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Mexican Lobby

Mexican Lobby: Matías Romero in Washington 1861--1867

Edited and translated with an introduction by THOMAS D. SCHOONOVER
Assisted by Ebba Wesener Schoonover
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Mexican Lobby
    Book Description:

    For Americans the Civil War was simply an internal conflict, and they have emphasized its military exploits and the romantic myths that have grown up around it. They have given little regard to its international aspects. In truth, however, the American Civil War attracted worldwide attention. Other nations followed the fortunes of the war and sought to understand its goals because they saw that the fate of the American system would likely have a profound effect on their own social and political economies. One such nation was the United States' southern neighbor Mexico, and inMexican LobbyThomas Schoonover reveals the efforts of Matias Romero, Mexico's representative in Washington, to influence American leaders in his country's favor.

    Romero, appointed in 1859, served the liberal government of Benito Juarez, which had just emerged from its own civil War of Reform and now had to contend with a French invasion under Maximilian. He proved an indefatigable worker, who sent his government voluminous reports on the American situation and on his meetings with American leaders. Translated and published here for the first time is a representative selection of memoranda of his conversations with Washington officials and politicians.

    Romero attempted to forge stronger trade ties with the United States, establish better sea and rail links, and, above all, encourage military intervention to oust the French. In seeking these ends Romero was not above meddling in domestic politics. The memoranda show him supporting efforts to secure the resignation of Secretary of State Seward and cooperating with radical moves to defeat Lincoln's election in 1864 and, later, to impeach Andrew Johnson.

    Copies of Romero's official correspondence are rare in the United States and in Mexico and have never been translated.Mexican Lobbymakes readily available a body of material that will be valuable to historians of the Civil War, Latin America, and American diplomacy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6419-9
    Subjects: History, Political Science, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xx)

    Historian Eric Foner has pointed out that the reports of foreign diplomats, who, like Georges Clémenceau, were ʺfascinated contemporary observers,ʺ are a long neglected source of information about American Reconstruction history.¹ This book attempts partially to fill that gap by offering the insightful comments of Mexican chargé and minister Matías Romero, who resided in the United States during the secession crisis, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. During that residence, Romero composed some seventy-five memorandums to his superiors in Mexico summarizing private conversations with key American political military, and business figures (as distinguished from official meetings with the president or State...

  5. 1861
    (pp. 1-12)

    Mexico experienced a long, bitter struggle, thereforma, between conservative and liberal factions in the 1850s, terminating in the victory of the Liberal party under the leadership of Benito Juárez in 1859. Although victorious within Mexico, the Liberals faced continuing Conservative maneuvers in Europe to persuade Spain or France to intervene, depose thereformaLiberals, and return the Conservatives to power. The American secession crisis occurred simultaneously with the sharpening of Mexicoʹs problems. The Mexican chargé to the United States, twenty-four-year-old Matías Romero, rejoiced at the victory of Abraham Lincoln and the Republican party because he interpreted the partyʹs platform...

  6. 1862
    (pp. 13-27)

    Matías Romero insisted that the purpose of the tripartite intervention was not primarily to achieve the repayment of European loans or even the return of the Mexican conservatives to power, but rather conquest and empire. He sought throughout early 1862 to persuade the Lincoln administration and the U.S. Congress that the loan would effectively counter the French, Spanish, and British violation of the Monroe Doctrine, as well as encourage Mexican liberal resistance to the European powers. Romero continued his lobbying, concentrating on Senator Charles Sumner out of recognition of the senatorʹs powerful position, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, and Representative Jacob...

  7. 1863
    (pp. 28-30)

    The year 1863 proved a turning point for both the American Civil War and Matias Romeroʹs role in the United States. The persistent and increasingly effective blockade of the South, the major campaigns culminating in Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and the restructuring of the Union military command are often viewed as the turning point in the Civil War. Romero resigned his post as charge in early 1863. He expressed frustration because he was receiving neither his pay check nor adequate expense money to conduct a campaign to influence and shape U.S. policy with even a remote chance of...

  8. 1864
    (pp. 31-49)

    Since 1862, some Republican politicians, called Radicals, had become increasingly irritated by their inability to align the Lincoln administration behind their program for freeing slaves and prosecuting the war more energetically and punitively. Radical Republican hostility toward President Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward was not restricted to their differences on domestic policy and the conduct of the war. They differed markedly on the proper foreign policy for the United States to follow in face of the French threat in Mexico in the form of the puppet Maximilian empire. This dispute between Lincolnʹs administration and many Radicals came...

  9. 1865
    (pp. 50-113)

    Although Romeroʹs offer to travel to Richmond to initiate negotiations to terminate the war was not acted upon, Montgomery Blair obtained permission for his father, Francis P. Blair, Sr., kitchen cabinet member and editor during Andrew Jacksonʹs administration, to visit his old friend Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The senior Blair hoped to persuade Davis to end the war so a joint military campaign could be undertaken to oust Maximilian and Napoleon from Mexico. This plan offered the Confederacy a face-saving way to terminate the war while upholding the Monroe Doctrine. Romero was privy to the early discussions of the project...

  10. 1866
    (pp. 114-149)

    For some time, Secretary of State William Seward had been convinced that the French could be persuaded to withdraw from Mexico. President Andrew Johnson apparently came to accept Sewardʹs view so that by early or mid-1866 he became convinced that a military assault on the French position was dangerous and unnecessary. The alienation between Romero and Grant on one hand and the Johnson-Seward team on the other grew during 1866. Seward objected to Romeroʹs confidential meetings with Johnson. To end this practice, he issued what became known as the Romero circular in mid-1865, publicly denying foreign diplomats access to the...

  11. 1867
    (pp. 150-166)

    U.S. minister to Mexico Lewis D. Campbellʹs mission—to establish contact with the Juarez government and to observe the French withdrawal—had proved an unmitigated disaster, dragging on into early 1867 before Campbell was forced to resign. Sherman had had the good sense to return to the United States much earlier. Later, the Johnson administration sent Marcus Otterbourg to Mexico as minister. Romero and other observers thought Otterbourgʹs mission was to prevent the execution of Archduke Maximilian. Romero tried to warn the U.S. government that it should not seek to interfere in Mexican treatment of Maximilian. Above all, Romero cautioned,...

  12. Epilogue Romero, Mexican-American Liberal Lobbyist
    (pp. 167-170)

    Both the United States and Mexico experienced liberal revolutions in the mid-nineteenth century. Both became obsessed with free-market rhetoric extolling growth, development, and a belief that material progress would resolve any problems within their social orders. The two nations experienced a warm relationship in the last years of the 1850s before the Civil War erupted in the United States and the French, Spanish, and British intervened in Mexico in 1861. President James Buchananʹs administration had reacted to the Liberal ouster of the Conservatives with considerable sympathy and had wished to negotiate commercial and transit agreements with Liberal Mexico.

    Against this...

  13. Essay on Sources
    (pp. 171-174)
  14. Bibliography of Works by Matías Romero
    (pp. 175-178)
  15. Index
    (pp. 179-184)