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force to control its political destiny. This opposition to foreign interference is known to France, England and Spain as well as the determination of the United States to resist any such attempt by all the means in their power. Any design to act in opposition to this policy has been heretofore disavowed by each of those Powers, and recently by the Minister of Spain, in the name of his government, in the most explicit manner."
Later in his instruction Secretary Cass stated:
- You fear that the project will be converted into a scheme for control or acquisition by taking advantage of the weakness of the Country and by operating upon its fears, so that an extorted assent may be given to the proposition and European ascendancy thus established. I have no reason to anticipate that any such effort will be made, and have only to add that, if attempted it will be met by the armed action of the United States, should Congress adhere to the policy we have so long avowed and publicly proclaimed."
In his message to Congress of December 3, 1860, President Buchanan, after stating that "our relations with Mexico remain in a most unsatisfactory condition," and after summarizing those relations, said:
The time had arrived, in my opinion, when this Government was bound to exert its power to avenge and redress the wrongs of our citizens and to afford them protection in Mexico. The interposing obstacle was that the portion of the country under the sway of Miramon could not be reached without passing over territory under the jurisdiction of the constitutional Government. Under these circumstances I deemed it my duty to recommend to Congress in my last annual message the employment of a sufficient military force to penetrate into the interior, where the Government of Miramon was to be found, with or, if need be, without the consent of the Juarez Government, though it was not doubted that this consent could be obtained. Never have I had a clearer conviction on any subject than of the justice as well as wisdom of such a policy. No other alternative was left except the entire abandonment of our fellow-citizens who had gone to Mexico under the faith of treaties to the systematic injustice, cruelty, and oppression of Miramon's Government. Besides, it is almost certain that the simple authority to employ this force would of itself have accomplished all our objects without striking a single blow. The constitutional Government would then ere this have been established at the City of Mexico, and would have been ready and willing to the extent of its ability to do us justice.
In addition-and I deem this a most important consideration-European Governments would have been deprived of all pretext to interfere in the territorial and domestic concerns of Mexico. We should thus have been relieved from the obligation of resisting, even by force should this become necessary, any attempt by these Governments to deprive our neighboring Republic of portions of her territory-a duty from which we could not shrink without abandoning the traditional and established policy of the American people. I am happy to observe that, firmly relying upon the justice and good faith of these Governments, there is no present danger that such a contingency will happen."
Ibid., pp. 311–312.
'Richardson's Messages and Papers of the Presidents, vol. v, pp. 645-646.
In the paragraph which followed, President Buchanan set out that treaties had been negotiated with the constitutional government of Mexico which were intended to carry out the same purposes. He then continued:
As these have not yet received the final action of that body, it would be improper for me to present a detailed statement of their provisions. Still, I may be permitted to express the opinion in advance that they are calculated to promote the agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial interests of the country and to secure our just influence with an adjoining Republic as to whose fortunes and fate we can never feel indifferent, whilst at the same time they provide for the payment of a considerable amount toward the satisfaction of the claims of our injured fellow-citizens."
On October 31, 1861, England, France, and Spain entered into a treaty at London which provided for joint action among those nations to the end of occupying portions of the Mexican coast in order to enforce certain claims they were making on behalf of their citizens.
On November 30, 1861, a joint note was sent to this Government by the Spanish, French, and British Ministers enclosing the text of the convention of October 31, and inviting the United States to accede to the convention.
On December 4, 1861, Secretary Seward replied to this representation, and in the course of his note used the following language:
First. As the Undersigned has heretofore had the honor to inform each of the Plenipotentiaries now addressed, the President does not feel himself at liberty to question, and he does not question that the sovereigns represented have undoubted right to decide for themselves the fact whether they have sustained grievances, and to resort to war against Mexico for the redress thereof, and have a right also to levy the war severally or jointly.
