Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

was fired into by an armed steamer of the other party claiming to be under the true Government of Venezuela, in which encounter she was very much damaged, but, in some way, that does not clearly appear from the papers, she appears to have come into the possession of the so-claimed regular authorities of the Venezuelan Government, if, which is more than doubtful, any government was regular at that time, and finally returned to the steamship company in a greatly damaged condition.

Besides the two executive documents already referred to in this report, the committee has been furnished by the State Department with a mass of reports from the diplomatic and consular officers of the United States at Venezuela covering a period of time from October, 1867, to August, 1872, aud thus embracing the whole period preceiling and during which all the affairs relating to these vessels took place. From this correspondence it is evident that the contending parties, factions, and forces in Venezuela preceding and at the time of the events affecting all these vessels, were none of them legitimate in the sense of the constitution of Venezuela, but all were struggling with varying success for the practical possession of the government of the country, with little, if any, regard to its written constitution, and there seems to be just as good ground for taking the organization of the party of the “Blues," so called, as the legitimate government at that time, as the forces and managers of the party of the “Yellows." Under these circumstances it appears to the committee that the fact that the steamer Hero was seized by parties claimed to be in rebellion by the party with whom diplomatic communication was from time to time kept up by the representatives of the United States, furnishes no reason, if any such has ever been set up by Venezuela authorities, why the present Government of that country should not be responsible for it and the damages consequent thereon.

In respect of the other vessels mentioned in the papers, viz, the Nutrias and the San Fernando, there does not appear to be any possible ground of excise on the part of the prosent Government of Venezuela for not making proper indemnification which that Government, as appears from the papers, has for a very long time, viz, from 1872 to this time, for whatever reason, neglected to make indenmity or any reparation.

The committee is of opinion that it is the manifest duty of the United States, under these circumstances, to take such measures as shall be adequate to obtain indemnity reparatiou for all wrongs and damages suffered by the said steamship company and its officers and crews (being citizens of the United States), in respect of all said vessels.

The committee accordingly report the accompanying joint resolution and recommend its passage.

The committee returns herewith to the Senate the memorial of the Venezuela Steam Transportation Company.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

[See Claims against Mexico, Gen. Index.] FIFTY-FIRST CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION.

December 18, 1889.

(Senate Report No. 12.)

Mr. Dolph, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, submitted the following report:

This bill was reported to the Senate, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, near the close of the Fiftieth Congress, and its passage was recommended. The report of the majority of the committee, and the views of the minority, accompanied by voluminous testimony, taken by the committee, under the order of the Senate, was printed. (Report No. 2705, Fiftieth Congress, second session.) To avoid the expense of reprinting said papers they are here referred to, and made a part of this report.

The committee report the bill (No. 374) without amendment, and recommend its passage.

(See Claims against Mexico, Gen. Index.]

FIFTY-FIRST CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION.

December 19, 1889.

(Senate Report No. 15, and Views of Minority.]

Mr. Morgan, from the Comunittee on Foreign Relations, submitted the following report:

The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom was referred Senate biil No. 375, report the same back with amendment, and recommend its passage.

A bill similar in its provisions, and to secure the same objects, was sent to the committee in the first session of the Forty-ninth Congress, and on January 11, 1886, was reported favorably to the Senate. (Report No. 1316 to accompany Senate bill No. 2207.)

All the facts touching the history and the various proceedings had in relation to the claim of Benjamin Weil against Mexico were carefully examined by the committee, and were presented and discussed in that report at sufficient length to justify the conclusion of the committee that the claim had no foundation in fact, that it was entirely a simulated demand, and had been supported by corrupt testimony.

No new fact touching the integrity of the claim has been suggested or presented in its support.

Counsel for the present legal representative of the claimant, Benjamin Weil, argned the questions that he chose to raise before a subcommittee. That argument is submitted with this report as Appendix No. 1.

As the former report is a sufficiently full analysis and explanation of all the material facts and legal questions that have been thought to bear upon the subject to which this bill relates, and embraces a sufficient statement of the opinions of the committee, the same is appended to and made part of this report as Appendix No. 2.

The legal representative of the original claimant, Weil, and other personis claiming iuterests in the award to him by assignment, deinanded the payment of their alleged respective interests in the awarı, by the Secretary of State, since the adjournment of the Forty-ninth Congress.

