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Printed under the joint resolution of Congress of April 2, 1894.



Dr. Baldwin's Minatitlan Claims.


In 1824 Dr. John Baldwin, a citizen of the United States, purchased a league of land on the river Coatzacoalcos, south of the port of Vera Cruz, Mexico, and established there a settlement, to which was given the name of Minatitlan. He opened a house for the sale of merchandise and built a number of sawmills, and for a time was prosperous. In 1827, however, one Tadeo Ortiz came to the colony as commissioner, with extensive powers. Upon his arrival he and Dr. Baldwin became involved in difficulties. One of their early controversies seems to have arisen out of a demand which Dr. Baldwin made upon Ortiz for payment for lumber purchased for the use of the public in building a church and a government house. The quarrel having begun, Ortiz employed his political power for purposes of persecution and oppression. The property and effects of Dr. Baldwin were sequestered under an order issued by Ortiz, who also decreed his expulsion from the colony. Subsequently, Ortiz directed certain judicial proceedings to be undertaken. These proceedings were set on foot by a letter which Ortiz addressed to one Montalvo, a person in his employ and constituted by him an alcalde for the occasion, ordering him to institute an action against Dr. Baldwin. This letter charged Dr. Baldwin with want of respect to the authorities, with robbing the state of timber, with being a smuggler, and with litigious conduct. Montalvo instituted the action and took certain alleged depositions, which were afterward declared to be fraudulent, and entitled the action as a proceeding ordered to be instituted by the commissioner, Tadeo Ortiz, against the foreigner John Baldwin, accused of "various crimes." One of 5627-VOL. 4- -1


the depositions charged that Dr. Baldwin had broken a contract with certain laborers whom he had imported; another, that he had refused to pay a certain person for the pasturage of cattle; another, that he had once given a customs guard on one of his vessels some liquor, so that the guard went to sleep, from which it was inferred that Dr. Baldwin had put opium into the liquor to put the guard to sleep in order that he himself might smuggle. Another deponent was reported to have sworn that on a certain occasion, when he went on Baldwin's land to shoot wild hogs, the latter ordered him off and threatened to kill him if he returned. Another deposition, by Ortiz's secretary, accused Baldwin of cutting timber on government land. Other depositions referred to a certain cargo of corn, which Baldwin alleged that he imported and offered for sale at a small price, at the request of the authorities, when the colony was in a needy condition, and which he alleged that the customs officials had seized when it was imported, and sold at a high price to the people.

Ortiz sent a record of the proceedings against Baldwin to the governor of the State of Vera Cruz, together with the orders for the privisional seizure of Baldwin's property and his banishment from the colony of Minatitlan. The governor, on examining the papers, refused to confirm the decree of banishment, and being advised that the case was one of judicial and not of political cognizance, sent the documents to the judge at Acayucan, in the district in which Baldwin resided. The judge referred the expediente to his assessor, who advised him to call for the original papers, it appearing that they had not been sent in, and to take the declaration of the accused and of any witnesses cited by him. An order was then communicated to the alcalde for the original papers, but he refused to send them; a second and third demand were equally fruitless. The papers were only obtained toward the close of 1829, after a fifth demand for them and an appeal to the minister of justice. Ortiz was then absent from the colony. The motive for the withholdment of the papers was alleged to be the fact that the depositions were fraudulent. Indeed, they purported to have been signed by the alcalde, who, as it appeared, could not write his name.

The proceedings before the judge at Acayucan were begun October 11, 1829. On the 26th of the same month Baldwin appeared and made his declaration. It was then ordered that

he be confronted with his alleged accusers and that the evidence of certain other persons be taken. The investigation continued from time to time till July 1831. In the mean time Ortiz was succeeded as commissioner by one Hoyos, who seems to have instituted a new set of prosecutions, based chiefly on Baldwin's litigious disposition and generally unacceptable deportment. But there was also a charge that he had killed a woman at Tabasco by flogging, and had whipped other persons. These prosecutions were brought before an alcade at Minatitlan, named Rosaldo, who, after taking a number of ex parte depositions, transmitted the papers to Hoyos, who sent them to the governor, from whom orders were obtained for further proceedings. Baldwin was then absent at Tehuantepec, and it was decreed that he should on his return be arrested and required to answer the new accusation. The American commissioners contended that this proceeding was but a continuation by Hoyos of that begun by Ortiz, and that the whole was fraudulent and malicious and intended to drive Baldwin from the country and to get possession of his property. Baldwin was subsequently arrested and imprisoned, and the trial was continued. Upon his being confronted with some of the alleged deponents, they denied their alleged depositions, and the charges against him were disproved. The court found that certain of the alleged depositions were forg eries, declared that the charges contained in them were refuted, and ordered that the whole proceeding be discontinued, and the prisoner released. This was on February 7, 1834.

The testimony of some of the witnesses traced the forgery of the depositions to Ortiz, and a summons was issued in April 1834 for Montalvo and certain other persons to be examined on that subject. Owing, partly, to political disturb ances in the country, the examination was not pressed, and it slept until 1836. Several of the witnesses who were to be examined had then died, and the investigation made little progress. On the 3d of July 1837 the assessor to whom the case was referred for advice ordered that Baldwin be allowed a defender if he desired it. Baldwin, however, preferred to make his own defense. On the 9th of August 1837 the assessor at the city of Jalapa gave an opinion to the effect that Baldwin should be absolved from all charges preferred against him, with the proviso that the judgment be confirmed by the judge of the second jurisdiction. This judge confirmed the

order of the inferior court, and thus the proceedings were ended, including the charge of murdering the Tabasco woman.

As to the law of the case, the Mexican commissioners contended that where an American citizen voluntarily placed himself under the municipal laws of another country he must take them as they were, and that he had no greater right to complain than the Mexicans themselves if the laws should be bad and imperfectly administered. The American commis. sioners answered that if Mexico wished to maintain rank and fellowship among the civilized nations of the earth she must place her laws on a footing with the laws of other nations, so far as related to intercourse with foreigners. What oppression they might practice upon their citizens was one thing; the practice of similar oppressions upon foreigners was another thing. The latter had the right to appeal to the protection of their government, if injured. They referred to the case of Meade against Spain for the purpose of showing an acknowledgment by Spain of liability for the palpable misconduct of judicial tribunals. In that case Meade was ordered by the court to pay over the sum of $50,000 into the royal treasury. The money was in his hands as a depositary, and after he had paid the money into the treasury the depositor obtained from the same court a decree directing Meade to pay over the money to him. As it was impossible for him to obey these contradictory decrees he was sent to prison. The Spanish Government admitted the justice of his claim. The case of Dr. Bald win, said the American commissioners, was much stronger than that of Meade, since not only was there gross injustice and oppression, but a most palpable fraud on the part of the oppressors. The convention afforded the only means of redress for Dr. Baldwin, unless the United States should resort to an act of force.

The American commissioners demanded the following sums: (1) $21,450, with interest from October 6, 1828, to January 20, 1842, for loss of effects, of property, and of merchandise, seized by Ortiz in 1828; (2) $11,500, with interest from November 14, 1828, to January 20, 1812, for suspension of work in Dr. Baldwin's mill during the sequestration of his property and his banishment in 1828; (3) $15,000, as indemnity for his banishment and the expulsion of his family, and for the suspension of his agricultural business for three months in 1828; (4) $2,750, with interest from October 1, 1828, for the seizure of

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