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Thread: So Far From God (Mexico 1836-'76)

  1. #181
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    1. Final? There can never be enough comebacks!

    2. Disbanding the army? So far from God, so close to the United States! Who can forget that last part?

    3. Damn investigative accountants.
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  2. #182
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    Plausible writings of how Santa Ana was maneuvred out of office. And yet, he still manages to slip away untouched, rather than being jailed or exiled. Given the fact that the AAR's title refers to the period 1836-1876, I think we haven't quite seen the last of the Benefactor of the Fatherland.

    The devil is that, at this point in his career, only another war will allow for Santa Ana to once again accede to the highest office and actually have any power in it. Otherwise, I can see only figurehead presidencies while more powerful actors pull his strings, or failed marches on the capital.

    So, while I expect to see more of Santa Ana, I highly doubt it will be as anything else than a symbol of faded glory.

  3. #183
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    Santa Anna left willingly?
    Uh, he shall return to the office probably within a week.
    So how much gold did he give willingly to the state coffers?

  4. #184
    Resignation at last, before death, or shall he wreak out a finale? I can't see him sitting out the next decade or so, if I recall the length of his life correctly.

    I finished reading a book on prices, The Great Wave by David Hackett Fischer, recently. Any thoughts on how all this madness you describe is affecting Mexican inflation, or world prices in general, which Fischer says were quite stable for the portion of the 19th century post Napoleon?
    Last edited by J. Passepartout; 10-08-2010 at 00:12.

  5. #185
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    I think this works out quite well for Santa Anna. Complex figure as he is, he was never going to leave power quietly and without a scandal. It just wouldn't really be his style

  6. #186
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    Ah don't worry about the scandal... eventually people will forget the thievery and remember the good things about Santa Anna's presidencies. Victories, foreign respect, stability. With Porfirio Diaz as president I suspect Mexican industralization will only speed up... and maybe get drawn into more wars? The interventions in Mexico are really no fun at all Too bad Juarez is not there to guide the country.

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  8. #188
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    Yes indeed. I think this was sufficient time for Santa Ana to plan his grandest, most magnificent Final Comeback. Now we want to see it.
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  9. #189
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    CCA, we do not 'bump' long-discontinued AARs. This is called necromancy and can get you infracted. For the tight way to do it (make a statement that shows you have read and appreciate the work) see RGB's post.
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  10. #190
    Quote Originally Posted by Director View Post
    CCA, we do not 'bump' long-discontinued AARs. This is called necromancy and can get you infracted. For the tight way to do it (make a statement that shows you have read and appreciate the work) see RGB's post.
    WIth respect I don't think this was necromancy. This thread was bought up again to remind the writer to please update the story. As far as I'm aware this has not been discontinued yet.

  11. #191
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    CCa, I attempted to give you some friendly advice on how to avoid infraction for necromancy.
    The thread has not been posted in for a year and five months.
    That amount of delay means the thread is clearly discontinued.
    'Bumping' a thread for no reason other than to raise it back to the top of the queue is necromancy.
    Necromancy is an infractable offense, which I tried to save you from with a warning.

    Arguing with a mod in-thread is also an infractable offense. Prepare for incoming.


    To avoid necromancy, either avoid posting in long-dead threads or do what RGB did - give a substantive response that indicates you have read and enjoyed the work. 'Bump' is necromancy.

    If you have questions or wish to present your side when a moderator speaks, send me or any mod a PM. Arguing in public will always get you an infraction. The rule on thread necromancy is in the sticky on forum rules at the top of the page. The other rules and policies are spelled out in the FAQ.
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  12. #192
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    Lecture Seventeen: Long Live the King (1860-'61)

