No. 312.
Mr. Brigham to Mr. Porter.

No. 45.]

Sir: I have the honor to communicate the following facts in regard to the arrest and imprisonment of Mr. A. K. Cutting, an American citizen, by one of the courts in this city.

Mr. Cutting is a resident of Paso del Norte, and engaged as an editor of a newspaper called “El Centinela,” in a recent edition of which he published some strictures upon one Emigdio Medina, who proposed engaging in the newspaper business also.

For this offense Mr. Cutting was arrested and brought before the court to answer. Under the law here, when the parties agree to and sign a “reconciliation” the case was dismissed, which was done in this instance, Mr. Cutting being required by the court to publish it in his paper, which he did.

On the 18th day of June Mr. Cutting proceeded across the Bio Grande River to the United States, to El Paso, Tex., and published a card in the El Paso Herald, in which he reiterated his former charges, and makes some others, branding Medina’s conduct as “contemptible and cowardly,” &c., copy of which card I inclose, marked No. 1.

[Page 692]

When Mr. Cutting returned to Paso del Norte he was again arrested, presumably at the instance of Medina, and taken before the judge of the second court. Before this court Mr. Gutting was refused counsel and an interpreter, both of which he requested, and with closed doors, no one being present but the judge, the court interpreter, and the accused, the so-called examination of the case was proceeded with, which resulted in the committing of Mr. Cutting to jail.

At this stage of the proceedings, and before he was taken to jail, Mr. Cutting notified the court that he claimed the protection of his Government, and would refer the matter to the American consul, which he did by the following communication to me, dated June 23, 1886, marked No. 2.

On the receipt of this communication I proceeded to the office of the principal interpreter of the court to ascertain the exact charges against Mr. Cutting, and was informed that he was arrested for the publication in the El Paso (Texas) Herald; that he was examined upon this charge alone, and committed to jail on the same. I suggested that the court acted without jurisdiction, and had dome a wrong to Mr. Cutting, to which the interpreter replied that if the judge had made a mistake in the case it was in the power of the prosecuting attorney to dismiss prosecution when the case came up, which he thought he would do the next morning.

I then wrote a note to Mr. Daguerre, the partner of Mr. Cutting in the newspaper, and engaged his services to see the prosecuting attorney and have the case dismissed. The result was that the attorney left the impression that the ease would be dismissed the next day, which was the 21th day of June. On the morning of that day (being confined to bed by sickness) I sent my clerk to the court room to ascertain what was done in the case, and, in company with Mr. Daguerre, they called at the court room, where they found the judge, the prosecuting attorney, and the official interpreter. The prosecuting attorney notified them that he could do nothing on that day, as it was a legal holiday, and they returned and so reported to me.

Believing that the authorities would take no action in the case, and release Mr. Cutting, on the morning of the 25th of June I dictated from my sick bed a formal communication to the judge, demanding his release upon the ground that the court was wholly without jurisdiction of the matter, and instructed my clerk not to deliver the letter if Mr. Cutting was released. He found the court in session; the prosecuting attorney put in an appearance for a while and left the court, taking no action whatever in the case. My clerk then handed the judge my communication, copy of which I herewith inclose, marked No. 3.

To this communication his honor never even deigned a reply, and Mr. Cutting still languishes in jail, having been thus confined for more than one week. Bail was refused him, which he was prepared to give in any reasonable amount.

Thus it will be seen that I have used every means in my power for the release of this prisoner, without avail. That he is confined without the warrant or shadow of law, I take it there will be no question. If this fact be conceded, it seems meet and proper for the Department to take the matter in hand and demand an immediate release of the prisoner, and a full indemnity for the outrage.

I would here suggest that the parties culpable in this matter are the judge who issued the order for the arrest and illegal detention of the accused, one Regino Castañeda, and the prosecuting attorney, one José Maria Sierra, who had it in his power to have dismissed the case, and [Page 693] who still has that power, but refuses to exercise it. Both of said officers should be deposed as unworthy the places they fill.

I will further state that I have demeaned myself throughout with every proper courtesy and respect to the authorities in this matter, and urged Mr. Cutting to do likewise, and to obey all the orders and decrees emanating from the court, which he has done. That the court has so treated me, personally or officially, does not so clearly appear, and the failure to reply or take any notice of my official communication is a matter of which the Department is fully capable of judging, and will be prepared intelligently to act.

