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On Texas soil, presidents meet for the first time

October
16
1909

On this day in 1909, presidents William Howard Taft and Porfirio Díaz met in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, the first meeting in history between a president of the United States and a president of Mexico. The local press described the meeting as the "Most Eventful Diplomatic Event in the History of the Two Nations." An El Paso historian has added that it was a "veritable pageant of military splendor, social brilliance, courtly formality, official protocol, and patriotic fervor." The proceedings for the meeting were planned in the greatest detail by the United States Department of State and the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition to matters of protocol, the two governments made the most elaborate arrangements for the protection and safety of the two presidents. Significantly, the area in dispute in south El Paso known as the Chamizal was declared neutral territory, the flags of neither nation to be displayed during the meeting. Because both presidents were bilingual there was no need for interpreters, and no one else attended the meeting. Although official reports of the meeting stated that nothing of political or diplomatic significance was discussed, some have suggested that the basis was laid there for the treaty of arbitration that the two nations signed a year later.

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