Secondly. The United States have a deep interest which, however, they are happy to believe is an interest held by them in common with the High Contracting Powers and with all other civilized States, that neither of the sovereigns by whom the Convention has been concluded shall seek or obtain any acquisition of territory or any advantage peculiar to itself, and not equally left open to the United States and every other civilized State, within the territories of Mexico, and especially that neither one nor all of the Contracting Parties shall, as a result or consequence of the hostilities to be inaugurated under the Convention, exercise in the subsequent affairs of Mexico any influence of a character to impair the right of the Mexican people to choose and freely to constitute the form of its own Government.
Among the reasons for this decision which the Undersigned is authorized to assign, are, first that the United States, so far as it is practicable, prefer to adhere to a traditional policy recommended to them by the Father of their Country and confirmed by a happy experience, which forbids them from making
'Richardson's Messages and Papers of the Presidents, vol. v, p. 646.
alliances with foreign nations; second, Mexico being a neighbour of the United States on this Continent, and possessing a system of government similar to our own in many of its important features, the United States habitually cherish a decided good will towards that Republic, and a lively interest in its security, prosperity and welfare. Animated by these sentiments, the United States do not feel inclined to resort to forcible remedies for their claims at the present moment, when the Government of Mexico is deeply disturbed by factions within, and exposed to war with foreign nations. And, of course, the same sentiments render them still more disinclined to allied war against Mexico, than to war to be waged against her by themselves alone.99
Secretary Seward in an instruction to Mr. Dayton under date of March 31, 1862, concerning the operations of the French in Mexico stated:
We have acted with moderation and with good faith towards the three powers which invited our coöperation in the combined expedition to that distracted and unhappy country. We have relied upon their disclaimers of all political designs against the Mexican Republic. But we cannot shut out from our sight the indications which, unexplained, are calculated to induce a belief that the Government of France has lent favoring attention to Mexican emissaries who proposed to subvert the Republican American system in Mexico and to import into that country a throne and even a Monarch from Europe.
You will intimate to Mr. Thouvenel that rumors of this kind have reached the President and awakened some anxiety on his part. You will say that you are not authorized to ask explanations, but that you are sure that if any can be made which will be calculated to relieve that anxiety, they will be very welcome, inasmuch as the United States desire nothing so much as to maintain a good understanding and the most cordial relations with the Government and the People of France.
It will hardly be necessary to do more in assigning you reasons for this proceeding on your part than to say that we have more than once, and with perfect distinctness and candor, informed all the parties to the alliance that we cannot look with indifference upon any armed European intervention for political ends in a country situated so near, and connected with us so closely as Mexico.40
An agreement having been reached between Mexico and the Governments of Great Britain and of Spain, regarding the claims of these two countries respectively, the English and Spanish forces withdrew in April 1862. Prior to this time there had been some disagreement upon the part of the British and Spanish commanders with reference to the course adopted by the French.11
MS., Notes to the Spanish Legation, vol. VII, pp. 244-246; Moore, International Law Digest, vol. vI, p. 486 487.
40 MS., Instructions, France, vol. xvi, pp. 135-136.
41 Moore, ibid., p. 488.
On March 3, 1862, Secretary Seward instructed Mr. Adams, our Minister in London, that:
The President, however, deems it his duty to express to the Allies, in all candor and frankness, the opinion that no monarchical government which could be founded in Mexico, in the presence of foreign navies and armies in the waters, and upon the soil of Mexico, would have any prospect of security or permanence. Secondly, that the instability of such a monarchy there, would be enhanced if the throne should be assigned to any person not of Mexican nativity. That, under such circumstances, the new government must speedily fall, unless it could draw into its support European alliances, which, relating back to the first invasion, would in fact make it the beginning of a permanent policy of armed European monarchical intervention, injurious and practically hostile to the most general system of government on the continent of America, and this would be the beginning rather than the ending of revolution in Mexico.
These views are grounded upon some knowledge of the political sentiments and habits of society in America.
