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The Independence of New Spain and the Establishment of the Mexican Republic, 1808–1824

Summary and Keywords

The independence of New Spain was not the result of an anti-colonial struggle. Rather, it was a consequence of a great political revolution that culminated in the dissolution of the Spanish Monarchy, a world-wide political system. The movement was an integral part of the broader process that was transforming antiguo régimen societies into modern liberal nation states. The new country of Mexico that emerged from the break up of the Spanish Monarchy retained many of the shared institutions, traditions, and practices of the past. Although political ideas, structures and practices evolved rapidly after 1808, antiguo régimen social, economic, and institutional relationships changed slowly. Throughout this period of transformation, new political processes and liberal institutions merged with established traditions and practices.

Two broad movements emerged in the Spanish World, a great political revolution that sought to transform the Spanish Monarchy into a modern nation state with the most radical constitution of the 19th century, and a fragmented insurgency that relied on force to secure local autonomy or home rule. These two overlapping processes influenced in a variety of ways. Neither can be understood in isolation.

Keywords: French, Spain and New Spain, Cádiz Constitution, elections, insurgents, local government, independence, establishment of the Republic of Mexico

The great political revolution had its origins in the 18th century, a period of constant wars between Great Britain and the Spanish Monarchy that strained the resources of the latter. The Spanish World was adjusting to the economic and political impact of the Bourbon Reforms, designed to strengthen royal authority and increase revenue, when the French Revolution of 1789 plunged Europe into twenty-five years of war. The Viceroyalty of New Spain, the most populous, richest, and most developed kingdom in America, contributed significantly to the defense of the worldwide Spanish Monarchy. Despite forced loans that disrupted large segments of New Spain’s credit system, the residents of the viceroyalty retained their belief that their kingdom was an important and integral part of that Monarchy.

A major disruption in New Spain’s credit system occurred in the period 1804–1808, when the king ordered that the Church sell their real estate and loan the funds to the royal government. Despite widespread protests, Viceroy José de Iturrigaray proceeded to enforce the consolidation decree. By 1808, the royal government had had raised more than ten million pesos. For many novohispanos (the people of New Spain), the law symbolized the Crown’s lack of concern for American interests.1

The Emergence of Representative Government

The international wars consumed vast financial resources, but they did not threaten the foundations of the Spanish Monarchy. The situation changed abruptly when, in 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte forced the Bourbon rulers of Spain to abdicate and appointed his brother José king of the Spanish Monarchy. That act, unlike any other event in the history of Monarchy, created a vacuum at the heart of that worldwide polity. Thus, if the Spanish Monarchy were to survive as an independent political entity, extraordinary action was necessary to oust the French invaders and retain the Crown intact for King Fernando VII.

Although many senior royal authorities accepted the dynastic change, the people—a new political actor—did not. On May 2, 1808, the residents of Madrid drove the French troops out of the capital for a time. Their temporary victory unleashed a great revolution that transformed the Hispanic world. In the Peninsula of Spain, individual provinces formed regional juntas to govern. Each provincial junta, invoking the Hispanic legal principle that in the absence of the king sovereignty reverted to the people, prepared to defend the nation.2

Novohispanos of all races and classes reacted with great loyalty and patriotism. They were unanimous in expressing their fidelity to Fernando VII, their opposition to Napoleon, and their determination to defend their patria against the French whom they believed were atheists. Loyalty to the Crown and fear that the French would conquer New Spain and abolish their Catholic faith and their rights as citizens of the Spanish Monarchy drove novohispanos to act. Their declarations of loyalty and their fears did not mask a desire for independence. Had they wished to separate from the Spanish Monarchy, they could have done so at any time from 1808. The overwhelming majority of supporters of the Crown were novohispanos from all races and classes. During the period 1808–1821 they demanded autonomy (self-government), not independence.

