Wilson’s true colors…

December 28, 2016 § Leave a comment

The first open clash between the U.S. and the Hueristas occurred in Tampico, a foreign-dominated Gulf port that was a center of Mexico’s oil industry. On April 9, 1914, a party of nine American sailors in a whaleboat flying the U.S. colors was arrested by a Huerista shore patrol for being in a restricted military area without permission. As soon as the Mexican military governor found out, he ordered them released and apologized profusely for the mistake. But this was not good enough for Rear Admiral Henry T. Mayo, the obdurate old cuss who commanded the local U.S. Navy squadron. Lacking a direct radio or telegraph link with Washington, he took the initiative, and in the navy’s nineteenth-century tradition (think of David Porter in Puerto Rico), demanded that the Hueristas fire a 21-gun salute to the Stars and Stripes in order to cleanse this stain upon American honor. The local Mexican commander balked at this imperious demand. Wilson, sensing a pretext that he could use to force a showdown with Huerta, made Mayo’s intemperate ultimatum his own. “The salute will be fired,” he grimly vowed, and ordered both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets to steam toward Mexico. Huerta finally offered to stage a “reciprocal” salute—first a Mexican battery would salute the U.S. flag, then U.S. ships would salute the Mexican flag—but Wilson deemed this insufficient.

 

Veracruz 1914

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You are currently reading Wilson’s true colors… at Wednesday in the Age of Reason-Munchausen (1988).

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