El Paso Likes Lincoln

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Slideshow: El Pasoan Cindy A. Medina with bust of Abraham Lincoln at the El Paso Museum of Art, museum logo, and logo of the University of Texas at El Paso

There’s some important history involving Texas and Abraham Lincoln, especially around El Paso. That’s part of the reason people in El Paso are interested in the book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico, which reveals neglected details about Lincoln’s support for Benito Juárez while Juárez was exiled to the El Paso area during the French monarchy imposed by Napoleon III.

One person very interested in the Lincoln connection is Cindy A. Medina, a native El Pasoan, whose passion for history and admiration for the book led her to share posts about the book on social media beginning in 2016. That turned into an opportunity to be part of the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) in January 2017 as a book promoter & social media representative. If you’re interested in helping LAMP in your area, just post a visitor comment on the blog or send an email to lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org and we’ll contact you.

During January, Medina began arranging meetings with community leaders in El Paso to discuss Lincoln’s legacy, and presented the book to Claudia A. Rivers, Head of Special Collections at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Other meetings are planned with the Mexican consulate in El Paso and with elected public officials.

Medina is a Professional Genealogist, New Spain/Mexico Historical Researcher, Independent Scholar, Blogger on FB for Embajadores de la Genealogia Mexicana & Genealogy512Chick. She’s also the author of IDG’s-In-depth Genealogist upcoming monthly column, “From Maize to Mestizo.” And she’s a proud graduate of El Paso High School ’93, UTEP, NMSU, and the University of Phoenix-Santa Teresa Campus in New Mexico. She splits her time between El Paso, and Austin.

You can learn about her and follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/cindymedina5 12). When she’s not researching, she knits and blogs about it! Welcome to the project, Cindy!

Cooperation with Mexican Embassy

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Photo courtesy of Embassy of Mexico Cultural Center Mansion, designated as an Historic Landmark in the DC inventory of Historic Sites and listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Officials of the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC embraced the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) January 24 to help improve relations between the USA and Mexico.

Alejandro Celorio, head of the embassy section for Hispanic and Migration Affairs, agreed to help LAMP arrange presentations in the nation’s capital by historian and educator Michael Hogan to discuss the legacy of Abraham Lincoln’s support for Mexico. Hogan’s book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico forms the basis for the LAMP outreach efforts. Celorio and Natalia Jiménez Alegría, Hispanic Affairs Officer, also offered to contact Mexican consulates throughout the United States to help arrange LAMP presentations.

“We’re excited to start working with the embassy and consulates across the country,” noted LAMP co-founder Mikel Miller after his meetings with embassy officials in Washington, DC. “Now, more than ever, it’s important to inform and educate people in the USA about the history of positive relationships between the two countries.”

LAMP representatives have met with officials at the Mexican consulate in San Diego, and plan to meet with consulate officials in El Paso and in New York City later this month. If you’re interested in working with LAMP and a Mexican consulate in your area to arrange presentations, please submit a visitor comment. Meanwhile, you can keep current on LAMP activities by clicking to follow our blog.

The meeting between LAMP and the Mexican Embassy came less than two weeks after Mexico announced a new Mexican Ambassador to the United States to the United States. Gerónimo Gutiérrez, the new ambassador, held senior posts in two previous Mexican administrations headed by the opposition center-right National Action party (PAN).

Miller, a former Carter administration official at the Department of Commerce, also met with representatives of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington to begin talks about presentations.

Truman and Lincoln and Mexico

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Photo of President Harry S Truman and Ambassador Walter Thurston in Mexico City, courtesy of Harry S Truman Presidential Library & Museum. This article originally was published online by the HistoryNewsNetwork.org January 15, 2017. Excerpts appear here by permission of the author and HNN.

By Michael Hogan, author Abraham Lincoln and Mexico: A History of Courage, Intrigue and Unlikely Friendships.

For many people it is hard to imagine a time when Mexico was a place of pilgrimage for an American president who went there to both apologize for the US treatment of that country in the past, but also to initiate a Good Neighbor Policy that would affirm his belief that the destinies of the two nations were intertwined.

But when Harry Truman laid a wreath at the Mexico City memorial of the Niños Heroes, or Boy Heroes of the US-Mexican War, he was following in the footsteps of another president, Abraham Lincoln, who stood up as a Congressman in Illinois to protest the “unnecessary and unconstitutional” invasion of that country at the orders of James K. Polk. He accused Polk of lying and of creating a pretext for the preemptory invasion. As a result of that war, the US acquired two-fifths of Mexican territory including the states of California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada, as well as parts of present-day Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.

When Lincoln finally became president himself as a compromise candidate, one would think he had enough on his plate with the South about to secede and with a fratricidal war on the horizon. Yet he made time even then to meet with the Mexican Ambassador Matías Romero, who visited him at his home in Springfield shortly after the election. Lincoln wrote Romero a letter reassuring him and the new president of Mexico, Benito Juárez, of his support of the Mexican people and their republic.