On July 19, 1808, the American majority in the Ayuntamiento (city government) of México asserted that Viceroy José de Iturrigaray now governed provisionally because traditional Hispanic political theory specified that, in the absence of the king, sovereignty reverted to the people. The body proposed that the government convene a congress of cities to govern New Spain in the name of the king and to protect the Holy Faith and the patria (homeland). After extensive discussions that included authorities in the capital and in provincial cities, Viceroy Iturrigaray agreed to convoke a congress. However, some European Spaniards in New Spain interpreted the novohispano demand for a congress as treasonous. The narrow vision of these Spaniards, more than anything else, eventually drove some novohispanos to extreme positions. Indeed, it offered the American radicals a justification for their subsequent actions. A small group of Spaniards overthrew the viceroy on the night of September 15–16, 1808 and arrested some of the leading American autonomists. The golpe de Estado not only violated Hispanic law and custom, but also prevented the peaceful establishment of an autonomous kingdom within the composite Spanish Monarchy that could have prevented the violent and disastrous insurgency that erupted in 1810 and lasted until 1821.

The New Government

In Spain, the first impulse after May 2, 1808 was centrifugal—that is, regional juntas were formed to govern individual provinces. Each provincial junta acted as though it were an independent nation. However, the need for a unified defense against France led to the organization of a national body, the Supreme Central Governing Junta, which first met in Aranguez on September 25, 1808, nearly ten days after Viceroy Iturrigaray had been overthrown.3

The creation of the Junta Central as a government of national defense appeared to provide a solution to the crisis of the Monarchy. That body not only recognized the rights of the Spanish provinces, it also acknowledged the Americans’ claims that their lands were kingdoms, that they constituted equal and integral parts of the Spanish Monarchy, and that they possessed the right to representation in the national government. The Junta’s actions were profoundly revolutionary, creating a relationship between the metropolis and the overseas territories that no other European monarchy granted its overseas possessions.4

In 1809, the kingdoms of Spanish America held the first elections for representatives to a monarchy-wide government, the Junta Central. The complicated and lengthy elections constituted a profound step forward in the formation of modern representative government for the entire Spanish Nation. Moreover, the process explicitly recognized the ancient putative right of the provincial capitals of America—the ciudades cabezas de partido—to representation in a congress of cities. The elections in the provincial capitals were conducted in public and were accompanied by ceremonies that usually began with a mass of Espiritu Santo and ended with a Te Deum, the ringing of bells, and other festivities. Cities, villas, and pueblos decorated their town centers to commemorate the occasion. These events created a spirit of optimism and gave novohispanos a sense that they could overcome the grave political crisis engendered by the French invasion of Spain.

Before the newly elected delegates from America could join the Junta Central, the French renewed their drive to conquer the Peninsula. The decisive French victories of 1809 destroyed the fragile balance established by the Junta Central. The body dissolved itself in January 1810, calling for the convening of a Cortes (congress) and appointing a Council of Regency to take its place. Since the Americans had been recognized as equals by the Junta Central, the new congress would include representatives from the entire Spanish Nation, as the worldwide Spanish Monarchy was now called.5

In 1810, Americans and Spaniards held elections to select representatives for the parliament, which possessed the authority to transform the Hispanic world. Sixty-seven American deputies, twenty-two of them from New Spain, participated in the General and Extraordinary Cortes of the Spanish Monarchy, composed of approximately 220 delegates that assembled in the city of Cádiz. The Cortes of Cádiz provided Americans who desired autonomy a peaceful means of obtaining home rule. Moreover, the extensive parliamentary debates, which were widely disseminated in the press during the period 1810–1812, significantly influenced those Spanish Americans who supported as well as those who opposed the new Hispanic government.6

The Spanish and American deputies who served in the Extraordinary Cortes enacted the Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy. Novohispano deputies played a central role in the Cortes of Cádiz. Deputies from New Spain were not only the most numerous representatives from any American kingdom, they were also the most active. Six novohispanos served as presidents of the Cortes; six served as vice presidents; and one as secretary. Three novohispanos served on the commission that prepared the draft of the constitution. Novohispanos, such as Miguel Ramos Arizpe and José Guridi y Alcocer, were responsible for the creation of a new institution that formed the basis of the constitutional system: the provincial deputation, a regional administrative body. With the creation of the provincial deputations, the Cortes abolished the viceroyalties, transformed the audiencias from judicial and quasi-administrative bodies into high courts of appeal, and divided the Spanish world into provinces that dealt directly with the national government in Spain. Ramos Arizpe and Guridi y Alcocer also played a key role in the establishment of the second home rule institution, constitutional ayuntamientos, which substituted popularly elected officials for the hereditary elites who had heretofore controlled city government. Deputies from New Spain also successfully argued for the expansion of ayuntamientos in Spanish America; formerly those governments existed only in major cities. The Constitution granted towns with at least 1,000 inhabitants the right to elect city governments, dramatically expanding political participation in the Spanish world.7

