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the treasury. He entered the capital on May 25.32 Next day he announced to Alaman his presence and asked for an opportunity to present his credentials. Alaman replied May 27, appointing June 1 for Poinsett's reception by the president.33
On the day preceding Poinsett's reception the British chargé, Ward, was formally received by President Victoria. On that occasion the latter had emphasized the importance of Great Britain's recognition of Mexican independence, alluded to the English as "that great people who sustain the liberties of the world," and said he had every reason to believe that the friendship of the two nations would be perpetual. In Poinsett's report to Clay he said in view of this speech he thought it necessary to set the conduct of the United States toward these countries in its true light; and in a cipher paragraph added: "It is manifest that the British have made good use of their time and opportunities. The President and three of the secretaries—those of state, treasury, and ecclesiastical affairs are in their interest. We have a very respectable party in both houses of Congress; and a vast majority of the people are in favor of the strictest union with the United States. They regard the British with distrust." In the speech which he felt called upon to make at his own presentation next day, Poinsett seized the opportunity to say, as Clay had in
to Clay, May 28, 1825, MS., Department of State, Mexico, I.
Alaman, May 26, 1825, and Alaman to Poinmayo de 1825, MS., Relaciones Exteriores.
structed, that it was peculiarly flattering to the United States that a constitution so similar to their own had been adopted by Mexico. Then he dwelt upon the sympathy with which the government and people of the United States had watched the progress of the movement toward independence; told of the recognition of that independence within less than a year after it was declared; and mentioned the subsequent declaration against any attempt of any European government to deprive them of independence. In these steps, he reminded them, the United States had taken the lead; and now the freest government of Europe had followed. President Victoria's brief reply was respectful but entirely non-committal, and lacked the enthusiasm which marked his speech to the British representative the preceding day.34
34 Poinsett to Clay, June 4, 1825, enclosing a copy of the speech of President Victoria to the British chargé on May 31; of Poinsett's address of June 1; of Victoria's reply to the last of the same date; of Wilcocks's to Poinsett, May 12, and Poinsett's reply, to the last, of May 15 arranging the reception ceremonies. MS., Department of State, Despatches from Mexico, I. Poinsett's address and Victoria's reply are printed in Bocanegra, Memorias para la Historia de Mexico, I, 379–382. A copy of Poinsett's speech in English with a Spanish translation is in MS., Relaciones Exteriores. With them is Poinsett's credential letter, dated March 14, 1825, and signed by J. Q. Adams and H. Clay. An account of these receptions in Voz de la Patria, II, número 7, compares Ward and Poinsett, complimenting the latter's linguistic ability but casting reflections on his character: "El dia primero de Junio hizo lo mismo Mr. Poinsett, enviado de Norte América: su arenga estuvo mejor dicha que la del de Inglaterra, y mas larga, pues posee el idioma español muy regularmente por desgracia nuestra, para causarnos infinitos males."
Thus early Poinsett began definitely to endeavor to exert an influence on the Mexican government in order to counteract what he thought was undue English influence. It is clear, however, that he did this not for his own pleasure or profit, nor even for the benefit of the United States, but for the good of Mexico especially, and incidentally for the advantage of all the free governments of America as opposed to the despotic system of the European powers.
Paxson, Independence of the South American Republics, 252, says that Ward's reception occurred May 21, and cites as evidence a letter of that date in the British Foreign Office archives. This must be an error.
Rives, United States and Mexico, 1821 to 1848, I, 48, says: "Ward was received as chargé by the Mexican government on May 31 of the same year. England thus anticipated by one day the presentation of the credentials of the American minister to Mexico." He says almost nothing about nearly two years of negotiations that had preceded this formal reception, and had entrenched England so strongly in the good graces of the Mexican government and people.
BRITISH INFLUENCE IN MEXICO, AND POINSETT'S STRUGGLE AGAINST IT
It is desirable at this point to review briefly the relations between England and Mexico during the three years preceding Poinsett's arrival in order to understand how the former acquired the influence in the latter which Poinsett felt it so necessary to counteract.
In 1822 as soon as Canning took control of the British foreign office he began seriously to consider the question whether England should recognize the new Spanish-American states. To Wellington, who was sent to represent England at the Congress of Verona, Canning wrote on "September 27, 1822, that he must under no circumstances, pledge his government against recognition, and instructed him to hint that England might be compelled to recognize the colonies before Parliament met." On December 21 of the same year he instructed Mackie, whom he was despatching on a special mission to Mexico, to acquire information concerning the probable stability of the
1 Temperly, Life of Canning, 175, citing a Foreign Office manuscript.
Rives, United States and Mexico, 1821-1848, I, 46–48, makes the relations between England and Mexico from 1822 to 1825 seem very unimportant.
Iturbide government, the attitude toward Spain, and the disposition toward British commerce. Mackie was authorized to declare the friendly disposition toward Mexico and the determination of England to maintain a scrupulous neutrality between Spain and her late colonies so long as the contest between them should continue. He was to learn whether Mexico would be favorable toward a mediation by Great Britain between the new government and the mother country.2
Mackie reached Mexico about the middle of the next year, a few months after the overthrow of Iturbide. On July 27, 1823, the new provisional government appointed Victoria to confer with the British agent. Four conferences were held between them within the next month. This was looked upon by the Mexicans at the time, and afterward continually alluded to, as the beginning of diplomatic relations between Mexico and Great Britain. On Mackie's return in November he bore to Migoni (who was already in England attempting to raise a loan for his government) a commission as Mexico's confidential diplo
2 Canning to Mackie, December 21, 1822, Mexico, Tratados y Convenciones, II, 301; Paxson, Independence of the South American Republics, 204.
3 Mexico, Tratados y Convenciones, II, 301-307, gives Victoria's instructions dated 27 de julio de 1823, and the minutes of the four conferences held 31 de julio, 6 de agosto, 7 de agosto, 19 de agosto de 1823. La Diplomacia Mexicana, II, 95-132, gives these, and several communications between Victoria and his government concerning the conferences.