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PRESIDENT WILSON'S MEXICAN POLICY
HOSE who believe that President Wilson has been guided by his understanding of what constitutes the best interests of Mexico, and that his purposes are altruistic and idealistic, may gain a very fair comprehension of his Mexican policy from his public utterances. The principles
which he claims have actuated him may be stated almost in his own words :
We are the champions of constitutional government in America, and so cannot countenance a inere military despotism originating in unjustifiable usurpation; with our passion for liberty, we must recognize the right of a people to reform, alter, or abolish a government found inadequate or contrary to the purposes for which governments are instituted; liberty was never handed down from above, but is attained by forces working among the people themselves; we should not undertake to impose upon another nation an order and government of our own choosing; we have peculiar obligations to Mexico as her nearest friend, but all of Latin America also has an interest in the welfare of a sister republic; the liberties and permanent happiness of eighty per cent of the Mexican people are of more importance than the prosperity of their former exploiters or the present opportunity to American citizens to do business in Mexico; our National self-respect and safety must be maintained at all costs, but we should not allow ourselves to be forced into war with the Mexican people if that can possibly be avoided; there must be a final reckoning for damages and injuries inflicted, but a great nation should exercise patience and selfrestraint in dealing with a country torn by civil strife; "the United States will never again seek one additional foot of territory by conquest;""the steady pressure of moral force will break the barriers of pride and prejudice down, and we shall triumph as Mexico's friend sooner than we could triumph as her enemies-and . . . with how much higher and finer satisfaction of conscience and honor."
Joyous jingoes, temperamental tories, partisan politicians, and common commercialists may quarrel with these principles, but the average American citizen accepts them. Yet
1 See editorial elsewhere in this issue.-THE EDITORS.
the real question remains, Has President Wilson a Mexican policy of fine words only, or have his principles marked out a consistent course of conduct?
This writer holds that there have been certain great decisions by the President at succeeding crises of our relations with Mexico which will enable us to determine his policy, just as a series of judicial decisions mark out point by point Constitutional limitations. To understand the full significance of these decisions some knowledge of Mexican history and geography is necessary, some acquaintance with the character and temper of the Mexican people. It is held, further, that each decision in its turn was logical, wise, and just, and was the only one possible for Woodrow Wilson to make. For those whose partisanship really stops at the border a study of the Mexican revolution is sufficient to convince them of this; while to those who feel that whatever the President does is wrong the consideration of the alternative to each decision is commended.
1. Refusal to recognize Huerta as President of Mexico.
Mexican history really began before the 4th of March, 1913. The newly inaugurated President inherited the Mexican problem from his predecessor in office, not only unsolved, but with all the conditions of solution made more difficult by the official attitude of the Taft Administration toward Madero, the legally elected President of Mexico. Less than three months after Madero had assumed office President Taft, with only the excuse of sporadic brigandage for his action, ordered all the regular troops in the United States and the National Guard, one hundred thousand men in all, to be prepared for field service. The order could mean only one thing to the Mexican people-American intervention, the threat of which, skillfully used by Diaz, had suppressed revolution against his tyranny for decades. On March 2, 1912, Americans were warned to leave Mexico. On April 15 Acting Secretary of State Huntington Wilson, with Knox away on his dollar diplomacy tours, sent a brutal message of warning to Madero, which proved to be a pure bluff but had its part in deepening the
PRESIDENT WILSON'S MEXICAN POLICY
impression made by Taft's military order. Nevertheless, with the beginning of the year 1913 Madero seemed to have won his fight, despite the hostility of the American Government, when the Cientificos, grown desperate, formed a conspiracy against him, carried out by military officers turned traitors. On February 18, 1913, after a series of sham battles in Mexico City between Huerta, put in charge of Madero's forces, and Felix Diaz, at the head of the conspiracy, these two worthies met and signed an agreement at the American Embassy, following the arrest of President Madero and Vice-President Suarez. The next day the President and the Vice-President resigned under duress; Pedro Lascurain, of the Madero Cabinet, became President for fifteen minutes and appointed Huerta to the Cabinet post next in order of succession, then resigned himself, leaving Huerta Provisional President, barring such trifling irregularities. as forced resignations and their acceptance and the confirmation of successors by a terrorized Congress minus a quorum. February 21, Ambassador Wilson accorded de facto recognition on behalf of the United States Government to Huerta; and on the 22d, while Wilson and Huerta were celebrating Washington's birthday at the American Embassy, Madero and Suarez were assassinated.
