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Spaces of Law in American Foreign Relations

Spaces of Law in American Foreign Relations: Extradition and Extraterritoriality in the Borderlands and Beyond, 1877�1898

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 428
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  • Book Info
    Spaces of Law in American Foreign Relations
    Book Description:

    In the late nineteenth century the United States oversaw a great increase in extraterritorial claims, boundary disputes, extradition controversies, and transborder abduction and interdiction. In this sweeping history of the underpinnings of American empire, Daniel S. Margolies offers a new frame of analysis for historians to understand how novel assertions of legal spatiality and extraterritoriality were deployed in U.S. foreign relations during an era of increased national ambitions and global connectedness. Whether it was in the Mexican borderlands or in other hot spots around the globe, Margolies shows that American policy responded to disputes over jurisdiction by defining the space of law on the basis of a strident unilateralism. Especially significant and contested were extradition regimes and the exceptions carved within them. Extradition of fugitives reflected critical questions of sovereignty and the role of the state in foreign affair during the run-up to overseas empire in 1898. Using extradition as a critical lens, Spaces of Law in American Foreign Relations examines the rich embeddedness of questions of sovereignty, territoriality, legal spatiality, and citizenship and shows that U.S. hegemonic power was constructed in significant part in the spaces of law, not simply through war or trade.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-3952-8
    Subjects: Law, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    For decades, the task of determining jurisdiction and clarifying governance at the U.S.-Mexican border was termed, simply and wistfully, “impossible.” Responding to a State Department request to report on the borderlands situation on June 15, 1879, Warner P. Sutton, the garrulous U.S. consul in Matamoros, argued that this impossibility grew directly out of the ongoing jurisdictional snarls on the border. These in turn were rooted in the failures of diplomacy, the persistent lack of clarity on the geographic boundary line, the cascading failures of the extradition system to limit fugitive flight across the border, and the basic nature of the...

  6. Part One: The Geography of Dispute

    • CHAPTER ONE Outrage and Order
      (pp. 31-94)

      On a ferry crossing from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande on November 26, 1877, Zeferino Avalos, a second sergeant in the Mexican Army Corps of Military Colonies, carelessly shot his pistol twice toward some women washing clothing on the bank. When “rebuked” by the people around him that he should stop since he might kill someone, Avalos announced that “when he wished to kill a man he killed him.” With that remark, Avalos crossed the Rio Grande into Eagle Pass, Texas, and proved his words by murdering in cold blood a blind man named Antonio Muñoz with a...

    • CHAPTER TWO Jurisdiction, Sovereignty, and Space
      (pp. 95-139)

      The ease of migration, incursion, smuggling, and fugitive escape in the borderlands made extradition and interdiction important and especially difficult issues between the United States and Mexico. The ever-contested boundary line between the two nations made the interconnection between the criminal legal systems, as between the states themselves, a thornier and more daily contest than was the case in U.S. relations with other nations. Policymakers also generally believed the region to be more lawless and violent than others, rooted in a racialized understanding of Mexican justice that colored the U.S. perception of virtually every discussion of establishing order on the...

    • CHAPTER THREE Borderlands Exceptions
      (pp. 140-176)

      At 11:00 a.m. on March 3, 1888, a group of disguised Mexican soldiers under Captain Francisco A. Muñoz crossed the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass to grab a deserter named Atanacio Luis. The bungled kidnapping ended with a gunfight that left several dead and wounded. It was, the local Eagle Pass Press Telegram intoned, a “coolly planned” and “deplorable incident” that stood as “one of the foulest outrages upon international law and friendship” to occur along the border. According to Warner P. Sutton, the U.S. consul at Matamoros, it was “all in all … the most flagrant and glaring outrage...

  7. Part Two: Unwhipped of Justice

    • CHAPTER FOUR Crime, Pure and Simple
      (pp. 179-230)

      Extradition did not knit the world together but rather linked it into discrete chains of exchange. The extradition network that emerged roughly realized by the 1890s was a decentralized, loosely arrayed series of bilateral arrangements similar in design and intent but never completely replicated. Constrained through precise treaty language, extradition arrangements operated independently and free of competition between jurisdictions. The few truly shared aspects of extradition, which were the elements that made it a global phenomenon, were rooted upon finely drawn definitions of political crime and terrorism. Aside from these, extradition relations remained exclusive and idiosyncratic, a transnational system created...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Uncertainties of Citizenship and Sovereignty
      (pp. 231-272)

      In the violent and heady days of 1877, citizenship served variously as a shield, weapon, and escape hatch, and nowhere more pungently than on the U.S.-Mexico border. Both sides of the Rio Grande were “lawlessly invaded” with regularity, and U.S. generals on the frontier described “the disturbed condition of the frontier [as] in a continual state of anarchy.” Extradition exchanges still occurred at this time, but each was heavily larded with jurisdictional conflicts over citizenship.

      The citizenship exception in U.S.-Mexico extradition was an increasing oddity in American relations, and its existence was enormously revealing about the U.S. governance of citizenship...

    • CHAPTER SIX Exception as Metaphor and Practice
      (pp. 273-322)

      The reciprocal nature of extradition was at its most elemental in the balance between the right to request surrender of a fugitive and the right to refuse that request. This choice was a key attribute of sovereignty, as Judge Maxey had argued in Ex parte McCabe and as was stressed in a variety of other cases. It was, to be sure, a deeply political choice to invoke the sovereign right of refusing to surrender a fugitive, and so it was not taken lightly. Political exceptions drew from explicit grants of power not to act, called “treaty reservations.”¹ This was separate...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 323-334)

    I began research for this book because I was fascinated by a single case involving an embezzler named Frederick M. Ker who fled Chicago for Lima, Peru, in 1882, where he was kidnapped by an agent of the Pinkerton Detective Agency and returned to the United States for trial. No official extradition request was made to Peru during this process, though there was an existing treaty with the United States dating to 1870. Rather than rejecting this act of forcible extraterritorial abduction, in 1886 the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Ker v. Illinois that the Constitution offered no protection for...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 335-386)
    (pp. 387-414)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 415-427)