Bee-Lopez Agreement

By: Thomas Schoonover

Type: General Entry

Published: November 1, 1994

Along the Texas-Mexico border during the Civil War, peace and stability were prime concerns. When Confederate officials moved toward formal agreement with Mexican border officials, the need for law and order, more than for trade, supplied the chief motivation. Incidents of lawlessness abounded. The first Regiment of the Union, for instance, a band of men commanded by an Antonio Zapata, was accused of entering Texas at will and carrying out crimes. On December 26, 1862, a group of armed Mexicans crossed into Texas, attacked a Confederate wagon train, and killed three teamsters. The same day another group crossed the Rio Grande and murdered Isidro Vela, chief justice of Zapata County.

Early in 1863 Brig. Gen. Hamilton P. Bee, Confederate commander of the West Sub-District of Texas, approached Albino López, civil and military commandant of Tamaulipas and a subordinate of Mexican president Benito Juárez, to negotiate an agreement for border regulation. Bee presented himself as "specially charged by my government with the maintenance of friendly relations with the Republic of Mexico." In February 1863 an agreement was reached and signed. Certain classes of criminals would be extradited; Mexican officials agreed to surrender counterfeiters who had been operating through Matamoros. Some of these were United States agents who were attempting to discredit Confederate currency. General border turmoil was to be regulated cooperatively. José Agustín Quintero, Confederate agent in northern Mexico, attended the meeting and acted as observer and advisor for both sides. He also reported to the Confederate State Department.

The Bee-López agreement was not a binding international treaty. After it was signed, the Confederate government cautioned Quintero to avoid demanding extradition since "we have no right, in the absence of treaty stipulations, to demand the extradition."

Late in 1864 the expulsion of Juárez supporters by French and Mexican imperial forces under the command of Gen. Tomás Mejía nullified the Bee-López agreement. But Quintero soon discovered that Mejía was prepared to enter informal negotiations about border control. In December 1864 Gen. James E. Slaughter, who replaced Bee as Confederate commander of the West Sub-District of Texas, signed an extradition agreement with Mejía. The final clause of the agreement expressed the mutual expectation that the agreement would "be formally accepted by their respective governments, elevating them to solemn treaties."

Although not technically treaties, both the Bee-López and the Slaughter-Mejía pacts had the effect of international agreements since they were enforced equally upon the citizens of both nations. Both agreements, motivated not by trade concerns but by the need to keep law and order on the border, are significant because they demonstrate the recognition of the Confederate government by Mexico.

Thomas Schoonover, Dollars over Dominion: The Triumph of Liberalism in Mexican-United States Relations, 1861–1867 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978). Jorge L., Tamayo, ed., Benito Juárez: Documentos, Discursos y Correspondencia (14 vols., Mexico City: Editorial Libros de México, 1972). Ronnie C. Tyler, Santiago Vidaurri and the Southern Confederacy (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1973). The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Military
  • Politics and Government

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas Schoonover, “Bee-Lopez Agreement,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: