File No. 312.112 B61/36a.

The Secretary of State to the American Ambassador.


Unless the situation concerning the Blatt and Converse arrest case changes it seems probable that the matter will be taken up by Congress [Page 610] and that an agitation will be started by newspapers for the immediate release of the boys, because the prevailing opinion is that they were arrested on American territory. This opinion seems to be borne out by facts. It would be most unfortunate if such agitation were started and would probably cause diplomatic representations by this Government. Unless the Mexican Government should readily acquiesce in them, public feeling in this country would be greatly irritated. The fact that Blatt is reported to be suffering seriously if not critically from tuberculosis makes the situation worse, and serious complications would be added here if unfortunately Blatt should die in a Mexican jail. In view of the above and giving the most favorable consideration to the contentions and allegations of Mexico, with which this Government can not agree, yet [sic] the arrest occurred on disputed territory. This Government is of the opinion therefore that the question of violation of sovereignty should be held in abeyance, and that the boys should be released at once. Such a course would without doubt obviate inconvenient public irritation. As a precedent, reference is made to the famous Banco de Vala case, in which Mexico suggested that parties arrested by both Governments on territory which was under dispute should be released and that the question of violation of territory be left for later determination, and the Government of the United States acquiesced therein. The references to this case are found in Department’s telegrams to the embassy of September 6, 10, and 14, 1893,1 and telegram of September 7, 1893, and dispatch of September 9, 1893, from the embassy, and particularly the note from the Mexican foreign office of September 8, 1893, inclosed in above-noted dispatch.2 It is pointed but that the political offenses with which Converse and Blatt are charged are not regarded either in Mexico or the United States as involving the moral turpitude pertaining to ordinary crimes, and the punishment of persons who participate in such offenses is subject to different rules and considerations than [sic] those which apply to the punishment of ordinary criminals. As no advice has been received as yet by this Government of the results of the investigation of this arrest by the Mexican Government the embassy is instructed to lay this matter before the Mexican foreign office informally. It is further pointed out that, in addition to above-stated grounds for the release of the boys, evidence submitted to the Department clearly shows that, admitting that the arrest took place on disputed territory, the captors passed over American territory after making the arrest, which seems to be a clear violation of American sovereignty. It seems that this fact alone would be sufficient ground for the release of the boys. It is earnestly hoped that the Mexican Government, acting in a spirit of broad fairmindedness, will at once release these boys and return them to American territory. The Mexican Governernment may be assured that this Government is willing to accept the stipulation that the release of Blatt and Converse shall have no bearing upon the question of the sovereignty of the disputed territory.

  1. See Instructions to Mexico, vol. 23, pp. 416, 418, 420.
  2. See Dispatches from Mexico, vol. 118.