The Constitution of 1812, the most radical Charter of the 19th century, abolished seigniorial institutions, Indian tribute, and forced labor—such as the mita system in South America and personal service in Spain—and asserted the state’s control of the Church. It created a unitary state with equal laws for all parts of the Spanish Monarchy, substantially restricted the authority of the king, and entrusted the legislature with decisive power. When it enfranchised all men, except those of African ancestry, without requiring either literacy or property qualifications, the Constitution of 1812 surpassed all existing representative governments, such as Great Britain, the United States, and France, in providing political rights to the vast majority of the male population. An analysis of the 1813 election census in Mexico City, for example, concludes that 93 percent of the adult male population of the capital possessed the right to vote.8 The Charter of 1812 also dramatically increased the scope of political activity by establishing representative government at three levels: the municipality, the province, and the Monarchy. Political power was transferred from the center to localities, as large numbers of people were incorporated into the political process for the first time.

The constitutional elections of 1812–1813 were the first popular elections held in New Spain. Nearly one thousand constitutional ayuntamientos were established, the vast majority of them in Indian towns. In some areas, as many as three successive ayuntamiento elections were held during the 1812–1814 period; most towns held two. The Viceroyalty of New Spain was divided into six Provincial Deputations: Western Interior Province, Eastern Interior Province, New Galicia (primarily Guadalajara and Zacatecas), San Luis Potosí, New Spain (primarily Mexico, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Oaxaca, Veracruz) and Yucatán. The Provincial Deputation of Yucatán was the only one to introduce fully the constitution system, in 1812. By the end of 1813, the new system was functioning throughout the New Spain. The Provincial Deputations elected forty-one deputies to the 1813–1814 Ordinary Cortes that met in Madrid and a comparable number for the 1815–1816 congress. The scope of political participation was extraordinary. Hundreds of thousands of citizens, possibly more than a million, or about a sixth of New Spain’s population, including Indians, mestizos, and castas participated in elections and in government both at the local and provincial levels. Despite being explicitly denied the franchise, many blacks voted and some held public office.9

The First Important Insurgent

Representative government in the Spanish world functioned in the midst of a crisis of confidence. Most novohispanos expected France to triumph. Napoleonic armies, after all, controlled the majority of the Peninsula. Fear of French domination strengthened the desire of many in the New World to seek autonomy. Father Miguel Hidalgo and Ignacio Allende led a rebellion in New Spain that erupted on September 16, 1810. Tens of thousands followed them, but they did not make social or economic demands. Instead, they proposed to take control of New Spain to prevent France from conquering it and govern the viceroyalty until the king returned.

Within a short time, the leaders of the movement lost control of their followers. The sack of Guanajuato, a wealthy mining center, marked the turning point in the revolt. The event terrified New Spain’s upper and middle classes and many in the lower class. Then Hidalgo turned south to Valladolid. There the elite and the others surrendered on October 16. The forces, now swollen to thousands, marched toward the capital. The royal army and most of the militia, which comprised 95 percent of New Spain’s military, remained loyal to the Crown. At Monte Cruces, an elevation overlooking the passes to the Valley of Mexico, the royal forces blocked Hidalgo and his men. They also prevented the rebels from taking Querétaro. The insurgents retreated to Guadalajara. There Hidalgo published a newspaper in which he sought to reassure the public. The first edition, which appeared in late December, stated: “We are now the true Spaniards, the sworn enemies of Napoleon and his lackeys, the legitimate successors of all the rights of the subjugated [Spaniards] who neither won [the war] nor died for Fernando [VII].”10 His bid for support failed. The revolt lasted only a few more months; its leaders were captured, tried and executed in March 1811.11

