Negotiating Paradise: U.S. Tourism and Empire in Twentieth-Century Latin America

By Dennis Merrill | Go to book overview

ONE
Lone Eaǵles and
Revolutíonaríes:
The U.S.-Mexican Rapprochement
of the 1920s

President Plutarco Elías Calles and U.S. ambassador Dwight W. Morrow chatted nervously to pass the time. The throng of onlookers scanned the sky above Mexico City’s Balbuena airfield, hoping to glimpse a descending dot in the mid-December sky. Charles Lindbergh’s plane had been delayed for two hours by a dense Gulf Coast fog. Then word arrived that the Lone Eagle had been spotted over the city of Toluca, just thirty-five miles east of the capital, and a pilot from Mexico’s Ninth Air Squadron now accompanied the Spirit of St. Louis on the last leg of its nonstop flight from Washington, D.C. At 3:49 P.M. on 14 December 1927, twenty-seven hours and fifteen minutes after takeoff, Lindbergh touched down, to the joy and delirium of 150,000 Mexican fans who had turned out to greet him.1 A tumultuous open-air motorcade through the heart of Mexico City followed, past crowds chanting, ‘‘Viva Lindy.’’ ‘‘Oh! The crowds in the streets on the way to the Embassy!—On trees, on telegraph poles, tops of cars, roofs, even the towers of the Cathedral. Flowers and confetti were flung every moment,’’ the ambassador’s wife, Elizabeth Cutter Morrow, recorded in her diary.2

The Lindbergh visit was the brainchild of the recently appointed Morrow, a former J. P. Morgan investment banker and an old Amherst College chum of President Calvin Coolidge. The ambassador hoped that public cultural diplomacy might improve the atmosphere for U.S.-Mexican relations. Morrow had met Lindbergh the previous June in Washington, D.C., shortly after the young aviator completed his historic flight across the Atlantic, and had inquired about the possibility of a goodwill visit. Lindbergh, who had already

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