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On the receipt of these instructions, Van Ness had several interviews with Mr. Zea; but owing to the death of the King, from whom he had hoped ultimately to obtain a larger sum, Mr. Van Ness had determined to accept the offer that had already been made. Nevertheless, on the 30th of November, as a final effort, he wrote to Mr. Zea, asking for better terms and inquiring whether the Queen Regent would consent “to make the stock which had been offered in payment redeemable at certain fixed periods,” say ten or fifteen years. On the 20th of December Mr. Zea replied that the Queen, being obliged to abide by the decision of her deceased spouse on the subject, could not depart from the proposition made on the 9th of June. “Her Majesty," said Mr. Zea, “can neither augment the offer of twelve millions of reals vellou in inscriptions at five per cent interest on the great book of the consolidated debt of Spain, nor make them redeemable within any fixed time.” A misunderstanding arose as to the place of payment of the interest, but it was finally decided that it should be Paris.' And in order to give the inscriptions a currency beyond ordinary inscriptions, Mr. Van Ness secured the insertion in them of the statement that they were issued in pursuance of a convention with the United States.
On these terms Mr. Van Ness signed with Mr. HeSignature of the Con
deria, February 17, 1834, a convention, by which the vention.
contracting parties renounced, released, and canceled all claims which either might have upon the other, of whatever class, denomination, or origin they might be, from the 22d of February 1819 till the date of signature.
By Article I. of the convention the Government of
the United States undertook to distribute the inscripvention.
tions, or the proceeds of them, among the claimants entitled thereto, in such manner as it might deem just and equitable. In order to perform this obligation Congress, by an act of June 7, 1836, authorized the President to apppoint one commissioner, a secretary versed in English and Spanish, and a clerk, at salaries, respectively, of $3,500, $2,000, and $1,500 a year. This act directed that the inscriptions should be deposited in the United States legation at Paris till the President should otherwise order; and the Secretary of the Treasury was authorized to cause moneys paid from time to time under the convention to be received and accounted for at Paris, and then remitted to the United States and deposited in the Treasury. The Secretary of the Treasury was also authorized to distribute in ratable proportions among persons in whose favor awards were made any money received into the Treasury under the act, and to cause certificates to be made to awardees showing the proportions to which they were entitled.
June 29, 1836, the President appointed, by and with Appointment of Com.
the advice and consent of the Senate, Louis D. Henry, missioner.
of North Carolina, as commissioner; John J. Mumford, of New York, as secretary; and Cornelius Van Ness, of the District of Columbia, as clerk. 3 On July 30, 1836, they all met in Washington
Execution of the Con
1S. Ex. Doc. 147, 23 Cong. 2 sess. 95 Stats, at L, 34.
3 In January 1837 Mr. Van Ness was succeeded as clerk by William A. Weaver.
and took an oath before a justice of the peace well and faithfully to perform the duties of their respective offices. The board having thus qualified, Mr. Henry informed Mr. Forsyth, then Secretary of State, of his readiness to receive communications; and in reply, Mr. Forsyth sent him the journals of the commission under Article XI. of the treaty of 1819 for inspection.
Mr. Henry then adopted the following rules, eviRules of Procedure.
dently based on those of the earlier commission: “ Ordered, That all persons having claims under the Convention between the United States and Spain, concluded at Madrid on the 17th day of February 1834, which are to be received by the Board, do tile a memorial of the same with the Secretary of this Board, to the end that they may hereafter be duly examined, and the validity and the amount thereof be decided upon according to the merits of the several cases, and the suitable and anthentic testimony concerning them which may be furnished in support thereof. The said memorial must be addressed to this Board; it must set forth minutely and particular the various facts and circumstances whence the right to prefer such claim is derived; it must be verified by the affidavit of the claimant.
“And, in order to prevent unnecessary delay, and to expedite the business of this Board, it is further
“ Ordered, That all the proof necessary and sufficient to support the claims aforesaid, be filed with the Secretary of the Board at the time of filing the respective memorials thereof, or on or before the first Monday of December next, to which day this Board will adjourn.
“And in order that claimants may be informed of what is now considered by the Commissioner as essential to be averred and established, before any such memorial can be received by this Board, it is further
" Ordered, That each claimant shall declare, in his said memorial, for, and in behalf of, whom the said claim is preferred, and whether the amount thereof, and of any part thereof, if allowed, does now, and at the time when the said claim arose, did belong solely and absolutely to the said claimant, or to any other, and if any other, what person. And in cases of claims preferred for the benefit of any other than claimant, the memorial to be exhibited must further set forth, when, why, and by what means, and for what consideration, such other has become entitled to the amount, or any part of the amount of said claim.
