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2d Session. S
[To accompany bill H. R. No. 555.]
FEBRUARY 20, 1855.
Mr. · HAVEN, from the Committee of Ways and Means, made the
REPORT. The Committee of Ways and Means, to whom were referred the amendments of the Senate to bill (No. 555) “ Making appropriations for the current and contingent expenses of the Indian Department, and for fulfilling treaty stipulations with various Indian tribes for the year ending June 30, 1856,” beg leave to report :
to the 41st a mfter the word teen thousand two Representativeent. Page
That they recommend that the House of Representatives do agree to the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22, 23d, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st, 32, 33, 34th, 35th, 36th, 37th, 38th, 39th, 42d, 43, 44th, 47th, 49th, and 53d amendments of the Senate.
That they recommend that the House of Representatives do agree to the 41st amendment of the Senate, with an amendment. Page 39, on line 935, after the word "of,” strike out “twenty thousand,” and insert in lieu thereof, seventeen thousand two hundred.
That they recominend that the House of Representatives do agree to the 45th amendment of the Senate, with an amendment. Page 42, after the word “lands” on 12th line, insert the following: or such parts thereof as he may deem proper. Page 42, after the word “aforesaid” on 19th line, insert the following: nor shall any land be sold at public sale at a less price than one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre. Page 42, after the word “law" on 20th line, strike out the words, “ Provided that the President may order a new treaty to be made with the Delawares, Iowas, Weas, Peorias, Kaskaskias, and Piankeshaws, or such of them as he may deem necessary.”
That they recommend that the House of Representatives do agree to the 46th amendment of the Senate, with an amendment. Page 42, after the word “Indians," on 8th line of section 6, strike out the words, “and also one other agent for the Kickapoos, at the same salary and upon the same tenure.”
That they recommend that the House of Representatives do not concur in the 1st, 2d, 3d, 40th, 48th, 50th, 51st, and 52d amendments of the Senate.
2d Session. 3
RICHARD S. COXE, TRUSTEE, &c.
[To accompany bill H. R. No. 751.]
FEBRUARY 20, 1855.
Mr. F. P. STANTON, from the Committee on the Judiciary, made the
The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the memorial of
Richard S. Coxe, esq., trustee of the Union Land Company, having had the same under consideration, submit the following report:
The claim of the memorialist originated in certain contracts or concessions made by the government of Mexico and the State of Coahuila and Texas in 1826, 1828, and 1829, to Lorenzo de Zavala, David G. Burnet, and Joseph Vehlein. The Union Land Company derives its title under the four contracts made with these individuals, who combined and united their several interests into one; and a company was formed in the city of New York, composed of the three Empresarios, together with a large number of citizens of the United States, for the purpose of carrying the contracts aforesaid into full execution. The leading condition of these agreements was, the introduction of a certain number of colonists into Mexico, each one of whom was to be at once invested with a perfect title to the quantity of land apportioned to him..
The company thus organized, and those deriving title under them, are admitted to have been faithful and diligent in the performance of the conditions prescribed. They engaged colonists in great numbers, employed numerous surveyors and other agents, and otherwise inPested large sums of money in making preparations and despatching colonists with ample means to carry out the enterprise. These agents and surveyors were arrested and imprisoned or driven from the country, and the colonists were dispersed and denied the privileges which had been solemnly guarantied by the express terms of the colonization law. The consequence was, that this extensive scheme of colonization, which promised to promote the interests and avowed policy of Mexico by settling her waste lands with an industrious population, as well as to reward the energy and enterprise of the contractors with a rich return, was crushed in the very hour of its consummation, to the overwhelming injury of the parties who had been deluded by the false promises of the Mexican government.
The claim for indemnity, arising out of the transactions thus briefly related, was, at an early day, presented to our government, and was among those provided for by the convention of the 11th April, 1839, between the United States and Mexico. By the terms of that convention, a joint commission was established, composed of two American and two Mexican commissioners, who were to examine and decide upon such claims of our citizens against Mexico as had previously been presented at our Department of State, or to our minister residing in that republic. In case of disagreement between the American and Mexican commissioners, the points of difference were to be submitted to the decision of an umpire to be appointed by his Majesty, the King of Prussia.
