Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date



The history of commerce between early national Mexico and the United States remains largely untold due to the lack of good serial data. Mexican export and import figures are neither consistent nor comprehensive; on the U.S. side, overland exports from the United States to Mexico went unrecorded until 1893. Maritime trade statistics, collected by the U.S. Treasury from 1824 onward, reveal that Mexico traded silver- mostly specie and some bullion- for manufactured cloth, for wheat flour coming through New Orleans, and for raw cotton for the Mexican textile industry, which tariffs enacted by Mexico in 1829, 1837, and 1842-1843 attempted to protect. Still, before 1838, finished cotton accounted for between 30 and 40 percent of domestic U.S. exports to Mexico. Moreover, before 1841, reexports constituted at least half of all U.S. exports to Mexico by value every year. Such quantitative evidence suggests what other qualitative information confirms: before the Texas Revolution (1835- 1836), the composition of U.S. exports and reexports to Mexico reflected mostly economic factors and commercial restrictions. After that, political and diplomatic calculations came into play, as the United States and Great Britain competed more directly for influence in Mexico. Their respective patterns of trade, which had earlier paralleled each other, falling and rising together, began to move in opposite directions, exhibiting reversed peaks and troughs.


Donald S. Frazier




New York



Publication Information

The United States and Mexico at War: Nineteenth-Century Expansionism and Conflict

Included in

History Commons