In such a case, it is not to be doubted that the permanent interests and sympathies of this country would be with the other American republics. It is not intended, on this occasion, to predict the course of events which might happen as a consequence of the proceeding contemplated, either on this continent or in Europe. It is sufficient to say that, in the President's opinion, the emancipation of this continent from European control, has been the principal feature in its history during the last century. It is not probable that a revolution in a contrary direction would be successful in an immediately succeeding century, while population in America is so rapidly increasing, resources so rapidly developing, and society so steadily forming itself upon principles of Democratic American government. Nor is it necessary to suggest to the Allies the improbability that European nations could steadily agree upon a policy favorable to such a counterrevolution as one conducive to their own interests, or to suggest that, however studiously, the allies may act to avoid lending the aid of their land and naval forces to domestic revolutions in Mexico, the result would nevertheless be traceable to the presence of those forces there, although for a different purpose, since it may be deemed certain that, but for their presence there, no such revo lution could probably have been attempted or even conceived.
The Senate of the United States has not indeed given its official sanction to the precise measures which the President has proposed for lending our aid to the existing government in Mexico, with the approval of the Allies, to relieve it from its present embarrassments. This however, is only a question of domestic administration. It would be very erroneous to regard such a disagreement as indicating any serious difference of opinion in this Government or among the American people, in their cordial good wishes for the safety, welfare and stability of the republican system of government in that country."
Pueblo was occupied by French soldiers in May 1863. The capital city was occupied on June 7. On July 10 a junta of Mexicans, under the auspices of a French commander made the following declarations:
that the Mexican nation adopted as her form of government a hereditary monarchy with a Catholic prince as a ruler; that her sovereign should have
"MS., Instructions, Great Britain, vol. xví, pp. 139–140.
the title of Emperor of Mexico; and that the Mexican Imperial crown should be offered to Archduke Maximilian of Austria."
The crown having been offered to Maximilian, he accepted, and on July 12 of the following year he entered Mexico City.
Regarding the operations of France in Mexico, Secretary Seward writing to Mr. Dayton, Minister to France, under date of May 8, 1863, stated:
The United States have not disclaimed, and can never under existing circumstances disclaim, the interest they feel in the safety, welfare and prosperity of Mexico, any more than they can relinquish or disown their sentiments of friendship and good will towards France, which began with their national existence, and have been cherished with growing earnestness ever since. When the two nations towards which they are thus inclined are found engaged in such a war as Mr. Drouyn de l'Huys has described, the United States can only deplore the painful occurrence, and express in every way and everywhere their anxious desire that the conflict may be brought to a speedy close by a settlement consistent with the stability, prosperity and welfare of the parties concerned. The United States have always acted upon the same principle of forbearance and neutrality in regard to wars between powers with which our own country has maintained friendly relations, and they believe that this policy could not in this, more than in other cases, be departed from with advantage to themselves or to the interests of peace throughout the world."
On September 11, 1863, Secretary Seward explained to Mr. Motley, our Minister to Austria, the position of the United States.
On September 21, 1863, Secretary Seward wrote to Mr. Dayton, our Minister to France, and after pointing out that the proceedings of the French in Mexico appeared to be at variance with the assurances which France had given with reference thereto, stated:
The President thinks it desirable that you should seek an opportuuity to mention these facts to Mr. Drouyn de l'Huys, and to suggest to him that the interests of the United States, and, as it seems to us, the interests of France herself, require that a solution of the present complications in Mexico be made, as early as may be convenient, upon the basis of the unity and independence of Mexico. I cannot be misinterpreting the sentiments of the United States in saying that they do not desire an annexation of Mexico, or any part of it; nor do they desire any special interest, control, or influence there, but they are deeply interested in the re-establishment of unity, peace, and order in the neighboring Republic, and exceedingly desirous that there may not arise out of the war in Mexico any cause of alienation between them and France. Insomuch as these sentiments are by no means ungenerous, the President unhesitatingly believes that they are the sentiments of the Emperor himself in regard to Mexico.45
Renewed instructions were sent by Secretary Seward to Mr. Dayton on September 26, 1863.
Robertson, History of the Latin American Nations, p. 493.
“Papers relating to Foreign Affairs (Diplomatic Correspondence) 1863, vol. 1, p. 665.
"Ibid., vol. п, р. 703.