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CHAPTER VII

THE MEXICAN PROBLEM

What is it our duty to do? Clearly everything that we do must be rooted in patience and done with calm and disinterested deliberation. Impatience on our part would be childish, and would be fraught with every risk of wrong and folly. We can afford to exercise the self-restraint of a really great nation which realizes its own strength and scorns to misuse it. It was our duty to offer our active assistance. It is now our duty to show what true neutrality will do to enable the people of Mexico to set their affairs in order again and wait for a further opportunity to offer our friendly counsels. The door is not closed against the resumption, either upon the initiative of Mexico or upon our own, of the effort to bring order out of the confusion by friendly co-operative action, should fortunate occasion offer. -Address to Congress, August 1913.

No feature of President Wilson's administration, with the exception of his relation to the European conflict, has exposed him to more unsparing criticism than his policy with regard to Mexico. No President, it is just to add, could have had any hope of cutting such a course through the multitudinous complexities of the problem as would satisfy every conflicting section of his critics.

Mexico had for something like ninety years been a source of perpetual anxiety to the Government of the United States. The State had finally shaken off Spanish rule and constituted itself a federal republic in the year 1824. Within the

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CHAPTER VII

THE MEXICAN PROBLEM

What is it our duty to do? Clearly everything that we do must be rooted in patience and done with calm and disinterested deliberation. Impatience on our part would be childish, and would be fraught with every risk of wrong and folly. We can afford to exercise the self-restraint of a really great nation which realizes its own strength and scorns to misuse it. It was our duty to offer our active assistance. It is now our duty to show what true neutrality will do to enable the people of Mexico to set their affairs in order again and wait for a further opportunity to offer our friendly counsels. The door is not closed against the resumption, either upon the initiative of Mexico or upon our own, of the effort to bring order out of the confusion by friendly co-operative action, should fortunate occasion offer. -Address to Congress, August 1913.

No feature of President Wilson's administration, with the exception of his relation to the European conflict, has exposed him to more unsparing criticism than his policy with regard to Mexico. No President, it is just to add, could have had any hope of cutting such a course through the multitudinous complexities of the problem as would satisfy every conflicting section of his critics,

Mexico had for something like ninety years been a source of perpetual anxiety to the Government of the United States. The State had finally shaken off Spanish rule and constituted itself a federal republic in the year 1824. Within the

next fifty years it could boast of fifty-two presidents or dictators, one emperor, and one regent, most of whom met violent deaths at the hands of their successors. In 1845 the incorporation of the once Mexican province of Texas into the Union of the United States led to the war of 1845-8, aspects of which are familiar to every one who has read the “Biglow Papers." As a result of Zachary Taylor's and Winfield Scott's campaigns in those years Mexico lost to the United States (in addition to Texas) the vast territories to the west of the Rockies now represented by the States of California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Though there was never serious talk, except among a limited section in the South, of further encroachment on Mexican territory, Mexico remained permanently distrustful of her northern neighbour. Her suspicions were, however, partially dispelled by the attitude of the United States after the Civil War, when the Washington Government insisted on the termination of the French occupation of Mexico (in accordance with the principles of the Monroe Doctrine), but took no step towards instituting an American suzerainty. The fortunes of the republic steadily improved after the advent to power in 1876 of General Porfirio Diaz, who, being re-elected for term after term, established what was not far removed from a dictatorship, on the whole salutary in its effects, lasting down to his abdication in May 1911.

The withdrawal of Diaz's strong hand was the

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