No. 439.
Mr. Morgan to Mr. Evarts.

No. 121.]

Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 102, and in continuance thereof, I now have to report that on our return from Mr. Ruelas’ funeral, Mr. Mariscal informed me that he had been instructed by the President to state to me that he (the President), had determined to communicate the request which I had made on the part of the United States for the passage of our troops into Mexico in pursuit of Victoria and his band, to the Senate, with the recommendation that it be approved. As I understood Mr. Mariscal, the proposition of the President was that our troops should be permitted to cross the boundary in pursuit of Victoria; the consent to continue for ninety days, after I should be notified thereof, coupled with the condition that Mexican troops should be allowed the same privilege in case he escaped from the pursuit which was then being made of him, Mr. Mariscal saying that the period could be extended without any difficulty in case the time allowed should not be sufficient to effect his capture.

Accordingly, on the 21st ultimo, I received a note from Mr. Fernandez, [Page 742]a translation of which I inclose, from which you will observe that the President did as Mr. Mariscal assured me he would do.

I did not inform you of this by telegraph because I was in hopes, and I was led to believe, that the action of the Senate would be prompt and confirmatory. In this I was disappointed. Several things occurred to prevent the action of the Senate. In the first place that body meets at 3.30 o’clock p.m., and rarely remains in session more than an hour and a half; often there is no quorum, when, of course, nothing is done. Again, the death of Mr. Ruelas was the cause of their losing a day. Then they were occupied with the proceedings attending upon the renewal of diplomatic relations with France, and the nomination and confirmation of a minister to that country. Then the matter had to be discussed, and there were many objections made to it. A public sentiment was sought to be raised against it by assertions made in the prominent journals that I had been instructed to notify, and that I had notified the government that if they refused the request, our troops would cross the Rio Grande whether or no. A translation of one of these notices I inclose.

I left nothing undone which it was in my power to do to bring the question to a solution, nor did I fail, in my interviews with the officers of the government with whom I have come in contact, to press upon them, as I was instructed to do, the importance of the measure, and to warn them of the resposibility which the Mexican Government would incur if the request was refused.

The committee to whom the matter was referred reported upon it favorably. There was a decided opposition to the adoption of the report, arising, as I am informed, from the fact that, in the opinion of some members of the Senate, the President has the authority to grant the request without asking their sanction thereto. Others there are who consider it an imputation upon the valor of Mexican troops that they should require assistance from any quarter, and they are not influenced in their action by the fact that Victoria is now in Mexico, and, with his band, plundering and murdering with impunity. Others fancy it is a disgrace to the country that a foreign soldier should be allowed to put his foot upon Mexican territory. Others also fear that, once any portion of the United States Army gets into Mexico, they will not leave it voluntarily, and they have very little hope that they could be forced out.

The inclosed translations from the Monitor Republicano, will show you how the matter was treated by the press.

My telegram of this date has given you the result of the President’s recommendation, and the terms upon which our troops will be permitted to cross into Mexico. They are the best that could be obtained. I am informed that all the correspondence between this legation and the government, both with reference to this and my former request upon this subject, was called for, and I am convinced that if any threat had been found in either of them a refusal would have been prompt and decided.

I inclose translation of Mr. Fernandez’s note, with its accompanying documents, announcing the terms upon which his government is prepared to act. I also inclose copy and translation of cipher telegram sent to you by me under this date.

I am, &c.,

[Page 743]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 121.—Translation.]

Mr. Fernandez to Mr. Morgan.

Mr. Minister: I had the honor to receive your excellency’s note of the 18th of the present month, in which you inform me that the Indian Victoria and his band having taken refuge on Mexican territory after renewed atrocities in the United States, your excellency has received instructions from your government to urge upon that of Mexico the necessity of permitting United States troops to cross the fronties in pursuit of the savages.

