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undecided. Of the latter, the American commissioners had decided in favor of our citizens, claims amounting to nine hundred and twenty-eight thousand six hundred and twenty-seven dollars and eighty-eight cents, which were left unacted on by the umpire authorized by the treaty. Still further claims, amounting to between three and four millions of dollars, were submitted to the board too late to be considered, and were left undisposed of. The sum of two millions twenty-six thousand one hundred and thirty-nine dollars and sixty-eight cents, decided by the board, was a liquidated and ascertained debt due by Mexico to the claimants, and there was no justifiable reason for delaying its payment according to the terms of the treaty. It was not, however, paid. Mexico applied for further indulgence; and, in that spirit of liberality and forbearance which has ever marked the policy of the United States toward that republic, the request was granted; and, on the thirtieth of January, 1843, a new treaty was concluded. By this treaty it was provided, that the interest due on the awards in favor of claimants under the convention of the eleventh of April, 1839, should be paid on the thirtieth of April, 1843; and that “the principal of the said awards, and the interest arising thereon, shall be paid in five years, in equal instalments every three months, the said term of five years to commence on the thirtieth day of April, 1843, as aforesaid.” The interest due on the thirtieth day of April, 1843, and the three first of the twenty instalments, have been paid. Seventeen of these instalments remain unpaid, seven of which are now due. The claims which were left undecided by the joint commission, amounting to more than three millions of dollars, together with other claims for spoliations on the property of our citizens, were subsequently presented to the Mexican government for payment, and were so far recognized, that a treaty, providing for their examination and settlement by a joint commission, was concluded and signed at Mexico on the twentieth day of November, 1843. This treaty was ratified by the United States, with certain amendments, to which no just exception could have been taken; but it has not yet received the ratification of the Mexican government. In the meantime, our citizens who suffered great losses, and some of whom have been reduced from affluence to bankruptcy, are without remedy, unless their rights be enforced by their government. Such a continued and unprovoked series of wrongs could never have been tolerated by the United States, had they been committed by one of the principal nations of Europe. Mexico was, however, a neighboring sister republic, which, following our example, had achieved her independence, and for whose success and prosperity all our sympathies were early enlisted. The United States were the first to recognize her independence, and to receive her into the family of nations, and have ever been desirous of cultivating with her a good understanding. We have, therefore, borne the repeated wrongs she has committed, with great patience, in the hope that a returning sense of justice would ultimately guide her councils, and that we might, if possible, honorably avoid any hostile collision with her. Without the previous authority of Congress, the Executive possessed no power to adopt or enforce adequate remedies for the injuries we had suffered, or to do more than be prepared to repel the threatened aggression on the part of Mexico. After our army and navy had remained on the frontier and coasts of Mexico for many weeks, without any hostile movement on her part, though her menaces were continued, I deemed it important to put an end, if possible, to this state of things. With this view, I caused steps to be taken, in the month of September last, to ascertain distinctly, and in an authentic form, what the designs of the Mexican government were; whether it was their intention to declare war, or invade Texas, or whether they were disposed to adjust and settle, in an amicable manner, the pending differences between the two countries. On the ninth of November an official answer was received, that the Mexican government consented to renew the diplomatic relations which had been suspended in March last, and for that purpose were willing to accredit a minister from the United States. With a sincere desire to preserve peace, and restore relations of good understanding between the two republics, I waived all ceremony as to the manner of renewing diplomatic intercourse between them; and, assuming the initiative, on the tenth of November a distinguished citizen of Louisiana was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Mexico, clothed with full powers to adjust, and definitively settle, all pending differences between the two countries, including those of boundary between Mexico and the State of Texas. The minister appointed has set out on his mission, and is probably by this time near the Mexican capital. He has been instructed to bring the nego
tiation with which he is charged to a conclusion at the earliest
practicable period; which, it is expected, will be in time to enable me to communicate the result to Congress during the present session. Until that result is known, I forbear to recommend to Congress such ulterior measures of redress for the wrongs and injuries we have so long borne, as it would have been proper to make had no such negotiation been instituted.
Congress appropriated at the last session the sum of two hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars for the payment of the April and July instalments of the Mexican indemnities for the year 1844: “Provided it shall be ascertained to the satisfaction of the American government that the said instalments have been paid by the Mexican government to the agent appointed by the United States to receive the same in such manner as to discharge all claim on the Mexican government, and said agent to be delinquent in remitting the money to the United States.”
The unsettled state of our relations with Mexico has involved this subject in much mystery. The first information, in an authentic form, from the agent of the United States, appointed under the administration of my predecessor, was received at the State Department on the ninth of November last. This is contained in a letter dated the 17th October, addressed by him to one of our citizens then in Mexico, with the view of having it communicated to that department. From this it appears that the agent, on the 20th of September, 1844, gave a receipt to the treasury of Mexico for the amount of the April and July instalments of the indemnity. In the same communication, however, he asserts that he had not received a single dollar in cash, but that he holds such securities as warranted him at the time in giving the receipt, and entertains no doubt but that he will eventually obtain the money. As these instalments appear never to have been actually paid by the government of Mexico to the agent, and as that government has not therefore been released so as to discharge the claim, I do not feel myself warranted in directing payment to be made to the claimants out of the treasury, without further legislation. Their case is, undoubtedly, one of much hardship ; and it remains for Congress to decide whether any, and what, relief ought to be granted to them. Our minister to Mexico has been instructed to ascertain the facts of the case from the Mexican government, in an authentic and official form, and report the result with as little delay as possible.
My attention was early directed to the negotiation, which, on the 4th of March last, I found pending at Washington between the United States and Great Britain, on the subject of the Oregon territory. Three several attempts had been previously made to settle the questions in dispute between the two countries, by negotiation, upon the principle of compromise ; but each had proved unsuccessful.
These negotiations took place at London, in the years 1818, 1824, and 1826; the two first under the administration of Mr. Monroe, and the last under that of Mr. Adams. | The negotiation of 1818 having failed to accomplish its object, resulted in the convention of the twentieth of October of that year. By the third article of that convention, it was “agreed, that any country that may be claimed by either party on the northwest coast of America, westward of the Stony mountains, shall, together with its harbors, bays, and creeks, and the navigation of all rivers within the same, be free and open for the term of ten years from the date of the signature of the present convention, to the vessels, citizens, and subjects of the two Powers; it being well understood that this agreement is not to be construed to the prejudice of any claim which either of the two high contracting parties may have to any part of the said country, nor shall it be taken to affect the claims of any other Power or State to any part of the said country; the only object of the high contracting parties in that respect being, to prevent disputes and differences among themselves.” The negotiation of 1824 was productive of no result, and the convention of 1818 was left unchanged. The negotiation of 1826 having also failed to effect an adjustment by compromise, resulted in the convention of August the sixth, 1827, by which it was agreed to continue in force, for an indefinite period, the provisions of the third article of the convention of the twentieth of October, 1818; and it was further provided, “that it shall be competent, however, to either of the contracting parties, in case either should think fit, at any time after the twentieth of October, 1828, on giving due notice of twelve months to the other contracting party, to annul and abrogate this convention; and it shall, in such case, be accordingly entirely annulled and abrogated after the expiration of the said term of service.” In these attempts to adjust the controversy, the parallel of forty-ninth degree of north latitude had been offered by the United States to Great Britain, and in those of 1818 and 1826, with