The American Ambassador cheerfully accepted the official version " of the murder, and rejoiced that a "ed despotism had fallen."
rta, therefore, treachery, usur
To have recogn would have been to pation, assassination, and the destruction of constitutional government not only, but to have indorsed the part played in the overthrow of the constitutional President by the American Government, acting through the State Department and the American Ambassador. The question was further complicated by the immediate revolt against Huerta of ten of the elected Governors of Mexican States, headed by Carranza, Governor of Coahuila, calling themselves " Constitutionalists," and covenanting among themselves to restore constitutional government in Mexico. To have thrown the weight of influence of the American Administration into the scale against those who resisted ursurpation and despotism was also impossible for Woodrow Wilson.
2. Resistance of Appeals for Intervention. Appeals for armed intervention have come from numerous sources. Irresponsible jin
goes have wanted the army to "go in and clean up Mexico." Americans with Mexican investments from which they were receiving no profit have contended that the maintenance of order was the first duty of the United States. Banished ecclesiastics have sought American intervention as the alternative to a native government hostile to the Church. The commercial press has been clamorous for intervention, and partisan politicians have rung the changes on the lack of protection to American citizens and property and the failure to avenge the outrages committed against the lives and persons of our countrymen and countrywomen.
But armed intervention would infallibly have meant war upon the whole Mexican people. Even an alliance with Constitutionalist leaders against Huerta would have sent the Constitutionalist armies into Huerta's camp. We must remember that we have had one war with Mexico, at the time revolting to the New England conscience, though yielding us a gratifyingly large slice of territory stretching from the lower Rio Grande to the California coast, a consequence still remembered in Mexico. Intervention would have meant the probable sacrifice of all the Americans remaining in Mexico, would have resulted in much shedding of blood, both of American and Mexican soldiers, and would have postponed for another generation the development of the people along the lines of self-government.
The mere reading of the list of Americans killed, as published by the Secretary of State with the attendant circumstances, is enough to convince one of the impossibility of holding any faction responsible for wrongs committed outside its varying sphere of jurisdiction. Investigations have been made of every case, with proper representations to the nearest authority, damages to be assessed and collected when an orderly government is established. Many of the murderers have become themselves the victims of the revolution. President Wilson has consistently refused to hold a disorganized country, in the throes of civil strife, responsible for the crimes of individuals which it was unable to prevent or to punish, to the extent of making war upon Mexico.
3. The Occupation of Vera Cruz.
As early as the summer of 1913 President Wilson tendered his good offices to the contending factions, proposing an armistice, a free election with the stipulation that Huerta
should not be a candidate for the Presidency, the agreement of all parties to abide by the result of the election, and the support of the administration chosen by the power of the United States. The offer was rejected by Huerta. Yet so determined was President Wilson that the Mexican people should work out their own problem that not even the embargo on the exportation of arms from this country was lifted until the Constitutionalists had shown what they could accomplish by winning the whole of northern Mexico to their cause. Obregon and Villa defeated one Huerta army after another, while Zapata continually threatened from the south. Finally, in his desperation, Huerta made his appeal to Mexican patriotism by picking a quarrel with the United States. The arrest of American sailors in uniform, protected by the American flag flying from their boat, was the culmination of a series of insults by a responsible authority. Accordingly, President Wilson backed up the demand made by Admiral Mayo for the salute to the flag, ordered the fleet to Vera Cruz, and requested authority from Congress to use the army and navy " in such ways and to such an extent as may be necessary to obtain from General Huerta and his adherents the fullest recognition of the rights and dignity of the United States, even amid the distressing conditions now unhappily obtaining in Mexico." The House promptly passed the necessary resolution. While the Senate was debating the Lodge substitute, ably supported by Senator Root, the adoption of which substitute would infallibly have meant war with all Mexico, the news came of the arrival at Vera Cruz of the German merchant vessel Ypiranga, with 250 machine guns and 2,000,000 rounds of ammunition on board for our prospective enemies. The President immediately ordered the seizure of Vera Cruz, at the cost of the lives of nineteen marines and some two hundred Mexicans. But the Vera Cruz custom-house was the chief source of revenue for Huerta, and the collection of the import taxes by the American authorities was as fatal to him as would have been the march upon Mexico City. Yet the childish assertion is still occasionally heard that we went to war with Huerta to obtain a salute to the flag and failed to obtain it.
