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The end of the American Civil War in 1865 coincided with the beginnings of success for Juárez’s forces against Maximilian’s. Maximilian, ill-informed on Mexican affairs prior to his arrival, alienated his Conservative allies by attempting to adopt more Liberal policies, while he failed to win over Liberals, who saw him as a tool of French interests and Mexican Conservatives. In 1865, Liberal military victories made Maximilian’s position increasingly difficult. Meanwhile, U.S. Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Philip Henry Sheridan bypassed Seward and began covert support of Juárez along the Texas-Mexico border. By then, the intervention in Mexico had grown unpopular with the French public, and was an increasing drain on the French treasury. On January 31, 1866, Napoleon III ordered the withdrawal of French troops, to be conducted in three stages from November 1866 to November 1867. Seward, who had earlier been more cautious, warned the Austrian Government against replacing French troops with its own forces, and the threat of war convinced the Austrian government to refrain from sending Maximilian reinforcements. Without European support, Maximilian was unable to retain power. His capture by Mexican forces, court-martial, and sentence to be executed, marked the end of direct European intervention in Mexico. Seward hoped that U.S. support for Juárez would improve relations with Mexico, but as part of Seward’s broader strategy of U.S. expansion, he hoped that the improved relations would eventually convince Mexico to join the United States.
Throughout the period of French intervention, the overall U.S. policy was to avoid direct conflict with France, and voice displeasure at French interference in Mexican affairs, but ultimately to remain neutral in the conflict. After 1866, Seward provided more direct support for Juárez, while French willingness to withdraw de-escalated Franco-American tensions. Although U.S. support for Juárez improved U.S.-Mexican relations temporarily, disputes over policing of the border under Secretary of State William Evarts would erode the good will built during Seward’s tenure.
* Republished from [https://history.state.gov/| Office of the Historian, United States Department of State]
* Article: [https://history.state.gov/milestones/1861-1865/french-intervention| French Intervention in Mexico and the American Civil War, 1862–1867]
[[Category:US State Department]] [[Category:Wikis]][[Category:United States History]] [[Category: Civil War]] [[Category:19th Century History]] [[Category:Political History]] [[Category:Diplomatic History]][[Category:Mexican History]]