Mr. Ryan to Mr. Blaine.

No. 61.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 30, of 30th ultimo, relating to the case of R. C. Work, imprisoned, tried, and convicted in the State of Tamaulipas, from which judgment an appeal is pending, my attention was drawn to the publication of a letter by one A. W. Gifford, of St. Louis, Missouri (I beg to refer here to my No. 27, of 27th ultimo), who, I understand, was president of the Linares Land and Milling Company, of which Mr. Work was superintendent.

With a view to obtaining all the information possible relating to the subject of the offense of Mr. Work, I addressed a communication to Mr. Gilford (see inclosure No. 1) requesting him to furnish this legation with any facts relating to the matter. Mr. Gilford has kindly responded to my request, and I transmit, for the information of the Department, copy of his reply, of date July 29, 1889.

I am, etc.,

Thos. Ryan.
[Page 603]
[Inclosure 1 in No. 61.]

Mr. Ryan to Mr. Gifford.

Dear Sir: It has come to my notice that you have important information bearing upon the subject of the treatment, by the court and other Mexican officials, of Mr. Work, during his incarceration at Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, on the charge of homicide.

I would esteem it as a favor if you would transmit to me all information, documentary or otherwise, in regard to this matter, of which you may be possessed.

Yours, very respectfully,

Thomas Ryan.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 61.]

Mr. Gifford to Mr. Ryan.

Dear Sir: Absence in Mexico has prevented reply to your favor of the 6th instant, asking for information regarding treatment of Mr. R. C. Work by Mexican courts, as charged by his wife, Mrs. Mary Work.

The charges are false and, in my opinion, did not originate with Mrs. Work, but came from a relative of the family, a lawyer in San Antonio, Texas, by the name of Brooker, who doubtless imagined his plan a good one to serve his relative.

I was on the ground a few days after the killing and know that the family received kind and generous treatment considering the surroundings and circumstances. Even the brother (of the man killed by Work), with his family, called on Work’s family, extending sympathy, and offering assistance and protection, showing by far a better Christian spirit than I have ever known in our own country. There was by far less excitement, annoyance, and trouble than would have been over a similar affair in one of our mining camps.

Work killed a man, as he claims (and I believe him), in self-defense, but unfortunately for himself, without witnesses, while there were two witnesses against him. There had been bad blood brewing in the camp for some months prior to this affair, produced by gossip, petty jealousies, and enmity, the immediate result of imaginary conflicting interests, which generally produces a killing in the average mining camp of any country before interested parties can realize their duty to their fellow-man.

The Government quickly offered troops to prevent any further trouble in the camp, all of which was unnecessary.

Work was placed under arrest, and during his several trials enjoyed the freedom of the towns in which he was held as a prisoner, a liberty seldom extended their own people under similar circumstances.

On one occasion Work was, under the generous consideration of the governor, permitted to go from Ciudad Victoria to Linares, in the State of Nuevo Leon, to transact business, simply on his personal word that he would return within a stated time.

Knowing personally of the kind and generous treatment extended to Mr. Work and his family by the Mexican people, I was completely astonished at first appearance of charges, published in San Antonio from Mrs. Work, and immediately opened up correspondence to ascertain if there were any facts in the matter that I did not possess, and to correct any injustice that might be extended to Work, or to Mexico and her people, by the false charges of Mrs. Work, copy of which correspondence I hereto attach, a copy being used in place of original, because original is in Spanish. In my opinion (as a personal friend of Mr. Work) he has had fall justice, an impartial trial, generous treatment, and a mild sentence, and, under the circumstances,” should be a happy, thankful man. Of course, as an American and personal friend, I would like to see him have his liberty; but not by false charges against Mexico and her people. When I violate the law I must be prepared to suffer the consequences.

Very respectfully,

A. W. Gifford.
[Page 604]
[Inclosure 3 in No. 61.]

Mr. Gifford to Governor Prieto.

Dear Sir: The inclosed* articles from this morning’s Globe-Democrat completely dumbfound me; and I take the liberty of writing you for the latest facts and developments in the Work case.

I can’t believe that Mr. Work or his wife would make such charges in the face of the generous treatment he has received from your people, and am inclined to believe that it is the work of a San Antonio lawyer, for the purpose of working up trouble, notoriety, and sympathy. Of course I fully appreciate the trying position of his wife and daughter; but this is no ground for abuse of Mexico and her people.

Thanking you for your kind treatment toward Mr. Work, and knowing that you will still be just and generous in his case, I am,

Very respectfully,

A. W. Gifford.
[Inclosure 4 in No. 61.—Translation.]

Governor Prieto to Mr. Gifford.

Dear Sir: I have the pleasure of receiving your favor of June 20, inclosing newspaper cuttings relative to the letter of Mrs. Mary C. Work, against Mexico, on account of the imprisonment suffered by her husband; and asking for additional facts and information. You may rest assured that the letter ascribed to Mrs. Work, has been written for the sole purpose of creating a sensation among the American people, abounding not only in exaggeration, but also in actual misrepresentations. I inclose copy of a letter in which the president of the supreme court of justice of this state explains the whole case to the Mexican consul in San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Ornelas, and from which you can judge of the prevarications contained in Mrs. Work’s letter.

