Mexico and the Foreign Policy of Napoleon III

Mexico and the Foreign Policy of Napoleon III

Mexico and the Foreign Policy of Napoleon III

Mexico and the Foreign Policy of Napoleon III

Synopsis

Michele Cunningham demonstrates that Napoleon III's motives for intervening in Mexico in the 1860s were consistent with his foreign policy, which was based on his belief that free trade was the best foundation for peace. He saw the establishment of a friendly government in Mexico as an opportunity to expand that policy to encompass the world by ensuring European access to American markets and preventing monopoly by the US.

Excerpt

My interest in Napoleon III and the Second Empire was first encouraged by the late Professor Austin Gough with his enthusiasm and talent for making history come alive. My fascination with this period was further inspired by the writings of a contemporary journalist and former British diplomat, Grenville Murray, who wrote numerous satirical articles on the Second Empire, many of which appeared in Cornhill Magazineand were collected in a book, French Pictures in English Chalk. His early papers were so critical that they encouraged me to determine whether there was any substance to Napoleon III and his Empire. One of the interesting aspects of Murray's writings is that his later articles move from undisguised ridicule of the Emperor to a very warm acceptance of the man and his work for France. I cannot help but feel this change occurred after he went to live in France in 1868 and perhaps met the Emperor himself. A chance discovery in the Archives Nationales of a letter from Murray to the Empress Eugenie confirmed that view. Murray wrote a week before the defeat at Sedan expressing his admiration for the Emperor and all he had tried to achieve, and offered his assistance in enlightening the English public in the face of anti-French propaganda being disseminated by the Prussians. His opinion of the Emperor was one of many that urged me to try and understand that enigmatic man who inspired so much criticism and even vitriol from republican opponents and historians. Although there are now many historical studies more favourable to Napoleon III, there is still much controversy over his achievements in France and his place in history. This volume, it is hoped, will contribute to an understanding of Napoelon III's foreign policy, although, as James McMillan remarked, the definitive history of Napoleon III's foreign policy is still to be written.

I am extremely grateful for the assistance I received from staff in both the French and British archives. In the Archives Nationales I was directed to sources of which I had been unaware, and the guidance afforded to me both in the archives and by correspondence is appreciated. Similarly, the staff in the Service Historique de l’Armée de Terre at Vincennes, and in the Archives du Ministère des Affaires Étrangères made my limited time there very productive. My thanks go to the Research Branch at the University of Adelaide and the Department of History for travel grants to facilitate my research, and to staff in the Department of History for . . .

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