Spain, Mexico, and the Southern Confederacy

Boston Daily Traveller, April 5, 1861

When the Southern movement was began it was supposed that of all European nations Spain would have the most to fear from it, as the gentlemen who led the rebels have been famous for their desire to get possession of Cuba and Porto Rico, which done, Spain would be relieved of all her troubles on the score of American rule. But, if we can believe what the secessionists now say, Spain not only has nothing to fear from their success, but will be at liberty to hope much from it. They say that they will unite with her to effect the conquest of Mexico, and will divide that country with her. What would be the line of division, is not stated, or even hinted at, but we may guess that the Southrons would prefer to expand toward the Pacific and the Gulf of California, while Spain would be allowed to take the territories on the Mexican Gulf—for the present, and until they should have ripened into a condition to be "reannexed" to their old country, when they would be made to "secede" from the European nation. The Confederates have designs on our Pacific possessions, and mean to look out upon the old South Seas, over which the Castilian seamen gazed so long ago, and thought of what lay in their bosom and beyond their farther shore. Lower California is especially to be desired by them, not only for its own sake, but because its possession would materially aid them in taking all the lands that now belong to the Union in that part of the world. They must, too, manage to get control of the Indian country, and press its population out of existence between two waves of civilization(!), the one to bear toward the Pacific, and the other to bear inwardly from its shores. The Spaniards never could manage the Indians, who would not have been as formidable as they now are had that people been up to the demands of civilization in the viceregal times, said demands being of an utterly exterminating character. They might be allowed to have some territorial rights on the Pacific, and Acapulco might again be theirs for a season, whence would sail steamships to the Philippines, swift successors to the slow galleons of those slow days when nearly all the western shore of the Pacific owned the rule of Spain. There is nothing improbable in the idea of an alliance between Spain and Secessia for the partition of Mexico, but for all that we should not be much inclined to speak seriously of it were it not for the course of Spain toward San Domingo. The invasion of San Domingo shows that Spain is prompt to take advantage of circumstances, and as she extends her West Indian rule over an island in which slavery exists not, and for the purpose of restoring it there, her interests and those of the secessionists are in one sense the same, though it may be true, as has been suggested, that it is her dread of the secessionists that has caused her to seek the strengthening of her position in the Caribbean. To prevent them from stealing an island that has been lying loose in her neighborhood, she steals it herself; and she may be ready to serve Mexico in the same fashion, without the least regard to the wishes, or feelings, or interests of the Southern Confederacy. If that country is to lose its nationality, we would a thousand times rather see it fall into the hands of Spain than into those of the scoundrels who have causelessly brought so much trouble upon this country. Spain, too, has some dispute with Mexico, out of which war might flow that would not be of an utterly dishonorable character, if the Spanish government is bent upon supplying that land with a second series of Vireyes; but the Confederacy has no quarrel with Mexico, except of that sort which the wolf had with the lamb. It could have none, as it has not been in existence two months, and has had too much to do at home since its birth to get into trouble with any foreign country. Yet the Confederates take it for granted that they are to have war with Mexico, and that war is to be a successful one, and to extend their dominion over a country that has never injured or insulted them, and from the power of which they have nothing to fear. The glibness with which they assume that victory must be theirs in a Mexican war, is proof sufficient that they have no fear that their neighbor could injure them; and they do not say that she has any wish to do them harm. They want her lands, and they mean to steal them, as they have stolen the forts, the arms, and the money of the United States. Such is their morality; and foreign nations will see what sort of principles these fellows are about to introduce into the international code. They are the same principles that prevailed in Barbary in the times of the Beys and the Deys, and when the Mussulman corsair could do as he pleased, if he were strong enough to help himself to the goods of the peaceful trader. It would not answer for other countries to allow the new bucaniers to interpolate into the laws of nations the ideas upon which they intend to act. They think it none of their business to interfere with the piratical doings of the secessionists in the United States, but it will be their business, and their pleasure as well, to prevent the repetition of such doings abroad.