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This blog was updated on a daily basis for about two years, with those daily entries ceasing on December 31, 2013. The blog is still active, however, and we hope that people stopping in, who find something lacking, will add to the daily entries.

The blog still receives new posts as well, but now it receives them on items of Wyoming history. That has always been a feature of the blog, but Wyoming's history is rich and there are many items that are not fully covered here, if covered at all. Over time, we hope to remedy that.

You can obtain an entire month's listings by hitting on the appropriate month below, or an individual day by hitting on that calendar date.

We hope you enjoy this site.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February 5

1861  B. B. Brooks born in  Bernardston, Massachusetts.  A short biography is provided for him elsewhere on this site.

1876  John Henry "Doc" Holliday moved to Cheyenne, where he worked at the Bella Union as a dealer.

1917   The Punitivie Expedition: U.S. complete its withdrawal from Mexico. February 5, 1917.

The smile on the soldier to the left's face was likely quite genuine.  The 6th and the 16th Infantry crossing back into the United States.
U.S forces complete their withdrawal from Mexico.  The Punitive Expedition was over, although the official end would come two days later, on February 7.

And it happened, in terms of military withdrawals, in record time.  The US had been deep into Mexico just a week prior.  Now, it was out.

Note, there were big headlines going in, coming out was still on the front page, but not nearly as big in the headlines. 
Was it a success?
Not in terms of its expressed aims.  Pancho Villa remained not only at large, but resurgent. Commanding a handful of men the prior year when he raided Columbus New Mexico in a reprisal for Woodrow Wilson granting Constitutionalist troops transit across southern Texas to attack him, he now had many more men and had resumed being an effective commander in the field.  His forces had resumed combat in Chihuahua with some success and it was far from certain that the Constitutionalist, who ratified the new Mexican Constitution on this very day, would defeat him, let alone defeat him and Emiliano Zapata who was fighting in the south.
Nor was it a success in terms of our relationship with Mexico, although that was strained beforehand.
American relations with Mexico had been very poor throughout the Mexican Revolution, in no small part because the United States had failed to reign in its diplomatic representation in Mexico after Modero had taken power, which helped lead to his being overthrown in a  coup by Huerta.  Modero would have been a seemingly natural ally to the United States but American representation in Mexico City failed to appreciate that and actually felt the opposite way, which was assessed to be the case by the Mexican military.  That helped lead to Modero's overthrow and death, and in turn that helped lead to the ongoing Mexican Revolution and American intervention in Mexico, although the naive Modero was complicit in his own demise in that he left the defeated professional Mexican army, including its officer crops,  intact.  Modero hadn't won the allegiance of the Mexican federal army, he'd defeated, with the likes of men like the radical Carranza, the populist Villa and the agrarian Zapata, amongst many others.

Those men wouldn't stand by and allow Gen. Huerta to impose a military dictatorship on Mexico, but that doesn't mean that they agreed with one another on the future course of Mexico either. And, ironically, in spite of being complicit in Modero's overthrow, the Untied States wasn't keen on Huerta either and took action to prevent his being supplied as he fought against his numerous opponents. That did not engender love for the United States amongst all of them, however.
The blundering that got rolling early on continued under Wilson who favored Carranza, after the defeat of Huerta and rebellion of Villa and Zapata, even though Carranza never liked the United States.  Granting railroad transit across Texas so that Constitutionalist forces could attack Villa was a huge and odd mistake that lead directly to the raid at Columbus.  Committing American forces to Mexico was perhaps then inevitable, but no Mexican leader could be seen to be supporting an American presence in Mexico and Carranza genuinely disliked the US.  Villa, who had lived in the US, ironically likely did not have any strong dislike for us, but he did dislike Wilson's role in nearly leading to his defeat and his odd and mercurial personality did not cause him to recoil from being responsible for the death of foreigners.  At any rate, American intervention in Mexico in pursuit of Villa nearly lead to a war between the Constitutionalist and the United States even though the Constitutionalist had not been able to fully defeat Villa and Zapata and were then engaged in war against them.  After war nearly broke out, it was only avoided by the United States ceasing to advance further into Mexico and cooler heads on both sides avoiding outright hostilities against one another.
Mexican American relations would be forever changed and stressed.  The United States regarded Mexico as a potential adversary as late as early World War Two, and not without good reasons as the Mexican government was heavily leftist and not democratic. The new radical Mexican governments took to oppressing sections of the Mexican population and they, and we use the plural advisedly, flirted with the extreme left periodically.  It was not by accident that when Stalin's assassins tracked Trotsky down, they found him in Mexico.

