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Aztec Club of 1847

History of its Founding

Original members of the Aztec Club came from both the Regular and Volunteer forces, but not from the militia. Major-General Emory Upton (1839-1881) wrote:

". . .[T]he Mexican War marked a great change if not a revolution in our military policy. This result was due to the decay and gradual abandonment of the military system which, up to that time, had been regarded as the 'great bulwark of National defense'."

". . .[W]hile in the War of 1812 the combined force of regulars and volunteers of twelve or more months' service was but 12% of the total number of troops employed, the same force in the Mexican War was no less than 88%."

Although entirely non-political in its organization and scope, no less than six of the Aztec Club's members have been the standard bearers of their respective parties for President of the United States: Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, Ulysses Simpson Grant, Winfield Scott, George Brinton McClellan and Winfield Scott Hancock. Of these, three were elected to and have administered that great office.

Two of the Club's members have been candidates for Vice President of the United States, John A. Logan and Simon Bolivar Buckner, and a long line of its distinguished members have held high place in Congress, in the professions and other prominent fields of civic authority and in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

On the 13th of October, 1847, as soon as the United States Army was quietly established in the City of Mexico, a meeting of officers was called with a view toward forming a Club and opening a clubhouse for the entertainment of its members and their guests while in the City.

Colonel DeLancey Floyd-Jones, an original member of the Club, described its founding as follows:

". . .The Club was organized for the purpose of forming a resort for officers, as a promoter of good fellowship, and of furnishing a home where they could pass their leisure hours in social intercourse, and where more palatable and healthful viands could be procured at a reduced price than at the best Fandas of the city.

General C. F. Smith, Col. John B. Grayson, Gen. John B. Magruder, Gen. Robert Buchanan, General C. P. Stone, Professor Henry Coppée, of the Regular Army, and General Franklin Pierce of the volunteers, and President of the United States, were the organizers of the Club."

Elected that day as the Aztec Club's first officers were:

President Gen. John A. Quitman
First Vice Presidents Capt. John B. Grayson
Col. Charles F. Smith
Second Vice President Capt. John B. Magruder
Treasurer Lt. Richard B. Hammond
Secretaries Capt. George Deas
Lt. Henry Coppée

The original site of the Club was the handsome former residence of Senõr Boca Negra. Mexico's former Minister to the United States, his palace, built during the 18th century for the Viceroy of Spain, was located on one of the streets leading out of the Calle Plateros, not far from the headquarters of Gen. Winfield Scott, Commander-in-Chief.

The building housing the Aztec Club appears to the left of the Metropolitan Cathedral and National Palace off the Plaza de la Constitución, also known as the Zócalo, in Carl Nebel's painting, Gen. Scott's Entrance into Mexico City. Lithographed from Adolphe Jean Baptiste Bayot's work by Appleton & Company in 1851.

Scott Entering Mexico City

Gen. Scott’s Entrance into Mexico City
Adolphe Jean Baptiste Bayot after Carl Nebel. Lithograph. Appleton and Company, 1851.

This famous lithograph depicts the artist's view of Winfield Scott, on white horse, triumphantly entering the Grand Plaza, or Zócalo. The Cathedral and National Palace sit center and right. On the left is the estate of Senór Bocanegra, the building in which the Aztec Club of 1847 was founded on October 13, 1847. The home was utilized as the Aztec Club until May 25, 1848.

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