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potentiary that is already named and now preparing to go to Washington."
The portfolio of foreign affairs in this first Mexican ministry was held by José Manuel de Herrera. On November 30, he despatched the first diplomatic communication which passed from the new government to that of the United States. After announcing the triumph of the revolution and the establishment of the independent government, he said: "The Governing Regency immediately thought it a primary obligation upon them to communicate with all despatch to the nations these events, which have gloriously terminated our war of liberty. . . . The people of Mexico. are desirous of being united to all governments by means of friendly alliances and connections. . . . The United States of North America have a preferable right to demand of the Mexican Empire these considerations, the more just and reasonable because they are supported by the well-known maxims of policy.. Even nature herself has separated these nations from Europe by immense seas and placed them
1 Wilcocks to Adams, Mexico, October 25, 1821, American State Papers, Foreign Relations, IV, 841; British and Foreign State Papers, IX, 431. For the organization of the Mexican government see Bancroft, History of Mexico, IV, 731–736. In the preceding thirty pages is an account of the proclamation of the Plan of Iguala in February, 1821; of the startling success of the independence movement under this plan through the succeeding spring and summer; and of the treaty of Cordoba of August 25 by which O'Donoju, the newly arrived viceroy, accepted the plan in his sovereign's name and agreed to turn over the government to Iturbide.
upon the same continent . . . that they might make common cause in reciprocally supplying their necessities and cooperating for their mutual felicity." In closing he announced that the legally authorized envoy would soon come to Washington to act as the medium of communication "between two nations destined to be united in the bonds of the most intimate and cordial fraternity."2
The prompt measures thus taken by the first govern
2 Herrera to Adams, Mexico, November 30, 1821, MS., Department of State, Notes from the Mexican Legation, I. This despatch was borne by Wilcocks, mentioned above. The original Spanish document, signed by Herrera, accompanies the translation from which these extracts are quoted. The despatch was received at Washington, March 13, 1822.
In view of the accepted notion to the contrary, it is interesting to notice in this document the importance which the new government attached to establishing their relations with foreign powers. Bancroft, History of Mexico, IV, 753, says: "It is inconceivable that it should have taken no effective steps to establish friendly relations with foreign powers. . . . All it did, however, was to pass a resolution for the appointment of four envoys to be sent respectively to South America, the United States, England, and Rome." He cites an act of February 7, 1822, apparently unaware of the earlier steps. Bancroft seems to be following Alaman, Historia de Mejico, V, 470, which says: "Estraño parecerá que la junta no hubiese tratado del punto mui importante de las relaciones exteriores," and gives as the only thing done the provision for the four envoys mentioned in the quotation from Bancroft. For the order of February 7, 1822, see Coleccion de Ordenes y Decretos de la Soberana Junta y Soberanos Congresos, I, 115. Ibid., II, 41, is a decree of 4 de mayo de 1822, declaring that all envoys to foreign powers should be natives of Mexico or residents of at least seven years' standing. This order was not to apply to appointments already made.
ment of independent Mexico to open diplomatic relations with the United States were in keeping with a plan that had been uniformly followed by the various short-lived insurgent governments which had attempted during the preceding eleven years to establish the independence of their country. Each of them had, as one of its first duties, despatched a minister to open relations with the United States. After five such officially appointed envoys had attempted in vain to get out of the troubled country, Herrera, now the first minister for foreign affairs of independent Mexico, had actually reached New Orleans in 1815. Before he could start from there for Washington, the government which he represented was overthrown. But a letter addressed by him to President Madison accoinpanied by copies of his credentials and several other very interesting documents reached the Department of State and are filed in its archives. His brief resi
3 Herrera to President of the United States, Nueva Orleans, I de marzo de 1816, MS., Department of State, Notes from the Mexican Legation, I. The most important document accompanying it is a letter of the Supreme Government of Mexico to the President of the United States, dated Puruarán, 14 de julio de 1815, which gives a lengthy account of the revolutionary struggle, tells of the organization of a government and the proclamation of a constitution, and introduces Herrera as minister plenipotentiary. There are also two decrees of the same date describing the official seal and the flags of the new state, and a decree of July 3 relating to cruisers. These manuscripts are not bound in the volume but are fastened together by a clip and inserted under the front cover of the volume.
Earlier efforts of transient insurgent governments to open relations with the United States were the following: In De
dence in the United States as a diplomatic representative of this earlier insurgent government doubtless had much to do with his being chosen to direct the foreign policy of his country, now that its indepenence seemed to be assured. Although Herrera intended to open relations with the United States at once, and took steps to do so, circumstances prevented. Sickness delayed the departure of Elizalda, the first appointee, and ultimately it became necessary to appoint another in his stead, he not having so much as started.*
cember, 1810, Letona was started by Hidalgo's embryonic government as envoy to the United States, but was captured on his way to Vera Cruz and took poison to escape the vengeance of the viceroy. In February, 1811, Aldama was started overland and got as far as Bexar in Texas where, in March, he fell a victim to the counter revolution which had ended the short-lived insurgent government of Casas. After Hidalgo's capture, Morelos sent David and Tabares as his agents to secure the aid of the United States; but Rayon, claiming superior authority over Morelos, turned them back. In 1813, Rayon sent Peredo to negotiate a treaty with the United States, but the royalists prevented his departure from the country. In October, 1814, Bustamante started as revolutionary minister to the United States, but failed to reach the coast. In July, 1815, after the insurgent government under the leadership of Morelos had proclaimed its constitution, Herrera was sent as its minister plenipotentiary, with the result mentioned above. The following Mexican agents without full diplomatic character reached the United States and attempted unsuccessfully to open diplomatic relations: Gutierrez de Lara in 1812; Toledo in 1813; and Humbert in 1814. See Bancroft, History of Mexico, IV, 234 and following, passim.
4 Herrera to [Cortes], 18 de junio de 1822, MS., Department of State, Notes from the Mexican Legation, I.
A communication from Iturbide direct to President Monroe dated January 8, 1822, introduced a certain. Captain Cortes, who was coming in a semi-diplomatic capacity, but whose chief purpose was the purchase of vessels in ports of the United States with which to begin the formation of a Mexican navy. In the absence of an official representative he was for several months the medium of communication between the governments. Iturbide politely requested President Monroe to have the goodness to assist Cortes in the discharge of his commission."
Manuel Zozaya was the man chosen for the post at Washington when it was found that the first appointee could not go. This choice was made as early as March, 1822. But his departure was delayed, first by lack of funds due to the embarrassed condition of the finances of the new government, then by a congressional investigation of the instructions which he had been given. Even before the assembling of this first Congress discord between it and the provisional executive, dominated by Iturbide, had appeared. As the discord increased it paralyzed all activities of the gov
5 Iturbide to Monroe, Mexico, 8 de enero de 1822, MS., Department of State, Notes from the Mexican Legation, I. This was enclosed with a letter of Cortes to Monroe, not dated but postmarked "Philadelphia 20 June." Through this agent, Cortes, Iturbide exchanged letters, portraits, and compliments with Henry Clay. See Cortes to Clay, Philadelphia, June 19, 1822, enclosing Iturbide to Clay, May 6, 1822, in Colton, Henry Clay, IV, 64, 65. Zavala, Ensayo Historico, I, 303–305, discusses the mission of Cortes.
• Zamacois, Historia de Mexico, XI, 181.