Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Visitor from Oaxaca

January 17, 2011, 11:00 pm

Lincoln’s Mexican Visitor

Mexican President Benito Juarez
Disunion Disunion follows the Civil War as it unfolded.
Matias Romero arrived in Springfield, Ill. on the evening of Jan. 18, 1861. Though late in the day, he figured it would be easy to find a room in this sleepy midwestern town. But there were no rooms available at his first choice, the American Hotel, or anywhere else: all the hotels in town were full of friends, patronage seekers and the merely curious who had come to meet President-elect Lincoln. Travelers packed into guesthouses three to a room with strangers sharing beds, while others settled for sleeper cars parked in the rail yard.
Matias Romero
Matias Romero
Matias Romero

Fortunately, the manager of the American quickly recognized that the 23-year-old Oaxacan was no ordinary petitioner. Romero’s refined manner and dapper three-piece suit distinguished him from the homespun westerners in their hickory shirts and pantaloons tucked into boots. Romero was provided the last “very dirty bed” and the promise of his own room for the next evening. He was thankful just to get some rest; the following day Romero met with Lincoln to deliver the hearty congratulations of his president and an olive branch from the neighboring Republic of Mexico...more

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