I bet during his quiet moments in the White House, 55 year old Rutherford Bichard Hayes (above) often wondered, "Why the hell did I ever take this damn job?" "Old Granny" Hayes should have felt lucky.
Despite losing the November 1876 election by a quarter million popular votes - thanks to the Klu Kux Klan's brutally effective voter suppression program (above) - and despite being tied with 63 year old New York Democratic Governor Samuel Tilden with 183 electoral votes, Republican "Ruther-fraud" would be named "President Defacto", earning Hayes the additional nickname of "Old 8 to 7" - the split on the 15 member commission which finally settled the election in February of 1877 in his favor
But having won the office Hayes was forced to admit, "I am not liked as a President by the politicians...in the press, or in Congress." In order to win the office he had been forced to promise not to remain a one term President, Still Democrats considered the Republican Hayes "The Usurper".
And Republicans, such as Senator Rosco Conkling of New York, called his election, "...the Austerlitz of American politics" because Hayes won by sacrificing the rights of 4 million recently enfranchised African Americans. He had also been forced to promise to withdraw federal troops from southern states which had not yet moved to integrate African-Americans into their political systems.
Determined to hold Rutherford's feet to the fire, in 1877 the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives reduced the army to just 25,000 men and to hold up their budgets,. That year also became known as "The Year the Army Didn't Get Paid". But Democrats boasted of foiling "His Fraudulancy's" dreams for a war with Mexico. And they refused to budge, even while Texas citizens were suffering from Indian and criminal raids crossing the Rio Grande River.
Struggling against such road blocks, Secretary of War, 42 year old penny pinch-er George McCrary, authorized the army to cross the Rio Grande in "hot pursuit" of Mexican raiders, which they did 23 times over the decade. And the Secretary of State, 60 year old William Maxwell Evarts, vowed not to recognize the new Mexican government of 47 year old General Porfiro Diaz until the raids were stopped, because, ".. not one single man, so far as is known to this government, has been punished".
Time did not improve the situation of poor President Hayes. In the mid-term elections of November 1878, the Democrats retained their hold in the House of Representatives, - 141 Democrats to 132 Republicans, with 13 Greenback and 7 independents. And for the first time since before the Civil War, the Democrats gained control of the Senate as well - 42 to 31 seats. Rutherford was smart enough to know what a disaster this partisanship was for the country, warning the Democrats,, "Extreme party action...would ruin the party....The party out of power gains by all partisan conduct of those in power." No one on the other side was listening, of course. Winners never learn from their victories.
After failing 3 times to override Hayes' veto of pro - Klu Klux Klan legislation, the Democrats slashed funding for the United States Marshals Service, which was still enforcing laws against the nighttime rides by terrorists in white robes. With no funding for new Deputies, or Federal judges in the territories, Republican officials in Arizona and New Mexico were left without the means to prosecute rustlers and thieves who were funded by cross border raids into Chiluahua and Sonora. In short, by crippling the executive branch the Democrats in Washington were matching the anarchy on the Mexican side of the border. Speaking of which...
The political pressure in Mexico to respond to the "Hot Pursuit" was irresistible. Ignaio Vallarta, the 47 year old Minister of Foreign Affairs, angerly charged it treated Mexican citizens ".. as savages,” and President Diaz (above) ordered the Mexican Army to " Repel with force" any invasion of Mexican soil. And it was about then that 37 year old General José Guillermo Carbó was dispatched to Sonora, to bring things under control.
He was a good choice, a complex man made up of equal parts thinking military officer and poet. And he quickly came to love the mountains and deserts of Sonora, writing, "You are my new homeland:
if someday You are in danger, I swear, Sonora, O my country! I will rush to defend you." With the Mexican reorganization of the border region, Secretary Everts modified the hot pursuit policy, telling 60 year old U.S. General Edward Ord that "Whenever Mexican troops are present and prepared to intercept retreating raiders", he was to withdraw and let them do the work.
In fact as the American and Mexican officers made the effort to meet each other they found they had a good deal in common. Both were being trained on the Prussian model. Both were being starved for funds by their divided governments. Both were facing the same enemies - the Apache and gangs of criminals. And both sides knew the last thing they wanted was to fight each other. In April of 1878, the American officers convinced the American diplomats and politicians to recognize the Diez government of Mexico.
