Louis McLane to Anthony Butler, 20 June 1834
Mr. McLane to Mr. Butler.
Department of State,
June 20, 1831.
Herewith you will receive documents detailing a series of outrages upon the personal freedom of Captain William McKeige, late master of the brig Industry, belonging to Mr. Cyrus Sibley, of Mobile, perpetrated at Tabasco, in Mexico, by persons exercising there the authority of a district judge and a commandant; which outrages resulted in the loss of the vessel and her cargo. The captain declares, in his protest, that on the 10th of March last he applied at the custom-house in Tabasco for a clearance, but was informed that the district judge had embargoed the vessel, upon the pretext that her forescuttle was not sealed upon her arrival from the bar. That, on the 12th of March, he was arrested and imprisoned for thirteen days, but was released upon paying Rojas, the district judge, one hundred and sixty dollars. That he then applied for a clearance for his vessel, but was refused, unless he would pay a further sum of fifty ounces of gold. That, on the 27th, he was again arrested, and carried before the commandant, for a pretended debt for the wages of one of his crew, who had entered into the service of the commandant, and was not set at liberty until he promised to satisfy the debt so soon as he should receive funds from his consignee. That, on the 2d of April, he again applied for a clearance, which was granted upon the responsibility of the collector. That he departed with the vessel, but was ordered back by the judge, who declared he should not go until he paid the fifty ounces of gold. The captain, in his letter to Mr. Sibley of the 4th of April, further states that he then abandoned the vessel, and that the judge subsequently sold her and her cargo. The material facts alleged in the protest, and in the leters of the captain, are corroborated by the letter of the consul to the owner.
If you should have no occasion to doubt the representations in the papers, and it is believed that you will have none, the President has directed me to instruct you to bring the case to the immediate attention of the Mexican Government. It is presumed the proceedings were wholly unauthorized by any law of the United Mexican States, and that, therefore, the 8th and especially the 14th articles of the treaty have been shamefully disregarded. You will, therefore, express the regret of the President at the frequency of occurrences like this in the Mexican ports, and his expectation that measures will be taken to put a stop to them. Should they not be checked, the stipulation of Mexico to protect the persons and property of our citizens within her confines will be rendered wholly nugatory. You will also demand reparation for the loss sustained by the owner, according to the account herewith transmitted.
Should the revolutionary state of that part of Mexico be pleaded, it cannot be admitted as an excuse for the acts complained of. The stipulations of the treaty are unconditional, and the inadequacy of the Federal Government of Mexico to preserve order throughout its territories makes it still more necessary that this Government should insist upon a recompense for any injuries our citizens may sustain by a breach of the treaty on the part of the Mexican citizens or Government.
Your despatches, including No. 69, are received, with the exception of Nos. 64, 58, 54, 53, 52, 16, 14. You must be mistaken in saying that you have not received my No. 47; for in your No. 57 you acknowledge having received it, and with that despatch you forwarded newspapers which were requested in my No. 47.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Anthony Butler, Esq.,
Chargé d'Affaires of the United States, Mexico.
Enclosed in MVB to the U.S. House of Representatives, 4 July 1838 (HRExdoc 351).