Forces for intervention : domestic pressures and Wilson's Mexican policy, 1913-1916

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1973

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Abstract

Most general histories do little more than merely list the major pressure groups influencing President Wilson's Mexican policy from 1913 to 1916. This paper attempts to discern the leaders of major pressure groups, and to assess their influence on Woodrow Wilson. General histories picture Republicans, business groups, and Roman Catholics as the major pressure groups. Confirming their assessments, my studies revealed that in addition Wilson's innner circle of advisors contained several figures pressing for action. Leading spokesmen were: Secretary of War, Lindley M. Garrison; John Bassett Moore of the Department of State; and Henry Lane Wilson, the Ambassador to Mexico until August, 1913. Additionally Colonel House, Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson, Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane, and Special Agent John Lind all flirted with activism. However, Wilson excercised absolute control over his advisors. Garrison, Moore, Henry Lane Wilson, and Lind all resigned rather than submit to Wilson's policy; the others acquiesced to Wilson's dictates. Republicans can be divided into two groups, members of the House of Representatives and members of the Senate. In the House three stood as the leading antagonists. William D.B. Alney of Pennsylvania, Frank W. Mondell of Wyoming, and Julius Kahn of California led a House group which surged and ebbed with individual Mexican issues. Leading Senate critics were: Albert B. Fall of New Mexico, Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, Elihu Root of New York, Jacob H. Gallinger of New Hampshire, and William E. Borah of Idaho. Each had individual reasons for protest, but their combined effort could not dent the solid Democratic defense of Wilson. Business pressures seemed to be divided both regionally and by size. Those interests located in the North of Mexico seemed more vociferous than those located elsewhere. In the forefront of this movement calling for protection were the smaller mining, ranching, and commercial interests. The powerful corporations located in the North did not call for an active policy. Phelps Dodge Company, the Guggenhelis, and other large investors pointed up this trend. One large rancher, however, bucked the trend. William Randolph Hearst, using his numerous publications, called for protection. The pressure of business was ineffectual since Wilson refused to consider demands from his bitter domestic enemies. Roman Catholics led by John Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore; Father Francis C. Kelley, President of the Catholic Church Extension Society; and Reverend Richard Tierney, the editor of America, opposed recognition of the Constitutionalists because of their violent anticlericalism. Wilson, faced with a dilemma of choosing between moralism and constitutionalism, opted for Carranza's Constitutionalists and supported the Mexican, albeit reluctantly. Additionally numerous individuals without special interests attempted to influence Wilson's policy. Some of the most vociferous were: Theodore Roosevelt, George Harvey, and Oscar B. Colquitt the Governor of Texas until 1914. Wilson had some supporters to counter the weight of the critics. James E. Ferguson of Texas, Herbert Croly, Walter Lippman, Walter E. Weyl, and Washington Gladden defended presidential policy. The trend that emerged is distinct. Wilson was able to cope with each of the pressure groups individually. However, the activists, the interventionists saw their views accepted when Pancho Villa struck into Columbus, New Mexico, and the President ordered General Pershing into Mexico to pursue the bandit. Even then, President Wilson followed his own mind; there was to be no interference with Carranza's government and no yanqui governor general of Mexico.

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Keywords

History, United States, Mexico, Foreign relations, United States. President (1913-1921 : Wilson), Twentieth century

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