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PRESIDENT WILSON'S MEXICAN POLICY

AN INTERPRETATION'

BY “MCGREGOR

T

HOSE who believe that President the real question remains, Has President

Wilson has been guided by his under- Wilson a Mexican policy of fine words only,

standing of what constitutes the best or have his principles marked out a consistent interests of Mexico, and that his purposes course of conduct ? are altruistic and idealistic, may gain a very This writer holds that there have been fair comprehension of his Mexican policy certain great decisions by the President at from his public utterances. The principles succeeding crises of our relations with Mexico which he claims have actuated him may be which will enable us to determine his policy, stated almost in his own words :

just as a series of judicial decisions mark out We are the champions of constitutional point by point Constitutional limitations. To government in America, and so cannot coun- understand the full significance of these detenance a inere military despotism originating cisions some knowledge of Mexican history in unjustifiable usurpation ; with our passion and geography is necessary, some acquaint

, for liberty, we must recognize the right of a ance with the character and temper of the people to reform, alter, or abolish a govern- Mexican people. It is held, further, that

, ment found inadequate or contrary to the each decision in its turn was logical, wise, and purposes for which governments are insti- just, and was the only one possible for Woodtuted ; liberty was never handed down from row Wilson to make. For those whose parabove, but is attained by forces working tisanship really stops at the border a study of among the people themselves; we should not the Mexican revolution is sufficient to conundertake to impose upon another nation an vince them of this ; while to those who feel order and government of our own choosing ; that whatever the President does is wrong we have peculiar obligations to Mexico as her the consideration of the alternative to each nearest friend, but all of Latin America also decision is commended. has an interest in the welfare of a sister 1. Refusal to recognize Huerta as President republic; the liberties and permanent happi- of Mexico. ness of eighty per cent of the Mexican people Mexican history really began before the are of more importance than the prosperity 4th of March, 1913. The newly inaugurated of their former exploiters or the present President inherited the Mexican problem from opportunity to American citizens to do busi- his predecessor in office, not only unsolved, ness in Mexico ; our National self-respect and but with all the conditions of solution made safety must be maintained at all costs, but we more difficult by the official attitude of the should not allow ourselves to be forced into Taft Administration toward Madero, the war with the Mexican people if that can pos- legally elected President of Mexico. Less sibly be avoided ; there must be a final reckon- than three months after Madero had assumed ing for damages and injuries inflicted, but a office President Taft, with only the excuse great nation should exercise patience and self- of sporadic brigandage for his action, ordered restraint in dealing with a country torn by all the regular troops in the United States civil strife; “ the United States will never and the National Guard, one hundred thouagain seek one additional foot of territory by sand men in all, to be prepared for field servconquest;" "the steady pressure of moral force ice. The order could mean only one thing will break the barriers of pride and prejudice to the Mexican people--American intervendown, and we shall triumph as Mexico's tion, the threat of which, skillfully used by friend sooner than we could triumph as her Diaz, had suppressed revolution against his enemies—and ... with how much higher and tyranny for decades. On March 2, 1912, finer satisfaction of conscience and honor." Americans were warned to leave Mexico.

Joyous jingoes, temperamental tories, par- On April 15 Acting Secretary of State Hunttisan politicians, and common commercialists ington Wilson, with Knox away on his dollar may quarrel with these principles, but the diplomacy tours, sent a brutal message of average American citizen accepts them. Yet warning to Madero, which proved to be a

See editorial elsewhere in this issue.-THE EDITORS. pure bluff but had its part in deepening the PRESIDENT WILSON'S MEXICAN POLICY

37

impression made by Taft's military order. goes have wanted the army to “ go in and Nevertheless, with the beginning of the year clean up Mexico." Americans with Mexican 1913 Madero seemed to have won his fight, investments from which they were receiving despite the hostility of the American Govern- no profit have contended that the maintement, when the Cientificos, grown desperate, nance of order was the first duty of the formed a conspiracy against him, carried L’nited States. Banished ecclesiastics have out by military officers turned traitors. On sought American intervention as the alternaFebruary 18, 1913, after a series of sham tive to a native government hostile to the battles in Mexico City between Huerta, put Church. The commercial press has been clamin charge of Madero's forces, and Felix Diaz, orous for intervention, and partisan politicians at the head of the conspiracy, these two have rung the changes on the lack of proworthies met and signed an agreement at the tection to American citizens and property and American Embassy, following the arrest of the failure to avenge the outrages committed President Madero and Vice-President Suarez. against the lives and persons of our countryThe next day the President and the Vice-Presi- men and countrywomen. dent resigned under duress; Pedro Lascurain, But armed intervention would infallibly of the Madero Cabinet, became President for have meant war upon the whole Mexican fifteen minutes and appointed Huerta to the people. Even an alliance with ConstitutionCabinet post next in order of succession, then alist leaders against Huerta would have sent resigned himself, leaving Huerta Provisional the Constitutionalist armies into Huerta's President, barring such trifling irregularities camp. We must remember that we have as forced resignations and their acceptance had one war with Mexico, at the time revoltand the confirmation of successors by a ter- ing to the New England conscience, though rorized Congress minus a quorum.

Febru- yielding us a gratifyingly large slice of territory ary 21, Ambassador Wilson accorded de stretching from the lower Rio Grande to the facto recognition on behalf of the United California coast, a consequence still rememStates Government to Huerta ; and on the bered in Mexico. Intervention would have 22d, while Wilson and Huerta were cele- meant the probable sacrifice of all the Amerbrating Washington's birthday at the Ameri- icans remaining in Mexico, would have recan Embassy, Madero and Suarez sulted in much shedding of blood, both of assassinated.

American and Mexican soldiers, and would The American Ambassador cheerfully ac- have postponed for another generation the cepted the “ official version” of the murder, development of the people along the lines of and rejoiced that a "ined despotism had self-government. fallen."

The mere reading of the list of Americans To have recogn

rta, therefore, killed, as published by the Secretary of State would have been to treachery, usur- , with the attendant circumstances, is enough pation, assassination, and the destruction of to convince one of the impossibility of holdconstitutional government not only, but to ing any faction responsible for wrongs comhave indorsed the part played in the over- mitted outside its varying sphere of jurisdicthrow of the constitutional President by the tion. Investigations have been made of every American Government, acting through the case, with proper representations to the State Department and the American Ambas- nearest authority, damages to be assessed and sador. The question was further complicated collected when an orderly government is by the immediate revolt against Huerta of established. Many of the murderers have ten of the elected Governors of Mexican become themselves the victims of the revoStates, headed by Carranza, Governor of lution. President Wilson has consistently Coahuila, calling themselves “ Constitution- refused to hold a disorganized country, in the alists,” and givenanting among themselves to throes of civil strife, responsible for the restore constitutional government in Mexico. crimes of individuals which it was unable to To have thrown the weight of influence of the prevent or to punish, to the extent of making American Administration into the scale against war upon Mexico. those who resisted ursurpation and despotism 3. The Occupation of l'era Crus. was also impossible for Woodrow Wilson. As early as the summer of 1913 President

2. Resistance of Appeals for Intervention. Wilson tendered his good offices to the con

Appeals for armed intervention have come tending factions, proposing an armistice, a from numerous sources. Irresponsible jin- free election with the stipulation that Huerta

were

should not be a candidate for the Presidency, No matter who conceived the plan, Argenthe agreement of all parties to abide by the tina, Brazil, and Chile, representing Latin result of the election, and the support of the America, offered to mediate between the administration chosen by the power of the Mexican factions and the United States, and United States. The offer was rejected by the Niagara Conference was held, with farHuerta. Yet so determined was President reaching consequences of good will and Wilson that the Mexican people should work of confidence re-established between Latin out their own problem that not even the America and English America. The immeembargo on the exportation of arms from this diate consequence for Mexico was the restriccountry was lifted until the Constitutionalists tion of American occupation to Vera Cruz. had shown what they could accomplish by But Huerta was not able to maintain himself winning the whole of northern Mexico to in power, the Y piranga was allowed to unload their cause. Obregon and Villa defeated one at Puerto Mexico too late to save him, and Huerta army after another, while Zapata con- not long afterwards he sailed away to Europe tinually threatened from the south. Finally, from the same port, and Carranza entered in his desperation, Huerta made his appeal the capital in triumph. to Mexican patriotism by picking a quarrel 5. Evacuation of Vera Crus. with the United States. The arrest of Ameri- The revolution now began to “ devour its can sailors in uniform, protected by the own children.” Carranza had long been American flag flying from their boat, was the suspicious of Villa, and Villa rebellious at the culmination of a series of insults by a respon- exercise of any authority over him by the sible authority. Accordingly, President Wil- First Chief. He remained in his Departson backed up the demand made by Admiral ment of the North, recruiting his army, when Mayo for the salute to the flag, ordered the Carranza marched with Obregon into Mexico fleet to Vera Cruz, and requested authority City. A convention was called at the capital, from Congress to use the army and navy" in but it lacked representatives from the armies such ways and to such an extent as may be of Villa and Zapata, and, finding itself under necessary to obtain from General Huerta and the domination of Carranza, adjourned to his adherents the fullest recognition of the Aguas Calientes, where it fell under the conrights and dignity of the United States, even trol of Villa, whose representatives, with those amid the distressing conditions now unhappily of Zapata, formed a majority of all. The obtaining in Mexico.” The House promptly convention unconditionally accepted the resig. passed the necessary resolution. While the nation of Carranza as First Chief, made conSenate was debating the Lodge substitute, ditionally, elected Provisional President, ably supported by Senator Root, the adoption and adjourned jco City, which Carof which substitute would infallibly have meant ranza had left a ping it of its defenses. war with all Mexico, the news came of the Villa entered in

