« PreviousContinue »
America, and be the only dispenser of the products of the New World. We now see by sad experience how precarious is the lot of a branch of manufactures which is compelled to procure its raw material in a single market, all the vicissitudes of which it has to bear. If, on the contrary, Mexico maintains her independence and the integrity of her territory, if a stable government be there established with the assistance of France, we shall have restored to the Latin race on the other side of the Atlantic all its strength and prestige; we shall have guaran teed security to our West India colonies and to those of Spain; we shall have established a friendly influence in the centre of America, and that influence, by creating numerous markets for our commerce, will procure us the raw materials indispensable for our manufactures. Mexico, thus regenerated, will always be well disposed to us, not only out of gratitude, but because her interests will be in accord with ours, and because she will find support in her friendly relations with European powers. At present, therefore, our military honor engaged, the necessities of our policy, the interests of our industry and commerce, all conspire to make it our duty to march on Mexico, boldly to plant our flag there, and to establish either a monarchy, if not incompatible with the national feeling, or at least a government which may promise some sta bility."
As soon as it was ascertained that the Southern States were sufficiently powerful to resist the naThe allies mature tional government, and that a partition of their scheme. the Union was impending, the chief obstacle in the way of the Mexican movement seemed to be removed. Throughout the spring and summer of 1861, the three contracting powers kept that result steadfastly in mind, and omitted nothing that might tend to its ac complishment. This was the true reason of the conces
LETTER OF THE EMPEROR NAPOLEON.
sion of belligerent rights to the Southern Confederacy in May. The downfall of Juarez was the next business in hand.
THE EXPEDITION SAILS.
Affairs had so far progressed that, on November 20th, The convention of 1861, a convention was signed in London between France, England, and Spain. In this it was agreed that a joint force should be sent by the three allies to Mexico; that no special advantages should be sought for by them individually, and no internal influence on Mexico exerted. A commission was designated to distribute the indemnity they proposed to exact. The ostensible reason put forth for the movement was the decree of the Mexican government, July 17th, 1861, suspending payment on the foreign debt. The allied expedition reached Vera Cruz about the end of the year. Not without justice did
the Mexican Minister for Foreign Affairs complain of their "friendly but indefinite promises, the real object of which nobody unravels." Although M. Thouvenel was incessantly assuring the British government, even as late as May, 1862, that France had no intention of imposing a government on Mexico, it became obvious that there was no more sincerity in this engagement than there had been in imputing the grievances of the invaders to the Mexican decree of the preceding July. The ostensible cause was a mere pretext to get a military foothold in the country. Very soon, however, it became impossible for the French to conceal their discover the inten- intentions. England and Spain withdrew tions of France, from the expedition, the alleged cause on the part of the former being the presence of Almonte, and other Mexican emigrants of known monarchical opinions, with the French, and a resolution not to join in military operations in the interior of the country; on the part of the latter, the true reason was that not a Spanish prince,
The expedition sails to Mexico.
but Maximilian, was to be placed on the Mexican throne - a disappointment to the Spanish com. mander, the Count de Reuss (General Prim), who had pictured for himself a viceroy's coronet. It is not necessary, on the present occasion, to enter into details respecting the French military movements, which began by a breach of that article of the con
and abandon the expedition.
THE CITY OF MEXICO SEIZED.
The French break
faith with the Mexi- vention of La Soledad which required that the French, who had been permitted to come into the healthy country, should retire beyond the strong pass of Chiquehuite in case negotiations were broken off. Had the Paris press been free, such events would never have occurred, and, indeed, as has been truly af firmed by the French themselves, this shameful expedition would never have been undertaken. As it was, things were done in Mexico which, could they have been brought to a knowledge of the French, would have thrown that great people into a profound reverie.
The French entered the city of Mexico in July, 1863. They seize the city The time had now come for throwing off of Mexico. the mask, and the name of Maximilian was introduced as a candidate for the empire. Commissioners were appointed to go through Paris and Rome to Miramar with a view of soliciting the consent of that prince. A regency was appointed until he could be heard from. It consisted of Almonte, Salas, and the Archbishop La Bastida. Maximilian had already covenanted with the Pope to restore to the Mexican Church her mortmain property, estimated at two hundred millions of dollars. In Mexico there are but two parties, the Liberal and the Ecclesiastical. The latter was conciliated by that covenant; but as to the national sentiment, the collection of suffrages in behalf of the new empire was nothing better than a mere farce.
They establish the empire of Maximilian.
THE MEXICAN EMPIRE.
The Southern States
An empire was established in Mexico. Well might the leaders of the Southern Confederacy be find that they have thunderstruck. Was this the fulfillment of that promise which had lured them into the gulf of revolt-the promise which had been used with such fatal effect in Charleston? (vol. i., p. 512) Well might it be expected in France, as is stated by Keratry, that "the Confederates proposed to avenge themselves for the overthrow of the secret hopes which had been encouraged from the very outset of the contest by the cabinet of the Tuileries, which had accorded to them the belligerent character, and had, after all, abandoned them."
Yet no one in America, either of the Northern or the Southern States, imputed blame to the tween the French French people in these bloody and dark and the emperor. transactions. All saw clearly on whom the responsibility rested. And when, in the course of events, it seemed to become necessary that the French army should leave Mexico, it was the general desire that nothing should be done which might by any possibility touch the sensibilities of France. But the Republic of the West was forever alienated from the dynasty of Napoleon.
Events showed that the persons who were charged with the administration of the Richmond government had not ability equal to their task. The South did not select her best men. In the unskillful hands
The American gov
ernment overthrows of those who had charge of it, secession proved to be a failure. The Confederate resources were recklessly squandered, not skillfully used. Ruin was provoked.
When it became plain that the American Republic was about to triumph over its domestic enemies in the Civil War, and that it was in possession of irresistible military power, they who in the Tuileries had plotted the
rise of Maximilian in 1861, now plotted his ruin. The betrayed emperor found that in that palace leon finds he must two languages were spoken. In the agony of his soul he exclaimed, "I am tricked!" In vain his princess crossed the Atlantic, and, though de He abandons Maxi- nied access, forced her way into the presence of Napoleon III., in her frantic grief upbraiding herself before him that, in accepting a throne from his hand, she had forgotten that she was a daughter of the race of Orleans-in vain she fell at the feet of the Pope, deliriously imploring his succor.
REMOVAL OF THE FRENCH.
Impolicy of Amer
It is questionable whether the United States government pursued a correct policy in pressing ica insisting on the the removal of the French. It may possibly prove to have been a mistake similar to that committed by the English respecting Canada, which hastened, if indeed it did not occasion the separation of the colonies (vol. i., p. 162). During the Civil War very conspicuous advantages accrued to the republic from the circumstance that Canada was a British possession. A foresight of the military consequences which might possibly ensue acted as a restraint on the ministry of Lord Palmerston, and strengthened whatever desire it had to maintain an honorable peace. European establishments on the North American continent can never be a source of disquietude to the republic. To those powers who maintain them they are ever liable to be a source of embarrassment. Considering the questions which must inevitably arise with the rapid development of the Pacific States respecting commercial supremacy on the Pacific Ocean, the trade of Eastern Asia, and the British empire in India, a correct policy would probably have indicated the encouragement of an exotic French establishment in Mexico. The Russian government recognized the truth