Title: Economics of Mexican-United States relations during the reforma, 1854-1861
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098346/00001
 Material Information
Title: Economics of Mexican-United States relations during the reforma, 1854-1861
Physical Description: ix, 404 leaves. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Olliff, Donathon C., 1933-
Publication Date: 1974
Copyright Date: 1974
Subject: History -- Mexico -- 1821-1861   ( lcsh )
Foreign economic relations -- Mexico -- United States   ( lcsh )
Foreign economic relations -- United States -- Mexico   ( lcsh )
History thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- History -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 395-403.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00098346
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000585095
oclc - 14181252
notis - ADB3727


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THE REFORMA, 1854-1861


Donathon Carnes Olliff





This study is concerned with economic relations

between Mexico and the United States and their impact on the

more traditional diplomatic ties during the years from the

beginning of the Reforma in 1854 to 1861 when the American

civil war and the French intervention in Mexico brought an

end to all but nominal political relations. Previous stud-

ies of American involvement in the Mexican economy during

the nineteenth century have focused on the late Diaz period.

Prior to this period Americans were assumed either to be

unaware of or uninterested in the possibilities of develop-

ing Mexico's resources. During the decades before the

American civil war, Americans were thought to have been too

intent on territorial expansion, internal development, and

the sectional controversy to give any consideration to eco-

nomic developments in Mexico.

I first began to question this traditional view while

doing research on "John Forsyth's ministership to Mexico"

for a master's degree at Auburn University. This research

revealed that Forsyth advocated converting Mexico into an

economic protectorate of the United States and that without

authority he negotiated treaties with Mexico which he

believed would accomplish this objective. Since this
research was limited to American sources, principally

diplomatic correspondence, I could not determine the extent

to which Forsyth's efforts may have represented a response

to a widely recognized need for closer economic ties between

the two countries. Without evidence of private support in

either country for closer ties and without some indication

of the Mexican motives for signing the treaties and the

interpretation that Mexico may have placed on them, I could

not eliminate the remote possibility that the economic pro-

tectorate scheme had only been a product of Forsyth's fer-

tile imagination. The unusual features of the treaties, the

conditions under which they were negotiated, and Forsyth's

claim that leading liberals favored a protectorate status

for their country encouraged me to pursue the investigation

into Mexican sources. Further encouragement came from

Charles C. Cumberland's assessment, in Mexicos the Struggle

for Modernity, that Diaz's success late in the nineteenth

century in attracting foreign investment represented merely

the execution of a long established and accepted policy.1

Cumberland's statement also made me more aware of the need

to be alert to indications of Mexican official encouragement

to American capital.

Research into Mexican sources was directed to throw

light on certain questions. What were the economic objec-

tives of the leaders of the Ayutla revolution? What role

was envisioned for the United States in Mexico's economic

future? How effectively were these views translated into

policy by the liberal governments? What private American

economic interests were involved in Mexico and what were

their relationships with the governments of the respective

countries? The results of this research coupled with inves-

tigations into American sources revealed complex patterns of

activities, aspirations, and relationships tending to draw

the two countries together.

Research revealed that the type of data necessary for

the construction of statistical analysis of volume and

nature of trade and investment was unavailable. Specific

figures could be gleaned only for limited periods and activ-

ities, frequently even these were of doubtful veracity. As

a result, no attempt will be made to quantify the economic

relations but instead, emphasis will first be given to atti-

tudes and activities of individuals, both private and offi-

cial, who were prominent in promoting closer economic ties.

After establishing the attitudinal atmosphere, the diplomatic

relations between the two countries will be analyzed with

reference to their effect on economic questions. In this

analysis economic is defined broadly enough to include not

only investment and trade interests pursued privately or

officially but also the desire of the Mexican government to

secure credit from private or official sources in the United

States and the desire of the American government to utilize

the financial distress of the Mexican government as a lever

to force acceptance of American objectives. The activities

of private American entrepreneurs are dealt with only as

they impinge upon official relations. Finally the activities

increasing concentration of public energy and attention on its

own domestic crisis made it impossible for the United States

to provide Mexico with the security and credit it needed.

The diplomatic and consular archives of Mexico and the

United States were used extensively in this study. News-

papers of Mexico City also proved a valuable source. The

collections of papers of Ignacio comonfort, Benito JuArez,

James Buchanan, Melchor Ocampo, and Matlas Romero proved

valuable, as did the scattered records of several private

Americans involved in the Mexican economy.


1 Charles C. Cumberland, Mexico: the Struggle for
Modernity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), pp.


Notes .. .




Notes .

Notes .

S iv

S vii


. 49
S 106

Notes .

Notes .

Notes .

Notes .

Notes .. .











AGN Archive General de la Naci6n, Mexico City.

AHINAH Archivo Hist6rico del Instituto Nacional de
Antropologia e Historia, Mexico City. This archive
contains two collections of letters to Melchor
Ocampo, mostly from Jose M. Mata, forming legajos
8-2 and 8-4 of "Papeles sueltos." Citations to
these letters will identify sender, recipient, date,
legajo, and document number, e.g., Mata to Ocampo,
Sept. 10, 1859, 8-4-107, AHINAH.

AMR Archivo Matlas Romero, Banco de Mexico, Mexico City.
This archive is divided into "cartas recibidos"
(CR) and "cartas dirijidos" (CD).

ASRE Archivo de la Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores,
Mexico City.

BP/PHS Buchanan Papers, Pennsylvania Historical Society,

GC/UT Garcia Collection, University of Texas, Austin.
CP, GC/UT Comonfort Papers
GFP, GC/UT G6mez Farias Papers

JM JuArez Manuscripts, Caja Fuerte, Biblioteca Nacional,
Mexico City.

MRE Minister of Foreign Relations (Mexico).

NA National Archives, Washington.
NA/CD/Tam Consular Despatches (Tampico.
NA/CD/VC Consular Despatches (Veracruz).
NA/DD Diplomatic Despatches (Mexico).
NA/DI Diplomatic Instructions (Mexico).
NA/DN/Mex Diplomatic Notes from Mexico.
NA/DPR Diplomatic Post Records (Mexico).
NA/DPR/FM Notes to Legation from Mexican
NA/RBO Report of Bureau Officers.
NA/SM Special Missions.


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
Council of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree
of Doctor of Philosophy

THE REFORMA, 1854-1861


Donathon Carnes Olliff

March, 1974

Chairman: Lyle Nelson McAlister
Major Departmenti History

Mexican liberals of the Reforma era were committed to

achieving a broadly based transformation of Mexican life.

They saw economic reform and modernization as the key to the

regenerating process which they wished to undertake. The lib-

erals looked to the United States as a model for their devel-

opment programs and as a source for the capital and technol-

ogy required. They sought to bring the two countries closer

together and to convert Mexico into an economic protectorate

of the United States. Generous grants were made to American

citizens to develop and exploit the Mexican economy, espe-

cially in the field of transportation, and various laws were

enacted to favor the American investor-entrepreneur in Mexico.

The United States, on the other hand, pursued a policy

of territorial expansion toward Mexico. While American

businessmen and diplomats in Mexico favored a generous and

protective policy toward Mexico, Washington, particularly

during the Buchanan administration, proved unresponsive to

economic considerations. The purchase of territory in north-

west Mexico and unrestricted control over the Tehuantepec

transit route were the official American policy objectives.

The diplomatic relations between the two countries

was a contest to realize these conflicting objectives.

Mexico sought to exchange valuable economic concessions for

American protection and credit. The United States attempted

to take advantage of the fiscal bankruptcy of strife-torn

Mexico to secure land and transit rights. Twice, in the

Forsyth treaties of 1857 and the McLane-Ocampo treaties of

1859, Mexico secured agreements with the United States which

would have placed her under American protection and reserved

her economy for American exploitation; each time Washington

refused. The American policy had serious consequences for

Mexico. The liberals, facing conservative revolts and the

threat of European intervention, turned to their "natural

ally," the United States for security and credit. The

refusal of the United States to respond favorably weakened

the liberal reformers, helped create the conditions leading

to civil war, and contributed to prolonging that conflict.

Responsibility for the failure to resolve the conflicting

objectives in a more mutually beneficial way rested with the

United States. The lack of effective and decisive leadership,

the immaturity of the American capital market, and the


of private individuals, mainly Americans, are treated with

special emphasis upon their relations with the respective

governments and individual officials in these governments.


The Plan de Ayutla, proclaimed March 1, 1854, set in

motion a chain of events of profound significance for Mexico.

The revolutionary standard, raised in Guerrero by the old

liberal cacique Juan Alvarez, attracted the support of a

new generation of Mexican liberals--a generation of polit-

ically active individuals with a unique vision of Mexico's

past, present, and future.1 With its support of the Ayutla

revolution emerged victorious over the regime of Antonio

L6pez de Santa Anna in August 1855. The victorious liberals

then embarked upon an ambitious program of reforms (La

Reform) designed to transform Mexico into the country of

their dreams. Implementation of these reforms provoked a

three-year civil war, 1858-1860, which in turn provided the

setting for the French intervention of 1862 and the subse-

quent ill-fated empire of Maximilian.

The United States played a significant role in each

stage and phase of these developments. The sale of terri-

tory to the United States by Santa Anna, in December 1853,

was a factor in the origin of the Ayutla revolution; many

of the civilian leaders of the revolt had been exiled to

the United States by Santa Anna;2 the revolutionists drew

both moral and material support from sources in the United

States; the policy of the United States toward Mexico helped

to mold the chain of events culminating in the French inter-

vention; and, finally, the United States, both as an inter-

national power and as a model for economic, social, and

political reforms, formed an inseparable part of the liberal

vision of Mexico and its future.

Scholars have investigated the development of liber-

alism in Mexico during the first half of the nineteenth cen-

tury and have identified many of the ties between Mexican

liberal thought and the United States. The tendency of

liberals to see the United States as a model for their

political institutions has also been noted. The role of

the United States in the evolution of the economic aspects

of the Reforma prior to the hiatus created by European

intervention in Mexico and civil war in the United States,

however, has not yet been investigated.5

The decade of the Reforma was notable in nineteenth-

century Mexico for several reasons. It witnessed sustained

and conscious efforts to reject the historical past and

attempts to move the country toward an idealized utopian

future by restructuring institutions and regenerating soci-

ety. The liberal governments of this decade were controlled

for the most part by civilians--a unique occurrence between

1820 and 1910.6 Prior to the Reforma, independent Mexico

had been dominated by generals who had gained prominence

during the wars of independence, 1810-1821, most of them as
royalist officers. The civil wars of the 1850's and the

contest of the 1860's against the French intervention and

the Maximilian Empire gave birth to a liberal generation of

generals who would dominate Mexico for the next half century.

Between these two periods lies the Reforma--a period during

which, with rare exceptions, civilians not only occupied the

responsible positions in the liberal governments but also

determined policy and wielded power.

Except for Juan Alvarez and Ignacio Comonfort, no

principal liberal figure had significant military experience

prior to the beginning of the Ayutla revolution in 1854.

Even Alvarez and Comonfort were not professional military

men in the traditional sense. To Alvarez, whose military

activities dated back to the Morelos phase of the war for

independence, military rank and responsibility were only a

facet of a regional strongman or caciaue. Comonfort's mil-

itary experience had been limited to irregular involvement

in the militia since the 1820's.7 While some future liberal

leaders, such as Santos Degollado, Manuel Doblado, and Jesus

Gonzalez Ortega, gained military experience during the fight

against Santa Anna, most key figures remained in the back-

ground until the end of the military phase of the revolution.

Missing from the leadership ranks during the military phase

were such individuals as Melchor Ocampo, Benito Juarez,

Miguel and Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada, Jos6 Maria Mata,

Antonio de la Fuente, and Francisco Zarco. This group

emerged, however, as the key political figures in the
liberal governments from 1855 to 1862, dominating even

those regimes headed by Alvarez (1855) and Comonfort (1855-


This generation could not escape having its outlook

colored by Mexico's relations with the United States during

the preceding decades. Loss of territory in the north to

the aggressive neighbor had left an indelible scar. More

traumatic than even the loss of territory was the invasion

and occupation of the Mexican heartland by the United States

in 1847 and 1848. For the first time this brought many of

the liberals, especially the younger ones, into direct con-

tact with Americans9 and with their actions and attitudes.

An affinity for the United States and an idealization of her

political, economic, and social institutions had been a part

of liberal ideology since Joel Poinsett's ministry to Mexico

in the days immediately following independence. Most of the

older liberals and many of the new generation had been mem-

bers of the Yorkino masonic lodges promoted by Poinsett.10

The war with the United States, with the concomitant loss of

territory and foreign occupation of the valley of Mexico,

seriously challenged the idealized views of the United

States held by many liberals.

One group of young and extreme liberals, or puros,

including Manuel Doblado, Melchor Ocampo, Guillermo Prieto,

Ponciano Arriaga, and Manuel Siliceo, opposed any peace

settlement with the United States even after the fall of

Mexico City. The liberal newspaper El monitor republican
had recommended in November 1846 that the war be fought by

means of guerrilla forces if necessary,11 and when formal

resistance collapsed during the fall of 1847, many puros

took up the cry for continued resistance with irregular

forces. Melchor Ocampo, governor of MichoacAn, offered his

state's manpower and resources for such an effort12 and the

Plan de Jarauta in 1848 attracted widespread puro support

for a renewal of hostilities with popular forces.13 While

these demands for resistance to the bitter end (guerra hasta

el fin) have been interpreted as a pro-Yankee stratagem

designed to force the United States to occupy all of Mexico

and either annex it or establish a puro government supported

by the occupation army,14 more dispassionate accounts15

credit the puros with a patriotism that preferred total

defeat and the annihilation of Mexico to national dishonor.

The resulting enmity did not vanish overnight with the com-

ing of peace. Two years later the leading liberal newspaper,

El siglo XIX, under the editorship of Francisco Zarco, still

pursued an editorial policy hostile to the United States.

While the war may have embittered some liberals

toward United States, many others came out of the war with a

renewed and invigorated admiration for their recent foe.

Some young liberals appear to have blamed their conservative

compatriots for the war and its disastrous consequences

rather than the expansive greed of their northern neighbors.

The impressive ease of the conquest convinced many liberals

that not only was the United States a worthy political model
for Mexico, but that the enemy's surprising power was based

on social and economic institutions worthy of study and

Some liberals, disillusioned with Mexico's chaotic

history since independence, openly cooperated with the con-

querors. The most notable example was found in the

avuntamiento of Mexico City during the American occupation.17

A group of twenty-one liberals, mostly puros, secured elec-

tion to the ayuntamiento with the support of the occupation

authorities. The puros of the group, led by Miguel Lerdo de

Tejada, not only cooperated with their American overlords

but also used the abnormal situation to launch a program of

radical political, social, and economic reforms. The coop-

erative spirit shown by the ayuntamiento to the alien con-

querors earned it the label of traitor.l8

Even those directly involved in military action

against the invaders did not always come away permanently

hostile to Americans. Jos4 Maria Mata, a young Jalapa sur-

geon and officer in the guardia national, was captured dur-

ing the battle of Cerro Gordo in 1847. When he refused

the pledge not to take up arms again, the Americans shipped

him to New Orleans as a prisoner of war. This involuntary

trip had a great impact on the young officer; he returned

to Mexico in 1848 as an avid admirer of the political, social,

and economic institutions of his recent captors.19

While many Mexicans doubtlessly felt rancor toward

the United States in the postwar period, this did not pre-

vent the government of moderate Jose Joaquin de Herrera

from maintaining relatively cordial relations with the late

enemy. Although such matters as disputes arising out of

the recent occupation, Indian raids along the frontier,

smuggling, inability to define the new boundary, and filibus-

tering raids caused difficulties, the Herrera government was

too occupied with the task of re-establishing internal peace

to allow these questions seriously to disturb the surface

calm of relations. Frightened that the caste war in Yucatan

might trigger a general race war, Herrera asked for 4-5,000

American troops to assist the Mexican army in putting down

servile revolts and maintaining internal order.20 It was

fortunate for Mexico that foreign policy traditions and

domestic politics made it impossible for the United States

to accede to this request; for if the Yankees had returned

by invitation so soon after having gained access by force,

the temptation to remain might have been insurmountable.