December 6, 1914, arrival at Vera Cruz of the German merchant and for the week following reveled in an vessel Y piranga, with 250 machine guns and orgy of lust and blood, proving himself im2,000,000 rounds of ammunition on board possible as the head of the Government. for our prospective enemies. The President President Wilson, with extraordinary insight immediately ordered the seizure of Vera Cruz, and foresight, delivered Vera Cruz, with its at the cost of the lives of nineteen marines precious revenues, to the nearest Carranza and some two hundred Mexicans. But the general. With Vera Cruz retained by the Vera Cruz custom-house was the chief source American army, Carranza would soon have of revenue for Huerta, and the collection of been at the mercy of Villa, made Comthe import taxes by the American authorities mander-in-Chief by his complacent convenwas as fatal to him as would have been the tion. But with the aid of his still loyal march upon Mexico City. Yet the childish officers, Obregon and Pablo Gonzales, and assertion is still occasionally heard that we the Vera Cruz custom-house, Carranza slowly went to war with Huerta to obtain a salute to won back the territory he had lost until the flag and failed to obtain it.

Obregon defeated Villa in a decisive battle, 4. The A B C Mediation.

Villa retiring to the States of the north. And next the miracle was wrought which 6. Recognition of Carranca. stopped an invasion of Mexican soil fol- With affairs apparently at a deadlock as lowed by the shedding of blood, without between Villa and Carranza, with talk of the involving us in war with the Mexican people. division of Mexico into northern and south

1916

RAMSHACKLE COUNTY GOVERNMENT

39

ern nations, the advice of the Latin-American forces seems to have received universal republics was again asked, and it was deter- commendation. The invasion of United mined that Carranza should be recognized as States territory and the murder of soldiers the de facto head of the Mexican Government. and citizens on our own soil demanded swift

Evidently President Wilson has faith in the and effective punishment, which Carranza sifting processes of revolution by which the seemed unable to give. The Senate of the strongest man at last emerges. And recog- l'nited States passed a resolution by unaninition by the l'nited States has proved as mous vote commending the expedition, and necessary to success as the withholding of at the same time deprecating any idea of recognition had proved tantamount to defeat, war with the Mexican people. Yet interboth being important lessons for the Mexican vention may yet be necessary. With Villa people. Villa degenerated into a bandit eliminated, it may yet have to be decided, again, with a few brigands as his followers, as between Carranza and Obregon, which while Carranza has again occupied the cap- is the stronger man, and civil war may ital, with nearly all of Mexico acknowledging start afresh. But if an American army of his authority. He has already put into effect occupation must be sent to Mexico, it will many reforms as military decrees.

have been proved, first, to both countries 7. The Punitive Expedition.

that it was necessary for the welfare of The resolve to send our troops into Mex- Mexico ; and, second, to both the Americas ico, following the Columbus raid, for the that we have gone on a mission of service capture of Villa and the dispersion of his and not of conquest.

a

RAMSHACKLE COUNTY GOVERNMENT

BY RICHARD S. CHILDS

T

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 whiclosires to get his views before the general public.—THE Editors.

