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jury. There has, of course, often been Congress from General Jackson, the subthe most provoking indisposition and ject of these claims is scarcely once, if at delay to consider these cases, or to ac- all, alluded to-except in the last. In knowledge the obligation to make satis- the last of these, however, that of Decemfaction for them. The sense of justice ber, 1836, the subject is referred to in has not at any time been very keen or these general terms. Speaking of our reactive, and when this has been waked up, lations with “all our neighbors on this as has been done at times by some rather continent,” he says: “The just and longrough handling of the Mexican authori- standing claims of our citizens upon some ties, the necessities of that country, al- of them are yet sources of dissatisfaction ways urgent and pressing, have mightily and complaint. No danger is apprehendinterfered—as the necessities of desperate ed, however, that they will not be peacedebtors always do-with the payment, fully, although tardily, acknowledged and and even the adjustment, of her proper paid by all, unless the irritating effect of obligations and dues.
her struggle with Texas should unfortuIn 1831, the American Government nately make our immediate neighbor, Mexsought, as far as possible, to provide ico, an exception." against the recurrence of these injuries Beyond all doubt, the secret was here on the part of Mexico, by defining with disclosed, which might well account not clearness and precision, in the Treaty of only for some of the more aggravated Amity and Commerce with that Power, cases of outrage to the rights and property of the 5th of April, the rights and duties of American citizens, then recently per. of the respective parties towards each petrated by subordinate Mexican authori. other. This may have checked, but, un- ties, and for a more than ordinary indishappily, it was not sufficient to prevent position to heed our complaints, but also the commission of repeated acts of the for the very particular importunity which Mexican authorities, especially of the just then characterized our demands for subordinate authorities, injurious and op- redress. Mexico had come to look upon pressive to American citizens. A commu the United States and our people with exnication from the Secretary of State to treme distrust. She did not at all relish Mr. Ellis, then our Chargé in Mexico, in our sympathies towards the Texans in July, 1836, enumerates some fourteen their struggle for emancipation. She took distinct cases of injury and outrage to up a violent prejudice against us-of American citizens and their property, oc course a very injurious one-as if our curring after the date of the Treaty, which desire to see Texas free was stronger the Minister was instructed to bring than our friendship for her, or as if we enafresh to the notice of the Mexican tertained a secret wish and purpose, some Government.
day or another, to take that province to It is worth while to remark, that it was our own embrace! Texas declared her this particular period of time-one of very independence on the 2d day of March, special interest to Mexico—that was first 1836, and on the 21st of April the deciselected by our Government for pressing, sive battle of San Jacinto was fought. with uncommon zeal and urgency, the Mexico persisted in believing, and does, claims which our citizens had on the we think, to this day, that American citi. justice of that Power. These claims zens had something to do with that revo. dated back, some of them, as far as 1815, lution, and that batile. Notwithstanding and so on up to the revolution which ter. the decisive result of the affair of San minated the Spanish rule in that country; Jacinto, including the capture of the Preand very many of them were older than sident of Mexico, rumors the Treaty of 1831. Other claims had abroad in Texas of great preparations for arisen, as we have seen, subsequent to that another invasion from Mexico ; and just Treaty; yet from the period of General about the time when, according to these Jackson's accession to the Presidency, in rumors, the invading army should have 1829, up to the time when Mexico became been looked for in Texas, it was found involved in civil war with her revolted that the American General, (Gaines,) at province of Texas, Mexico was treated the head of a formidable body of troops, with the utmost forbearance, in reference had deemed it necessary under instructions to these claims.