A relative calm also reigned in Mexican politics dur-

ing these years. The Herrera administration, 1848-1851,

drew from all areas of political opinion in an attempt to

establish a coalition government capable of coping with the

innumerable political and economic problems of the postwar

period. Moderates, liberals, and puros joined in the effort

for national unity, while most conservatives elected to

remain aloof.21

The postwar calm also reflected a deep disorientation

within political circles. Three decades of independence,

consisting of what has been called "institutionalized

disorder,"22 capped by a rapid and humiliating defeat

required a re-evaluation of past actions, present policies,

and future objectives.23 In part this consisted of mutual

recriminations as each political faction sought to fix

responsibility for the recent disasters on other shoulders.

Each group could find convincing evidence that their oppo-

nents had been guilty of treasonous conduct during some

stage of the conflict with the United States.

More important than the recriminations were efforts to

analyze what factors had brought Mexico to her current sad

state and to formulate plans for rescuing her. The news-

papers, especially liberal journals such as El siglo XIX, El

monitor republican, and Don Simplicio, devoted their edito-

rial columns to partisan but searching probes of the coun-

try's basic political, economic, and social institutions.

The most telling indictment of Mexico's institutional struc-

ture, Consideraciones sobre la situaci6n political y social

de la republican mexicana, en el ao 1847, resulted from the

collective efforts of a group of young politicians, moderate

and liberal, who took refuge in Queretaro when the Yankees

occupied Mexico City in 1847.24

Pessimism dominated much of this introspection. From

across the political spectrum many agreed that the past

thirty years had demonstrated Mexico's inability to govern

herself, to establish social harmony, or to attain economic

prosperity and progress. The only solution to such a state

of affairs appeared to be for Mexico to place herself under

the tutelage of a foreign power. Conservatives looked to

European powers, while the liberals favored the United

States.25 Under the leadership of Lucas Alaman the conser-

vatives turned increasingly to the idea of a European-styled

monarchy with sympathetic ties to Spain or France.26 While

much of the yearning for a foreign protector was a temporary

symptom of the postwar syndrome, it was never totally absent

from the political scene during the years between the treaty

of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 and the French intervention in


While the friendly protection of the United States

was favored by many liberals, few saw such protection as

adequate in itself to cure Mexico's basic problems. Having

already rejected Mexico's colonial past, the liberals saw in

national defeat and humiliation not only proof that the

colonial institutions were disintegrating but also the need

to rebuild these institutions along modern and progressive

lines. To these liberals the protection of their northern

neighbor would only help insure that they could capitalize

on this opportunity to carry out a massive program of

"regeneraci6n."27 As defined by Francisco Zarco, regenera-

tion was a dual process, destroying the colonial order with

one hand while constructing a new order with the other


Many of the liberals and several of the puros accept-

ed posts in the Herrera government, 1848-1851, and in that

of Mariano Arista, 1851-1853, in hope of implementing their

projects for regeneration. Melchor Ocampo, Marcos Esparza,

Ponciano Arriaga, and Guillermo Prieto were among the puros

who held cabinet posts during these five years.29 Despite

their participation little was accomplished. Several fac-

tors contributed to this failure. Had the projects and plans

been mature, which they were not, the deepening economic

crisis and the concomitant fiscal crisis did not provide a

setting conducive to major reforms. Also such a program

required that the liberals and puros at least dominate, if

not control, the government. They never acquired such a

position in either the Herrera or the Arista governments.

Thus they were forced to wait and to mature their thinking

until 1855 and the triumph of the Ayutla revolution before

they would have the conditions necessary for putting into

effect their schemes for regeneration.

Progress was central to the liberal idea of regen-

eration, particularly economic progress. While liberals

might disagree on many points, they all recognized the need

for a prosperous and modern economy. While a few, notably

those lead by Melchor Ocampo, may still have adhered to the

dream of an agrarian democracy as expressed for the previous

generation of liberals by Miguel Ramos Arizpe30 and Jose

Maria Luis Mora,31 most saw progress in terms of imitating

the developments which they witnessed in the industrializing

countries. D. A. Brading's recent assessment that in

political terms the liberals felt "progress was synonymous
with imitation . [and used] the United States for their
model,"32 is equally valid in the economic arena.

While nineteenth-century Mexican liberalism has tra-

ditionally been seen as preoccupied with essentially polit-

ical questions--individual liberties, federalism, consti-

tutional democracy, and separation of church and state;

liberal statements during the decade of the 1850's show an

equal if not greater concern for economic questions. El

siglo XIX and El monitor republican devoted a significant

amount of editorial space to economic affairs and on March

1, 1854, El heraldo, carrying the subtitle peri6dico

industrial, agricola, mercantil, de literature y artes, was

established as a liberal voice in Mexico City.33 The latter

newspaper, under the editorship of Jos6 A. Godoy, devoted its

editorials, many written by leading liberals and puros,

almost exclusively to economic questions.

Prior to accepting a position in the Santa Anna govern-

ment in April 1853, Miguel Lerdo informed the president-

designate of his ideas for solving Mexico's problems. If,

as certain facts suggest, Lerdo's subsequent participation

in the Santa Anna government was done with the approval of

the liberal leadership, this expression of views, in which

Lerdo implicitly stated the conditions under which he would

cooperate with Santa Anna, probably represented a consensus

of liberal and puro opinion. While there is no positive

evidence to substantiate this supposition, subsequent devel-

opments lend credibility to it. After the fall of Santa

Anna the liberal press, including El heraldo and El siglo

XIX, defended Lerdo for having served the dictatorship and

reprinted Lerdo's letter to Santa Anna. Futhermore, Lerdo

held key positions in all the liberal governments between

1855 and his death in 1861. Perhaps most significantly,

during the bitter 1861 presidential campaign when many of

the puro leaders opposed Lerdo's candidacy and Ocampo pub-

licly charged him with being a traitor to the cause of reform

no mention was made of Lerdo's having cooperated with Santa


Lerdo informed Santa Anna that the recent revolution

bringing the latter to power resulted from the same factors

which had made Mexico's thirty-odd years of independence a

continuing series of upheavals. The first factor, and the

one emphasized by Lerdo, was economic: "The profound

malaise which reigns in our society as a consequence of the

errors and vices which plague its economic organization . .

(The other factors involved social anarchy and administra-

tive incompetence). Such an economy, by suppressing com-

merce and the enterprising spirit and "obstructing . the

free development of industry," creates a situation in which

the working class [hombres dedicados al trabajol, lacking

gainful employment, "seek in political revolts that which

they cannot gain by other means."

Lerdo warned Santa Anna against accepting the advice

of the elite and political active population as a valid

expression of public opinion. Such advice represented only

interests, frequently conflicting, of no more than a few
thousand wealthy or upper class classess elevadas) Mexicans.

"The true public opinion . which is nothing other than

the expression of the needs of the great majority of the

people, cannot be known without studying what are these

needs . Land, since unfortunately in Mexico the major-

ity of the inhabitants neither comprehend nor know how to

explain the evils [los males that mar their happiness, it

falls to an enlightened and just government to ascertain

what they are in order to apply the appropriate remedies."

Having thus defined in rather sweeping terms his view

of Mexico's primary problems and his concept of the role of

government, Lerdo proceeded to elaborate a program of action

for "an enlightened and just government" under Santa Anna.

The primary requisite was an understanding .that "its mission

in society . is to promote by all the means at its dis-

posal the general welfare of the nation" without ever sub-

ordinating itself "to the petty interests which surround

it." With this mission firmly in mind the government should

undertake, Lerdo asserted, a sweeping reform program in
matters mainly social and economic.

Some of the recommendations made by Lerdo would have

appealed to any Mexican regardless of political affiliation--

for example, expanded colonization and improvements in trans-

portation; while others, such as free trade and secular pub-

lic education, had a decidedly more partisan appeal. Lerdo's

socio-economic recommendations involved a positive role for

government in stimulating immigration, removing restrictions
from foreign trade, stimulating industrialization, abolishing

monopolies, improving transportation and communication facil-

ities, freeing domestic commerce from restraints, estab-

lishing nationwide security for lives and property, and pro-

moting public education free of clerical influence. These

items, as amplified by Lerdo and others, formed the nucleus

of most liberal thought and action in the social and economic

areas for the next decade.

The Lerdo program of economic development struck a

responsive chord with Santa Anna and his supporters; Lucas

AlamAn, conservative in political and social matters, recog-

nized the need for economic innovation. Among the first

acts of the new administration was the creation of a ministry

of fomento (development) with responsibilities closely par-

alleling Lerdo's recommendations. Miguel Lerdo was appointed

to the number two position in the new ministry where he

quickly became the principal architect of various schemes to

realize his proposals for progress. In view of this and

of the importance of Miguel Lerdo and his ideas in the

liberal Reforma, his recommendations to Santa Anna warrant

detailed analysis.

The need to stimulate immigration was probably the

most widely accepted of Lerdo's recommendations. Even the

most stanch conservatives, the monarchists, recognized this

need, although they would disagree with liberals on the type

immigrant desired and on his proper role in Mexico. Accord-

ing to Lerdo, European immigrants could serve a dual func-

tion: their skills were essential for tapping the great

resources of Mexico's vast territory, and by scattering the

immigrants among the Mexican people "the education and

customs" of the latter could be improved. He subscribed to

the popular view that Mexico's lack of industriousness and low

level of technological competence could be overcome only

by the introduction of foreign colonists.38 The two liberal

newspapers El siglo XIX and El monitor republican were

particularly active between 1848 and 1853 in promoting col-

onization as a means of stimulating industriousness and a

spirit of association within the Mexican population.

Throughout the early decades of independence the need

for immigration had been rationalized on various grounds.

Lorenzo de Zavala had seen American and north European

immigration as essential for the growth of democratic polit-

ical institutions.39 Most liberals were convinced that it

was essential for economic progress and national security.

Vacant or sparsely inhabited lands not only represented

unexploited resources, a condition synonymous with criminal

neglect in the liberal lexicon, but such lands were also

an open invitation to colonizing efforts of foreign powers

and private filibustering interests. Conservatives as well

as liberals were convinced by mid-century that Mexico's

political survival was dependent upon filling up these lands.

But they differed on the type immigrant desired and on the

social, intellectual, and religious benefits which immigra-

tion would bring.

Emphasis on foreign immigration as essential to the

future of Mexico reflected the liberal rejection of both the
Spanish and Amerindian heritage.40 It carried an implied

admission that without the infusion of north European blood

the Indian, Spanish, and mestizo population of Mexico was

incapable of acquiring the technological skills, social

habits, and philosophical outlook essential for a prosper-

ous modern economy. Among the leading liberal thinkers of

the first half of the nineteenth century only Mora seemed

to have had doubts about this proposition. He finally

rejected it; not necessarily because of the racist theories

involved, but because he feared that northern European col-

onists would have more affinity for the United States than

for Mexico and would facilitate American expansion at

Mexican expense.41

By the mid-1850's some of the liberals had began to

modify their public positions, if not their private beliefs,

about colonization. On March 15, 1854, El heraldo carried a

long editorial praising the colonization law recently enacted

by the Santa Anna government. While recognizing that immi-

grants were of prime importance for the prosperity of Mexico,

the editorialist explicitly denied that this involved any

racial implication. A major impediment to economic pros-

perity was the scarcity of labor in Mexico, particularly
skilled labor.42 This scarcity could be overcome by either

of two methods--by natural population growth and education

or by bringing in skilled adult immigrants. The editorialist
emphasized the cost and delay involved in the former method

as compared to the speed and economy of the latter. He also

sought to give colonization a humanitarian basis by stating

that it reflected a noble Mexican desire to share its boun-

tiful gifts from Providence with people from less fortunate


While there was thus some retreat from the racism

implicit in earlier liberal thought on immigration, there

was little evidence of mid-century support for Mora's fear

of non-Catholic north European immigration. The rise of

anti-foreignism in the United States during the decades of

the 1840's and 50's, particularly the Know-Nothing movement

of the 1850's, was seen by the liberals as a golden oppor-

tunity to divert European immigrants from the United States

to Mexico.4 With this in mind, the liberals sent agents to

Europe in 1856 to tap the stream at its source and others to

the United States to encourage recent arrivals to move on
the Mexico.

A close competitor with colonization for popular

support in mid-19th century Mexico was the need for improved

transportation and communication facilities, particularly

railroads. During the decades since independence, Mexico's

lack of an adequate transportation network had been advanced

frequently as the key factor in the continuing stagnation

of her economy. Foreign visitors of the 1840's and 1850's

were loud in their comments on the poor state and frequent

non-existence of Mexico's roads.45

The absence of a good transportation system was seen

as having detrimental effects on all aspects of the Mexican

economy. High transportation costs made unprofitable the

export of most Mexican products other than precious metals.

Ineffective transportation not only added to the cost of

imported goods in interior cities but constituted an effec-

tive barrier to the development of a national market.

Without a national market, industry could not develop and

agriculture remained tied to restricted local markets. This

situation would not change so long as the country's dominant

form of transportation remained the pack mule. While a

wagon road connected Veracruz, Mexico City, Queritaro,

Guanajuato, and Guadalajara, even this route was passable

only by pack trains during the rainy season and often during

the dry season due to lack of maintenance.46

By mid-century, liberals were advocating the develop-

ment of transportation facilities as an economic panacea

for Mexico. Lerdo, seeing railroad construction as the

greatest stimulant to "the development of agriculture and

national industry," called for generous government conces-

sions to companies undertaking such projects.4 Francisco

Zarco, writing in El siglo XIX. claimed that much of the

wealth and prosperity of the United States was attributable

to its transportation facilities, particularly railroads,

and recommended a policy of concessions patterned on those
of the United States.8 Until adequate railroads could be

built, and then as a supplement to railroads, Zarco called for

a national system of wagon roads to meet "one of the most

imperious needs of the republic." The liberal organ, El

heraldo, not only endorsed the idea that direct economic

benefits would flow from railroads but saw their construc-

tion and operation as a magnet to draw highly skilled immi-

grants from Europe.50 Nor were the liberals limited to

talking about the need for better transportation: in Oaxaca

Governor Benito JuArez was involved in building new roads and

extending old ones,51 while in Michoacan Ocampo pursued a

similar program.52

Railroad construction was also an area in which the

liberals were able to see, and claim credit for, some prog-

ress during the Santa Anna dictatorship of the 1850's. With

Miguel Lerdo guiding developments from his position as

official mayor of fomento the government granted a number of

significant concessions during the period 1853-1855--signif-

icant more for their precedent-setting provisions than for

the meagre construction activity resulting from them. The

government gave concessions for railroads connecting Veracruz

with the Pacific Ocean via Mexico City,53 Mexico City with

Santa Anna de Tamaulipas (Tampico),54 Mexico City with

Puebla via the Real del Monte,55 the lower Rio Grande with.

