The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971

Tempest in a Teapot? The Mexican-United
States Intervention Crisis of 1919
MANUEL A. MACHADO JR.
and
JAMES T. JUDGE*
PROMULGATION OF THE MEXICAN CONSTITUTION OF MAY 1, 1917,
paved the way for a series of diplomatic conflicts between Mexico
and the United States that led to a near-intervention crisis in 1919.
Coupled with the obduracy of President Venustiano Carranza and his
seemingly pro-German attitude during the European imbroglio, the
ultranationalistic provisions of the new Constitution made many
United States diplomats, businessmen (primarily oil entrepreneurs),
congressional leaders, and the U.S. public resent Mexico's attempt
to assert its individuality as a sovereign state. Unlike several other
Latin American countries, Mexico refused to sever relations with the
Central Powers, and pressures from north of the Rio Grande resulted
in the enunciation of the Carranza Doctrine as a counterploy to the
Monroe Doctrine and to what Mexico considered interference in its
internal affairs.
Early in 1918 a series of oil decrees that supposedly defined Article
27 of the Constitution emanated from President Carranza's office and re-
sulted in protests by the United States. Article 27 granted to the state
the ownership of all subsoil products including hydrocarbons. That
controversial part of Mexico's large, somewhat ambiguous Constitution
of 1917 in effect reasserted Spanish law which had granted to the
crown the ownership of subsoil products. During the porfiriato private
individuals had received outright ownership of all land, subsoil as
well as the surface. As a result, greater and greater foreign control of
oil and mining had become apparent in Mexico. Carranza, by effec-
tuating Article 27, warned the foreign oil entrepreneurs of his deter-
mination to assert Mexican economic nationalism. The taxes couched
in his decrees of 1918 were but the beginning of Mexico's attempt to
*Manuel A. Machado Jr., associate professor of history at the University of Montana,
has published two books on the impact of foot-and-mouth-disease control on U.S.-Latin
American relations. James T. Judge is at present with the U.S. Army.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/. Accessed September 22, 2014.