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Torrens took formal leave at the same audience at which he presented the new minister, and his duties as chargé at Washington ceased. He had already been appointed to a similar position at Bogotá and received instructions to proceed directly from Washington to his new post in Colombia.45 There we shall find him doing important service for his country in connection with the schemes of Colombia and Mexico for intervening in the affairs of Cuba.
On the last day of the year 1824, Obregon had an audience with President Monroe to present a personal letter from the newly elected President of Mexico, Guadalupe Victoria, to the President of the United States, announcing that on October 4, preceding, the Mexican Congress had adopted a federal constitution Sor. D. Pablo Obregon Ministro Plenipotenciario y enbiado estraordinario de esta Republica en esos Estados." This was dated Mexico, 30 de agosto de 1824, and signed by Bravo, Guerrero, and Dominguez in the name of the supreme executive power, and addressed to the President of the United States. A copy of this was enclosed with Obregon to Adams, 16 de noviembre de 1824, above; and the original was presented at the audience of November 18. MS., Department of State, Notes from the Mexican Legation, I. For a brief account of Obregon's reception see Bocanegra, Memorias ... de Mexico Independiente, I, 365. This quotes from the Aguila Mexicana, 10 de enero de 1825, the presentation address and response.
45 Torrens to Secretario, 27 de noviembre de 1824, La Diplomacia Mexicana, II, 86; Torrens to Adams, December 10, 1824, MS., Department of State, Notes from the Mexican Legation, I. In the last he offers to bear despatches from the United States government to its minister at Bogotá, whither he was going as quickly as possible.
for the country. He added: "I deemed it of the first importance to discharge before all things the grateful task of making it known to Your Excellency, and also [of informing you] that I am in possession of the office of President." On receiving the announcement, President Monroe said it was an event the communication of which he received with the greatest satisfaction.*
The administration of President Victoria which began at this time and lasted for a little more than four years was the longest period of orderly government that Mexico has ever enjoyed, with the exception of the period of the rule of Porfirio Diaz. Mexico gave promise of becoming a country of such rank and importance that it seemed well worth while for the United States not only to establish a legation at its capital, but to put in charge of that legation a fully accredited minister of recognized talents and experience to establish and defend the important interests of the United States in the new country.
All negotiations of importance during the period covered by this study were destined to be carried on in Mexico City between the United States minister there and the Mexican cabinet. Although no very important negotiation was entrusted to him, yet Obregon's presence in Washington was of great value to his gov
46 Adams, Memoirs, VI, 456. Guadalupe Victoria to President of the United States, Mexico, October 26, 1824, MS., Department of State, Notes from the Mexican Legation, I. The Spanish original signed by Victoria accompanies the translation from which the above is quoted.
ernment. He was eyes and ears for it, reporting all he could hear or see, which would concern his country, of occurrences not only in the United States but in Europe as well. In this capacity he served his country faithfully for nearly four years. His government's unstable financial condition made it impossible to supply him with funds sufficient to maintain his country's credit and dignity or his own comfort. [Finally driven to distraction by financial embarrassment, by ill health, probably by bad news from home, and, it was thought also, by disappointment in love, he terminated his services by committing suicide.
47 He had repeatedly requested his recall. Before he had been in Washington two years he wrote that the grave infirmity from which he was suffering and of which he had previously written made continuous exertion impossible; and he asked to be permitted to withdraw from his post and return home. Obregon to Secretario, 20 de agosto de 1826. In the following winter he asked that his recall be sent as soon as possible, alluding to pecuniary and other difficulties. Same to same, 21 de febrero de 1827, MS., Relaciones Exteriores.
In August, 1828, Obregon announced to the State Department his intention of absenting himself from the United States on a visit to Mexico, giving ill health as his reason. He Isaid that he would leave Montoya as chargé d'affaires. A little less than a month later Montoya announced the death of Obregon. Obregon to Clay, August 14, 1828, and Montoya to Clay, September 11, 1828, MS., Department of State, Notes from the Mexican Legation, I.
On the same day on which he announced Obregon's death to the State Department Montoya wrote a long account of it to his government. Beginning by saying that Obregon had retired to return to Mexico leaving him as chargé and that one of his first duties was the unpleasant one of telling of Obregon's suicide, he speculated at length on the probable
cause for the deed. He said that no declaration of motives could be found. But it seemed that the minister had offered his hand to a young lady, a resident of the United States, and had been refused. This made a deep impression on his too vivid imagination and was probably the final cause of his complete loss of balance. But the absolute failure of his means of subsistence and the consequent necessity of retiring from his post in order to sell his furniture had aggravated the malady from which he was suffering. In spite of his melancholy, however, Obregon had given no sign of attempting to take his life until two or three days before his death. Up to that time he had been engaged in arranging his papers and preparing for the journey which he expected to make by way of New Orleans. At that time he had received some letters. Montoya was uncertain whether they brought disagreeable domestic news, or whether Obregon imagined some misfortune that did not exist. But it was certain that on the very day on which he had received the correspondence he had broken out with a declaration that he would not now go to Mexico but would stay in the United States. He had made good this declaration by the catastrophe which had just occurred. Taking advantage of the absence of the legation officials, Obregon had hanged himself from the ceiling of his room. An enclosed medical certificate of a physician who had been summoned in hope of restoring life told the facts so far as known. Death certificate, dated 10 de septiembre de 1828, and Montoya to Secretario, 11 de septiembre de 1828, MS., Relaciones Exteriores.
TARDY APPOINTMENT AND COOL RECEPTION OF THE FIRST UNITED STATES MINISTER TO MEXICO
Athough the government of Mexico was very slow in establishing its legation in Washington, yet the Washington government was slower still in opening the United States legation at Mexico. Furthermore the delays were less unavoidable. The equivocal character and uncertain tenure of the various shortlived governments of Mexico had something to do with the delays on both sides. But there were other reasons, the motive for which was far less creditable to the Washington administration. There were strong suspicions-and there is little doubt that those suspicions were well founded-that this and other diplomatic appointments were intentionally delayed to be used as political capital. The relation between the appointment of a minister for Mexico and the notorious presidential contest of 1824 is so intimate that in order to understand the former it is essential to refer frequently to the latter. For two or three years before it occurred that coming conflict cast its shadow over the country and influenced the conduct of the Washington cabinet, and especially that of the secretary of state, who was one of the most important participants in the conflict. To appreciate the difficulties which the first