Yesterday, my students participated in the Northern Region History Fair at NIU in DeKalb. This is one of my student’s projects. It is by an eighth grade boy, and I must say, I was impressed by his marriage of history and sport! He advanced, along with 21 more of my students, to the Illinois state history fair on May 7. Click on the picture to enlarge.
Ernie Banks was a true pioneer. Ernie helped paved the way for many African-American players in the Chicago Cubs organization. He also transformed the game. His quick swing through the batting zone allowed him to generate a lot of power. Before him, shortstop was seen as a defensive position filled with light hitting players. After Ernie’s career ended in the early 1970s, it would another ten years before another “power hitting shortstop” came along in Cal Ripken and more than ten years after that when Alex Rodriguez came along.
Born into poverty in Dallas, Texas in 1931, Ernie Banks was one of 12 children in his family.
“I enjoyed growing up in Dallas. Everything was within walking distance: the school I went to, the YMCA, my friends in the neighborhood, the park I played baseball on. Everybody knew everybody and kept everybody in line.”
Sports soon became his life. He was a three sport athlete at Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas. He played football, basketball, and track at the school. He never played baseball in high school.
However, sports did not make Ernie who he was. He was deeply religious and that side of him came directly from his mother’s influence. For a poor person, Banks said, “Your word is your bond. Things like that kind of stuck in my mind. I mean what I say, and I say what I mean.” And it was playing on his church softball team that his athletic skills were discovered first by Kansas City Monarchs Scout Bill Blair. Banks would begin his baseball career in 1950 with the Amarillo Colts. He did not play for them long as Cool Papa Bell and Buck O’Neil swayed Ernie to the Kansas City Monarchs later that same year. He wound up being drafted and serving in Germany during the Korean War.
Upon his release in 1953, Ernie returned to the Monarchs. Later that fall, his contract was sold to the Chicago Cubs. He would be the first African-American to play for the team.
The shock of moving to a segregated city like Chicago was not lost on Banks. He said the following of the differences:
“You’ve got a lot of players from the South and very few blacks. It was not as multicultured as I had anticipated. They had a few players from Puerto Rico and from Latin American countries, but most of the players were from the South and West.”
Banks lived on the south side of town throughout most of the 50s before moving to the West Chesterfield neighborhood in the late 50s.
When Ernie stepped onto the field in 1953, there were only 20 other African-Americans on 7 other teams. But more than that, Ernie represented a new kind of player with Henry Aaron and Willie Mays – all three were players who combined speed with power. They revolutionized the game. And for Ernie, he revolutionized the shortstop position.
As a Cub, slugger Ralph Kiner took a liking to Ernie from the start. The two would often talk hitting and Ernie credits Kiner with helping Ernie to refine his own swing with quick wrists in order to see the ball deep in to the zone and to just react. Ernie Banks hit 40 home runs in a season in four consecutive years from 1957-1960. The 6’1” 185 lb. shortstop won two NL MVP awards in 1958 and 1959. One person quipped that without Ernie, the last placed Cubs “would have finished in Albuquerque.”
Everywhere Ernie went as a ballplayer, his race followed him. Ernie spoke eloquently of the dichotomy of his being an African-American pioneer in baseball:
“Some people feel that because you are black you will never be treated fairly and that you should voice your opinions, be militant about them. I don’t feel this way. You can’t convince a fool against his will. If a man doesn’t like me because I am black, that’s fine. I’ll just go elsewhere, but I’m not going to let him change my life […] As black athletes, if we speak on various issues, or wear our hair in certain ways, we are considered militant, in opposition to The Establishment, which put us in a position of being opposed to what gives us our livelihood. If we don’t speak up about racial issues, political matters, or the organization itself, we are called Uncle Toms.”
He knew he could not please everybody. So, Ernie was just himself.
In 1962, injuries began to take their toll on Ernie. He moved from shortstop to third base to left field before finally settling on a new position. For the last 9 years of his career he played first base.
Ernie never played in the post season. For 19 years he tried, for 19 years he never made it, but it was not for a lack of trying. The closest “Mr. Cub” came to the post season was in the legendary 1969 season where the Cubs blew a 10 game lead to the Mets in August and September. Along with the Ron Santo and Billy Williams, the trio endeared themselves to Cub fans everywhere.
As a pioneer of the position, Ernie was also a pioneer because of his attitude. His most well known saying is, “Let’s Play Two!” meaning to play a double-header. Throughout Chicago, Ernie’s positive mental attitude never wavered throughout his life. As great of baseball player as he was, he was even more of a gentleman. Everyone he met, he felt it was his duty to say something nice to them, to encourage them.