4. The ABC Mediation.
And next the miracle was wrought which stopped an invasion of Mexican soil followed by the shedding of blood, without involving us in war with the Mexican people.
No matter who conceived the plan, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, representing Latin America, offered to mediate between the Mexican factions and the United States, and the Niagara Conference was held, with farreaching consequences of good will and of confidence re-established between Latin America and English America. The immediate consequence for Mexico was the restriction of American occupation to Vera Cruz. But Huerta was not able to maintain himself in power, the Ypiranga was allowed to unload at Puerto Mexico too late to save him, and not long afterwards he sailed away to Europe from the same port, and Carranza entered the capital in triumph.
5. Evacuation of Vera Cruz.
Provisional President, ico City, which Caring it of its defenses. December 6, 1914,
The revolution now began to "devour its own children." Carranza had long been suspicious of Villa, and Villa rebellious at the exercise of any authority over him by the First Chief. He remained in his Department of the North, recruiting his army, when Carranza marched with Obregon into Mexico City. A convention was called at the capital, but it lacked representatives from the armies of Villa and Zapata, and, finding itself under the domination of Carranza, adjourned to Aguas Calientes, where it fell under the control of Villa, whose representatives, with those of Zapata, formed a majority of all. The convention unconditionally accepted the resignation of Carranza as First Chief, made conditionally, elected and adjourned ranza had left a Villa entered in and for the week following reveled in an orgy of lust and blood, proving himself impossible as the head of the Government. President Wilson, with extraordinary insight and foresight, delivered Vera Cruz, with its precious revenues, to the nearest Carranza general. With Vera Cruz retained by the American army, Carranza would soon have been at the mercy of Villa, made Commander-in-Chief by his complacent convention. But with the aid of his still loyal officers, Obregon and Pablo Gonzales, and the Vera Cruz custom-house, Carranza slowly won back the territory he had lost until Obregon defeated Villa in a decisive battle, Villa retiring to the States of the north. 6. Recognition of Carranza.
With affairs apparently at a deadlock as between Villa and Carranza, with talk of the division of Mexico into northern and south
RAMSHACKLE COUNTY GOVERNMENT
ern nations, the advice of the Latin-American republics was again asked, and it was determined that Carranza should be recognized as the de facto head of the Mexican Government.
Evidently President Wilson has faith in the sifting processes of revolution by which the strongest man at last emerges. And recognition by the United States has proved as necessary to success as the withholding of recognition had proved tantamount to defeat, both being important lessons for the Mexican people. Villa degenerated into a bandit again, with a few brigands as his followers, while Carranza has again occupied the capital, with nearly all of Mexico acknowledging his authority. He has already put into effect many reforms as military decrees.
7. The Punitive Expedition.
The resolve to send our troops into Mexico, following the Columbus raid, for the capture of Villa and the dispersion of his
forces seems to have received universal commendation. The invasion of United States territory and the murder of soldiers and citizens on our own soil demanded swift and effective punishment, which Carranza seemed unable to give. The Senate of the United States passed a resolution by unanimous vote commending the expedition, and at the same time deprecating any idea of war with the Mexican people. Yet intervention may yet be necessary. With Villa eliminated, it may yet have to be decided, as between Carranza and Obregon, which is the stronger man, and civil war may start afresh. But if an American army of occupation must be sent to Mexico, it will have been proved, first, to both countries that it was necessary for the welfare of Mexico and, second, to both the Americas that we have gone on a mission of service and not of conquest.
RAMSHACKLE COUNTY GOVERNMENT
BY RICHARD S. CHILDS
Mr. Childs is an original student of governmental problems and is best known in connection with the Short Ballot movement and the Commission-Manager Plan of municipal government. He is now a director of the National Short Ballot Organization. His pioneer article on the short ballot as an instrument of good government was published in The Outlook in 1909. The following article introduces unexplored territory and is his first move in a new campaign for good government. We are glad to have him select The Outlook again, as he did seven years ago, to be the medium through which sires to get his views before the general public.-THE Editors.
HE average voter has a lively idea as to what he wants in the way of village or city government and National government. His theories as to what the State government ought to do are a little hazier; but in county government he rarely gets any further than a general conviction that the crowd which runs his dear old party in the county is a little better than the other bunch and that all candidates bearing the label of the former crowd shall therefore be unhesitatingly indorsed on election day.
