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Joel Roberts Poinsett

Other names/titles:
Gender: M
Ethnic origin: White

Biographical details

Born in 1779, he was one of the first US diplomats to post-Independent Spanish America. President Monroe invited him to go to Buenos Aires in 1811, and then to Chile to show US support for independence and the republican governments and to counter British economic influences. In 1827 he was authorised to buy land to extend the US border to the Rio Grande. He was US minister to Mexico for four years from 1825-29, when President Guerrero asked for him to be recalled. (Riedinger, 1094-1096)

He led José Miguel Carrera to believe that the United States would help Chile achieve independence. (Rodríguez, 142)

He was in Mexico 1822, Chile 1823, and Peru. He wrote about the history, politics, geography, agriculture and commerce of Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, the United Provinces of South America and Chile.

His works include Notes on Mexico (1826?). (Romero de Valle, 253)

He met Luis de la Carrera in 1813.

He was a mason. (Racine, 538)

Folsom states that Pointsett was "to some extent instrumental in promoting the organization of the York lodge [in Mexico]; he was also charged with fomenting the troubles of the country by intrigue, and several of the Mexican legislatures demanded his expulsion on account of his officious inter-meddling as a partisan in their public affairs. These charges finally led to Mr Poinsett’s recall, although he strenuously asserted his innocence in several communications published in the Mexican and American journals. (Folsom, 17-18)

He attended political and literary tertulias in Mexico City in 1823. (Hardy, 510)

He hosted social gatherings. Hardy describes them as follows: “[their] object was to bring the natives and foreigners into more immediate contact, which has a strong tendency to remove at least a portion of those prejudices so natural to those who have seen little of society, and less of the world.” (Hardy, 13-14)

He died in 1853.

Life Events

Born 1779He was born 2 March 1779.
Other 1811He was invited to visit Buenos Aires by President Monroe.
Other 1813He met Luis Carrera.
Other 1822He visited Mexico.
Other 1823He visited Chile.
Other 1826His book, Notes on Mexico, was probably published in 1826.
Other 1827He was authorised to buy land to extend the US border to the Rio Grande.
Other 1829He was recalled as ambassador to Mexico.
Died 1853


Romero de Valle, Emilia, (1966), Diccionario manual de literatura peruana y materias afines

Rodríguez O., Jaime E., (1998), The Independence of Spanish America

Werner, Michael S., (1997), Encyclopedia of Mexico

Werner, Michael S., (1997), Encyclopedia of Mexico

Hardy, R.W.H., (1829), Travels in the Interior of Mexico in 1825, 1826, 1827, &1828,

Folsom, G., (1842), Mexico in 1842: A Description of the Country, its Natural and Political Features; With a Sketch of its History, Brought Down to the Present Year. To Which is Added an Account of Texas and Yucatan; and of the Santa Fé Expedition


Book: Notes on Mexico Made in the Autumn of 1822


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