Playing baseball during a time of segregation did not leave Ernie bitter. He stayed at different hotels, rode different buses, lived in a different part of town, but it not did deter him from having positive attitude toward other human beings. Ernie said,
“There are certain things that you have to fight for, not by looting or burning, but by letting society know that you will demand your rights and will use every legal means to get them. I don’t agree with the guys that say in order to find pride in your blackness you have to hate everything that is white. That’s just plain wrong. We shouldn’t hate anybody. If you want to get a good job, or get into business, you’ve got to live with other people including the white ones.”
Ernie was an 11 time All-Star who played in 13 All Star games (some years they played two All-Star games a year) who finished with 512 Home Runs. His 500th home run turned into the one of the great calls in baseball television history.
In 1977, Ernie made into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
After his playing career ended, Ernie continued to be the face of the Cubs. He gave often to charities in the Chicago area and was a face in the community. He appeared at many baseball card conventions, Cub games, and Cubs Conventions. He became a mentor to many Cub players over the years including the current team.
The last time I saw him in person was at the Chicago Cubs Convention in 2014. When I heard he was not going to be attending the Convention of a week ago, I wondered about his health. I hoped that everything was alright. He passed away yesterday at age 83.
Most people will remember him for his infectious attitude and how he had a kind word for everyone. That he did do. However, the mark he left on the game is just as important as the mark he left off the field in transforming the game in the 1950s and 1960s. For every person that he ever touched with his smile and attitude, he touched just as many with his play. He made it possible for a power hitter to play shortstop. Ernie made it possible for Robin Yount, Cal Ripken, and Derek Jeter to transform shortstop from a defensive position into an offensive one. And he made it possible for an African-American player to be the face of a franchise in Chicago.
In 2013, Ernie was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama. It is the highest award a citizen can earn in this country.
Ernie Block Quotes
Timothy J. Gilfoyle. “From Wrigley Field to Outer Space: Interviews with Ernie Banks and Mae Jemison.” Chicago History Magazine. Winter, 1988-89.
Lew Freedman (2007). African-American Pioneers. Greenwood Press: Westport Connecticut.
On March 5, 1913, Thomas Woodrow Wilson began his first day as President of the United States. He arrived in office with the hopes of implementing a progressive domestic platform. Wilson had a background as a historian, political scientist, and a scholar, but he lacked expertise in foreign affairs. In referring to this misgiving, Wilson said that “it would be the irony of fate if my administration had to chiefly deal with foreign affairs.” Fate proved to be quite ironic indeed.
Less than a month prior to his inauguration, fate began to weave a tangled web for Wilson. On February 9, events took place in Mexico that would occupy much of Wilson’s time and energy the next four years. In what has become known as “The Tragic Ten Days”, General Victoriano Huerta, with the help of Felix Diaz, usurped the Presidency of Francisco Madero. Huerta then shocked the world when he announced that Madero and Vice-President Pino Suarez were murdered while supposedly trying to escape outside the Lecumberri Prison on February 22.
Between the time of the murders and Wilson’s inauguration, Huerta solidified his power with the aid of Mexican Federal Army Generals. These Generals took control of the states of Mexico with the use of the Mexican Federal Army. With the Generals maintaining order and stability, Huerta now needed the recognition of his government by foreign countries. Recognition would provide Huerta with money, loans, and trade to even further solidify his power. The United States government did not give him anything.
The United States Ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, began to push Woodrow Wilson for recognition of Huerta’s government. A holdover from the Taft administration, Henry Lane Wilson argued that recognition would promote American business interests and insure protection of American’s and their property.[iii] In a memo to Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, Henry Lane Wilson felt that “unless the same type of government as was implanted here by General Porfirio Diaz is again established, new revolutions will break forth and general unrest will be renewed.”[iv] But, Woodrow Wilson did not want any part of recognition of Huerta’s regime.