Over all the operations of the county government lie a great pall of silence and an utter absence of public opinion. If you should attempt to poke around in this darksome cave with a lantern, you will find that as soon as your light illuminates something interesting, the flame is abruptly smothered. Witness the efforts of a little civic association,
the Westchester County Research Bureau, in Westchester County, which lies just north of New York City. When this association began its researches several years ago, its highly interesting revelations of graft and incompetency were received with delight or ridicule, according to the partisanship of the newspapers. Before long, however, both sides learned that the Research Bureau was not intent upon furnishing political capital, but on securing the cessation of certain practices which had always been a source of profit to whichever party happened to be in office. Accordingly both parties soon declared war on the Research Bureau and inaugurated a conspiracy of silence so effective that to reach the people of Westchester with its proposals of reform the Bureau now must resort to sending pamphlets to the voters, an exceedingly expensive way of reaching public opinion.
On one occasion the head of the Bureau, a prominent lawyer, issued a painfully specific statement regarding the excessive cost of certain books, ledgers, etc., which the county had purchased. There were 110 big indexes worth $20 each, for example, which had been billed to the county at $81.45; hundreds of others worth $6 for which $36 had been paid, and so on. Apparently this statement got on the nerves of the men who were bossing the county business, so they caused a suit for libel to be brought against the lawyer and the New York" Evening Post," which had published his statements. The sixty-six little newspapers with which Westchester County is cursed heralded the approach of the trial with noisy satisfaction. The fair name of "our beautiful county" was to be upheld! This slinger of mud would learn to his cost that he must not make such statements! Westchester County at last read the news that to-day this offensive citizen was to be haled into court to answer for his libel. Then abruptly there was silence Only three of the sixty-six papers in Westchester published the results of that trial, and one of them reversed the facts!
The political machines not only control the press, but the public furnishes the money with which to finance the operation.
Westchester County expends each year over one hundred thousand dollars for the publication of political piffle at an exorbitant
If there were not so much velvet in this advertising, some of the newspapers no doubt could afford to kick over the traces and set themselves up as a real free press for the enlightenment of the public on county affairs, but it would be pretty hard for such a paper to live when the county is so liberally financing its rival. There was, in fact, one editor in Westchester who received his slice of the county advertising and proceeded to render his bill for it at a fair rate. The other publishers heard of this with dismay and went around to reason with him. He was very stubborn. "No," he said; "that is the legal rate, and, what is more, it is exceedingly good pay." It was explained to him patiently that the county could not very well pay him at that low rate and pay all the other papers at a higher rate; but the editor insisted on spilling the beans, so all the other papers had to suffer the cutting of their bills to the low rate also, to the great regret of all concerned except the recalcitrant editor, who for some strange
reason has never received any advertising from the county since then.
SUBSIDIZING THE PRESS
By a little intelligent management these subsidies to the press may often be jockeyed up into quite handsome figures. In Suffolk County, for instance, out at the end of Long Island, certain sandy wastes had been marked off in building lots and sold to distant credulous investors as suburban property. When the swindle had run its course, these useless lands were abandoned by their owners, and in the course of time they had to be sold for taxes. A few brief notices of the sale would have described the parcels sufficiently for all legal and practical purposes, but the county politicians arranged for a separate notice for each lot, thus running up an enormous series of notices, for which the newspapers rendered bills totaling $108,000, a handsome advertising appropriation, considering that it was for the purpose of collecting, if possible, the sum of $34,000 of accrued taxes.
Very little of this public advertising is of any value except to the newspapers that print it. It does not advertise. How utterly useless it may be is illustrated by the fact that corporations when desiring to keep a cranky minority stockholder from making trouble at the annual stockholders' meetings will exercise the option allowed to them by the law and, instead of mailing a letter to the stockholder, will "advertise" their annual meeting in order to conceal it from him. Such a notice is as safe from observation as the proverbial needle the haystack.
Various cities save most of such money through the publication by the city itself of a "City Record," into which all such notices, so far as the laws permit, are inexpensively put; but a county gazette is far, far away. Charles E. Hughes has about as much backbone as any Governor ever had, but when it was suggested that he take steps to abolish the printing of the session laws in all the counties of the State it is reported that he smiled sadly and affirmed that there were some things which even he would not venture to tackle unless he was prepared to sacrifice his whole legislative programme.
Ofttimes little papers are published solely for the purpose of getting this public advertising. Certainly it is an important asset to any paper. The honest rural editor gets a meager living out of his little weekly, but a county politician can come along, buy the