Saturday, April 15, 2017

Confederates in Mexico


Matthew Fontaine Maury

In the summer of 1865 some southerners facing economic ruin, military occupation and possible imprisonment, decided to emigrate.  Commodore Matthew Maury, one of America’s greatest experts on oceanography before the war led hundreds of ex-Confederates into Mexico to put their services and experience at the disposal of the Emperor Maximilian.

Maximilian had come to the throne in 1863, under the guarantee of the Emperor Napoleon III of France, that the French army would remain in Mexico until an independent Mexican army could be trained and equipped. 

Maximilian was anxious to welcome honest and hard-working colonists from the devastated southern states, and offered the colonists fertile land, particularly suited to the cultivation of tobacco, at the nominal rate of one dollar an acre.  The Imperial Mexican government pledged itself to provide free transportation for those unable to pay their own fares and to exempt all immigrants from taxation for a period of ten years.  The new colony was called the “Carlota Colony”, in honor of the Empress.


Maury was appointed the first Imperial Immigration Commissioner, but his dreams of a new life in Mexico were no to be.  Soon the United States was trying to oust Maximilian.  The United States began providing massive amounts of arms to rebels hostile to Maximilian, while simultaneously threatening the French.  The French army withdrew.  The Imperial Mexican army was unable to fill the vacuum in the face of massive American pressure.  The Empire collapsed and the Emperor was executed on June 19, 1867.  Maury and his Confederate followers found themselves once again dispossessed.



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