« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
the depositions charged that Dr. Baldwin had broken a contract with certain laborers whom he had imported; another, that he had refused to pay a certain person for the pasturage of cattle; another, that he had once given a customs guard on one of his vessels some liquor, so that the guard went to sleep, from which it was inferred that Dr. Baldwin had put opium into the liquor to put the guard to sleep in order that he himself might smuggle. Another deponent was reported to have sworn that on a certain occasion, when he went on Baldwin's land to shoot wild hogs, the latter ordered him off and tlıreatened to kill him if he returned. Another deposition, by Ortiz's secretary, accused Baldwin of cutting timber on government land. Other depositions referred to a certain cargo of corn, which Baldwin alleged that he imported and offered for sale at a small price, at the request of the authorities, when the colony was in a needy condition, and which he alleged that the customs officials had seized when it was imported, and sold at a high price to the people.
Ortiz sent a record of the proceedings against Baldwin to the governor of the State of Vera Cruz, together with the orders for the privisional seizure of Baldwin's property and his banishment from the colony of Minatitlan. The governor, on examining the papers, refused to confirm the decree of banishment, and being advised that the case was one of judicial and not of political cognizance, sent the documents to the judge at Acayucan, in the district in which Baldwin resided. The judge referred the expediente to his assessor, who advised him to call for the original papers, it appearing that they had not been sent in, and to take the declaration of the accused and of any witnesses cited by him. An order was then communicated to the alcalde for the original papers, but he refused to send them; a second and third demand were equally fruitless. The papers were only obtained toward the close of 1829, after a fifth demand for them and an appeal to the minister of justice. Ortiz was then absent from the colony. The motive for the withholdment of the papers was alleged to be the fact that the depositions were fraudulent. Indeed, they purported to have been signed by the alcalde, who, as it appeared, could not write his name.
The proceedings before the judge at Acayucan were begun October 11, 1829. On the 26th of the same month Baldwin appeared and made his declaration. It was then ordered that
order of the inferior court, and thus the proceedings were ended, including the charge of murdering the Tabasco woman.
As to the law of the case, the Mexican commissioners contended that where an American citizen voluntarily placed himself under the municipal laws of another country he must take them as they were, and that he had no greater right to complain than the Mexicans themselves if the laws should be bad and imperfectly administered. The American commis. sioners answered that if Mexico wished to maintain rank and fellowship among the civilized nations of the earth she must place her laws on a footing with the laws of other nations, so far as related to intercourse with foreigners. What oppression they might practice upon their citizens was one thing; the practice of similar oppressions upon foreigners was another thing. The latter had the right to appeal to the protection of their government, if injured. They referred to the case of Meade against Spain for the purpose of showing an acknowl. edgment by Spain of liability for the palpable misconduct of judicial tribunals. In that case Meade was ordered by the court to pay over the sum of $50,000 into the royal treasury. The money was in his hands as a depositary, and after he had paid the money into the treasury the depositor obtained from the same court a decree directing Meade to pay over the money to him. As it was impossible for him to obey these contradictory decrees he was sent to prison. The Spanish Government admitted the justice of his claim. The case of Dr. Bald. win, said the American commissioners, was much stronger than that of Meade, since not only was there gross injustice and oppression, but a most palpable fraud on the part of the oppressors. The convention afforded the only means of redress for Dr. Baldwin, unless the United States should resort to an act of force.
The American commissioners demanded the following sums: (1) $21,450, with interest from October 6, 1828, to January 20, 1842, for loss of effects, of property, and of merchandise, seized by Ortiz in 1828; (2) $11,500, with interest from November 14, 1828, to January 20, 1812, for suspension of work in Dr. Bald. win's mill during the sequestration of his property and his banishment in 1828; (3) $15,000, as indemnity for his banishment and the expulsion of his family, and for the suspension of his agricultural business for three months in 1828; (4) $2,750, with interest from October 1, 1828, for the seizure of
timber and other property; (5) $50,000, as indemnity for his imprisonment and the suspension of his work during twelve months, and for expenses of defense; (6) $100,000, for loss of property, including land, mills, a coffee plantation, and divers implements, and also for the loss of the product of his capital, of his labor, and of his enterprise during fifteen years; (7) $243, for costs of translation, etc.