From the very inception of the case I am satisfied there has been no desire or intention to do Mr. Cutting justice, and it has been boasted that they can keep him in jail for six months or a year if they see proper to do so.

The claim that the 24th day of June was a legal holiday was a mere subterfuge, and was, in point of fact, untrue, the mayor’s court being in session, and the post office and custom-house kept open the usual hours during the day. * * *

I herewith inclose the affidavit of A. K. Cutting, marked No. 4; affidavit of Mr. Daguerre, marked No. 5; affidavit of Mr. Henry G. Turner, marked No. 6, substantiating the facts set forth in this dispatch. Also extracts from the El Paso Daily Times and Daily Tribune, as an index of public sentiment on this subject,

I have written thus plainly and pointedly, because I am fully persuaded that the necessities of the case demand it.

I am, &c.,



Consul Brigham is a lawyer, has been a judge, and is a man of much ability and experience. I fully concur in what he says in this case as to the Mexican courts in general. A reading of my reports on previous cases will show that 1 have said substantially the same things over and over again. With this comment I submit the case to the Department.

[Inclosure 1 in No. 45.]

Advertisement.—a Card.

To Emigdio Medina, of Paso del Norte:

In a late issue of El Centinela, published in Paso del Norte, Mexico, I made the assertion that Emigdio Medina was a “fraud” and that the Spanish newspaper he proposed to issue in Paso del Norte was a scheme to swindle advertisers, &c. This morning said Medina took the matter to a Mexican court, where I was forced to sign a “reconciliation.”

Now, I do hereby reiterate my original assertion, that said Emigdio Medina is a “fraud,” and add “dead-beat” to the same. Also, that his taking advantage of the Mexican law, and forcing me to a “reconciliation” was contemptible and cowardly, and in keeping with the odorous reputation of said Emigdio Medina. And should said Emigdio Medina desire “American” satisfaction for this reiteration, I will be pleased to grant him all he may desire, at any time, in any manner.

[Page 694]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 45.]

Mr. Cutting to Mr. Brigham.

Sir: For an alleged offense committed in Texas, United States of America, I have been arrested and jailed in Paso del Norte, Mexico, by a Mexican judge. Now, as an American citizen, I place myself under the protection of yourself as United States consul.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 3 in No. 45.]

Mr. Brigham to judge of the second court, Paso del Norte.

Sir: I have the honor to officially communicate with you in regard to the arrest and imprisonment of A. K. Cutting, an American citizen, by your order.

I have been informed by the official interpreter to your court that Mr. A. K. Cutting was arrested, examined, and incarcerated for an offense (if offense at all) committed in the State of Texas, United States of America, which was the publication of a card in the El Paso, Texas, Herald.

It is scarcely neeessary for me to call the attention of your honor to the fact that for an offense committed in the United States your court cannot possibly have any jurisdiction. Therefore the arrest and detention of Mr. Cutting in jail is wholly unwarranted and oppressive, and in violation of one of the sacred principles of American liberty. This communication is for the purpose of making a formal demand upon your honor for the immediate release of Mr. Cutting, which I do in the name of the United States Government, which I have the honor to represent at this point.

Trusting that you will comply with my request and petition in his behalf, and order his immediate release.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 4 in No. 45.]

Affidavit of A.K. Cutting.

Before me, J. Harvey Brigham, United States consul at Paso del Norte, Mexico, on this 1st day of July, 1886, personally came and appeared Augustus K. Cutting, who, being duly sworn, deposes and says as follows, to wit:

My name is Augustus K. Cutting; I am an American citizen, born in the State of New York, on the 30th day of August, 1841, and am forty-five years of age.

I am and have been a resident of the city of Paso del Norte, Mexico, for the past eighteen months, off and on, and am engaged as editor and proprietor of the weekly newspaper called El Centinela.

I had a disagreement with one Emigdio Medina, and on the 18th day of June, 1886, I published a card in the El Paso (Texas) Herald, in which I made some strictures on the said Medina. The annexed copy of said card is correct. For this publication in the Texas paper I was arrested on the 23d day of June, 1886, and taken before one Regino Castañeda, judge of the second court of this city. When before the court I asked the privilege of counsel and an interpreter, both of which were denied me, and the said judge (including all other parties, except the official interpreter, one police officer, and one Mexican, and myself) proceeded with closed doors to investigate the case, which he did solely by asking me questions which I refused to answer, claiming that, the card having been published in the United States, he had no jurisdiction.

