long existed between this government and the Porte, it has been determined to comply with the request, and this will be done as soon as his successor can be selected.”
Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Aristarchi Bey, May 3, 1876, MS. Notes to
Turkey, I. 151.
“ This Department regrets the misunderstanding which took place last year, between Mr. Vidal, the consul of the United States at Tripoli, and the authorities there. The occasion of that misunderstanding was sudden and unexpected in its origin. The first information received in regard to it came by cable, and was necessarily meagre. The inference from it was, however, that the consul and his family were in danger from some popular tumult. The information received led to the visit there of the United States men-of-war to which you refer. It was not until months afterwards that written reports in regard to the affair reached this Department. It was then only that a proper opinion could be formed upon the subject. The Ottoman government ultimately thought proper to object to the course of Mr. Vidal on the occasion, and requested his recall. The request has been complied with. A successor to him has been appointed, and it is hoped that, through his agency, the good understanding with the proper authorities may be restored and preserved.”
Mr. Fish, Sec. of State, to Aristarchi Bey, Sept. 18, 1876, MS. Notes to
Turkey, I. 170. See, also, Nov. 16, 1876, id. 178.
V. PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES.
1. UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW AND TREATY.
“ Consuls are not public ministers. Whatever protection they may be entitled to in the discharge of their official duties, and whatever special privileges may be conferred upon them by the local laws and usages, or by international compact, they are not entitled, by the gerieral law of nations, to the peculiar immunities of ambassadors."
Wheaton's Int. Law, Dana's ed., $ 249, p. 324.
2 Op. 378; Butler, At. Gen., 1835, 2 Op. 725 ; Cushing, At. Gen.,
“ In the early Middle Ages, and before the establishment of more or less permanent legations, consuls appear to have enjoyed the right of exterritoriality, and the privileges and immunities now accorded to diplomatic representatives. In non-Christian and semi-civilized countries these privileges have, to a large degree, been preserved to them, and they have the sanction of both treaty and usage. Upon the establishment of legations, however, the exemptions and immunities granted to consuls came to be regarded as a limitation of the territorial rights of the sovereign, and they have in the process of time been restricted to such as are necessarily incident to the consular office, or have been provided for by treaty, or are supported by longestablished custom or the particular laws of the place. A consular officer in civilized countries now has, under public law, no acknowl. edged representative or diplomatic character as regards the country to which he is accredited. He has, however, a certain representative character as affecting the commercial interests of the country from which he receives his appointment; and there may be circumstances, as, for example, in the absence of a diplomatic representative, which, apart from usage, make it proper for him to address the local government upon subjects which relate to the duties and rights of his office, and which are usually dealt with through a legation."
Consular Regulations of the United States (1896), $ 71, p. 27.
“ Although consuls have no right to claim the privileges and immunities of diplomatic representatives, they are under the special protection of international law, and are regarded as the officers both of the state which appoints and the state which receives them. The extent of their authority is derived from their commissions and their exequaturs. It is believed that the granting of the latter instrument, without express restrictions, confers upon a consul all rights and privileges necessary to the performance of the duties of the consular office. Generally, a consul may claim for himself and his office not only such rights and privileges as have been conceded by treaty, but also such as have the sanction of custom and local laws, and have been enjoyed by his predecessors or by consuls of other nations, unless a formal notice has been given that they will not be extended to him."
Consular Regulations of the United States (1896), $ 72, p. 27.
6 The law of nations does not of itself extend to consuls at all. They are not of the diplomatic class of characters to which alone that law extends of right. Convention indeed may give it to them, and sometimes has done so; but in that case the convention can be produced. . . Independently of [a special] law, consuls are to be considered as distinguished foreigners, dignified by a commission from their sovereign, and specially recommended by him to the respect of the nation with whom they reside. They are subject to the laws of the land indeed precisely as other foreigners are, a convention where there is one making a part of the laws of the land; but
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if, at any time, their conduct should render it necessary to assert the authority of the laws over them, the rigor of those laws should be tempered by our respect for their sovereign, as far as the case will admit. This moderate and respectful treatment towards foreign consuls it is my duty to recommend, and press on our citizens, because I ask it for their good, towards our own consuls, from the people with whom they reside."