Other governments began to conditionally recognize Huerta. They included Great Britain, Spain, China, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Norway, Russia, and most Latin American nations.[v] Since 1848, it had been the policy of the United States to recognize de facto governments. Yet, Wilson added constitutional legitimacy to the factors for recognition. On March 11, Wilson replied that “we can have no sympathy with those who seek to seize the power of government to advance their own personal interests of ambitions.”[vi] Wilson had a moral revulsion to the means Huerta used to rise to power. “To recognize a coup de’etat,” Wilson said, “would be to sanction and encourage government by assassination throughout the Western Hemisphere.”[vii]
As Wilson’s outrage grew, so did the outrage of Mexicans. In the central state of Morelos, Emiliano Zapata clung to his Plan de Ayala of 1911 which called for land reform throughout all of Mexico. While in the North, Venustiano Carranza repudiated Heurta’s claim and declared himself First Chief of the Constitutionalist Army. Carranza proceeded to set up a provisional government in the northern state of Coahuila.[viii] Both of these men mattered little to Wilson at the time. His primary concern now lied with Huerta.
With unsure footing, Wilson began to implement his plan toward Mexico by using the standard diplomatic channels of Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson. However, his distrust of the ambassador led Wilson to take a unique and different approach to foreign affairs. With morality being his principal consideration, Wilson circumvented the State Department and began sending special agents into Mexico. Their assignments including a reporting of the conditions and to convey to the Mexican government Wilson wishes or demands. In response to Henry Lane Wilson, Woodrow Wilson chose men whom he felt had their “hearts in the right place.”[ix] Wilson distrusted the slow moving bureaucracy of the State Department.[x] Using the President’s contingent fund, Wilson financed this covert operation with the knowledge of Congress.[xi]
On June 1, William Bayard Hale became Wilson’s first agent to set foot on Mexican soil. A reporter by trade, Hale would wire his findings to a fictitious F.A. Muschenhiem in New York City. These reports would then proceed to the home of Ben G. Davies, the Chief Clerk in the State Department. Davies would then give the reports to Bryan who would then give them to Wilson.[xii] While the reports were secret, Hale’s presence soon leaked out when he began to perturb Henry Lane Wilson. In a memo to Bryan, Henry Lane Wilson spoke of his dislike for Hale and Woodrow Wilson’s intentions.[xiii] This confrontation resulted in the ambassador being recalled to Washington and relived of his duties in July.
On July 9, Hale filed what has become known as “The Hale Report.” In it, he described a spreading civil war in the North and just south of Mexico City. He called Mexico “a country on the loose.” Huerta’s power began to crumble as Durango, Campeche, and Sonara fell to Constitutionalist forces under Carranza and General Alvero Obregon. Hale concluded that “intervention is not necessary but the United States represent itself as a powerful neighbor.[xiv]
The civil war did not sit well with Woodrow Wilson. He felt it his moral obligation to stop the bloodshed short of intervention by the United States. Wilson sent in John Lind, the former Governor of Minnesota, with a list of demands warning that “the United States at this time doesn’t feel at liberty any longer to stand inactively by.”[xv] Lind’s mission included a set of proposals to the Huerta regime. First, that there be an end to the bloodshed, then a call for free elections. The proposals also included that Huerta would be a candidate, that he would abide by the results of the election, and if all these conditions were met, the United States would recognize the new government.[xvi]
Lind arrived in Vera Cruz on August 9 and met with Hale before going to Mexico City. When Lind first arrived in Mexico City he met with Mexican Foreign Minister Frederico Gamboa. Lind put forth Wilson’s proposals and personally felt that he “was offering Mexico the only possible plan by which she may find her way out of her difficulties and avoid worse ones.”[xvii] It was to no avail. On August 18, Gamboa politely gave a negative response to the proposals.
Mexico’s problems worsened. Huerta’s finances began to dwindle. Non-recognition by the United States, along with its influence in the world, made it almost impossible for Huerta to hold on. On August 26, Lind went back to Vera Cruz. On August 27, before a joint session of Congress, Woodrow Wilson put forth his new policy of “Watchful Waiting” with regards to Mexican affairs.[xviii] The policy called for the United States to patient and to be a friend towards Mexico. In the speech, Wilson also called for American citizens in Mexico to leave.
The second event of August 27 came as a surprise to the Wilson Administration. In a wire to Secretary Bryan, the Charge d’Affaires of the American Embassy in Mexico City, Nelson O’Shuaghnessy, reported that Huerta agreed to Wilson’s initial proposals put forth by Lind. With the concession by Huerta, it seemed as though Wilson’s initial policies began to take hold. The next six weeks weeks was a honeymoon of sorts for Mexican-American relations with the elections scheduled to take place on October 26.
