Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N.

By W. D. Puleston | Go to book overview

Chapter VIII Montevideo--Buenos Aires

EARLY in February the Royal Mail Packet Douro, bearing the Mahans, entered the Plata River, and was spoken by the U.S.S. Wasp, which had come down from Buenos Aires to greet her prospective commanding officer. The middle of the month Commander Mahan assumed command and with it the responsibility for the protection of American lives and interests on his part of a foreign station. His immediate superior, Rear Admiral William Rogers Taylor, the commander of the squadron and station, might be anywhere between Trinidad and Cape Horn. In his absence Mahan would be required to make the initial decisions affecting American interests in Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina, including the delta of the great Plata River and the two important and growing cities of Montevideo and Buenos Aires. Cables and radios had not yet made communication so rapid that questions could be referred to Washington. The senior naval officer present in consultation with the American Consul or Minister, if one was available, must decide all urgent questions.

Other nations offered the same protection to their citizens in that part of the world. The British, French, Spanish, Italian, and Brazilian navies were all represented on the Plata River by men-of-war. The presence of many foreign naval officers sometimes accompanied by their wives added a pleasant cosmopolitan flavor to the society of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. But it increased Mahan's responsibilities for even then European states were looking eagerly lo South America as a possible outlet for their surplus population.

Nor were his difficulties restricted to the diplomatic field.

-52-

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