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RELATIONS BETWEEN MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES
 IN an earlier chapter the statement was made that a considerable part of the border between
the United States and Mexico is little more than a mathematical expression, no line of
demarcation existing and the territories of the two countries meeting each other on an
open plain. At points frontier towns of the two republics approach so closely that they
almost run together. The two most important of these, Ciudad Juarez (the City of Juarez)
of Mexico and El Paso of the United States, stand opposite each other at the point where
the Rio Grande ends its mission as a national boundary line and begins its extension into
United States territory, a bridge across the stream here connecting the two countries.
The facts cited are given to show the close territorial relations existing between these
two nations and the consequent necessity on the part of the United States to keep a close
watch over this easily crossed border line. In times of peace no such vigilance is
requisite, but during the eras of turbulence which have so frequently spread warlike
turmoil over Mexican soil its near neighbor has been at times obliged, in the interest of
justice and international obligation, to guard its far-flung boundary line and prevent
either of the parties in conflict from using the soil of the United States as a vantage
ground for warlike incursion or from smuggling munitions of war across the border.
On several occasions within recent years the War Department at Washington has issued
mobilizing orders to the army in consequence of disturbed conditions in the near vicinity
of American soil. This was done in June and September, 1908, and July, 1909. In March,
1911, the state of affairs
 in Mexico had grown critical, with the forces of Diaz and Madero everywhere in the field
and fighting going on so close to the border that bullets found their way across the line
and whistled in American ears. Evidently the time for energetic action had arrived. Orders
were issued to send all available troops to the Mexican frontier, and in a brief interval
trains laden with United States regulars and the necessary munitions were rolling rapidly
southward, the point of mobilization being San Antonio, Texas. By the 7th over 20,000
troops were stated to have reached this and other points, and fast, cruisers were
despatched to Galveston to be in readiness in case of difficulty in commercial relations.
The announcement was made that no threat to Mexico was intended in this movement of
troops, but that its purpose was to practice the army in field exercises and to experiment
in the line of rapid mobilization and military evolutions. It may be said that hardly a
person in the United States or Mexico believed this explanation. It had too much the
appearance of a transparent white lie. Affairs were critical near the border, the opposing
forces of government and revolution having locked horns almost on the international line,
as if for the purpose of provoking the United States to interfere. The well-founded
impression was that the movement was ordered for the purpose of protecting American
interests and maintaining American neutrality as regarded the contending forces, and that
the pretense of military exercises was a mere cloak to cover the real design.
In fact, matters had reached such a crisis along the border line that anxiety was felt in
both countries concerned. Friction arose over the seizure by Mexicans of two Americans,
the Mexican government refusing to release them on the ground that they had aided the
rebels and had been taken on Mexican soil. This was denied on the part of the United
States, which averred that the seizure had taken place on American soil. This was not the
only ground of trouble. Battling took place
 so near the border line that bullets whizzed from Mexico into the United States and
endangered the lives of persons in the town of Douglas, Arizona. In the end the Americans
in Mexican hands were set free and the belligerents were warned that fighting must not
take place too near the border, on peril of the United States troops taking a hand in the
game for the protection of American lives. There were other causes of grievance, much
damage having been done to American property in Mexico, and 500 claims for compensation
had been filed in the State Department at Washington. Certainly the situation was a
On the 14th of March, 1912, President Taft issued a proclamation forbidding the
exportation of arms to Mexico during the struggle in that country. Power to do this had
been granted him by Congress whenever he should find that "in any American country
conditions of domestic violence exist which are promoted by the use of arms and munitions
of war procured from the United States." When Wilson succeeded Taft as President this
prohibition was allowed to stand unchanged, though as time went on and the insurgents
showed indications of winning in the struggle many Congressmen urged that it should be
lifted as the surest means of bringing to an end the hostilities existing in Mexico. By
the end of 1913 Mexico had become divided between two factions, the whole northern section
being in the hands of the revolutionists, the southern section in those of the Huertists,
though in the latter case not fully, since the Zapata brigands were in control of a
considerable part of the south.
PRESIDENT WOODROW WILSON,
WHO HAS TAKEN A VERY DECIDED STAND IN MEXICAN MATTERS. HIS POLICY IS THAT OF "WATCHFUL WAITING" AND TO THAT END
HE IS KEPT IN CLOSE TOUCH WITH AFFAIRS OF MEXICO.
