Mr. Hay to Mr. Clayton.
Washington , July 19, 1899 .
Sir: This Government, at the request of the Mexican Government, has granted the extradition of an American citizen, Mrs. Mattie D. Rich, wife of John D. Rich, deceased, on the charge of the murder of her husband, alleged to have been committed in Mexico. The President felt that the case came fairly within the letter and spirit of the new treaty authorizing the extradition of citizens in the discretion of the Executive. With a view to the efficient operation of this clause of the treaty, it is thought desirable to avert, as far as possible, any occasion for popular agitation and arousing a sentiment hostile to the execution of this clause of the treaty in all proper cases. For this reason attention is called to the fact that strong pressure was brought to bear on the President in order to prevent the surrender of Mrs. Rich. Among the grounds of this opposition were (1) the fact that she is an American and ought not to be delivered to the justice of the Republic of Mexico; (2) her own written statement that she is enceinte; (3) her temporary insanity and mental irresponsibility since the commission of the crime, asserted by several physicians. None of these considerations were brought forward on the hearing before the extradition magistrate.
In overruling all of these objections, the view taken by the President was that she would receive a fair trial in Mexico; that if at the time the case is called for trial she is in such critical physical or mental condition as to disable her from attendance at the trial or to make full preparation for her defense, such reasonable delay of the trial would be granted as would enable her to do so; and that if she should be tried and condemned to capital punishment, the execution of the sentence would, in any event, be delayed until after the birth of the child, if she is shown to be enceinte; and as to the claim of insanity, that such steps would be judicially pursued as are suggested by the humane but firm administration of justice. Inasmuch as the evidence of her guilt is only circumstantial, the President would be pleased, if she shall be found guilty, if the extreme penalty of death should not be visited upon her; or, if pronounced, that it might be commuted to imprisonment. The President feels sure in advance that every opportunity will be accorded her to make full defense, to have the benefit of the attendance of such witnesses, in person or by deposition, as she may desire, and the employment of and consultation with counsel.
You will therefore informally bring these matters to the attention of the Mexican Government and request the use of its good offices for [Page 500] the purposes aforesaid. You are at liberty to furnish it with a copy of this instruction, if you choose to do so.
I am, etc.,