On October 2, the whole picture of Mexico changed. On that day, Pancho Villa and his Division of the North attacked the city of Torreon. The city soon fell on October 10, a major blow to Huerta’s Federalist Army. Two days later, in an attempt to solidify his power, Huerta had 112 deputies of the Mexican Congress arrested. He soon declared himself to be a candidate in the upcoming elections. On October 23, Felix Diaz returned from his post as Ambassador to Japan. He wanted to run against Huerta for President. With this threat to his power, Huerta ordered Diaz to be arrested and shot. The USS Louisiana broke the coded message and relayed its content to Diaz. On October 27, Diaz climbed the rooftops of Vera Cruz to the United States Consulate. From there he managed to escape to the USS Wheeling docked in the harbor.[xix]
That same day, Woodrow Wilson gave a speech before the Southern Commercial Congress in Mobile, Alabama. A Pan-American gathering with diplomats in the audience, Wilson proceeded to talk about the Mexico situation. He continued his moral theme by stating that “morality, not expedience, must guide us.” He also issued a call to establish constitutional liberty in the world.[xx] His plan now not only included the elimination of Huerta but also to secure for Mexico a “better government under which all businesses will be safer.”[xxi]
Up to this point in time, Woodrow Wilson had misread the whole situation in Mexico. Every effort he tried ultimately failed. Wilson mistakenly viewed the problem to be a political one.[xxii] The factors that fueled the revolution went far beyond politics. They included land reform, foreign economic dominance, religion, education, and self-determination. In describing Mexico, Louis Para y Pardo said “Mexico is the mother of foreigners and the step-mother of Mexicans.”[xxiii]
The problems in Mexico began under General Porfirio Diaz. Between 1876 and 1911, Mexico flourished but Mexicans did not. Foreign money poured into Mexico in vast amounts. The United States and Great Britain each had over one billion dollars invested in oil and mining industries in Mexico.[xxiv] In the Diaz era, large estates of land called haciendas covered the countryside. The owner, mostly foreign, were called hacendados. These estates were not just one or two acres but in the tens of thousands. Haciendas of 100,000 to 1 million acres were not uncommon.[xxv] The Mexicans worked in the fields, tended the cattle, or worked in oil field or mines. The hacendados referred to this blue collar populace as either peasants or peons. The peasants and peons made up eighty-five percent of the Mexican population that did not have any wealth.
Foreigners owned most of the land and almost every aspect of the Mexican economy. The French were in textiles and banking, the British in oil, railways, and mining, and the United States in oil, banking, railways, mining, and public utilities.[xxvi] All of these countries wanted to maintain their place in spite of Huerta and the oncoming revolution.
Problems with the Catholic Church were also inherent in the Revolution. The church at the time wielded a great influence because of its wealth and holdings, its monopoly on religion, and its own political party.[xxvii] The church intertwined itself with the state and it feared the revolution. In the fall of 1913, the church’s party supported Frederico Gamboa for president. The church had wanted Huerta in hopes of maintaining the status quo. When liberals blocked the nomination of Eduardo Tamirez as Minister of Education in September of 1913, the church protested and Huerta listened. Huerta needed the funds of the church after the Battle of Torreon to help keep him in power. These events were the main reason for the arrest of 112 deputies of the Mexican Congress.
Among the few goals that Pancho Villa articulated was public education for all Mexicans. Villa, almost illiterate, had a passion for schools. Villa felt that if every Mexican had an education, Mexico would not be in the troubles it was in. He thought that if he had an education, he would not have turned to a life of crime.[xxviii]
In the wake of Huerta’s usurpation, foreign companies began to try and stabilize Mexico. Four companies tried to persuade Wilson to propose fall elections.[xxix] In what has become known as the Dodge Plan, D.J. Haff represented the Southern Pacific Railroad, the Green Cananea Copper Company, Dodge and Company, and Doheny’s Petroleum Company in calling for recognition if Huerta held fall elections, suspended hostilities, and supported the newly elected president.[xxx] The proposals closely resembled Wilson’s without the moral ties.
Great Britain’s economic influence came under the direction of Lord Cowdray. An oilman of great wealth, Cowdray’s influence derived from the fact that his oil fueled the British Navy. He is rumored to have bribed Mexican officials to keep his oil fields.[xxxi] With World War I approaching, Cowdray pressured the British government into conditional recognition of Huerta in March of 1913, and full recognition on October 12, 1913. When the new British Ambassador, Sir Lionel Carden, arrived in Vera Cruz on October 12, Fred Adams, a local agent for Cowdray’s El Aguila Oil Company, escorted him in Mexico.[xxxii]
With all these factors taking place, Huerta remained in power on November 1, 1913. There would be three additional factors that be the undoing of Victoriano Huerta. There could not be three more different men than Emiliano Zapata, Venustiano Carranza, and Pancho Villa. All of them had different ideas about the revolution but they all had one goal: to remove Huerta from office.
