Lincoln Promotes Mexican Democracy
MS-1861.01.21 – Lincoln to Romero
The 1860s were a time of political violence in both Mexico and the United States. Beleaguered President Benito Juàrez had endured a civil war from 1858-1860 and was enjoying a brief period of unchallenged authority when Abraham Lincoln won the U.S. presidency. Lincoln saw no foreign visitors between his election and arrival in Washington but did permit Juàrez’s emissary Matias Romero to meet him in Springfield on January 19, 1861.
Juàrez had urged Romero to “make clear” that he wanted “the most cordial relations” with Lincoln. The conversation went well, and Lincoln sent this letter two days later expressing his “sincere wishes for the happiness, prosperity, and liberty of yourself, your government, and its people.” By using the word “liberty,” Lincoln signaled that his support was grounded on Juàrez’s struggle to maintain democracy in Mexico. Tragically, both men would soon find themselves fighting for the legitimacy of democratic government in their respective nations.
Springfield, Ills. Jan. 21, 1861
Mr Matias Romero,
My dear Sir:
Allow me to thank you for your polite call, as Charge d'Affaires of Mexico. While, as yet I can do no official act on behalf of the United States, as one of it's citizens, I tender the ^expression of my^ sincere wishes for the happiness, prosperity, and liberty of yourself, your government, and its people.
Your Obt Servt