Second Mexican American War in 1919

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Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by History Learner » 02 Jan 2021 22:50

In 1919, there was a major war scare with Mexico over a attack on an American diplomat and a threat to nationalize the oil industry (largely owned by Americans), which came at the worst possible point as America was already in the throes of the First Red Scare. Congress at this time also produced documentation of Pro-German and Pro-Bolshevik actions within Mexico, inflaming the crisis. Ultimately, it came down solely to President Wilson making a timely recover in November of that, enabling him to safe off the efforts of his Secretary of State to start such a conflict.

For more info:
Woodrow Wilson and the Mexican Interventionist Movement of 1919
1919: William Jenkins, Robert Lansing, and the Mexican Interlude
Tempest in a Teapot? The Mexican-United States Intervention Crisis of 1919

Of note, to me personally, is this statement before Congress by Congressman J.W. Taylor of Tennessee:
"If I had my way about it, Uncle Sam would immediately send a company of civil engineers into Mexico, backed by sufficient military forces, with instructions to draw a parallel line to and about 100 miles south of the Rio Grande, and we would...annex this territory as indemnity for past depredations . . and if this reminder should not have the desired effect I would continue to move the line southward until the Mexican government was crowded off [the] North America."​
These feelings were the culmination of a decade of frustration and anger with Mexico, stretching back into the height of that country's Revolution/Civil War. To quote from "An Enemy Closer to Us than Any European Power": The Impact of Mexico on Texan Public Opinion before World War I by Patrick L. Cox, The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Jul., 2001, Vol. 105, No. 1 (Jul., 2001), pp. 40-80:
The Wilson administration and the military again blamed the conflict on Villa. Governor Ferguson expressed the feelings of many when he advocated United States intervention in Mexico to "assume control of that unfortunate country." J. S. M. McKamey, a banker in the South Texas community of Gregory concluded, "we ought to take the country over and keep it." As an alternative, McKamey told Congressman McLemore that the United States should "buy a few of the northern states of Mexico" because it would be "cheaper than going to war." The San Antonio Express urged the Mexican government to cooperate with Pershing's force to pursue those who participated in "organized murder, plundering and property destruction."

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by T. A. Gardner » 02 Jan 2021 23:41

Well, there was a bit of a war with Mexico as it was...

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Several battles, trench warfare. The border during the Mexican Revolution got "hot" more than once.

There was even an unfounded scare with rumors floating around at the time that the Germans had sent military officers to Mexico to train their army for an invasion of the US.

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by Futurist » 03 Jan 2021 00:09

Having the US militarily intervene in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution certainly sounds interesting--though Mexicans might view it as being a stab-in-the-back on the part of the voracious and land-hungry US, no? It's worth noting that, in 1930, there was already speculation that the US's total population might peak around the year 2000 or so:

https://www.unz.com/print/AmMercury-1930apr-00385/

So, if these views would have already existed in the 1910s, then there might not have been a pressing need among Americans to acquire additional space during this time like there was back in the 1840s, when the US's population was still growing much more rapidly.

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by History Learner » 03 Jan 2021 09:39

Futurist wrote:
03 Jan 2021 00:09
Having the US militarily intervene in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution certainly sounds interesting--though Mexicans might view it as being a stab-in-the-back on the part of the voracious and land-hungry US, no? It's worth noting that, in 1930, there was already speculation that the US's total population might peak around the year 2000 or so:

https://www.unz.com/print/AmMercury-1930apr-00385/

So, if these views would have already existed in the 1910s, then there might not have been a pressing need among Americans to acquire additional space during this time like there was back in the 1840s, when the US's population was still growing much more rapidly.
The proximate cause for the conflict was the kidnapping of William Jenkins, who was an American consular official. After his release, Mexican authorities arrested him, claiming he was behind his own kidnapping; of the sources listed, the majority conclusion is that this was untrue and probably an effort by Mexican leaders to absolve themselves of failing to protect American diplomatic officials. Outside of this immediate cause, there was underlying issues afoot, most prominently the looming threat of the Carranza Government to nationalize American oil interests as well as a recent report from the U.S. Congress showing Bolshevik (and Pro-German, during WWI) activities within Mexico that was considered a threat to the United States. This is important, given that the First Red Scare was currently underway. Thus, the desire was not for simple land, but rather on national security and economic grounds.