The President, to whom I reported the said note, has resolved, after submitting the question to the council of ministers, to ask the Senate for the necessary authorization to concede to the Government of the United States the permission requested. In due time I will communicate to your excellency the action of that chamber. In the mean time it is pleasant for me to inform your excellency that before the receipt of your note notice had been received in the War Department of the return of Victoria to the national territory, and that department had already issued orders for giving activity to the campaign against the savages.

I entertain, Mr. Minister, the belief that the Government of the United States and your excellency will give to this determination of the President its true value; it is an unassailable proof of the zeal displayed by the executive in giving peace and protection to the frontier, and of the good faith and sincerity which animate him in the cultivation of the existing friendship between Mexico and the United States.

It is pleasant, Mr. Minister, for me to reiterate to your excellency the protestations of my particular esteem.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 121.—Translation.]


For three days the following rumor has been in circulation:

The American minister sent a note to the government asking permission for American troops to cross the frontier in pursuit of Indians, stating that if this permission should be refused they would pass anyhow.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 121.—Translation.]


[From the Monitor Republicano, October 15, 1880.]

Last night we were told, by persons claiming to be well informed, that the chamber of Senators approved of the permission for the American troops to cross into our territory in pursuit of savage Indians; but it is not known whether our troops will enjoy the same privilege respecting the territory of the United States.

As the people have the right to know how the questions most nearly affecting their interests are treated and disposed of, we urge the Senate, in case the cabinet should not do so, to order the publication of the basis of this concession, which appears prejudicial to the nation.

At present very unfavorable comments are made upon it. We dare to hope that the permission has been granted upon a basis of strict reciprocity and limited to cases when it is necessary for American troops to cross into our territory in pursuit of the Indian Victoria, his tribe and allies.

[Inclosure 4 in No. 121.—Translation.]


Long and violent has been the discussion caused in the Senate by the note of the executive asking permission for American troops to cross the frontiers.

[Page 744]

We hope the good Mexicans who are in that chamber will not give their approbation to the complacent request of the cabinet, because, as we are informed, it is very dangerous for Mexico.

[Inclosure 5 in No. 121.—Translation.]

Mexico and the United States.

It has come to light that in the bosom of the Federal chamber a grave, very grave discussion has been caused by the note of the executive, in which permission is asked for the troops of the neighboring nation to pass our frontier; we say it has come to light, because as is known these questions are not discussed in public sessions, but are treated in what is called parliamentary secrecy.

It is true that there is reason, and very serious, for the regulation requiring that questions like the present, of a delicate character, should be discussed in secret, but it is not less true that at present that reserve is contributing to the public alarm, which is spreading upon its being announced that the North American question is again being debated.

In fact, of all the questions presented to the consideration of the men who govern us, there are none so serious, so delicate, as that which affects our most sacred national interests, and at the same time the interests of the neighboring republic.

A short time ago it was thought that the diplomatic questions between Mexico and the United States were terminated, or in the way of settlement; now we learn that a question of much interest is on the eve of being decided by the Senate at the request of the government. It is not out of place to incite the prudence, the wisdom, the patriotism of the members of the Federal chamber; our small family questions, so to speak, are not in question, our internal disputes, our struggles of unwise ambition are not now under discussion; something more sacred is treated—the national honor, the integrity of our territory, its inviolability, of being upright and just.

What we should first desire is peace with the neighboring nation, not to give a motive for any pretext for disturbing the harmony between the two republics, which should be sisters. Hence it is indispensable that in the class of treaties or agreements now discussed there should not be given the slightest pretext for future complications, the result of which might be the alteration of that harmony which it is to the interest of both nations should always exist.

At once, without being informed of the details of the question which agitates the members of the Senate, this is seen: that the permission for the troops of the neighboring nation to cross our frontier is dangerous on account of the difficulties it may originate. It is said—one of our colleagues has affirmed it—that an indispensable requisite to the permission requested by the government is that the neighboring republic will, in its turn, permit our troops to cross its frontier; this is well, it could not be otherwise, anything else would be an unprecedented humiliation, a violation of that august right which guarantees the independence of nations among each other; and notwithstanding, even under an aspect of reciprocity, the affair is very delicate; it involves questions of national interest, it is very dangerous, as we said yesterday, and hence it is necessary to appeal to the patriotism of the citizens who compose the Senate that they may think and reflect that they are treating the dearest interest of our unfortunate and beloved country, and that all study and all meditation are impossible.

