While the war in Europe loomed large for America, so did the war right across the border in Mexico deeply concern residents of Arizona, especially Bisbee and other borderlands communities.
By this time, the revolution had devolved into civil war, mostly between Venustiano Carranza, whom President Wilson had recognized as the chief executive of the neighbor to the south, and Pancho Villa, who had rejected Wilson’s decision and had invaded Columbus, N.M., in March 1916.
That led to American troops under Gen. John J. Pershing undertaking a “punitive” expedition into Mexico, much to the chagrin of both sides in that nation.
While ex-Gov. Hunt was keeping his successor out of the executive office in Phoenix, Carranza’s troops were completing a three-day battle that won a decisive victory over Villa’s armies.
And a commission appointed by Wilson had been unable to come up with a plan for removing U.S. troops from Mexico that Carranza could agree to.
Because he would not agree to the plan, it was believed that “efforts to enter into an agreement with the de facto government through the commission would be abandoned,” a dispatch from Washington datelined Jan. 2 reported.
The report also speculated that Gen. Pershing would be pulling out his troops “regardless of Carranza’s attitude.”
Once America became embroiled in Europe, Pershing and most troops would leave the border, of course, but this was not considered at the time.