Manzanillo,5 the Upper Rio Grande with Guaymas,5 and for

an urban tramway from Mexico City to Villa Guadalupe.58

Among the precedents established in these contracts were

provisions designed to encourage and facilitate the work of

the concessionaire such as exemptions from import and export
duties for the purchase of needed material and equipment,

free use of public lands, long term exclusive privilege,

exemption of railroad employees from military service, and

freedom to raise capital in domestic or foreign markets.

Certain interesting limitations were also imposed. The com-

pany and its foreign shareholders were to be considered

Mexican and subject to Mexican laws. Several contained the

provision that any attempt to claim foreign protection auto-

matically nullified the grant, limits were placed on the

amount of profit to be earned, and performance bonds were

required of the concessionaires.

Significantly for the future, these pioneer railroad

grants also outlined a beneficiary role for the government

as representive of the Mexican nation. The government would

receive preferential rates when using the lines--sometimes

free use, sometimes half fare. Several of the concessions

provided for the government to share in earnings. The

amount stipulated varied from fixed annual payments to a

percentage of profits (10-25%). Finally the concessions

provided that at the end of a prescribed period (50-99

years) the railroads with their equipment would become

national property.

Another noteworthy feature of some early railroad

grants served not only as a precedent but gave some indica-

tion of liberal involvement and influence in the letting

of concessions. Miguel Lerdo participated in drawing up

all the concessions. In three of them, those for lines
from Mexico City to Tampico, Puebla, and Villa Guadalupe,

one of the concessionaires, Manuel Payno, later asserted that

his friendship with Miguel Lerdo was a significant factor in

securing the contracts.59 As will be seen later, personal

and political ties between senior government officials and

those individuals soliciting contracts from the government

seemed to have been an accepted pattern.

The collapse of the Santa Anna regime and the estab-

lishment of a liberal government in 1855 only served further

to arouse public enthusiasm for railroads. Newspapers

launched a campaign praising the work of Miguel Lerdo and the

fomento ministry under Santa Anna almost immediately.60

Editorialists expressed their confidence that the new

enlightened liberal administration would rapidly give Mexico

the railroad system it so desperately needed and so justly

deserved. The first grant made by the new administration,

for a tramline from the Zocalo to Tacubaya, was made, in

part at least, to prove the bona fides of the Ayutla revolu-

tion--to prove that it had not been just another political

upheaval, "but rather that it represented the beginning of

an epoch of progress."6

The inauguration of the line from Mexico City to

Villa Guadalupe on July 4, 1857, evoked glowing tributes to

the transcendent powers of the railroad.62 Manuel Payno,

a liberal politician and one of the original entrepreneurs,

soared to rare oratorical heights in the dedication ceremony.

He noted that while some people claimed that efforts at
material progress did nothing for the moral condition of man,

it is a sad mistake to think in this manner. There
is no material improvement . which is not at
the same time a moral improvement. Easy, cheap,
and rapid communications naturally bring together
the great social families called nations. Inter-
course and frequent relations with other people
makes man more sage, more humane, and more tol-
erant. If vices and defects are transmitted by
this eternal law of assimilation, so are the vir-
tues, and above all work, which is the fountain
of honesty and morality for the families of the
middle65lass, . is developed on a prodigious

Payno made the existence of railroads the sine qua non

of progress and modernization. "If in the progress of

nations we observe their commerce, their wealth, and their

power increasing daily," Payno noted, "we must reflect that

it depends on nothing other that the greater or lesser advance

of their means of communication." When Payno attempted to

describe what railroads would mean to the future of Mexico

his imagination knew no bounds.

Let us think, and this is the moment to do it, what
our beautiful country will be [like when it has] ..
a communication route of railroads beginning in
Veracruz, passing through Mexico City, crossing the
states of MNxico, Queretaro, Guanajuato, San Luis,
and Jalisco, terminating in one of the Pacific ports.
. Mexico will be the prime: market place of the
world and the gold of California, the silks and
ivory of China, the products of India, and the thou-
sand manufactures of European industry will neces-
sarily travel by this route, the most secure and
most natural of those known between the Atlantic
and the Pacific. What value will all our lands and
cities have: Such a movement of passengers: Such
a powerful impulse to our mining and agriculture.
. The imagination is humbled and lost in con-
templation of the infinite benefits which this work
. will produce for the world and especially for
our country.

Despite the numerous concessions granted and the public

enthusiasm attending the completion of the first short

functioning line in Mexico, the liberals became increasingly

aware that greater exertions would be necessary if Mexico

hoped to reap these "infinite benefits" within the foresee-

able future. Miguel Lerdo called for the government to make

available large subsidies and free land in order to stimulate

"the greediness of the speculators for these great and costly

undertakings." No subsidy was too great if it resulted in

the construction of the necessary railroads. Lerdo, in his

plea, equated support of railroads, by both word and act,

with patriotism.6

This survey of liberals' thinking during the decade

of the 1850's suggests that railroad expansion had become a

universal passion among them, a passion that was elevated by

many to the status of an unquestioned part of the natural law

of progress. The characterization of the restored republic

(1867-1876) as a period in which "widespread faith in the

transforming powers of the railroad . crystallized in

the national ideology"65 applies equally well to the previous

decade. The liberals of the earlier decade were just as

firmly convinced that "a country without rails . was

uncivilized and out of step with the modern march, while a

country with rails was a land of progress, democracy, and

economic health."

While many liberals, including Miguel Lerdo, have

been termed free-trade advocates, no doctrinal unity existed

on this question, and views apparently changed over time.
Even Miguel Lerdo, who had the reputation as a doctrinaire

free-trade puro, often moderated his stand. While he

endorsed the theory of free trade and saw it as a guarantee

of international peace,66 he also saw the necessity for lim-

itations on it in Mexico. The interest of the consumers in

low tariffs must be moderated, Lerdo felt, by the revenue

needs of the treasury, which was heavily dependent on cus-

tomshouse receipts, and by the need to protect fledgling

industries.67 Guillermo Prieto and El herald shared with

Lerdo this pragmatic and realistic approach to tariff rates.

El heraldo linked low and moderate tariff rates with

the solution of the long-standing problem of smuggling.

While not alone in this,6 El heraldo was a persistent voice

in directing public attention to a connection between high

tariffs and prohibitions, on the one hand, and the flourish-

ing contraband trade, on the other. Smuggling, whether accom-

plished across the northern frontier, along deserted coasts,

or through the established ports, was a multiple evil. It

corrupted government officials, denied funds to the treasury,

and drove legitimate trade from the market. Thus, in addition

to the doctrinal and practical economic reasons for favoring

low tariffs, El heraldo advocated them as the surest cure

for ubiquitous clandestine commerce.6

Doctrinaire free trade was not without its advocates

in the liberal press. L. Pinal, not otherwise identified,

addressed a classical plea to El heraldo. Industries

unable to produce as cheaply as foreigners deserved no pro-
tection, and the welfare of consumers should be the only

criterion in determining tariff policy.7 Zarco's editorials

in El siglo XIX71 and the statements by Ignacio Ramirez and

Jos4 Mata in the constitutional congress72 suggest a similar

free trade position. But despite their many differences,

most liberals, both doctrinaire and pragmatist, agreed that

system of prohibitions and prohibitively high duties had to

be replaced with lower and more reasonable rates.

Liberals also differed in theory and practice on the

removal of restrictions from internal trade. Lerdo recom-

mended the abolition of the two greatest restraints, monop-

olies and alcabalas (special sales taxes).7 Both these

practices were deeply ingrained in Mexico's colonial her-

itage and, although their detrimental effect on domestic

commerce were widely proclaimed, their abolition was no

easy task. Tradition, individual self-interest, and the

need for government revenues had combined to defeat all

previous effort to abolish these fiscally fecund systems.

Thus by mid-century, while most liberals would support the

abolition of monopolies and alcabalas as a matter of the-

ory, they were also aware of the difficulties involved and

of the dangers to public revenues.

The other recommendations made by Miguel Lerdo

reflected the general attachment of liberals to progress.

Their writings were filled with exhortations on progress.

To some of them progress appeared as a scientific law.

Prieto held that "political economy . has enclosed in
its hands the great truths that make for the happiness of

mankind; it . brings in its throbbing lips the kiss of the

fraternity of man; . it makes of free trade an evangelist

of that universal harmony in which grows the peace of the

Universe; it converts credit into the fountain of living

waters for the regeneration of humanity .. 74 To Prieto,

and occasionally Zarco, progress appeared as an inevitable

product of a mechanistic universe, but a product whose real-

ization could be hurried by intelligent adjustment of the

parts of the mechanism.

There can be no doubt that science and technology

fascinated mid-century liberals. Newspaper coverage indi-

cates that most editors were constantly concerned with the

task of disseminating scientific knowledge.and technological

advances. Material improvement committees (Juntas de

mejoras materials) actively worked toward this goal; fairs

were held as a means of popularizing new advances; special

concessions were offered to those who would introduce new

and more effective machines and techniques of production.

Several of the leading liberals seem to have had a personal

fascination with the latest marvels of the machine age.

Comonfort, Ocampo, and Mata all secured sewing machines

while in the United States during the early 1850's, and the

latter two men carried on a lively correspondence for months

about the mechanics of operating these machines and on their

future role in the Mexican home.75 Mata's trips abroad were

normally marked by his sending home to Ocampo, his father-
in-law, and others, examples of new products and literature
on new technology.6

Laissez faire has been deemed a cornerstone of mid-

nineteenth century liberal economic thought,77 yet the points

already covered suggest that most liberals would not be

inflexible on this question. While Prieto, Ignacio Ramirez,

Lerdo, and Zarco could assume the most adamant stands against

government interference in the economy,78 they could also

recognize in specific situations the need for positive gov-

ernment action. Lerdo, for example, decided by 1857 that

the laissez-faire approach would never result in adequate

railroad construction in Mexico. He called for subsidies

in the form of public land and revenues to stimulate con-

struction and for the government to build and operate a

short line at its own expense as a means of encouraging

private activity.79 Zarco as early as 1851 had suggested

that some form of subsidy might be necessary.80 It has been

already noted that during the Santa Anna regime the fomento

ministry under the guiding hand of Miguel Lerdo created

precedent establishing relations between the government and

railroad companies. By allowing the government to share

in profits, to supervise and inspect planning and construc-

tion, to set maximum profits, and to become eventually the

owners of the lines,these arrangements were hardly consonant

with laissez faire. While some of these precedents were

modified or abandoned under Reforma governments, the idea

that government should and must take an active role in stim-
ulating and guiding development in various economic areas
was never abandoned.

Thus, both in matters of free trade and government

intervention in the economic realm, one is tempted to apply

to the leading liberal thinkers both the doctrinaire and prag-

matic labels.81 Most of them had read their European econ-

omists with care and subscribed to their theories, even for

Mexico. At the same time most were aware that these theories

could not be applied to Mexico within the near future. In
its initial issue El herald clearly set forth this posi-

tion. While praising methods that had achieved success else-

where it cautioned against their uncritical application to

Mexico. While encouraging its readers to keep abreast of

developments elsewhere, particularly in England and the

United States, El heraldo felt that the necessary advances

in "industry, agriculture, and commerce" could only be accom-

plished by the cooperative efforts of an enlightened and

active government and open-minded and practical private

efforts. Implicit in the presentation of El heraldo, and

in the thinking of many liberals, was the belief that while

classical ideas of free trade, laissez faire, etc. might not

be applicable in Mexico at the present or within the immed-

iate future, such a situation would not continue forever.

Mexico must find her own path to development but once that

status had been achieved doctrinaire economic theory would

be applicable.

Although the liberal press, particularly El heraldo

and El siglo XIX, warned against blind imitation of foreign
models, the press itself was unable to resist the temptation.

In preaching the essential task of development it was hardly

surprising that the editors should enlighten their readers

with examples drawn from the already developed countries.

Hardly an issue of the liberal papers during the mid-century

period can be found which does not have some reference to

foreign economic advances, those in England, Belgium, and

the United States being the most frequently mentioned.

While much of this content was intended to keep the public

informed on the latest scientific and technological advances,

it also served to place these countries before the public

eye as models.

While the Mexican press appreciated the advanced

stage of industrialization in England at mid-century, the

United States was most often cast in the role of a model.

The great disparity between conditions in Mexico and England

appear to have been fully appreciated. Advances in manu-

facturing, railroad construction, etc., in England were

described in terms of obvious admiration but frequently with-

out any sense that these were feasible models for Mexico.

Yet, very similar advances in the United States would often

be presented in terms suggesting that these were somehow

more plausible models for Mexico.

Probably the greatest impact of the United States as

an economic model lay not in any specific development but

rather resulted from the impressiveness of its total achieve-

ment compared to that of Mexico. The contrast between the

dynamic, aggressive, prosperous economy of the United States

and the stagnant, decaying economy of Mexico stood out in

sharp relief to the development-oriented liberals. Many of

them had visited New Orleans where they had seen at first

hand the workings of a more advanced economy. Also the

rapid economic growth of Texas since its annexation by the

United States was frequently commented on by the liberal


In specific terms, the transportation facilities of

the United States were the element most frequently held up

as an appropriate guide for Mexico. As early as 1850 Zarco

cited the United States as his model in attacking toll roads

and bridges. The following year Zarco again referred to

events in the United States to support his claim that lib-

eral government concessions for railroad construction were

essential for developing an adequate railroad system in
Mexico. As an example of inconsistency or ambivalence in

liberal attitudes, it might be noted that during this same

period Zarco opposed an extradition treaty with the United

States because, he feared Mexico's security and honor would

be compromised.85 Despite the inappropriateness of canal

transportation to Mexico's mountainous and semi-arid ter-

rain, frequent newspaper coverage was devoted to the eco-

nomies of canal transport in the United States and to its

possible application in Mexico.

Inseparable from the liberal admiration of the eco-

nomic institutions of the United States was the prospect of
an American protectorate over Mexico. As has already been

noted sentiment in favor of a foreign protector surfaced as

a part of a post-defeat disillusionment. While liberals

ceased to express pro-protectorate views publicly by the

early 1850's the reappearance of such expressions during the

first days of the Reforma indicates that the idea had not

faded from their minds. Reading of liberal literature and

an analysis of Mexico's history during the period suggest

that most liberals did not favor a protectorate arrangement

per se. Only when progressive reform seemed impossible

without a protectorate or when the danger of a European pro-

tectorate in favor of the conservatives appeared imminent

did the liberals openly advocate the establishment of a

United States protectorate.6

In characterizing liberal thought on the eve of the

Reform one can say that liberalism was dominated by a new

generation whose outlook was in many respects more akin to

that of later Mexican positivism than to the liberalism of

the earlier generation. Stressing the importance of economic

development and often giving it priority over political

goals was a hallmark of the new liberalism. Infatuated with

and extremely optimistic about man's ability to use science

and technology to remake his social and economic insti-

tutions, liberals such as Guillermo Prieto verged on ele-

vating progress through science to the level of a mystical

That this emphasis on economic development threatened
to overshadow efforts to achieve liberal political goals

alarmed at least one leading liberal. Shortly after the col-

lapse of the Santa Anna government in August 1855, Francisco

Zarco warned the readers of El siglo XIX against losing sight

of the political goals of the revolution. Without belittling

economic development and material progress Zarco sought to

show that, in fact, these were unattainable without a stable

and orderly political system. Even if one could realize all

the desired development goals, Zarco argued, the results

would be meaningless without the personal security, liberty,

individual guarantees, and national confidence that could be

produced only by constitutional democratic government.87

The optimistic young liberals had compiled by 1855

an impressive list of material improvements to be pushed at

the earliest opportunity, including roads, railroads, tel-

egraph, river navigation, and port improvement. They had

also determined to rid Mexico of chronic ills which they felt

had blighted her economic growth--prohibition, protectionism,

alcabalas, monopolies, smuggling, and the scarcity of cap-

ital and technology. On a more positive side they were com-

mitted to create a modern prosperous Mexico and to alter

the quality of life through public secular education and a

liberal immigration policy. Most of them also saw a need

for government participation in the realization of these

Foreigners, particularly Americans, were admired and

envied for their successes in the economic realm. Admira-
tion for the United States, the use of her social and

economic institutions as models for Mexican development, and

a realization that a United States protectorate over Mexico

might be necessary and desirable under certain conditions

often went hand-in-hand with fear of American power and expan-

sive policies. A feeling of continental brotherhood was mod-

erated by fear of the treatment Mexico might receive at the

hands of an overly powerful brother.