The claim of the Union Land Company was, among many others, duly submitted to this tribunal. It received a thorough investigation by the American commissioners—Judge Breckenridge, of Pennsylvania, and William L. Marcy, of New York—who awarded the sum of nearly four hundred thousand dollars, as a fair indemnity for the losses sustained. The opinion submitted by Judge Breckenridge is an elaborate paper, and presents an able and impartial view of all the facts and principles involved in the case. The Mexican commissioners, in pursuance of their uniform policy, which seems to have been designed to embarrass and delay the proceedings of the board, finally dissented from this award, upon grounds which will be referred to in the sequel. The case was accordingly submitted to the umpire upon the points of disagreement; but the time limited for these proceedings having expired, no final decision was made, and the claim was unadjusted at the date of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
This latter treaty provided for the adjudication of the claims of American citizens against Mexico, and in its 15th article, expressly stipulated that the board of commissioners “shall be guided and governed by the principles and rules of decision prescribed by the 1st and 5th articles of the unratified convention, concluded at the city of Mexico on the 20th November, 1843.” The 5th article of that convention is in the following words:
“All claims of citizens of the United States against the government of the Mexican republic, which were considered by the commissioners and referred to the umpire under the convention of the 11th of April, 1839, and which were not decided by him, shall be referred to, and decided by, the umpire to be appointed as provided by this convention, on the points submitted to the umpire under the late convention, and his decision shall be final and conclusive. It is also agreed, that, if the respective commissioners shall deem it expedient, they may submit to the said arbitrator new arguments upon the said claims."
The effect and operation of this article of the unratified convention, thus virtually incorporated into the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, was a subject of serious consideration immediately after the conclusion of that treaty. It was insisted, with great reason, that as the United States had assumed the payment of these claims, to be adjudicated by a board exclusively American, the award of the American commissioners under the convention of 1839 ought to be considered final and conclusive, as between the claimants and our own government. So strong was this conviction, that on the 8th of July, 1848, in the Senate of the United States, Mr. Benton, of Missouri, reported a bill from the Committee on Foreign Relations, which provided for the absolute payment of these awards. The 2d section of that bill, as reported, (Senate bill 313, 1st session 30th Congress,) is in the following words:
* Be it further enacted, That all claims of citizens of the United States against the Republic of Mexico which were considered by the board of commissioners appointed under the convention of the 11th of April, 1839, and referred to the umpire, and which were not decided by him, but returned to the said board by the said umpire on the 25th of February, 1842, shall be considered as adjudicated, and the sums awarded in favor of said claims, respectively, and reported to said umpire, together with interest on the same, as provided, &c., shall be paid to said claimants or their legal representatives, respectively.”
The same view was taken, in debate, in the House of Representatives ; and, although the act, as finally passed, was modified, so as to require these claims to be presented for adjudication before the commission established by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, it is believed that no one contemplated any re-examination of them beyond the points of difference between the Mexican and American commissioners, as submitted to the umpire under the convention of 1839.
The late commissioners, however, in the award which is now the subject of complaint, took a wholly different view of the question, went behind the points of difference made in 1839, and undertook a re-examination of the whole case from the beginning, as if it had not before been adjudicated. The amount awarded by them was only about one-eighth of that which had been awarded by the American commissioners under the convention of 1839. This very wide difference between the respective awards of the two commissions, is the ground of that relief which the memorialist asks at the hands of Congress.
In examining the proceedings of the late board of commissioners, not only in connexion with this claim, but also in other investigations ordered by the House, the committee have observed some irregularities and inconsistencies, which seem to have a bearing upon the present subject. In the rules adopted and promulgated, immediately after their organization in April, 1849, the commissioners ordered as follows:
" That in the opinion of the board, the claims of American citizens referred to in the 5th article of the unratified convention of 20th November, 1843, which article is made a part of the 15th article of the treaty of 2d February, 1848, may now be presented to this board for final decision, upon the memorials, proofs, and documents submitted to said joint commissioners, and by said commissioners to the umpire, and upon such new arguments as may be filed with the secretary in writing, addressed to the commissioners.” * * * * " That when the board shall close its present session, it will adjourn to meet in this city on the first Monday of June next, and then proceed to consider the claims referred to in the 5th article of the unrati