File No. 312.112 B61/44.

The American Ambassador to the Secretary of State.


The substance of Department’s telegram of the 10th instant was brought to the attention of the secretary for foreign affairs, who replied thereto to-day. His note, amplified this morning in a conversation, indicates that his Government can not release Blatt and Converse until a mutual agreement can be made in accordance with the following proposals:

He thinks that the Banco de Vala case is not analogous to the Blatt and Converse case because in the former case both Governments made arrests on disputed territory. He thinks the question of sovereignty of the territory in which Blatt and Converse were arrested may be left for future settlement, but the men can not be released until the exact spot of their capture is determined. The capture is reported to have taken place in the Chamizal tract, which is claimed to be, under the agreement between Mexico and the United States for the preservation of the status quo, under Mexican jurisdiction, and not only must the exact place of arrest be ascertained but also its judicial status under the above-mentioned agreement. He therefore proposes that the boundary commissioners proceed at once to determine the exact place of arrest, whether it is on a banco, when and how the banco was formed and which country had jurisdiction over the banco. The release of the prisoners will depend upon which country exercised jurisdiction over the banco.

The Mexican Government holds that the arrest was made at Ancon de Guadalupe, which, though situated north of the Rio Grande, is considered a Mexican banco under Mexican jurisdiction. Claim to that effect was made by Mexico two years ago before the mixed commission, and various incidents were enumerated showing that Mexico exercised jurisdiction, and it is claimed that United States officials acquiesced.

The secretary for foreign affairs stated that if the American Government accepts his proposals, the Mexican commissioners will be instructed to proceed at once to El Paso for the determination of the points enumerated, and it seems possible to dispose of the case within a week. The case is nearly terminated in the courts.

Concerning the passage of the captors of Blatt and Converse with the prisoners over American territory and the consequent violation of American sovereignty the secretary for foreign affairs considered them only as secondary incidents in connection with the capture. He agreed, however, to have them included in the discussion if the above-mentioned proposals are accepted by the American Government.