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New York Times editorial on Mexico, November 21, 1855


The New York Times was founded in 1851. It was an antislavery newspaper before the Civil War, helping to establish the Republican Party in 1854. It covered international as well as national and local affairs. Historians regard the Times as a gauge of American opinion at the time.


Mexico and the United States-Another ‘Sick Man’
The London Times, in a recent article on the condition and prospects of Mexico, called the Turkey of North America. The simile is significant and suggestive- and there are very many respects in which it is just. Even in the geographical condition of the two countries there is a striking likeness. Each stands in the door-way between two great continents. Each, moreover, occupies the most central and the most important locality in its hemisphere, taking natural capacities and commercial facilities into account. Each possesses a territory full to overflowing of the elements of wealth, but running all to waste for lack of development and proper husbandry.
In political characteristics they resemble each other still more closely. Widely as their Governments differ in form, they have one deadly characteristic in common. Neither is made for man-neither connects his sentiments, his character or his welfare…. No part of the human family would be more benefited by the decease of these dynasties, than the populations which they have oppressed and demoralized.
Mexico, it is true, has a Republican form of Government; but it nevertheless under the sway of a dynasty quite as arbitrary as that of Turkey…. The military dynasty, especially if it takes a Democratic title, has a more certain line of succession to the helm of Government than any one royal family can ever secure…. Never, since Mexico had a name and a nominal standing among independent nationalities, has this vacillating military rule been more sudden and fitful in its alternations of despotism and anarchy, than at the present time….
So far as its position and political character are concerned, Mexico is thus justly styled the Turkey of North America…. We presume that the Times would carry the simile still further,-and that, by using it, it intended to hint that the relations of Mexico to the United States were similar to those of Turkey and Russia;-and that the American Government is likely soon to consider Mexico as a hopelessly “sick man,” and enter up on arrangements for the disposal of his effects. If the Allied Powers [Britain and France] have really agreed to extend their alliance to the regulation of the balance of power on this side of the Atlantic, also, the Times would probably consider this a proper occasion for their interference, and would advocate the extension of the protectorate of England and France, and of Mexico…. It is by no means impossible that the people of Mexico may, within the next ten years, have presented to them the alternative of accepting such a European protectorate, or being annexed to the American Union….
In consequence of the union of the two countries…every Mexican would soon realize that he was an American citizen…. What would Mexico possibly lose by this union? She has struggled for years to sustain a Republican form of Government, and has only grasped its name and shadow…. For years, the population of different sections of Mexico have contended for their State Rights against Centralization, and never fully attained them. Union [with the United States] would guarantee these rights….

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"New York Times editorial on Mexico, November 21, 1855," in World History Commons, [accessed May 28, 2024]