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Location: Harvard Depository
Call No.: HOLLIS 6014152
Repository: Harvard Law School Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Hargous, Louis
Title: Papers relating to Mexican government debts held by Louis Hargous and George Hammeken
Quantity: 1 boxes (.3 linear feet)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: This collection includes government documents from the United States and Mexico and private agreements relating to debts held by Hargous and Hammeken, as well as printed court documents from attempts to collect those debts.
Louis Hargous was born in Philadelphia in 1810. His wife was Susan J. Hargous. He went to Mexico at a young age, where he developed his business knowledge. In the 1840s, Hargous lived in Veracruz, Mexico. He served as United States Consul at Veracruz for 17 years, beginning no later than 1842. His firm, L.S. Hargous & Co., did business with the Mexican government. His partner, Emile Voss, had a one-third interest in the firm.The Mexican-American War, in which Hargous fought for the U.S. and attained the rank of colonel, lasted from 1846 to 1848. Under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, $3.25 million from the United States's purchase of land from Mexico was to be reserved for the payment of Mexican debts held by Americans. L.S. Hargous & Co. claimed some of that money.George Hammeken was born in New York City in 1811. He lived in Texas for a time, and then in New Orleans from 1844 to 1850. In 1856, Hammeken entered an agreement with the Mexican government to build a short railroad from Mexico City to Tacubaya, tax-free for fifteen years. He was not able to sell enough shares in the company, so he took on significant debt. After a coup in 1858, the new conservative government controlled Mexico City. The ousted liberal government controlled the city and state of Veracruz. The Mexican Reform War between the conservatives and the ousted liberals lasted until 1861, during which time the new government prevented Hammeken from operating the railway and then began to tax it. Hammeken was ruined. American diplomats brought Hammeken's situation to the attention of Benito Juárez, whose liberal faction won the war.After victory in 1861, Mexican president Benito Juárez suspended payment of foreign debts, and Mexico's three largest creditors, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom, invaded. Spain and the U.K. left in 1862, but the French army stayed until ousted with the help of the U.S. in 1866. In 1862, the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs, Manuel Doblado, assigned Hammeken $100,000 payable in installments upon Mexico's receipt of $11 million in nineteen installments from the United States under an April 1862 treaty. Hammeken accepted the promise of $100,000, though he considered his losses to be much greater. The U.S. Senate did not ratify the April 1862 treaty.In May 1862, a doctor recommended that Hammeken take his wife to California for her health. Louis Hargous lent him the money for the journey, and Hammeken pledged to Hargous his claim under the Doblado drafts. Hargous lent him more money on his return in 1863 to help him reestablish a business. In 1868, the Mexican government tried to cancel the Doblado drafts, given that the U.S. treaty was not approved. Hammeken refused to return them. Hargous retired to New York City in 1868. Hammeken and Hargous addressed their claims to the American and Mexican Joint Commission under the Treaty of July 4, 1868 and the U.S. State Department between 1870 and 1881. Louis Hargous died in New York City on December 24, 1886.
The Papers span the years 1840 to 1881. The written material is a mixture of government and private documents. It chiefly concerns a Mexican government debt held by George Hammeken, part of which he transferred to Louis Hargous. That debt is the subject of the proceedings before the State Department and the American and Mexican Joint Commission under the Treaty of July 4, 1868 from which the collection contains printed material. The collection also contains material from Hargous's firm, L.S. Hargous & Co. of Vera Cruz, and the Tehuantepec Railway Company. The materials are written in English, Spanish, and French.