The crisis reached its decisive point in November, when Secretary of State Robert Lansing sought to issue an ultimatum to force a conflict. According to Never Wars: The US War Plans to Invade the World by Blaine Pardoe, the U.S. Military had first drawn up embryonic plans during the crisis, and these were later refined into War Plan Green later in the 1920s. From these, we know the idea was of a force of around 400,000 U.S. soldiers (Both Army and Marines) to fight the conflict, with a holding action and limited offensives along the existing U.S. border. The main thrust, however, was to come via an amphibious landing action against Veracruz and from there an overland campaign was to be conducted against Mexico City, with the capture of said location to be the main objective. Essentially, in many ways, it was to be a replay of the earlier conflict in the 1840s. What ultimately prevented it was President Wilson, who recovered from his stroke and thus was able to undermine Secretary Lansing and defuse the tensions.

As far as what would come next, that is a good question. According to the 1921 Mexican Census, the population of Mexico was 14,334,780 compared to 106,021,537 Americans, based on the 1920 Census. During the 1840s war, Mexico had 1/3 of the population of the United States but now, in 1919, it had just 13.5% of the U.S. population, making it a much more easily digestible conquest if all of it was taken. If not all, and just Northern Mexico was taken, said area was still very sparsely populated and given the even greater disparity between the U.S. population and this smaller area, it could be reasonably annexed. As for the Catholic issue, they composed about 18% of the U.S. population, meaning there was 19 million Catholics in America; more than the entire population of Mexico, quite ironically.

Overall, I think the U.S. could do either and make it work. Undoubtedly insurgency would occur after, but the U.S. Military at this time had a lot of institutional experience in successfully fighting such, from the still recent Indian Wars, the Philippine–American War, the various interventions in the 1910s and then, later in the historical 1920s, in Central America during the so called "Banana Wars". Whether they would is probably the real question, and I think it depends on political developments in the U.S. itself and what actions the Mexicans themselves take.

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Jan 2021 07:35

History Learner wrote:
03 Jan 2021 09:39
... Whether they would is probably the real question, and I think it depends on political developments in the U.S. itself and what actions the Mexicans themselves take.
The US leaders passed on it, as they did incorporating the Philippines, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Cuba & others. At the core the white Protestants at the top of the heap in US society were unenthusiastic about including several millions people who were brown skinned and Catholic into the US population. 'Concern' over too many non Protestants who were also of inferior races, was running deep in the early 20th Century. The declared ideology of the revived KKK of 1915 reflected this in its official stance towards Catholics and its nativist WASP views on immigrants. This was a strong cultural and political obstacle to annexation of more Mexican territory, or any of the other nations suffering the Banana Wars.

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by Futurist » 04 Jan 2021 22:01

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Jan 2021 07:35
History Learner wrote:
03 Jan 2021 09:39
... Whether they would is probably the real question, and I think it depends on political developments in the U.S. itself and what actions the Mexicans themselves take.
The US leaders passed on it, as they did incorporating the Philippines, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Cuba & others. At the core the white Protestants at the top of the heap in US society were unenthusiastic about including several millions people who were brown skinned and Catholic into the US population. 'Concern' over too many non Protestants who were also of inferior races, was running deep in the early 20th Century. The declared ideology of the revived KKK of 1915 reflected this in its official stance towards Catholics and its nativist WASP views on immigrants. This was a strong cultural and political obstacle to annexation of more Mexican territory, or any of the other nations suffering the Banana Wars.
To elaborate on this, the 1920s immigration restrictions in the US also aimed to significantly reduce the number of Catholics and Jews who were immigrating to the US, even if they were white.

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Jan 2021 23:15

The US was prevailing well enough in the Banana Wars that United Fruit & assorted banks & investment groups were assured of a optimal presence in the Caribbean & Mexico. It was unnecessary to annex these nations, & may have been unprofitable in the long run. That may have changed for Mexico later, but for the other nations US based business interests dominated.

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by Futurist » 05 Jan 2021 00:46

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Jan 2021 23:15
The US was prevailing well enough in the Banana Wars that United Fruit & assorted banks & investment groups were assured of a optimal presence in the Caribbean & Mexico. It was unnecessary to annex these nations, & may have been unprofitable in the long run. That may have changed for Mexico later, but for the other nations US based business interests dominated.
When did this change for Mexico, and why?

Also, do you think that there was a realistic chance of the US annexing ANY additional territories during this time? The US did annex the Danish West Indies in 1917 (well, OK, maybe not annex, but purchase), so there IS precedent for such a US move during this time.

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Jan 2021 02:11

There was a gradual shift in Mexico, reversing a trend towards foreign domination of business. Some describe it as a socialist of Communist revolution. Others see it as Mexicans The go to example, that is sometimes identified as a tipping point is the nationalization of the oil industry in 1938.