Emiliano Zapata had been a poor peasant in the state of Morelos whose only interest concerned the rights of the poor. Zapata issued his call to revolution in 1911 with the Plan de Ayala, designed to give land in his home state back to the peasants. This Robin Hood mentality did not sit well with either Madero or Huerta. Whenever the Federal forces tried to attack the peasants rose up in defense. The Zapatista army was a roving band, making it hard to track and defeat. A great natural leader of men, Zapata ruled by decree because in Morelos there was no government, no schools, no standing army, and no churches.[xxxiii] Zapata would say, “Revolutions will come and go but I will continue with mine.”[xxxiv]
First Chief Venustiano Carranza, on the other hand, firmly believed in middle class civilian control in Mexico.[xxxv] His sole intention of the revolution was to restore the constitutional regime of Madero.[xxxvi] Unlike Zapata, Carranza did not have any reforms in his Plan de Guadalupe. It only called for the overthrow of Huerta and elections for a legal successor. In the interim, Carranza would rule until a successor was chosen. Carranza took the stance that this revolution was a Mexican affair. He would say that “Only Mexicans could shoot at Mexicans.” Carranza’s Mexican self-determination based itself on foreign influence. He thought that “The revolution that compromises commits suicide.”[xxxvii] The thought of outside interference to Carranza meant that the revolution would be unjust and a futile attempt at serious change.
Pancho Villa’s similarity to Zapata is that of their peasant background. Villa had no designs on power, just the revenge of Madero’s death. After being in exile in El Paso, Texas, Villa rode across the border with eight men into Mexico on March 23, 1913.[xxxviii] While a proponent of education, Villa was consumed with his hatred of the Catholic Church in Mexico. He would say, “I believe in God but not in organized religion” and “I shall do what I can to take the church out of politics and to open the eyes of the people to the tricks of the thieving priests.”[xxxix] Villa would align his Division of the North with Carranza that cost Carranza four French 75mm cannons.[xl] As 1913 wore on, Villa’s Division of the North grew in size as he amassed funds through the taxing of the mines and stealing cattle in the state Chihuahua.
Huerta’s imminent removal revolved around two factors: the spreading revolution picking up its pace, and Woodrow Wilson hopefully learning from his mistakes. Wilson began to view the revolution with deep sympathy for social reform as well as political emancipation.[xli] United State policy now became “inspired by a higher humanity, but our sense of duty and responsibility, and by our determination that human liberty will prevail in our hemisphere.”[xlii]
By backing out of the deal with Wilson, Huerta gained some support by not bowing to Wilson’s wishes and Huerta, for a time, became a symbol of Mexican independence.[xliii] This did last long for on November 15, 1913, Villa’s Division of the North captured the town of Juarez and took 3000 Federalist Army prisoners. Wilson’s response only changed slightly this time. The special agents arrived in Mexico, but now they would deal only with Carranza and Villa.
John Lind remained in Vera Cruz as an observer. Hale had met with Carranza in Nogales in late October without any result, and George C. Carrothers had been dispatched to Villa. On November 20, Wilson wanted to isolate Huerta, “cut him off from foreign sympathy and aid, and domestic credit, whether material or moral, and so to force him out”, but the last piece of the puzzle was still missing.[xliv]
Since March 12, 1912, the United States had banned the sale of arms to Mexico. On February 3, 1914, Wilson lifted the ban, thereby opening the door to a whole host of other problems. The question now became how the rebels would pay for the weapons. For Villa, his taxes and cattle now included the confiscation of church property. For Carranza, the oil fields would buy his bullets, and Zapata relied on sugar.
On February 19, 1914, the murder of Robert Benton by Villa resulted in the questioning of Wilson’s policy. Benton was a Scotsman who owned land in Chihuahua. He did not approve of Villa’s men stealing cattle to finance the revolution. When Benton went to confront Villa, he was killed. Villa claimed that he shot Benton in self-defense. George Carothers confronted Villa regarding the incident. Villa assured Carothers that Benton was safe. Carothers informed Washington of his conservation with Villa. The United States published Carothers’ report. When the truth about Benton came out, Wilson came under attack for helping to spread the violence by dropping the arms ban. Wilson was once again at a crossroads. He could not trust Huerta. Villa developed into a murderer, liar, and thief. Meanwhile, Carranza refused American help or interference and God only knew where Zapata was hiding.
