PHILISTINES IN MEXICO
THOUGH THE PRESIDENT'S first paper on foreign affairs was couched in general terms, it pronounced a curse upon a conspirator who had violently seized control of Mexico. This adventurer, General Victoriano Huerta, had revolted against his chief, President Madero, who in d had promised to liberate his people from the semifeudal system under which Mexico had been ruled by old Porfirio Diaz for a generation.
Madero was besieged in Mexico City on February 9, 1913, by troops commanded by Felix Diaz, a nephew of the former ruler; and after resigning and accepting Huerta's promise of safe-conduct out of the country, Madero was shot dead on the 23rd while being taken from prison to a penitentiary by an armed escort. Huerta's junta claimed that the prisoner was attempting to escape, and Henry Lane Wilson, the ambassador of the United States at Mexico City, voiced the satisfaction of the foreign colony in the restoration of order after days of violence. Many Americans, however, were not satisfied by the official explanation of Madero's death, which seemed to them merely a Latin euphemism for murder. It was taken for granted that Huerta was, to say the least, not ignorant of the plot; and there were allegations that the ambassador could have saved Madero's life.
The shooting of Madero filled Woodrow Wilson with indignation so deep that it seemed impossible for him to deal with the usurper. Among the White House family, Huerta's name could not be mentioned without a grimace and a scorching adjective, and Mrs. Wilson equated the rascal with all that was vile. "I will not recognize a government of butchers," the President said to a friend. Fearing that similar brutality might appear in other Latin-American countries, he proclaimed through the press on March 11: "We can have no sympathy with those who seek to seize the power of government to advance their own personal interest or ambition."
Alarming reports of violence came from American consuls in Mexico, and news that a follower of Madero--Venustiano Carranza of Coahuila Province--had proclaimed himself provisional president. All this made Wilson dubious of Huerta's assertion that he had pacified the country and would arrange constitutional elections. He distrusted reports favor-