Liberal Mexican concern with the United States was

not reciprocated north of the border. In the United States

during the years following the war no comparable public

interest in Mexico, her developments, or relations with her

existed. In contrast to the situation in Mexico, where

hardly an issue of the leading newspapers lacked some ref-

erence to events and developments in the United States,

coverage of Mexican affairs in the American press was infre-

quent and most notable for the ignorance displayed of the

true nature of Mexican developments. Mexican coverage most

frequently consisted of conflicting reports on political


The passing of Mexico from public prominence and the

cooling of the annexationistic ardor of the "All Mexico"

movement during the years following the termination of the

war did not mean that the objectives identified so force-

fully during this period ceased to have currency.90

Manifest Destiny, reinforced by the vigor and idealism of a

growing "Young America" sentiment, had allowed the"All
Mexicd movement to place the need for American ascendancy

over Mexico on grounds that appealed simultaneously to

national pride, purse, cupidity, and conscious. The annexa-

tion of Mexico was dictated by the need:

To remove a hostile neighbor in itself; to prevent
it becoming a neighbor both hostile and dangerous
in European hands; to enable us to command the
Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico; . to develop
for the benefit of ourselves and the world the
ample resources of Mexico; to redeem the Mexican
people from anarchy, tyranny, debasement; to redeem
security, civilization, improvement; to keep Cuba
from the hands of our cunning, indefatigable,
unscrupulous rivals, the British; to facilitate
the entire removal of those rivals from this con-
tinent; to open Mexico, as an extensive market to
our manufactures, an extensive producer of that
material [silver] through which we command the
manufactures of Europe; to prevent monarchy from
gaining any additional ground on the American
continent, North an South, and thus to facilitate
its entire removal. 1

While these clearly defined, if somewhat optimistic,

goals were formulated as rationale for annexation, some of

them might be attainable without annexation. During the war

when slavery and sectionalism had aroused spirited opposi-

tion to annexation, both President Polk and Secretary of

State Buchanan advanced means short of annexation for attain-

ing American ends. Polk suggested an indefinite military

occupation,92 while Buchanan spoke of an ill-defined pro-

tection to assist Mexicans in establishing, "upon a permanent

basis, a Republican Government."93

During the following decade policies of both annexa-

tion and indirect controls were suggested as appropriate to

be pursued toward Mexico. The former as a political objec-

tive survived in limited and restricted forms. Although
the national movement to annex all Mexico collapsed quickly

when the peace terms made by Trist became public in 1848;

the ghost of the idea still walked the land during the follow-

ing decade.94 Extreme devotees of expansion still called for

adherence to our "Manifest Destiny." In 1850 DeBow's

Commercial Review could still foresee a universal empire

ruled from Washington.95

Within both extremes of opinion on the slavery ques-

tion were to be found advocates of expansion at the expense

of Mexico. Some abolitionists, convinced that slavery could

never flourish in Mexico, saw the annexation of Mexico as a

step toward final solution of the sectional problem. Some

pro-slavery groups were equally sure that the survival of

their institution required southward expansion into Cuba,

Mexico, and Central America.

The Democratic administrations of Pierce and Buchanan

with which Reforma Mexico had to deal were inclined to pursue

a policy of territorial expansion relative to Mexico. Such

a policy was in accord with party traditions, Polk had estab-

lished an example to be emulated, and hopefully such a policy

would divert public attention from the growing sectional

rift while holding the party together. Pierce, responding

to the vigor of the "Young America" movement, promised in

his inaugural message to pursue a policy unhampered "by any

timid forebodings of evil from expansion.96 Territory

acquired by Gadsden in the treaty of 1853, while not as

extensive as Pierce desired, was ample evidence of his lack

of "timid forebodings." Buchanan's inaugural address

promised a new wave of expansion, either "by fair purchase or,

as in the case of Texas, by the voluntary determination of a

S. people to blend their destinies with our own."97 An

embarrassingly full treasury at the beginning of his term and

his strenuous efforts for four years proved inadequate to

secure Mexican territory by either method.

Despite the partisan political calls on Manifest Des-

tiny, most of which focused attention on Cuba and the Carib-

bean area rather than on Mexico after 1850,9 there were

significant manifestations of public interest in Mexico based

largely on economic considerations. Following the acquisi-

tion of territories facing on the Pacific Ocean, and parti-

cularly after the discovery of gold in California, the matter

of transcontinental communications became an item of national

public interest which frequently involved Mexico. Both the

northern and southern extremes of the remaining Mexican ter-

ritory came to be seen as vital to the transportation needs

of the United States. A dubious survey indicating that the

best route for a railroad from New Orleans to California

lay through the Mexican territory south of the Gila River

culminated in the Gadsden Treaty of 1853, Pierce's one suc-

cessful essay in expansion.99 Greater public interest,

with less positive results, was displayed in securing Amer-

ican access to and control of the transit route across the

isthmus of Tehuantepec.

The importance of the Tehuantepec route rested not

only on its shortness, relative to routes through United

States territory, and its presumed greater feasibility as a

means of communication between the west and east coasts of

the United States; but also on the assumption that such a

route would facilitate American access to the markets of East

Asia. The possibility of a transcontinental railroad within

the United States and its advantages for trade with China

had been discussed for years, but as a result of knowledge

gained of the western terrain during the Mexican War serious

doubts arose as to the feasibility of such a route and the
cost and time required if it should prove feasible. In

view of these doubts, the shorter, cheaper, and more quickly

exploitable Tehuantepec route acquired tremendous appeal.

The hope, particularly in the South, that a transit

across Tehuantepec would produce immediate advantages for

American trade in East Asia was of great importance in

spurring efforts to secure this route. For the Southern

commercial conventions held during the decade of the 1850's

"commercial expansion was necessary for the South."102

Several of these conventions endorsed the idea of a railroad

across Tehuantepec as a part of their drive for direct trade

and commercial development. Because of its proximity to

Gulf ports, the Tehuantepec route was favored by Southerners

over all others. New Orleans interests, speaking through

DeBow's Commercial Review, envisioned a Tehuantepec railroad

as an essential element in a broad program to gain for their

port a leading position in world trade.

The Southern drive for commercial expansion, while

clearly a facet of the broader domestic sectional struggle,

involved certain basic economic objectives. First, in order

of importance, was a desire to escape the commercial, finan-

cial, and economic domination by the North. Southern news-

papers played on the theme that the South had been reduced to

a backward colony of Northern economic interests. In addi-

tion to freeing itself from Northern controls, the South

hoped to find foreign markets that it could dominate. The

Montgomery Convention in 1858 called for Southern commercial

expansion into Latin America on the grounds that "the less

exploited the field, the greater would be the South's chance

of controlling the commercial destiny of that field."103

James Gadsden, a Southern railroad promoter, constantly

called for measures to reduce the Gulf of Mexico to an American

lake. United States control of Florida combined with the

acquisition of Cuba and the Yucatan would make the British

position in the West Indies untenable and open the area to
commercial exploitation from Southern Gulf ports.04

Desire for an enhanced economic role for the United

States in Mexico was not limited to the South. A proposal

in 1858 for Congress to subsidize a regular steamer service

between Mobile, New Orleans, and the Mexican Gulf ports

elicited nonsectional support for an expansion of American

economic influence in the area. Declining American trade

with Mexico and a corresponding increase in the dominant

position of the British in this trade were seen as both
unnatural and undesirable by congressional spokesmen from

all areas. Senator Toombs of Georgia and Senator Wilson of

Massachusetts agreed that "our India is south of us on this

continent."105 Senator Benjamin of Louisiana supported the

proposed mail steamer service as a step designed to create

for the United States "a pre-eminent moral power, a commer-

cial power, [and] a power over public opinion" in Mexico; a

power the United States must have if it wished to control

the political future of Mexico.106 The following session of

congress saw the house post office committee call for a net-

work of mail steamers to all Latin American areas. Such a

network "with the proper encouragement from the government,

would make our people actually, as naturally, almost their

[Latin America's] sole furnishers, carriers, traders and

bankers."107 Expanded American economic activity in Mexico,

as well as elsewhere in Latin America, was not only seen as

a natural development but also one that would facilitate

the spread of American political influence and ideology and

bring about a corresponding weakening of European, partic-

ularly British, influences.

During the decade of the Reforma an increasing number

of Americans went to Mexico and involved themselves in

Mexican developments. Some came with no discernible impulse

other than a romantic wanderlust; others as entrepreneurs,

speculators, and financiers attracted by the prospects of

profit.108 Some looked for a better life equipped with only

their skills and energy, and occasionally there appeared

Americans with skills and/or capital who saw in their drives

for profits an opportunity to accomplish greater objectives--

to assist in regenerating the Mexican life and in bringing

Mexico into a new and mutually beneficial relationship with

the United States. Lastly it must be noted that this decade

saw an unprecedented number of American filibusterers drawn

to Mexico; some answering a vaguely understood call of

Manifest Destiny, some motivated apparently only by their

desires for glory and profit, others representing that float-

ing population of frontier America who were always ready for

excitement and adventure.

From this survey of conditions at mid-century it

becomes clear that attitudes existed in both countries which

would give a unique character to relations between Mexico and

the United States during the decade of the Reforma. In

Mexico a new generation of liberal leaders emerged deter-

mined to remake the face of Mexico. They were attracted to

the United States by various factors--feelings of hemi-

spheric brotherhood, admiration for American political,

social, and economic institutions, attractiveness of

American prosperity and technological advances, and a feel-

ing that the brotherly shadow of the United States would pro-

tect their reforms from foreign and domestic enemies. Their

attraction was moderated by an awe of American power and a

fear of her expansive policies. In the United States this

period saw the continuation in moderated form of many of the

expansionistic ideas that earlier had given life to Manifest

Destiny and had spawned the"All Mexicd'movement. There was

an upsurge of interest in the transcontinental transportation

possibilities in Mexico and an awakening interest in the com-

mercial and economic potential of Mexico. The problem of

how to exploit for the benefit of the United States the polit-

ical and economic potential of Mexico without annexation had

also received increasing attention.


1 The passing of an older generation of liberal
leaders is noted by Charles A. Hale, "The War with the
United States and the Crisis in Mexican Thought," The
Americas, 14(1957), 161.

2 Benito Juarez, Melchor Ocampo, Jose M. Mata,
Ponciano Arriaga, and Miguel Arrioja were among the members
of a revolutionary junta which functioned in New Orleans dur-
ing 1854-55.

3 Charles A. Hale, Mexican Liberalism in the Age of
Mora, 1821-1853 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968);
Jesds Reyes Heroles, El liberalism mexicano, 3 vols. (Mexico
City: Universidad Nacional Aut6noma de M6xico, Facultad de
Derecho, 1957-61); D. A. Brading, "Creole Nationalism and
Mexican Liberalism," Journal of Interamerican Studies and
World Affairs, 15(1973), 139-190.

4 Brading, "Creole Nationalism," pp. 145-153.

5 Post empire developments are treated in the appro-
priate volumes of Daniel Coslo Villegas, ed., Historia
modern de M6xico, 8 vols. (Mexico City: Editorial Hermes,
6 Brading, "Creole Nationalism," pp. 144-150.

7 Rosaura HernAndez Rodrlguez, Ignacio Comonfort:
trayectoria political. Documentos (Mexico City: Universidad
Nacional Aut6noma de Mexico, Instituto de Investigaciones
Hist6ricas, 1967), pp. 65-66.

8 Hale, "War and Crisis," pp. 153-173, explores the
resulting crisis.

9 American as either a noun or adjective relating to
the United States is used with full realization that many
Mexicans and other Latin Americans view this as a misap-
propriation of a hemispheric label. Since English usage has
no adequate substitute for American, the term will be used
to avoid awkward circumlocutions. If this work were appear-
ing in Spanish the more appropriate estadounidense could be

10 James Fred Rippy, Joel R. Poinsett, Versatile
American (Durham: Duke University Press, 1935), pp. 121-128.

11 Nov. 21, 1846, cited in Reyes Heroles, Liberalismo,

12 Jos6 C. Valades, Don Melchor Ocampo, reformador de
Mexico (Mexico City: Editorial Patria, 1954), 176-184 and
Melchor Ocampo, Obras completes de Melchor Ocampo; vol. 2,
Escritos politicos, prologue Angel Pola (Mexico City: F.
Vazquez, 1901), 263-276.

13 Diccionario Porrua de hist6ria, biografia y
geografia de M6xico, 3rd ed. (Mexico City: Editorial Porrda,
1970), 1:1112.

14 Jose Fuentes Mares, Santa Anna. Aurora y ocaso de un
comediante, 3rd ed. (Mexico City: Editorial Jus, 1967), pp.

15 Luis G. Zorilla, Historia de las relaciones entire
Mexico los Estados Unidos de America, 1800-1958, 2 vols.
(Mexico City: Editorial Porria, 1966), 1:205 and 215;
Wilfred Hardy Callcott, Church and State in Mexico, 1822-1857
(Durham: Duke University Press, 1926; reprint ed., New York:
Octagon Press, 1965), p. 196; and Reyes Heroles, Liberalismo,

16. Hale, Age of Mora, pp. 207-214.

17 Dennis E. Berge, "A Mexican Dilemma: the Mexico
City Ayuntamiento and the Question of Loyalty, 1846-1848,"
Hispanic American Historical Review, 50(1970), 229-256, is
the most objective treatment of this question.

18 Alejandro Villaseior y Villasenor, Anton Lizardo.
El tratado de MacLane-Ocampo. El brindis del desierto (Mexico
City: Editorial Jus, 1962), pp. 171-297 and Zorilla, Mexico
y los Estados Unidos, 1:209.

19 Rafael Murillo Vidal. Jose Maria: padre de la
constituci6n de 1857 (Mexico City: Secretaria de Educaci6n
P~blica, 1966), pp. 3-5.
20 Zorilla, M~xico y los Estados Unidos, 1:239-251.

21 Reyes Heroles, Liberalismo, 2:388-391.

22 Brading, "Creole Nationalism," p. 143.

23 Hale, "War and Crisis," pp. 153-173.

24 (Mexico City: Valdes y Redondas, 1848).

