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  • ICAA Record ID
    Chevalier, Michel
    Le Mexique Ancien et Moderne / Michel Chevalier
    Le Mexique Ancien et Moderne. -- Paris : Librairie de L. Hachette et Cie., 1864
    p. 494-508
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays

    Chevalier, Michel. "Motif tiré de la politique génèrale de la France en faveur de l'enteprise." In Le Mexique Ancien et Moderne, 494-508. Paris: Librairie de L. Hachette et Cie., 1864.

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In this selection from Michel Chevalier’s text Le Mexique Ancien et Moderne (1863), the author argues that France’s occupation of Spain, Mexico, and other Latin countries is in the best interest of all Catholic nations. Describing France as both the “soul” and “arm” of the Latin races, as the most distinguished and powerful of Europe’s Catholic countries, it has the moral authority and the duty to strengthen and guide nations such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Belgium. Chevalier argues that Napoleon III aided Spain by restoring the nation to its past glory, freeing it from England’s control. He laments the loss in Catholic colonial territories worldwide, and the shift in favor of Protestant colonies. The most notable new power is, according to Chevalier, the United States, so that he predicts that the growth of the U.S. population will soon outpace that of many great European nations (including France), and notes that, even though many of its inhabitants are Catholics, Protestant liberalism prevails.


An economist and proponent of economic liberalism and free trade, Michel Chevalier (1806-79) was sent by the French government to Mexico and the United States to study the economics and industries of the Americas during the 1830s. Chevalier published this text in 1863, during Napoleon III’s failed attempt to establish a French colony in North America by installing the Habsburg prince, Maximilian, as emperor of Mexico (1863–65). This text justifies France’s interest in Latin America in terms of the waning influence of Catholicism across the globe, and in the European colonies. Chevalier is especially concerned with the growing power of the United States and the fact that, even though the United States and Canada are populated by Irish and French Catholics, Catholic doctrine seems to have no role in government or economics. Regarding Mexico and Latin America, the implication of this text is that France’s presence in Mexico is in the interest of all of Europe’s Catholic countries.

María C. Gaztambide; Harper Montgomery, collaborator
International Center for the Arts of the Americas, MFAH, Houston, USA