    "What pleasure is it to be a tsar?"
    Vladimir Staritskaya

    If the formal inauguration of Porfirio Díaz in January 1860 did not suddenly solve Mexico's woes then it did at least usher in a period of relative calm. The depths to which the country had sunk can be judged by the fact that Santa Anna's scandal-tainted departure was still a pleasant change from the violent upheaval that typically accompanied a change in the Presidency. With a relatively young, relatively popular, and relatively honest new president there was a groundswell of goodwill towards Diaz. Having served under both Benito Juárez and Santa Anna he possessed broad appeal and invaluable first hand knowledge as to the intricacies of Mexican politics. These two old veterans refused to disappear quietly however and Diaz was evidentially unable to make the clean break from the past, or build up the independent support base, that he would have desired. Santa Anna's input to national affairs may have been rather muted since his retreat to Veracruz but, despite his continued exile, Juarez remained a magnet for radical discontent and his insistence that he remained the legitimate president proved a constant irritant to the new president. Such distractions were no doubt unwelcome to Diaz as he set about the task of governing the country with admirable energy and vigour. Relative peace allowed the economy to prosper as the government cracked down on banditry (often impressing those found guilty into the depleted army ranks) and at least talked about tackling the endemic political corruption. There were major obstacles still to be overcome - not least the debts owed to European banks, of which Santa Anna's 'donation' had covered about half - but as it emerged from a troubling 1850s it seemed that Mexico was finally moving in the right direction


    Be it an underlying cause or not, the slavery debate was the most visible sign of a house divided

    If Mexico had seemingly turned a corner then the opposite was true for its northern neighbour. The woes of the United States had continued to accumulate following the disastrous war of 1858. In March 1860 the Boundary Commission convened following that war's conclusion had ruled decisively against Washington and awarded the Mexican Republic a vast swathe of land – including most states/territories west of the Mississippi. More destabilising in the long run was that the politics of slavery simply refused to disappear as compromise after compromise failed to reconcile an increasingly divided United States*. Having gambled much on two wars with Mexico, only to suffer greatly from the passing of Santa Anna's armies, the slave states sought to cast their defeats as the result of Yankee incompetence and malice. In particular the failure of Washington to arrest the march of Mexican armies through the South during the previous war continued to rankle amongst those who had lost land, slaves, and family during the campaign. Hypocrisy or not, it was a further wedge in an increasingly polarised nation and proved to be the breaking point for a strained union. While the intricacies of the American Civil War are beyond the scope of this text, on 1 May 1860 mutiny by state militias in Columbia, South Carolina triggered a series of confused events that resulted in the official secession of the new Confederate States of America (CSA) on 10 June 1860 under the leadership of former-senator Jefferson Davies. The belated rejection of this act by US President Buchanan led to a slide into fratricidal war two months later

    Few observed this developing conflict as closely as the government in Mexico City but it quickly became more than a mere conversational topic of choice for the Mexican political elite. Few were in favour of intervention but the flaring of civil war in America quickly precipitated a political crisis further south. From a Mexican perspective there was little sympathy to be had for either side** but while Diaz himself was resolutely non-interventionist he faced vocal pressure from the radical liberals, on the initiative of Benito Juarez, to make common cause with Washington in the defence of republican values. The Juarezistas cunningly chose to fight not on the issue of intervention itself but rather challenged Diaz's legitimacy by demanding a presidential election before any action be taken on foreign policy. There was real danger here for the president as a radical Congress bloc united around the intervention issue (as opposed to the more divisive personality of Juarez) could seriously hamper his ability to govern. Similarly, calling an election (the first since the 1830s) would place his fate in the hands of the various state legislatures that represented the regional governments of Mexico. There was absolutely no guarantee that Diaz would win such a contest but as summer passed it became clear that an endorsement would have to be sought from the state legislatures if the national government was to survive. Alarmingly for the President, efforts to have Juarez's name stricken from the list of candidates failed and in early September several regional governments, always eager to weaken the power of Mexico City, indicated that they would support the exiled former president. It was at this point that Diaz made the fateful decision to turn to his predecessor for support. Even a national scandal could not have dented Santa Anna's authority in his home province of Veracruz – one of the largest and wealthiest of the Mexican state – and on 27 September Don Antonio responded favourably by arranging for the radical leaning Veracruz state legislature to be replaced with a more pliant pro-Diaz one. It was an audacious example of the corruption at the heart of Mexican politics but Veracruz's support was enough to ward off the radical electoral challenge and secure the remainder of Diaz's term in office. Santa Anna's price for this intervention would have serious consequences however


