Walter Hines Page to Woodrow Wilson


Walter Hines Page to Woodrow Wilson


Page, Walter Hines, 1855-1918




1913 October 5


Walter Hines Page writes to Woodrow Wilson about the Mexico situation.


Wilson Papers, Library of Congress, Library of Congress, Washington, District of Columbia


Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924--Correspondence


Dear Mr. President

I have talked with (and especially listened to) many sorts of persons this week about this wretched Mexican business and read columns and columns of comment and turned every conceivable phrase of it back & forth in my mind; and I have not seen nor heard even an allusion to any moral principle involved nor a word of concern for the Mexican people. It is all about who is the stronger, Huerta or some other bandit, and about the necessity of order for the sake of financial interests. Nobody gives us credit for any moral purpose. Nobody recalls our giving Cuba to the Cubans nor our pledge to the Philippine Islands. But there is reference to the influence of the Standard Oil Company in on the American policy. In a particularly offensive editorial in this morning’s Morning Telegraph occurs this passage: “President Wilson, on behalf of the American people, has adopted a course which has not been appreciated by Europe generally. America has made her policy subservient to those residents in the Republic of her nationality who have embarked capital in the country. No blame, it may be, attaches to the United States Government on this account, but this attitude has naturally been resented hotly by Huerta.”This illustrates the complete divorce of European politics from fundamental morals, and it shocks even a man who already knew of this divorce.
In my last talk with Sir Edward Grey I drove this home by emphasizing with all my might the impossibility of your giving primary heed even to any American business interests in Mexico — even the immorality of your doing so: there are many things that come before business and there are some things that come before order. I used American business interests because of course I could not speak openly to him of British commericial interests and his own Government. I am sure he drew the inevitable inference. But not even from him came a word about the moral foundation of government or about the welfare of the Mexican people. These things are not in the European ruling vocabulary.
Still I cannot get rid of the feeling that when this Government recognized Huerta it did not foresee the consequences, that he seemed to them the only man likely to restore order ( which is what they chiefly want) and that they now regard their recognition as a mistake. I have been trying to find a way whereby they may now avoid repeating this mistake and save their face. I have telegraphed one such plan to Mr. Bryan, if you & he should approve of it — to put it to Sir Edw Grey as squarely and as hard as may be prudent that one way lies a friendly act to us and that the other way lies an unfriendly. I think we can force him to show his hand, without the possibility of evasion. This Government will not risk our good will — if they are forced to choose & if it seem wise to you to put them now to a square test. I don’t think they will. Our good will is a club they are afraid of. — It’s a wretched business, and the low level of European statecraft is — sad. It leaves to us the task of pulling the world up. — To The PresidentP.
But it is possible to extract some fun even from this sordid affair. The Prime Minister came up to me at the royal wedding r reception the other day and said:

“What do you infer from the latest news from Mexico?” [the Huerta coup d’etat in arresting the deputies]
“Several things.”
“Tell me the most important inference you draw.”
“The danger of prematurely making up one’s mind about a Mexican adventurer.”
“Ah!” and he moved on.

Walter H. Page

Original Format



Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924



Page, Walter Hines, 1855-1918, “Walter Hines Page to Woodrow Wilson,” 1913 October 5, WWP18126, First Year Wilson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.