Maximilian in Mexico

The outbreak of the Civil War was taken advantage of by France, England, and Spain, to send an allied expedition to Vera Cruz, with the ostensible purpose of enforcing the payment of the Mexican debt to those countries. But, as it soon appeared that France had other aims, her allies withdrew. In July, 1863, the French entered the city of Mexico, and at once threw off the mask they had worn, proposing Maximilian, an Austrian prince, as a candidate for an imperial throne. The Mexican leaders who had aided the enterprise with the expectation of gaining power for themselves, found that they had been tricked by their astute ally, and that an empire with a foreign ruler was established in their country.

This empire was destined to be of short duration. The American war ended in the triumph of the North, to the dismay and confusion of the French invaders, and at once the voice of the United States was heard, bidding, in no uncertain phrase, the French to withdraw from the land. Napoleon III. prevaricated and delayed, but he dared not resist. It was the alternative of war or withdrawal, and war with the United States just then was no desirable undertaking. The French troops were withdrawn, but Maximilian madly remained. The necessary consequence followed. The Mexicans rose, besieged him, and captured him on May 15, 1867. He was tried by court-martial, was condemned to execution, and was shot on June 19. Thus disastrously ended the only attempt of European powers to control and to establish monarchy in a republican country of America. The Monroe doctrine had been proved to be more than an empty phrase.

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