« AnteriorContinua »
hither under the arrangement made by Mr. Thompson with the house of Hargous Brothers & Co. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. C. SPENCER,
Secretary Treasury. B. E. GREEN, Chargé d'Affaires,
United States of America. From this instruction it will be seen that it was contemplated by this government that Green was to receive the money, and that the agency of Hargous & Co. was to transmit it. But, instead of that, he employed E. Voss to receive the money, and as it has turned out, I am told, greatly to our loss ; that he employed him in his individual character, and the house of Hargous & Co. have refused to be bound by his acts. I know that Judge Bibb, in January, 1845, stated that in the appointment of Green it was not designed to revoke the power before given to General Thompson. But we can judge of the intentions of the government in 1844 as well as Judge Bibb, for we have their written instructions, which speak for themselves. Besides, this is a question of law, not of intention; and surely no one will maintain that the power of attorney to Green was not a revocation of the prior one to Thompson, who had left the country. Green so understood it, for in his letter to the minister of foreign affairs, of the 18th May, 1844, he regards it as necessary to inform him that Voss was to receive the money. Green, in his letter to Mr. Calhoun, of the 25th of January, 1845, says that the money never was paid except by order upon an empty treasury. In other words, it was not paid at all. But Mr. Slidell shows that by the arrangement which was made with Tayleur, Jamison & Co. the Mexican drafts were to be drawn in their favor, and they were to provide for the instalments in “ effective money.” That is the terms of the arrangement which was acceded to by the Mexican government on the 27th August, the day they say the money was paid. The arrangement apparently was a very advantageous one to the house of
Tayleur, Jamison & Co., and was a hard one on Mexico. It gave them in drafts upwards of $100,000 more than they have to pay in "effective money;" and it was with reference to it, I suppose, that Mr. Shannon spoke when he referred to the difficulty Mexico had had in raising the money. If, as Green says, his sub-attorney took drafts upon an empty treasury, and gave a receipt in full without waiting to see whether they would be paid or not, he violated the treaty.
The treaty provided that the money should he paid in gold and silver, and was made so to avoid the danger of paper orders. The convention was first agreed upon for a payment in notes upon the American treasury, and to pay down the whole indemnities at once. This article was changed by a subsequent convention from a paper payment to a hard money payment, by a prompt payment of the whole extended into five years, quarterly instalments in gold and silver. This was the convention, and after that to take orders on the convention was illegal and doing what the second convention was made to prevent. Green and his substitute had no more right to vary this treaty than Mr. Web
ster has to depart from the letter and spirit of the present treaty in the mode they ask.
I do not know whether the money was ever paid or not. Mr. Polk's administration decided that it had been paid, and that our agent was delinquent. Suppose it was not, still Benjamin E. Green is not relieved. Why did he not inform Mr. Shannon of this? Why did he permit him to send the information that it was paid, when he says that it was not paid? Mark you, that Green was the principal agent, and had preceded Shannon at that court as chargé d'affaires. Shannon had just arrived, and had been accredited but twenty days before. Green was his secretary of legation, and I have seen at the department the original of Shannon's dispatch, saying that the instalments had been paid in money, and that there had been great difficulty in the raising of it; and that dispatch was in the hand-writing of Benjamin E. Green. If, as he says, the money had not been paid, why did he not set our minister right, whose dispatch he copied, the contents of which he, therefore
, must have known? Now, sir, I say that if the money had not been paid, it was Green's duty to have informed Mr. Shannon, and thus have prevented him from being imposed upon by the Mexican government. Will Green say he did inform him of the character of the pay
This will not relieve him, for if he found that Mr. Shannon was about to communicate false information to our government, in respect to a matter in which he was the attorney, he ought to have remonstrated ; and if that would have done no good, he ought to have apprised his government of the true state of the case, even if it were neccessary for him to resign for that purpose. It may be asked, what motive had Mexico in wishing to deceive our minister, and, through him, our government ? Mr. Green's own letters explain it.
