Our September 2023 meeting will feature Evan Rothera offering a presentation titled, “‘Our sister republic of Mexico must be relieved from foreign domination’: The U.S. Civil War, the French Intervention, and the Monroe Doctrine.”
In April 1861, the U.S. Civil War began when rebels fired on Fort Sumter. Several months later, Mexican President Benito Juárez suspended debt payments because the War of the Reform (1857-1861) had drained the country’s treasury. Juárez’s decision led Great Britain, Spain, and France, Mexico’s European creditors, to send armies to Mexico to seize customs houses. Emperor Napoleon III of France then decided to occupy Mexico City and overthrow Juárez’s government in order to recreate a French New World empire. Scholars often view the U.S. Civil War and the French Intervention in Mexico as separate events. However, this talk illustrates that the two conflicts were interwoven and part of a larger war pitting republicanism against the forces of reaction. Furthermore, by discussing the cooperation that developed between the U.S. and Mexico during this period, this talk demonstrates that the U.S.-Mexico relationship involved more than conflict and xenophobia. People in both countries imagined themselves as sister republics engaged in a common struggle and acted on these beliefs by raising money and arms and crossing borders to fight for freedom.
Evan C. Rothera is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of History at The Pennsylvania State University in 2017. He published Civil Wars and Reconstructions in the Americas: The United States, Mexico, and Argentina, 1860 – 1880 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2022) and co-edited, with Brian Matthew Jordan, The War Went On: Reconsidering the Lives of Civil War Veterans (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2020). He has published articles in Nebraska History, The Journal of Mississippi History, and the Journal of Supreme Court History, several book chapters, and many book reviews and encyclopedia entries. He has received fellowships and grants from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Louisiana Historical Association, the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, the Texas State Historical Association, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Institute for Political History.