The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
SOME PRECEDENTS OF THE PERSHING EXPEDITION
J. FRED RIPPY
Discussions connected with the recent expedition led by General
John J. Pershing into Mexico evince a striking ignoring of ante-
cedents. One searches in vain through the contemporary period-
icals for a clear statement of the precedents upon which the enter-
prise was based. Only now and then can there be found evidence
revealing a consciousness on the part of the journalists that Mex-
ican border difficulties have not been confined to the last decade.
There are occasional references, for instance, to the brilliant pur-
suit of Ger6nimo into Sonora. For the most part, however, the
writers maintain a striking silence regarding the past. Even the
diplomatic correspondence connected with the recent punitive ex-
pedition has little to say of previous circumstances which have re-
sembled those leading to the dispatch of Pershing. As now pub-
lished it contains only two or three references to the period prior
The works of a historical nature which treat the relations of the
United States and Mexico since 1910 likewise fail to present the
background necessary to a clear understanding of recent develop-
ments, most of them plunging immediately into contemporary
difficulties as if they were entirely new.8 In the opinion of the
writer, this neglect of antecedents furnishes sufficient justification
for the present article.
The bold, reckless, and lawless elements of society usually drift
toward the frontier, where they expect to find adventures suited
to their taste and freedom from the restraints of more settled
regions. Here they take advantage of the sparsity of population,
the international line, the weakness of the local frontier govern-
1The writer desires to make grateful acknowledgment to Professor
Herbert E. Bolton, whose seminar papers he has freely used.
"For the correspondence, see The American Journal of International
Law, X, Supplement. pp. 179ff.; New York Times, July 29, August 5,
and November 25, 1916; Washington Post, January 3, 1917. These jour-
nals also contain the best discussion of the expedition from the historical
'Among the best discussions of the relations of the United States since
1910 are, W. F. Johnson, America's Foreign Relations, II, 334ff.; F. A.
Ogg, National Progress, 1907-1917, p. 284ff.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 24, July 1920 - April, 1921. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101078/. Accessed March 5, 2015.