Henry Burton was the son of General Henry S. Burton who fought in the Mexican-American War and settled in San Diego at the conclusion of the conflict. General Burton married a Mexican woman, María Ampara Ruíz, who was the heir to two Spanish land grants - the Enseñada de Todos Santos and San Antonio de las Minas parcels in Baja California. The Spanish government granted the lands, totaling over 1,000,000 acres, to María Ampara Ruíz's grandfather, Don José Manuel Ruíz, in 1804. Ruíz served as the military governor of Baja California. María Ampara Ruíz de Burton was a noted Mexican-American author and published two books about the Mexican experience in the United States after the Mexican-American War. The sole heir to General Burton and María Ampara Ruíz de Burton, Henry Burton launched a campaign in the 1920s to reclaim the land or receive compensation for the grants from the Republic of Mexico following the Mexican Revolution. He hired attorney Harry B. Lind and the Los Angeles law firm of Spalding and Myers (William D. Spalding and Maurice C. Myers) to represent him to the Mexican government and the General and Special Claims Commissions of the United States and Mexico (the agency organized to handle claims for damages against American property during the Mexican Revolution). As reflected in this collection, Harry Lind and the firm of Spalding and Myers initially worked together closely on the case. Burton, however, suspected Lind of undermining his interests and eventually broke his contract with the attorney, choosing instead to work solely with Spalding and Myers. Much of the correspondence and legal documents in this collection reflect the retaliatory measures Lind took against Burton and Spalding and Myers as a result of this split. It is not clear from the collection how Burton's case to reclaim the land or compensation for it was resolved.
Scope and Content
The correspondence series contains 172 letters and is organized alphabetically by author. The correspondence reflects Burton's attorneys' efforts to confirm legal claim to the land, both in Washington, D.C. and Mexico City. The correspondence also reflects the rift that developed between Lind, Burton, and Spalding and Myers. The legal documents series contains of 73 documents. The series is organized alphabetically by type of document. The legal documents are primarily about cases brought against Burton and Spalding and Myers by Lind for breach of contract. A few of the documents refer specifically to Burton's claim against the Mexican government. The series includes affidavits, complaints, contracts, depositions, indentures, power of attorney forms, subpoenas, and copies of testimony. The ephemera series contains 47 items and is organized alphabetically by type of document. The series includes checks, envelopes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, notes, pamphlets, and receipts relating to the Burton cases.