Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][ocr errors]

captured negroes, Captain-general Dulce discovered his hitherto honored and trusted lieutenant had played him a nefarious trick characteristic of slave-traders. In truth, he had delivered over to Dulce eleven hundred and five, but yet not all of the negroes he had captured. One hundred and forty-one of the number he reported to have died of the small-pox, and that he burned the bodies to prevent contagion, while in fact he had sold them alive and sound into slavery. The curate of Colon and other local authorities had connived at the fraud, in order to afford the legal proof required, by making a new registry in which these supposed deaths were inserted, and which was substituted for the old register, the latter Arguelles carrying away, probably for revivifying reading on such stormy and ghostly evenings as kept him off Broadway. These one hundred and forty-one negroes had yielded him on sale from $700 to S750 each. His anxiety for twenty days' leave of absence and to purchase the La Cronica become very natural after the completion of this piratical transaction. By the good nature and confidence of his chief he had been able to place his person and ill-gotten gains within the jurisdiction of a nation with which no treaty of extradition existed, where he believed himself to be secure.

Not so with the accommodating curate of Colon and his partners in crime. They were arrested, convicted, and condemned for their offences, and set at work in the chain-gang, a mild enough punishment surely for falsifying public records in order to enslave men. But Judge Navarro, Commissioner of the Superior Court of the Island, which had exclusive jurisdiction of such cases, required the presentation of Arguelles before the court, not only for his merited punishment but for the prompt liberation of his one hundred and forty-one hapless victims. Indeed, it appeared to be very difficult, and at all events would require long time to attain the latter object without his return to Cuba.

As before stated, there was no treaty existing between Spain and the United States providing for the extradition of fugitives from justice, and there was no statute empowering the Executive generally to surrender such persons.

Don Jose- manifested not the slightest disposi tion to return voluntarily to Cuba and face his accusers, or identify the unfortunate negroes. He preferred to remain in New York and spend the

money, of which he had plenty, the price of their bone and muscle, to establishing his innocence before Judge Navarro. But the anti-slave-trade spirit had been thoroughly aroused, not only in the state offices of Great Britain and of the United States, but also in the breast of General Dulce, who denounced Arguelles as worse than a thief, worse than a highwayman, a scoundrel who took advantage of his position as a local authority to steal with little risk to himself. Beyond a doubt it was the duty of Arguelles, as Lieutenant of Colon, to capture the slave expedition, and to surrender to the captain-general all the negroes composing it. He discharged the first part and it served as a cover, enabling him to work the skillfully-executed roguery in the 4atter part of his duty and sell one hundred and forty-one of the captured negroes into slavery and pocket the proceeds, a fact established by abundant testimony. Now he was disporting himself on his ill-gotten money in a country that declared by its statutes his act to be piracy, but which could not punish him therefor; and which he supposed was powerless to render him into the hands of the officers of his own country, there to be tried and punished as he richly deserved. He could be returned to Cuba involuntarily only by the aid of the Executive arm of the United States, and this arm he confidently believed could not be raised against him.

To this power nevertheless the indignant Dulce appealed, and asked on the grounds of national comity that the United States should deliver up to him this fugitive from justice, a fugitive for crimes recognized and declared by its laws to be against mankind, in order that he might not only be properly punished but that his victims might be identified and restored to liberty. This request raised an important and delicate question of international law, although our government acted with great promptness and good judgment.

Prior to 1842 no extradition treaty existed between the United States and other nations. Some of the States practiced the rendition of criminals on requisition made upon the Governor. And while this was conceded to be right between the States themselves, it was questioned as between the States and foreign powers. No community desired to become a safe asylum for all sorts of criminals from all countries near or distant; but it was contended that the Constitution conferred the power of extradition of fugitives from justice from foreign States exclusively upon the President. Some of the Presidents had declined to return such fugitives, and others had directed their rendition. In 1799 a request for the rendition of a fugitive from justice having been made upon President Adams, he directed an examination into the alleged crime before the Judge of the Circuit Court of the District of South Carolina, in which the fugitive was found, and if the evidence proved a sufficient cause, to deliver him over to the agents of the British Government, which preferred the requisition. The doctrine generally accepted to be correct in America as governing this matter is thus stated by Chancellor Kent in his " Commentaries on American Law:"

"It is declared by some of the most distinguished jurists that every State is bound to deny an asylum to criminals, and upon application and due examination of the case to surrender the fugitive to the foreign State where the crime was committed. The language of these authorities is clear and explicit, and the laws and usages of nations as declared by them rest on the plainest principles of justice."