25 Reyes Heroles, Liberalismo, 2:379-387.

26 Reyes Heroles, Liberalismo, 2:391 and Jorge Gurria
Lacroix, Las ideas monarquicas de don Lucas Alaman (Mexico
City: Instituto de Historia, 1951), passim.

27 Consideraciones, passim.

28 Reyes Heroles, Liberalismo, 2:388.

29 Reyes Heroles, Liberalismo, 2:389-390 and Diccionario
Porrua, 1:870-872.

30 Miguel Ramos Arizpe, Memoria sobre el estado de las
provincias internal de oriented (Mexico City: Universidad
Nacional Aut6noma de Mexico, 1932), p. 83.

31 Jose Maria Mora, M6 ico y sus revoluciones, 3 vols.
(Mexico City: Porrda, 1950), 1:45-47.

32 Brading, "Creole Nationalism," p. 150.

33 It seems hardly coincidental that the Plan of Ayutla
was issued on the same day.

34 Letter, Apr. 18, 1853, in El herald (Mexico City),
Sept. 9, 1855.

35 Diccionario Porrda, 1:1174, refers to Lerdo as the
liberal representative in Santa Anna's government.

36 There was some reference to reforms in the army,
clergy, and public administration.

37 "El Ministerio de Fomento," El heraldo (Mexico City),
Oct. 13, 1855, p. 2. For the evolution of Alaman's ideas on
economic development see Hale, Age of Mora, pp. 249-280.

38 For discussion of liberal dedication to colonization
see Hale, Age of Mora, passim and Brading, "Creole
Nationalism," passim.

39 Brading, "Creole Nationalism," p. 150.
40 A point made by both Hale, Age of Mora, pp. 246-247,
and Brading, "Creole Nationalism," p. 175.

41 Hale, Age of Mora, pp. 211-212.

42 While much of this scarcity of skilled labor was
doubtlessly the result of natural causes, it was aggravated
by the army recruitment policies under Santa Anna. Alphonse
Dano, the French charge, reported, Jan. 4, 1854, that as a
result of recruitment practices "workers flee to the moun-
tains, preferring the life of privation there over that of
submitting to the law of recruitment." Lilia Diaz, ed.,
Versi6n francesa de M6xico: informes diplomIticos, 4 vols.
(Mexico City: El Colegio de Mexico, 1963-67), 1:88-93.

43 The clearest statement of this hope was contained
in El heraldo (Mexico City), Mar., 31, 1856, p. 3.
44 El heraldo (Mexico City), June 25, 1856, p. 2.
Colonization efforts will be developed in greater detail later.

45 Waddy Thompson, Fanny Calder6n, Gabriel Ferry, and
Mathieu de Fossey are examples of these foreign commentators.

46 An excellent treatment of transportation facilities
and their effect on Mexico's economy is given in special con-
sular report, John T. Pickett, Mar. 22, 1854, NA/CD/VC.

47 Miguel Lerdo to Santa Anna, Apr. 18, 1853, in El
heraldo (Mexico City), Sept. 9, 1855.

48 Feb. 20, 1851.

49 El siglo XIX (Mexico City), Oct. 22, 1849.

50 Dec. 11, 1854.

51 Charles Allen Smart, Viva Juarez: a Biography
(Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1963), p. 93.

52 Ocampo, Obras, 2:65-68.

53 Manuel Dublin and Jose Lozano, Legislaci6n mexicana
o colecci6n complete de las disposiciones legislativas
expedidas desde la independencia de la Repvblica, edici6n
official, 45 vols. (Mexico City: Imprenta del Comercio de
Dublin y Chavez, 1876-1910), 7:79-80.

54 Dublan and Lozano, Legislaci6n, 7:469-471.

55 E1 heraldo (Mexico City), Jul. 24, 1855.
56 Dublin and Lozano, Legislaci6n, 7:336-341.

57 Dublin and Lozano, Legislaci6n, 7:245-256.

58 Ernesto de la Torre Villar, "La capital y sus pri-
meros medios de transport: prehistoria de los tranvias,"
Historia mexicana, 9(1959-60), 231.

59 Manuel Payno, Memoria sobre el ferrocarril de
Mixico S Veracruz (Mexico City: Imprenta de Nabor Chavez,
1868), pp. 26-27.

60 See El siglo XIX (Mexico City) and El heraldo
(Mexico City) for Aug.-Oct. 1855.

61 Ernesto de la Torre Villar, "El ferrocarril de
Tacubaya," Historia mexicana, 9(1959-60), 377-378. This
article and Torre Villar's previously cited article contain
an excellent analysis of the development of urban railroads
in the Mexico City area and ably reflect the extent to which
the liberals saw railroads as harbingers of approaching

62 This short line although serving for several years
as a local tramway was initially designed to be and even-
tually became a part of the line connecting the capital with

63 El siglo XIX (Mexico City), July 7, 1857.

64 Letter, Sept. 30, 1857 to El heraldo (Mexico City),
Oct. 6, 1857.

65 Frank A. Knapp, "Precursors of American Investment
in Mexican Railroads," Pacific Historical Review, 21(1952),

66 Miguel Lerdo de Tejada, El comercio esterior de
Mexico desde la conouista hasta hoy (Mexico City: Rafael,
1853), pp. 28-31.
67 Lerdo, El comercio. passim; Lerdo to Santa Anna,
Apr. 18, 1853 in El heraldo (Mexico City), Sept. 9, 1855;
and Lerdo to Juan Alvarez, Dec. 7, 1855, in El heraldo
(Mexico City), Dec. 28 and 29, 1855.

68 See numerous editorials in El siglo XIX (Mexico
City) on "contrabando."

69 See various editorials on smuggling, especially
that of Oct. 6, 1857.

70 Dec. 3, 1857.

71 Especially that of Oct. 28, 1855.

72 Francisco Zarco, Historia del congress extraordinario
constituyente [1856-18571 (Mexico City: El Colegio de Mexico,
1956), pp. 919-922.
73 Lerdo to Santa Anna, Apr. 18, 1853 in El heraldo
(Mexico City), Sept. 9, 1855.

74 Quoted in Jesus Silva Herzog, El pensamiento
econ6mica, social y political de Mexico, 1810-1964 (Mexico
City: Instituto de Investigaciones Econ6micas, 1967), p. 241.

75 Various references to sewing machines and washing
machines are found in Comonfort's accounting of his expend-
itures in the United States during the 1854 trip, CP, GC/UT.
There are several letters between Ocampo and Mata on sewing
machines in Ocampo Papers, AHINAH.

76 For example Mata sent Ocampo and JuArez samples of
interoceanic telegraph cable, Mata to Ocampo, Sept. 10,
1858, 8-4-107, AHINAH.

77 Walter V. Scholes, Mexican Politics During the
Juarez Regime, 1855-1872 (Columbia: University of Missouri
Press, 1957), PP. 1-2.

78 Silva Herzog, Pensamiento, pp. 234 and 245.

79 Letter in El heraldo (Mexico City), Oct. 6, 1857.
80 El siglo XIX (Mexico City), Feb. 20, 1851.

81 Used for semi-exclusive categories by Hale, Age of
Mora, p. 249.
82 Mar. 1, 1854.

83 El siglo XIX (Mexico City), Sept. 6, 1850.
84 El siglo XIX (Mexico City), Feb. 20, 1851.

85 El siglo XIX (Mexico City), June 4, 1850.
86 Protectorate schemes will be dealt with in detail
87 Oct. 28, 1855.

88 See Lerdo to Alvarez, Dec. 7, 1855, in El heraldo
(Mexico City), Dec. 28 and 29, 1855; and El siglo XIX
(Mexico City), Oct. 28, 1855.
89 The New York Times for the period 1851-1862 had
almost no non-political coverage and demonstrated the

superficiality of its knowledge by consistently endowing
Mexican politicians with military ranks--including generals
Valentin G6mez Farias and Benito Juarez. President Buchanan
displayed this same weakness in his repeated references to
"President General Juarez," James Buchanan, Mr. Buchanan's
Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion (New York:D.
Appleton and Company, 18667, pp. 244-245.

90 The "All Mexico" movement is the subject of John
Douglas Pitts Fuller, The Movement for the Acquisition of All
Mexico, 1846-1848 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1936),
and is best summarized in Frederick Merk, Manifest Destiny
and Mission in American History: A Reinterpretation (New
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1970), pp. 107-201.

91 Public Ledger (Philadelphia), Jan. 25, 1848, quoted
in Merk, Manifest Destiny, pp. 124-125.

92 James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages
and Papers of the Presidents, 1278-1897. 10 vols.
(Washington: Government Printing Office, 1896-99), 4:545-546.

93 Letter in Union (Washington), Dec. 24, 1847, quoted
in Merk, Manifest Destiny, pp. 119-120.

94 Merk, Manifest Destiny, p. 209.

95 Quoted in Richard W. Van Alstyne, The Rising
American Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960),
p. 152.

96 Richardson, Messages and Papers, 5:198.

97 Richardson, Messages and Papers, 5:435-436.

98 Merk, Manifest Destiny, pp. 202-227.

99 The most complete treatment of this treaty is Paul
Neff Garber, The Gadsden Treaty (Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 1923).

100 Diplomatic efforts to secure this route during the
period 1848-1860 are summarized in James Fred Rippy,
"Diplomacy of the United States and Mexico Regarding the
Isthmus of Tehuantepec, 1848-1860," Mississippi Valley
Historical Review, 6(1912-13), 503-531; and Edward B.
Glick, Straddling the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (Gainesville:
University of Florida Press, 1959).

101 Merk, Manifest Destiny, pp. 128-131.

102 William Watson Davis, "Ante-bellum Southern
Commercial Conventions," Transactions of the Alabama
Historical Society, 1904, 5(1906), 153-202.


103 Davis, "Commercial Conventions," p. 187.

104 See particularly Gadsden's comments on this topic
as reported by the French minister, Jean Alexis de Gabriac,
in Diaz, Versi6n francesa, 1:163-165.

105 Carlos Butterfield, United States and Mexican Mail
Steamship Line: Statistics on Mexico (New York: J. A. H.
Hasbrouck & Co., 1860), p. 86.

106 Butterfield, Steamship Line, pp. 87-89.

107 Butterfield, Steamship Line, pp. 44-45.

108 Based on surveys of spotty listings of foreigners
arriving at Mexican ports contained in "movimiento maritime,"
AGN; and of only slightly more complete listings of pass-
ports issued by the American consulates in Mexico City and
Veracruz, NA/CD/MC and VC.


Santa Anna, whose overthrow was the immediate objec-

tive of the revolutionary plan proclaimed at Ayutla on March

1, 1854, retained power until August 8, 1855, when, fearing

that his route to the sea might soon be closed off, he aban-

doned both Mexico City and the political power he had so

often held. Despite having the enemy yield the field with-

out a last decisive battle, the revolutionists dallied for

almost two months before organizing a government; Alvarez

was chosen interim president on October 4, 1855. Another

two months passed before the new government was firmly estab-

lished. Although some twenty-one months elapsed after the

beginning of the revolution before the liberals had a gov-

ernment capable of conducting normal diplomatic relations,

they were not as leisurely in developing external economic

ties. From the very beginning the Ayutla revolution, by

both action and ideology, attracted foreign economic atten-

tion. By the time the military task of ousting Santa Anna

had succeeded a pattern of economic policies, attitudes, and

relationships relative to the United States had emerged

which would underlie economic and political relations

between the two countries until 1861 when civil war in the

United States and foreign intervention in Mexico disrupted

all meaningful relations.

High tariffs, import prohibitions, and other restraints

on internal and external trade were issues which could be

exploited for political purposes in Mexico during the 1850's.

The desire for greater freedom of trade was a factor in the

unrest which resulted in Santa Anna being returned to power

in 1853. Several of the port cities, led by Veracruz, acted

on their own to reduce tariff levels and remove import restric-

tions.1 Juan Ceballos, interim president after the resigna-

tion of Mariano Arista, vainly sought to forestall Santa

Anna's recall by acceding to demands for greater freedom of

trade. On January 29, 1853, Ceballos decreed a provisional

measure lifting prohibitions and sharply reducing the average

level of tariffs.2

Santa Anna, ignoring the advise of Miguel Lerdo,3

reversed the trend toward freer trade. Not only did he

re-establish prohibitions and high tariff rates, but he also

took other steps destined to cause discontent in commercial

circles. In addition to making radical and unanticipated

changes in customs regulations, Santa Anna created havoc by

selling or giving permits to his favorites for the import of

merchandise and the export of specie at greatly reduced

rates. A navigation act of June 24, 1854, severely penal-

ized foreign vessels bringing to Mexican ports merchandise

produced in a third country.5 The French charge reported

that it took Santa Anna only a year to destroy completely

the commercial prosperity of Mexico's port cities. Santa

Anna's mismanagement produced such economic distress that

when news of Alvarez's pre-Ayutla uprising of January 21, 1854,

reached the capital, the French diplomat had no doubt that

this was a "true revolution" representing the interests of

the port cities and coastal regions. "The re-establishment

of the federal system is seen with indifference but the sit-

uation in commercial matters has become so intolerable that

they will not hesitate to take any measure offering relief."'

Since a foreign diplomat found economic discontent so

obviously a justifiable reason for revolt, the reluctance of

the revolutionists to identify it as such is difficult to

understand. The Plan de Avutla relegated economics to the

last article and then yoked it in a secondary position to a

provision on the future role of the army. After promising

that the army would not be destroyed, article 6 pledged the

interim government "to protect the freedom of internal and

external commerce, issuing as soon as possible tariff sched-

ules to be observed. In the meantime the maritime custom-

houses will be controlled by that Lschedulej published by

the Ceballos administration." This rather weak gesture

toward free trade was the only nonpolitical item in the plan

issued at Ayutla.

On March 11, 1854, the Ayutla plan was restated in

amended form by the Plan de Acapulco. The latter, issued

by Comonfort and reflecting the commercial interests of that

southern port, made two important nonpolitical contributions

to the earlier revolutionary statement--a stronger commit-

ment to free trade and a clear endorsement of "progress" as

a revolutionary objective. The provisions relative to com-

merce were expanded and separated from those dealing with the

army. Commerce was now defined as "one of the sources of

public wealth and one of the most powerful elements for the

advancement of civilized nations." The interim government

was committed "immediately to provide [for commerceJ all the

liberties and privileges which are necessary for its pros-

perity." To achieve "commercial prosperity" the government

was required to establish quickly an appropriate new tariff

schedule which could be no less liberal than the Ceballos

tariff. Until the new schedule could be established the

Ceballos tariff would be observed in both the maritime and

frontier customhouses. Later liberal concern with the eco-

mic development of the frontier area suggests that its inclu-

sion was not just a casual matter of form.

