The Forgotten Peace
Mediation at Niagara Falls
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Ottawa Press
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In the late summer of 1993, I was studying Spanish in Cuernavaca in preparation for a diplomatic assignment to the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City. While reading a general history of the Mexican Revolution by a British writer, Ronald Atkins, I came across a single paragraph that mentioned that after four years of upheaval there ...
Chapter 1: Breaking news
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Readers of the Toronto Globe opening their newspapers on the morning of Friday, April 24, 1914 would have been alarmed to read the following headline stretching across the page: “Declaration of War Against Mexico Expected.” Different reports from the Canadian Press covered facets of the crisis that had been triggered by the ...
Chapter 2: Prelude to intervention
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The Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920 was the cataclysmic event in that nation’s modern history. Successive waves of rebellion transformed a corrupt and backward dictatorship, heavily dependent on foreign capital, into a modern, centralized state committed to a nationalist, populist program of economic development. Given the extensive foreign investment ...
Chapter 3: A ray of light
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In the words of one contemporary American observer, Frank H. Severance: “At this juncture, when the blockade of Mexican ports, the bombardment of Mexican cities, and the invasion of her territory by the United States troops seemed to be the next step, an offer of mediation came like a ray of light through the storm clouds.”1 ...
Chapter 4: Diplomatic distractions
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Upon arrival at Niagara, the Latin American and American delegates installed themselves in their respective hotels on either side of the Falls. Justice Lamar’s wife, Clarinda, described the scene: The three South American Ambassadors, with their suites, and the three Mexican Commissioners, ...
Chapter 5: The mediation
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Woodrow Wilson made it clear from the outset that accepting the mediators’ offer implied no change in his fundamental goal of ousting Huerta. He followed Bryan’s formal reply to the mediators with his own confidential memo to them, which declared in typically sweeping terms that “no settlement could have any prospect of ...
Chapter 6: The aftermath
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After the conference had ended there was the usual diplomatic round of congratulatory speeches and messages. At a farewell lunch to thank the reporters who had covered the conference “at this now historic spot,” Ambassador da Gama congratulated his fellow mediators “for appearing before you as probably the most ...
Chapter 7: Failures and accomplishments
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Why did the Niagara Falls Peace Conference fail? Among the many reasons, the most fundamental was stated by Robert Lansing before the conference even began: it was never really a mediation between countries, but a mediation between two factions in a civil war, and one of those factions never came to the table. All the parties ...
Chapter 8: Looking back from today
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From the vantage point of today, what is there of interest in a failed peace conference that took place more than ninety years ago? It does not lie in its impact on the course of the Mexican Revolution. From that vantage point, it appears as an inconsequential Edwardian diversion from the course of a titanic struggle. ...
Appendix 1: Images of the conference
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Appendix 2: “Mediation” (from Punch)
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Page Count: 198
Illustrations: 22 b&w illustrations
Publication Year: 2009
Series Title: Governance Series