Still it must be understood that while all considerate men are agreed no nation is bound to afford an asylum to fugitives from justice, yet they are not fully agreed that the nation is bound to deny such shelter or to surrender the fugitive upon demand. Within recent date John Surratt was surrendered up by the Pope of Rome on request of this government. The Pope recognized the doctrine laid down by Kent; and Surratt, being charged and satisfactorily shown to him to have been in complicity with the assassination of President Lincoln, acted upon it and gave him up. As the facts touching that case are brief and interesting, and illustrate the doctrine of extradition, they will not be an intrusion here.

Mr. King, the American Minister at Rome, having received authentic information that Surratt, under the name of John Watson, had reached Italy and enlisted in the Papal Guards, brought the matter to the notice of Cardinal Antonelli, in charge of foreign affairs, and wrote to Mr. Seward, informing him of the fact. The latter immediately replied, instructing Mr. King " to ask the Cardinal whether his Holiness would now, upon an authentic indictment, and at the request of the department, in the absence of an extradition

treaty, deliver Surratt for complicity in the assassination of the President, or whether, in the event of this request being declined, his Holiness wouldenter into an extradition treaty with us, which would enable us to reach Surratt." Mr. King promptly executed his instructions, and replied that his Eminence was greatly interested in the matter; referred to his prior conversation about Surratt, and said he would lay the matter before his Holiness, adding: "There was indeed no extradition treaty between the two countries, and to surrender a criminal where capital punishment was likely to ensue was not exactly in accordance with the spirit of the Papal Government, but in so grave and exceptional a case, and with this understanding that the United States would do as they desired to be done by under parallel circumstances, he thought the request of the State Department for the surrender of Surratt would be granted."

The Pope immediately granted the request, itid without waiting other formal proceedings ordered Surratt to be arrested and sent to the prison in Rome. He was then doing garrison duty in the Papal province; and on being arrested he escaped by a bold and desperate leap over the balustrade along the edge of the precipice near which the barracks occupied by the troops are built, into the valley below, striking on the garbage and filth accumulated there, and which broke in a measure the force of his fall. Before the guards could go around and come up with him he had issued from the valley, and was out of sight. His back and arm were injured in the leap; yet he reached Naples, and, getting aid at the British Consulate by passing himself off as a Canadian, he got passage in the ship Tripoli for Alexandria. These facts being learned, Mr. Hale, the American Consul at Alexandria, was wired; and he, on the arrival of the ship, caused Surratt's re-arrest, and delivered him to Admiral Goldsborough, by whom he was forwarded home.

When in Italy, on his journey around the world, Mr. Seward was received with great consideration by Cardinal Antonelli, who "expressed himself as not surprised that the public justice of the United States inconsistently allowed the escape of the conspirator, Surratt, whom the Pope had without previous treaty and without condition so promptly ordered to be arrested and delivered on Mr. Seward's demand."

But to return. General Dulce preferred his request for the rendition of Arguelles to the American Consul, Mr. Savage, at Havana, who sympathized with the request, but nevertheless replied: "In absence of an extradition treaty between the two governments, and of any public or municipal law authorizing the rendition," our government could not grant the request; yet he promised to lay the matter in a confidential way before Mr. Seward, which the Captain-general desired him to do by the earliest opportunity. Shortly after, the Spanish Minister at Washington addressing Mr. Seward, succinctly stating the facts, and adding that he was well aware Ho extradition treaty existed between the United States and Spain, in virtue of which the surrender of Arguelles to the authorities of Cuba might be obtained; yet considering the gross and scandalous outrage which has been committed, as well as the interest of humanity at stake in the prompt resolution of this mayer, he has not hesitated in submitting the case in this confidential way to the United States Government in order to ascertain whether an incident so exceptional could not be met with exceptional measures. Within a few days after this request reached the State Department, Mr. Seward informed the Spanish Minister "If the Captaingeneral will send to New York a suitable officer, steps will, if possible, be taken to place Arguelles in his charge," for the purpose of presenting him before Judge Navarro. Domingo Dulce, rejoicing in the success of his application, immediately dispatched an officer of his staff to New York duly authorized to receive Arguelles from the hands of the United States Marshal and conduct him to Cuba, accompanying the credentials of his officer with a letter of thanks to his "Excellency, Secretary Seward" for his cooperation in this affair, "because by it he assists the exposure and punishment of a crime totally distinct from political matters, the result of which will be that more than two hundred human beings who are groaning in slavery will owe to his Excellency the recovery of their freedom."

Obedient to orders from Washington, the United States Marshal at New York one bright May morning appeared at Don Jos6 Arguelles's lodgings, and requested his company to the steamer that would bear him to Havana and to the presence of Judge Navarro and of his irate chief. It was impossible for the Don to resist

complying with this courteous request, and with as much spirit as the circumstances permitted, he departed from New York, and duly landed at the fort of Moro Castle, within whose walls he concocted the ingenious defence that the slave-traders, against whose nefarious practice he had successfully warred, had brought this arrest and trouble upon him. But he failed to explain how he sold a portion of his captives into slavery and remained so long over his time in New York without leave, and from his post, consistent with his duty to the Spanish laws and government. The Captain-general on the arrival of Arguelles in Havana, renewed his thanks to Mr. Seward, stating that "Arguelles's presence alone in Cuba a very few hours has given liberty to eighty-six" of his victims.