    Santa Anna's villa in Xalapa where he received Diaz and reached their infamous agreement. The house today is in poor condition

    It is still not entirely clear as to the details of the arrangement reached between the two men when they met to discuss the President's future at Xalapa on 18 September 1860. We can reasonably divine the motivation of Diaz and the service rendered by Santa Anna but the logic of the latter remains, as always perhaps, opaque. What we do know is that on 13 November, mere days after the formal re-election of Diaz, Santa Anna left Veracruz to the north and assumed the office of Governor of Texas. It was rehabilitation, of sorts, for the disgraced former president but hardly a stellar promotion. We do not know whether Don Antonio specifically requested this particular office (his memoirs deny that he did, other sources disagree) but Diaz was surely aware of the dangers inherent in placing Santa Anna, a figure with a proven ability to trigger crises, in such a position. Given the political manoeuvrings of the autumn months, the young president may have felt that he had no choice - Diaz may even have been glad to remove his rival from his Veracruz stronghold - but it was a move that he would later bitterly regret. The office of Governor was not a powerful position in itself but Santa Anna would prove capable of exploiting the distance from the capital in order to forward his own agenda. As always with Santa Anna, the impact on both Mexico and North America would be considerable

    -----

    * Common ideologies dictated that liberals were inclined to favour the Union but this was largely off-set by three decades of tension, conflict, and crisis. Conversely conservatives were less disgusted by the bigoted nature of the new Confederate state but they feared the spread of separatist sentiment to the Mexican provinces. See 'Earle, R.L. and Wirth, J.D., (1995), Identities in North America: The Search for Community' for a mention of how ideological or class identities can transcend political borders

    ** The election of presidents during the Republic era did not involve a popular vote but was rather decided by twenty-one state legislatures. These bodies (which, as the name suggests, represented each state in Mexico) were based on a very limited franchise and proved to be easily manipulated by powerful regional bosses (jeffe politico)
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  13. #193
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    Aha!

    It is back! Again! Like Santa Anna!

    Well, first off, it's interesting that the US cannot hold together even in the face of a common enemy; but then I suppose the events are not scripted to take consideration of Mexican wars, and slavery would always really remain an issue. That Mexico does not wish for the speedy victory of either side seems obvious.

    Secondly, it appears that the echoes of the Spanish legacy of colonial feudalism refuse to die; the provinces, no matter the system of appointments, always become personal land grants and one caudillo becomes a necessity to protect against another's ambitions. Throw in exiled kings and you'd think this was CK.

    Granted, simplistic view, but it really is the first impression.

    Thirdly - the political cartoon is most excellent.
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  14. #194
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    Ask and thou shall receive

    I make no apologies for a year long delay because by now everyone should know that I am a) exceptionally lazy, and b) entirely untrustworthy. That said, I never considered this AAR abandoned (has it really been a year?) and was never far from finishing it. Most of the final updates were written months ago but I was just not happy with many aspects of the writing/story. I'm still not but they're better than they were

    So, given that V2 is on the verge of release, there is no better time to pick up the story and release some sub-par updates to conclude what can charitably be called a learning experience for me. It will take us another three updates (plus an epilogue) to bring us up to 1876 and beyond(!). Most of these are already written so expect this to finish up before the end of the month. It'll be worth the wait, I promise*

    And if anyone other than RGB is still reading then that's great! If not, well thanks for the comments anyway

    -----


    RGB: I deliberately chose to focus on political manoeuvrings for this AAR and in a way I'm glad I did. If not you'd have seventeen chapters of me telling you that Mexico was a backwards land of caudillos and vested interests... instead of merely hinting strongly at it. You are right on the button and a core theme of this AAR (which by this stage I really don't care about spelling it out) has been the prolonged and difficult transition from an essentially feudal society to a modern nationstate

    Its also frustrating that P'dox rarely model this. Mexico in V1, and I suspect V2, is a unitary state no different from Britain or France or Sweden. In reality its hard to call Mexico pre-1850s (later in this timeline) a nation at all

    (As an aside, I don't think that V2 was even announced the last time I updated )

    And I drew the political cartoon myself*

    *Remember: entirely untrustworthy
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  15. #195
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    Now, maybe he united Veracruz and Texas?
    He is Santa Anna after all....