Mr. Calhoun had instructed Mr. Shannon, in the event that the April and July instalments were still unpaid, “to address a note immediately to the proper officer of the government, calling his prompt attention to the subject, and urging, in the most decided language, the necessity of a strict compliance with the stipulations of the treaty;" in other words to make a peremptory demand. It seems from Green's letters, that the Mexican government was apprised of this. In his letter to Mr. Bibb, of the 18th of December, 1844, he says: “I have reason to believe that the note of the Mexican minister of foreign relations, of the 2d of September, was written in consequence of the impression that the Mexican government, by failing to pay the instalment which fell due on the 30th of April, had forfeited its right to pay by instalments, under the convention of 1843, and that Mr. Shannon was going out with instructions to demand the whole amount of the indemnity under the convention of 1843." In his letter to Mr. Calhoun, of the 16th of May,
1844, he says:
“Sir: I have the honor to inform you that no money has yet been paid on account of the instalments due on the 30th ultimo. I send you (Nos. 1 and 2) a note which I addressed to the minister of foreign relations upon the subject, and his reply, in which he promises that it shall be paid on the 7th'instant. Notwithstanding this, they still hold back with their usual excuse—to-morrow; expecting to hear, from day to
day, of the annexation of Texas, which will offer an excuse for not paying at all.”
The circumstances sustain these statements. Shannon arrived there, and on the 27th of August notified the secretary of foreign relations that he was there, and asked when he should present his credentials. On that very day the minister of finance sent a dispatch to the minister of foreign relations, saying that these instalments had been paid. Mr. Shannon was received by the President on the 1st of September. On the 2d of September, the secretary of foreign relations informed him in an official note that they had been paid. Mr. Shannon is lulled, and he does not make the demand he was instructed to make. Green says they wanted to stave off the payment as long as they could, in the momentary expectation that Texas would be annexed, and when she was, that they could get clear of paying altogether. They wanted to dally and dally, and take the chapter of accidents. The circumstances show that they did not wish to get into a rupture with the United States. There was an impression on their part, as Green states, that he came there to make a peremptory demand.
He allows the minister to be deluded, and in consequence fails to obey his instructions, by a compliance with which he would probably have obtained the money. The agent of the government is his secretary of legation, and copies the dispatch in which he says it was paid. The American government, under the supposition it had been paid, appropriated the money. Why all this? When he was cognizant of all the facts, why did he allow the Mexican government to impose upon our minister? Why, by imposing upon him, lull him into contentment, and prevent his making the demand which our Secretary of State had instructed him to make? Why play into their hands, and give them the coveted delay? Do men betray such trusts? Do men connive at such deception upon the minister whose secretary he was, and upon the government whose agent he was ? Do they practice this sort of wrong upon their own government, and play into the hands of a foreign government, merely from a love of infidelity? And these are the men who came before the American government to attack the financial organs of the two Houses at the last Congress; the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means of this. I am a lawyer of some experience. At a very early period of my life, my State placed me upon the bench; and I have seen many a man consigned to the penitentiary upon slighter proof than establishes gross impropriety on Benjamin E. Green's part.
I also offer, page 341 of same volume, the remarks of Mr. Grey, and the reply of Mr. Bayly, third column, (five lines,) beginning “If the gentleman,” down to “I have the official documents to do it.”
Mr. GREY. I desire to read to the House a letter from Duff Green, in explanation of the connexion of his son with the payment of the instalment due by Mexico to our citizens as indemnity under the treaty of 1844. It is as follows:
WASHINGTON, January 20, 1852. Dear Sir: The correspondent of the Baltimore Sun insinuates that my son, Benjamin E. Green, was interested in, or profited by, the default made by the agents of the United States to pay one of the instalments due under the former treaty with Mexico; and for which they
gave a receipt in 1844. And I am told by several persons that it is the purpose of Mr. Bayly to make thai charge, by way of impeaching the integrity of my son.
The facts of that case, I believe, are as follows:
Mexico, being indebted to certain citizens of the United States, agreed to pay them in annual instalments. General Thompson, who was then the minister of the United States in Mexico, appointed Messrs. Hargous & Co. the agents for the United States, to receive the money and transmit it to the United States. When General Thompson left Mexico, my son was left in charge of the legation, and, under instructions from Mr. Calhoun, then Secretary of State, continued Hargous & Co. as the agents for the United States. When the instalment in question became due, the government of Mexico was in a state of revolution, and not able to make payment. Shortly after Governor Shannon reached Mexico, as minister, the Mexican government tendered Messrs. Hargous & Co. a draft for the amount, which, after consultation with Mr. Shannon, they accepted and receipted for. It is alleged that the draft was not paid, and that, as Hargous & Co. did not in fact receive the money, they were not bound to pay it over to the United States. Whether they ever received the money or not, I do not know; but you will see that my son was in no way interested in the payment, and that he had no control over it; because, before the receipt was given, he had been superseded by Governor Shannon.
It is proper to state, that diplomatic intercourse was soon thereafter suspended between Mexico and the United States, and that the war followed soon thereafter; and it may be that the money was not paid to Hargous & Co.; but they ought to have the protested draft, if they did not get the money.