As the war came to an end in the east, he was able to circumvent Secretary of State Henry Seward’s cautious approach and help persuade Lincoln to order General Grant to move over 50,000 troops under the command of General Sheridan to the Texas border, including thousands of “colored troops” (as the African-American soldiers were known at the time). The goal was to help Mexicans at the end of the US Civil War to drive out the French. Sheridan purposely “lost” 30,000 repeating rifles on the border where the Juárez army could find them.

Although Lincoln would be assassinated shortly after the surrender of Appomattox, his generals continued to help Mexico. They encouraged the recently-discharged troops to form the American Legion of Honor which would fight side by side with the Mexicans, helping rid the country of the last remnants of European occupation.

In 1947, Harry Truman, a Democrat, came to Mexico to reaffirm what a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, had affirmed throughout his career: the Mexican people are not only our neighbors but the entire southwestern US was formerly their territory. Mexico and the US share today a vast territory in North America and neither side can afford animosity or discord. Americans were the first illegal immigrants to their country, violating their laws, fomenting revolt, and later with our army violating their sovereign territory. It is well to remember that when we are tempted to react with frustration or impatience.

Our later history under Lincoln made us allies, helping to rid Mexico (and us) of an unwelcomed foreign power in this hemisphere. As an American historian, living and teaching in Mexico, it is my hope that this re-visioning of our mutual histories in Abraham Lincoln and Mexico might quiet the polemics raging in the US since the recent election, and let us hear the quieter voices which speak to us from the past about how we might be “good neighbors” once again.

—You can see the full article at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/164740#sthash.h1qJsIrJ.dpuf

 

 

MEXICO-UNITED STATES – How a US Republican President and a Mexican Youth Ended a Monarchy

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By Michael Hogan, Monday 9 January 2017, posted by Michael Hogan

 

On April 10, 1863, Maximilian I and his wife Charlotte were installed as Emperor and Empress of Mexico. They came to power at the behest of the Napoleon III who had first sent armed forces to collect on past-due Mexican debts, but then encouraged them to stay and finally to conquer the country. At that time the French Army was the most powerful in the world. Although Mexico provided stout resistance, including an underdog victory at Puebla (Cinco de Mayo), its army was finally overwhelmed by the French who were reinforced by Austrian cavalry and artillery. The constitutional president Benito Juarez fled to the border town of El Paso del Norte to work in a cigarette factory and to put together a government-in-exile.

In May of 1863, he asked his protégé twenty-four year old Matias Romero to go to Washington and meet with President Lincoln to see if he could persuade him to help him raise a new army to fight against the French. Lincoln, of course, had his hands full. May 1-3 was the bloody battle of Chancellorsville. May 19-22 saw the Union troops engaged with the Rebels at Vicksburg, followed in early July by the devastating battle of Gettysburg. The enemy was nearly at Potomac. The timing could not have been worse.

Romero was unable to get an interview with the President, although he did have the opportunity to offer Mrs. Lincoln his rented carriage and accompany her shopping, a trip that lasted more than three hours! It was likely to due to her intercession that he was finally able to present his credentials to her husband as “Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Mexico.”

As high-sounding as the title was, it was also essentially meaningless. He had no real diplomatic standing since his “government” was in exile. Although Lincoln was sympathetic, his hands were tied. He dared not antagonize the French for fear their army would join the Confederacy which could very well prove an unbeatable combination and defeat the Union forces. Nevertheless, perhaps because of Mary Todd ‘s intervention, Lincoln gave Romero an audience and recognized his standing as ambassador, giving him not only access to the Oval Office but introductions to members of his cabinet, and ultimately to Ulysses S. Grant and Philip Sheridan, generals who would become Romero’s stanch allies in the years ahead. Using a note which Lincoln wrote expressing his friendship to the Mexican people, Romero visited bankers in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco to raise money to support an army to overthrow Maximilian and the French usurpers. Over the next two years he and agents had sold over $30 million in Mexican bonds raising a total of $18 million in cash and credits. The money would go a long way in buying supplies and paying troops. But to defeat the most powerful European army they would need something more: they would need rifles and cannons.

Secretary of State Seward objected strongly to giving military aid to the Mexicans. He felt that this would needlessly antagonize the French and bring them closer to an alliance with the Confederates. Meanwhile, young Romero went out of his way to convince other members of the cabinet, as well as Grant and Sheridan, that such aid was essential and that France would rush into the breach as soon as it saw the Union exhausted by the efforts to defeat the Confederacy. Could the US really afford another war? Moreover what France was doing was in violation of the Monroe Doctrine which showed France’s contempt for American policies in the hemisphere. As the Civil War drew to a close, Lincoln decided to placate his Secretary of State by insuring him that no overt military aid would be given to Mexico. At the same time he ignored reports of Mexican agents to purchasing rifled cannon, and allowed Romero to meet with influential businessmen in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and other locations to form Monroe Doctrine Clubs to raise funds, purchase munitions and even levy volunteers.

