No. 214.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Fish.

No. 407.]

Sir: In my No. 405, of the 29th ultimo, I referred to the discussion in the press of this capital of the resolutions presented to the House of Representatives by the committee on Texas border troubles, authorizing the passage into Mexico of United States troops in pursuit of raiders. This subject having been specifically directed to the attention of the Diario Oficial, and the opinion of the government requested from this official organ by the Siglo XIX, one of the opposition newspapers, the Diario Oficial has briefly responded. I inclose copies and translations of the articles from both the Siglo and the Diario.

As indicating the wide-spread feeling on the subject, and the exaggeration of the danger of an international conflict growing out of the proposition of the committee, I inclose a copy and translation of a petition of students of the principal college of this city, addressed to the minister of war.

[Page 399]

I also transmit a copy and translation of an article upon the subject, written by Hon. Matias Romero, the former minister of the Mexican Republic in Washington, afterward minister of finance, and at present a deputy of the National Congress. It is the most correct and the only impartial statement of the question which has appeared in the Mexican press) and Mr. Romero has by its publication rendered an important service to both countries.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 407. Translation.]

question of dignity and patriotism.

* * * * * * *

Any one may comprehend the force and importance of the words which the Texan commissioners use in an official document directed to the American Congress, and we do not wish to comment upon them because they offend the patriotic susceptibility of the Mexicans, but the pen falls from our hands upon remembering that the government, by means of the only authorized organ which it has in the press, has not raised its voice in protestation against the outrage which, as a free and independent nation, is committed upon us.

In consideration of the silence which the Diario Oficial observes in so delicate an affair, it occurs to us to ask: What criterion does the government of Mr. Lerdo follow in its international relations? Who inspires that incomprehensible conduct that one day causes it to fill its paper with useless and odious comparisons between what passes in a friendly nation and our own, and the next has not a single worthy word to resent an insult that fills us with anger and shame? How does it attempt to explain to us the latent contradiction which exists between the coldnes and the studied reserve of the government in its relations with Spain, which country has given us no occasion for offense, and the dissimulation or fear which obliges the same government to refrain from murmuring at the treatment of the United States? From this fear and this dissimulation does the suspicion not arise that from the two extremes of which we have spoken at the commencement of this article, viz: that of not lowering the dignity of the nation, and that of maintaining it, the government will act through the former? And let it not be said that the spirit of country or party blinds us; no. We well understand the difference there is between our power and that of the United States, and we well know that we should unite ourselves by ties of friendship and fraternity with our neighbor; but this does not mean that before the international conflict with which the Texan commission threatens us we should remain silent and dumb like the slave that goes down on his knees trembling on hearing the step of his master. And this is what the government, which says nothing in its paper for the satisfaction of the insulted national honor, intends to do.

* * * * * * *

[Inclosure 2 in No. 407.—Translation.]

dignity and patriotism.

A representative of the United States has presented a proposition relating to the question whether Mexican territory can be violated, now that on the northern frontier of Tamaulipas the revolutionists have usurped the legitimate government recognized by that of the neighboring nation. If this idea, like others which we see daily in the North American press relating to our country, has wounded the patriotic epidermis of some, it has not affected the more tranquil national sentiment, but a sentiment no less commendable than that of certain individuals, whose violent attacks, on account of the motive which inspires them, we are far from censuring.

The press and public opinion, judging by their manifestations up to the present time, have not been prejudiced by that proposition. The Diario Oficial, following this example, thought that silence was the best reply to the personal view of the American representative, which view, without doubt, will not meet the approbation of the [Page 400] elevated body to which it has been presented. Observing this course, the Diario Oficial thought that the rights of national dignity were better preserved.

If the latter should really be menaced, not by the presentation of a proposition, but by acts of another nature, then our contemporary the Siglo will see how the government of Mr. Lerdo, without arrogance or foolish provocations, will know how to sustain the name and honor of the nation, subjects concerning which it does not need to receive warning nor lessons from any one.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 407.—Translation.]

the students of the preparatory school.—patriotism.

