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Letter to John Forsyth Head of Mexico Affairs at Washington from United States Minister to Mexico Regarding the Mexican Civil War of 1857-1861

(JOHN FORSYTH (1812-1877) as United States Minister to Mexico (1856-1858) - MEXICAN CIVIL WAR 1857-1861).

c. 1858, Original Historically Important, Manuscript Letter Draft, written to United States Minister to Mexico, John Forsyth Jr. (1856-1858), written by an official at the United States Vice-Consulate in Mexico (under Siege), no date, unsigned, 2 pages, written upon a single sheet, measuring 10.5" x 8," at "Mexico," Very Fine. This Letter was apparently written in great haste. It is not totally clear whether this Letter was written from Mexico City to Forsyth, who was then out of the country, or whether this was written from a U.S. Vice-Consulate somewhere in Mexico, to John Forsyth in Mexico City. It is simply noted as sent from "Mexico."

Placing this dramatic Letter into context, when President Santa Ana was overthrown in the 1855 Revolution of Ayutla, Ignacio Comonfort became President. The new Constitution of 1857 led to Civil War in Mexico (the War of Reform), lasting from December 1857 through January 1861. Two separate opporing governments were established. The conservatives were located in Mexico City, and the Liberals were in Vera Cruz. The Liberals eventually won the conflict and the United States recognized their government, led by Benito Juarez.

John Forsyth had been appointed as the United States Minister to Mexico in 1856, but in 1858 he demanded his passport and withdrew from the U. S. Legation stationed in Mexico. This historical Letter describes various military movements in Zacatecas, in central Mexico, by Miguel Miramon (1831-1867). Also mentioned is an insult to the English Flag, and the looting of its treasury. The writer states that he expects to be under bombardment within a few days and will be unable to protect the American Flag! This important draft Letter reads, in part:

"When 4 months the Nuevo Leon Army has entered this state... At first owing to their small number there was on their part a show of respect to liberty, life and property. After some 300 men were sent from this place to a hacienda near to the Mineral de Catorce, to be defeated by less than two hundred of them, and when reinforcements from the frontier to the number of 3000 with artillery marched there, the law concerning bandits and revolutionaries formulated by the Government of Mexico, there has been no limit to the destruction carried on by Vidanori captains.... Miramon and his 3000 on the way from Zacatecas to this place, has felt the sharp fire of their rifles. The gallant little army, cut their way through the enemy causing some loss, but suffering almost a defeat. Zacatecas was the next scene of carnage. Without knowing the full particulars of the action, sufficient it is to say that Miramon with most of his officers and his troops fallen prisoners with all their artillery after 8 hours combat... --- In order to darken if possible our miserable position, hardly a day passes without some gross abuse on the part of the local authorities - some of who have come to this place for settlement of some business have been arrested without the slightest reason apparent and all thrown in the foul public prison to - criminals and assassins of all sorts. Zacatecas has appointed of another as Governor of this state... It is useless to say more. Your Excellency's knowledge of the Country and of the bigoted, sidicious ignorance of its... Protection of our flag in case of bombardment which shall probably have to suffer within some eight or ten hoursa day. I know not in which cases I can offer such a protection nor in which I am authorized to unfold our beloved banner. I fear to shock the interpetence of the present Government in case of an attack, by raising the flag - I know of no other means of escaping outrage and ... protecting from all those who may seek a refuge in this vice-Consulate - If you will be kind as to favor me with instructions, as regards the position I am to take in this dreadful state of things, instructions promply, Americans shall arrive. --- I shall mention very slightly how the applications ... and their property ... and in relation to all those who may seek a refuge in the vice Consulate."

This important and historical letter draft is written in great haste and under significant fear and duress by the United States vice Consulate official. It is in excellent overall condition with light age tone, a couple of spots, typical mailing folds and having numerous corrections noted throughout. Sometimes difficult to read, yet showing the crisis upon the vice Consulate. A truly fabulous, original, firsthand report regarding this tremulous Civil War period of Mexican History and some Americans caught up in its horror and turmoil.



Additional Information:

John Forsyth Jr. (1812-1877) is best known as an American Journalist and Editor. After his time as Minister to Mexico (1856-1858). Later, he was part of an official delegation from the State of Georgia to the Confederate government being formed in 1861.
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