By the time of the surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 10, 1863, most of those movements were far advanced. In addition, Grant was ordered to send Sheridan with 50,000 soldiers to Texas to both prevent shipment of Southern cotton to Europe and also to cut off the supply lines to the French. Once there, he instructed Sheridan to “lose” 30,000 repeating rifles at the El Paso border.

Although Lincoln was assassinated the following month, Grant and Sheridan continued to carry out his wishes. Both generals encouraged soldiers upon their discharge from the Union Army to join an American Legion of Honor which would form part of the Mexican army and defeat the French at Querétaro in the spring of 1867. On July21st of that year the Mexican Republic was restored.

The legacy of Lincoln is still honored in Mexico today with statues and other memorials. It is a hopeful reminder that our two countries have a history of cooperation and victory as well as one of animosity and conflict as we go forward with a new Republican administration in 2017.


Michael Hogan is a historian and teacher. He lives in Guadalajara, Mexico. His most recent book is Abraham Lincoln and Mexico: A History of Courage, Intrigue and Unlikely Friendships.

 
This article first appeared in http://www.alterinfos.org/spip.php?article7761. The opinions expressed herein in the articles and comments are those of their authors and do not necessarily reflect those of AlterInfos. Insulting or injurious comments will be deleted without previous notice. AlterInfos is a pluralist media with a sensibility leaning toward the left. It tries to echo emancipatory projects and struggles. Comments oriented towards the opposite direction will not be published here, but they will surely find another space on the web to do so.

Lincoln Book in Three More University Libraries

Getting a book into libraries – especially at universities — is a great way to increase credibility and reach more readers. The Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) is reaching out to university libraries across the country to add Abraham Lincoln and Mexico to their collections.

Sometimes the outreach results in face-to-face meetings with librarians who are eager to learn more about Lincoln’s legacy of support for Mexico. That’s what happened this week at the three prestigious universities in the San Diego area: San Diego State University (SDSU), the University of California San Diego (UCSD), and the University of San Diego (USD).

SDSU is part of the 23-member California State University (CSU), which is the nation’s largest four-year public university system with 23 campuses and 474,000 students. Statewide, the UC system has 10 campuses and 238,000 students. USD, a private Catholic university, has an enrollment of more than 8,000 students.

Because of the size and reputation of California university libraries, getting the book into these libraries is important to LAMP efforts to reach other libraries at colleges and universities across the country. The book is already in university libraries at Harvard, Brown, Georgetown, and several others. LAMP representatives are contacting university libraries in several other states.

You can help get the book into other university libraries by contacting your alma mater and asking them to add the book to their collection. Or contact your alumni affairs office and offer to donate a copy in your name. Let’s do it!

Thanks to university librarians in San Diego (below) who accepted copies of Abraham Lincoln and Mexico from LAMP co-founder Mikel Miller. From left, Sarah Buck Kachaluba at UCSD, Wil Weston from SDSU, and Laura Turner at USD. All of you rock!!

Joint Efforts with Mexican Consulates

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Adriana Bacelis Sotomayor (2nd from left), cultural attaché of the consulate in San Diego, and consulate assistant Carolina Segura (2nd from right) welcomed LAMP co-founder Mikel Miller and his wife Maria Eléna Martinez

One important part of the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) is working with Mexican consulates in the USA. Together, we hope to improve relations between the USA and Mexico with outreach efforts to elected officials, educators, community leaders, and the news media.

To further this cooperation, we’re meeting with consulate officials in San Diego, Washington DC, and New York City during January 2017. The efforts are aimed at arranging presentations by historian educator Michael Hogan about Lincoln’s legacy in supporting Mexico, based on his book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico. Thanks to former Mexican ambassador Carlos Gonzalez-Magallon for arranging the meetings.

Changing USA public perceptions about Mexico is a major focus of Marcela Celorio, the new Consul General in San Diego, who assumed her duties in mid-2016 and immediately began building better relationships with elected and community leaders across the San Diego region. She’s a career diplomat who has represented Mexico in Brussels, Tel Aviv, New York City and Washington, D.C., and calls herself a “cross-border consul.” You can see more about her energetic outreach efforts by reading a feature article in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

In a far-ranging meeting January 5 at the consulate, cultural attaché Adriana Bacelis Sotomayor agreed to consider cross border presentations in San Diego and Tijuana in the coming months that feature Dr. Hogan and the book. We’ll keep you posted on events and schedules, and hope to include followers of the Lincoln and Mexico Project in some of the activities.

By the way, Amazon ranks Dr. Hogan’s book very high for relevancy among almost 3,300 titles about Abraham Lincoln Biography and History. If you don’t already have a copy, order one now to learn more about Lincoln’s support for Mexico as Congressman and President. Or give it as a gift to someone for Lincoln’s birthday February 12 so others can learn more about his legacy as an international statesman.

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