At the conclusion of the examination the judge notified me that I would be held to answer to the charge of having published the card in the Texas paper, and that I would have to go to jail. At this point I claimed the protection of the United States Government, and so informed the court, and wrote a letter to Hon. J. Harvey Brigham, United States consul, informing him of the fact. The court refused me bail, [Page 695] which I could at any time have given, and I went to jail, where I have been incarcerated since the 23d June, 1886, in a filthy, loathsome prison.

During the day I am allowed the freedom of the court yard, or inclosure of the prison, but at night I am locked up with all the other prisoners, of every grade and stamp, in the same room, some 18 by 40 feet, with only one door, which is locked at night, making it a closed room in every respect, there being no other means of ventilation. The room is filthy and loathsome, with only a ground floor. No bed clothing of any kind has been furnished me, and but for the kindness of friends outside I would have to sleep on the bare ground in all this filth, as other prisoners have to do.

I am allowed six tclacos, Mexican money, per day (equal to eight and one-half cents American money) upon which to subsist, and would have suffered for food but for assistance and food from the outside.


Sworn to and subscribed before me this day.

[l. s.]
United States Consul.
[Inclosure 5 in No. 45.]

Affidavit of A. N. Daguerre.

Before me, J. Harvey Brigham, United States consul at Paso del Norte, Mexico, came and appeared, on the 1st day of July, 1886, Mr. A. N. Daguerre, who, being duly sworn, deposes and says as follows, to wit:

I am personally well acquainted with A. K. Cutting, and know him to be an American citizen. I am engaged with him as partner in the publication of a newspaper called El Centinela. I know that he was arrested and imprisoned for publishing a card in the El Paso (Texas) Herald, June 18, 1886, reflecting upon Mr. E. Medina. I was present in the court-room and heard the judge announce these facts in reply to questions asked by Mr. D. J. Sarback, clerk to the United States consul. I am myself a Mexican, and speak the Spanish language, and knew exactly what he stated. The judge stated emphatically that Mr. Cutting was not in jail for contempt of court, but for the publication of the card in the El Paso (Texas) Herald. I was present in the court-room, June 24, 1886, when we hoped to have Mr. Cutting released, as I had been informed that the prosecuting attorney would probably dismiss the case.

The prosecuting attorney informed everybody present that he could do nothing in the case that day, claiming that it was a legal holiday. I do not understand that it was a legal holiday, and all the other courts were in session, and the custom-house and post-office were open on that day. I was present in court when bail was refused Mr. Cutting by the judge. I know that he is able to give bail in any reasonable amount and by some of the wealthiest men in the city. As long as I have known Mr. Cutting he has been a peaceable and law-abiding citizen, and diligent and attentive to his business. Never knew him to be in any other difficulty. I have visited him in jail daily since his imprisonment, and know it to be a loathsome and filthy place. I know that at night he is locked in a room with from six to eight other prisoners, and when the door is locked there are no other means of ventilation. It is an adobe house, almost air-tight, and has a dirt floor. He is allowed six Mexican tolacos per day upon which to subsist (equal to eight and one-half cents American money), and it is necessary to furnish suitable food from the outside.

He was not furnished with any bedding (not even a blanket), and would have had to sleep on the ground or a bench if bedding had not been furnished him by his friends.

I am thirty years of age, and born in this city, and am a married man.


Sworn to and subscribed before me on the day and date above written.

[l. s.]
United States Consul.
[Inclosure 6 in No. 45.]

Affidavit of H. G. Turner.

