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He suggested that many of the claimants should submit to a considerable reduction and that the local facts and conditions surrounding many of the claims rendered it very desirable that their examination should be made in China by some one familiar with the situation and local values. He expressed the hope also that an early adjustment of these claims would be reached.
One hundred and forty-six claims had up to this time been brought to the attention of the Department of State and the legation at Peking, most of them consisting of bare statements of facts by the claimants and estimated amounts of loss or damage, unaccompanied by evidence.
January 14, 1902.
The Department concurred with the legation that many of the claims should be reduced and that their investigation should be made in China by some one familiar with local conditions. The minister was instructed to designate one person from the legation and one from the consular service who would investigate the claims and determine what amount should be allowed in each case. The recommendations of these commissioners were to be submitted to the minister for revision, and the whole to be subject to the final revision and approval of the Department of State.
The commissioners were required to make a report on each claim, reciting the evidence of citizenship and of the fact and amount of loss or damage upon which the claim was based.
The commissioners were to be allowed from the indemnity paid by China their reasonable and necessary expenses while engaged in this work and such additional compensation as was reasonable and equitable. Due publicity through consuls and other officers was to be given all claimants of the establishments of the commission and the nature of its work.
March 14, 1902.
Minister Conger reported the designations of the persons who were to constitute the commission — Messrs. William E. Bainbridge, second secretary of legation at Peking, and James W. Ragsdale, American consulgeneral at Tientsin. The minister further expressed his views as to the extent and difficulty of the commissioners' task.
Minister Conger, in an instruction to the commissioners on the above date, said: “Reasonable notice of the sittings of the commission in the several localities should be given to the claimants in advance."
May 3, 1902.
The legation was instructed to forward to the Department, from time to time and as soon as passed on, all claims in order that the sums awarded could be distributed as speedily as practicable. The Department also suggested that as much of the work as possible should be done at or near Peking. The regulations prepared by the committee on indemnities and approved by the representatives of the powers in Peking on March 13, 1901, were not accepted by all the powers, and were therefore binding on none.
However, it was believed by the Department they might be suggestive and instructive to the commission.
The indemnity in each case was to be fully and substantially compensatory, excluding all merely speculative or imaginary claims or elements of damages.
November 17, 1902.
The commission submitted its final report to the minister.
Its members were designated by the minister on March 14, 1902, and they began the work of examination of claims on May 5, 1902.
The Chinese Government, having recognized its responsibility for the Boxer outbreak, agreed to pay, pursuant to Article VI of the collective note of the powers, dated December 22, 1900, "equitable indemnities for governments, societies, companies, and private individuals, as well as for Chinese who have suffered during the late events in person or in property in consequence of their being in the service of foreigners.”
The commission was not authorized to deal with losses sustained by the Government of the United States.
Two hundred and thirty claims for indemnities were filed with the commission by citizens of the United States, aggregating $3,308,036.18. These figures include $39,254.72 which represents the total amount of claims submitted to the commission by Chinese in the employ of Americans. In a general way these claims may be classified as follows:
I. Claims of missionary societies and individuals.
The total amount disallowed or withdrawn was $1,804,385.69. The amount allowed on claims was $1,383,650.49. The amount of interest allowed, $130,642.39; thus placing the total amount allowed by the commission on private claims at $1,514,292.88. This amount, however,
has been increased through additional awards by the Department of State subsequent to the completion of the commission's work, so that the total amount, including both American private claims and certain Chinese claims, the latter being $17,669.60, now aggregates $1,994,929.18. The maximum estimate required by this Government to meet the claims of its citizens and of certain Chinese under this heading was placed by the Department at $2,000,000; $1,994,929.18 having been paid out on this account, there remains in the Treasury Department an unexpended balance of $5,070.82.
November 19, 1902.
Legation transmitted to the Department final report of the commission.
January 27, 1903.
Department congratulated the minister and Commissioners Bainbridge and Ragsdale on the successful termination of their joint labors.
Amount of indemnity, principal, $24,440,778.81.
(Under the plan of amortization adopted this sum — carrying with it interest at 4 per cent per annum - is payable in irregular annual installments, extending over a period of thirty-nine years, the last payment falling due in 1940.)