HE average voter has a lively idea as the Westchester County Research Bureau,

to what he wants in the way of vil- in Westchester County, which lies just north

lage or city government and Na- of Vew York City. When this association tional government. His theories as to what began its researches several years ago, its the State government ought to do are a little highly interesting revelations of graft and hazier : but in county government he rarely incompetency were received with delight or gets any further than a general conviction ridicule, according to the partisanship of the that the crowd which runs his dear old party newspapers. Before long, however, both in the county is a little better than the other sides learned that the Research Bureau was bunch and that all candidates bearing the label not intent upon furnishing political capital, of the former crowd shall therefore be unhesi- but on securing the cessation of certain practatingly indorsed on election day.

tices which had always been a source of profit Over all the operations of the county gov- to whichever party happened to be in office. ernment lie a great pall of silence and an Accordingly both parties soon declared war utter absence of public opinion.

on the Research Bureau and inaugurated a should attempt to poke around in this dark- conspiracy of silence so effective that to reach some cave with a lantern, you will find that the people of Westchester with its proposals as soon as your light illuminates something of reform the Bureau now must resort to sendinteresting, the flame is abruptly smothered. ing pamphlets to the voters, an exceedingly Witness the efforts of a little civic association, expensive way of reaching public opinion.

If you

POLITICAL CENSORSHIP

reason has never received any advertising On one occasion the head of the Bureau, from the county since then. a prominent lawyer, issued a painfully specific statement regarding the excessive cost of

SUBSIDIZING THE PRESS certain books, ledgers, etc., which the county By a little intelligent management these had purchased. There were 110 big indexes subsidies to the press may often be jockeyed worth $20 each, for example, which had been up into quite handsome figures. In Suffolk billed to the county at $81.45 ; hundreds of County, for instance, out at the end of Long others worth $6 for which $36 had been paid, Island, certain sandy wastes had been marked and so on. Apparently this statement got off in building lots and sold to distant creduon the nerves of the men who were bossing lous investors as suburban property. When the county business, so they caused a suit for the swindle had run its course, these useless libel to be brought against the lawyer and the lands were abandoned by their owners, and New York - Evening Post," which had pub- in the course of time they had to be sold for lished his statements. The sixty-six little taxes. A few brief notices of the sale would newspapers with which Westchester County have described the parcels sufficiently for all is cursed heralded the approach of the trial legal and practical purposes, but the county with noisy satisfaction. The fair name of “our politicians arranged for a separate notice for beautiful county" was to be upheld! This each lot, thus running up an enormous series slinger of mud would learn to his cost that he of notices, for which the newspapers rendered must not make such statements! Westchester bills totaling $108,000, a handsome adverCounty at last read the news that to-day this tising appropriation, considering that it was offensive citizen was to be haled into court to for the purpose of coliecting, if possible, the answer for his libel. Then abruptly there sum of $34,000 of accrued taxes. was silence Only three of the sixty-six Very little of this public advertising is of papers in Westchester published the results any value except to the newspapers that of that trial, and one of them reversed the print it. It does not advertise. How utterly facts!

useless it may be is illustrated by the fact The political machines not only control the that corporations when desiring to keep a press, but the public furnishes the money cranky minority stockholder from making with which to finance the operation.

trouble at the annual stockholders' meetings Westchester County expends each year will exercise the option allowed to them by over one hundred thousand dollars for the the law and, instead of mailing a letter to publication of political piffle at an exorbitant the stockholder, willes advertise” their anrate. If there were not so much velvet in nual meeting in order to conceal it from him. this advertising, some of the newspapers no Such a notice is as safe from observation as doubt could afford to kick over the traces and the proverbial neerile in the haystack. set themselves up as a real free press for the Various cities save most of such money enlightenment of the public on county affairs, through the publication by the city itself of a but it would be pretty hard for such a paper "City Record,” into which all such notices, so to live when the county is so liberally financing far as the laws permit, are inexpensively put; its rival. There was, in fact, one editor in but a county gazette is far, far away. Charles Westchester who received his slice of the E. Hughes has about as much backbone as county advertising and proceeded to render any Governor ever had, but when it was his bill for it at a fair rate. The other pub- suggested that he take steps to abolish the lishers heard of this with dismay and went printing of the session laws in all the counties around to reason with him.

He was very

of the State it is reported that he smiled stubborn. : No," he said ; " that is the legal sadly and affirmed that there were some rate, and, what is more, it is exceedingly good things which even he would not venture to pay.” It was explained to him patiently that tackle unless he was prepared to sacrifice his the county could not very well pay him at whole legislative programme. that low rate and pay all the other papers at Ofttimes little papers are published solely a higher rate; but the editor insisted on spilling for the purpose of getting this public adverthe beans, so all the other papers had to suffer tising. Certainly it is an important asset the cutting of their bills to the low rate also, to any paper.

The honest rural editor gets to the great regret of all concerned except a meager living out of his little weekly, but a the recalcitrant editor, who for some strange county politician can come along, buy the

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