Personally came and appeared before me, J. Harvey Brigham, United States consul at Paso del Norte, Mexico, on this 1st day of July, 1886, Mr. H. G. Turner, who, being duly sworn, deposes and says as follows, to wit:

I am personally well acquainted with A. K. Cutting, and know him to be an American citizen, and, that be is engaged in the newspaper business in this city. I was present [Page 696] in court when it was announced by the judge, through the official interpreter, that Mr. A. K. Cutting had been arrested for publishing a card in the El Paso (Texas) Herald, June 18, 1886, reflectíng upon Mr. E. Medina; that he had been examined and was being held on that charge. I frequently visited him in prison, and know that it is a loathsome, filthy place, with a dirty ground floor, and that it smells very badly, and that he is incarcerated with eight or ten other prisoners, all in one room at night. These prisoners are in jail for various offenses, and some of them dirty, filthy creatures. I know that he would have had no bedding (not even a blanket) unless they had been provided by friends outside, and that I personally provided these things for him. Mr. Cutting informed me that he was allowed only six Mexican tolacas a day (equal to about 8½ cents in American money) upon which to subsist. I have been personally attending to the matter of sending his meals to him daily, knowing the absolute necessity therefor. When the prisoners are locked in said room at night, it is entirely closed up, and there are no means of ventilation left. It is a close adobe house, nearly air-tight.

It is an exceedingly unwholesome and filthy place. I know that Mr. Cutting is able to give bond in almost any amount by the best men in this city. I am satisfied, from my knowledge of this case, that the arrest and imprisonment of Mr. Cutting is mainly for the purpose of oppressing and humiliating him, and I will state that this is the general impression. I have been residing in this city for the past three years, and am an employé of the Mexican Central Railway.


Sworn to and subscribed before me on the day and date above written.

United States Consul.
[Inclosure 7 in No. 45.—Newspaper extract.]

Another Mexican outrage.

Another case of the bad faith of the Mexican officials toward American citizens is instanced by the treatment of A. K. Cutting by the authorities of Paso del Norte.

A review of the circumstances by which Cutting was brought in contact with the Mexican law was given in the Times of Wednesday, but the offense for which he was arrested on Tuesday seems to have been misunderstood by him at the time, as he stated to a Times representative that it was the ridiculous manner in which he published the “reconciliation” which he had been compelled to sign by the suit of Emigdio Medina. Since then it has transpired that the arrest was made on account of the publication about Medina in last Sunday’s Herald. When this fact was developed at his trial on Wednesday, he informed the court which had refused his request to be allowed to employ counsel that he would invoke his rights as an American citizen and throw himself on the protection of United States Consul Brigham. Accordingly he communicated with Judge Brigham, who at the time was unwell, and the judge, with his characteristic zeal, in spite of his ill health, called on the magistrate who had committed Cutting to jail, and insisted on his release from custody.

The magistrate informed the consul that if a mistake had been made in sending Cutting to jail to await his trial, the district attorney was empowered to order his release. To the district attorney he went accordingly, and that functionary told him that Cutting should be allowed to sleep at the house of Mr. Daguerre that night, instead of in jail, as had been ordered, and that his trial would come off in the morning. This, it seems now, was only a ruse to get rid of the consul, for late on Wednesday evening Cutting was carried off to jail in spite of the assurance to the contrary, and has been there ever since.

Consul Brigham, upon hearing of this breach of faith, insisted yesterday morning upon the prisoner’s release, but was informed that it was a legal holiday, and no action could be taken, though the day was not observed by any of the other courts, all of which transacted business, and the consul believes the holiday was merely a subterfuge.

He will this morning make a formal demand as United States consul on the magistrate, who occupies the same relative position as a justice of the peace in this country, for the release of Cutting, and will forward a report of the case to the Department of State at Washington. The offense for which Cutting is in jail was committed in the United States, and to the State of Texas alone he is amenable for it; the idea of punishing a man for an offense committed in a foreign country being purely Mexican.

It is on this ground that Consul Brigham will proceed, and it is to be hoped that he can compel the authorities with which he is contending to do justice to his countryman.

[Page 697]
[Inclosure 8 in No. 45.—Newspaper extract.]

More Mexican atrocities.

The antipathy of the Mexican Government and its people in general towards Americans is again illustrated in the case of Mr. Charles Merkley, the worthy station agent of the Mexican Central at Chihuahua, who was imprisoned last week at that place and denied bond for defending himself from an attack made by a pelado who became enraged because he did not see fit to turn over freight to him without a written order, in accordance with the instructions of the company in every instance. He struck Mr. Merkley first, and the offense of the latter consisted in resisting the blow. Mr. Scott, United States consul at that point, up to the present has seen fit to make no intercession in behalf of Mr. Merkley as a citizen, of the United States. He enjoys the reputation among the Americans of Chihuahua of being a “veritable chump,” who is wedded to a Mexican, and, of course, thoroughly in accord with Mexican ways.