On the 5th day of March, 1888, the President, in reply to resolutions of the Senate, sent in a message, hereto appended as Appendix No. 3, which states the grounds upon which that demand was refused.

The committee concur with the views taken by the President in that message as to his powers and duties under the existing state of the law, as to making further payments to these claimants out of the funds in the custody of the Department of State paid by Mexico to the United States under the convention concluded July 4, 1868.

In the act of Congress approved June 18, 1878, in section 5, it is enacted as follows:

SEC. 5. And whereas the Government of Mexico has called the attention of the Government of the United States to the claims hereinafter named with a view to a rehearing: Therefore, Be it enacted, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, requested to investigate any charges of frand presented by the Mexican Government as to the cases hereinafter named, and ii' he shall be of the opinion that the honor of the United States, the principles of public law or considerations of justice and equity, require that the awards in the cases of Benjamin Weil and La Abra Silver Mining Company, or either of them, should be opened and the cases retried, it shall be lawful for him to withhold payment of said awards, or either of them, until such case or cases shall be retried and decided in such manner as the Governments of the United States and Mexico may agree, or until Congress shall otherwise direct.

And in case of such retrial and decision, any moneys paid or to be paid by the Republic of Mexico in respect of said awards respectively shall be held to abide the event, and shall be disposed of accordingly; and the said present awards shall be set aside, modified, or affirmed, as may be determined on such retrial: Provided, That nothing herein shall be construed as an expression of any opinion of Congress in respect to the character of said claims, or either of them.

The President is satisfied, as President Hayes and President Arthur were, that the honor of the United States and the principles of equity and justice require that the award made in the case of Benjamin Weil should be opened and the case retried, and that until this is done, “or until Congress shall otherwise direct," that it is his duty “to withhold the payment of said award."

In this act Congress made provision for the distribution and pay. ments of all the awards that were made by the joint commission, except the awards to Benjamin Weil and La Abra Silver Mining Company. These were reserved to be disposed of by Congress through further legislation, unless the cases were opened and retried and decided in such manner as the Governments of the United States and Mexico may agree."

This provision of law was construed by Mr. Arthur as making a resort to the treaty making power necessary, as the only proper method of making an agreement between the two Governments as to the opening of these awards and the retrial of the causes.

Accordingly, he negotiated a convention with Mexico in which such an agreement was provided for, which the Senate failed to ratify by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of that body.

Mr. Hayes, wbile Mr. Evarts was Secretary of State, contended that a treaty was not a proper method of reaching the result of a retrial of said awards; that it was purely a domestic question touching the honor and duty of the United States, and should be inquired into in some domestic tribunal empowered by law to investigate and decide the questions of fraud that the Mexican Government had presented. He stated that the executive branch of the Government had no means ade. quate to conduct such investigations or to open and retry the cases, and asked Congress to exert its plenary powers in providing a means of executing the act of June 18, 1878.

The failure of that negotiation, and the apparent want of power in any department of the Government to execute the will of Congress as expressed in that act, has, according to the decision of the President, announced in his message to this Congress, required him to withhold the payment of these awards to the claimants "until Congress shall otherwise direct."

The President concurs in the views taken by Mr. Arthur and Mr. Hayes, and is satisfied, also, that the honor of the United States re. quires that some tribunal should make an investigation of this claim and open and retry this case, with powers adequate to the final determination of this controversy, and he recommends the Court of Claims as a suitable tribunal to render such a judgment.

As Congress has not directed what shall be done with this money in the event of a failure of a negotiation with Mexico, but has expressly reserved the right to direct what shall be done with it in such a contingency, it is not entirely clear that the United States, in the absence of such directions, could bring suit in its own courts to have these questions determined.

The act of March 3, 1887, only empowers the head of an executive department to refer claims like this to the Court of Claims with the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

consent of the claimant.” The State Department sought the consent of the claimants in this case to an investigation and decision of this case in the Court of Claims, which they declined.

If Mexico had the rights of any other suitor to go into our courts seeking a remedy against these claimants, the exercise of that right has been denied to that Government by our Government upon an application made for permission to bring such suit.

That period bas, therefore, been reached when Congress must exer. cise its power to otherwise provide” what shall be done with the money that Mexico has paid and will pay on this award to the United States.

The Department of State holds this money subject to such provision as Congress shall make for its disbursement, Mexico having paid to the United States punctually each installment as it falls due.