On April 10, 1914, Huerta gave Wilson just what he needed to speed up the revolution and oust Huerta in the process while giving the US a foothold in Mexico. At the port city of Tampico on the east coast of Mexico, Mexican soldiers under the command of Colonel Ramon Hinojosa arrested a detachment of nine men from the USS Dolphin (a whaleboat) while loading gasoline. They were marched through the streets for an hour before being set free. The commander of the US Fleet stationed off the coast, Admiral William Mayo, confronted Mexican General Zaragoza and demanded an apology in the form of a 21 gun salute to the American flag on US ships in the harbor. Admiral Mayo set a deadline for the salute on April 19 at 6:00 p.m. Huerta felt that because the US did not recognize his government that there should be no apology.[xlv]
Meanwhile back in Washington, Wilson met with House and Senate and Foreign Relations Committees. Wilson viewed the event in Tampico as trivial but the real problem revolved around “a studied and planned exhibition of ill and contempt for the American government on the part of Huerta.”[xlvi]
On April 20, the two governments had not reached a settlement. The deadline passed without the salute. Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress on this day. In a speech titled, “The Situation in Mexico and Our Dealings with General Victoriano Huerta in Mexico City,” Wilson reacted to the Tampico incident. Wilson proclaimed, “If armed conflict should unhappily come as a result of his attitude or personal resentment, we should only be fighting Huerta.”[xlvii] In essence, Wilson went before Congress to obtain from Huerta the fullest recognition of rights and dignity regarding the Tampico incident.
Also on April 20, word arrived from the American Consulate in Vera Cruz that a ship, the Ypiranga, would be arriving from Germany with a large shipment of ammunition for Huerta. Upon receipt, the Federalist forces would leave Vera Cruz and tear up the railroad tracks on the way out.[xlviii] The time was right for Wilson to directly intervene. On April 21, the United States Marines landed and took possession of Vera Cruz.
With the Marines in Vera Cruz, Wilson tried to clean up the intervention in the eyes of both Mexico and the international community. George Carrothers received orders to go to Carranza and explain the United States’ stance. Bryan wrote letters to foreign powers, most notably the A.B.C. Powers (Argentina, Brazil, and Chile).[xlix] These letters stated that the United States did not seek any territory in Mexico, only a redress of grievances. Wilson put his point across but Carranza became outraged at the intervention. Pancho Villa, on the other hand, had confidence in the U.S. claim that it did not want a war with the Constitutionalists. Villa gave his approval of U.S. force with Huerta during on April 23 with Carrothers. Wilson still had his own reservations. “It is hard to take action of this kind. I have tried to keep out of this Mexican mess, but now we are on the brink of war and there is no alternative.”[l]
The A.B.C. Powers solved the next problem for Wilson. They offered themselves as mediators on April 25 to help solve the dispute. Both Wilson and Huerta agreed to conference set for May 18 in Niagara Falls, Canada. With Marines in Vera Cruz, Huerta’s finds decreased even more. Vera Cruz had previously provided Huerta with valuable money from the collection of import taxes at the port. Mexico now looked very small to Huerta. Carranza and Villa closed in from the North, the Marines blocked the East and Zapata the South. The mediation might provide Huerta with a way out safely.
The United States sent as its delegates: Frederich Lehman, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Lamar, and Secretary H. Percival Dodge. Mexico sent Emilio Rabasa, Augustin Rodriguez, and Rafael Elguero as its secretary. Wilson put forth his intentions in a letter to the American delegates. Wilson wanted the delegates to “deal with the facts as they stand in Mexico right now, obtain a solution without the use of force, the elimination of Huerta, transfer of power without bloodshed, and suggest that a prompt agreement upon a clear programme which the Constitutionalists can accept is the best and only way to stop the process of arms.”[li]
On May 26, the mediators put a plan on the table for a settlement. Their plan called for the resignation of Huerta, a provisional government of four (1 Huertista, 1 Constitutionalist, and 2 Neutrals), and a call for elections. This provisional board would then address the problems of general amnesty, agrarian reforms, foreign claims of debt from the revolution, and education. In a surprising turn on May 27, the mediators began conferring with Carranza. The United States opposed negotiating with Carranza, only wanting to deal with the government in power at that time.
