Publication Date

Fall 11-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History & Political Thought, History Concentration (MA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Jerry Thompson

Committee Member

Dr. Stephen Duffy

Committee Member

Dr. Richard Wright

Committee Member

Dr. Alfonso Vergaray

Committee Member

Dr. James Norris


The cotton trade on the Rio Grande played a crucial role in the transnational history of Confederate-Mexican diplomacy as well as the history of the American Civil War and the Second French Intervention in Mexico. The renowned merchant from El Paso, Simeon Hart, was an important figure in the cotton trade since he helped facilitate diplomatic and commercial relations between Mexico and the Confederacy. Due to his reputation as an emissary and supplier for the Confederate Army of New Mexico, Hart was appointed quartermaster of the Trans-Mississippi Department. During the winter of 1863-64, the son-in-law of the Governor of Nuevo León and Coahuila, Patricio Milmo, seized $16 million Confederate dollars which were held as ransom until the Confederates could pay their debts to Milmo. The confiscation of these Confederate funds led to a major diplomatic confrontation between Gov. Santiago Vidaurri and the Confederate government, including Hart, who was responsible for paying the Milmo debt. As a result, the cotton trade was shut down for nearly two months and all shipments of armaments and other supplies bound for the Confederacy were halted. The breakdown of trade relations with Mexico threatened to weaken the Confederate war effort in the Trans-Mississippi Department. This thesis is a study of Hart’s participation in the cotton trade and the diplomatic mission to establish good relations with both the Conservative and Liberal governments in Mexico. Essentially, the thesis will explain how Hart became involved in the “Milmo Affair” which demonstrates his contribution and significance to the history of the Civil War cotton trade, and the economic and political development of the Texas-Mexico borderlands.