  16. #196
    Glad to see this back.

    I think the best thing for Mexico would be support for unionism in the USA but to not intervene strongly at least until the Americans have beaten each other up for a good while. However, given that Santa Ana has been placed in power in an area close to the border, I suspect we may be in for some excitement.

  17. #197
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    I'm still reading. Just too flabbergasted right now that it actually came back to life to make any meaningful comments (I am also a lazy person ).

    Nice to see this back and I look forward to a tidy wrapping up of this tale before the month is out (or before my three-year-old finishes college).

    Let's see what else Santa Anna has in his bag of tricks...

  18. #198
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    So happy to see this back on the road to its conclusion!
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  19. #199
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    Great to see one of the finest Vicky AARs alive again. It'll be interesting to see what sort of trouble lies ahead for pobre Mejico - Santa Anna taking a leisurely invasion to Nawlins, or a Texan rebellion occasioned by some particularly nasty act of the new governor?

  20. #200
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    Lecture Eighteen: North of the Border (1861-62)

    "Ah, the blueprint that historians will draft of this! The angles they will plot to lend shape to the mess! They will take the word of a cabinet minister, the decision of a general, the discussion of a committee, and out of that parade of ghosts they will build historic conversations in which they will discern far-sighted views and weighty responsibilities"
    A. de Saint-Exupery


    On moving north in late November 1860 to assume the Governorship of Texas, Santa Anna was not only revisiting the scene of past glories but already plotting future conquests. His memoirs are uncharacteristically silent on this issue but it is likely that by this stage that Don Antonio had already decided that a Confederate victory would be desirable and was actively working to involve Mexico in this conflict. Perhaps he hoped that another war against the US would restore his reputation and allow him to regain the Presidency or perhaps he genuinely believed that such a conflict to break the power of Washington was in the best interests of Mexico. What is clear is that by the end of 1860 his emissaries had made contact with Confederate leaders (perhaps even Davies himself) with an offer of assistance in the struggle against Washington. We know from Confederate sources that Josefina Zoraida Vázquez, Santa Anna's negotiator in-chief, promised nothing short of a full military alliance (on the behalf of Mexico City!) against the 'Yankee menace'. This was, lest we forget, an act far in excess of Santa Anna's legal powers as Governor and almost certainly crossed the line into treason. If Vázquez was truly acting with the approval of Don Antonio then the latter is guilty of conspiring to take his country to war against the wishes of the legal government. Certainly such a move contrasted sharply with the studied and public neutrality of Diaz's government. Whatever his motivations, this was an incredibly bold step… but then such risky gambits were not uncommon in Santa Anna's long career

    If there was indeed a firm offer of alliance made then it was only the hesitation of the Confederate leadership that scuppered any deal. Santa Anna had long been vilified by Southern politicians – the result of dashed expansionist dreams, numerous military defeats, a certain base racism, and, lest we forget, Mexican war crimes – and the two camps were not natural allies. To this must be added a degree of understandable incredulity on the behalf of Confederate politicians that Santa Anna could actually deliver substantial assistance in the face of Mexico City's very public refusal to be drawn into the war. It is believed that Vázquez returned to Texas empty handed in early February 1861 but contacts had been made and the changing military situation would soon bring these seeds to fruition

    In late 1860 the Confederate leadership could afford to dismiss offers of assistance due to the expectation of a rapid military victory over Washington. What they really craved was diplomatic recognition from an established government – something that Santa Anna was in no position to provide. Five months later and things were different. The Southern states had entered the war with a large pool of trained and experienced soldiers, a product of the Mexican wars, but a series of exceedingly bloody stalemates around the Shenandoah Valley (known collectively as Valley Campaign) had dashed any hopes of a rapid military settlement and begun to place severe strain on Confederate reserves. These were losses that the South could ill afford and, together with the North's significantly larger population and industrial base, looked to be tilting the balance away from Richmond. Matters came to a head in August 1861 when the Confederate generals delivered a blunt assessment to the political leadership in which it was made clear that they could no longer afford to reject any foreign offers of aid. For Santa Anna, who had spent the summer months quietly marshalling his reserves in Texas, this presented one last opportunity to make his mark on history

