‘A Mexican Fenian movement’

Published in Irish Republican Brotherhood / Fenians, Issue 1 (Spring 1998), Letters, Letters, Volume 6

General Lopez de Santa Anna

General Lopez de Santa Anna

Sir,—General Lopez de Santa Anna, who so admired the St Patrick’sBattalion, did not forget the martial qualities of the Irish soldier.In 1866 while living in exile in New York he offered his support to theMexican Republic in its fight against the French. This was rejected buton 29 September 1866 the New York Herald, under the headline ‘A MexicanFenian movement, Mexico for the Milesians’, reported that Santa Annahad declared himself ‘General-in-Chief of the Mexican Republic’, andwas negotiating to hire the army of the Roberts wing of the FenianBrotherhood.
Santa Anna’s initiative was timely coming as it did the day afterit had been announced that Roberts was not to be prosecuted for hispart in the abortive Fenian invasion of Canada, and that the FenianBrotherhood’s confiscated arms were to be returned to them. The Heraldreported that Santa Anna had acquired three large steamers astransports and that he had held several conferences with William R.Roberts, Thomas W. Sweeny and other Fenian chiefs. Santa Anna, it wassaid, had laid matters before them in such a favourable light ‘thatthese gentlemen have shut their eyes to the advantages of Canada andare more zealously educating the Irish in the belief that Mexico is thecountry specially designated by Providence as best fitted for thedevelopment of the Milesian race’.
Roberts’ response to the Herald’s exuberance was more measured and might have been drafted for him by a modern press agent:

Colonel Roberts said a number of interviews had taken place betweenhimself and General Santa Anna, several of which were of a private andpersonal nature, and the balance of which were in relation to publicmatters of which he was not at liberty to give details.

—Yours etc.,
DONALD BARRETT
Hertfordshire

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