1792 - 1873
John Black was a long-time businessman in Mexico City, where he served as U.S. consul during the war with Mexico.
A native of Albany, New York, Black traveled to Mexico in 1823 as the representative of machine manufacturer Robert McQueen, who had a contract to deliver a steam engine for mining operations. Working in Mexico’s mining industry, Black remained in the country for the next forty years.
Appointed U.S. consul in the Mexican capital in 1843, Black found himself thrust into a position of diplomatic prominence two years later. Following congressional passage of the Brown resolution in March, 1845, which offered to admit the Republic of Texas as the 28th state, Mexico broke off diplomatic relations, withdrawing its minister in Washington, Juan Almonte. The Polk administration responded by recalling its own U.S. minister, leaving Black as the highest ranking U.S. diplomat in the Mexican capital. The State Department quickly dispatched William S. Parrott to Mexico, to serve as a confidential agent, although Black remained actively involved in efforts to keep a dialogue open between the two governments. In the fall of 1845 Black reported to the State Department that the Herrera government was prepared to receive a commissioner from the United States with full powers to resolve all outstanding disputes. This would lead to the unsuccessful diplomatic mission of John Slidell, which President Polk would later cite as a justification for war. Black continued to provide the State Department with information on events in the Mexican capital as tensions escalated between the two governments.
Black remained in Mexico City, performing his duties as consul, throughout the war. He did not return to the United States until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. He died in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1873.
Matthews, John Francis. Little favors from my government: United States Consuls in Mexico, 1821-1865. Ph.D. dissertation, Texas Christian University, 1993.