Among the Senators themselves, the pro or con of the question is naturally defended; we, regarding questions which concern alike all parties, all factions, believe that all will act in good faith; when the country is materially interested in her present and her future, as in the present case, we are all Mexicans; the bickerings which divide us disappear and the same and holy interest unites us. We do not wish to believe—we do not believe—that there are bastard interests; that some members of the Federal chamber dissent from the opinions of others is because there exists a difference of views; each one sees the question from a different standpoint; each one judges it from a different aspect; very well then, much study and thought should be given to a concession, the results of which must have a large influence in the future of Mexico.

Among the misfortunes which pursue our country like a fatal shadow should be reckoned the existence of those bands of savages which invade Sonora, Arizona, and the Gulf of California, and which sometimes trouble our neighbors. But it should be noted that when they do this, they are received as they should be; and it is natural to believe that the resistance they meet will cause them to diminish their raids; the same is not the case with Mexico, which they annoy more, and not being governed by the laws of civilization, they are a constant threat to the towns of our frontier.

[Page 745]

From this view, both countries are interested in destroying—in driving off that plague which prevents the advancement of those regions, the rich soil of which gives them the right to the enjoyment of all the laws and all the benefits of civilization; Mexico is, perhaps, most interested in putting a stop to those raids, and on this the government should think seriously and deliberately; but for this reason the question should be dealt with in such a manner as not to injure the interests of the neighboring republic nor those of our country, which, although weak, should prove itself jealous of its independence as a nation.

Reciprocity, it is true, takes from the concession or treaty the humiliating aspect, and, nevertheless, there still remain a multitude of inconveniences, which it is not useless, but very essential, and even patriotic, to foresee.

When one nation crosses in a warlike manner the frontiers of another, there is something contrary to international rights; there is something like an exception to the rules of those rights; and in this case there is to be feared an injury to the guarantees of one or the other of the two nations.

From the moment those stipulations become consummated, the danger of a conflict is greater, and, as we said, we should avoid every shade of those conflicts between our republic and the neighbor of the North.

Up to the present, we are the real victims of the raids of the savages; the lands which they invade are in their greater part, ours, and there is foreshadowed in them great wealth—an incalculable wealth which we cannot develop owing to those remains of barbarism—those tribes which have for centuries struggled in the most senseless manner against civilization, and they have made barren some of our richest sections.

We think it cannot escape the penetration of our neighbors of the North that it is highly convenient to Mexican interests to combat, pursue, exterminate the savages; and that as our country enters upon the era of peace, the better will the government oppose the advances of savagery. If railways bring us, as it is supposed they will, a current of emigration, those deserts will become populated, and then civilization will invade the domain of the barbarians, obliging them to lay down their arms, or destroy them in case of necessity.

The neighboring republic, day by day, becomes possessed of greater elements than we have to fight the savages, and this is proven by the fact that the raids of the different tribes are made with preference upon Mexican territory.

These reflections cannot have failed to occur to the members of the Senate, who are at present discussing that trying and delicate question.

We do not know the details of the concession or agreement under discussion; in public we only hear the basis; the passage of American troops to this side of our frontier.

Once more we appeal to the patriotism of the Senators; once more we wish to remind them of their duties as Mexicans, in order that they may think of and study what they do.

[Inclosure 6 in No. 121.—Translation.]

Mr. Fernandez to Mr. Morgan.

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to remit in copy to your excellency the communication addressed me yesterday by the secretaries of the Chamber of Senators. In it your excellency will see that the Senate has prorogued for three months, counted from the 1st of next December, the authorization granted the President in May, 1878, to permit Federal troops to leave the republic and enter American territory, and the passage of Federal troops of the United States of America into the national territory. Your excellency will also see that the prorogue has been made on the same basis as in 1878, of which I also inclose a copy with the amendments prescribed in the resolution passed by the Senate yesterday.

