Se Empiece La Decena Tragica en Mexico

  • For the first time in more than 110 years, an incumbent United States President personally spoke before a house of the U.S. Congress. President William Howard Taft appeared before a session of the U.S. Senate to deliver a eulogy for the late Vice-President, James S. Sherman, who had died in November.
  • The United States and Nicaragua signed the Wertzel-Chamorro Treaty, with the U.S. paying $3 million to Nicaragua for the option to build a canal across the nation to link the Atlantic and Pacific, and the right to set up bases on Corn Island and the Gulf of Fonseca. Construction of the Panama Canal was almost complete; the U.S. Senate’s session ended before the treaty could be voted on.
  • Mexico’s President Francisco I. Madero was trapped in a siege of the presidential palace by rebels under the command of General Felix Diaz. Former Governor of Nuevo León Bernardo Reyes, who was one of the leaders of the revolt, was killed in the exchange of gunfire
  • Charles Rumney Samson, who had been the first person to fly an airplane off of the deck of a ship (on May 9, 1912) became the first person to fire a machine gun from an airplane in flight. Samson was flying over Eastchurch.
  • At Mucklow, West Virginia, 16 people — 12 miners and 4 mine guards— were killed in fighting between striking coal miners and police.
Kinmochi Saionji (西園寺公望, 1849-1940). Japanese ...

Kinmochi Saionji (西園寺公望, 1849-1940). Japanese Prime Minister 1906-08 and 1911-12. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two countries with long term pivotal relationships to the U.S., Mexico and Japan, have just now embarked upon a new era in their political histories, decidedly so in the case of Mexico.  In Japan we see the definite end of the Late Genrou period of the Meiji era, one that featured the alternation of the Emperor-appointed prime ministership between the representative of the military, Katsura Tarō, and the “civil” representative, Saionji Kinmochi.  That period dates from the foundation of the Rikken Seiyūkai (立憲政友会, Constitutional Government “Association”, declining to define itself as a party, tō (党)) in 1900.  Saionji and the Seiyuukai were the relatively “liberal” wing of what was then the highly aristocratic and militaristic ruling class of Japan, one, though, seeking to march rapidly towards capitalism.  The Kyoto-born Saionji himself hailed from the traditional kuge (公家, the very characters can be read as “public houses”) ) “imperial court” aristocracy, growing up in the shadow of the Imperial Palace in what was still then the capital of Japan.  In this way the centuries-old rivalry between the kuge and buke (武家, samurai warrior houses) was formally reproduced in the present.  It was Katsura’s turn up at bat for Prime Minister, but this was the first alteration in office since the death of Meiji Emperor in July 1912, when Saionji held the office.  At that time Saionji thought it expedient to push for a reduction in military expenditures, and the military reacted by boycotting appointment to the Army and Navy ministries, required constitutionally to be filled by active-duty officers.  This provoked the political crisis reported here in December, 1912 as the Saionji ministry fell.  The new Taisho Emperor as expected appointed  Katsura, who however also saw the dawn of a new Imperial era as a chance to alter the balance toward the military, suspending the Diet or parliament . Katsura launched his own “constitutional association”, Rikken Doshikai, only to find itself confronted with mass demonstrations targeting this party’s offices as well as the Diet building in Tokyo, on February 10, 1913.   Katsura is shortly to become the first Prime Minister to be removed by a no-confidence vote in the Diet.

Francisco I. Madero, former Mexican president.

Francisco I. Madero, former Mexican president. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Mexico, Francisco I. Madero, a classical bourgeois liberal reform politician from one of the wealthiest families in the country, wealth derived form agriculture and mining,  had been swept into the Presidency in 1911 by the first phase of what was now a rapidly unfolding revolution.  Madero now found himself  under siege in the Presidential Palace in a military coup led by Victoriano Huerta, a Diaz  holdover currently overall commander of the “Federalist” army.    This event had the direct backing of of the outgoing U.S. President Howard Taft’s ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, and marks a key turning point in the current phase of the Mexican Revolution that began when the Diaz regime lost military control over the U.S.-Mexico border city of Ciudad Juarez in battle with the rebel forces of Pascual Orozco and Francisco (Pancho) Villa on the 21 May of 1911.   With the “Treaty of Ciudad Juárez“, the Diaz regime was replaced with a provisional government that saw Madero finally become President, but only after allowing another Diaz supporter, Francisco León de la Barra, to continue as interm President throughout most of 1911, allowing the Diaz forces to regroup and conspire with Wilson, as de la Barra had been Diaz’s foreign secretary.  Madero was also in a weakened political state as the situation had been altered by the independent actions of the  sectionally based Orozco and Villa rebels.   These latter split off from the Federalists when, together with the peasant militias of Emiliano Zapata in the south, refused to disarm, not trusting the political situation and Madero himself.  The Feburary 1913 coup against Madero only confirmed these suspicions, and Madero was to surrender in 10 days to Huerta, whom Madero had appointed to command the Federalist forces against the rebels.  This was to precipitate a major U.S. military intervention at Veracruz as one of the first acts of the incoming Democrat administration of Woodrow Wilson.

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