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It is all but certain that this expectation would have been realized within a few months, perhaps within a few weeks, if Seward had not cleverly disorganized the whole undertaking by flattering its chief into believ ing that his services were needed at once in the field of diplomacy. Schofield was requested to meet Seward at Cape May. There the soldier, after four years of the hard fare of war, could look out upon the ocean and dream of important interviews and banquets at the Tuileries. The perfection of the strategy is shown by the fact that Schofield did not think it remarkable that such shrewd diplomatists as Seward and Bigelow needed his aid. And Seward was supposed to be perfectly serious when he said: "I want you to get your legs under Napoleon's mahogany and tell him he must get out of Mexico." Schofield was kept waiting for more than two months and then sent off to Paris, where he was allowed to remain and do some feasting in the outer circle of court and military society until May, 1866, when, as he unsuspectingly and solemnly says: "The condition of the Franco-Mexican question at the time of my return from Europe gave no further occasion for my offices in either of the ways which had been contemplated in behalf of Mexico." The soldier had done no harm in diplomacy, where he had no important authority; Seward and Bigelow had been laughing in their sleeves."
2 Schofield, 393.
3 For Sheridan's views as to how Seward lost a "golden opportunity" for war, and as to "the slow and poky methods of our State Department," see his 2 Personal Memoirs, 214-17.
Parts of some of Seward's unpublished private letters to Bigelow show not only how little assistance the two diplomatists needed, but also how careful Seward had been to keep the question within the domain of negotiation:
June 17, 1865: "Circumstances indicate a growing disposition in some quarters of the country to find or make a casus belli with a view to the political situation in Mexico. I think it would be well for you
Seward had meantime become more peremptory with France. In a long despatch of September 6, 1865, he said, in substance: For many years there has been a traditional friendship between France and the United States that has been cherished quite regardless of politi cal conditions in either country. The United States favor republican institutions on the American continent. French intervention in Mexico has been antagonistic to this position and has tended to prevent the republican sovereignty of Mexico from asserting itself. France and the United States have armies confronting each other on the Mexican border; and although the two forces have
in an informal and confidential manner to let the French government understand the great importance, as we think, of the practice on their part, of the most just and friendly disposition towards the United States by the French authorities in Mexico, as well as in the shaping of French policy towards that country.
"Prompt and punctual attention to this subject will be of essential importance."
July 1, 1865: "Parties are organizing here for ulterior political action. It is unmistakable that immediate enforcement of negro suffrage upon the states which rebelled, by the conquering loyal states, is to be the platform of one, and decided and initiatory action toward France in regard to Mexico another."
July 14, 1865: “I need hardly point out the movements made here indicative of a defiant spirit about Mexican affairs. I may, however, properly tell you that they find much favor in the army, and you are well aware how popular the army deservedly is at this moment. Congress will soon be in session and then we may expect debates and party organizations.
"Fully informed you will act wisely and discreetly."
July 24, 1865: "There are unmistakable signs that the Mexican embroglio is to be made a subject for excitement and party contentions. Nothing will satisfy the nervous but vehemence on the part of this government. The complications grow more formidable every day."
August 7, 1865: "I hope that you clearly foresee what is certain to be the temper of Congress and of political conventions in this country in regard to Mexico, and that you do not in any way withhold the information from Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys."
heretofore practised prudence, "a time seems to have come when both nations may well consider whether the permanent interests of international peace and friendship do not require the exercise of a thoughtful and serious attention to the political questions to which I have thus adverted."
On November 6th another step in advance was taken. Seward declared that Maximilian's government was in direct antagonism to the fundamental policy and principle of that of the United States. Therefore, he said, they were not prepared to recognize it then, or to promise to recognize any similar government later. It is not strange that the French Minister of Foreign Affairs remarked, after Bigelow had finished reading the despatch, that its contents gave him neither pleasure nor satisfaction. Still Napoleon could not accept this as final and withdraw, for the stronger the language of the United States the stronger the moral demand upon the Emperor of the French to support his puppet.