In Paso del Norte we happen to have a most efficient consul, Judge Brigham, who has ever been alive to his duty as a representative of this Government, and if his report to Washington in, regard to the audacious interference with the liberty of American citizens by the authorities of Paso del Norte meets with no attention on the part of the powers that be, we might as well dispense with such official appendages to our Department of State and throw ourselves upon the mercy of our persecutors, or else redress our wrongs as best we can as a community.

Mr. Cutting, the editor of El Centinela, for publishing an article on this side of the river, languishes in their bastile, a place of filth and dirt, where thieves and murderers would more than expiate their crimes in lingering a single night; and this is Mexican justice meted out to a loyal citizen of a land upon whose escutcheon there lingers no stain, and whose past history, replete with heroic deeds, has made her a star among nations, her only fault being her leniency towards this unappreciative neighbor, who has mistaken sympathy for her weakness for fear, and shows her gratitude by flaunting insult after insult in the very face of our Government. A few palliating words from the city of Mexico cannot make reparation for such flagrant outrages. There are no extenuating circumstances in these cases. Unless our citizens are protected, of what value are our treaties?

[Inclosure 9 in No. 45.—Newspaper articles.]

The Cutting case.

Regino Castañeda, the judge of the second court of Paso del Norte, a diminutive specimen of humanity, who is weighted down with the high functions of “el juicio” and wears the dignity of his petty office with more pomp and circumstance than the Czar of Russia, and before whom it was Mr. Cutting’s “mala suerte” to be arraigned, became incensed at the American consul, Judge Brigham, who, in sending his official request that Mr. Cutting should be liberated, deemed it fit to say that he was informed by the official interpreter, instead of saying he was informed by his honor, the high muck-a-muck, the all-potent juez, through said interpreter; and upon such quibbling he has procrastinated and sought the opportunity to exhibit his power. The interpreter seeing that this only involved the changing of a few words, took the responsibility upon himself to change the document, and then his honor again was piqued because he did not wish it known that he had imparted any information of an official character to a United States consul, and wished the document changed again.

At this juncture Mr. Daguerre intercepted and took the document back to Judge Brigham, who has been exceedingly ill and is now confined to his room. The latter reproved the interpreter severely for changing an iota of the document, and refused to have any further parlance with his majesty, Castaneda, but will write to Washington for immediate instructions on the matter and see if Uncle Sam will forever submit to such insults, this time from a petty little juez segunda in a frontier town, in a republic that would crawl in its hole at the first command “to arms!” given by this Government.

This is not the first occasion of the kind, and it is about time Mexico should be taught to respect this Government. The fault is with the Government in not exacting reparation for all such flagrant breaches of the comity that should exist between neighboring and friendly nations. The supineness of the Government in the matter of the killing of Captain Crawford is enough to totally destroy the respect for this nation in Mexico. When an English subject is in any way abused in Mexico the home Government immediately exacts reparation. In one case an Englishman’s horse was taken and he was obliged to walk to town a distance of a few miles. Not less than $1,000 were exacted and paid.

When this Government respects itself sufficiently to protect its citizens in a foreign country an end will be made of these outrages, and not until then.

[Page 698]

Meanwhile Mr. Cutting remains in custody at the mercy of the court. He will have a big show for damages for false imprisonment if the Government will condescend to take notice of his case. The contempt of court, for which he is held, was committed in United States Territory, and his imprisonment is entirely without cause or precedent.

A. K. Cutting, of the Centinela, of Paso del Norte, is still confined in the Mexican jail on what every fair-minded man must consider a frivolous and unfounded charge. The Mexicans are revenging themselves on him for an offense he committed on this side of the river, on American soil. This is an unjustifiable outrage. Although Mr. Cutting has during his journalistic career on this and the other side of the river never exhibited any very friendly spirit towards this paper, still the Times feels constrained to say that his imprisonment is an unqualified outrage. He is an American citizen, and entitled to protection against frivolous and undeserved imprisonment. We trust that Judge Brigham, our consul, will succeed in interesting the State Department at Washington in his case and have ample reparation exacted.