Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/380

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In 1861, four years after the declaration of the Constitution of 1857, on the 8th of December, there appeared in the waters of Vera Cruz a foreign squadron, over which floated the colors of three European powers. It was a combined expedition from the governments of Spain, England, and France. The commissioners from these three powers were accompanied by a body of Spanish troops, a smaller force of French ones, and some English sailors. Why were they there? Did they come to demand something? Had they an ultimatum to present?

The three powers had signed a treaty in London by which they agreed to send this threefold expedition to Mexico to demand guaranties for the safety of their subjects living there, and further to urge their claim to sums borrowed by the Mexicans during their difficulties, on which a law had been lately passed suspending payment. This was the pretext for the expedition; its real cause was below the surface.

The commissioners took possession easily of Vera Cruz, and then proceeded to Orizaba, where a confer-