Recollections of Mexico

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Author: Waddy Thompson  | Date: 1846

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Condition of Mexico (1842)

BY WADDY THOMPSON (1846)

WHENEVER the foreigners in California make the movement of separation, it must succeed. The department of Sonora, not half the distance from Mexico, has been in a state of revolt for the last four years, and the government has been unable to suppress it. . . .

A leading member of the Mexican cabinet once said to me that he believed that the tendency of things was towards the annexation of Texas to the United States, and that he greatly preferred that result either to the separate independence of Texas or any connection or dependence of Texas upon England; that if Texas was an independent power, other departments of Mexico would unite with it either voluntarily or by conquest, and if there was any connection between Texas and England, that English manufactures and merchandise would be smuggled into Mexico through Texas to the utter ruin of the Mexican manufactures and revenue.

In one of my last interviews with Santa Anna I mentioned this conversation. He said with great vehemence, that he "would war for ever for the reconquest of Texas, and that if he died in his senses his last words should be an exhortation to his countrymen never to abandon the effort to reconquer the country;" and added, "You, Sir, know very well that to sign a treaty for the alienation of Texas would be the same thing as signing the death-warrant of Mexico," and went on to say that "by the same process we would take one after the other of the Mexican i provinces until we had them all." I could not, in sincerity, say that I thought otherwise; but I do not know that the annexation of Texas will hasten that event. That our language and laws are destined to pervade this continent, I regard as more certain than any other event which is in the future. Our race has never yet put its foot upon a soil which it has not only not kept but has advanced. I mean not our English ancestors only, but that great Teuton race from which we have both descended.

There seems to be a wonderful adaptation of the English people to the purpose of colonization. The English colony of convicts at New South Wales is a more prosperous community than any colony of any other country. That the Indian race of Mexico must recede before us, is quite as certain as that that is the destiny of our own Indians, who in a military point of view, if in no other, are superior to them. I do not know what feelings towards us in Mexico may have been produced by recent events, but whatever they may be, they will not last long; and I believe that the time is not at all distant, when all the northern departments of Mexico, within a hundred miles of the city, will gladly take refuge under our more stable institutions from the constant succession of civil wars to which that country seems to be destined. The feeling is becoming a pretty general one amongst the enlightened and patriotic, that they are not prepared for free institutions, and are incapable themselves of maintaining them. There is very great danger that the drama may close there, as it has so often done in other countries, with anarchy ending in despotism,—such is the natural swing of the pendulum. The feeling of all Mexicans towards us until the revolution in Texas, was one of unmixed admiration; and it is our high position amongst the nations, and makes our mission all the more responsible, that every people, struggling to be free, regard us with the same feelings—we are indeed the "looking-glass in which they dress themselves." As a philanthropist, I have deeply deplored the effects of the annexation of Texas upon the feelings of the people of all classes in Mexico, towards this country, as diminishing their devotion to republican institutions; this should not be so, but it will be. Ours is regarded as the great exemplar Republic in Mexico, as everywhere else, and the act which they regard as such an outrage, must have the prejudicial effect which I have indicated—still more will that effect be to be deprecated, if it should throw Mexico into the arms of any great European power.

The northern departments of Mexico contain all the mines, and more of the wealth of the country than any others; and they all hang very loosely to the confederacy;—they receive no benefit from the central government, which in truth they only know in its exactions. All the money collected from them is expended in the city and elsewhere, and they have not even the satisfaction of knowing that it is beneficially or even honestly used. The security which would be given to property, as well as its great enhancement in value, would be powerful inducements with all the owners of large estates which are now comparatively valueless. The only obstacle that I know to such a consummation, infinitely desirable in my judgment, to the people of those departments, less so to us, would be in the influence of the priesthood. They are well aware that such a measure might very soon be fatal, not only to their own supremacy, but to that of the Catholic religion also,—but they would have on the other hand a powerful motive in the security which it would give them to their large church property—no motive but interest would have any influence with the people of Mexico, for they certainly do not like us. Their feelings towards us may be summed up in two words, jealousy and admiration,—they are not going to declare war against us, I have never doubted for a moment about that. Public opinion in Mexico, to all practical purposes, means the opinion of the army, and the very last thing in the world which the army desires, is such a war,—nor do I believe that one Mexican in a thousand does, however they may vaunt and bluster—as a frightened school-boy whistles as he passes a graveyard in the night. I have just as little idea that they will negotiate now, or until matters are adjusted between England and this country. . . . nothing would be more convenient to Mexico than that we should have no minister there to trouble the government with complaints.

Waddy Thompson, (New York, etc., 1846), 235–241 passim.

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Chicago: Waddy Thompson, "Condition of Mexico (1842)," Recollections of Mexico in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1903), Original Sources, accessed July 18, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=2N553ESZSWKDUAG.

MLA: Thompson, Waddy. "Condition of Mexico (1842)." Recollections of Mexico, in American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, Vol. 4, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1903, Original Sources. 18 Jul. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=2N553ESZSWKDUAG.

Harvard: Thompson, W, 'Condition of Mexico (1842)' in Recollections of Mexico. cited in 1903, American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 18 July 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=2N553ESZSWKDUAG.