2014 Survey Pinpoints 1821 Border Between USA and Mexico

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Slideshow includes photos from exhibition at Museo de las Artes, Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico, courtesy of the Delimitation Survey sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, USA

Where was the original border between Mexico and the United States after Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821?

To pinpoint the exact location, a team backed by a museum in San Diego and guided by GPS information spent weeks in 2014 traveling the original international border. Their findings fill in the blanks created by textbooks that omit or gloss over the boundary between the USA and Spain established by the Adams-Onís Treaty.

The project started with the question, “What would Mexico and the United States look like if that boundary had been fully realized?”

Along their route, team members erected 47 markers to show the original border. Marker #01 is on the Pacific Coast near the state line between California and Oregon. The team erected markers running along northern state lines of Nevada and Utah, across a lower portion of Wyoming, southward through Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma, and to Texas and Louisiana. Marker #47 is on the Gulf Coast near the state line between Texas and Louisiana.

During their journey, they encountered dozens of US residents curious about the project and eager to learn more about border history. All were friendly—one woman invited them to erect a marker in her yard, and one man gave them a place to stay one night. “Curious amazement best describes the reactions,” says team member David Taylor.

A narrative included in the exhibit states that only a few people the project team met seemed to grasp that Mexico once encompassed all of present day Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Texas, more than half of Colorado, and smaller portions of Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma. One marker is near grain elevators on the edge of Dodge City, which might have become a border town today if not for the Mexican-American War. Who knew?

Many textbooks that marginalize the significance of the 1821 boundary also hide key aspects of the war that took about half of Mexico by military force—one of the largest land conquests in modern military history. This misleads many into thinking the land acquisition was something like the Louisiana Purchase.

“American students might be forgiven if they know little about the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. It was a conflict not covered in high school history texts until recently,” writes historian and educator Michael Hogan[1]. “When it did finally appear in such texts as a subset of Westward Expansion, the result was to make it look like a fight for freedom on the part of patriotic Texans, migration to the territories, and the subsequent acquisition via the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.”

“In fact, the Mexican War was a preemptive invasion by US forces with the primary purpose of acquiring California and a land route across the Southwest,” Dr. Hogan continues.

Recently, Dr. Hogan visited the traveling San Diego exhibition in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he taught Advanced Placement US History for several years. Always the professor, he walked friends through the exhibit and discussed the historical significance of the San Diego border delimitation project. The exhibition is touring both the USA and Mexico, and you can click here to see background information.

To help educators and students better understand historical relations between the two countries from 1821-1867, the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) offers supplemental classroom materials. They include copies of archival documents from both countries that educators can use to facilitate classroom discussion. Many documents examine Abraham Lincoln’s opposition to the war as a one-term congressman, and his legacy of support for Mexico as president.

If you’re an educator, we hope you’ll use the San Diego delimitation project to help your students learn more about US-Mexico border history. And we hope you’ll consider using the LAMP classroom materials to discuss past, present, and future bilateral relations. Just send a request to lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org, and we’ll send a complimentary package that includes lesson plans. We look forward to hearing from you.  


[1] Hogan, Michael. Abraham Lincoln and Mexico: A History of Courage, Intrigue and Unlikely Friendships. San Diego:  EgretBooks.com, 2016

Educators like LAMP classroom materials





Photos: APUSH students with historian/ educator Michael Hogan; Einstein quote; scene from play with President and Mrs. Lincoln befriending Mexican charge d’ affaires Matias Romero

We’re delighted that educators from the USA, Mexico, and abroad are beginning to use supplemental classroom materials from the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) to cover what history textbooks omit.

The materials are based on the book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico, which grew out of an Advanced Placement US History class taught by internationally-respected historian and educator Michael Hogan in 2013. Now, the book is in many university libraries across the USA and also in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

LAMP offers educators a complimentary package of materials that includes a .pdf document or eBook version of Dr. Hogan’s book, a three-act play based on the book, and complete lesson plans based on the book and the play. The materials give educators and students access to archival documents examining Abraham Lincoln’s support for Mexico as congressman and as president to better understand historical relations between the USA and Mexico, and to facilitate discussion about current and future relations.