The argument brought by General Carranza and his fellow leaders was that their control
over Mexico was equal to that of the Huertists, the territory under their control larger
than that held by the latter., and their right to consider theirs as the actual government
better than that of a man whose power rested on the murder of the legitimate president and
nomination by a Congress of his own making. But as matters stood
 the Huerta faction was able to purchase arms in Europe and Japan and import them freely,
as they held all the ports; while the revolutionists, whose only open channel of
communication was with the United States, were debarred from any similar privilege by the
prohibition above spoken of. While this applied to both factions, its disadvantageous
effect was felt by the revolutionary faction alone.
The argument of the revolutionists was a reasonable one, and was acknowledged as such by
many American statesmen. President Wilson had long held it in mind, on the basis that the
restriction of trade in arms with Mexico was not, under the circumstances, an evidence of
neutrality, since the Huerta forces were enabled to get large supplies from abroad, while
the Constitutionalists, their equals in real legitimacy, could obtain them only by
smuggling. Aside from this, the prohibition was a costly one to the United States, since
it rendered necessary the patrolling by troops of the long border line between the two
countries, the chief necessity for which had been the prevention of smuggling arms across
the border. Yet no action was taken, and the year 1914 opened without any change in the
The Huerta administration in Mexico was early recognized by several European powers,
including Great, Britain, Spain and France. The British recognition was said to have been
instigated by the fact of the large holdings of petroleum interests in Mexico by British
subjects. Later, however, when it became evident that the United States would not
recognize a government founded on force and resulting from the assassination of a
legitimate president, the British recognition was declared to be only temporary, was open
to withdrawal. Europe in general showed a similar disposition to follow the lead of the
United States and leave to this country, whose financial interests in Mexico were far
larger than those of any other nation, the settlement of the question. The sentiment of
the commercial interests abroad was somewhat
 general that the United States should intervene and bring the struggle to an end by
forcible means. But President Wilson, recognizing the possible serious results of such
action, declined, and early in his administration adopted a policy of watchful waiting and
non-interference. Henry Lane Wilson, the American ambassador to Mexico, had expressed the
belief that the Huerta government was innocent of any connection with the murder of
President Madero, and asked for its recognition. This was not given, and the battleships
then in Mexican ports were ordered to remain there and the troops to retain their
positions on the border. The policy adopted continued to be a waiting one, though
accompanied by the presence of a large armed force on the frontier and ten ships of war in
the Gulf waters.
This had an important effect. Without American recognition the Mexican government could
not obtain a foreign loan, the financial interests abroad feeling it dangerous to risk
their funds on such doubtful security. The policy of the United States in this particular
has been aptly designated a freezing one. While no active steps were taken against the
Mexican government, the passive one proved very serious, as it cut off all inflow of funds
from abroad to sustain the war, and reduced the governing powers in Mexico to the use of
such doubtful supplies as could be obtained by drastic taxation or forced demands upon
business and financial interests. The financial straits of the Huerta government at length
proved so severe that the payment of interest due January 1, 1914, on the Mexican national
debt was suspended, this greatly increasing the stringency of relations between the
Mexican and foreign administrations.
The position maintained by Ambassador Wilson, that the Huerta government was innocent of
any connection with the murder of President Madero and should be recognized by the
American government, became in time so embarrassing to President Wilson that he recalled
the ambassador to
Washing-  ton for a special conference. He left Mexico for this purpose on July 24th. He found
President Wilson firmly convinced that Huerta had installed himself as a dictator without
warrant, owing his position to and in collusion with those to whom the murder of Madero
was due. In his opinion the only method of bringing Mexico into a position warranting
recognition of its government was to oust the usurper and elect a constitutional
MR. JOHN LIND OF THE U.S. CONSULATE IN MEXICO CITY.
PRESIDENT WILSON ADOPTED A PECULIAR METHOD OF GETTING FIRST-HAND INFORMATION ABOUT MEXICAN AFFAIRS BY
APPOINTING 'PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES, AND SENDING THEM TO MEXICO AS PRIVATE CITIZEN.
The result of the conference was the resignation of the ambassador. No successor was
appointed, the American interests in Mexico being left in the care of Nelson
O'Shaughnessy, chargé d'affaires. President Wilson sent in addition a special envoy to
Mexico, selecting for this mission John Lind, a former member of Congress and Governor of
Minnesota. He reached Mexico on August 10th, but was informed that his presence there was
undesirable unless he was prepared to recognize the existing government. As he could not
do this under his instructions, and found it impossible to bring Huerta to his way of
thinking, his mission in Mexico seemed likely to prove of no effect.
By the middle of October the relations between the United States and Mexico had grown very
stringent, and a note sent by President Wilson to Huerta gave him deep offense.
"Intemperate ",was his term for this communication. The "note" in question was the
"The President is shocked at the lawless methods employed by General Huerta, and as a
sincere friend of Mexico is deeply distressed at the situation which has arisen. He finds
it impossible to regard otherwise than as an act of bad faith toward the United States
General Huerta's course in dissolving Congress and arresting the deputies.