It is estimated that the maximum amount required by this Government to meet its expenses, incident to the relief of the legation in 1900, and claims of citizens and others, will be as follows (revised estimates) : War Department
$7,186,310 75 Navy Department
2,469,181 94 Claims of citizens, corporations, societies, and others. 2,000,000 00
Amount as stated above reserved by the Department
to meet the claims of corporations, societies, and individuals, citizens of the United States and
others; expenses of claims, commission, etc..... Of this sum there has been expended date....
$2,000,000 00 1,994,616 76
Gross unexpended balance... Adjusted claims not yet paid...
The Treasury Department has received to date, on
account of principal and interest.
and paid ...
Net unexpended balance at present in a separate
account with the Treasury Department....
The expenditures of the War Department and the Navy Department, incident to the uprising of 1900 in China, are met in the ordinary
Deducting from the amount at present in the Treasury Department the $5,070.82, which is the unexpended balance of the amount reserved for private claims, the remainder is $4,518,034.75. As the expenses of the military and naval branches of the Government in China in 1900 were included in the regular military budget of that year, it would appear from the above that the last-mentioned sum may be disposed of by Congress as it may see fit.
CONSULAR ADMINISTRATION OF THE ESTATES OF DECEASED NATIONALS
The case of Wyman, Petitioner (191 Mass., 276), printed in Volume I, page 520, of this JOURNAL, raises an interesting, not to say difficult, question concerning the jurisdiction of consuls over the estates of those of the consul's nationals who die in the foreign state from which the consul holds his exequatur. The books lay it down that the care of such estates is one of the well-established rights or duties (depending upon the view-point) with which a consul is vested or charged. The general law has, however, left the details of the consul's powers to be determined either by the respective national customs or laws, or by international agreement. Accordingly, not only are there no uniform settled rules that govern the question among all nations, but no one nation has a uniform rule that will apply to all its own consular affairs with its fellow nations. Indeed, a reading of the treaties suggests that each two contracting powers have met the various questions involved uninfluenced by the custom of other nations and in much the way that seemed to be required by the surrounding circumstances of the particular negotiations in progress, though, as the analysis will show, and as would be expected, it is possible to make a more or less general classification of the various consular rights and duties under the treaties.
A number of reasons readily suggest themselves for the diversity of stipulation noted, but the one that appears to control the contracting powers in the making of these conventions is the degree of political development that obtains in the respective countries. Among the elements of this development that seems to have been most closely scanned are the stability of the respective governments, the legal systems obtaining in them, the respect entertained by the people for their government and legal system, and the efficiency and integrity of the executive and of the courts. Accordingly, the widest consular powers seem usually to be found in conventions made either by two powers very low in the scale of political development or between two powers that are polar in such development.
The following rough and incomplete analysis of some American treaties will serve to show the truth of this in regard to the jurisdiction conferred upon our own consuls, and also to indicate the general range and nature of such jurisdiction over the estates of the consul's deceased nationals, which jurisdiction may indeed at times be practically unlimited.
It may be said, roughly, that under our treaties consuls may be empowered to administer upon the estates not only of intestates but of those dying testate. Moreover, they may have the right either to take charge of the estate and completely wind up its affairs, either under an appointment as administrator by a local court or by virtue of the treaty provision itself, or they may take charge of the estate temporarily, pending the appointment of an administrator by the proper local tribunal. In administering such an estate the consul may be obliged to administer it according to the law of the foreign country or according to the law of the national's native state. Under some treaties the consul is authorized to appoint an agent to exercise his powers in these matters. Again, while the consul under most treaties may perform his duties unassisted, other treaties require that he shall call to his aid one or more disinterested fellow nationals of the deceased. Indeed, some treaties provide that under proper conditions nationals not consuls may officiate in the winding up of a decedent's estate. Other treaties do not permit the consul to administer upon the estate at all and allow him only to take charge of the estate pending the proper appearance of absent and even minor heirs. Perhaps the extreme is reached in those treaties which, at the same time that they provide that not only may a consul intervene and entirely wind up the affairs of an estate, but that any national may also, in the absence of a consul, exercise the same powers, provide, further,