Those facts would lead to ongoing war in Mexico for years as various Mexican movements attempted to overthrow the Mexican government, all without success.
Which is not to say that the central players in Mexico had happy ends themselves.

Zapata was assassinated by the Mexican government, still under arms and having never surrendered, in 1919, bringing to a close his agrarian movement until modern times, when Zapataistas revived in Mexico on his old domain. 

 Zapata in 1915
Flag of the Zapatista Army of Liberation, a Mexican movement inspired by the legacy of Emiliano Zapata.

Carranza, whom we have dealt with at length, was overthrown by Alvaro Obregon, his most successful general, in 1920.

 Alvaro Obregon.

Obregon had served Carranza well, after having missed the initial stages of the revolution, but he grew into a political adversary starting in the very period we're discussing.  Carranza never favored the radical turn the Mexican Constitution took in 1917, favoring instead a preservation of the 1857 constitution.  Obregon was a full radical.  After that, he went into retirement, but in 1920 he through his considerable weight behind a revolution against Carranza, which succeeded.  In May 1920 Carranza himself died in an ambush, a victim of ongoing Mexican revolution.

Obregon then lead the country for a while and then stepped down upon the election of Plutarco Elías Calles.  However, during Obregon's administration the Mexican government, which had already become hostile to religion with the 1917 Constitution, adopted on this same day (see earlier post) started to become more repressive of the Catholic Church.  Calles would accelerate this which would lead to the Cristero War, which the Mexican government put down.  After that, Obregon ran for the presidency of Mexico again, in 1928, but was assassinated very soon after taking office by José de León, a Mexican who had sympathies toward the Cristeros.

Villa as he's commonly remembered.

Villa, upon whom our story has been focused, remained in rebellion until Carranza was assassinated.  Following that, he was able to negotiate peace with the Mexican government.  He then went into retirement on a hacienda that was provided to him in Chihuahua and was even allowed to retain a small private army made up of his loyalist.  This would ultimatley not save him, however, as he was assassinated in 1923 in Parral.  The assault on Villa was obviously well planned and its never been proven who did it but suspicion is strong that the act at least had the tacit approval of the Mexican government as Villa was making sounds of running for the presidency.