The biggest problem was that the Sonoran blancos (above) remained the only "job creators", in Sonora. And increasingly that state became the supplier of food - cattle and wheat - to the Americans. Because of the high import/export duties, this was usually done through smuggling. And the Haciendas were usually paid in manufactured goods smuggled south. The third largest town in Sonora was Magdalena, half way between Hermosillo and Tuscon, Arizona. Magdalena reaped the profits as a way station in the smuggling trade. But that was not unmitigated good news. When the largest land owner in the district, Manuel Mascarenas, was arrested and charged with stealing his neighbors' cattle and selling them in Arizona, his patrone, Louis Torres, made the charges disappear.
The lack of liquidity and of order also drove many Sonoran businesses to take on silent American partners, a practice called "petate del muerto" - or the repose of the dead. These relationships were used for legal as well as illegal businesses. It would have been a mutually beneficial business except the Americans usually saw no reason to allow their Sonoran partners to profit at all. American butchers, supplying beef to Nevada miners, certainly showed no hesitation when they could increase profits by stealing cattle from Sonoran ranchers, rather than buying them. And every once in awhile Mexican frustrations boiled to the surface, producing a cross border "raid", as happened with the Galeyville, Arizona butcher named Miller McCallister.
The story goes that Miller had gone south with enough silver to buy 80 head of cattle. Instead opportunity presented itself on the moon lit un-fenced scrub land 10 miles south of the Sonoran town of Fronteras. McCallister and 4 of his partners - George Turner, John Oliver, H.A. Garcia and William "Curly Bill" Brocius - stumbled upon 500 head of cattle. And without bothering to notify their owner, the Americans drove the herd north. After slipping through the twisting Guadalupe Canyon and safely across the border, the Yankees drove the cows across the San Simon Valley, to the west face of the Peloncillo Mountains. Their next goal was to pass through the confines of Skeleton Canyon (above) on the border between New Mexico and Arizona.. But as they approached the watering hole of the San Simon Cienega or marsh (below) in the Peloncillos, just at dawn on Thursday, 13 May, 1880, the weary rustlers were confronted by a determined wiry dark man with a double barreled shotgun resting in his arms.
Standing in the half light, the man challenged the startled Americans in accented English, "I am Senior Jose Juan Vasquez," he declared, "and these are my cattle. You are free to go home, to your own side of the border. But my cattle stay here." Instead of simply riding away, one the Americans rashly opened fire.
Instantly 40 vaqueros began blasting away from rocks. When the gunfire finally slowed and stilled, not only was McCallister dead, but so were Turner, Olvier and Garciea. There were reports some of the wounded cowboys had been tortured to death by the Mexican ranch hands after they realized their boss, Senior Vasquez, had also been killed. However no proof of this was ever offered.
Shortly thereafter a report in the newspaper "The Southwest", published in Silver City, New Mexico, claimed that local physician Dr. Henry Woodville had treated the sole American survivor of what was being called the Skeleton Canyon Massacre - William "Curly Bill" Brocius (above). And the career of Brocius is emblematic of the matching anarchy on the American side of the border.
The story was that Curly Bill and another man had robbed a stagecoach in Texas, killing the driver and a passenger. During their trial both bandits had escaped, and in 1878 Curley Bill reappeared in Southern New Mexico, where he fell in with an older desperado named , Robert E. "Dutch" Martin. Dutch made his living stealing silver and cattle in Sonora, and killing any Mexicans who got in his way. He would then sell his stolen goods in the United States, where he was a respected businessman. Curly Bill became Dutch Martin's second in command over the outlaw Cow Boys. Martin mostly stayed in New Mexico, while Brocius spent considerable time in the growing market around Tombstone, Arizona.
Geologist Raphael Pumpelly, who was familiar with mining regions from Michigan to Japan, said that in the San Pedro River towns surrounding Tombstone, (above) - Fairbank, Charleston and Milltown, "Murder was the order of the day...everyone goes around armed to the teeth." In Charlestown it was not unusual to find at least one dead body on the street every morning, These deaths were not investigated as a murder if "the wound was in the front or a gun was found nearby", And if the victim were a 'nigger' African American, a "greaser" Hispanic American, or a "Chink" Asian American, not even then.
It was Pumpelly who described the Tombstone mining district as having little "pretense of civilization". And that was the division across the Sonora desert border region - between the thieves who sought and profited from anarchy, and the thieves who sought to profit from order.
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