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A MEXICAN CONSPIRATOR VIEWS THE CIVIL WAR Edited by Robert A. Naylor Buried within a collection of published papers not ldcely to be noticed by Civd War scholars is a confidential dispatch from a Mexican living in the United States. This brief intelligence estimate—for such we might term it today—provides a searching analysis of the American scene in late 1861, by an observer whose concern with the stirring events in this country was more than just academic.1 The motive for this interesting document is to be found in the political situation in Mexico at that time. In December, 1860, after three years of bitter fighting, the Mexican republican revolutionaries—the Liberals —defeated the last sizable Conservative military force and entered the capital. Here, in January, the new Liberal government of President Benito Juarez took office. The vanquished Conservative leaders either took refuge in the mountains or fled the country. Refusing to accept the Juarez regime, they busily plotted to regain power by conspiratorial means. Financial problems of the new government soon played into the conspirators' hands. In July, 1861, Mexico declared a two-year suspension of payments to foreign creditors. Consequently, on October 31, 1861, representatives of France, Spain, and England concluded an agreement looking toward joint collection of the Mexican debts by force. The Conservative conspirators saw this forthcoming European armed intervention as the opportunity for a fuU-fledged overthrow of Juarez and the establishment of a new Mexican monarchy to be headed by the Archduke Maximilian of Austria. America's cherished "Monroe Doctrine," of course, strictly forbade any imperialist acquisitions in the Western Hemisphere by foreign Robert A. Naylor, a Latin American specialist, is an assistant professor of history at Auburn University. i Documentos Inéditos ó muy Raros para la Historia de México. Vols. I, IV, XIII: Genaro Garcia y Carlos Pereyra, Correspondencia Secreta de hs Principales Intervencionistas Mexicanos 1860-1862 (Mexico City, 1905-1907), I, 58-70. Hereafter cited as Garcia, Correspondencia. 67 68ROBERT A. NAYLOB powers. Although European statesmen had always refused to recognize the Doctrine as legitimate, the three governments signing the October convention disclaimed any intention to acquire territory or exercise political control in Mexico. This promise was all that the United States, embroiled in her internal conflict, was then able to exact; she was obviously in no position at the moment to employ military or naval power to uphold the Monroe Doctrine. But what, the Mexican conspirators asked themselves, of the future? For an informed estimate of American reaction to European intervention, and the possible consequences of the American Civil War on their long-range plans, the conspirators turned to a trusted intimate. This man was Rafael de Rafael, then a resident of New York City. Born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1817, Rafael had been associated with newspaper work since the age of twelve. In 1836 he came to the United States, spending the next seven years as an editor in New York. He emigrated to Mexico in 1843, where his devout and conservative editorial opinions brought down upon him the wrath of those who called for the establishment of a secular republican government for Mexico. When the victory of the Liberal revolutionaries appeared imminent, he returned to New York.2 Rafael was a remarkable individual.3 An ardent Conservative, he remained in close association with Father Francisco Javier Miranda, one of the chief exponents—and perhaps the most inteUigent and capable— of the conspirators.4 Among other Conservative leaders with whom Rafael kept in touch was General Don Juan N. Almonte, the ambitious military man who was to rule the new Mexican Empire pending formal installation of Maximilian. Returning to Cuba from conspiratorial conferences in France in early November, 1861, Father Miranda visited Rafael and asked the expatriate editor to furnish General Almonte in Paris a detailed memorandum on what American developments would mean to the Conserva2 Rafael later moved to Havana and spent the remaining years of his life championing the Spanish cause in Cuba in such publications as La Constancia and La Voz de Cuba. He died in Havana in 1882. Encicfopedia Universal Ilustrada EuropeoAmericana (Barcelona, 1923), XLIX, 321. 3An amateur gun designer, Rafael in 1862...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 67-73
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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