During the 2017-2018 academic year, one campus of the California State University system began using the paperback book in history courses. A high school in Mexico is using the book in an APUSH course, and one in Arizona is using the materials in social studies courses. If you know educators who might be interested in using the materials in the coming 2018-2019 academic year, just send their contact information to lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org and we’ll take it from there. Thanks.

Meanwhile, here’s a list of colleges, universities, and high schools where educators already have the materials.



  1. Judson College, Marion AL
  2. Montgomery Public Schools, Montgomery AL


  1. Academy of Tucson High School, Tucson AZ


  1. Bauxite Public Schools, Bauxite AR


  1. Abraham Lincoln High School, San Diego CA
  2. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona CA
  3. California State University-Channel Islands, Camarillo CA
  4. California State University-Dominguez Hills, Carson CA
  5. California State University-Fullerton, Fullerton CA
  6. Chadwick School, Palos Verdes CA
  7. Consumnes River College, Sacramento CA
  8. Coronado Unified School District, Coronado CA
  9. La Sierra University, Riverside CA
  10. Long Beach College, Long Beach CA
  11. Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach CA
  12. Los Angeles Mission College, Los Angeles CA
  13. Los Angeles Valley College, Valley Glen CA
  14. Mira Costa College, Oceanside CA
  15. Moreno Valley Unified School District, Moreno Valley CA
  16. Newark Unified School District, Newark CA
  17. Palomar College, San Marcos CA
  18. Parajo Valley Unified School District, Watsonville CA
  19. Pasadena Independent School District, Pasadena CA
  20. San Diego Unified Public Schools District, San Diego CA
  21. Spirit Christian Academy, Tustin CA
  22. Sweetwater Unified High School District, Chula Vista CA


  1. Cherry Creek Schools, Denver CO


  1. Trinity College, Hartford CT


  1. Cypress Creek High School, Orlando FL
  2. Keys Gate Charter High School, Homestead FL
  3. Manatee Technical College, Bradenton FL


  1. Chattahoochee Technical College, Rockmart GA
  2. Clayton State University, Morrow GA
  3. College of Continuing and Professional Education, Kennesaw GA
  4. University of Georgia, Athens GA


  1. Acero Schools, Chicago IL
  2. Bogan Computer Technical High School, Chicago IL
  3. Heartland Community College, Normal IL
  4. University of Illinois, Bloomington/Normal IL
  5. Loyola University of Chicago, Chicago IL
  6. Saint Xavier University, Chicago IL


  1. Wichita Public Schools-USD259, Wichita KS


  1. Ouachita Parish School District, Monroe LA


  1. University of Maryland Graduate School, College Park MD
  2. U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis MD


  1. Boston Public Schools, Boston MA
  2. Boston University, Boston MA
  3. Norwood Public Schools, Boston MA
  4. Springfield Central High School, Springfield MA
  5. Summit Educational Group, Newton MA


  1. Deerfield High School, Deerfield MI
  2. Lawrence Technology University, Southfield MI
  3. Michigan State University, East Lansing MI
  4. Muskegon Community College, Muskegon MI
  5. Saginaw Public School System, Saginaw MI


  1. Henry Sibley High School, Mendota Heights MN


  1. Forest High School, Forest MS

New Hampshire

  1. Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester NH

New Jersey

  1. Alvirne High School, Hudson NJ
  2. Monsignor Donovan High School, Toms River NJ
  3. Wayne Hills High School, Montclair NJ

New Mexico

  1. New Mexico Junior College, Hobbs NM
  2. Sandia Preparatory School, Albuquerque NM

New York

  1. Columbia University, Brooklyn NY
  2. New York Department of Education, New York NY
  3. Preston High School, Bronx NY
  4. Unatego Central School District, Unatego NY

North Carolina

  1. East Carolina University, Greenville NC
  2. University of North Carolina, Charlotte NC


  1. Ohio State University-Newark Campus, Newark OH
  2. University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande OH