Mr. Jefferson, Sec. for For. Aff., to Mr. Newton, Sept. 8, 1791, 4 MS. Am.
“ Consuls are not diplomatic characters, and have no immunities whatever against the laws of the land ; " and hence they can be prosecuted for breach of neutrality laws.
Mr. Jefferson, Sec. of State, to Mr. Gore, Sept, 2, 1793, 23 MS. Dom.
1830, 23 MS. Dom. Let. 339.
“ Consuls are undoubtedly entitled to great respect as bearing the commissions of their sovereign; but their duties are of a commercial nature and their public character subaltern; neither their persons nor their domiciles have heretofore becen protected as have those of ambassadors and other public ministers. Instances are not wanting in which some of them have been brought within the jurisdiction of our courts. It is not known that it has ever yet laid the foundation of any charge of a breach of privilege, or infringement of public law, on the part of any of the governments of Europe, whose commissions these consuls may respectively have borne."
Mr. Monroe, Sec. of State, to Mr. Harris, chargé d'affaires at St. Peters
burg, July 31, 1810, MS. Inst. l'. States Ministers, VIII. 89.
A foreign consul is liable to be punished to the same extent as other foreign residents for a criminal violation of the local law of the country in which he resides.
Mr. Clayton, Sec. of State, to Mr. Calderon de la Barca, Spanish min.,
Aug. 28, 1819, MS. Notes to Spain, VI. 187.
In 1879 an oflicer of the Mexican Government exacte a forced loan from various persons, including Macmanus and Sons, an American firm, of which Mr. Scott, the American consul at Chihuahua, was a member. The consular office, it appears, was used as a place of deposit for the funds of American citizens engageri in business in Chihuahua ; and, when payment was demanded, Mr. Scott closed the doors. An officer later appeared with an additional force, when Mr. Scott, concluding that further resistance was useless, opened the
door, and the officer obtained the sum required. Even supposing, said Mr. Evarts, that the consul had been engaged in no other business than that of an official character, there was nothing in the treaty of 1831 which guaranteed to his place of business freedom from search. There was a distinct guarantee of the archives and papers of the consulate, but it was not alleged that these were disturbed. By a stipulation in the treaty the parties had agreed to enter into a special convention for defining the powers and immunities of consuls, but all attempts in that direction had proved abortive, so that no exemption of the offices of consuls from being entered by the authorities of the country could be claimed as a right, especially where a consular officer was a member of a mercantile firm and his place of business was the same as that of the firm.
Mr. Evarts, Sec. of State, to Mr. Foster, min, to Mexico, No. 725, Feb.
20, 1880, For. Rel. 1880, 734.
A consul may claim exemption from service on juries and in the militia.
Consular Regulations of the United States (1896), $ 73, p. 28.
able that “all these privileges could not be claimed for subordinate
Citizens of the United States who hold foreign consulates in the United States are not exempt from jury duty or service in the militia by the law of nations.
Cushing, At. Gen., 1856, 8 Op. 169.
During the war between the United States and Spain the Department of State, replying to an inquiry as to the status of Mr. José Costa, a Spanish subject, who held a commission and exequatur as consul for Uruguay at San Francisco, California, said: “ The international rule, followed by this government, is that a foreign consul, being a citizen or subject of a state other than that which appoints him, is in all respects to be treated as such citizen or subject, and only as enjoying the official immunities or privileges stipulated for his consular office. Your inquiry as to Mr. Costa being required to register
is not clearly understood. No general requirement of registry of Spaniards within the territory of the United States has been made, but, if such formality should be required, Mr. Costa would unquestionably have to conform thereto."
Mr. Moore, Assist. Sec. of State, to Mr. Murguiondo, May 12, 1898, MS
Notes to For. Consuls, IV, 414,