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Spaces of Law in American Foreign Relations

Extradition and Extraterritoriality in the Borderlands and Beyond, 1877-1898

Daniel S. Margolies

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: University of Georgia Press


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pp. v

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

I received a lot of assistance and encouragement while traveling across the country to research and later write this book, and I racked up debts to a wide array of people. My research on U.S. foreign relations and my conception of the objectives of American power strive to meet the standard set by Tom McCormick. If he alone finds some value in this book, I will be satisfied...

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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...

Part One: The Geography of Dispute

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ONE. Outrage and Order

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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...

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TWO. Jurisdiction, Sovereignty, and Space

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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...

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THREE. Borderlands Exceptions

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pp. 140-175

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...

Part Two: Unwhipped of Justice

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FOUR. Crime, Pure and Simple

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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....

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FIVE. Uncertainties of Citizenship and Sovereignty

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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...

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SIX. Exception as Metaphor and Practice

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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...

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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 fl ed 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...


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pp. 335-386


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pp. 387-414


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pp. 415-427

E-ISBN-13: 9780820339528
E-ISBN-10: 0820339520
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820330921
Print-ISBN-10: 0820330922

Page Count: 428
Illustrations: 6 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2011