No. 466.
Mr. Blaine to Mr. Morgan.

No. 158.]

Sir: Adverting to my instruction of the 27th ultimo, concerning the expected movement of the Mexican Government toward the extension of the limits of the “zona libre” so as to include the town of El Paso, Mexico, I have now to forward herewith, for your information, and as throwing additional light upon this important subject, a copy of a letter from his excellency the governor of Texas, of the 26th ultimo, and of one inclosed therewith from Captain Caldwell, of the Texas frontier police force, in relation to the matter.

[Page 783]

The petition referred to in the letter of Governor Roberts is omitted for the reason that it is identical with the one which accompanied my instruction mentioned.

I am, sir, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 158.]

Governor Roberts to Mr. Blaine.

Sir: I have the honor to present to you a petition of the citizens of El Paso, Texas, and a letter from Capt. Neal Caldwell of our frontier police force, giving assurance of the respectability of the petitioners, with reasons for their action in the premises.

You will see from the petition and letter that the aid of our government is sought to prevent the establishment of the zona libre, or free belt, along the western side of the Rio Grande opposite El Paso, in Texas. Several railroads are conveying to El Paso, and it bids fair to become a great central distributing city of the interior of the continent.

The anticipated action of making a free district or belt of 30 or 40 miles, within which goods and merchandise are admitted and disposed of free of duties, will be a death-blow to the commercial prosperity of El Paso and other Texas towns on the upper Rio Grande, and will also be an Injury to the revenue of the United States. The goods brought from any other country outside of the United States will be stored and sold in the free belt, in preference to being stored and sold in Texas towns.

I am not fully aware of what policy it is that prompts this proceeding on the part of Mexico, and having no means or right of negotiating on the subject, I beg leave to refer the matter to you, trusting that through the general government our interests in that regard will be protected as far as practicable.

Respectfully, &c.,

[Appendix to inclosure in No. 158.]

Captain Caldwell to Governor Roberts.

Sir: The petition of certain citizens of El Paso County, Texas, protesting against the extension of the “zona libre” to include the town of El Paso, Mexico, has had my attention.

For your information I would respectfully state that I am personally acquainted with several of the signers of the petition and know them to be respectable citizens of the town of El Paso, Texas.

I am also personally acquainted with the operation and effect of the “zona libre” on the commerce of citizens on the American side of the Rio Grande River, and I am of the opinion that the extension of it to include the town of El Paso, Mexico, would be most disastrous to trade on the American side of the river, for the reason that if the “zona libre” should be extended as apprehended, the merchants of El Paso Mexico, could order goods from any foreign country, have them shipped through the United States under bond, and have them delivered within the “zona libre” without having paid any duty, except the export duty to the country from which the goods were shipped, thereby being enabled to undersell the merchants on the American side of the river (who are compelled to pay revenue duties to our government), which would ruin the trade of the town of El Paso, Texas, which, with its great railroad facilities soon to be established, should be an important commercial point within our State.

I have, &c.,

Captain and Quartermaster, Frontier Battalion.