The Secretary of State to President Wilson

Dear Mr. President: The Mexican situation has been much in my mind and I have been seeking to map out a course of action which will lead to definite results.

The condition precedent to any plan is, of course, that the old aristocratic party must not be recognized in a settlement of the present situation and that the restoration of responsible government must come through the revolutionary element now composed of hostile factions.

The problem is, therefore, the harmonizing of the factions representing the Revolution.

The present activities in this country of the reactionary Mexican element, manifested by the intrigues along the border, have and will have, I believe, a decided influence on the tendency of the revolutionists to unite and will induce them to listen more favorably to a plan of compromise, and this influence will be stronger if the reactionaries obtain a foothold in Mexico. However this influence will be more potent in the North than in the South which is not immediately affected by the reactionary movement. This difficulty is further increased by the character of General Carranza and the present successes of his military forces.

As you know the suggestion has undoubtedly by this time been made to Carranza that he invite the various revolutionary factions to meet in conference, discuss their differences and seek to compose them, each faction in such conference to be represented by only one conferee. The idea of the conference is to be consultative and in no sense conventional, thus eliminating any question of majority rule.

If Carranza adopts this suggestion and invites the other factions to confer, an armistice might be proposed during the progress of the conference, for I am convinced that the factions will accept the invitation.

In view, however, of the conditions prevailing in the South and the probable success of the Carranzista arms, together with the stubbornness of Carranza himself, I have little hope that he will adopt the suggestion for a conference or agree to an armistice. I think, therefore, we should plan to act on the supposition that a conference of the revolutionary factions will not take place.

On this supposition I would suggest that the attitude of this Government be embodied in the following propositions: [Page 539]

It is manifest that, in view of the personal animosities, jealousies and ambitions of the factional leaders nothing can be accomplished through them to restore peace and stable government.
Carranza, Villa, and other factional leaders must retire and not seek dominant leadership.
This Government will not recognize as legal any government headed or controlled by any one of these leaders and will exert its moral influence to prevent the establishment of such a government in any part of Mexico.
The determination of this Government to eliminate the present factional leaders by withdrawal of moral support should be notified in plain terms to the various factions.
An invitation should be issued to the factions by the American Government, agreeing to identical action, to meet in conference through their lesser chiefs for the purpose of organizing a coalition provisional government with the understanding that, provided such government is unquestionably representative of the bulk of the revolutionary element, this Government and the other governments cooperating with it, will recognize it and renew diplomatic relations with Mexico.
This Government will aid so far as possible such coalition government by preventing arms and ammunition from reaching parties hostile to it and by employing such other means as it may properly employ to insure the stability and permanency of such government until constitutional government can be restored.

This outline of action I submit with hesitation since there has been no opportunity to discuss the matter with you. It may, however, serve as a basis for discussion.

Faithfully yours,

Robert Lansing