On May 29, the Mexican delegation submitted its plan. It closely resembled the mediator’s plan. The only difference between the two concerned the withdrawal of American forces from Vera Cruz and the recognition of the Mexican government by the United States. The Mexican delegation questioned Wilson’s intentions for Mexico. Were his intentions for the good of the United States or for the good of Mexico? As the conference went on, it became clear that Wilson’s intentions were for the good of the United States. That same day, May 29, three delegates from Carranza arrived at the conference. The U.S. refused to recognize these delegates. It gave away the U.S. intention of wanting to control the type of government put in power in Mexico.
Later, on June 16, the United States met with Carranza’s delegation in Buffalo, New York. The main thrust of this meeting revolved around Carranza’s wishes that the conference only deal with the problem between the United States and Mexico and not Mexico’s internal problems. The convention in Niagara Falls soon broke up on July 2 when the matter of recognition of either Mexican delegation became the main topic of the conference.
Meanwhile, back in Mexico, the Constitutionalists were closing in on Mexico City. They did have some difficulties along the way. Pancho Villa had resigned as head of the Division of the North in a disagreement with Carranza over the Zacatepas campaign. Secretary Bryan sent Carrothers in to patch things up between the two. On July 9, Villa and Carranza reached an agreement. It drew lines between the power of the two men in the revolution and upon Huerta’s removal. Carranza would be the man in charge and Villa’s role would be strictly military. The United State government had reason to be concerned even with this agreement.[lii]
On July 15, Victoriano Huerta resigned as president of Mexico and fled to Spain. In his place he appointed Francisco S. Carvajal. Carvajal did not want the job very much. On his first day as President, he announced he would turn the government over to the Constitutionalist so that there would not be any more bloodshed. On August 15, General Alvaro Obregon arrived to clear the way for Carranza.
The question now became, with Huerta gone, would the United States give its recognition to the new Constitutionalist government under Carranza? The answer had previously come in a letter to Carranza on July 23. Wilson gave Carranza three conditions to meet for recognition. First, debt from foreigner had to be paid. The second factor would be how Carranza treated his former political and military prisoners. The final factor concerned how Carranza treated the Catholic Church. In a letter back to Wilson on August 3, Carranza declared his plan to take over. He planned to call for an armistice, declare amnesty for political and military prisoners, and address Mexico’s foreign debts and property damage.
During the month of August in 1914, Carranza tried to establish some form of government. Wilson responded again with special agents. Paul Fuller went to deal with Carranza and Hubert H. Hall went to Zapata. George Carrothers remained with Villa in a private rail car which Villa had provided him along with two Chinese servants.[liii] John R. Silliman and Leon Canova stationed themselves in Mexico City and John Lind remained in Vera Cruz.
As August came to a close, the revolutionaries began to argue amongst themselves. On September 1, Zapata still clung to his Plan de Ayala. He wanted Carranza to attach his name, step aside, and name Zapata as President of Mexico. On September 7, tensions began to ease with Villa-Obregon Pact. This document dictated the construction of the new government. It called for the cessation of military and revolutionary rule, the appointment of Carranza as the provisional president, appointment of judges, and provisions for new elections.[liv] This, of course, was only temporary. On September 23, Villa rescinded and declared war on Carranza. The Wilson Administration’s head were spinning at this point in time. Huerta was out, nobody else was in. Wilson continued to ‘watchfully wait.’ He was kept abreast of the situation by his special agents but his influence remained nil. The decision for Mexico had to be made by the Mexicans themselves.
 David Healey, Drive to Hegemony (Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), 166.
 Howard F. Cline, The United States and Mexico (New York, New York: Antheneum, 1971), 135.
[iii] Larry D. Hill, Emissaries to a Revolution (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1973), 7.
[iv] Josephus Daniels, The Wilson Era Years of Peace 1910 – 1917 (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: North Carolina Press, 1944), 180.
[v] Cline, 141.
[vi] Arthur S. Link, ed, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson Volume 27 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1978), 172.
[vii] Arthur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era 1910 – 1917 (New York, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1954), 109.
[viii] Arthur S. Link, ed, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson Volume 28 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1978), 73.
[ix] Frederick C. Calhoun, Power and Principle (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1986), 35.
[x] Ray Standard Baker, Woodrow Wilson Life and Letters President 1913-1914 (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, & Company, 1921), 257-258.
[xi] Hill, 21.
[xiii] Link, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson Volume 28, 30.
[xiv] Ibid., 18, 30.
[xv] Ibid., 110-111.
[xvi] Ibid., 110-111.
[xvii] Hill, 75.
[xviii] Link, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson Volume28, 227-231.
