Page:The Fall of Maximilan's Empire.djvu/96

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On general principles an officer of a foreign government could have nothing to do with either side of the question. The mere judgment of right or wrong, or the desire to help a friendly nation, should not even for one moment influence the action of a naval commander compelled to decide and act for himself. But the circumstances in this case made such action seem imperative, and the more closely the matter is studied, the more proper does it appear.

As the United States had never ceased to acknowledge the Republican government of Mexico, and Benito Juarez as its President, it was fair to suppose that Santa Ana's assertion of being backed by President Johnson was false. Furthermore, the relations of the two countries were really very delicate, in spite of the fact of the United States having caused the departure of the French army. Many Mexicans were inclined to still regard their powerful northern neighbor with great distrust. Therefore, to allow the idea (which he knew to be false) to gain ground, that material aid and assistance was to be afforded by his government to influence their internal affairs, would have brought about complications, and, however vigorously refuted afterwards, would probably have reacted on the party that had been recognized since the beginning of the troubles. It would also have placed the United States in a false light before the world. By acting as he did