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A defense of Americans in Mexico


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Editorial published in The Galveston Daily News / August 11, 1884

A Mr. Clarke, of San Luis Potosi; Mexico, writes to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat in defense of Mexican institutions, and in general condemnation of Americans residing in Mexico, Mr. Clarke is evidently in an unpleasant frame of mind, or at least was in that mood when he penned the letter referred to. His nationality is only indicated by his name, which prima facie makes him English or American. It is difficult to believe that an American would describe his countrymen residing with him in a foreign country in the language used by Mr. Clarke. He says the Americans residing m Mexico are "the scum of Texas, Arkansas and other lower States. They are for the most part desperadoes. The employees on the Mexican railways are nearly all from the States and are generally a hard lot."

This must make the Americans residing in Mexico feel very pleasant when they peruse it. There is no doubt that there are American tramps, loafers, outcasts and desperadoes in Mexico, just as there are plenty of them at home, but it is utterly reckless to assert without qualification that the great body of Americans in Mexico are anything like what Mr. Clarke describes them. The Americans in Mexico are mostly engaged in trade, or in some useful mechanical employment, mining or speculating in lands, or operating on railroads. Railroad men are not apt to be mistaken for dudes or dandies, but they are on the whole a hearty, good natured yet pushing set, who attend to their own business or the business of their employers, and have little time to attend to anything else.

So far as American desperadoism in Mexico is concerned, the assertion of Mr. Clarke is entirely too thin. American desperadoes can not compete with the Mexican article or native growth. If an American wishes to become a desperado, he can find an inviting field for his operations in his own country without entering into competition with the Mexican, who can live on twelve cents a day and never have enough at one time to get on a first-class drunk. Besides, the desperado in this country, if he runs foul of the law, as the most competent and best regulated desperado is some times liable lo do, will, in most cases, be awarded a fair trial, with an excellent chance of being turned loose in a few months, if he has saved enough from his brigandage to fee a lawyer.

In Mexico, how ever, he is dead certain of being shot as soon or very soon after he is captured, without the least hope of a technicality springing up to stay the trigger. These facts are well known to the intelligent American desperado, and they act as a species of protection without the aid of custom houses to the Mexican ready shooter and stabber. We all remember that a few months ago, when the Mexican national railroad train was robbed, some distance south of Laredo, it was broadly insinuated on the spur of the moment, that Americans were the robbers, and some Americans residing in Mexico joined the Mexican press in the hue and cry. Yet investigation revealed that Americans had nothing to do with it; that in fact, the robbery was planned and partially executed by no less a personage than the chief magistrate of Nuevo Laredo.

This is not meant as a general defense of the industrious and efficient American desperado, hut simply as an argument that the Global-Democrat correspondent is mistaken. The American desperadoes intentions are doubtless good enough, but it is both polite and politic for him to give his Mexican brother a clear field on the south side of the Rio Grande. The desperado question being disposed of, it is easy enough to rebut Mr. Clarke's other allegation.

Americans, naturally, would prefer to live in their own country if they could do so as profitably as in Mexico. Consequently, it is presumed that those who are in Mexico are doing better than if they remained at home. Under these circumstances in it not reasonable to suppose that they at least make an effort to conduct themselves with propriety? If a man's interests depend upon his good conduct, he is likely to conduct himself well, if he has any sense, and loose Americans who penetrate Mexico for the purpose of bettering themselves financially are not likely to be fools. There are doubtless some pretty tough Americana in Mexico, but Mr. Clarke's charges are too sweeping, too wide of the mark of circumstantial probability, to bear the imprint of absolute truth. The many should not be condemned for the acts of a few.

 

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