The power of the interim president was also amended

to give him more authority and to make him responsible for

national progress and prosperity. The Ayutla plan had

merely provided the interim president with "ample powers to

attend tendere] to national security and independence and

for the other branches of public administration." This

provision as amended by Acapulco provided that "the interim

president . will be immediately invested with ample

faculties to reform all branches of public administration,

to attend to the security and independence of the nation

and to promote whatever is conducive to its Lthe nation's]

prosperity, aggrandizement, and progress." Broad

presidential powers were expressly limited only by a require-

ment to respect the inviolability of individual guarantees.10

The hesitancy of Alvarez and his advisors to commit

themselves to a program of freer trade is even more difficult

to understand in view of the free trade decree issued by

Alvarez eight days before the appearance of the plan of

Ayutla. At Chilpancingo on February 22, 1854, Alvarez ordered

that goods imported through Acapulco or other ports in revolt

be assessed according to the provisions of the Ceballos

tariff. Goods not covered by the Ceballos tariff would pay

a duty of 122% of value. The decree was a war measure

designed to finance the uprisingas indicated by a provision

giving a 30% discount on duties to merchants who would pay

immediately for goods to be imported at some future date.1

Alvarez was apparently prepared to use lower tariffs as a

war measure to gain support in port areas but feared to

include a strong low tariff statement in a revolutionary

plan designed for a national audience. The influence of

Comonfort and the Acapulco commercial interests was appar-

ently sufficient to convert free trade from a reluctantly

publicized war measure into prized element of the revolu-

tionary arsenal.

The Ayutla revolutionists recognized what the French

charge had realized earlier, that economic and commercial

discontent under Santa Anna was a great reservoir of poten-

tial support which must be exploited to insure the success

of the revolt.12 Convinced that further economic

liberalization would be advantageous, Comonfort ordered, on

July 31, 1855, that the Alvarez decree of the previous year

be observed in the port of Manzanillo. He also prohibited

the collection of alcabalas and consumption taxes in the areas

under his command.1

When political ambitions left Mexico without a govern-

ment for weeks following the fall of Santa Anna, Comonfort

seized the initiative by issuing a decree of wide economic

impact. From his military headquarters at Guadalajara on

September 5, 1855, Comonfort, possibly with a eye on the con-

test for the presidential office, applied a modified version

of the Alvarez decree to the enlarged area now under his

command. He authorized an additional reduction of 12% in

the duties on all goods imported through Pacific ports. He

also halted the collection of alcabalas, consumer taxes,

and a group of bothersome taxes on windows, doors, luxury

items, etc. He abolished duties on the internal movement of

money and sharply reduced those on the export of money and

bullion. All goods other than precious metals could be

exported duty free.14 While many liberals, including the

editor of El heraldo, opposed as too drastic Comonfort's

actions which discriminated against Gulf ports and threa-tned

the solvency of the treasury, it is possible that the mea-

sures strengthened his position and contributed to his

replacing Alvarez as interim president on December 8, 1855.

As the ideological and military phases of the Ayutla

revolt developed, a number of leading liberals turned to the

United States for assistance and sometimes refuge. Military

leaders sought to obtain loans, arms, and recruits in the

United States while a sizeable group of liberal politicians

were exiled to the United States. The results of their

experiences would figure prominently in Mexican-United States

relations during the Reforma.

Shortly after the beginning of the Ayutla revolt the

military leadership determined that they needed loans and

supplies from abroad. Ignacio Comonfort, recently collector

of customs for Acapulco, was commissioned for the task. His

popularity with the merchants of Acapulco, foreign and native,

recommended him for the mission.15 With his credentials of

authority duly certified by the American consul at Acapulco,

Comonfort departed for San Francisco and New York in search

of $500,000 in loans.6 In addition to authority for bor-

rowing money, Comonfort was empowered to determine acceptable

terms of repayment, to purchase munitions and supplies, and

to hire eighty foreign artillerymen. More significant for

this study, Comonfort was directed to take the steps neces-

sary to encourage foreign ships to call at rebel ports and

to take other measures designed to increase the volume of

imports at them.

The steps which Comonfort was authorized to take to

guarantee loans were significant for the future economic wel-

fare of Mexico. Customs receipts could be pledged, mortgaged,

or sold. Mining grants and contracts to build roads, rail-

roads, and other communications facilities could also be used

to guarantee repayment of the loans. In effect, Comonfort

had carte blanche to dispose of the resources of the rebel

area in his search for immediate financial aid.l?

Comonfort's trip to the United States in 1854 pro-

duced a disappointing amount of financial assistance. He

secured only one significant loan and this for only $60,000.

He convinced one New York firm, Hitchcock and Company, to

ship arms valued at $20,400 to Acapulco after a down payment

of only $4,500, with the remainder payable on delivery.18

He also succeeded in getting at least one individual, Carlos

Butterfield, to ship military supplies to Acapulco on a

purely speculative basis.19

The $60,000 loan was expensive for Mexico in both the

short and long run. It was secured in New York on October 11

1854, from John Temple and his wealthy Spanish son-in-law,

Gregorio Ajuria, both of whom already had business interests

in Mexico.20 This loan may have resulted from contacts made

earlier in Mexico, since both Temple and Ajuria were in

Mexico City during the early months of 1854,21 as was

Edward L. Plumb, a young American mining enthusiast. Plumb

went to Acapulco in March 1854 and remained there several

months where he became acquainted with both Alvarez and

Comonfort.22 There is no evidence to indicate that Plumb

had any contact with Temple and Ajuria while in Mexico City

or that he conveyed any message from them to the Ayutla

leaders, but the coincidence of dates, movements, and subse-

quent loan are suggestive.

The loan was to be repaid in the amount of $250,000 if
the revolution succeeded.23 To guarantee this repayment

Comonfort pledged one half of the liquid proceeds of the
Acapulco customhouse.2 After Comonfort returned to Mexico

with the arms thus obtained, Alvarez ordered the administra-

tor of customs at Acapulco to begin making the payments

required in the contract.25 Temple's subsequent lease of

the Mexico City mint, which will be treated in detail later,

also appears to have been an outgrowth of this transaction.

While the directors of the military phase of the revo-

lution were establishing costly but beneficial contacts with

Americans, many of the future civilian leaders were exper-

iencing life as political refugees in New Orleans and Texas.

By early 1854 Santa Anna's policies had caused a colony of

Mexican liberal exiles, including JuArez, Ocampo, Mata,

Ponciano Arriaga, ex-president Ceballos, and Manuel Arrioja,

to appear in New Orleans. The exiles formed a "junta

revolucionaria" with Ocampo as president and Mata as secre-

tary. The junta, dedicated to the overthrow of Santa Anna,

undertook newspaper campaigns and such other activities as
their limited financial resources allowed.

After a few months Ocampo decided to transfer the

junta closer to scene of action. He and selected members

moved to Brownsville, Texas, where a revolutionary newspaper

was established. The revolutionists also tried to replenish

their financial resources by selling goods bought in New

Orleans.27 Letters from Mata to Ocampo suggest that some

of this commercial activity may have taken the form of smug-

gling goods into Mexico. Mata, who remained in New Orleans

to purchase goods for shipment to Brownsville, was concerned

with finding items suitable for the Mexican market. In

Brownsville Ocampo sought to make a liberal revolutionist

of Jose Maria Carvajal, a perennially disaffected Mexican

whose raids and smuggling had made him notorious along the

Rio Grande for more than a decade. Despite the junta's

efforts, no strong backing for a military uprising could be

found among Mexican exiles in south Texas or among the mili-

tary and political figures of the Mexican frontier regions.28

Meanwhile JuArez, Mata, and the others who remained

in New Orleans had experiences and contacts which were

significant for both their personal future and that of their

country. Although JuSrez was pressed for funds and, as

legend has it, may have been forced to accept menial tasks

to earn a livelihood, he seems to have had time to observe

and be impressed by the pulsating commercial life of the

river port. Mata's biographer indicates that JuArez found

the great volume of goods moving along the Mississippi

incredible and sought an explanation from Mata. Mata is

supposed to have explained that the high level of com-

mercial activity reflected the lack of restraints on domes-
tic and foreign trade.29 It is doubtful that Mata, JuArez,

or any of the other Mexican exiles fully understood the

commercial importance of the location of New Orleans in

the days prior to the railroad.

During their many months in New Orleans it was natural

for the exiles to form new acquaintances and to feel a

special bond with those who showed a sympathetic understand-

ing of the exiles' difficult situation. While one can only

speculate on the total impact of the relationships thus

established, some indications can be inferred from a limited

knowledge of Judrez contacts. Records only indicate that

Juarez found three foreigners, two Cubans and an American,

helpful and sympathetic to the liberal cause. The two Cuban

exiles, Pedro Santacilia and Domingo de Goicuria, owned a

livestock business which they used as a cover for dealings

in arms and munitions for Cuban insurgents.30 Both these

individuals were to have numerous and favored business

relations with later liberal governments in Mexico.31

Santacilia married JuArez's daughter and became a life-long

confidant of his father-in-law.32 The American, Emile La

Sere, edited The Louisiana Courier, a Democratic organ in

New Orleans. The friendship between La Sere and JuArez

developed quickly into a firm and lasting relationship.33

In addition to securing Mexican contracts for the Louisiana

Tehuantepec Comapny, La Sere later served Juarez as advisor

and fund raiser.3

While there were no formal relations between United

States and the Ayutla rebels until after the collapse of

Santa Anna in 1855, United States official actions and

policies during this period had an impact on Mexican devel-

opments. Relations between the United States and the Santa

Anna government were not cordial despite the apparent volun-

tary negotiation of a treaty for the transfer of territory.

The hostility toward the United States of Lucas Alaman and

the conservatives who had backed Santa Anna's return was

sufficiently strong to prevent any cordiality with the United

States even if such had been desired by Santa Anna.

Santa Anna needed little encouragement, however, to

express his disdain for the Yankees. Immediately upon his

return from exile, Santa Anna began issuing statements and

orders indicative of his attitude. Upon his arrival at

Veracruz he commented on the pain and humiliation he had

felt when he was forced to abandon the country while it was

occupied by the American army., If the United States should

again threaten the independence of Mexico, Santa Anna declared,

it would provide him with a welcome opportunity to wipe

this blot from the reocrd. He followed this provocative

statement with an order dismissing all army officers who

had voluntarily surrendered to the United States during the

war and subsequent occupation.j Among his first acts after

formally assuming the presidential sash of office was a

decree designed to stop the introduction of gold coinage

from California by directing that only Mexican money should

have legal status.35 His appointment of Juan N. Almonte

as minister to Washington was not designed to allay American

fears concerning his attitude. Almonte had held this same

position during the crisis leading up to the war with the

United States and, as such, had taken the position that the

annexation of Texas was an illegal act and an unjustifiable

aggression against Mexico.6

Contemporaneously with the formation of his government,

Santa Anna and his politically astute foreign minister, Lucas

Alaman, began making overtures to European powers for support

against the United States. On April 25, 1853, five days after

the formal establishment of the Santa Anna government in Mexico

City, Alaman requested French aid and protection so that Mexico

could develop into an effective counterweight to the expansive

power of the United States. Before it could fill such a role,

he stressed, Mexico would have to rebuild its institutions

and "regenerate" its society, but the United States would not

remain idle while this was being done. Only the benevolent

aid and protection of France could secure Mexico from Ameri-

can greed during this period.

Alaman argued that such a policy would be in the

interest of France and other European powers. If left

unchecked, he asserted, the United States would soon annex

everything north of Panama and close this region to European

political and economic influences. "The general [Santa

Anna] and I are convinced that if the emperor wishes he can

guarantee our independence and contribute to the development

of our power which can be converted into a counterweight to

the power of the United States. There would then be an

American equilibrium similar to that of Europe." Alaman was

confident Napoleon III could secure British and Spanish

cooperation in such a project.3

The French minister, Andre Levasseur, reacted favor-

ably and agreed to submit the proposal to Paris. Seeing an

opportunity for favorable action on French claims, he encour-

aged Alaman to believe that the French were interested in

his proposal. Without committing France to anything,

Levasseur indicated that his country had been thinking along

the same lines and would welcome Mexico's recovery as means

of blocking United States expansion. France, he assured

Alaman, was fully alive to the need for a balance of power

on the American continent.39

A few days later Santa Anna approached the Prussian

minister, Baron von Richthofen, in a similar vein. He indi-

cated a desire for European guarantees of Mexican indepen-

dence and asked that Prussia make available its officers to

train and discipline the Mexican army. Santa Anna assured

von Richthofen that France was leading the European maritime

powers in a policy to protect Mexico and that while a mil-

itary training contingent from them would arouse American

fears and hostilities such a mission from Prussia, which

had no navy, would arouse no fears and would be posi-

tively welcomed by France, Britain, and Spain, This tactless

approach of belittling the power of Prussia while request-

ing her assistance did not receive a warm response. Santa

Anna was not discouraged by von Richthofen's coolness,

however, and he persisted with a new request for a complete

Prussian military unit of 5-6,000 men. To this proposition

von Richthofen expressed his frank opposition but agreed to
submit it to Berlin.

Not satisfied with working through the European minis-

ters in Mexico, Santa Anna directed the Mexican ministers in

Paris, London, and Madrid to seek the aid of these states in

containing the expansionistic drives of the United States.

The ministers were instructed to emphasize the danger they

posed to monarchial institutions and to European economic

interests. If these views were favorably received by the host

governments, the ministers were authorized to propose
treaties of alliance directed against the United States.

The responses to Santa Anna's search for European

allies were not encouraging. The British chose to ignore the

request, while the French became apprehensive that Santa

Anna might have misinterpreted French expressions of sym-

pathy. The French minister warned against any thought of a

war against the United States. Levasseur advised Santa

Anna to concentrate instead on building up Mexican strength.

France would be happy to see Mexico with an army capable

of repelling an American attack, he noted, and she was ready

to assist Mexico in securing the Latin Catholic immigrants

necessary to develop Mexican resources. "But not even for

an instant is it possible to suppose that the government of

His Imperial Majesty will break its friendly relations with

the United States and lose, even momentarily, the immense

markets which that country offers to French commerce in

order to aid you in a war which you might have provoked."42

French interests in promoting a monarchial Latin Catholic

resurgence in Mexico were obviously less important than

profitable trade relations with the Americans.


Only Spain responded in an encouraging manner to the

Mexican proposals. Angel Calder6n de la Barca, Spain's

first minister to independent Mexico and now Spanish foreign

minister, expressed more than a casual sympathy for Mexico's

plight. Since the United States also threatened Spanish Cuba,

Calder6n raised the possibility of secret steps for Spain and
Mexico to affect a common defense. Santa Anna responded

with a proposal for a mutual defense alliance. But Spain,

fearful that such an arrangement might become known and serve

as a pretext for an American move against Cuba, refused to

give serious consideration to the Mexican proposal. While

Spain may have harbored vague dreams of establishing benevo-

lent protectorates over conservative regimes in Spanish

America, the safety of Cuba could not be jeopardized in the

pursuit of such dreams.

France, unencumbered by exposed possessions, could

afford a more active interest in Mexico's relations with the

United States. Refusal to be drawn into a war against the

United States did not mean that she was willing to allow

American influence to flow southward unimpeded. French

ministers sought to use their influence within responsible

conservative Mexican circles and within the sizeable French

and Spanish commercial communities as a means of checking

American advances.45 France was particularly concerned

for the security of Mexico's northern frontier in the face
of American filibustering activities and sought in vain

to encourage colonization of the area by Frenchmen as a


barrier to the Americans. Until they became convinced that

he was actually promoting American interests, French diplomats

encouraged the efforts to. French adventurer Count Gaston

Raousset de Boulbon to colonize Sonora with Frenchmen from

San Francisco. His capture along with some two hundred

Frenchmen by Mexican forces at Guaymas in July 1854 proved

highly embarrassing to the French image as Mexico's protec-

tor. Frustrated in their indirect and peaceful efforts

to convert Mexico into a barrier against American expansion,

French diplomats began to elaborate during Santa Anna's regime

a rationale for the French intervention which was to be
realized during the following decade.