    It was in the small Texan border settlement of Joaquin that an accord between Robert Hunter, representing Richmond, and Santa Anna, representing only himself, was finally arrived at. No physical record survives of what was a strictly informal arrangement but we know, from sources published many decades after the event, that the caudillo promised the immediate despatch of two Mexican armies (close to fifty thousand men and arms) to fight under Confederate colours. Because Mexico was technically not at war with the United States these soldiers were to be classified as 'volunteers' and sent to bolster General Lee's forces in the east rather than opening a new front on the Mexican border. In exchange the Confederacy undertook to pay and provide for these new recruits (no doubt Santa Anna's himself also benefitted finically from these arrangements) as well as making some vague promises as to future cooperation. Ominously, a reserve force of ten thousand would be retained in Texas under Santa Anna's personal command to prepare for the inevitable confrontation with the government whose authority he had so subverted


    Over 60,000 men perished or were invalided during the the three month Valley Campaign, making it the bloodiest set of engagements of the conflict

    Intrigues at home were not a concern of those Mexican formations being marshalled across the Southern states. They must surely have made for an odd sight – Mexican soldiers under Confederate colours, passing through lands that they had laid waste to only a few years previously. Understandably their reception in the various communities passed through was mixed and conditions on the route were hard; nonetheless by late October they had successfully traversed North America and the advance elements were immediately deployed to support the faltering left flank of General Beauregard's Army of the Potomac as it faced the US Virginia Offensive. Necessity had overridden Confederate doubts as to the value of these 'volunteer' formations but victory at the Battle of Fredericksburg proved that the reputation of the Mexican fighting soldier – the product of decades of conflict, both at home and abroad – was well deserved. Further victories followed with Mexican units featuring heavily in a number of further battles that drove back the US offensive and had advanced into Maryland by the turn of 1862

    It was inevitable however that these very successes would draw attention to the presence of Mexican soldiers and cause shock and alarm in both Washington and Mexico City. The journey across America had been successfully conducted in relative secrecy, to a degree unimaginable in an era of camera phones and the internet, but now both capitals had to react to this unexpected development. In the United States the obvious assumption was that Mexico had thrown her lot in with the Confederacy and emergency preparations were made for another war in the west. Santa Anna may have counted on this reaction as a means for drawing Mexico into the conflict proper. There is evidence that Generals Zaragoza and Ortega, stationed along the tense northern borders with two large armies, were actively preparing for such a war on the advice of the caudillo. That the slide to war was halted is largely attributable to another former president. Benito Juarez, who was aware of the Mexican government's reluctance to intervene, personally urged caution on President Seward during an audience on 12 December and it was this intervention that lent credence to Diaz's pleas of ignorance

    The Mexican President himself must be paid credit for resisting the calls for war. Whether fearing the reaction of Congress or a resurgent Santa Anna, Diaz did not take long to decide against throwing in his lot with the Confederacy. After a brief period of hesitation he rejected Santa Anna's belated demands that the remainder of the army be mobilised for war, and then privately confessed to Washington that the soldiers fighting in Virginia were not under his authority. This was an extraordinary confession from a head of state but it proved enough to cool talk of war. With President Seward soothed, Diaz turned his attention to Santa Anna and demanded his immediate resignation and the recall of the 'volunteers'. Such an unexpectedly firm stance left the Governor of Texas with only two options – revolt or submit, and the latter was no option at all. Nonetheless Santa Anna must have been confident; this was not the first time that he found himself in opposition to the government and there remained a formula for occasions like this. Just as he had first done as a young officer in 1822 the caudillo issued a pronunciamiento against the government on 17 January 1862, effectively placing himself in a position of armed opposition. A manifesto was hastily proclaimed, full of the stock phrases about liberty and the fatherland, and emissaries despatched to other armies and towns seeking their support against the government. As spring approached Santa Anna was once again prepared to march on the capital to overthrow the government
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    Last edited by ComradeOm; 22-08-2010 at 15:31.
    Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners
    VI Lenin

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