Mr. Clayton to Mr. Hay.

No. 998.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your instruction to Secretary McCreery, No. 509, of April 18, 1901, and accompanying document, viz, a copy of certain resolutions passed by the Chamber of Commerce of El Paso, Tex., * * * relating to the matter of arrests of American conductors and engineers employed on railways in Mexico, for responsibility in railway accidents.

* * * * * * *

Referring again to the general question, I called Señor Mariscal’s attention to the strength and influence of the different railway men’s organizations in the United States, and that in my judgment they were agitating the question in the interests of the members of their orders who had, in some instances, been, subjected to great hardships. I remarked that it was not for me to question the wisdom of the Mexican law under which arrests and imprisonments were made; that I had, in some instances in the past, notably the Turner case, complained of the apparently unnecessary delay in bringing the persons accused of such offenses to final trial. I said it would be an act of great satisfaction to my Government and be highly appreciated by it if his Government would adopt some plan by which, in the future, cases of this character would be disposed of promptly by the courts.

Mr. Mariscal replied that he had in mind the issuance of a circular letter to the different judicial officers under whose jurisdiction such cases would come upon the subject; that he would give the matter his very careful attention with the view of bringing about the expedition of such cases and the prevention of just causes for complaint.

* * * * * * *

For the purpose of furnishing data to enable me to report upon the general subject of the arrest and imprisonment, in Mexico, of employees on railways, engaged in the movement of trains, I directed Secretary Heimké to carefully examine the records of this legation, during my incumbency of over four years, and report to me each case that has been brought to the attention of the legation during that time, with information as to the employment of the accused, date of complaint, date and place of imprisonment, accusation, when reported to the foreign office and State Department, date of final trial, and final action upon the part of the courts. This information Mr. Heimké has furnished in the succinct and well prepared tabulated statement,a herewith inclosed.

From this statement I find that, during the period referred to, only twelve complaints have been made to this legation, either directly by the person seeking its good offices, or by other in his behalf. The facts concerning the arrest, and action of the court, in each case, are as follows:

[Page 409]

Anderson was not imprisoned, but only detained for a short time, and after a preliminary examination was discharged.

Hohne was imprisoned April 18, 1899, and on May 8, 1899, was released on bail. At his final trial, November 24, 1899, he was discharged.

Gaines was imprisoned April 18, 1899, and on May 8, 1899, was released on bail. At his final trial, November 24, 1899, he was discharged.

Lewis was imprisoned September 26, 1900, being so detained until December 20, 1900, at which time he was discharged.

Trask was imprisoned November 2, 1900, and remained in jail until February 9, 1901, the date of his final trial, at which time he was discharged.

Jones was arrested and imprisoned March 13, 1901, and detained in prison until May 11, 1901, at which time he was released on a $300 cash bond. Case still pending.

Granville was arrested and imprisoned March 18, 1901. Case still pending.

Bradt and Preston were both imprisoned April 1, 1897, and after remaining in prison until January 3, 1898, they were both convicted and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment.

Pike was imprisoned May 5, 1899, and after remaining in prison until August 4, 1899, was convicted and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment, from May 9, 1899.

Clark was imprisoned April 1, 1899, and remained in prison until March 17, 1900, when he was convicted and sentenced to fourteen months’ imprisonment. After serving six months of said sentence he was pardoned by the President, and released.

Turner was imprisoned April 1, 1899, and remained in prison until January 28, 1900, awaiting trial, on which date he died in the prison hospital.

There being no just cause for complaint in the case of Anderson, it was not brought to the attention of the foreign office nor reported to the Department.

For the purpose of obtaining information as to what extent railway employees of the before-mentioned classes were being arrested and imprisoned by the Mexican authorities, on the 8th of May last I addressed a communication to all of the railway companies in the Republic of Mexico, requesting to be informed of the number and nationality (Mexicans included) of all of their employees engaged in the movement of trains, such as engineers, firemen, conductors, brake-men, and switchmen, and a list giving the name and nationality of each (Mexicans included) who had been arrested and imprisoned during the past year, growing out of alleged negligence, causing accidents, endangering the lives of persons or causing destruction of property. To these communications I have received answers from all of the companies, except the following: Mexican Mineral; Merida, Progreso and Yzamal; Tehuantepec; Peninsular; San Marcos and Tecolutla; Merida-Peto; and the Potosí and Rio Verde.

The mileage of the companies from which I have received answers is 7,365 miles. The mileage of those from which I have received no reply is 547 miles.

The information received, I think, is practically sufficient for the purposes of this report, and has Seen condensed in a tabulated form [Page 410] by Secretary Heimké, from which it will be seen that of the total number of Americans employed as conductors, the percentage of those arrested and imprisoned is greater than that of the Mexicans so employed; upon the other hand, of the total number of Mexicans employed as engineers, the percentage of those arrested and imprisoned is greater than that of the Americans so employed.

The information obtained also shows that the reports of the arrests and imprisonments of these classes of employees have been greatly exaggerated by the newspapers in the United States.

The trouble seems to lie in the law itself more than in its execution. In a conversation with Mr. Mariscal upon the subject, he informed me that he did not know of a single case, under Mexican law, where rail-, way companies had been held responsible for accidents; that the policy of their law seemed to be to hold their employees responsible. I explained to him how, in the United States, the opposite principle obtained, resulting in the railway companies exercising the greatest care as to the efficiency and carefulness of their employees engaged in the movement of trains; that I believed if the same principle were adopted in Mexico the railway companies would pursue the same policy, which would result in a higher class of employees being employed, and less accidents.

I have been greatly delayed in the rendition of this report awaiting information from the various railway companies.

I have, etc.,

Powell Clayton.

Condensed statement showing number, occupation, and nationality of men in the service of Mexican railroads, representing 7,365 miles, employed in the movement of trains from May, 1900, to June, 1901; and of arrests on account of accidents during that period.

Conductors: 452 (70 Mexican, 379 American, 2 English, 1 Spanish), of whom 12 were arrested (1 Mexican, 11 American).

Brakemen: 1,408 (1,309 Mexican, 99 American), of whom 5 were arrested (2 Mexican, 3 American).

Engineers: 666 (161 Mexican, 477 American, 26 English, 2 German), of whom 23 were arrested (8 Mexican, 15 American).

Firemen: 903 (772 Mexican, 129 American, 2 German), of whom 7 were arrested (5 Mexican, 1 American, 1 other nationality).

Yardmen: 580 (540 Mexican, 39 American, 1 English), of whom 6 were arrested 4 Mexican, 2 American).

Totals: Mexican, 2,852 employed, 20 arrested; American, 1,123 employed, 32 arrested; other nationalities, 34 employed, 1 arrested.

  1. Embodied in letter to Chamber of Commerce of El Paso, printed page 411.