In truth, they may be from Washington, in order to guard the said to have been very little pressed, frontier of the United States against Inthough not quite neglected. Through dians! to march fifty miles into the inteeight successive annual messages to rior of Texas, and take up a position at
Nacogdoches. Mexico was weak enough to be. No act authorizing reprisals was to be startled and offended at this move passed ; and the Committee of the Senate ment! and Mr. Gorostiza, her Minister recommended to the President to make in this country, failing to get such satis- another demand, in some peaceful form, faction as he deerned due to the case, for justice and satisfaction. This they demanded his passports, and went home. deemed the more important, as
Now, it was the period here referred chanced have a Treaty with Mexico, to-so critical to Mexico, with an irri- which expressly provided, that “neither tating struggle on her hands, with her of the contracting parties will order or President a prisoner and an exile—it was authorize any acts of reprisal, nor declare this period that was selected at Washing- war against the other, on complaint of ton as the most convenient and opportune, injuries or damages, until the said party to press on the attention of that Power considering itself offended shall first have the necessity of her responding promptly presented to the other a statement of and satisfactorily, without any further such injuries or damages, verified by comdelay, to the formidable array of com- petent proofs, and demanded justice and plaints and reclamations which we had to satisfaction, and the same shall have prefer against her. By a dispatch of the been either refused or unreasonably de20th of Mr. Ellis was instructed layed.” Confessedly, by the dispatch of forthwith to present these complaints and Mr. Forsyth to Mr. Ellis, there must reclamations, and demand reparation for have been a failure to verify the cases, these accumulated wrongs; he was in- or some of them, by competent proofs, structed to wait patiently three weeks for when the peremptory demand for satisan answer, and if at the end of that period faction was made by that Minister. “ no satisfactory answer” should be re The result of this business showed ceived, he was to give formal notice that that, notwithstanding “the irritating efat the end of a fortnight more, unless such fect of her struggle with Texas,” Mexico “ satisfactory answer” should be received, could be brought to terms of settlement he would demand his passports! Mr. by negotiation, as well as by reprisals, Ellis, of course, obeyed his instructions, or war; but it required forbearance and and not having received an answer to his patience on our part. Mr. Van Buren demand which he deemed satisfactory, he dispatched a special messenger to Mexico, received his passports, and came home. soon after entering on the duties of his Mr. Gorostiza took his departure from office, to make a final demand for redress this country in October, 1836; and Mr. of injuries, with the documentary proofs, Ellis came home in January, 1837. Thus as required by our Treaty. The answer were the diplomatic relations of the two was, that “nothing should be left unGovernments entirely suspended. done that might lead to the most speedy
On the 7th of February, 1837, General and equitable adjustment of our deJackson, now thoroughly aroused to the mands.” Soon afterwards Mexico volun. crying injustice of Mexico, sent a spe- tarily renewed diplomatic relations with cial message to Congress, recommending, this country, by sending to our govern“ that an act be passed authorizing re ment an Envoy Extraordinary and Minprisals, and the use of the naval force of ister Plenipotentiary, who “ brought with the United States by the Executive him assurances of a sincere desire, that against Mexico, to enforce them, in the the pending differences between the two event of a refusal by the Mexican Gov. Governments should be terminated in a ernment to come to an amicable adjust- manner satisfactory to both.” This was ment of the matters in controversy be- in 1838. In April, 1839, a convention tween us, upon another demand thereof, was concluded between the two powers, made from on board one of our vessels and ratified by the respective Govern. of war on the coast of Mexico." Doubt- ments; a previous convention having less this would have been a powerful been made in September, 1838, which the diversion—not, of course, so intended! Mexican Government, for reasons acbut operating to that effect-in favor of cepted at Washington as satisfactory, bad Texas, where the apprehension of further failed to ratify. By this convention of annoyance from Mexico was not yet April, 1839, it was agreed, that “all quite ended. Happily, however, for the claims of citizens of the United States peace and honor of the country, Con- upon the Mexican Government, stategress did not deem the case quite so ments of which, soliciting the interpourgent as the President had supposed itsition of the Government of the United
States, have been presented to the De- claims,” say the American Commissionpartment of State, or to the Diplomatic ers, “prepared for the final action of the agent of the United States at Mexico, Board, so far as depended upon it, were until the signature of this Convention,” disposed of, except three.” Three or four should be referred to a Board of four other cases were presented, but not in a Commissioners, two appointed from each state for the Board to act upon. Of the country, for final adjustment. An Umpire three excepted cases, two of them being was to be appointed by the King of claims, on paper, to the aggregate amount Prussia. This Commission was organ- of more than two and a half millions, ized in August, 1840, and sat for eighteen came to the Board only on the last day of months, when its term of service expired its session! These parties could have by the limitation of the convention. been in no great hurry for their money.