  1. Central Dauphin School District, Harrisburg PA
  2. Chester Senior High School, Chester PA
  3. Community College of Allegheny County Pennsylvania, West Mifflin PA
  4. Haverford School, Haverford PA
  5. U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, Carlisle Barracks PA

Rhode Island

  1. Brown University, Providence RI
  2. Rogers High School, Newport RI

South Carolina

  1. Chester Senor High School, Chester SC

South Dakota

  1. Pierre School District, Pierre SD


  1. Sequatchie County Public Schools, Dunlap TN


  1. Aransas County ISD, Rockport TX
  2. Austin Community College-Pinnacle Campus, Austin TX
  3. Brookhaven College, Farmers Branch TX
  4. Goodrich Independent School District, Goodrich TX
  5. Houston Community College, Houston TX
  6. KIPP Houston Public Schools, Houston TX
  7. Lamar CISD, Rosenberg TX
  8. North Texas University, Dallas TX
  9. Pasadena Independent School District, Pasadena TX
  10. Round Rock ISD, Round Rock TX
  11. Sam Houston State University, Huntsville TX
  12. Terrill Independent School District, Terrell TX
  13. University of Houston-Downtown, Houston TX
  14. University of Texas-El Paso, El Paso TX


  1. Chantilly High School, Chantilly VA
  2. Emory & Henry College, Emory VA
  3. George Mason University, Fairfax VA
  4. James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
  5. Miller School of Albemarle, Charlottesville VA
  6. Pulaski County High School, Dublin VA
  7. University of Virginia Center for Politics, Charlottesville VA


  1. Viterbo College, La Crosse WI


  1. American School of Durango, Durango MX
  2. American School Foundation of Guadalajara, Guadalajara MX
  3. American School Foundation of Mexico City MX
  4. American School Foundation of Monterrey, Monterrey MX
  5. American School of Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta MX
  6. Colegio Columbia, Tampico MX
  7. Colegia Ingles Americano, Monterrey MX
  8. Cornerstone Academy, Guadalajara MX
  9. Instituto Thomas Jefferson, Guadalajara MX
  10. International School of Cancun, Cancun MX
  11. The American School of Querétaro, Querétaro MX
  12. Peterson Schools, Mexico City MX


  1. Nu’Uuli VoTech High School, Pago Pago
  2. Cheonga Dalton School, Cheonga South Korea

More educators help guide LAMP education outreach

Photos: Isaias Torres, Patricia Gonzalez, Jorge Haynes

A major goal of the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) is helping educators facilitate discussions about the history of relations between the USA and Mexico. To achieve this, LAMP offers supplemental classroom materials to high schools, colleges, and universities based on the book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico by historian/ educator Michael Hogan.

We’re delighted that current and retired educators from all three levels are helping guide our education effort as members of the LAMP International Advisory Council. And we’re proud to profile three of them in this blogpost.

Isaias Torres has taught United States history for eight years. After graduating Rice University with a double major in History and Religious Studies, Isaias worked in the Houston public school system for four years. He also completed his master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston. While teaching and studying in Houston, Isaias completed an in-depth study of westward settlement as part of the Teaching American History grant from the Department of Education. Isaias has taught abroad at the American Overseas School of Rome and the American School of Guadalajara. In both institutions, he has had great success with his AP US History students. After years of teaching US history, Isaias continues to enjoy the challenge of teaching students to understand the nuance of history as well as learn about social justice matters.

One of eleven children, Patricia Gonzalez was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico up to the age of seven. As Director of the Inclusion & Dialogue Center at Emory and Henry College, Patricia helps students find a voice and also helps them gain a sense of belonging in the EHC community. Most recently, Patricia graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University, with a Master of Arts in Higher and Postsecondary Education and Administration. Her interest in education began when she realized that her high school along with other public schools in South Los Angeles needed to become better and safer environments for students to study and live in. Her passion for education furthered developed when she served as a Servant Leader Intern (teacher) to middle school students in South LA with CDF Freedom Schools in 2012.

