Mr. Ryan to Mr.
United States Legation,
Sir: I am specifically instructed to draw
your excellency’s notice to the legal relations of the Mexican
Government pertaining to the so-called “Pious fund of the
Californias,” as defined by Sir Edward Thornton, as umpire of the
American and Mexican Joint Commission under the convention of July
4, 1868, in a decision bearing date the 11th of November, 1875.
Among the claims presented against the Government of Mexico, before
that Commission, was one by the archbishop and bishops of the Roman
Catholic Church of California, entitled the case of Joseph S.
Alemany, archbishop, etc., and Thaddeus Amat, bishop, etc., v. The Republic of Mexico, No. 493.
The claim was for a share of the income of the “Pious fund of the
Californias,” which it was alleged that the Government of Mexico
possessed in trust for the benefit of its intended beneficiaries, of
whom the Catholic Church of California represented a part.
Upon a difference of opinion between the American and Mexican
Commissioners, the case was referred to Sir Edward Thornton, as
umpire, who decided that one-half of the annual income of said fund,
to-wit, $43,080.99, should be paid by the Government of Mexico to
the Roman Catholic Church of California, for the period of
twenty-one years from the 30th of May, 1848, making an award, on
account thereof, of $904,700.79.
This sum was duly accounted for in the settlement between the two
countries, and has been paid to the claimants.
The authority, however, of the Commission to make a specific award of
damages did not extend beyond such claim as perfected at the time of
the exchange of ratifications of the foregoing convention.
But the suggestion of my Government is that the decision
authoritatively established: [Page 740]
- First. The responsibility of the Government of Mexico to
the Roman Catholic Church of California for its share of the
annual income of said fund;
- Second. Also the annual amount of such share;
- Third. That the archbishop and bishops of that church are
the proper parties to demand and receive it;
- Fourth. That the claimant is a corporation of American
- Fifth. That the case is a proper one for the diplomatic
intervention of the United States Government.
The archbishop of San Francisco and the bishop of Monterey, Cal.,
representing and acting for said church, now represent to the
Department of State, at Washington, D. C., that they have not
received any further payments on account of the income of said fund
which has accrued subsequent to the 30th of May, 1869, and they pray
the United States Government for the exercise of its proper offices
in that behalf, to the end that the attention of your excellency’s
Government may thereby be duly drawn to the consideration of its
obligations respecting the payment of the accrued sum as well as of
future installments regularly as they become due.
It would appear that the amount now due is $904,700.79; and I am
directed to respectfully express to your excellency the hope of my
Government that there will be an early and satisfactory adjustment
of the same.
It gives me pleasure to reiterate to your excellency the assurance of
my highest regard and esteem.