The recital we have here made shows, They were claims of several years' stand. that notwithstanding all former delays, ing, and the President, in his annual and in spite of “the irritating effect of Message, takes care to make the most of her struggle with Texas,” Mexico had them. What is really due on them noat last yielded to our importunate de- body can tell. Claims on Governments mands for redress of injuries, and that always loom up large on paper. In the from the autumn of 1840 to the spring cases examined and decided by the Comof 1842, the examination and adjustment mission and Umpire, the claimants deof the claims of our citizens were quietly manded in the aggregate, $6,439.723 19; going on at the capital of our own and the amount finally awarded, as justly country, before a Commission constituted due in these cases, was $2,026,139 68, or by an amicable convention agreed upon less than one-third of the amount claimed. between the two powers. Whatever By the same rule, the claims in the three, complaints then we have now to make or six or seven cases, not acted on by the against Mexico, in regard to these claims, Board, and amounting on paper, all told, must date from and after the spring of to three millions and a third, would seem 1842, when that Commission was termi- to be worth about a million. The bulk nated by its own limitation. All former of the two heaviest of these claims was delays—all former evasions and equivo- for damages on land contracts with the cations to avoid the settlement of these Republic of Mexico. claims, ceased to be any longer a subject Besides the final awards by the Comof complaint on our part, when Mexico mission and Umpire, there were claims yielded the point, and came into a volun- acted on by the Board, as presented, 10 tary, amicable and satisfactory arrange. near two millions, and in which the ment in regard to them. If, since the American Commissioners were ready to Convention of 1839, and the termination allow about one-half the amount claim. of the Joint Commission in 1842, she ed, while the Mexican Commissioners has returned to her former line of con- allowed nothing. These were left undeduct; if she has delayed and equivocated cided by the Umpire, because, owing solely as she did aforetime ; if she has failed, to the delay of the parties in preparing and without just reason or excuse, to perform presenting them for a hearing, they came her treaty stipulations in regard to claims into his hands too late for decision. All, already liquidated, and has refused to except one, were received by him only make provision for other claims not so six days before the Commission ceased to adjusted, then she has given us new and exist. What the award of the Umpire just cause of offence, and it would not lie would have been in these cases, of course in her mouth to complain if we had cho- we cannot know. In the cases in which sen to take redress, by reprisals, or even he did act, his allowance was in the rawar, into our own hands. Let us see tio of about two-thirds of the amount exactly what her conduct has been, and which the American Commissioners what we have to complain of, since the would have allowed, wbile it exceedspring of 1842.
ed by many times the sum which the The Joint Commission, with and with. Mexican Commissioners were willing to out the aid of the Umpire, made, during concede. On the whole, we may contbeir sitting, final awards in favor of clude, that when the Joint Commission terAmerican citizens to the amount of minated its labors, besides the two millions something more than two millions of and twenty-six thousand dollars actualdollars. The number of cases, in all, ly and finally awarded, there remained was very great; and “all the cases of an amount of a million and three-quar
ters, or perhaps two millions more, justly received. But though Mexico agreed to due to American citizens from the Mexi, pay this indebtedness, she has not paid can Government, and for the adjustment it, except in part. It is certainly true, of which, as well as for the payment of what Mr. Thompson says; “ the claimthe amount awarded by the Commission ants have received fifteen per cent. of the and Umpire, she was bound to make principal of their debt, and about ninesuitable provision. In the fspring of 1842, teen per cent of interest, which is twice she owed to American citizens a liquida- as much as the market value of the whole ted debt of $2,026,139 68, and a further of the claims when I [he] went to Mexsum of probably two millions, possibly ico, which was less than twenty cents three or four, which was not, but ought on the dollar.” This is very well to to be liquidated. We will see what has show that the claimants are better off 10 been done with this debt and these claims. to-day than they were the day they got
Early in the spring of 1842, the Hon. their awards, even if they should never W. Thompson, a gallant, generous and receive the next farthing on their dehigh-minded gentleman of South Caroli. mands; but they are entitled under the na, went to Mexico as our Minister new Convention, voluntarily entered Plenipotentiary. Let us hear what he into by Mexico for their relief from the has to say, in the first place, about this certain losses to which they were subject liquidated debt of two millions, adjudica. under the former, to the whole amount ted by the Joint Commission.
of their awards; and sooner or later, in “The Mexican Government had, by one way or another, Mexico must pay the terms of the convention which estab. the uttermost farthing. “All the installlished that Commission, the alternative of ments” says Mr. Thompson, “ which paying the awards either in coin, or in fell due whilst I remained in Mexico, their own Treasury Notes, at their option. were paid.” The President says, “ the The market was already flooded with three first”-by which he means the first this depreciated Government paper, and three installments have been paid.” new emissions were daily made. The Two other installments, those of April market value of these Treasury Notes was and July, 1844, are claimed to have been about thirty cents on the dollar, and if paid by Mexico, though the subject, Mr. tbis additional two millions had been Polk informs us, is involved in much thrown on the market, they would have mystery. Why the payment of the redepreciated still more. The owners of maining portions of these indemnities has these claims knew this, and were anxious been suspended, remains to be explained. to make some other arrangement. The We shall advert to this point directly. awards were not sent to me until October. We have seen that there were claims 1 demanded the money ; but it was a they were eighteen in number—which mere form, for every one knew that the failed of decision by the Umpire, for want Government neither had the money nor of time; and there were some other cases the means of raising it, and coercion --seven according to Mr. Thompsonwas out of the question, as they would which were not considered by the Comhave availed themselves of the
alterna- missioners, also principally for want of tive of the treaty and given the Treasury time. The question is, how did Mexico Notes, which would only have been conduct herself in regard to these claims ? changing the evidence of the debt, and we will let Mr. Thompson tell the story: to a less advantageous form. In a week, “ I was anxious to have made provihowever, I made a new convention with sion for the settlement of these cases at the Government.”
