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had no satisfactory answer in three weeks, he was to notify the Mexican government that within two weeks more, if no such answer were received, he would call for his passports. September 26, 1836, Ellis presented the claims in a letter much more forcible than diplomatic; and on October 20, having had in the mean time no reply, he wrote again, saying that if redress could not be had without unnecessary delay his further residence in Mexico in his official capacity would be useless.

To this Monasterio, the acting minister of foreign affairs for Mexico, replied the next day, intimating that his government did not understand how the delay of a note could be sufficient cause for a breach of relations. He stated, however, that the delay in this instance was due to the necessity of gathering evidence, and that he would reply as soon as he could collect and examine the necessary data. November 4, Ellis notified the Mexican government that if no satisfactory answer were given in two weeks he would demand his passports. On November 15 Monasterio sent an answer; but on December 7 Ellis, in a lengthy communication, declared that he had no hope of a satisfactory adjustment, and made the demand he had threatened.1 Since the Mexican minister had already withdrawn from Washington,2 the act of Ellis made the breach of diplomatic relations for the time complete. On February 6, 1837, President Jackson sent the correspondence to the House, with a message recommending that Congress pass an act giving authority to make reprisals, in case Mexico should refuse a demand for amicable adjustment, to be made from a United States man-of-war.1

1 House Exec. Docs., 24 Cong., 2 Sess., III., No. 139, pp. 60-67. * See p. 88, above.

The aggressive policy of President Jackson towards Mexico does not prove that he was determined to have a war; undoubtedly he was willing to fight, and Ellis may have been more so, but readiness to fight was simply Andrew Jackson's way. His diplomacy, as manifested in his instructions to Ellis giving him discretion to demand his passports if Mexico did not promptly satisfy the claims against her in such a way as to meet his approval, was thoroughly consistent with the Jacksonian character. It is not to be supposed that the man who had caused the execution of British subjects in Florida would show much forbearance in dealing with Mexican resentfulness and delay. He probably had as little intention of provoking a war with Mexico in 1836 as with Great Britain in 1818,2 but he shrank from it neither in the one case nor in the other.8

The claims themselves, while some of them were ill-founded, were a proper subject for diplomatic inquiry and urgent demand for adjustment. In making up the list for Ellis, Secretary of State Forsyth selected only those claims which had arisen subsequent to the commercial treaty concluded between the United States and Mexico April 5, 1831, and ratified April 5, 1832; but the whole series of unadjusted claims reached much further back, and the complaints which culminated in the breach of relations in 1836 had been going on for ten years. A list of claims submitted to Congress with the special message of Jackson on February 6, 1837, numbered forty-six, and the earliest was dated 1816. It is true that Mexico was not then independent; but claims for supplies furnished the troops engaged in the struggle to throw off the Spanish dominion, or for property seized by them, were recognized as valid by the Mexican officials themselves.1

1 House Exec. Docs., 24 Cong., 2 Sess., III., No. 139. 'Cf. Babcock, Am. Nationality {Am. Nation, XIII.), chap, xvii. * Cf. Jay, Review of the Mexican War, 50.

The recommendation of the president was reported on by the House and Senate committees on foreign relations. While substantially agreeing in sentiment with the message, the reports favored another demand for redress. The report to the Senate was unanimously adopted; but want of time seems to have prevented action on that to the House.2 In furtherance of the policy recommended by the reports, an appropriation was made to cover the expense of another mission to Mexico whenever the president should think diplomatic intercourse with that country could honorably be renewed.

1 Moore, International Arbitrations, II., 1243.

2 Cong. Debates, 24 Cong., 2 Sess., 982-986, 1912-1916, 1943; House Reports, 29 Cong., 1 Sess., IV., No. 752, pp. 7-9.

Such was the situation when Van Buren became president. As soon as the necessary documents could be prepared, he sent a special messenger to Mexico with a list of fifty-seven claims, to demand their satisfaction and the disavowal of the act of Gorostiza in circulating his pamphlet.1 This despatch bearer was to remain in Mexico one week awaiting an answer. July 20, 1837, the messenger presented the list to the Mexican minister of foreign affairs; and on July 29 he received a reply conveying the assurance that the government was ready to communicate its decision as to each case promptly, but that the examination of the documents must necessarily be deliberate.

Meanwhile a decree of the Mexican congress of May 20, 1837, authorized at the same time the arbitration of the claims and retaliation upon the United States if it should deny or delay satisfaction to Mexico.2 On the basis of the first provision of the decree a convention for the adjustment of the claims was concluded April 11, 1839, and ratified April 7, 1840. In accordance with this convention they were passed upon by a board of four commissioners, two from the United States and two from Mexico; and in cases of disagreement the ultimate decision was left to Baron de Roenne, the Prussian minister at Washington. The commissioners agreed in disposing of claims which aggregated $595,462.75, the amount allowed being $439,393.82. Of claims amounting to $5,844,260.44, the United States commissioners allowed $2,334,477.44, the Mexican commissioners $191,012.94, and the umpire $1,586,745.86. When the commission went out of existence in 1841, at the end of the term of eighteen months which the convention allowed for it, the umpire returned without decision claims amounting to $1,864,939.56, of which the American commissioners had allowed $928,627.88. Claims to the amount of $3,336,837.05 were submitted too late for consideration by the board.1

1 See p. 88, above.

'House Reports, 29 Cong., 1 Sess., IV., No. 753, p. 15; Dublin y Lozano, Legislacidn Mexicana, III 392 Vol. Xvii.—13

Much has been written in derogation of these claims, and some of them have been sharply denounced as " specimens of... shameless profligacy" ;3 but this denunciation, however just it may be in particular instances, cannot be extended to the general body of the claims. It should be remembered that they were submitted to arbitration, and that the presumption is in favor of the justice, at least, of those allowed by the umpire. From the time of the award it must be conceded that the United States had a good case against Mexico to the extent

1Moore, International Arbitrations, II., 1*33; U. S. Treaties

and Conventions, 676.

'Jay, Review of the Mexican War, 72.


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