THE INFLUENCE OF FRENCH DIPLOMATIC POLICY
ON THE ANNEXATION OF TEXAS
R. A. McLEMORE
A study of the materials in the recently opened archives of
the French foreign office permits a clarification of some points in
the diplomatic policy of France toward the annexation of Texas.
This policy was outlined in instructions, dated February 10, 1844,
to the minister at Washington, A. J. Y. Pageot. The occasion
for these instructions was certain passages in the December, 1843,
message of President John Tyler and the reports which Pageot
had given in regard to it. An inquiry from Great Britain as to
the policy France proposed to pursue also served to stimulate
French interest in the question. Frangois P. G. Guizot, minister
of foreign affairs and head of the French cabinet, affirmed that
the fundamental basis for French policy toward the annexation
of Texas to the United States was the opposition of a majority
of the Texan population to the project. This assertion was based
upon statements made by President Sam Houston of Texas and
by Ashbel Smith, representative of that republic in Europe.
Independent of the attitude of the Texan people, Guizot found
that there were certain political and commercial considerations
which would not permit France to view such a move with indif-
ference. Among the political considerations which prompted French
opposition to annexation were the possible consequences to Mexico,
the Spanish race and the Catholic religion in America. The annex-
ation of Texas, Guizot declared, would lead directly to the con-
quest of Mexico. This would place the United States in such a
position of predominance that it would cause alarm in Europe.
The commercial considerations of most importance in determining
the policy of France were first the hope that Texas would offer
a profitable market for the products of French agriculture and
industry and second the expectation that French shipping would
find the direct trade with Texas profitable. Guizot also expressed
the belief that French prestige would suffer by annexation since
France had been the first European state to recognize the inde-
pendence of Texas.
In directing Pageot's conduct, Guizot was embarrassed by a
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101111/. Accessed August 21, 2014.