The revolution consumed itself even while becoming "institutionalized"     The victors may have called themselves "constitutionalist", but in practice power often changed hands with those hands being bloody.  By any objective standard, the Mexican Revolution itself would become a failure.  Ironically, perhaps, the American support of Carranza, which had never been appreciated by Carranza, was a small aid in bringing to power a force that would have little respect for democracy.  Mexico would not overcome this for decades.
With the U.S. Army came hundreds of refugees.  Some, like the residents of Colonia Dublan, had strong roots in the United States and feared living under Villa's forces for good reasons.  Many, however, were Mexicans who feared the fate of Chihuahua under a resurgent Villa.  Again, ironically, the United States would be reforming its immigration laws on this very day, creating real border controls on the southern border for the very first time.
Mexican refugees crossing into the United States in 1915.
That border itself would be hostile to a degree at least until the 1940s.  During World War One the United States was compelled to guard the border militarily; stationing cavalry regiments all along the border.  Pershing had wanted American cavalry in France to serve in the AEF, which shipping restrictions prevented, but that did not mean that the cavalry was idle during the Great War.  A shortage of available manpower along the border during the same period required Texas to deploy its State Guard, a militia separate and apart from the Federalized National Guard, made up of men who were ineligible to serve in World War One due to age, situation or ailments.  The Army would continue to patrol the border to some extent all the way into the 1940s.  Indeed, the border situation would see some violence all the way through the Great War and after, with occasional U.S. small interventions lasting all the way through the teens and into the early 1920s.
1917 vintage recruiting poster aimed at border service.
All of which is not to say that there were not some small, but significant, successes associated with the Punitive Expedition.  For one thing, crossing into Mexico in 1916 was likely simply inevitable. The raid on Columbus could not be ignored.  Irrespective of Carranza's refusal to sanction it, moreover, the United States, which had a very small military establishment, had shown that it could rapidly mobilize an effective field force any time it wanted to.  It was not that Mexico was a military threat to the United States, but Mexican forces that may have thought the US could be ignored no longer thought that.  Mexico was not an unarmed nation by any means and the United States during peacetime relied upon an Army made up of a small professional corps and a large amateur militia.  It had shown that its system was sufficient such that it was able to rapidly mobilize both.
The expedition itself, moreover, was the first large assembly of American arms since the Spanish American War. The mobilization had shown what, and who, worked well and what, and who, did not.  While it can't really be regarded as a "success" per se, this would prove to be hugely important almost immediately in 1917 as it became obvious the United States was headed toward entering the enormous First World War.  An entire series of weapons were experimented with, many of which were new. The National Guard had been mobilized and much of it remained under arms.  The Punitive Expedition into Mexico likely shortened American mobilization in 1917 by months and lead to it being clear that John J. Pershing could command the American Expeditionary Force that would come into existence.
So how have we done reporting on the Punitive Expedition in "real time", and in general?  Let us know. We're only somewhat satisfied with our effort, which of course was an effort to learn as well.  There were a lot of things we wanted to report on and missed. Some we may still, and some we likely won't.
As this entire blog is a sort of research platform for a book, we may continue to do a little real time as well, but most likely not like we were.  We aren't, for example, going to report on the US in World War One the way we have on the Punitive Expedition, as that's more or less outside of our focus.  But we will a little, and of course we'll continue to focus on this era, at least until we get our book written. . . which is taking forever.
On this date in 1917 Woodrow Wilson's veto of the Immigration Bill was overturned and the Immigration Act of 1917 became law. The act is remembered for its sweeping exclusionary provisions.
It barred the entry of people with undesirable characteristics, in the view of the drafts, which included alcoholics, anarchists, contract laborers, criminals and convicts, epileptics, the feebleminded, "idiots", "illiterates" over 16 years of age, "imbeciles", "insane persons", "paupers", "persons afflicted with contagious disease", "persons being mentally or physically defective", "persons with constitutional psychopathic inferiority", "political radicals", "polygamists", "prostitutes" and "vagrants".
The most controversial part of the bill, in people's memories, was the creation of the "Asiatic Barred Zone" which banned immigration from much of Asia and the Pacific, excluding Japan and the Philippines.  
Interestingly, Mexican temporary labor was excluded, although they were ineligible for permanent immigration.   A per capita tax was imposed on immigrants, but again Mexican temporary laborers were excluded.

World War One era Liberty Bond poster somewhat ironically using immigrants in its pitch.

1920  As a window into the  Spanish Flu, we note that Ernestine Strelesky lost her life, and that of her unborn child, in Sheridan due to the epidemic.

1924  Joseph M. Carey, Governor from 1911 to 1915, and member of the Republican and Progressive parties, Cheyenne.

1927  Meadowlark designated state bird.

1937  Franklin Roosevelt proposes his court packing scheme.  The plan went over like a lead balloon, and nobody has ever attempted it since.

Basically, Roosevelt attempted to take advantage of the fact that the Constitution does not set the actual number of Supreme Court Justices.  Frustrated with the Supreme Court overturning New Deal legislation on Constitutional grounds, Roosevelt attempted to add sufficient numbers of justices to have a reliable court, which required exceeding the customary nine justices.  The plan was not well received.  It has been noted, however that the Court seemed to be somewhat more conciliatory to New Deal legislation thereafter.

1943  The Legislature passes a bill denying American citizens interned at Heart Mountain  Relocation Camp the right to vote.

While the legislation seems shocking in retrospect, although probably not as shocking as internment, there was somewhat of a basis for the concept in that the Heart Mountain internees were involuntarily residents of Wyoming and therefore not residents.  In hindsight, if attempted today, it seems clear that this result would no longer be regarded as legitimate, but internment would also no longer be regarded as legitimate.

1946   William Evers starts his term as Warden of the State Penitentiary.

1963  Barnum Brown, discover of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, who worked for a time as a paleontologist in Wyoming, died.

Brown in Montana.

1990 Edgar Jacob Herschler died in Cheyenne.  Herschler was from Kemmerer and had been Marine Raider in World War Two prior to being elected governor in 1975.

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