I can't say there isn't, but the experience with administering the the Philippines, the costs the Banana Wars, the costs of subjugating the former Mexican territories & the native population between 1850 & 1900 dissuaded a lot of people from thinking it a good idea. The opposition fiscal conservatives in Congress, the opposition from anti Catholics, the opposition from those with practical view of the difficulties, from those arguing from a moral ground. It added up & counter weighed the vote from business interests who were confident of profits in annexed territories. and not all businessmen were confident in profitability.

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by Futurist » 05 Jan 2021 02:41

That makes sense. The Catholic factor also discouraged US annexation of Cuba in and after 1898, no?

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by History Learner » 08 Jan 2021 00:23

One political development of note is, given the nature of the 1920 Election, who would win the GOP nomination? For example, the case of Leonard Wood:
After having considered a candidacy in 1916, in 1920 Wood was a serious contender for the Republican nomination.[42] The major candidates were Senator Hiram Johnson of California, a progressive who opposed U.S. involvement in the League of Nations; Governor Frank Orren Lowden of Illinois, who supported women's suffrage and Prohibition, and opposed U.S. entry into the League of Nations; and Wood, whose military career made him the personification of competence and ties to Theodore Roosevelt earned him the backing of many of Roosevelt's former supporters, including William Cooper Procter.[42] Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio was a dark horse candidate, running as a favorite son in order to maintain his hold on Ohio's Republican Party and secure his reelection to the Senate.[42] At the convention, Wood led on the first four ballots, was second on the fifth, tied with Lowden on the sixth, and led again on the seventh.[42] With none of the three front runners able to obtain a majority, support for Harding started to grow and he won the nomination on the tenth ballot.[42] Delegates nominated Calvin Coolidge for vice president, and the Harding-Coolidge ticket went on to win the general election.[42]​

Wood was an imperialist who opposed granting independence to the Philippines IOTL and thus probably would feel the same about Mexico or portions thereof:
The Jones Act remained the basic legislation for the administration of the Philippines until the United States Congress passed new legislation in 1934 which became effective in 1935, establishing the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Provisions of the Jones Act were differently interpreted, however, by the governors general. Harrison rarely challenged the legislature by his use of the veto power. His successor, General Leonard Wood (1921-27), was convinced that United States withdrawal from the islands would be as disastrous for the Filipinos as it would be for the interests of the United States in the western Pacific. He aroused the intense opposition of the Nacionalistas by his use of the veto power 126 times in his six years in office. The Nacionalista Party created a political deadlock when ranking Filipino officials resigned in 1923 leaving their positions vacant until Wood's term ended with his death in 1927. His successors, however, reversed Wood's policies and reestablished effective working relations with Filipino politicians.​
With regards to the 1924 immigration act, it's important to note it limited European-but not Latin America-immigration, largely on the basis of concern of foreign radicalism. As for the Banana Wars, I don't think I can recall any high level support asserted for the annexation of portions of Central America or the Caribbean like there was being suggested in 1919 for part or the whole of Mexico.

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by Futurist » 08 Jan 2021 01:02

Wood's Presidency was only going to last for seven years at the very most. As for the 1924 Immigration Act, Yes, it didn't restrict Latin American immigration, but AFAIK, a part of the reason for this might have been that there simply wasn't that much Latin American immigration into the US during this time (even during the Mexican Revolution) and thus there might have been less of a perceived need to restrict it than there was for European immigration (especially Eastern and Southern European immigration). Just compare how many Italians or Jews came to the US between 1880 and 1925 versus how many Mexicans came to the US during this time period.

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by Futurist » 08 Jan 2021 01:07

Had Latin American been coming to the US in the same numbers as groups such as Italians and Jews were between 1880 and 1925, then it's possible that there would have been more--perhaps even MUCH more--calls for the US to likewise restrict immigration from Latin America in the 1920s.

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 08 Jan 2021 04:14

Reviewing this my thoughts turned to a different course. Instead of annexation the US would separate a portion of the provinces from 'Mexico' and established a 'friendly' government there. The native population would not be US citizens, but US businesses cold operate in there unhindered by a hostile nationalist government. Which is more or less what happened to a number of Central American nations during the Banana Wars and Cold War.

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Re: Second Mexican American War in 1919

Post by Futurist » 08 Jan 2021 04:16

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
08 Jan 2021 04:14
Reviewing this my thoughts turned to a different course. Instead of annexation the US would separate a portion of the provinces from 'Mexico' and established a 'friendly' government there. The native population would not be US citizens, but US businesses cold operate in there unhindered by a hostile nationalist government. Which is more or less what happened to a number of Central American nations during the Banana Wars and Cold War.
Which portion of Mexico would be separated?

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