“ The memorial required to be exhibited by all claimants must also set forth and certainly declare whether the claimant, as well as any other for whose benefit the claim is preferred, is now, and at the time when the said claim arose, was, a citizen of the United States of America; where he is now, and at the time when the said claim arose, was domiciliated, and if any, what change of domiciliation has since taken place.
“The said memorial must also set forth whether the claimant, or any other who may have been at any time entitled to the amount claimed, or any part thereof, hath ever received any, and if any, what sum of money, or other equivalent or indemnification, by way of insurance or otherwise, for loss or injury sustained, satisfaction for which is therein asked; and if any such payment or indemnification has been made, to set forth when and from whom the same was received. And that time may be allowed to claimants to prepare and file the memorials above mentioned, and the necessary proof, it is further
“ Ordered, That when the Board shall close its present session, it adjourn to meet again on the first Monday of December next, at which time it will proceed to decide whether the memorials filed with the Secretary are in conformity to the foregoing Orders, and to pass upon the proof and validity of such of them as may be found iu conformity to these orders.
"Ordered, That the Secretary of this Board do canse three hundred copies of the above orders to be printed for the use of the claimants; and also that the publishers of the Laws of the United States, at Washington; Portland, in Maine; Portsmouth, in New Hampshire; Boston, in Massachusetts; Providence, in Rhode Island; Hartford, in Counecticut; New
York, in the State of New York; Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania; Baltimore, in Maryland; Richmond, in Virginia; Raleigh, in North Carolina; Savannah, in Georgia; New Orleans, in Louisiana; and also the National Intelligencer, in Washington, and the Commercial Adrertiser, in Salem, Massachusetts, be requested to publish this notice three times a week for six consecutive weeks, and three times in the first week of November next.”
On the 3d of August an order was made, authorizing the secretary to permit claimants or their agents to examine and, if needful, copy any paper in his possession; but it was provided that no paper should be taken or copied out of the office of the commission.
The board held four sessions. The first session lasted Sessions of the Board, from July 30 to August 3, 1836, when an adjournment
was taken till the first Monday in December in order that claimants might have an opportunity to file memorials. On December 6, the day appointed, the board met again, and the commissioner extended the time for filing, amending, and verifying memorials till February 1, 1837.
Early in January 1837 the commissioner addressed to Extension of Time.
the Secretary of State the following letters:
"THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN,
“Washington, January 4, 1837. “SIR: At the time of my acceptance of the office of commissioner under the convention between the United States and Spain, I was induced to believe that its duties could be discharged within the period fixed by Congress; but such is the variety, voluminousness, and intricacy of the cases already presented, that I am persuaded it is beyond both my physical and mental ability to bring the comunission to a satisfactory close within the period prescribed. This inability, instead of being diminished, will probably be augmented by the addition of more and larger claims upon the fund; indeed, the information on this subject now in my possession reduces my apprehension to certainty. It may have been and doubtless was, supposed by many that the amount of the fund gave sure-indication of the nature and number of the claims; but this is wide of the fact, since in annount they already far exceed the fund, and in number and complexity surpass any estimate I have seen.
"In conclusion, so positive am I of the insuperable impediments to which I have adverted, that you will do me a favor by an early communication to the President of my earnest wish that the time may be extended by Congress, or some other person joined with me in the commission. “I am, sir, with great respect,
“Louis D. HENRY." "To the Hon. John FORSYTH,
“Secretary of State." I
“OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER UNDER
“THE CONVENTION WITH SPAIN,
“Washington, January 6, 1837. “Sir: Referring to the communication I had the honor of addressing to you on the 4th instant, it may be proper to add, for the information of the President, that of fifty-five memorials already presented I have suspended twelvé, on account of various informalities and want of con formity to the orders adopted and officially published on the 30th of July last; rejected three, as evidently possessing no claim upon the fund; and allowed
* H. Ex. Doc. 73, 24 Cong. 2 sess.
one to be withdrawn by the memorialist. Many other claimants having solicited an extension of the time assigned for the presentation of memorials, on the allegation of their utter inability otherwise to procure from foreign countries indispensable documents, the order of July was, at their instance, modified by the extension of the time to the 1st of February next; but the order is in forco ju reference to all others.
“In several of the suspended cases, also, the claimants can not procure the requisite documents in time to enable me to pass upon them equitably; indeed, there is not a single instance in which the claimant has signified his willingness to have his case set down for hearing; some of the claimants require time to procure evidence from England, France, Spain, South America, and the West Indies.
“The amount of claims presented thus far, by memorial, exceeds the fund, and the amount of claims of which notice has been given, and part of the proofs in support of which are now on file in this office, reaches several millions beyond the fund. It is out of my power to decide upon the validity of the mass of these claims, until not only the memorials shall have been filed, but all the proofs before me.