Jorge Haynes is a retired Senior Director for External Relations in the California State University Chancellor’s Office at Long Beach, which oversees the nation’s largest public university system with 23 campuses and a 2016 enrollment of 478,638 students. He’s still active as a board member of two other education entities in California, including the Families in Schools organization based in Los Angeles. A native of Laredo, Texas, now retired to his home state, he’s agreed to help LAMP connect with education and civic leaders from California across the Southwest to Texas. He earned his B.A. in Political Science and Government from CSU-Sacramento.

If you’re an educator interested examining the classroom materials without obligation, just send a request to lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org and we’ll send you a complimentary package that includes the eBook version of Abraham Lincoln and Mexico, the script for a three-act play based on the book, and a complete set of lesson plans to guide discussions of the book and the play. And if you know other educators who might be interested, we hope you’ll alert them to this offer. Thank you.



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Slideshow: Welcoming group at Museo Casa Juárez, arrival interview, with Mexican flag display, signing autographs, dinner with Chihuahua mayor, group interview and discussion, site visits, departure group.

Three days of successful events by the Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) in northern Mexico February 22-25 increased awareness of Abraham Lincoln’s legacy of support for Mexico as congressman and as president, and strengthened ties between the two countries.

During the events, historian and educator Michael Hogan presented the Spanish version of his book Abraham Lincoln and Mexico and discussed the book speaking in Spanish. He was interviewed in Spanish by state television hosts and on national radio. In addition, his book was presented in the State Legislative building and each of the state representatives bought a copy.

Accompanied by Cindy Medina, LAMP senior PR representative from Austin, Texas, and well-known photographer Javier Hernández, Dr. Hogan also presented his work at the Museo Casa Juárez, the exile home of the Mexican president during the regime of French puppet Emperor Maximilian. That evening, Hogan met with the mayor of Chihuahua, Maria Eugenia Campos Galvan, at a local restaurant.

The following day, he gave a one-hour lecture at the Archives de Poder Judicial Federal de Chihuahua (State Legislature Archive Building) to a group of professors, archivists, and the public followed by a book signing and discussion that last more than two hours. On the weekend, Hogan met with the head of tourism in Sauz, visited the Apache Museum, and the site of the Battle of the Sacramento River, accompanied by Ms. Medina, Mr. Hernández and his daughter Anapaula.

Before leaving on Sunday for his return to Guadalajara, he presented his work to the local Mason Lodge in Chihuahua. Benito Juárez was himself a Mason, as were many of the Liberal leaders of Mexico who fought gallantly against the French occupation and were assisted in that effort by the moral support of Abraham Lincoln and the financial support of New York bankers who purchased Mexican bonds to offset the cost of the struggle.

The visit was approved by Mr. Raul Manriquez, director of the Secretaria of Cultura of  Chihuahua, as well as Mr. Edgar Trevizo, leader in the Department of la Secretaria. Mr. Carlos Mendez Villa, leading Cultural Archivist who has been an early LAMP supporter in Chihuahua, presented the trip concept to both Mr. Manriquez and Mr. Trevizo and got it approved.

Great thanks to Mr. Edelmiro Ponce de Leon, director of Museo Casa Juarez, for the great invitation to the Museo along with a personal tour, and who participated in many of the news media interviews. During the trip, Hogan also met with Philip Stover, a retired deputy superintendent of the San Diego public school system who is a historian and now lives in the the state of Chihuahua, and who participated in some interviews and events.

You can see a video of one interview and discussion in Spanish by clicking here https://www.facebook.com/vocesdemiregion/videos/1371478162958792/?t=656. And you can see more photos by visiting the Facebook page for the book at https://www.facebook.com/MexicoLincoln/.

By the way, the book is available in Spanish on Amazon, and also available in English on Amazon, along with an English version audiobook.

Honoring African-American Soldiers During Black History Month


Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Celebrating Black History Month is a great opportunity to honor African-American soldiers who served in wartime. One group that is sometimes overlooked is the original US Colored Troops formed during the Civil War, where they were an important part of success by Union Troops.

