Mr. Seward to Mr. Campbell

No. 2.]

Sir: I transmit for your information a communication received at this department from Monterey, Mexico, signed by Mr. Joseph Ulrich, lately appointed consul of the United States to that city, in which is contained a petition of several citizens of the United States, merchants of Monterey, setting forth that the liberal authorities of Monterey had lately subjected them and other American citizens to forced loans, against which they ask the protection of this government. Mr. Ulrich also states that several citizens of the United States are held to service in the Mexican army against their inclination, whose respective terms of service have expired.

These causes will necessitate your early presence at your post; and you are therefore instructed to proceed to Mexico at as early an hour as convenient, where you will at once lend your attention to the proper investigation of the complaints contained in the enclosed documents.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Lewis D. Campbell, Esq., &c., &c., &c., Hamilton, Ohio.

Mr. Ulrich to Mr. Seward

Sir: Enclosed is a statement of grievances from a portion of the citizens of the United States resident here. The reason for its not being more generally signed is, that some declined putting their names to it for fear of being compromised with the authorities; others were not asked to sign it, as it was feared by those who did, they would not be prudent [Page 3] enough to keep the matter to themselves, and yet all suffer in common with the signers to the document, and all wish redress This letter is written to explain the lack of more signatures, and, also, to show you how precarious our condition is when so much precaution is necessary in securing our rights, and that you may see how necessary it is for our interest that no publicity should be given to the document.

I would here urge on the department the necessity of having a consul here commissioned. As matters stand I cannot act, and there are now several cases requiring the attention of the government. Eight Americans—three white and five colored men—are held to service in the army; their time is expired, as they say, and they are held contrary to all law and justice, and in the absence of my commission as consul I am, of course, unable to aid them.

Hoping these matters will receive your attention, I am yours, respectfully,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, United States.

Petition of American citizens.

Sir: We, the undersigned, citizens of the United States resident and doing business in the city of Monterey, Mexico, take this means of calling the attention of our government to our situation as regards “forced loans,” (prestamos,) now being levied on us by the liberal authorities, for the purpose of raising money for their officials and soldiers, contrary to the stipulations of the treaty between the two countries, without any regular system of taxation, and merely subject, as to amount and frequency, to the will of the chief who may temporarily be in power. That these “prestamos” are, in almost every case, levied upon merchants alone, and thus fall inevitably on American residents, they, mostly, being in commercial business.

That Americans, in common with all foreigners, suffer severely, as, in every case, distinctions are made between the amounts required from the native or foreign merchants in the favor of the former. We would also represent that on a recent occasion, since the departure of the French from Matamoras, a loan was ordered from the commerce of that city, which afterwards was made exceptional as to Americans, owing to the pressure brought to bear from the American side of the Rio Grande, which furnishes conclusive evidence that where these people can be operated on by a direct application of the power of our government, they will respect our rights and their treaty obligations. In view of this and the fact of our distance from any body of the United States forces, we respectfully ask that some steps be taken by our government to save us from utter ruin, in the shape of a constant drain of our means, especially now, when we have every reason to look for constant changes among the leaders here, each one of whom, as usual, on entering upon his career, considers the mercantile portion of the community as the only proper subjects for his exactions. During the French occupancy, under a despotic tyranny which regarded the rights of no one, unrecognized as it was by our government, we had nothing to hope for, and submitted, but now, with the advent of the liberals, we are led to think that we can have at least the protection of our own government, having nothing to hope from any consideration these people will have for their treaty obligations, or gratitude for services or sympathy received from the United States, unless forced to do so, as in the instance recited above. So, we ask you to demand for us rights refused us as individuals; to do this, not by correspondence merely, as that will be of no avail, but by sending a special agent, a man of character and firmness, who can settle the matter at once and forever, and thus furnish a precedent here in Monterey which may be followed over the whole republic. The party sent must come with full powers to enforce his wishes, as, otherwise, his visit will be useless. These people will not listen to consuls or agents resident here, as they are well aware how little attention is paid to reports from such officials; but a special agent on the subject of “prestamos,” (and all the better if his name is identified with our army,) will command their attention. We ask this, as we know it to be the only means of redressing these constant outrages, and we hope our government will think the matter of sufficient importance to receive attention, involving, as it does, the ruin of American citizens who are compelled by their business position to remain in this country, where their property is thus insecure, merely from the neglect on the part of their government heretofore to protect them. The absolute necessity of this protection will be evident, when we inform you that the penalty attached to a refusal to pay promptly these “prestamos” is confiscation of property, imprisonment, or banishment from the country. We have, therefore, no alternative, in the absence of a thorough understanding between the two governments, in relation to the matter, but to yield to their exactions, or to subject ourselves to the penalties above named.

M. W. STARR, Jr.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States.