to Mr. Morgan.
Washington, December 8, 1880.
Sir: Your dispatch of the 13th ultimo, No. 133, in relation to the case of certain citizens of the United States, who were impressed into the military service of Mexico, and who are now said to be actually serving in the Thirty-first Battalion of the army of that republic has been received.
The grounds assumed by you in the correspondence between yourself and Mr. Fernandez, in regard to the demand for the immediate release of these citizens, following, as they do, the views expressed by the Department in its instruction of the 9th of October, are in entire accord with the position which this government assumes in relation to the unfriendly and unwarranted course of the Mexican civil and military authorities towards these citizens of the United States, and your course is approved.
The suggestion of the minister for foreign affairs, in his note to you of the 30th of October last, is to the effect that the parties thus forcibly compelled to enter the military service of a foreign power must, in order to secure their release, resort to the slow formalities of judicial procedure in the courts of the country whose civil and military officers committed the wrong. Your protest against this position, as novel as it is believed to be untenable, was apt and timely. Mr. Fernandez’s views of international obligations in this regard, as expressed in his note of [Page 752]the 30th of October, cannot for a moment be accepted by this government.
In addition to the precedent of Emilio Baiz’s case, which you cite in your reply to the minister, several instances are found in the records of this Department in which, during the existence of our late civil war, the Mexican Government applied to this for protection to Mexicans resident in various States against demands of the local recruiting officers of the United States upon these Mexican citizens to serve in the armies of this republic. In all such cases it is found to have been the practice of this Department to bring the subject at once to the attention of the Secretary of War, and no single instance is met with in which the Mexican citizen’s claim to exemption from military service in the armies of the United States was not promptly recognized and respected by this government.
As to the proof of citizenship of the persons now in question, their status as citizens of the United States was established to the satisfaction of this government before instructing you on the subject, and when that point is settled as required by the laws of the United States, international courtesy dictates that that of Mexico should hold it to be concluded. The peculiarities of Buruato’s case are sufficiently explained in my No. 71. Should the men not have been already released on your receipt of this instruction, you will lose no time in pressing for their speedy discharge from the service in which they are held, and you will report the result to the Department without delay.
I am, &c.,