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Journal had expressed the same sentiment as Clay; but on August 31 the National Gazette had praised Poinsett's conduct, and a few days later both the National Intelligencer and the National Journal approved it. Consequently Obregon thought the government must have received further information convincing them that Poinsett's conduct was excusable, since one of these papers was official and the others were supporting the administration. The action of the legislature of Vera Cruz was looked upon as revolutionary, he said, and as showing a lack of respect for the federal government. It had been intimated to him that Poinsett would probably be recalled in spite of his conduct being approved.14 It was on August 31 that the Department of State received Poinsett's letter of July 8 with the enclosed manifesto and his answer.
But Adams and Clay did not act precipitately nor enthusiastically in exonerating Poinsett. It was almost three months after the receipt of his explanation before they passed judgment. On November 19, 1827, Clay wrote Poinsett that the President approved his conduct and did not consider that he had interfered in the politics of Mexico, since no complaint had come from the Mexican government of his conduct. It was thought best to make no formal complaint of the act of the Vera Cruz legislature. But Poinsett was asked to remonstrate informally with the
14 Obregon to Secretario, 13 de septiembre de 1827, MS., Relaciones Exteriores.
President of Mexico, and say that if the Mexican government had any complaint to make concerning Poinsett the government of the United States was ready to receive such complaint in the regular manner. In conclusion Clay said that the President did not desire the termination of Poinsett's mission; but if his position had become unpleasant, and if he desired to return, he might do so. It had been rumored, he was told, that he was thinking of returning. The matter was left entirely to his own feelings and discretion.15 While the polite circumlocution of Clay left the matter optional with Poinsett, yet it was not very far removed from a gentle hint that Poinsett's voluntary return might be more desirable than his remaining at Mexico It is interesting to note that the only reason given why the President did not consider that Poinsett had interfered in the politics of Mexico was the fact that "no complaint had come from the Mexican government of his conduct." If that government had been as friendly toward Poinsett as the opposition supposed and charged, it would not have been expected to complain of his conduct, although he should have been doing what the opposition, or even an unprejudiced judge, might have called interfering in the politics of Mexico.
It is the writer's belief that in this, as in other acts for which Poinsett was severely criticized, he was conscientiously doing what he thought was for the highest
15 Clay to Poinsett, November 19, 1827, MS., Department of State, Instructions, XII, 36.
good of Mexico, even at the risk of incurring hostile criticism or of doing what might be technically termed interfering. Far from being the only, or the last, public criticism of his conduct the Vera Cruz manifesto was destined to be followed by many, and more violent, attacks.16
16 See below, chapter X.
OBSTACLES IN THE WAY OF CONCLUDING A COMMERCIAL TREATY
The instructions which were to guide Poinsett in negotiating a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation with Mexico were contained in his general instructions given by Clay on March 26, 1825.1 It will be recalled that he was instructed to say that the United States had not claimed and would not claim any special favors or concessions in return for the service rendered Mexico and other Spanish-American states by recognizing them before other powers were willing to take such a step and by warning other powers against aiding Spain to regain her lost colonies. But the United States government did expect that those states, and especially Mexico, would not extend to any European states "any favors or privileges which shall not be equally extended to us." As a model which Poinsett should follow in a general way, he was given a copy of a treaty which had been concluded in the preceding October with the republic of Colombia. A copy of the instructions which had
1 See above, chapter II, on Tardy Appointment and Cool Reception of the First United States Minister to Mexico. 2 For the treaty with Colombia, see American State Papers, Foreign, V, 697.
guided Anderson in negotiating that treaty were included as a part of Poinsett's instructions.3
About six weeks after his reception in Mexico, Poinsett had his first conference with Alaman, then secretary for foreign relations, on the proposed treaty negotiations. At that meeting it was agreed to separate the two most important matters, commerce and boundaries, and conclude a special treaty for each. A difference of opinion concerning the method of procedure in locating the boundary line made it impossible to reach a speedy conclusion in that matter. Poinsett expressed a wish that the commercial treaty might be concluded early enough to enable the Mexican Congress to approve it in time to send it to Washington before the opening of the next session of the Congress there. Alaman said that was one of the objects in calling the special session of the Mexican Congress which was to convene the following month.5
On August 10, 1825, Alaman informed Poinsett that the Mexican negotiators were ready to proceed at once with the negotiations for the commercial treaty. President Victoria had appointed Esteva, secretary of the treasury, to act with Alaman in the negotia
3 Clay to Poinsett, Instructions, March 26, 1825, MS., Department of State, Instructions, X, 225; American State Papers, Foreign, V, 908, or VI, 578.
4 See below, chapter IX, on Texas and the Boundary Issue. 5 Poinsett to Clay, July 18, 1825, MS., Department of State, Despatches from Mexico, I; House Executive Documents, 25 congress, I session, number 42, page 19; British and Foreign State Papers, XXVI, 831.