Henry Lane Wilson

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Henry Lane Wilson (November 3, 1857 – December 22, 1932) was an American diplomat.

Biography[edit]

External Timeline A graphical timeline is available at
Timeline of the Mexican Revolution

He was born in Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana, to Indiana congressman James Wilson and his wife, Emma (Ingersoll) Wilson (10 September, 1830 – 22 January, 1912)[1]; he was the younger brother of John L. Wilson, and had been named for Henry Smith Lane. He was a law graduate of Wabash College and practiced law and published a newspaper in Lafayette, Indiana. He married Alice Vajen in 1885[2], and moved to Spokane, Washington where he was in business until he was financially wiped out in the Panic of 1893[3].

Diplomatic Service[edit]

Wilson served in the US Foreign Service during the presidencies of William McKinley (1897–1901), Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909) and William Howard Taft (1909–1913). He was appointed Minister to Chile in 1897, remaining in that capacity until 1904, when he was made Minister to Belgium, serving in Brussels during the height of the Congo Free State controversy. Wilson was appointed ambassador to Mexico in 1910, where he was witness to the fall of the Mexican government of General Porfirio Diaz, and was one of the main actors in defining the Mexican Revolution.[1]

Ambassador to Mexico[edit]

Wilson was appointed Ambassador to Mexico by President Taft on 21 December, 1909 and presented his credentials to President Diaz on 5 March, 1910[4]. He became personally acquainted with some of the most important figures of the Revolution, such as Álvaro Obregón, Venustiano Carranza, Pancho Villa, and Francisco I. Madero. As Taft's Ambassador to Mexico, fearing the leftist tendencies of the new Madero government upon the ouster of Diaz (not to mention the fact that he considered Madero a 'lunatic')[5], he assumed the role of catalyst for the plot of General Victoriano Huerta, Felix Diaz, and General Bernardo Reyes against President Madero [6], and was purported to have assisted in arranging the murder of Madero and his vice-president, José María Pino Suárez, during La decena tragica (The Ten Tragic Days) in February 1913, a point that was later disputed by Wilson[7].[1] After his inauguration in March of that year, President Woodrow Wilson was informed of events in Mexico by a clandestine agent, reporter William Bayard Hale[8] and was appalled by Henry Lane Wilson's assistance to the Huerta coup d'etat against Madero. The President supplanted him by sending as his personal envoy John Lind, the former governor of Minnesota, and on 17 July, 1913[9], the President dismissed Ambassador Wilson.[2]

Post-government activities[edit]

During the First World War, Wilson served on the Commission for Relief in Belgium and, in 1915, accepted the chairmanship of the Indiana State Chapter of the League to Enforce Peace, a position he held until his resignation over US involvement in the League of Nations after the close of the war. Wilson was a member of Sons of the American Revolution, Society of Colonial Wars and the Loyal Legion[10]. He published his memoir in 1927, and died in Indianapolis in 1932. He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b McLynn, Frank (2002). Villa and Zapata. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1088-8. 
  2. ^ "All the Brains I Can Borrow: Woodrow Wilson and Intelligence Gathering in Mexico, 1913–15". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2009-08-22. "Hale had been joined in August 1913 by John Lind, a former governor of Minnesota and member of the US House of Representatives. Like Hale, Lind spoke no Spanish and carried strong Protestant, anti-Catholic prejudices into the overwhelmingly Catholic Mexico. Unlike Hale, however, Lind was empowered to negotiate with Mexican officials. Wilson had instructed Lind to press Huerta's government for "an immediate cessation of fighting throughout Mexico," an "early and free election" in which all parties could participate, a promise from Huerta not to be a candidate, and an agreement by all parties to respect the results of the election. In return, the United States promised to recognize the newly elected government. The Huerta regime met with Lind but refused to accede to Wilson's demands." 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Lawrence Townsend
Ambassador to Belgium
1905–1909
Succeeded by
Charles Page Bryan
Preceded by
David Eugene Thompson
Ambassador to Mexico
1909–1913
Succeeded by
Henry P. Fletcher