Some historians have written about African-American soldiers during the Civil War, notably William A. Dobak in “Freedom by the Sword.” Historian and educator Michael Hogan is one of the few to document the role of the USCT in helping exiled Mexican President Benito Juárez end French occupation of North America. His research of archival documents resulted in a chapter in his book “Abraham Lincoln and Mexico” about USCT troops fighting alongside Mexican troops.

Several key online sources contain more facts about African-American soldiers in the 1860s.

The website for the U.S. Army Center of Military History summarizes the origin and history of the USCT: “With the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January 1863, Lincoln not only declared most of the slaves in the Confederacy free, but he also authorized the use of black men as soldiers ‘to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places.’

The official military history site also states that “Nearly 180,000 black soldiers served in the USCT, comprising about 10 percent of the Union Army’s manpower total.” During the war, these black troops played key roles in several battles, 25 received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery and sacrifice, and several had command roles. According to the website, Sgt. Maj. Lewis Douglass of the 54th Massachusetts was a son of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass. You can read more at https://history.army.mil/news/2015/150200a_bHistory.html

The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley recognizes the contributions of the USCT along the Texas border: “By May 1865, nearly 16,000 USCT veterans of the 25th Corps arrived at Brazos … where they were assigned to prevent former Confederates from establishing their defeated government and army in Mexico.” You can listen to a 90-second audio history clip at http://www.utrgv.edu/civilwar-trail/civil-war-trail/colored-troops/index.htm

As the Civil War was ending, as documented in Dr. Hogan’s book, many of these black troops joined forces inside Mexico to help fight French occupation forces. “After the war the USCT was disbanded. However, many of these demobilized black freemen, finding little work at home and much prejudice, joined the Americans fighting in Mexico as part of the American Legion of Honor recruited in late 1865 and early 1866.  They saw action in the last battles of the Franco-Mexican War including the battle of Zacatecas, the final siege at Querétaro, and triumphal march to Mexico City.”

Mexico honors the contribution of these troops, and the African-Americans soldiers among them, in Mexico City.

“There is a gravesite in Mexico City where those who fell in this conflict are interred,” Dr. Hogan states. “Many, however, survived and went on to settle in Mexico and have families; others returned to the United States and served in the military or returned to civilian life. They had, in the vernacular of the day, ‘seen the elephant’.”

His book about Lincoln’s legacy of support for Mexico is in the Lincoln Presidential Library and in private university libraries from Harvard and West Point to public university systems in Texas, Arizona, and California. His research documents that the American Legion of Honor had approximately 3,500 men who served in Mexico from 1865 through the final siege of Mexico in 1867. Additional history he has discovered about the Legion of Honor in Mexico, including its African-American members, is the subject of a forthcoming book.

Even more history about the USCT is available on the website for the Civil War Trust at https://www.civilwar.org/learn/articles/united-states-colored-troops






Historians, educators, and more guide LAMP efforts

Photos (l-r): Robert DiYanni, New York City; Janet Heinze, Guadalajara, MX; Gen. Clever Chavez Marin, Zapopan, MX; Heribert von Feilitzsch, Washington DC area; author Michael Hogan with Emb. Carlos Gonzalez-Magallon, Lake Chapala

The Lincoln and Mexico Project (LAMP) is honored that many people have become members of its international Advisory Council, and we look forward to more members in 2018.

The primary purpose of the Advisory Council is to guide our efforts to inform people about historical connections between the USA and Mexico as a way to improve future relationships. We also hope that classroom discussions about US-Mexican relations will lead to a generation of young people with more informed and productive perspectives about both nations. 

Outreach efforts began in January 2016 with historians and educators vetting the manuscript by historian and educator Michael Hogan for Abraham Lincoln and Mexico: A History of Courage, Intrigue and Unlikely Friendships. The manuscript had its origins in a 2012-2013 Advanced Placement US History (APUSH) course Dr. Hogan taught at the American School Foundation of Guadalajara, where students wanted to learn more than what was in the textbooks.

