The Mexican expropriation of British and American properties in March 1938 marked the first time any oil-producing country successfully stood up to foreign companies who claimed to own oil properties in that country and who had the support of their respective governments. Totally reliant on overseas oil at a time when war seemed imminent, British officials responsible for policy toward Mexico immediately emphasized the importance of preventing other oil-exporting nations from following Mexico's lead. Washington also sought to make an example of Mexicoone that would guarantee respect for U.S. businesses operating abroad.
Although both Washington and London wanted to return to the pre-expropriation status quo, Washington was unwilling to work with London to achieve this goal, and Washington's attitude paralleled its reaction to British efforts to get U.S. support on certain defense issues during this critical period. The resulting Anglo-American strife over how to handle Mexico was also consistent with Anglo-American commercial competition and the oil rivalry in Mexico early in the century.
About the Author
CATHERINE E. JAYNE is an independent scholar who has taught at the London School of Economics, the University of Paris, University of California, Los Angeles and California State University, Northridge./e
Table of Contents
Setting the Stage
Anglo-American Tension before the Expropriation: November 1936-March 1938
Washington's Reaction to the Expropriation: March 1938-November 1938
The Reaction of Whitehall and the Oil Companies: March 1938-November 1938
The Boycott: March 1938-September 1939
U.S. and Oil Company Policy after the Agrarian Settlement: November 1938-May 1940
The American Settlement: May 1940-October 1943
Britain and the American Settlement: May 1940-June 1943