125.61383 J 41/48

The Chargé in Mexico ( Summerlin ) to the Secretary of State

No. 2848

Sir: With reference to the Department’s instruction No. 1254 of January 17, regarding the inquiry of American Consular Agent William O. Jenkins as to what steps he should take to obtain reimbursement of the financial losses suffered by him as a consequence of his recent abduction by Mexican rebels, I have the honor to enclose, herewith, a copy of Mr. Jenkins’ letter of the first instant, addressed to me, in which he makes definite report as to his views with respect to the matter of reimbursement.

Attention is invited to Mr. Jenkins’ statement on page three of the enclosed copy of his letter to the effect that final decision of his case may be delayed indefinitely pending a second reference to the [Page 253] Federal Supreme Court for a decision as to whether the State Criminal Judge has jurisdiction over the case. In this connection reference is made to my despatch No. 2147 [2836], of the second instant, concerning the refusal of the Mexican Government to issue an exequatur to Mr. Jenkins.

I have [etc.]

George T. Summerlin

The Consular Agent at Puebla ( Jenkins ) to the Chargé in Mexico ( Summerlin )

Dear Sir: I have the honor to reply to yours of the 31st ult., asking for my definite views as regards reimbursement for financial loss suffered on account of my recent abduction from this city by Mexican Rebels, and beg to advise you, that it is my desire to be reimbursed financially not only for the sum of Three Hundred Thousand Pesos Mexican gold that I have paid for my ransom, and for the loss of money taken from my safe on the night of Oct. 19th. 1919, when I was abducted, but for all expenses incurred on account of this incident, and in addition to that, a fair and equitable recompensation for all damages arising from this matter, for the persecution of the local authorities to which I have been subjected, for my imprisonment, my loss of time from my work, and in short, for any and all damages that I have received from the matter. This is my attitude as regards the matter in a general way.

I am aware of the fact that indemnization for damages suffered on account of imprisonment, etc. etc. will probably be a matter for a claim against the Mexican Government, to be settled together with other claims against it, and I am willing to leave that in abeyance until such time as is convenient to take it up, but I do not consider that the ransom that I was compelled to pay should be subject to such delay, nor does it appear to me to be unreasonable that I be reimbursed for actual financial loss incurred, that is to say, the loss of money in cash from my safe, and actual expenses paid out in cash on account of the matter.

It is possible that the Department will consider that my loss on account of the robbery should also be considered as a claim against the Government (Mexican) to be settled with other claims, as well as expenses incurred, and if such is the attitude of the Department, I would be willing to accept that position, and file my claim against the Mexican Government for this loss and expense.

But as regards the ransom paid of the equivalent of One Hundred and Fifty Thousand dollars U. S. Cy., I beg to say that I do not [Page 254] believe this should be subjected to any delay as regards my reimbursement, but should be returned to me immediately, as I have lost this money only and exclusively on account of the fact that I happened to be the Representative of the U.S. Government in this city, and not as an American citizen resident in Mexico. I could even go further and say, in view of information that has recently come to light, that my own abduction was a second thought on the part of the Rebels, and that I was taken in place of another official whose abduction would have caused a tremendous sensation, and whose ransom, I have no doubt, would have been paid immediately.

I believe that you will agree with me therefore, that my own connection with this incident is due exclusively to my representation of the United States Government, and therefore my financial loss is of course due to the same thing. And this being the case, I believe that I am only asking something entirely reasonable, when I ask that the United States Government reimburse me for this loss and not have me make an ordinary claim against the Mexican Government for this particular part of my loss, which will be settled at some indefinite date. As a matter of fact, it seems reasonable that I be reimbursed immediately for all financial loss suffered, including the robbery and expenses, but in any case, the ransom paid seems beyond question.

If I did not have the assurance that the Embassy, as well as my Government, are perfectly convinced of my complete innocence of any complication in this affair, as the local authorities have tried to insinuate, I would not ask this reimbursement for the present, but as this case is likely to be drawn out indefinitely, and as I have made certain obligations to enable me to pay off the ransom without more delay, I feel that I should be given assistance in liquidating these obligations, and not be forced to make sacrifices in selling property at half its value to secure this money.

It is well to call attention to the fact that the local authorities have never formed any direct accusation against me for complication in the abduction, as their only charge, which they have tried to prove, has been false declarations. It is understood of course that if I am guilty of declaring falsely, they would immediately find me guilty of other charges, but the point that I wish to make was, that up to the present, the only evidence presented has been with the purpose of proving my false declarations.

The case is now being held up on account of the local judge refusing to turn it over to the Federal Judge, and will be sent to the Supreme Court of the Nation for decision as to which judge is competent, and may be delayed for many months, or indefinitely. And seeing this delay inevitable, has induced me to ask for reimbursement without further delay.

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As I have told you personally, I have received several letters from my Representative in Congress, Hon. E. L. Davis of Tennessee, with regard to the matter of this reimbursement, and he has advised me that in an interview with the Secretary of State, Mr. Lansing told him that he was not sure that the State Department would be able to directly effect any reimbursement, as there might not be any funds available for such a purpose, but if it was necessary, that a special act of Congress could be enacted, and that he (Mr. Lansing) would be glad to assist in the framing of such an act. I feel therefore that there is a good disposition on the part of the Department to assist me in this matter, and will await their ideas on the subject with much interest.

I am [etc.]

W. O. Jenkins