So ends the story of Arguelles, which holds its place in public minds by reason of the doctrine of extradition involved, which some deem to have been stretched beyond proper limits. Again and again it has been a subject for comment. At the time, the case was seized upon by the opposing political parties out of which to make capital against the administration. Planks were inserted in their platforms charging the administration with a violation of the "Sacred right of asylum," and the presidential nominee at Cleveland in his letter of acceptance, arraigned Mr. Lincoln's administration for what he termed "its crowning shame; its abandonment of the right of asylum, dear to all free nations abroad." Proceedings also were ordered by the authorities of the State of New York against the United States Marshal for kidnapping Arguelles, which, however, came to naught; and recently, in a leading periodical, a writer discussing the subject of international law, writes of it in these terms: "The action of the Executive branch of the government in the case of Arguelles was an enormous usurpation of power, and as a precedent is one of the very worst in our whole history;" and adds: "The theory that any person peacefully coming within the jurisdiction of our laws, and committing no offence against them may, in the absence of any treaty or law of Congress authorizing his extradition, on charge of crime made by a foreign government, be denied the right of unmolested asylum at the discretion of the President of the United States, assigns to his office the prerogatives of an absolute despot. Such was the theory put in practice with

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors]

There are two things which the average American is said to be confident of his ability to do. One is to write poetry, and the other is to edit a publication. That a vast number of our countrymen, aye, and countrywomen, too, do believe they are poets, is proved by the innumerable poems which are "pelted" at the editors of popular periodicals, and in fact at editors of publications of all descriptions, literary and otherwise; while as for the ability to edit a periodical, ho editor of a widely-circulated print but has received scores of letters from "A constant reader," "A friend," and "Scutarus," freely offering their advice as to how a publication should be conducted.

Though the idea is somewhat prevalent that the editorial position calls for no great degree of talent, and is a position of honor rather than labor, yet the contrary is the fact. No literary position or work calls for a higher degree of positive ability than the editorial, whether of literary or political publications. An editor has to be constantly on the alert to keep up with the times, and there are duties and annoyances which tend to make the situation anything but a bed of roses. The mere examination of the manuscripts offered is no small charge upon the time of the editor of a. literary magazine or paper. The number of articles of all kinds offered to the popular publications of the day almost exceeds belief. Not one-tenth part can be accepted; and when the reading and considering of this mass of manuscripts is taken into account, it will readily be seen that an editor's time is not all leisure. If all :hese manuscripts were written as they should be, :he task of their examination would be a much easier matter than it now is. But the irksomeicss of examination is much increased by writers who make use of thin, pale ink, and expect the editor to wear his eyes out in reading their offer. ngg; or they who write a straggling and almost indecipherable hand. If they but knew how aany manuscripts of the kind mentioned have been thrown into the waste-basket unread because V<M~ XIV.—30

of these faults, they would not be apt to try the editorial patience in the way they do. Some writers also roll their manuscript as tightly as possible, and send it in that form, when it should be sent flat; while again others write on both sides the sheet, or forget to place their name and address at the head of their manuscript, as it should always be so placed.

But these are not the only trying incidents in the life editorial. Many writers think their articles are not duly considered, and they fly into a rage and abuse the editor. They would be pleased to know why such an article in the last number was accepted and paid for, while theirs, which a fool could see was far superior to it in interest and popularity, was rejected. They refer to certain articles published, and say that if this favoritism to certain authors continues, they feel sure the magazine will steadily lose ground—they offered their manuscript in the hopes that it would be considered on its merits; but are grieved and astonished to see that it was not.

That only the manuscripts of known authors are either wished or accepted is an ineradicable idea with some writers. Every editor is familiar with this distrust of authors that their manuscripts are not examined or accepted because the writers are not known; and many take pains to say in a note to the editor that they have written for publication before, and hope the present offering will be accepted accordingly. But this belief that editors only desire or accept known authors' manuscripts is a fallacy—nothing could be more untrue. If those who so believe could see the leagues of manuscripts the editor patiently goes through in the hope of finding an article or poem of real worth, and could know the thrill he feels on finding that which he seeks, they would know the true state of the case. Merit in literature is sure to win its way when that merit is once perceived.

And then the appeals to the sympathies of the editor are very trying. The writer has been thrown on his or her own resources, and has taken to literature in the hope thereby to gain a

« AnteriorContinuar »