The 25th of April, 1914, is likely in the future to be looked upon as a date of high importance in American history. Previous to that day the United States stood alone as the great arbiter of the destinies of the American nations, the Latin American republics remaining out of the current of international affairs.
On that date the representatives in Washington of these Powers, Senhor Da Gama, Ambassador from Brazil, Senor Naon, the Argentine Minister, and Senor Suarez, the Chilian Minister, joined in a note to President Wilson in which they proffered their good services in the settlement of the hostile conditions arising from the insult at Tampico to the United States flag. The ministers of several of the smaller American republics, members of the Pan-American Union, joined in the conference that followed, thus adding to its importance.
In his acceptance of this friendly offer, Secretary Bryan broadened the scope of the proposed mediation, proposing that it should seek to restore amicable relations between the warring factions in Mexico and bring that distracted land back to a state of peace and prosperity. He made it known also that the United States government would not accept any mediation of the Mexican situation that did not require the withdrawal of General Huerta from the Presidency and the establishment of a government based upon the terms of the Mexican Constitution.
The horrors of civil war are shown by this rebel artillery in Mexico City. One shell from this gun, if properly directed, might kill a hundred people and wreck a million dollars worth of property.
General Huerta was duly informed of their offer of mediation, and on the 27th his acceptance of the offer was received by Senor Riano, the Spanish Minister at Washington, and communicated by him to the South American diplomats. This indirect method was due to the fact that neither Argentina, Brazil nor Chile had recognized Huerta as President of Mexico, they following the lead of the United States in this respect.
The next step taken by the A. B. C. mediators—so-called from the initial letters of their countries' names—was to acquaint General Carranza, the head of the Revolutionists, with what had been done, and to request his co-operation.
Hostilities between the Mexican Federal forces and the United States forces at Vera Cruz had ceased, and it was desirable that the Constitutionalists should take part in this truce and cease warlike operations during its continuance.
Carranza had already accepted the proposed mediation so far as the hostile relations between the United States and the Huerta government were concerned, but when the plan was extended to bring the rebel operations under the terms of the truce, he refused to take part in it. His armies were then actively in the field. Tampico was under assault and likely soon to fall. Everywhere his troops were on the march or in active preparation, with the capture of Mexico City as their ultimate object. He did not propose to withdraw while within sight of his goal and thus give his foes an opportunity to recuperate.
Such was the state of affairs on May 5th, when it was made public that the envoys had decided to hold a formal convention on Canadian soil, at Niagara Falls, May 18th being fixed as the day of meeting. The mediators consisted of the representatives of the three South American republics to whom the movement was due, Justice Joseph R. Lamar and Frederick Lehman on the part of the United States, and three envoys chosen by President Huerta. These comprised Augustin Rodriquez, one of the leading jurists of Mexico, D. Emilia Rabaza, a prominent official, and Luis Elguero, president of the Mexican national railways.