French fears of American designs on Mexico were not

unfounded. Pierce had warmly endorsed a policy of expansion

in his inaugural address of March 1853.49 In an attempt to

heal sectional schisms within his party and country, Pierce

proposed a vigorous policy of both territorial and commercial

expansion.50 Although this pronouncement aroused fears in

the minds of Mexicans, Pierce was actually referring to

Cuba rather than Mexico when he spoke of territorial expan-

sion. As for Mexico, Pierce and his secretary of state,

William L. Marcy, probably envisioned nothing more fright-

ful than the expansion of American commercial interests as

a part of a broader program directed at Latin America and

East Asia.57

Events, however, did not allow the new administra-

tion leisure in which to determine its Mexican policy. A

strong sense of political indebtedness to the southern wing

of the Democratic party and to its representative in the cab-

inet, Jefferson Davis, resulted in the appointment of James
Gadsden of South Carolina as minister to Mexico.52 Gadsden's

long standing interest in transcontinental railroads and his

advocacy of economic independence and commercial expansion

for the South blended well with the foreign policy plans of

the president, while his opposition to the "All Mexico"

movement during the war appeared to augur well for the terri-

torial integrity of Mexico. The latter conclusion would be

a misreading of the signs, however, for Gadsden's aversion

was to bestowing American citizenship on the mixed races

of Mexico rather than to the acquisition of land. Since the

treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Gadsden had advocated separat-

ing the Spanish and Anglo-Saxon races by a natural boundary

in the mountain ranges south of the Rio Grande.53

The determination of policy toward Mexico was affected

by the importunings of various individuals and groups with

special interests. Those interested in a southern trans-

continental railroad professed to believe that the boundary

as specified by the Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty left the best

route in Mexican hands. These interests coupled with dis-

agreement within the joint commission charged with marking

the boundary had led to suspension of the effort to run

the boundary from the Rio Grande to the Colorado River.54

American policy on the Tehuantepec transit question was

also becoming more complicated. Since P. A. Hargous of New

York had secured the Garay grant in 1849, American policy

had been to protect it. A. G! Sloo's acquisition on

February 5, 1853, of a new grant covering the same route

made necessary a reassessment of American policy.55

How insistently Manifest Destiny advocates pressed the

White House to include territorial goals in its Mexican

policy cannot be ascertained. Both the Cass and Buchanan

elements within the party advocated acquisition of Mexican

territory and obviously if Pierce hoped to heal party rifts

these elements had to receive a sympathetic hearing.5 Jane

McManus (Storms) Cazneau, who had decided views on Mexico and

friends in high places, came to Washington at this time.

Mrs. Cazneau, who wrote for the leading expansionistic jour-

nals under the pen name of "Cora Montgomery," had been a

colonizer and land speculator in Texas during the 1830's and

a leading crusader for the annexation of Texas. While on

a secret mission to Mexico City for the state department in

1847 she met and became friends with the future president,

Brigidier General Franklin Pierce. In 1853 Jane and her

husband, William L. Cazneau, established residence in

Washington where her friendship with the new president could

be turned to profit.57

To complicate further Pierce's task, a crisis along

the unmarked border between New Mexico and Chihuahua threat-

ened to erupt into armed conflict. The crisis point was the

Mesilla valley north of El Paso where faulty construction of

the terms of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo left the ultimate

disposition of the area uncertain. As American settlers

moved into the area, officials of both Chihuahua and New

Mexico claimed it and threatened to seize control of it by

force. The United States lessened tensions somewhat by

removing New Mexico's belligerent territorial governor and

suggesting that neither side try to exercise legal jurisdic-

tion over the disputed regioniwhile diplomatic efforts were

made to resolve its status.5

With the border crisis in mind and under the pressures

noted above, Marcy and Pierce formulated instructions for

Gadsden's mission in July 1853. Hoping to resolve a number

of questions with a single stroke, they directed Gadsden to

negotiate an adjustment of boundaries. A boundary change

could satisfy a number of desires--land could be acquired for

railroad interests, the problems preventing the running of

a boundary could be side-stepped, and the question of Mesilla

valley could be settled in a way favorable to American inter-

ests. American claims against Mexico could also be settled

as a by-product of a transfer of territory, and a territorial

acquisition, even though it was not Cuba, would be popular in

the Young America and other expansionist circles. Without

specifying the amount of territory desired or the price to

be paid, Marcy instructed Gadsden to present the proposal

as motivated only by the American desire to acquire control

over the most suitable route for a transcontinental railroad.59

So concerned was Washington with a favorable conclu-

sion of the boundary question that commercial and economic

matters were secondary in Gadsden's instructions. The

Tehuantepec transit question, which had been a source of dip-

lomatic activity since 1848, was shelved. Washington no

longer found it a simple task to pose as protector of

American private interests now that Americans held two con-

flicting grants. Lacking the time to study and assess their

relative merits and to weigh the implications for domestic

politics of supporting either of them, Marcy directed

Gadsden to avoid involving this question in any negotiations

while reserving the right to support the most attractive of

the two at a later date. Authorization to adjust and pro-

mote commercial relations between the two countries appeared

in the instructions almost as an afterthought.60

Gadsden arrived in Mexico City in mid-August 1853 and

within less than five months had signed a treaty which satis-

fied at least the minimum objectives of his mission. Once

Santa Anna indicated a willingness to consider a new boun-

dary treaty Washington responded with detailed instructions

to guide the negotiations. "Ample land south of the Gila

River to facilitate the construction of a transcontinental

railroad" now became the minimum demand. This minimum area,

along with a release from claims for damages under article

eleven of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (which made the

United States responsible for preventing Indian raids across

the frontier) and abrogation of that article was worth

$15,000,000. More generous cessions of land were assessed

accordingly until a cession providing for the most satisfactory

and most natural boundary was valued at $50,000,000. The

natural boundary, advocated earlier by both Gadsden and

Secretary of War Davis, was now defined in such a way as to

give the United States all of Baja California, most of

Coahuila and Nuevo Leon; about half of Tamaulipas, Chihuahua,

and Sonora; and a small portion of Durango. Great stress

was also placed on securing for the United States a port on
the Gulf of California.6

The instructions as drawn up in Washington cautioned

Gadsden to avoid complicating the negotiations with any mat-

ters other than the boundary, mutual claims settlement, and

the release of the United States from the obligation to

restrain Indians raids. Yet these instructions as delivered

to him orally in Mexico City had been altered by the courier,

Christopher L. Ward, to require a settlement of the

Tehuantepec railroad question in a method favorable to the

Hargous interests. Either knowingly or unwittingly a

Hargous agent had been selected to carry unwritten instruc-

tions to Mexico and he used this opportunity to further

the interest of his principal.62

Gadsden, who had doubts as to the veracity of the

instruction as conveyed to him by Ward, reluctantly added

the Tehuantepec grant to the list of items upon which he

must secure Mexican agreement. Not content with relying

on Santa Anna's greed and the desperate fiscal plight of

the Mexican government to create an receptiveness to his

proposals, Gadsden used a number of techniques to promote

his objectives. Sympathetic appreciations of Mexico's pro-

blems and reasoned statements of the advantages of a natural

frontier based on mountain barriers were coupled with only

slightly veiled threats about the operation of the natural

laws of Manifest Destiny.6

If Gadsden's heavy-handed essays in diplomacy were not

enough to convince Santa Anna and his advisors that Mexico's

sovereignty was seriously threatened by the United States,

and they needed very little convincing, the filibustering

expedition of William Walker in Baja California dispelled

any doubts. Walker, with the apparent connivance of local,

state, and federal officials, fitted out an armed expedition

in San Francisco and sailed to La Paz, Baja California, where

he decreed the establishment of a sovereign republic of

Baja California, to which Sonora was later added. The

Mexican foreign ministry assumed that Walker had official

backing for his expedition and that his efforts were meant

to give substance to Gadsden's threats about the inevita-

bility of American acquisition of Mexico's frontier

Gadsden was furious when he learned of Walker's expe-

dition, believing that such enterprises would arouse popular

support for the Mexican government and make his task more

difficult. Gadsden called for efforts by American consular

and naval agents to prevent them.65 Pierce agreed with

Gadsden's assessment and on January 18, 1854, without being

aware that negotiations in Mexico were already complete,

issued a proclamation exhorting Americans not to take part in

filibustering and ordering civil and military officials to

take the necessary steps to prevent the departure of such


Santa Anna might, as Gadsden feared, have refused to

continue the negotiations for a new boundary treaty in the

face of Walker's invasion if he had felt strong enough.

Santa Anna made three unsuccessful moves to strengthen his

hand against the United States. He renewed his proposal for

a comprehensive alliance with Spain7 and simultaneously

authorized his agents in Europe to contract for mercenary

troops. The Mexican minister in Paris was directed to secure

3,000 Swiss soldiers armed with the newest and best French

arms to serve for a period of 8-10 years. The minister in

London was ordered to recruit 4,000 well-armed Irish

soldiers for a similar period. Santa Anna's third move

was to inform the British minister to Mexico, Percy W. Doyle,

that the United States was threatening war if Mexico did

not agree immediately to sell half her territory. Santa

Anna pictured this as a preliminary step to total annexation.

He stressed the damage that would result to British com-

mercial interests.69

Doubtlessly a strongly worded British statement of

support for Mexico would have given pause to Gadsden, but

such was not forthcoming. Doyle, in reporting the request

to London, indicated that he had tried to discourage Santa

Anna, whose sincerity he doubted. Instead of encouraging

Santa Anna with sympathetic expressions, as had his French

counterpart earlier, Doyle advised Santa Anna to avoid con-

flict with the United States and to put his government on

firm ground financially.70

Santa Anna later characterized his treaty with the

United States as a successful defense of Mexican territory.

He claimed that by selling a small section of useless terri-

tory he had prevented the United States from forcefully

seizing the whole northern tier of states and territories.71

While not discounting the difficulties of Santa Anna's posi-

tion it must be noted that he capitulated quickly to the

pressures and that Gadsden was equally brisk in retreating

to his minimal demands. On November 29 Gadsden formally
presented his maximum territorial demand;7 on December 3

he agreed to limit the negotiations to only enough territory

to facilitate the construction of the transcontinental rail-
road. The specific boundary line written into the treaty

was suggested by the Mexican foreign minister.74

The treaty, signed December 30, 1853, contained pro-

visions of interest to the United States other than the

change in boundaries. It released the United States from

the obligations and responsibilities imposed by article

eleven of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. A claims com-

mission was provided for and the United States agreed to

assume all American claims against Mexico, including any

made on behalf of the Hargous grant "whose lawful existence

Mexico does not recognize."75 The United States acquired the

right of uninterrupted navigation of the Colorado River and

the Gulf of California. For these favors the United States

agreed to pay $20,000,000, $5,000,000 of which would be

retained to satisfy American claimants. Of interest to

Mexico, the United States agreed to recognize land titles

held by Mexicans in the ceded territory and to cooperate in

suppressing filibustering expeditions.

Pierce was opposed to the provisions of the treaty

providing compensation for the holders of the Hargous grant

but decided to submit it to the senate on the recommendation

of a majority within the cabinet. The treaty occasioned a

battle of sectional and special interests in the senate which

lasted more than two months and produced a .treaty little

resembling that signed by Gadsden. It revealed numerous

divisions with in the senate: there were those who acted

on purely partisan basis, others saw only sectional and

slavery questions, attitudes toward a southern transcon-

tinental railroad determined the position of many, the actions

of others were determined largely by their relations with

one or the other of the American groups interested in the

Tehuantepec transits, and finally some senators felt

strongly, pro or con, on the abstract idea of expansion.

Each group suggested changes to benefit its interest. The

result was the mutilation and apparent death of the treaty.

Only after the Southern Commercial Convention meeting in

Charleston had elicited strong Southern and Western support

for the treaty was it revived and forced through the senate

on April 25, 1854. The final vote saw opposition votes com-

ing mostly from Northern anti-slavery, and anti-Democratic


The senate version of the treaty, and the one finally

ratified, was more limited than had been the one negotiated

in Mexico. The amount of territory was reduced to the abso-

lute minimum deemed essential for the railroad and the pay-

ment was reduced from $20,000,000 to $10,000,000; the claims

settlement was eliminated, as was the agreement to act

against filibustering; and, finally, provisions were

inserted specifically recognizing Sloo's Tehuantepec grant,

recognizing American rights to use the transit route, and

giving the United States power to intervene to protect the


While few if any of the parties involved, either

Mexican or American, were satisfied with the senate version,

all reluctantly accepted it. Pierce was as opposed to the

recognition given Sloo interests by the senate as he had

been to the advantages for the Hargous group in the original

treaty. Only Pierce's fear that delay in achieving a boun-

dary settlement might result in war induced him to accept the

changes.78 Gadsden returned to Mexico City hoping the

altered agreement would be rejected by Santa Anna.79 Santa

Anna and his foreign minister, Diez de Bonilla, were dis-

satisfied with the failure to settle claims and described

the provision allowing the United States to provide protec-

tion for Tehuantepec transit route as a "surrender of

nationality."80 Santa Anna's need for money, more pressing

now in the face of the spreading Ayutla revolution, was suf-

ficiently strong, however, to overcome any doubts and the

ratifications were exchanged in Washington on June 30, 1856.

In their reaction to the plight of Santa Anna during

the months between the signature and the ratification of the

treaty, France and Great Britain reversed their earlier

attitudes. When Santa Anna had appealed for aid against

probable American aggression during his first months in

office, the French minister had responded in sympathetic

but noncommittal terms while the British minister could only

advise him to put his finances in order and avoid war. Dur-

ing the intervening months the French minister had become

convinced that nothing could be gained by supporting Santa

Anna and his monarchial schemes. Convinced that a

national monarchy would have no chance of survival, Dano

felt that one imposed and protected by European powers and

headed by a European prince was the only method to save

Mexico from a fate even worse than American conquest--social

dissolution and political anarchy.82

Circumstances surrounding the activities of Count

Raousset de Boulbon had diverted Dano's attention from the

negotiations while pushing him toward supporting the treaty

as signed in Mexico. He had proof that the nobleman was

organizing Frenchmen in California to seize Sonora and other

areas of northwest Mexico. He was convinced that the result

would be the annexation of this area by the United States.

Such actions by Frenchmen would not only be counter to French

interests but also highly embarrassing.83 Dano took steps to

discourage his countrymen from joining the expedition. Let-

ters from Dano and from the French foreign minister warning

French citizens against such acts were published in the news-

papers of San Francisco and various Mexican cities. Dano was

particularly distressed to learn from the French consul at

MazatlAn that schemes to make the area independent or to

attach it to the United States were popular with many of the

residents of Sinaloa and Sonora, including many of the French

Given these concerns, Dano was not upset to learn that

Mexico had signed a treaty with the United States which

might, at least temporarily, reduce the danger of filibus-

tering raids. When officially informed of the general terms

of the treaty, Dano could only note that they seemed to be

in the interests of both parties. But aware unofficially

that the treaty contained a mutual pledge to cooperate in

suppressing filibustering,85 Dano hoped this would cause the

American government to stop Raousset's expedition.