Should Mr. Bayly make the charge, as I am told he intends to do, I ask, as an act of justice to my son, who is absent, that you will have this letter read to the House, as a true exposition of the facts.
DUFF GREEN. Hon. Bens. EDWARDS GREY,
House of Representatives. Mr. BAYLY said—“If the gentleman from Tennessee will allow me, I will show him—for I am prepared to do it—that there is not a ord of truth in that letter. I have got the official documents to do it."
Also, Mr. Bayly's remarks, on same page, beginning “I will state," down to " arrived as minister in Mexico," (six lines.)
Mr. BAYLY. “I will say to the gentleman, however, that I am familiar with this subject, and I assure him that he has been imposed upon by that letter as to the facts in this case, and that the receipt was given before Governor Shannon arrived as minister in Mexico.”
Also, page 343, first session thirty-second Congress, Congressional Globe, commencing at the 52d line in the third column, down to Mr. Bayly's remarks, on page 344, “ It was said the money had been paid.”
Mr. JOHNSON. “From his (Mr. Bayly's) argument it would be inferred that he was a faithless, wild and visionary man, and that Benjamin E. Green has been found defaulting in transactions with the Mexican government, depriving him and his father of all credit whatever. This is what he attempts to do. How do the facts stand when the question is put direct to him? Does Mexico assume that the money has been paid over? What is the response ? There is no such assumption.”
Mr. BAYLY. “ The gentleman from Tennessee is entirely mistaken. Mr. Rejon, in his letter of the 2d of September, 1844, states that he was informed by the minister of finance, upon the 27th of August, that the money had been paid a long time prior to that, and excuses himself for not informing our envoy sooner by stating that the notice had been delayed in consequence of the vast amount of business which had engrossed the attention of his department. I will give you the letter."
Mr. JOHNSON. “Let me see whether I understand the gentleman.
Does not that grow out of this transaction, going upon the idea that drafts had been given with the view of payment ?"
Mr. BAYLY. “I do not know anything about that.”
Mr. JOHNSON. “Has the money ever been paid by the Mexican government ?”
Mr. BAYLY. “An agent had no right to receive anything but gold and silver, for that was the stipulation in the treaty. Mr. Shannon had gone out there to enforce that treaty; and on the day after his arrivalon the day that he was recognized-he was informed that the payment had been made and made in money, to raise which the government had experienced great difficulty. Mr. Shannon sent that information to our government, and assuming it to be true, we made the appropriation to pay individual claimants."
Mr. JOHNSON. “ Well, Mr. Chairman, then it all resolves itself into this: That it was paid by a draft, when the law required that it should be paid in silver. This was a departure common in matters of that character. He, the agent, agreed to receive in payment this draft. When the draft fell due, the Mexican government failed to meet it; and all that we can make out of the Green transaction is, that he has transcended his authority to some extent in receiving a draft instead of money. But does that prove that he has one dollar of the money in his pocket?"
Mr. BAYLY. “It was said the money had been paid.”
Also, on page 344, same volume, from Mr. Johnson's inquiry, “Do I understand," down to “Mr. Shannon says it was paid in money."
Mr. JOHNSON. “Do I understand the gentleman to say, Mr. Green, instead of receiving the money, received a draft? for that is the point.”
Mr. BAYLY. “These documents do not show it. In the investigation that was instituted to see whether reclamation could not be made, the Mexican government said they had given him drafts, but then Shannon says it was paid in money."
I also offer in evidence Mr. Bayly's remarks, on second day, in answer to Mr. Grey's call upon him to withdraw the charges against B. E. Green, Congressional Globe, first session thirty-second Congress, page 329, “Mr. Bayly, (interrupting,'') down to “This whole matter was involved in doubt.”
Mr. BAYLY, (interrupting.) “The gentleman from Kentucky assumes what all those who attended to my speech yesterday must know I did not say, that I distinctly charge that Mr. Green had received this money. I did not so charge, as the report of my speech will show, for this whole matter was involved in doubt.”
For proof that Mr. Bayly was generally understood by the House to distinctly charge that I had received and failed to account for the money, I offer in evidence the remarks of Mr. Edgerton, of Ohio, Congressional Globe, first session thirty-second Congress, page 356, beginning with “I will not say," down to “he never had received it.”
Mr. EDGERTON. “I will not say, as did the honorable gentleman from Virginia, that I am a lawyer, for I am not; that I am a judge, or have been a judge, for I have not; but I have been a juror, sir, and I never yet pronounced my fellow man guilty of a misapplication or embezzlement of money when I knew he had never received it.”.