"It is not only a violation of constitutional guarantee, but it destroys all possibility
of a fair and free election. The President believes that an election held at this time,
and under conditions as they now exist, would have none of the sanctity
 with which the law surrounds the ballot, and that its result could not be regarded as
representing the will of the people. The President would not be justified in accepting the
result of such an election or in recognizing the President so chosen."
The lawless methods spoken of referred to the arrest by Huerta of 110 member, of the lower
House of Congress and their imprisonment for the offense of speaking freely of the
unsatisfactory course of events, also to the purpose of holding an election on October
26th, with the full knowledge that it was impossible at that time to obtain a full and
At the time of sending this note four battleships were despatched to Vera Cruz, and the
leading powers of Europe had it in view to take a similar course. But neither the "note"
nor the implied threat in sending these warships had a deterring effect upon Huerta, who
stood defiant of all protesting powers. He, indeed, spoke of resigning, but this was
looked upon as a mere trick, his Cabinet, subservient to him in its debates, deciding not
to let him resign, being probably well advised that he had no thought of such an action.
In fact he immediately afterward thus declared himself :
"When I resign it will be to seek a resting place six feet in the soil. When I flee the
capital it will be to shoulder a rifle and take my place in the ranks to fight the
During the month of November the feeling of the powers grew more decided in favor of using
force against the Mexican dictator, and on the 3rd. President Wilson plainly told Huerta
that he must resign the presidency of Mexico without loss of time, and must not leave as
his successor General Blanquet, or any member of his official family or unofficial coterie
whom he might expect to control.
The language of this communication was mandatory, and seemed backed up by the presence of
the American battleships at Vera Cruz. It caused a general excitement in Mexico,
especially as the plans of the American President were backed up by England, France and
 joined in ordering Huerta to withdraw. There was even talk of blockading the Mexican ports
within three days.
As before, however, nothing came of it. Huerta appeared to waver, and for some days he
disappeared, as if in hiding. But procrastination had the same effect as defiance, actual
armed intervention was a step which none of the nations were willing to take, and the
affair blew over leaving the state of affairs unchanged.
On December 9th a new move was made in Mexican politics. The Congress then existing, that
claimed to have been elected on October 26th, declared the election on that date to be
null and void, but at the same time passed a resolution declaring Huerta president until a
new election should be held on July 10, 1914. This resolution by a body declared at the
same time that it had no legal existence was of the usual type of legislation in Mexico at
The great interest taken by the administration in Mexican affairs, and the warrant for the
inflexible attitude of President Wilson, was the large financial interest of Americans in
Mexico, estimated to amount in value to more than $1,000,000,000, a larger sum than those
of all European countries combined.
As a result there was a large number of Americans residing in Mexico whose lives, as well
as their property, were imperilled by the existing condition of affairs.
U.S. MARINES GOING ON BOARD SHIP FOR THE VOYAGE TO MEXICO.
UNCLE SAM'S FORCE OF SEA-SOLDIERS IS ONE OF THE MOST EFFICIENT MILITARY ORGANIZATIONS IN THE WORLD
AND THE MEN HAVE SEEN SERVICE IN MANY A FOREIGN LAND IN SUPPRESSING REVOLUTIONS AND RESTORING ORDER.
With some of them a state of panic existed, and the feeling of their danger was shared by
the President, who urged all Americans to leave the country, and by Congress, which on
September 12th voted an appropriation of $100,000 to aid Americans who were destitute of
the necessary funds for the homeward journey. There were many ready to take advantage of
this, and a large number hurried to the seaports for transportation home. Those who
remained were persons of large property interests, which would be seriously endangered by
their absence, those who did not share the panic many, and those of the daring class who
are always ready to face danger.
 In his annual message to Congress on December 2, 1913, President Wilson plainly stated his
views as to the conditions then existing, saying:
"Mexico has no government. The attempt to maintain one at the city of Mexico has broken
down, and a mere military despotism has been set up which has hardly more than the
semblance of national authority. It originated in the usurpation of Victorian Huerta, who,
after a brief attempt to play the part of constitutional president, has at last cast aside
even the pretense of legal right and declared himself dictator. As a consequence, a
condition of affairs now exists in Mexico which has made it doubtful whether even the most
elementary and fundamental rights either of her own people or of the citizens of other
countries resident within her territory can long be successfully safeguarded, and which
threatens, if long continued, to imperil the interests of peace, order and tolerable life
in the lands immediately to the south of us."
