April 6, 1807 - December 12, 1878
Jane McManus AKA Jane Cazneau, Jane Storm, and Cora Montgomery
April 6, 1807 – December 12, 1878
Considered the U.S.'s first female war correspondent, Jane McManus supported Manifest Destiny and the "All Mexico" movement through her political journalism. As an expansionist, she reported from behind enemy lines during the U.S.-Mexico War and staunchly promoted U.S. imperialism in Central America and the Caribbean. She also served as a diplomatic agent for the U.S. in the Dominican Republic while privately speculating in its land and lobbying for U.S. commercial expansion.
Born in New York on April 6, 1807 to one-time U.S. Congressman from New York William T. McManus, Jane McManus was largely raised and educated by her aunt—Lemuel H. Sherman—in Connecticut. She ended up converting to Catholicism, and married Allen Storms in 1825. They divorced six years later, having produced one son.
McManus lived in Matagorda, Texas in the mid-1830s, acquainting herself with Texas politics. Her father purchased land there in a bid to attract settlers from the U.S. and Europe. She assisted in the family's business affairs, and when the operation failed, she and most of her family moved back to New York. She supported Texas independence, and later, its annexation by the U.S. Her brother stayed in Texas, becoming a successful landowner.
In 1839, McManus returned to New York. She became a prolific writer for the the New York Sun, the New York Herald, and Democratic Review. Politically, she supported the notion of "Manifest Destiny." Linda S. Hudson, author of Mistress of Manifest Destiny: A Biography of Jane McManus Storm Cazneau, 1807-1878 (2001), claims that McManus effectively coined the term.
In November 1846, she used her contacts in Texas and with the Polk administration to help arrange a secret peace mission to Mexico. She accompanied the owner of the New York Sun, Moses Yale Beach, on the mission. The pair spent time in Havana as well. Essentially undercover, McManus wrote dispatches from both Mexico and Cuba. Her writing criticized the Spanish administration of Cuba, and analyzed the wartime developments in Mexico. She also witnessed and reported on the fall of Veracruz in March 1847.
Described as having a "masculine stomach for war and politics," figures like Aaron Burr and Mirabeau B. Lamar admired McManus and her writing. Despite mainstream praise for her reporting, she was also very critical of the U.S. war policy and military. When the U.S.-Mexico War broke out, she generally supported President Polk's war aims. During her time in Mexico, however, she grew critical of the wanton violence, writing, "The sword is not the implement of republicanism. The shouts of victory hide the blood, ruin and desolation with which it is bought." She returned to the U.S. in May 1847 and continued her career as a journalist.
In 1849, McManus married William Leslie Cazneau, a former politician from Texas. In the following years, she wrote a number of books and pamphlets which defended slavery in the southern U.S, criticized her country's Indian policy as too violent, and advocated for U.S. annexation of the Caribbean.
After her marriage to Cazneau, however, her political thoughts on the question of territorial expansion began to change. The couple started to see "commercial penetration" of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean as a preferable variant of Manifest Destiny.
In November 1853, William Cazneau received an appointment as a secret diplomat to the Dominican Republic. The couple negotiated "a treaty of amity and commerce" in October 1854, but the U.S. legislature refused to ratify it. While operating unofficially as U.S. diplomats, McManus and her husband also pursued private investment opportunities in the Caribbean and Mexico, which included the financing of filibusters in Nicaragua. McManus and Cazneau used their political connections to lobby, usually unsuccessfully, for "commercial expansionist" expeditions. They stayed in the Dominican Republican until 1863 when, after Spain reasserted control over the island, their home was destroyed by the Spanish colonial forces.
McManus and Cazneau fled to Jamaica, where they stayed for two years. They moved back to the Dominican Republic in 1865, once Spain lost the island to nationalist rebels, and proceeded to resume their diplomatic and commercial activities.
McManus died on December 12, 1878 when she drowned at sea, en route from New York to Santo Domingo.
Griffin, Megan Jenison. "Jane McManus Storm Cazneau, 1807-1878." Legacy: A Journal of American Woman Writers. June 2010.
May, Robert E. "Cazneau, Jane Maria Eliza McManus"Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcaad. Accessed July 6, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
May, Robert E. "Lobbyists for Commercial Empire: Jane Cazneau, William Cazneau, and U.S. Caribbean Policy, 1846-1878." Pacific Historical Review 48. August 1979.
Reilly, Tom. "Jane McManus Storms: Letters from the Mexican War, 1846-1848." The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 85. July 1981.