[xix] Robert E. Quirk, The Mexican Revolution and the Catholic Church 1910-1929 (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1973), 49-50.
[xx] Link, The Papers of Woodrow Wilson Volume28, 448-452.
[xxi] Harley Notter, The Origins of the Foreign Policy of Woodrow Wilson (New York, New York: Russell and Russell, Inc., 1965), 275.
[xxii] Cline, 145.
[xxiii] William Appleman Williams, Americans in a Changing World (New York, New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1978), 128.
[xxiv] Jonathon Brown. Oil and Revolution in Mexico (Berkeley, California: The University of California Press, 1993), 201.
[xxv] Charles C. Cumberland, The Mexican Revolution The Constitutionalist Years (Austin, Texas: The University of Texas Press, 1972), 229.
[xxvi] John Reed, Insurgent Mexico (New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1969 edited with an introduction by Albert L. Michaels and James W. Wilkie), 17-19.
[xxvii] Cumberland, 216-217.
[xxviii] Reed, 122.
[xxix] Link, Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era 1910 – 1917, 111.
[xxx] Ibid., 212.
[xxxi] Brown, 212.
[xxxii] Hill, 99.
[xxxiii] Quirk, 40.
[xxxiv] John Womack, Jr., Zapata and the Mexican Revolution (New York, New York: Alfred P. Knopf, 1971), 197.
[xxxv] Quirk, 43.
[xxxvi] Ibid., 40.
[xxxvii] Atrhur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson and a Revolutionary World 1913-1921 (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1982), 21.
[xxxviii] John S.D. Eisenhower, Intervention (New York, New York: WW Norton and Company, 1993), 47.
[xxxix] Quirk, 40.
[xl] Eisenhower, 50.
[xli] Notter, 291.
[xlii] Notter, 292.
[xliii] Cline, 150.
[xliv] Hill, 124.
[xlv] Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States 1914 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office), 454, 468.
[xlvi] Lester D. Langley, The Banana Wars (Lexington, Kentucky: The University of Kentucky Press, 1983), 89.
[xlvii] Department of State, 474.
[xlviii] Ibid., 477.
[xlix] Ibid., 482.
[l] Joseph P. Tumulty. Woodrow Wilson as I Know Him. (Garden City, New York: Country Life Press, 1921), 152.
[li] Department of State, 488.
[lii] Ibid., 485
[liii] Hill., 189.
[liv] Hill., 189.
Being born the son of Dwight Eisenhower was never easy for John Eisenhower. However, he staked out his own career in the military, and more importantly for me, as a military historian. In 1994, I was writing a 30 page paper of my own for a graduate class. Eisenhower’s book, Intervention, about the Wilson administration in Mexico was the foundation for my research paper. I still remember vividly sitting at the Holmes Student Center at NIU in the spring of 1994 and pouring over each page as it dripped with detail. I still have my notebooks of notes I took just from that one book. I scoured the bibliography to lead me to other sources including State Department memos. It was then I think I truly became a historian. Today, Mr. Eisenhower passed away at the age of 91.
I, for one, think he is one of the most under rated historians of the past 30 years. While Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michael Beschloss, David McCullough, Ken Burns, and Stephen Ambrose have gotten more press in the past 30 years, Eisenhower matched and surpassed them in analysis, research, and acumen when it came to his works.
When most people retire, they slowly fade away to a simpler life. For John Eisenhower, it became the time to follow his passion for history, more specifically, military history. He is best known for The Bitter Woods about the Battle of the Bulge and his classic So Far from God about the Mexican-American War.
Here are a few other works to seek out of his:
Allies: Pearl Harbor to D–Day. Doubleday. 1982.
Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott. Free Press. 1997.
Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I. Simon and Schuster. 2001.
Zachary Taylor. Macmillan. 2008.
A Morning in June: Defending Outpost Harry. University of Alabama Press. 2010.
I guess this means I will have to do a review..but I’ll be happy to do so!
In the past two years, I have co-written two chapters for two books on history education. Well, the first one is out! It is a much more formal style of writing than what is written here on the blog. Here is the link to the book’s website: http://www.infoagepub.com/products/Educating-About-Social-Issues-in-the-20th-and-21st-Centuries-Vol-2.
The chapter I co-wrote, The Vietnam War: Dilemmas of Power, is about teaching the social issues surrounding the Vietnam War at home and abroad. It is an annotated bibliography. My co-author is Mary Beth Henning of Northern Illinois University.
The second chapter I co-wrote, by the same publisher, will be out in the spring, and is about teaching history through the integration of literature.