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PhD Research Project (in progress): Poinsett in "the metropole of all the Americas." The Birth of US-Mexico Relations, 1825-1829.

My PhD research is about the first diplomatic mission of the United States in Mexico, led from 1825 to 1829 by Joel Poinsett (the diplomat and amateur botanist after whom the poinsettia plant was named). Two centuries later, a narrative still persists that Poinsett utilised freemasonry to intrude and control Mexican politics with a view to securing the expansion and dominance of the United States. While this narrative is based upon contemporaneous publications by groups that were hostile to the US, it is often considered justified by subsequent events, key among which was the expansionist war that the US waged against Mexico in 1846. However, such a justification relies upon the assumption that events with one set of actors in the 1840s must count as evidence for events with different actors in the 1820s.

Avoiding such assumptions and resorting to archives in Mexico, the US, and the UK, my research addresses the question of what was the precise connection between Poinsett, the Mexican government, and the political party that emerged from the masonic Rite of York. My findings throw light upon understudied aspects of US-Mexico relations at a time when US hegemony did not yet exist and Mexican statesmen anticipated that their own capital city would become "the metropole of all the Americas."