The method of "watchful waiting," which had been broken at times by ineffective efforts to
force Huerta to resign, went on until February 3rd, when a new step was taken by the
American President, that of lifting the embargo on trade in arms which had existed for
nearly two years, and opening the way for the Constitutionalists to place themselves on a
level in this particular. On that date the following proclamation was issued:
"Whereas, By a proclamation of the President issued on March 14, 1912, under a
joint resolution of Congress approved by the President on the same day, it was declared
that there existed in Mexico conditions of domestic violence which were promoted by the
use of arms or munitions of war procured from the United States; and
"Whereas, By the joint resolution above mentioned it thereupon became unlawful to
export arms or munitions of war to Mexico except under such limitations and exceptions as
the President should prescribe;
 "Now, therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America,
hereby declare and proclaim that, as the conditions on which the proclamation of March 14,
1912, was based have essentially changed, and as it is desirable to place the United
States, with reference to the exportation of arms or munitions of war to Mexico, in the
same position as other Powers, the said proclamation is hereby revoked.
"In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States
to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington this third day of February, in the year of
our Lord one thousand nine hundred and fourteen, and of the independence of the United
States the one hundred and thirty-eighth.
"By the President. Woodrow Wilson. W.J. Byran,
"Secretary of State"
This step went far towards equalizing conditions between the contending factions. General
Carranza had more than once declared that if the revolutionists were given the power of
obtaining war material the conflict would be of short duration, and that the forces under
his command could not long be kept out of Mexico City. The time to prove if this assertion
was justified had come.
The proclamation had scarcely been made public before the supply of arms in the military
stores at El Paso were exhausted by the demand from Juarez. Larger supplies were set in
motion from New Orleans towards the border. During the previous period smuggling of arms
over the border had gone on to a considerable extent, and a large quantity of arms that
had been seized and held by the border patrols were now set free and permitted to reach
those who long before had paid for them.
Officials who had kept in touch with the Mexican campaigns, said that the
Constitutionalist forces had been at a great
 disadvantage because of the superior artillery of the Huerta army. The Constitutionalists,
while plentifully supplied with small ammunition and materials for their rapid-fire guns,
had been almost entirely without heavy artillery. They even had been put to the straits of
manufacturing guns in the railroad machine shops of Chihuahua and Durango.
That an abundant supply of arms and ammunition would be of great assistance to them was
very evident. The officials at Washington, while "freezing" out the Huerta government from
obtaining funds from Europe, had at the same time been "freezing" out the revolutionists
from obtaining arms from the United States. This restriction had now been lifted and the
effect remained to be seen.
The government of the United States had not alone its relations with Mexico to consider,
but also those with the nations of Europe, such at least as had trading interests with
Mexico and had recognized the Huerta administration as legitimate. The refusal of
recognition on the part of President Wilson had put these nations into a somewhat awkward
attitude. The shadow of the Monroe Doctrine lay across the path of action on the part of
foreign powers, and they felt chary of taking any decisive step under the circumstances.
As the United States had so long stood forward as the guardian of the weaker American
republics, the watch-dog over American interests in general, the attitude of this country
regarding Mexican or any Latin-American question had grown to be looked upon as antecedent
to any decision of their own.
President Wilson's ultimatum had one important effect: it checked at its source any
outflow of each toward Mexican government coffers. High finance is a sensitive organism,
one that draws in its tendrils at the least touch of doubt. The United States had given
its verdict that Mexico had no constitutional government; what the United States said in
regard to American interests was apt to go; the money chests abroad were accordingly
locked tight and the Huerta
 government left to gather in funds at home if it could; they were not to be had abroad.
Intervention was looked upon by foreign powers as a reasonable policy under the
circumstances. Not intervention by themselves, however. They preferred to have Uncle Sam
pull their chestnuts out of the fire. But Uncle Sam was not eager to put his paws into the
fire to please his foreign cousins. He knew too well what it meant. His foresight showed
him all Mexico in arms against him. He had visions of possibly all Latin America aiding or
abetting Mexico. He preferred to leave the perilous task to his allies, the rebels in
arms, and contented himself with asking Huerta to step down and out. The only difficulty
in the problem was that Huerta refused to do anything of the kind.
The fact is, that the United States found itself in an awkward quandary. With the Mexican
dictator defying it, with the prevision that the ultimate cost of armed intervention might
count up to more than the billion-dollar American interest in Mexico, with all the other
grave possibilities that might attend such an action, it seemed decidedly best to watch
and wait and trust to time and events to make the problem one easier of solution. The time
came in April, 1914, when the Mexicans, by an insult to the American flag, forced
President Wilson to adopt the policy of intervention which he had so long declined, and
enter upon a new and more decided course of action.