If Congress decides to pay this money to the claimants, contrary to the statement of three Presidents, in succession, that they were satisfied that the claim was fraudulent, further legislation is necessary requiring the payment to be made.

If Congress agrees with our Presidents that “the honor of the United States, the principles of public law, or considerations of justice and equity require that” this award "should be opened and the case retried," it is a very urgent duty that some provision of law should be made whereby this matter may be fairly and justly considered by a judicial tribunal and the controversy settled.

The recital in the act of June 13, 1878, is clear that this law was enacted in response to a request of Mexico for a rehearing of this award and of that made to La Abra Silver Mining Company. And while Mexico has no new right given by this statute, the following clause in the act fixes the disposition that is to be made of the money paid or to be paid by Mexico in respect of said awards in case of a retrial:

And in case of such retrial and decision any moneys paid or to be paid by the Republic of Mexico in respect of said awards, respectively, shall be held to abide the event, and shall be disposed of accordingly; and said present awards shall be set aside, moditied, or affirmed as may be determined on such retrial.

This is such a disposition of the money, depending upon the event of a retrial of these cases, as must be respected until Congress shall direct that no retrial shall be bad under the act of June 18, 1887.

It seems to the committee, upon a consideration of the facts ey are presented by the two Governments, and by the claimants, that it is not possible to dissent from the opinions of three Presidents who have examined these matters, and to hold that the United States should refuse to provide some means for the investigation and retrial of this case.

The point is made by the counsel for the claimants that negotiations having been entered upon with Mexico, which failed for want of ratitication by the Senate, further inquiry is concluded, and the judgment of the Senate on the ratification of that convention is equivalent to a decision that neither the honor of the United States, nor the principles of public law, nor considerations of justice and equity require that this award should be opened.

Congress rightfully and necessarily took jurisdiction of the disposition that should be made of this award. The condition upon which was made to depend the opening of the award and the retrial of the case was, that the President should be of opinion that the honor of the country, etc., should require the opening and retrial of the award, after he bad investigated the charges brought by Mexico. President Hayes

i

first performed this duty, and was followed by Presidents Arthur and Cleveland, each of whoin, after investigation, decided that the facts existed upon which Congress had declared that the award should be reopened and the case retried, and also made it “lawful for him to withhold payment of said awards, or either of them, until such case or cases have been retried and decided in such manner as the Govern. ments of the United States and Mexico may agree, or until Congress shall otherwise direct."

Mr. Hayes declined to treat with Mexico, but announced his having reached the conclusion that the honor of the United States required the subject to be retried before a domestic tribunal. This declination on his part no more affected the provision made by Congress for a retrial of this case than did the subsequent refusal of the Senate to ratify the convention made with Mexico.

The President could now, as he might have done at any time, with the consent of the Senate, make a treaty with Mexico to set aside these awards, in virtue of authority derived directly from the Constitution.

If the rejection of the former treaty barred all further effort to do justice and equity and to protect the honor of the United States in this matter, so that Congress can not do these tbings, it would equally bar the constitutional power of the President to negotiate a treaty with Mexico for the like purposes.

Congress, as the supreme legislative tribunal of the Government, has the rightful jurisdiction over this subject, and has provided means for the investigation and decision of these questions of fraud, and has suspended the payment of these awards until the matter is decided in some satisfactory way.

It appears that further legislation is needed to complete what is only partially completed.

The committee recommend such legislation in the direction indicated in the message of the President, and reports this bill favorably, as amended, for that purpose.

[For appendixes to this report see Senate Report 1316, Forty-ninth Congress, first session, and Senate Report 1630, Fiftieth Congress, tirst session, Vol. I, pp. 474, 621.]

FIFTY-FIRST CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION.

June 19, 1890.

[Senate Report No. 1387.)

Mr. Sherman, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, submitted the following report:

Your committee, to whom was referred joint resolution (S. 95) relative to certain bonds, drafts, and other papers in the Department of State, having fully considered the matter, respectfully report as follows:

During the sessions of the recent American and Mexican Mixed Com. mission, Louis S. Hargous, an American citizen, filed with it certain Mexican bonds and drafts and an open account against the Republic of Mexico, supposing that they were claims covered by the treaty under which that commission was created. The commission, however, thought otherwise and dismissed the cases for want of jurisdiction.

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »