Shopping cart

Porte Crayon’s Mexico

David Hunter Strother’s Diaries in the Early Porfirian Era, 1879–1885



The diary of America’s consul to the early Mexican republic

When David Hunter Strother, also known by his pen name Porte Crayon, arrived as U.S. consul general in Mexico City in 1879, Mexico and its society, only a decade removed from French occupation, were initially struggling with questions of national order and stability, with maintenance of independence, and with all aspects of modernization. Achieving these goals without sacrificing its patrimony to imperialistic powers, which had capital to invest, proved to be difficult for Mexico and pushed the nation’s quest for stability into another dictatorship. Strother was present at the beginning of U.S. involvement with this phase of Mexico’s evolution under President Porfirio Diaz.

Porte Crayon’s observations of Mexican society, life, and politics were broad yet penetrating and reflective. His perspective, however, extended beyond the political and economic to the land, the people, individual lives, and historical events. Mastering Spanish, as he had previously assimilated the French and Italian languages, Porte Crayon’s contacts and experiences encompassed all classes of Mexican society. He possessed the artist’s eye for nuance and detail and had the literary energy and skill to record his experiences. Specialists and nonspecialists alike will be entertained and instructed by Strother’s amusing anecdotes, his striking characterizations of key figures of the time, and his observations concerning Mexico’s modernization process.

Porte Crayon’s Mexico makes available for the first time valuable and fascinating primary-source material that will appeal to scholars of U.S.-Mexican relations, Mexican history, nineteenth-century American history, and art history.


John E. Stealey III is professor of history at Shepherd University in West Virginia. He is the author of numerous articles and essays about the Virginias, southern Appalachia, and nineteenth-century America and of books about an antebellum extractive industry, internal commerce, and legal development.