Sunday, October 31, 2010

U.S. Invades Veracruz - In 1914

Did you know the U.S. invaded Veracruz, Mexico in April of 1914?  I'll admit I didn't.  Actually, I do recall a brief mention of Mexico - U.S. relations leading up to WWI in my American History Class from high school.  If we talked about an invasion, I had forgotten all about it (that comes with the gray hair...).  I do, however, remember seeing the postcard photographs with my grandfather's handwriting on them.  He was long dead by the time I came around, and my grandmother only new he was in the Marines.  Evidently my grandfather was a participant in the invasion and/or occupation of Veracruz.

I though it might be interesting to create a post describing the whole thing using my grandfather's photos as a backdrop.  The first photo is one I have posted on my blog.  It is of my grandfather, George Pratt, standing on board the U.S.S. Virginia.  If this photo was taken in 1914, George would have been about 23 years old.

Bow of the U.S.S. Virginia
Veracruz was one of the main seaports used for Mexican commerce.  As the World political scene became more and more unstable as it slipped toward a major European conflict, President Woodrow Wilson tried to prevent the U.S. from becoming involved.  From what I can see, Mexico at this time was ruled by a dictator named Victoriano Huerta.  His nickname is The Jackal.  England, at this time, received most of their oil from Mexico, and to maintain this supply they support their own private army.  

Germany wants to create unrest in Mexico to divert the English attention from the rapidly deteriorating political situation in Europe.  The German government decides to sell arms to Huerta to strengthen his rule.  This of course is disturbing to President Wilson and ultimately seals not only the fate of Veracruz, but that of 'The Jackal' too.      

The American forces take the city of Veracruz and occupy it until the end of November of 1914.  I'm not sure how long my grandfather was stationed there, but evidently he rarely talked about his time in the Marines.  By the time the U.S. is ready to enter what has now become a World War, George is living in Detroit and claims a deferment from the draft because he is his mother's sole source of support.

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