No. 264.
Mr. Rives to Mr. Chang Yen Hoon.

Sir: Referring to previous correspondence exchanged by the Department with you in relation to the reported murder, in May, 1887, of a party of Chinamen engaged in mining on Snake River, in Oregon, I have the honor to communicate to you for your information copy of a letter in relation to the occurrence, written by the honorable James H. Slater, of Joseph, Oregon, formerly a Senator of the United States, to Mr. L. L. McArthur, United States attorney for the district of Oregon, which letter has been sent to this Department for such use as may be proper.

You will observe that Mr. Slater makes important statements touching the necessity of securing evidence against the six men who have been indicted recently for the killing and robbery of the Chinamen in question. It seems probable that much aid in the indicated direction might be rendered to the authorities of the State of Oregon having jurisdiction in the premises by the Chinese consul at San Francisco, who has heretofore interested himself in tracing out the authors of this grievous crime and endeavoring to procure their trial and conviction.

The crime having been committed against the laws and peace of Oregon, [Page 402] and the indictment against certain of the alleged murderers having been found by the criminal courts of that State, there is no present occasion for Federal jurisdiction in the premises, or for interference to procure testimony on the part of the judicial officers of the United States. The Chinese consul at San Francisco and his agents, with the witnesses to the facts mentioned is your previous note, will, I am sure, be afforded every courtesy and facility by the authorities of the State of Oregon, of whose energetic disposition to take advantage of every opportunity to further the ends of justice Senator Slater’s letter affords gratifying proof.

Accept, etc.,

G. L. Rives,
Acting Secretary.

Mr. Slater to Mr. McAuthur.

Dear Sir: There is a matter in this county which in my judgment ought to be looked into by the United States district court, if it has jurisdiction. The facts are about as follows: About last May a party of white men, about six or seven men, committed a most daring outrage on a camp of unoffending Chinamen who were mining on Snake River. They went in broad day-light, attacked them, and there is direct proof of the killing of two and indirect proof of the killing of many more. Their camp was robbed, and it is believed that the white men got some $5,000 or $10,000 in gold dust. An indictment was found in the circuit court in March last against six, Ben Evans, J. B. Canfield, Omer Le Rue, Robert McMillin, Carl Hughes, and Hiram May ward. The three latter are in jail; the other three, who are regarded as the ringleaders, are at large and are out of the State and their exact whereabouts not definitely known, but it is believed that with proper effort they can be secured.

Frank Vaughn testified before the grand jury and gave the whole matter away. The feeling here is quite intense against the accused and a general desire is expressed that all the parties should be brought to punishment, but the county is not in a condition to push the prosecution. Detectives will have to be employed to hunt down the three out of the State. I believe there is no power vested in the court or county to employ detectives or agents for the purpose named. The Governor can issue proper papers and bring back the accused when found and arrested, but has no power I think to do more. I have not examined the Federal statutes, but surely think that such offenses are surely cognizable in the Federal courts, but if they are not I feel sure that in such a case the Department of Justice can find some way to aid in the hunting down of these men. It seems to me that in such a case the Federal Government must have the power to vindicate a friendly foreigner within its borders under treaty stipulation. McMillin and Vaughn claim to have been eye-witnesses to the whole affair, and Mayward and Hughes claimed to have remained at the cabin of the white men during the affair and have been restrained from saying anything about it by reason of threats. Vaughn turned state’s evidence and is under bonds.

I write to you because you are the United States attorney for Oregon and directly in communication with the Department, and also because I regard the matter in a most serious light and feel sure that if the matter be laid before the proper authority the whole power of the Government will be brought to bear to bring the guilty to justice. Every aid will be given by the officers of this county and by the people here. I am, of course, not advised as to what the powers of Judge Deady’s court may be, never having examined into it. But if jurisdiction attaches I trust immediate steps will be taken to insure a speedy conviction, and if there is a doubt about the matter, I suggest that the whole matter be at once laid before the Attorney-General. You are at liberty to make such use of this letter as you may think best. If further information be desired D. B. Reavis, county clerk, and Peter O. Sullivan, county judge, will be glad to furnish the same.

I must ask you to excuse the bad appearance of this letter as I have written in great haste, and without time to put it in better shape.

Respectfully, yours,

James H. Slater.