Before the end of 1865 practically everybody in the United States agreed that French intervention must soon end, and a despatch of December 16th announced:
"It has been the President's purpose that France should be respectfully informed upon two points, namely:
First. That the United States earnestly desire to continue to cultivate sincere friendship with France.
Second. That this policy would be brought into imminent jeopardy unless France could deem it consistent with her interest and honor to desist from the prosecution of armed intervention in Mexico, to overthrow the domestic republican government existing there, and to establish upon its ruins the foreign monarchy which has been attempted to be inaugurated in the capital of the country.
This was as plain as if he had written: Withdraw or
1 3 Dip. Cor., 1865, 412-414.
3 3 Dip. Cor., 1865, 427.
2 3 Dip. Cor., 1865, 422.
4 3 Dip. Cor., 1865, 490.
fight; yet it was not said in a way to precipitate a conflict.
There was great excitement in France early in 1866 owing to the Mexican question. Some likened the commotion to that that preceded the revolution of 1789.1 Drouyn de Lhuys reviewed with circumspection the course that France had pursued; and, as a condition of the withdrawal of French troops, he once more tried to get the United States to recognize Maximilian. On February 12th Seward replied, with great care, making what Bigelow privately described as a very happy combination of the suaviter in modo with the fortiter in re; he held his ground firmly but diplomatically.'
After considering the matter for several weeks, Napoleon concluded that he could not afford to risk a war with the United States. On April 5, 1866, Le Moniteur, his official organ, announced that the French troops would evacuate Mexico in three detachments-namely, in November, 1866, and in March and November, 1867.* Thus the question of French intervention in Mexico seemed to be settled.
When the time came for the departure of the first third of the French army, Seward was informed by the American Minister in Paris that Napoleon had decided to postpone the withdrawal of all his troops until the
13 Dip. Cor., 1865, 807.
23 Dip. Cor., 1865, 805 ff.
3 3 Dip. Cor., 1865, 813 ff. In a private letter of February 14, 1866, about this despatch, Seward said:
'What I write is approved by the President. The Congress of the United States is sufficiently imbued with a conviction of the necessity of governmental action on the subject of the French intervention.
"What has recently been written by me on that subject to Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys is marked by a degree of decision which Congress will approve, while I trust it is expressed in a manner that ought to be deemed conciliatory and respectful. I shall look with much solicitude to the reply which may now be expected from France.' -Bigelow MSS. 4 3 Dip. Cor., 1865, 827.
spring of 1867. Seward replied by cable, under date of November 23, 1866:
"We cannot acquiesce
"First. Because the term 'next spring,' as appointed for the entire evacuation, is indefinite and vague.
"Second. Because we have no authority for stating to Congress and to the American people that we have now a better guarantee for the withdrawal of the whole expeditionary force in the spring than we have heretofore had for a withdrawal of a part in November."
And third, in substance, because such delay would seriously conflict with the plans of the United States."
Napoleon intended to withdraw his troops, but he wished to postpone their departure as long as possible, in the interest of French securities and to ward off the disgrace of his own unscrupulous scheme to use Maximilian and the Mexicans. In the hope of gaining time, at least, he proposed that a Mexican provisional government be formed to the exclusion of both Maximilian and Juarez. But Seward had repeatedly declined to sever the friendly relations of the United States with Juarez's government, although it had long been a fugitive. During the early part of 1866 Sheridan had supplied the Mexican Liberals with as many as thirty thousand muskets, and Juarez had won back most of the northeastern part of Mexico. Seward now knew that he could safely refuse to carry on further negotiations for delay; and the avoidance of war he wisely thought more important than a display of enthusiasm and power. So, on January 18, 1867, he positively declined Napoleon's proposition. Napoleon then gave up hope. In February, 1867, the French evacuated the City of Mexico, and intervention quickly came to an end.
1 Dip. Cor., 1866, 364.
2 Sheridan's Memoirs, 224.
2 Ibid.,*366, 367.
4 1 Dip. Cor., 1867, 218.