The umpire awarded, February 23, 1842, the sum of $100,000 in gross.
Another claim was made by Dr. Baldwin for personal injuries suffered at the hands of the Mexican authorities while he was residing as a merchant and carrying on an extensive business in the settlement or colony of Coatzacoalcos. On December 31, 1831, he received a written notification from the alcalde of Minatitlan, requiring him to appear and answer for a small account for debt. Upon the reception of this notice Dr. Baldwin, in accordance with the law of Mexico, procured an hombre bueno, or arbitrator, and set out for the office of the alcalde. When he reached the alcalde's house, he had, it was alleged, no sooner entered than several armed soldiers appeared to preveut his egress, while the alcalde addressed him in violent language, and after some words ordered him to be put into the stocks. Dr. Baldwin, being satisfied that an outrage was meditated upon his person, declared that he would not submit to the indignity, and attempted to escape. He succeeded in reaching his house, where he made hasty preparations to fly to Acayucan, but was pursued by armed men and a number of people hastily got together by order of Hoyos, the commissioners of the colony, by whom the proceedings were alleged to have been maliciously instigated. In his efforts to escape from his pursuers Dr. Baldwin fell and fractured his leg. Thus disabled he was taken by the soldiers past his own house, where his wife entreated that he might be permitted to remain in his injured condition, and back to the town and confined with his broken leg for two hours in the stocks.
Meanwhile, another division of his pursuers proceeded to his house, which they searched, with great indignity to its occupants. After Dr. Baldwin was released from the stocks he was detained in prison for several days and was then transferred to the prison at Acayucan on a litter, against the advice of a French surgeon then present. In the prison at Acayucan he was permitted to remain for eighty-four days, during the greater part of which time he had no surgical assistance. The imprisonment of Dr. Baldwin was for two alleged crimes, (1) disobedience to the alcalde in flying at the time the sentence of imprisonment was imposed, and (2) in afterward firing a shot at those who by order of the alcalde went to apprehend him.
The American commissioners maintained that, without considering whether the determination of the judge to imprison Dr. Baldwin was just and in conformity with law, or whether he had committed a crime, it was certain that for such offenses he had suffered a disproportionate punishment. As to the charge of firing the shot, it was disproved. While he had a gun with him, it was found, when he was arrested, to be loaded. The American commissioners awarded (1) for the outrage on Baldwin's person, by placing him in the stocks with a broken leg and then detaining him in prison as a criminal for eighty-four day, $20,000; (2) for permanent incurable injury to his leg, $10,000; (3) for the interruption of his business, and the injury to him as a merchant, $10,000; (4) for the expenses necessarily incurred in consequence of his criminal prosecution, and in the presentation of his claim, $5,000; and (5) for costs of translation and consulting a physician, $174.75—in all $45,174.75.
The umpire, February 23, 1842, adopted the award of the American commissioners.
Dr. John Baldwin v. Mexico: Commission under the convention between the United States and Mexico of April 11, 1839.
Dennis Gahagan, a citizen of the United Gahagan's Case. States, was the agent at Tabasco, Mexico, of
Aaron Leggett, a merchant of New York. In 1832, while in the interior on business, he was arrested. He was soon released, but after returning to Tabasco was imprisoned again and in other ways ill treated. The principal cause of his persecution seems to have been that he gave advice looking to the rescue from the hands of the Mexicans of Mr. Leggett's vessel which had been seized by them and impressed into service in a political contest then prevailing. Mr. Leggett also preferred a claim for his own losses. The Ameri. can commissioners said:
"Neither in the papers accompanying his (Gahagan's) memorial, nor in the voluminous documents of Leggett's case, can we discover the slightest pretense or provocation for the