[From the Federalista, Mexico, May 3, 1876.]

The students of this seat of education have presented to the government a request conceived in the following terms:

“In view of the possibility that a conflict may occur between Mexico and the United States, we, the undersigned, (students of the National Preparatory School,) publicly make known our desire that the minister of war may be pleased to appoint a person to instruct us in the manual of arms; since lovers, above everything else, of our country, and mindful of the constant threatening of the powerful neighbor republic, we earnestly ask that, while we are making ourselves men of education, we may be aided to become, in the case mentioned, worthy defenders of the country.

“We believe, without doubt, that the minister will accede to our just petition, since, entirely resolved, under such circumstances, to substitute our text-books for the gun of the soldier, he should by no means permit us to become, upon the field of battle, the victims of our ignorance. Know in order to act; this is a most wise and incontestable principle of modern philosophy.

“Jealous of the inviolability of the territory of our republic and disposed, as good sons of Mexico, to comply with a sacred duty, we earnestly desire an answer to our petition.

[Sixty signatures follow.]
[Inclosure 4 in No. 407.—Translation.]

Señor don Matias Romero on the relations between Mexico and the United States.

[From The Two Republics, Mexico, Wednesday, May 10, 1876.]

Editor-in-chief of the Revista Universal, Present:

My Dear Sir and Esteemed Friend: In number 97 of volume IX of your paper, of Thursday, the 27th instant, I have read an article entitled, “Mexico and the United States,” in which, referring to certain resolutions presented to the House of Representatives of the United States by the special committee appointed to investigate the affairs on the frontier of Texas and Mexico, certain reflections are made which, although dictated by a very commendable spirit of patriotism, contain inexact impressions, and in consequence may produce results very different from those desired by Mexicans who are animated by patriotic sentiments.

I now propose to make certain rectifications of various ideas expressed in said article; hut before doing so I think it will be proper to state that in writing these lines I am guided by a purely patriotic spirit, which I do not consider inferior to that of the author of the article.

The efforts which the national press are at present making in order to cause the nation to understand the condition of certain questions with the United States, and to prevent certain future dangers, are very commendable; and it is to be desired that it should persevere in that good way. But it is equally essential that in the reflections which it may make it should not incur serious errors, even if for no other reason than to distinguish it from the North American press, which in general, in its articles relating to Mexico, gives credit to the most lamentable mistakes and inaccuracies.

The present or future questions between Mexico and the United States are of such gravity that they should only be treated of or discussed with moderation and without passion, manifesting the reasons and the facts which favor our country, and endeavoring to incur no serious errors, neither to assent to false ideas.

At the present time, and without being acquainted with the state of these questions [Page 401] in the department of foreign affairs, it seems to me that there is no immediate danger of a conflict, and for this belief I have two reasons chiefly: First, that although some few speculators desire war and talk of it, the great majority of the country is opposed to it. Second, that the present President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, was one of the most sincere and decided friends of Mexico in the United States under circumstances truly critical for our country. It is difficult to know what designs future administrations of the United States may entertain respecting Mexico, but I think it may be assured that while the present one continues, and while our government gives no just foundation for complaint to the United States, (as I think it has not given up to the present time, nor do I consider it probable that it will,) it does not appear to me probable that the relations between the two countries will reach a critical condition.

There are in the United States as in other nations, and perhaps in greater proportion than many others, a considerable number of restless persons who desire war, although it may be for no other reason than the benefits which war affords them, and who do what they can to provoke it; but I consider it a grave error to believe that these persons form the majority of the nation, and a greater error still that the present administration of that country is controlled by them.

The fact that, besides the article from the Re vista which I have cited, others have appeared in the Federalista, the Monitor Republicano, and the Siglo XIX, in similar terms, all considering that there is imminent danger of a conflict between the two countries on account of the resolutions of the special committee on frontier affairs presented to the House of Representatives, has decided me to write the preceding considerations.