the time that I negotiated the Convention And what was this new convention of January, 1843, but my Government Why, Mexico agreed to pay this liqui. thought otherwise. In November, howdated debt in coin, paying the interest up ever, of that year, I received instructions to the 30th of April, 1843, and the prin- to negotiate another convention for the cipal and interest in five years from that settlement of these claims. : date in tri-monthly installments, with I succeeded, but with difficulty, in obtainthe advantage also and saving to the credi- ing every concession which I had been intors, of export and transportation duties, structed to ask, and on some points more, freight, insurance and commissions, which with the single exception of the place of under the former convention would have meeting of the new Commission, which I fallen on them at the cost of eighteen or agreed should be Mexico instead of Washtwenty per cent. on all they should have ington.” VOL. IV.NO. I.
Unhappily, this treaty was not ratified the whole blame on Mexico that these by the United States, except with amend- claims—the eighteen and the seven ca. ments. It was insisted that the Commis- ses—bave not been adjusted and settled, sion should sit in this country and not let the American public, in all candor, in Mexico. The treaty has never been judge. The fact, certainly, as it is ratified at all by Mexico. We think charged on our part, remains undisputed, there can be no doubt that a great error that Mexico has failed to pay the great. was committed, very much to the preju. er part of the indemnity to which she dice of the claimants, when our Govern was bound by the treaty of January, 1843, ment insisted on changing the terms of and that she has made no attempt or this convention as to the place where offer to provide for the settlement of the the Commission should sit. "By yielding remainder of the claims which American this point, our negotiator had secured a citizens have on her, since the failure of capital advantage--which was that he the Convention negotiated by Mr. Thompshould name the Umpire. This was of son for that purpose. How much or how the very highest importance. Experi- little excuse she has for all this, the counence had shown that, as in all such try and the world must judge from the cases, the American and Mexican Com- facts and the circumstances of the case. missioners were pretty sure to disagree The history of the Annexation of Texon every daim, an the Umpire would as to the United States-about the merits in effect be the sole judge in every in- of which we have not a word to say in stance, it was worth half the real value this place—is too recent not to be familof every claim to name the Umpire, and iar, at least in its leading events, to all this our Minister secured by yielding the intelligent readers. One effect of that place of meeting to Mexico. And this measure, at least, is perfectly well underwas all the more important, as the con- stood ; and that is, that it caused the susvention had stipulated that the eighteen pension of all diplomatic relations becases above referred to were not to be iween Mexico and the United States. reëxamined by the Commissioners at all, General Almonte, the Mexican Minister, but handed over at once to the Umpire withdrew from this country, and the for his decision. Nor was there any very Mexican Government refused to have any imperative or just reason, in principle or further diplomatic intercourse with Mr. convenience, why the Commission should Shannon, our Minister in that country. sit in Washington rather than Mexico. Our Government was aware, from the beThe Commission was to settle claims of ginning, that so far at least Mexico would Mexican citizens on our Government, as go to show her resentment, and how well as claims of our citizens on the much farther remained to be seen. From Mexican Government; and had it been the beginning she declared that she otherwise, there is nothing very new in should regard Annexation as an act of the rule that the claimant,
whether citi- bostility to her, and all her language zen or foreigner, should prosecute bis breathed of war. A state of war, though demand in the country where it arose. It of late without active hostilities, existed happened, too, here, that nearly all the between her and Texas; and she seemed six or seven claims of our citizens which to suppose, not very unnaturally, that if alone were to be submitted to the Com we chose to put ourselves in the place of missioners for examination, depended on Texas, we should place ourselves in a documentary proofs which were in the state of war with her. public archives of Mexico. There is A serious movement towards An. every reason for saying that, if this con. nexation was begun in the winter of vention had been promptly ratified by us 1843–4, resulting in the treaty which just as it was made, it would have been was concluded by Mr. Tyler with the ratified by Mexico, and at least the Republic of Texas on the 12th of April, eighteen cases above mentioned would 1844. This treaty was rejected by the have been long since settled by the Um- Senate ; but it effectually disturbed and pire. There would have been some broke
up the friendly relations of the two chance, too, for the settlement of the Governments; and the project was by no remaining cases, before our relations means abandoned. It was evident that with Mexico had been perplexed, and the measure was to be consummated at diplomatic intercourse suspended by the an early day, and Mexico so understood intervention of the question of Annexa. it. From that hour she counted us as tion. How far we are right in throwing her enemy-waiting only for the con