Now, the resulting book is in university libraries across the USA including Harvard, MIT, West Point, Brown, University of Texas, University of Arizona, UC-San Diego, the California State University system, and the University of San Diego, as well as public libraries from New York City to Los Angeles. It’s also in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, was nominated for the prestigious William M. LeoGrande Prize for best book about US-Latin American relations, and every member of the US Senate has received a complimentary copy.

Enthusiastic audiences have attended multiple presentations about the book in Guadalajara, Chihuahua, El Paso, Austin, Los Angeles, and Chicago. And the book inspired a three-act play that wowed audiences in Mexico where it premiered. All of this—the book, the presentations, and the play—forms the foundation for expanded outreach efforts this year, including classroom discussions about Lincoln’s legacy of support for Mexico.

We’re identifying and contacting potential Advisory Council members every week to guide our outreach efforts. The people we’re inviting to join who represent a mix of educators, historians, Mexican consulate officials, history activists, students, and digital learning proponents—all of whom have read Dr. Hogan’s book and support the LAMP goals.

If you, or someone you know, are interested in joining the Advisory Council just send a note to lamp@lincolnandmexicoproject.org and we’ll follow up.  We’ll update the names as people commit, and profile new members a few at a time in the newsletter throughout the year. Here’s the initial list, some of whom the LAMP blog profiled last year:

  1. Ronald Barnett, Ph.D. historian and former professor, Jocotopec, MX
  2. Gen. Clever Chavez Marin, historian and Mexican military expert, Zapopan, MX
  3. Noor Chehabeddine, Advanced Placement US History (APUSH) student, American School Foundation of Guadalajara (ASFG), Guadalajara, MX
  4. Sylvia N. Contreras, businesswoman, history activist, and LAMP PR representative, Long Beach, CA
  5. Robert DiYanni, Ph.D. Professor, and instructional consultant, Center for the Advancement of Teaching at NYU, New York City
  6. Heribert von Feilitzsch, historian, author, and business executive, Washington DC area
  7. Patricia Gonzalez, Director of Inclusion and Diversity, Emory & Henry College, Emory, VA
  8. Emb. Carlos Gonzalez-Magallon, retired Mexican foreign service official, Lake Chapala, MX
  9. Jorge Haynes, retired California State University administrator, Austin, TX
  10. Janet Heinze, international education consultant, Guadalajara, MX
  11. Cindy A. Medina Gallardo, history activist, genealogist, and LAMP senior PR representative, Austin, TX
  12. Carlos Alberto Méndez Villa, Ministry of Culture, Chihuahua, MX
  13. Luciana Mendez, computer sciences student at DePaul University, Chicago, IL
  14. Liam O’Hara, high school Social Studies Department Head, ASFG, Guadalajara, MX
  15. Stacy Ohrt-Billingslea, Theatre Director, ASFG, Guadalajara, MX
  16. Brenda Prado, APUSH student, ASFG, Guadalajara, MX
  17. Mark Sconce, author and retired businessman, Camarillo, CA
  18. Jason Silverman, Ph.D. retired university history professor, Rock Hill, SC
  19. Philip Stover, historian and retired deputy superintendent of San Diego Unified School System, Chihuahua, MX
  20. Isaias Torres, APUSH teacher, ASFG, Guadalajara, MX

The Lincoln and Mexico Project has volunteer coordinators in Guadalajara, San Diego, Los Angeles, Austin, and Chicago. This year, we’re planning to expand to Washington DC, New York City, and Boston. If you’re interested in helping arrange events, and perhaps speak on behalf of LAMP, just let us know. Meanwhile, you can click here to follow our Facebook page where posts often reach more than 10,000 people on five continents.

Best regards, and thanks for your interest and support as we expand in 2018.

How a US Republican President and a Mexican Youth Ended a French Monarchy in North America

Photos: President Abraham Lincoln and Mexican Envoy Matìas Romero

Article reprinted by permission from Alterinfos America Latina (http://www.alterinfos.org/spip.php?article7761)

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, 1865, 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.