Mexico: 1833. First Edition. Mexico: May 23, 1833. Letter and chart on watermarked single folio sheets, approx. 13 x 16-½ inches, letter:  pp.; chart:  pp.;. Near Fine. Item #List508
Rare first-hand documentation of the growing trade tensions that eventually led to the French-Mexican “Pastry War” of 1838. Consul Hersant’s gossipy report surveys the “commercial movement of the port [of Tampico] since it’s opening in 1824 until the end of 1832.” Hersant complains to his superiors that Mexican trade with the US and England far outpaces France; even the Hanseatic League has become a problem. The Consul includes a hand-drawn table tallying foreign ships and the weight of goods by country, a visual aid supporting his claim that French trade lags considerably behind other partners.
Ultimately it is civil disorder that most disturbs the Consul; that is, smuggling assisted by the Mexican customs officers themselves: "se fait impunément et avec l'aide des douaniers eux-mêmes et peut porter au double la quantité de marchandises qui entrent du dehors." Indeed, the early years of the Mexican Republic were marked by a notable lack of governmental accountability toward foreign governments or private property owners as various internal parties struggled for power. This disregard eventually led King Louis-Philippe’s government to sue for damages against Mexico on behalf of French citizens doing business there. The most famous claimant was a pastry chef who claimed his shop had been looted. In 1838, when the amount went unpaid, the French invaded Veracruz and blockaded Mexico’s Atlantic ports, beginning the so-called Pastry War.
References to Hersant can be found in other histories of the French attempt to gain ground in Mexico, e.g. establishing alternative shipping passages inland to compete with North American traders. Overall a scarce pair of documents, in excellent condition with minimal normal wear.