As in accordance with the latter, the Executive should have an understanding with the Government of the United States, which regions maybe considered as deserts, for the purpose of pursuing the savages, the President proposes that all points distant at least two leagues from any encampment or settlement in either country may be considered as such.

He also proposes in virtue of his obligation to regulate the authorization granted him, that the commander (Jefe) of the forces of either of the two countries that may enter the territory of the other in pursuit of savages be obliged, upon crossing the dividing line, or before, if it should be possible, to give advice of his advance to the [Page 746]nearest military commander and political authority of the country in which the pursuit is to he made.

The President being placed in a position to arrange with the United States of America this delicate question for a length of time exceeding that fixed in 1878, he only waits to learn if your excellency’s government accepts the basis adopted by the Senate, and the propositions made in this note by the Executive, in order to grant the permission requested by said government.

I reiterate to your excellency the assurance of my very distinguished consideration.


Office of the Secretary of the Chamber of Senators of the Congress of the Union.

The Chamber of Senators in secret session to-day adopted the following resolution:

  • Clause 1. The authorization granted to the Executive on the 28th of May, 1878, to permit the departure of Federal troops beyond the limits of the republic, and their entrance into American territory, and the passage of Federal troops of the United States of America into the national territory, is prorogued for three months, counted from the 1st of next December.
  • Clause 2. Basis 3, of the authorization granted in 1878, remains as follows: The pursuing force that may enter foreign territory shall retire to its country as soon as it shall have defeated the force pursued or lost its trail. In no case can the forces of the two countries, respectively, establish themselves in foreign territory, nor remain in it longer than is necessary to make the pursuit of the band, whose trail it followed.
  • Clause 3. The Executive will regulate this authorization for the better public service.

We have the honor to transcribe this to you for the information of the President of the republic, and as the result of your initiative, dated the 21st of last September.

Liberty in the constitution.

  • ENRIQUE Ma RUBIO, Senator,

To the chief clerk in charge of the department of foreign affairs.

Office of the Secretaries of the Chamber of Senators of the Congress of the Union. Section 2, Secret Bureau.

In the extra secret session of yesterday the Chamber of Senators passed the following resolutions:

  • First. The Executive is authorized to permit the departure of Federal troops beyond the limits of the republic and their entrance into American territory, and the passage of Federal troops of the United States of America into the national territory under the following bases:
    The regular Federal troops of the two republics may reciprocally pass the dividing line when in close pursuit of a band of savage Indians.
    The reciprocal passage of Federal troops for the pursuit of savages in the desert cannot be made except in the desert portion of the frontier of the two countries. The Executive will come to an understanding with the Government of the United States of America as to what regions may be considered deserts, for the purposes of this article.
    The pursuing force that may enter foreign territory will retire to its country so soon as the band pursued shall have been defeated (batido) or its trail lost. It will also retire if a national force should present itself on the ground where the pursuit is being made and undertake to continue the pursuit. In no case can the forces of the two countries, respectively, establish themselves in foreign territory, nor remain in it longer than is necessary to make the pursuit of the band whose trail is followed.
    The abuses committed by the forces crossing into the territory of the other nation shall be punished according to their gravity, in conformity with its laws, by the government to which they belong, as if the abuses had been committed on its own soil, the same government also obligating itself to withdraw the responsible parties from the frontier. In case of offenses committed by the inhabitants of either country against a foreign force that may be within its limits, its government is only responsible [Page 747]to the other government for denial of justice in the punishment of the guilty parties.
    This authorization can only be made use of by the Executive within the time lacking for the completion of the present Presidential term, and the arrangement which may be made in virtue of it cannot have effect beyond that date.
  • Second. Upon the conclusion of this business, the government will remit to the Chamber of Senators, the documents relative thereto for its information.

Which we communicate to you for its effects.

Liberty in the constitution.

  • J. RIVERA y RIO, Senator,

To the chief clerk in charge of the department of foreign affairs.