Giving my attention now in an especial manner to these resolutions, I think it proper to state that the member of the House of Representatives of the United States from the district of the State of Texas, which includes the principal sections bordering upon Mexico, presented a proposition asking that a special committee might be appointed to investigate the occurrences on the frontier, and to suggest a remedy. As is the custom in the American House of Representatives, the member who proposes the appointment of a special committee is made the chairman of it. The Representative from Texas was consequently appointed chairman of that committee; and he now appears presenting the resolutions which he considers proper for the attainment of his object.

Thus up to the present time these resolutions have not the character of propositions approved by the House of Representatives, nor still less by the Congress of the United States. From the circumspection of that body, it is to be hoped that it will not proceed in this case to trample upon the rights of Mexico.

It is well and good that the Mexican press should make known to the nation the text of these resolutions, and comment upon them in the terms which its patriotism inspires; but it is not proper, because it is not probable, that it should state as a certainty that these resolutions will be approved by the Congress at Washington.

In the article cited it is stated that the chairman of the special committee of the North American House of Representatives said to that body what a New York paper presents as a conversation of that Representative with a correspondent of the paper in Washington. It is understood at once that these views lose more of their gravity when expressed in a familiar conversation than if they had been uttered in the House of Representatives of the United States.

It is also said that Generals Sherman and Sheridan, of the Army of the United States, are, in favor of these resolutions, and in this also there is inaccuracy. General Sherman, who occupies at the present time the high post of General-in-Chief of the Army of the United States, has expressed on different occasions ideas contrary to an unjust or oppressive policy toward Mexico. General Sheridan, who is also one of the highest officers of that Army, has never had any sympathy with filibustering enterprises against our country. It is consequently unjust to suppose both generals interested in favor of an unjust and aggressive policy.

Something more should be said of the insinuation which is made in reference to General Grant. If the present President of the United States should have desired to avail himself of unworthy means for assuring his re-election, perhaps the Cuban question would have afforded him a better opportunity and a more plausible pretext, and perhaps more popular in the United States, for carrying out his plan. If he has not availed himself of that opportunity, it is not probable that he will do it in respect to Mexico, in which there would be notorious injustice. The nation has no information up to the present time that the President of the United States has made any undue or unjust demand respecting Mexico. Excepting the crossing into Mexican territory of the American forces under Mackenzie, which does not appear to have been ordered by the Government of Washington, and the permission asked of Mexico in order that American troops might pass over to our territory, respecting which, nevertheless, our consent was asked, there is no information of any act that may be qualified as unfriendly on the part of the United States toward Mexico. On the other hand, it is now a fact that General Grant will not accept a second re-election, and that, in consequence, he cannot intrigue in favor of such re-election.

[Page 402]

If it is remembered what has been the conduct of the North American Government in regard to questions of acquisition of territory since the close of the civil war in the neighboring nation, it will be seen that it has maintained the policy of not making new acquisitions of territory. The disapproval of the treaty in regard to the annexation of Santo Domingo is a decided fact bearing on this point. Something similar to this is taking place with the reciprocity treaty concluded with the King of the Sandwich Islands. This treaty has found great opposition in the House of Representatives at Washington, notwithstanding its having at the present time a democratic majority, because it contains a clause which gives to the United States the exclusive right of having certain establishments in the territory of those islands, which is objected to because it is considered as the preliminary step toward annexation.

The thinking people of the United States, who form the immense majority of the nation, are not in favor of the forced acquisition of more territory, and still less when the latter is peopled by a race like ours, so unlike that which inhabits the American territory. Without assuring anything, then, for the future in an absolute and definite manner, it does not seem to me that the danger is serious or imminent that the United States intend at the present time to make upon us a war of conquest.

From the patriotism and good sense of the Mexican press, it is to be hoped that in the mean time, while continuing to give its attention to the very important matter for Mexico of our relations with the United States, it will do so with corresponding moderation and circumspection, and without imitating in general the American papers, which, from failing to understand the situation of our country, make reflections destitute of all foundation and circulate gross inaccuracies and errors.

I am, your affectionate and attentive servant,

M. R.