Page images
[blocks in formation]


The diplomatic relations between the United States and Mexico before 1830 have heretofore been passed over rapidly by students in this field of history in order to dwell more fully on the events leading to the Texas Revolution, the admission of Texas into the Union, and the war between the United States and Mexico. Partial explanations have been made of the attempts of the Adams administration in 1827 and the Jackson administration in 1829 to acquire peaceably by purchase the whole or a part of Texas. Hostility to Poinsett because of his relations with Mexican officials and his connection with the organization of lodges of York Masons has been frequently mentioned, to be bitterly condemned by many, enthusiastically praised by others, and mildly excused by a few, but adequately explained by none.

Practically no attention has been paid to the difficulties and consequent delays in the establishment of a permanent representation of Mexico in Washington, or the much longer and much less excusable delays in the selection and sending of a United States minister to Mexico. While the political schemers in Washington were delaying this important appointment in order to use it as a political pawn, the English cabinet under the astute leadership of Canning with his violent antip

athy to the "Yankee" government was making good use of its advantage to establish, by means of semiofficial agents and flattering assurances, a powerful British influence over the Mexican government and to elicit the deep gratitude of the Mexican people for British promises of favor and protection which made the earlier recognition of Mexico's independence by the United States seem of trifling importance and made the declarations of Monroe's famous message appear to be of little value and to have been dictated by selfish interests. [Poinsett's efforts to recover for his government the prestige which he felt had been lost by this delay led him to adopt methods which he considered necessary for the preservation of liberty and the prevention of monarchy in Mexico, but which involved him in charges of having meddled in the internal affairs of that country.

The suspicions thus engendered of the motives of Poinsett and his government made it next to impossible for him to carry to a successful conclusion any of the negotiations with which he was charged. The motive for his effort to ward off the impending Mexican attack on Cuba was suspected. His attempt to open easy trade intercourse by way of the Santa Fé Trail was distrusted. His insertion in the commercial treaty of provisions which were distasteful to Mexico but which he considered liberal or absolutely necessary was resisted until his persuasion induced the Mexican negotiators to yield; and then because of these provi-, sions the Mexican Congress delayed ratification or


refused it. His able championship of the cause of United States merchants, investors, and travelers in their controversies with Mexican officials widened the growing breach. His schemes for getting Texas were met from the first by a flat refusal; and his government's persistently repeated renewal of them roused bitter hostility. Attempts to remove suspicions and allay fears only increased them. -Political enemies of those who were friendly to Poinsett's policies fanned the smoldering embers of distrust into flames of bitter hatred for him and the government which sent and kept him there. The few years of orderly government in Mexico during which under more favorable circumstances friendly relations might have been established with the United States, thus obviating a half century of discord and a century of distrust, were passed in quibblings and misunderstandings.

In a careful study of these quibblings and misunderstandings during the years 1825 to 1829 are to be found the origin and to a considerable extent the explanation of those apparently irreconcilable differences which grew greater and greater during the next two decades, finally provoking the war which resulted_not only in the United States keeping Texas but seizing more than half of the remainder of Mexican territory, thereby confirming the worst fears and suspicions that Mexico had entertained of the motives of her northern neighbor.

The sources that have been drawn upon for this study are described in the comments on authorities at

the end of the volume. By far the larger part of the information has been taken from manuscripts in the archives of the Department of State in Washington and of the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Mexico. Only a few of either have been published. And of those published most are only extracts, the cipher passages and other more important portions having been withheld because at the time when the documents were published these portions could not have been included without involving the Washington government in difficulties with Mexico or with discordant factions within the United States.

The chapter on "Texas and the Boundary Issue" has already been published in very nearly its present form in the seventeenth volume of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly; portions of the third, sixth, and tenth chapters in a modified form under the title, "Poinsett's Mission to Mexico: a Discussion of his Interference in Internal Affairs," have been published in both English and Spanish in the seventh volume of the American Journal of International Law, and its Spanish edition, La Revista Americana de Derecho Internacional; the Mississippi Valley Historical Review, volume I, has printed in a modified form the chapter on "Diplomacy Concerning the Opening of the Santa Fé Trail"; and the proceedings of the Panama-Pacific Historical Congress at San Francisco in 1915 contain a portion of the chapter on "British Influence in Mexico."

For courteous treatment and liberal assistance, I hereby acknowledge my indebtedness to Señor Las

« PreviousContinue »