Increasingly preoccupied in preventing Raousset's

activities from damaging French interests and aware that

Santa Anna's survival depended on obtaining money from the

treaties, Dano expressed little concern as the changes made

in the American senate became known in Mexico. He was

encouraged to see Washington taking measures against the

Walker expedition in Baja California.87 By the time full

details of the alterations reached Mexico, Dano, already

aware that Raousset's expedition had begun landing in Sonora

and cognizant of the seriousness of the Ayutla revolution,

limited himself to reporting the facts to Paris with the

comment that Santa Anna would accept the changes despite his

ridiculous assertion that he would rather "place his hands

in fire" than to accept such terms.88

The British minister, on the other hand, encouraged

Santa Anna to reject the altered treaty without committing

Britain to assist Mexico in any way. The changes which most

disturbed Doyle were those recognizing the Sloo grant and

giving the United States power to intervene in the isthmian

region. Such provisions, Doyle felt, endangered British

isthmian interests. When he urged resistance to such pro-

visions, Santa Anna agreed to reject the altered treaty if

Doyle would allow Mexico to suspend payments to British

creditors and would urge the same policy on France and Spain.

Santa Anna had gone to the heart of the matter and had called

Doyle's hand. He had to have money and the only other

readily available source was the customs receipts assigned

to pay Mexico's foreign debts. He doubtlessly knew that the

English minister had neither the inclination nor authority

to make such an agreement. The British foreign office felt

that Doyle had over-reacted since they felt that British

interests in Tehuantepec were amply protected by the Clayton-

Bulwer treaty.89

While the relationship of the Gadsden treaty to

Mexican revolutionary activity is obvious, its impact is dif-

ficult to assess. Opposition to Santa Anna and efforts to

organize resistance among political and commercial circles

predated Gadsden's arrival in Mexico.90 By the time the

negotiations had reached a serious stage even the French

minister realized that the forces gathering around Alvarez in

Guerrero constituted a major challenge to Santa Anna. Santa

Anna's decision on December 17, 1853, to invest himself with

unlimited powers for an indefinite period served to gal-

vanize the opposition.91 He precipitated matters by attempt-

ing to send a loyal regiment to Acapulco. This move pro-

voked a clash with Alvarez forces on January 21, 1854, appar-

ently before the rebels learned of the treaty signed with the

United States.92

Once the agreement became known it became an addi-

tional item in the rebels' arsenal of charges against Santa

Anna. When news of the treaty reached New Orleans the lib-

eral exiles there protested and condemned Santa Anna for

having entered into it.93 In the preamble to the plan of

Ayutla, issued on March 1st while the fate of the treaty in

the United States was still uncertain, Santa Anna was

denounced on many counts, including his failure to safe-
guard the integrity of the nation. The impact of the sale

of territory of Santa Anna's public image can not be meas-

ured, but it obviously weakened his position. Memories of

the humiliating defeat at the hands of the United States and

of the peace terms imposed after the war were still too

fresh. The sale of territory, which Santa Anna rationalized

as essential for the funds necessary to put down the expected

liberal revolt, doubtlessly served to strengthen the resolve

of the rebels while turning many of the responsible conser-

vatives against him.

After the exchange of ratifications on June 30, 1854,

Gadsden's relations with the Santa Anna government deterio-

rated rapidly. Problems left unresolved by the treaty fed

the ill will already existing on both sides. Gadsden saw

the rescue of Mexico from Catholicism and the prevention of

the spread of European monarchial influence as his essential

tasks. To prevent Santa Anna's close ties with European

powers from being converted into a protectorate detrimental

to American interests, Gadsden recommended naval or military

actions which would insure a liberal victory.9 He favored

using the $3,000,000 remaining due Mexico under the recent

treaty in such a way as to aid the liberal cause. The funds

must be denied to Santa Anna at all cost, Gadsden felt, since
he would only use them to reinforce his absolutist regime.9

Gadsden assumed such an arrogant and hostile attitude

in pushing American claims that on October 2, 1854, Diez de

Bonilla directed the Mexican minister in Washington to

request his recall.97 This request resulted in a situation

with few parellels in the annals of diplomatic history.

Gadsden, informed by Washington of the request, addressed

an insulting note to the Mexican foreign minister suspending

relations until the request had been withdrawn and suitable

apologies made.9 To the dismay of Diez de Bonilla,

Washington refused to recall Gadsden, and much to the dis-

gust of Gadsden, Diez de Bonilla refused to recognize the

suspension of relations and continued to address notes to

"Senor Gadsden" at the United States legation. Two sub-

sequent requests for Gadsden's recall were also unpro-


While Gadsden remained at his post, his effectiveness

as a diplomatic agent had been destroyed. His communica-

tions both with Mexican officials and with Washington

increasingly assumed an argumentative tone and a rambling,

sometimes incoherent, character. In what appear as par-

anoiac ratings, Gadsden portrayed himself as being hounded

and persecuted by the countless forces of evil. American

interest groups sought his removal because he blocked their

fraudulent schemes; Marcy and the administration in Washington

refused to back him because of his political alignment;

Mexican officials sought his recall because he saw the vile

corruption which lay beneath their civilized veneer; and

his diplomatic colleagues in Mexico ostracized and ridi-

culed him because they realized that he alone stood in the

way of their efforts to "Europeanize" Mexico.101

While Gadsden fought his quixotic battles with the

forces of evil he followed a course of action friendly to

the Ayutla rebels. As their strength waxed, he became vocal

in praise of the rebels and in demands that the United

States actively support them.102 According to the British

minister in Mexico, Gadsden did not limit his pro-liberal

policy to recommendations to Washington but converted the

American legation into an intelligence center for the rebels

and maintained close ties with insurgent elements through-

out Mexico.103

The failure of the Santa Anna government to take effec-

tive steps to expel the troublesome Gadsden is rendered

understandable, if not justifiable, by its precarious posi-

tion, The refusal of Washington to remove a minister who

had been declared persona non grata and who had obviously

lost whatever rapport he may have had with the Mexican gov-

ernment, however, was neither justifiable nor understandable.

If the purpose in leaving Gadsden at his post was to express

official disapproval of the Santa Anna government, the mes-

sage must have been clear to all, yet one is hesitant to

credit Marcy with consciously pursuing such blunt and heavy-

handed policy. The real reason for not removing Gadsden may

have been, as Marcy suggested later to the liberal minister

to Washington, that Gadsden had too many politically power-
ful friends to be dismissed easily.0

Despite the anomalies of Gadsden's position, there

were developments of commercial interest during the closing

months of the Santa Anna administration. Although Gadsden's

original instructions had directed him to resolve commercial

conflicts and to promote the commercial interests of the

United States,105 little attention was devoted to the deteri-

orating commercial situation by the legation. The American

consul in Veracruz was not reticent, however, in bringing the

situation to the attention of Washington. When asked in 1854

to supply Washington with a copy of the existing Mexican

tariff, John T. Pickett responded that such a document would

be useless since new laws affecting the operation of custom-

houses were being issued almost daily and special rates and

exemptions were being granted or sold with equal frequency

to friends of the government.106

The commercial situation had worsened steadily since

Santa Anna's return in April 1853. First, the low Ceballos

tariff issued in January 1853107 had been replaced by a new

schedule which placed almost prohibitively high duties on

most imports.10 Then, on January 30, 1854, a decree placed

a 50% duty on imported goods when their origin was different

from the flag of the vessel on:which they were imported.

This decree also sought to spur the creation of a Mexican

merchant fleet by imposing onerous port and tonnage duties

on foreign flag vessels.109 Such provisions were a hard

blow to the re-export trade of the United States.110 The

French also found the measure "a terrible blow to all commer-

cial interests."111

The cumulative effect of high tariffs, high and

numerous taxes, special privileges, and arbitrary practices

in enforcing revenue measures was disastrous for American

commerce. Pickett reported that all foreign trade was

declining in Veracruz, especially American. The only excep-

tion was trade coming in from New Orleans which had increased

recently owing to the establishment of a biweekly line of

mail steamers.112 Franklin Chase, American consul in Tampico,

reported a similar depression in commercial circles.3 Even

the Mexican press offered carefully worded criticism of

foreign trade measures which had ruinous consequences for
internal trade and prosperity.1

Americans with commercial interests in Mexico also

voiced their unhappiness with Santa Anna's commercial policy.

The department of state received letters of protest.115

Newspapers called for steps to safeguard American interests.116

Southern commercial conventions of 1854 and 1855 recommended

the negotiation of a new commercial treaty with Mexico to

protect and promote American export trade.117

Despite these calls for action and the increasing will-

ingness of the Santa Anna government to make any arrangements

which might strengthen its position, Gadsden made no serious

effort to negotiate on commercial matters. Instead, he

appears to have determined by late 1854 (about the time he

learned of Mexican requests for his recall) that his best

course would be to press for the speedy fall of Santa Anna

and reserve all serious negotiation for the more amenable

liberal government to follow. Apparently without fully

informing Washington, Gadsden used the Crimean War diplo-

matic situation as a vehicle to pressure Mexico. Express-

ing sympathy for Russia, he suggested an alliance with

Mexico against the Allied Powers, and when this was rejected,

he indicated that if the war should reach America the United


States would immediately occupy Mexico's frontier regions.118

He badgered Mexico with demands for claims settlement and

for new cessions of territory. When Mexico protested the

Walker filibustering expedition in Baja California, Gadsden

responded that in a democracy such expeditions were often

true reflections of public opinion which would eventual

determine policy. The only solution, Gadsden hinted, was to

sell the territory desired by the filibusterers while Mexico

still held legal title to it.119

Gadsden's attitude and the increasingly frequent and

unchecked filibustering expeditions against Mexico frightened

European representatives in Mexico and convinced them that

the United States was embarking on a major expansion drive.

While the British and Spanish ministers expressed concern

that these activities would damage their interests, the

French minister recommended a more positive action. The

Anglo-French alliance "so powerful in the Old World" must

be extended to America to halt the expansion of the United

States. Gabriac feared that the Americans might join Russia
in an aggressive alliance.120 The French consul at MazatlAn

detected sinister commercial motives behind the American

actions. The filibusterers and the American government were

seeking to gain possession of the wheat producing regions

of Mexico, knowing that without these an independent exist-

ence for Mexico would be impossible. Stressing the importance

of trade with Mexico to France's internal economy, he called

on his government to take the necessary steps to prevent

Mexican commerce from falling into the hands of Americans,

"the modern pirates of the New World."121

Mexico utilized French fears of losing profitable

trade relations to reinforce her pleas for aid. Diez de

Bonilla stressed the insatiable American drive for control of

land and natural resources. This drive would not stop until

all the continent north of Panama had fallen under American

control. After such expansion, Diez de Bonilla warned, the

commercial power of the United States would have no limits.

It could dominate the entire hemisphere, control all the

isthmian trade routes with Asia, and deny Europe access to

the markets of America. The United States could then easily

foment socialist and anarchistic movements in Europe. Diez

de Bonilla saw an analogy to the Eastern Question: Mexico

was the Ottoman Empire of the western hemisphere, United

States its Russia, and only France could insure the balance
of power in the west as in the east.1

The French were convinced, however, that their inter-

ests could not be served by supporting Santa Anna's contin-

uation in power. Almost without exception, Gabriac's des-

patches, from March to August 1855, included statements on

the hopelessness of the situation under Santa Anna.123

Nevertheless, Gabriac was fully alive to the potential

threat posed by the United States. In a despatch of July

6, 1855, he recognized the United States as another Russia,

although still relatively weak, which must be prevented from

further extending her power.

I recognize more than ever the impotence of the
Spanish race for any task of regeneration and sal-
vation. Our problem now lays in knowing what means
to employ so that, without compromising our policy,
in the New World, we can, nevertheless, save our
influence and our commercial, industrial, and mari-
time interests. Today twelve to fourteen thousand
Frenchmen live in Mexico and our general commerce
increases annually.. .. Once in the power of
the Yankees, the profits from the mines of this vast
territory will serve to finance production of those
factories whose numbers increase as if by magic in
the United States. On taking Cuba, her (the United
States) only view is to close the Gulf of Mexico
and convert it into a new Black Sea. Then she can
cause revolutions in Europe by merely raising or
lowering tariffs. The state of production in the
Old World is subjected to the new facilities of mari-
time transportation and to the creation of new entries
in this immense American market which must become
the shortest and most secure route to China and
Australia. Thus, we must be assured of an outlet
in these regions for the surplus of our factory
production as well as for our floating popula-

Abandoned by the European powers and simultaneously

facing bankruptcy and defeat by the rebels, Santa Anna threw

himself at Gadsden's feet. In July 1855 Diez de Bonilla

informed Gadsden that all requests for his recall were being

withdrawn and Mexico was prepared to negotiate on any ques-

tion desired by the American minister. The government, he

said, was specifically ready to accede to the repeated

demands for territory. Having accomplished his objective

of weakening Santa Anna's position, Gadsden had no desire

to strengthen it now by placing money in his hands. For

weeks he allowed Diez de Bonilla to hope that he might sign

a treaty for the purchase of territory, while informing

Washington that under no circumstances would he agree to such

a proposal.125 That Santa Anna considered a treaty with the

United States as his last hope was indicated by the continua-

tion of negotiations until the eve of his decision to flee

abroad on August 9, 1855.126 Gabriac reported in July that

Gadsden had in fact withdrawn from all relations with Santa

Anna leaving his secretary and nephew to answer correspondence

from the foreign office.127

With the collapse of the Santa Anna government con-

servative and military elements attempted to forestall a

complete liberal victory by endorsing the plan of Ayutla

and installing their own candidate, Martin Carrera, as

president.128 As the European powers hastened to recognize

the government of Carrera, Gadsden rejected in an insulting

fashion an invitation to join the diplomatic corps in this

act.129 Instead, he sat back and enjoyed the fruits of his

months of hostility toward Santa Anna. The liberal press

gave prominence to accounts of how he had broken relations

with Santa Anna and had refused to recognize Carrera.130

Meanwhile rumors spread, unchecked by Gadsden, that while

maintaining nominal relations with Santa Anna, he had served

as intermediary to get $200,000 of official United States

funds into the hands of the rebels.131

The French minister was certain that Gadsden was

actively working as an ally of the puros to insure the pres-

idency for Juan Alvarez. He reported on September 5, 1855,

that irrefutable evidence proved the full complicity of the

American legation in efforts to prevent any compromise in

the selection of an interim president. He reported that

John S. Cripps, secretary of the American legation, was act-

ing as recruiting agent for the liberals among Carrera's

troops in Mexico City. Soldiers so subverted appeared at

night at a house rented by the American legation where they

surrendered their arms to a puro general and in return were

given ten pesos furnished by Gadsden. The arms secured in

this manner, and others purchased by Gadsden through an

agent, were turned over to forces loyal to Alvarez.132

Gadsden continued to follow an independent course

after the revolutionary conclave in Cuernavaca elected

Alvarez as provisional president on October 4, 1855. Having

been informed of the establishment of the new government,

the diplomatic corps called a meeting to seek a common

policy on recognition of a government not located in the

traditional capital. Gadsden's response to this maneuver

was an ill-tempered and near incoherent noteto the dean of

the diplomatic corps. The French minister was unable to

decide whether it was an intentional insult or merely the

result of the author's well-known practice of being enebri-

ated by mid-afternoon each day.133 Gadsden, however, appar-

ently made two points clear. He refused to cooperate with

the diplomatic corps and gave as a reason the traditional

American policy of avoiding entangling alliances.134

After refusing to cooperate with the diplomatic corps

and without informing them of his intentions, Gadsden

departed immediately for Cuernavaca where on October 10,

1855, he became the first foreign diplomat to recognize the

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