The Lexington Incident Part 3

Intro.....Part 1.....Part 2.....Part 3.....Part 4

The Argentina into which the seized US ship Harriet sailed in July of 1831 was still in disarray from its revolution 15 years earlier.

An attempt at a constitutional government with a President had failed and the former Provinicias Unidas del la Plata was now known as the Argentine Confederation with the Governor of Buenos Aires appointed to conduct foreign affairs.

The US had recognized its independence in 1820 and had gotten off to a terrific start with the diplomatic personnel sent here. Caesar Augustus Rodney, former US Congressman, US Senator, US Attorney General, US Army Capitan during the "War of 1812" and possibly the foremost US expert on South America was appointed his country's first Minister Plenipotentiary to the fledgling Argentina.

He presented himself to the Argentine government in 1823, endeared himself to Argentines everywhere, and promptly died, June 10, 1824, and was buried in Barrio Retiro on calle Juncal between Esmeralda and Suipacha.

Leading Rodney's funeral cortege was the man who would soon replace him: the US chargé d'affaires, John Murray Forbes.

The scion of one of the great "yankee trader" families and former Harvard classmate of John Quincy Adams, Forbes practiced law for a short time in Boston and moved to Europe in the late 1790s. From 1801 to 1819, he served as consul for the US, first in Copenhagen and then in Hamburg, paying particular attention to commercial issues. When he returned to the US, he was asked by Adams, then Secretary of State, to represent the U.S. in Argentina in regards to shipping and other business matters.

Forbes career was marked by both a great admiration for Argentina and a great concern over the United Kingdom's efforts to turn it into a de facto colony. He spent years constantly communicating his alarm to his own government and to the officials in Buenos Aires but to no avail.

While the US was the only competition for the UK during Forbes' years in Buenos Aires, it was very small competition. The US was either unwilling or unable to take the necessary steps to compete with Britain's bigger ships, bigger banks, and bigger business connections, and bigger diplomatic corps in Argentina.

In the end, the yanqui shipments of Chinese silk and affordable cotton goods were looked upon by Great Britain as an annoyance easily crushed. Increased trade with Argentina could also have annoyed Spain, a major US trading partner at the time.

While Forbes howled in the wilderness, political instability in the young US led his old pal Adams to be defeated after one term. With the presidency of Andrew Jackson came a new US consul to Buenos Aires, George Washington Slacum.

Slacum, by all accounts was a most disagreeable man who was a thorn in the old man's side until Forbes too was buried in Retiro near his predecessor, June 14, 1831.

Slacum then seized Forbes' old post and, with the help of a one-armed war-hero US sea capitan, changed the course of Islas Malvinas / Falklands Islands history.

Posted by yanqui mike
Sunday, April 08, 2007
on 11:03 . Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

4 comments for The Lexington Incident Part 3

  1. Have you always had a secret yearning to be a history teacher Yanqui Mike?

  2. I am SOOOOOOO freaking boring!

    I know, I've been told before.

    But I dig this story. It's taking me a while to get up to the good part... but there's background stuff you need to know in order to finally enjoy it.

    I also wanna be fair to all the sides that deserve it...and some of it is a little complicated.

    Hee hee!

  3. The way you tell it makes it interesting. It made me stop gazing at my Comme Il Faut shoes for all of 2.7 minutes!

  4. Nice chuze, baby.

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