General Claims Commission (Mexico and United States):
An Inventory of its Decisions Held by the Benson Latin American Collection
The General Claims Commission (Mexico and United States) was constituted under the terms of the General Claims Convention signed Sept. 8, 1923, in Washington D.C. by the United States of America and the United Mexican States. The convention, which took effect on March 1, 1924, was intended to improve relations between the countries by forming a commission to settle claims arising after July 4, 1868, “against one government by nationals of the other for losses or damages suffered by such nationals or their properties” and “for losses or damages originating from acts of officials or others acting for either government and resulting in injustice.” Excluded from the jurisdiction of the General Claims Commission were cases stemming from events related to revolutions or disturbed conditions in Mexico. (The Special Claims Commission was formed to address claims arising from events which occurred between November 20, 1910, and May 31, 1920).
The Commission was composed of three members, one from the U.S., one from Mexico, and one from a neutral country. During the period represented by this collection, the commissioners were Cornelis van Vollenhoven, Genaro Fernández Mac Gregor, Edwin B. Parker, and Fred Kenelm Nielsen (who replaced Parker). The Commission met from 1924 to 1931 in Washington, D.C. and Mexico City. Work resumed in 1934 under a new agreement and format; the work of the commissioners ended in 1937, although final settlement was not reached until 1941.
The collection is comprised of 46 decisions rendered in 1926 by the General Claims Commission, one legal brief, and one report. The latter two items constitute the series, Assorted Materials.
The majority of the decisions arose from claims for cases of wrongful killing, denial of justice, unlawful arrest and detention, breach of contract, and disputes over taxes. The legal brief was presented to the Commission, probably in October 1926, by the Agent of the United States, Clement L. Bouvé, and attorney Stanley H. Udy. Its subject was Mexico's liability for damages caused to U.S. citizens by criminal acts of Mexican citizens whom the Mexican government had failed to prosecute.
Also present in the collection is an English translation of the December 1, 1916, report in which Venustiano Carranza, President of Mexico and Primer Jefe del Ejército Constitucionalista, presented his draft constitution to the Congreso Constituyente, which Carranza had convened to reform the Constitution of 1857. Appended to the report is a reply from the president of the congress, Luis Manuel Rojas, accepting Carranza's report and promising its approval.
The documents are in English.
Collection Relating to the General Claims Commission (Mexico and United States), 1917-1926, Benson Latin American Collection, General Libraries, University of Texas at Austin.
The collection was given to the Benson Latin American Collection by the University of Virginia Library in January 1980.
The collection was described by the Benson's Mexican Archives Project in April 1994.
Prepared by the Mexican Archives Project, November 1994.