As a Mexican I most sincerely thank you for not having listened for a single moment to the slanderers of Mexico.

Very respectfully,

Alejandro Prieto.
[Inclosure 5 in No. 61.—Translation.]

Judge Mainero to Dr. Ornelas.

Most Respected Sir and Dear Friend: The governor of this State has seen fit to show me your letter, together with clippings from American newspapers it transmitted, relative to the affairs of Robert C. Work. After due consideration of both, I write you the following under instructions from the governor authorizing you to give it publicity, translated into the English language.

I was the judge who, after hearing the evidence against Work upon a first appeal, pronounced a second judgment against the accused, increasing the punishment imposed in the lower court, by one year and three months.

Work had prayed for an appeal against this my judgment, and this appeal having been granted, but not yet brought to trial, the whole matter is now pending sub judice, as no final sentence has been pronounced, or any decree been entered which could take effect or be put into execution. To a man of your information it must be perfectly plain that, under these circumstances, nobody, and least of all the judge whose findings and judgment have been appealed from, has any right to say whether Work is innocent or guilty. It may be stated, however, as an actual fact, borne out of public records, that all public functionaries who have had anything to do with the case of Work, as the representatives of impartial justice, have found Work guilty upon the evidence presented namely, the nisi prius judge who rendered the first judgment; the public prosecutor who, in the name of the people, moved for a severe punishment, and I myself, who, as the presiding magistrate of the court of justice of Tamaulipas, imposed what to me appeared a just punishment, being convinced that I was as mild as I could be without violating the of all the judicial acts, the law itself.

[Page 605]

To these three opinions, which I may qualify to he at least worthy of the most serious consideration, there is opposed the mere say-so, unsupported by evidence of any kind, of people who have neither legal attainments nor judicial standing, who have not examined the official records, and who can not be considered impartial from any stand-point. Under such circumstances it is hardly credible that so well informed a people as the people of the United States undoubtedly is, unless guided by blind prejudice against us, could give its approval, upon a little reflection and deliberation over the matter, to mere gratuitous and one-sided statements and insinuations.

Besides this statement, which is the only one that can be made properly of the principal question until the matter has been disposed of in the courts of competent jurisdiction, I should call attention to the following very significant circumstances, as contravening the charge that the Mexican judge had been guided by animosity against Work, the fact being that they had treated him with extreme leniency.

As you, Mr. Consul, well know, the laws of Tamaulipas, differing in this respect from the laws of the other States and of the Federal district, do not provide for the liberation, under bail, of persons judicially proceeded against, except in the case provided for in article 18* of the Federal constitution, when the act charged against the prisoner does not appear to be subject to any corporal punishment. I embrace the opportunity to say now that this will soon be changed in the interest of the good name of Tamaulipas, and that the law will shortly extend the privilege of admission to bail to a far wider range of cases. But, for all that, Work has been out on bail during nearly all the time that his case was pending in the lower court; and, even after he had been found guilty and his punishment had been fixed, he was not confined in prison until I found it necessary, when entering upon the case, to order his arrest in the interest of an impartial investigation, he having enjoyed the full freedom of the streets of this capital up to that time, although under sentence of the court.

A few days after his recommitment to jail, on my order, I was informed by the jailer that Work was suffering with a sickness, not very serious, but sufficiently severe to cause him to request that he be permitted to be nursed at his own home and by his family. In view of this statement, indorsed by medical certificates, and pending the decision of the tribunal on the application of Work to be again admitted to bail, I authorized the jailer to take Work to the latter’s house as often as his condition required. Upon one of the many visits which Mr. Work was thus permitted to make at his home he declared himself unable to return to the jail, and offered a passive resistance to the officer. Being informed of this, and taking into consideration the fact that the prison is still incomplete and lacking hospital facilities, it seemed to me that humanity demanded his being left at his residence, and thus consented, in order that the generous people of this city might be spared the little edifying spectaele of seeing Mr. Work carried to the jail on a stretcher.

I understand that the judge before whom Work’s second appeal is pending has, up to this time, acquiesced in this state of affairs, and has at least made no other dispositions regarding the keeping of Work.

The claim that Work has been condemned without having been heard is unfounded, for in both tire lower and upper courts he was represented by an attorney of his own choice, Lie. Juan Luis Tercero; and when Mr. Work, assisted by the American consul, asked me to re-open his case in order that he might make his defense in person, I granted this favor upon his verbal request, although he afterwards failed to avail himself of the privilege.

I have, etc.,

G. Mainero.
  1. For article, see Mr. Ryan’s, No. 27 of July 27, 1889, supra, p. 564.
  2. Blank in original.
  3. Article 18, Federal constitution, reads: “Imprisonment shall only take place for crimes which merit corporal punishment. In any state of the process wherein it shall appear that such punishment may not be inflicted upon the accused he shall be set at liberty under bail. In no event may said imprisonment or detention be prolonged to secure payment of fees or any other money consideration.”