Document signed by Abraham Lincoln appointing J.H. Mansfield as Consul in Tabasco, Mexico. Countersigned by Secretary of War William H. Seward in Washington on March 11, 1863.
Lincoln’s March 1861 inauguration coincided his colleague to the south, Benito Juarez, election as president of Mexico. Lincoln and Juarez had much in common. Both were born very poor, both were self-made men who became lawyers, and both ultimately reached the highest office of their countries. Just as Lincoln was committed to stopping the spread of slavery, Juarez was dedicated to a series of liberal reforms that would improve conditions for the peons in Mexico. While Lincoln faced a crisis that threatened the future of the United States in 1861, Juarez endured a coup organized by Mexican monarchists, nobility, and the Roman Catholic Church with the support of French dictator Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, who eventually installed Austrian Archduke Maximilian Ferdinand as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico.
When France intervened in Mexico, Lincoln refused to recognize the regime of Maximilian and instead maintained diplomatic relations with Juarez’s government. In this March 1863 document, Lincoln appoints J.H Mansfield as head of the American consulate in Tabasco, a region split between Juarez supporters and French collaborators. Upon his arrival in Tabasco, Mansfield demonstrated his support for Juarez by publicly burning a French Foreign Legion redshirt. This rather undiplomatic act raised the ire of a local warlord who imprisoned Mansfield in an overcrowded public jail for four months.