The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Mexico, in 1857, after a dreary thirty-six year contest between
imperialists, federalists, centralists, and the supporters of the
dictator Santa Anna, definitely adopted federalism as a form of
government and accepted the famous Constitution of 1857. But
while federalism was definitely adopted in that year, and while
the new constitution was to be the fundamental law of the land,
in theory, at least, for sixty years, federalism was not assured
until 1867. Between 1857 and 1861 federalism had to defend
itself in a four year civil war; between 1861 and 1867 federal-
ism was forced to oppose the French invader, who, with the help
of the recently defeated centralists, attempted to establish in
Mexico an hereditary monarchy under a scion of the house of
Hapsburg-the misguided and unfortunate Maximilian.
In 1858, at the very outset of the civil war between federal-
ists and centralists, the United States, through its Minister to
Mexico, recognized the centralist government at Mexico City,
then dominated by Zuloaga, as the de facto government of Mex-
ico.2 Soon afterward, on account of the outrageous conduct of
the centralists toward aliens, the United States recalled its Min-
ister from Mexico City, and in April, 1859, accorded recognition
to the rival federal government of Benito Juarez, then estab-
lished at Vera Cruz.3 Despite the later intervention of Napoleon
1A paper read at the New Haven, Connecticut, meeting of the Ameri-
can Historical Association, December 28, 1922.
'Extract from the annual message of President Buchanan, December
19, 1859, in House Reports, 45 Cong., 1 and 2 seas., 1877-78, III (serial
no. 1824), doc. no. 701, p. 14.
SThe motives and actions of the United States with respect to the rec-
ognition of the government of Juarez are outlined in the following ex-
tract from President Buchanan's message to Congress, December 19, 1859:
"In my last annual message I communicated to Congress the circum-
stances under which the late minister of the United States to Mexico
suspended his official relations with the central government and with-
drew from the country. It was impossible to maintain friendly inter-
course with a government like that at the capital, under whose usurped
authority wrongs were constantly committed but never redressed. Had
this been an establishd government, with its power extending by the
consent of the people over the whole of Mexico, a resort to hostilities
against it would have been quite justifiable, and indeed necessary. But

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed July 12, 2014.