“The reason for the suspension of niost of the memorials has been the insufficiency of the accompanying evidence by which the claims were supported; and I do not doubt that, on reasonable indulgence being given as to time, the necessary proofs will be furnished. It strikes me to be premature to express a confident opinion as to what range the claims may take under the convention; certain it is, that much of the embarrassment now felt by me on this point will be removed should the President recommend, and Congress adopt, either of the alternatives proposed in my note of the 4th instant to the department. “ With great respect, I remain, sir, your inost obedient servant,
“Louis D. HENRY." “Hon. John FORSYTH,
“Secretary of State.” 1 These letters were duly communicated to Congress, and the term of the commission, which was at first limited to a year from the first meeting in Wishington, was extended till February 1, 1838.2
February 8, 1837, the board adjourned till May 22, Principles of Decision. when it reconvened for its third session. This ses
sion closed July 12, when an adjournment was taken to November 23, to afford claimants further time for filing memorials and proofs. On July 10, two days before this adjournment, the commissioner published the following principles and rules on which all accounts were to be taken, under decisions allowing claims:
“First. As to vessels: The value of every vessel must be estimated at her actual cost to the owner, where that can be ascertained; and if not ascertained, her value at the commencement of the voyage will be deemed to be her trne value, rieducting therefrom a reasonable percentage for subsequent deterioration.
“To her value thus allowed, add two-thirds of a fair freight, where the voyage was not completed.
“In cases of capture and release, where doubts exist as to the probable grounds of capture, nothing is to be allowed for the detention of the vessel after capture, unless the delay has been unreasonable, and then only for the wages of the crew-expenses of their support-and damages incurred by the vessel during the detention.
“ Second. As to cargo: In cases where the cargo has been taken at sea, the invoice cost will be deemed to be its true value, adding thereto the usual and ordinary shipping charges-the customary brokerage on the purchase
1 H. Ex. Doc. 73, 24 Cong. 2 sess.
"Act of June 7, 1837,5 Stats. at L. 179. 5627-VOL. 5-10
of the goods—and a reasonable or fair premium of insurance for the particular voyage, said premium to be rated with that usual or current at the time of the shipment; and this premium is to be allowed whether the owner was his own insurer or not.
“Where the property was seized on shore at the place of destination, and the market price there, at the time of seizure, can be satisfactorily ascertained, that price shall be the criterion of value. If from any cause such market price cannot be ascertained, recourse must be had to the actual cost and charges as in other cases.
“Third. Charges and expenses, in defending the property, whether vessel or cargo, will be allowed where they have been actually paid, in all cases where there has been a reasonable effort to defend or reclaim the subject.
"Fourth. Where the property was recaptured, and restored on payment of salvage, the amount so paid, with incidental expenses, is to be allowed. In cases of Ransom, the actual sum paid is to be allowed, and where the property has been sold after capture, and a proportion of its proceeds given up as the price of a partial restitution, the sum so given up is to be deducted from the indemnity to be allowed.
"Fifth. As to freight: A fair premium of insurance is to be allowed on freight, as on other insurable interests.
“Sixth. In the distribution of the amount awarded, reference is to be had only to the claimant's actual loss. Nothing is to be allowed for profits or anticipated gains. Whatever he has received under contracts of insurance, is to be deducted from the award in his favor; but wbere insurers are claimants, their claims are generally to be allowed for the sums actually paid, except in cases of loss especially adjusted between the parties, and then the intention of the parties at the time of settling their contracts is to be carried into effect."
November 23 the board met for its fourth session, Final Report.
which continued till January 31, 1838, when the term
of its existence being about to expire, the board, having disposed of the business before it, directed the secretary to transmit all books, papers, and documents relating to the commission to the Department of State, and then adjourned. The commissioner made the following report:
"The undersigned commissioner, a citizen of the United States, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, under the act of Congress approved the 7th of June 1836, entitled
An act to carry into effect a Convention between the United States and Spain, concluded at Madrid, on the 17th day of February, A. D. 1834,' has the honor to submit to the Secretary of State the following Report.
“The board was duly organized pursuant to the said act, on the 30th of July 1836. The journal, or record, of its proceedings, which accompanies this report, will show fully the manner in which it was organized, and the various orders, rules, and regulations, which it adopted from time to time, for the just and orderly government of its proceedings, to which the commissioner begs leave to refer.
“The action of the undersigned upon the cases submitted to his consideration, comprehended three stages. The first stage was the examination of memorials; the second, the examination of the proofs filed to substantiate the allegations of the memorials; and the third, and last, was the adjustment of the awards in the allowed cases. In this order he therefore begs leave to present a general outline of the privciples which regulated his determinations.
“In the examination of memorials, the facts stated therein, and verified by the affidavit of the claimant, were assumed by him to be true. If the case presented by the memorial was embraced by the renunciations of the third article of the convention of the 17th February 1831, unless a strong don t existed, the memorial was received; otherwise, it was rejected.
“This course involved the necessity of settling the proper construction