to Mr. Blaine.
Mexico, August 11, 1881. (Received August 25.)
Sir: In your dispatch No. 144 (June 23, 1881)—which relates to the impressment of several parties, said to be citizens of the United States, in the Mexican army, and which are referred to in your previous dispatches No. 71, October 9, 1880, and No. 112, March 14, and in my dispatches No. 125, October 27, 1880; No. 133, November 13, 1880; and No. 144, December 25, 1880; you express the opinion that the proper course for me to pursue with regard to presenting a claim for compensation for their illegal impressment would seem to be that I should take the several cases, according to their circumstances and the status and character of the claimants, and advise the parties as to the amount proper to be claimed by them. You add that the ease with which I have access to the facts of each case makes such a course just and proper.
The only knowledge I possess of the facts of the cases is derived from these copies of the reports to you of Consul Schuchardt (254 and 262) which have accompanied your dispatches No. 71, October 9, 1880, and No. 112, March 14, 1881. From them I can discover very little as to circumstances, status and character, and residence of the injured parties. Assuming the facts to be as stated by Mr. Schuchardt (and I do not question them) they were illegally and improperly used, and are entitled to be compensated, not only, in my opinion, for the losses which they may have sustained, but for the outrage of which they were the victims.
To obtain a knowledge of all the facts and circumstances, I have addressed a note to Mr. Schuchardt, which I inclose. I send it to you that you may forward it, should you deem proper, and because it will reach him sooner via the United States than if I were to trust it to the ordinary post.
I have to call your attention to the fact that so far no claim has ever been presented on the part of the impressed persons, nor has any complaint been made by them. I submit whether this is a prerequisite to making a demand in their name.[Page 792]
In considering the question, I also submit whether Mr. Felipe Burnato is entitled to the interposition on behalf of the United States. He appears to have been born at Menclora, Mexico. On the 1st of November, 1872, in the district court for the county of Maverick, Texas, he declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States. It does not appear that he completed his citizenship. He was arrested at Piedras Negras, about the 1st November, 1879, charged with a violation of the Mexican revenue laws, and sentenced, as appears from the affidavit of his wife attached to Mr. Schuchardt’s report No. 254, to five years’ imprisonment in the military service at Piedras Negras. That he served in the Army, however, is not denied, as you will observe by reference to Señor Mariscal’s note to me of the 24th December, 1880, inclosed in my dispatch No. 144, December 25, 1880, and his case is therefore disembarrassed of that qusetion.
Upon this point you say in your dispatch No. 71, October 9, 1880, that Mr. Burnato’s citizenship should be brought up by the Mexican Government. I am to suggest that for fourteen years he had been a permanent resident of the United States, of which he had declared his intention to become a citizen, and that he has thus been under the protection of that government, its laws and treaties, and that it would be ungenerous for the Mexican Government to insist, under the circumstances, in making any unfavorable distinction in his case. I have not been able to discover any evidence upon the point of his residence, except what is to be found in the affidavit of his wife, made on the 5th May, and she does not say that he was a resident of Eagle Pass, or of the United States, at the time of his arrest, or how long before that event he had gone over to Piedras Negras. In respect, therefore, of Felipe Burnato, it appears to me two preliminary questions arise:
- Is he a citizen of the United States, and therefore entitled to protection?
- If he be a citizen of the United States, and he was condemned by a competent Mexican tribunal to a punishment not excessive or unusual for a violation of a Mexican law, will the United States interfere in his behalf?
As I feel persuaded that the first objection which will be opposed to any demand which may be made in his behalf as well as against all the others who are the subject of this correspondence, I have endeavored to fortify myself upon them, as well as upon all the other facts connected therewith (to the extent that my judicial training permits), in my letter to Consul Schuchardt; and I have addressed myself to him rather than to the parties, because he knows exactly their places of residence, and will see to it that my questions are answered.
I am, &c.,