The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 493
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alleviate the penurious situation of Jefferson's surviving family. His West Point
friendship with Jackson's nephew brought Trist to the attention of the presi-
dent, whom he served first as personal secretary and later as U.S. consul to
Havana. He lost his position during the subsequent Whig administrations but
was named chief clerk of the State Department under Polk.
The second half of the book discusses Trist's involvement in the U.S.-Mexican
War. Polk dispatched him as an executive agent to secure peace on the adminis-
tration's terms from the Mexican government. The secretive nature of his mis-
sion at first created discord between Trist and Gen. Winfield Scott, commander
of U.S. forces in Mexico, but the two men eventually became friends. Dissatisfied
with the lack of progress in securing peace, Polk soon became suspicious of the
political motivations of his agent and his Whig general and ordered Trist's
recall. In the interim caused by slow communications, Mexico City fell to Scott
and a window of opportunity to negotiate peace appeared. Erroneously believ-
ing that his replacement would soon arrive, Trist, after duly informing Mexican
officials of his new status, pursued negotiations along the lines laid out in his
original instructions. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo resulted. By ignoring his
recall, Trist effectively ended his government career, never to receive accolades
or even appropriate compensation for his actions. He spent the next three
decades in poverty working for a railroad and died in obscurity in 1874.
Unfortunately, this book is misnamed. The value of Ohrt's work lies not in its
discussion of the U.S.-Mexican War, but in its discussion of the relationships
between Trist and his family and friends. Ohrt's examination of the war rests
almost entirely upon secondary sources rather than the available diplomatic
and personal correspondence, resulting in a rehash of these other works. The
first part of the book, however, is based almost entirely on personal correspon-
dence and provides an engaging and highly readable assessment of Trist's fami-
ly relations. Especially poignant are Trist's attempts to maintain the Jefferson
legacy in the face of numerous creditors. Those searching for insight into
Jacksonian-era family relations will find this work interesting, while those pursu-
ing new interpretations of the negotiations that ended the U.S.-Mexican War
will be disappointed.
KIMBERLY HENKE BREUER
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/561/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.