The Fragmented Insurgency

The defeat of the movement led by Hidalgo and Allende did not restore order or reassure the people of New Spain. The survival of the Spanish Monarchy remained in question as did the legitimacy of the royal officials in America. The great insurgency of 1810 had undermined the vice-regal government and encouraged discontented groups to take control of their regions. Since the royal authorities reinforced the cities, rural insurgencies—guerrilla wars—erupted throughout the viceroyalty. Despite efforts of some groups to establish a united command, fragmented guerrilla forces led by local chieftains proliferated. No insurgent force ever equaled the huge numbers who followed Hidalgo and Allende. A few insurgent armies occasionally had several thousand men, but most rebels operated in groups of ten to several hundred.

Ignacio Rayón attempted to assume leadership of the movement after the executions of Hidalgo and Allende. He and others organized a committee called the Supreme National American Junta to coordinate their efforts. When royal forces, led by General Félix María Calleja, quickly dispersed the Junta, Father José María Morelos emerged as the most important insurgent chieftain. In contrast to Hidalgo’s movement, the Morelos insurgency endured because his forces were more disciplined, employed guerilla tactics, and maintained ties with the clandestine urban autonomists. Morelos’ forces occupied various regions in the south, the east, and the center of New Spain. However, they were constantly harassed by the disciplined and well led royal counterinsurgency army, composed primarily of novohispanos. Although the royalists held the cities and towns, including Mexico City, in some areas the insurgents dominated the countryside with their dispersed and mobile forces.12

Despite their military achievements, José María Morelos and his men could not claim authority merely by force of arms, particularly since the Hispanic Cortes had ratified the notion of popular sovereignty. The clandestine autonomists in the cities, particularly the secret society of Guadalupes in Mexico City, urged Morelos to convene a congress. He acquiesced in June 1813; elections were held in the regions controlled by the insurgents. Unlike elections under the Hispanic Constitution in which hundreds of thousands of men voted, only a few thousand participated in the insurgent elections. The eight members of the congress, however, clashed with Morelos, who attempted to dominate the body. When the royalists defeated Morelos, the congress had to flee. On October 22, 1814, the insurgent congress issued a document known as the Constitution of Apatzingán, named after the town where it was promulgated. Unlike the Constitution of Cádiz of 1812, it was written by two men: Andrés Quintana Roo and José Manuel de Herrera, with assistance of José Sotero Castañena. Congress rejected Morelos’ pretensions to power and issued a constitution that included many aspects of the Hispanic Constitution of 1812. The nation that it founded, however, would not be a monarchy. Although congress stripped Morelos of supreme authority, it was unable to consolidate its authority. On November 5, 1815, royalist forces defeated and subsequently tried and executed Morelos. The congress managed to flee, but it was dissolved shortly thereafter by other insurgent leaders. Dispersed groups, with their own goals, continued the insurgency but seldom cooperated. The Constitution of Apatzingán was never implemented, and it exercised little influence on subsequent constitutional development in Mexico.13

The eleven-year fragmented insurgency had staggering human, social, and economic costs. The ferocity that characterized the Hidalgo movement and the royalist response became the norm in the ensuing years. Insurgent bands intimidated residents in the countryside and plundered food, supplies, and equipment from rural workers, prompting some villagers to request weapons from the royalists to defend themselves. A number of royalist commanders, however, treated the villagers no better than the insurgents.

In the economic sphere, the mining industry was crippled, and did not return to pre-1810 production levels for decades. At the turn of the century, silver represented approximately 10 percent of domestic production. By 1821, it had declined to 5 percent of a much smaller domestic production. This decline negatively impacted broad segments of the economy, including manufacturing, agriculture, and services that had expanded to meet the demands of the mining sector. Both royalists and insurgents seized silver shipments to fund their forces. The fighting and insecurity of the period disrupted financial networks, bankrupting merchants, hacendados, and other businessmen. The violence cost New Spain a generation of Spanish merchants who left the country with their capital. Trade between regions became extremely difficult. The vital trade route between Veracruz and México was frequently closed, sometimes for months. Militarized convoys were required to transport essential goods to the vice-regal capital and provincial capitals. Urban areas often lacked fresh food because of the destruction of crops and the demands placed on local producers by insurgent and royalist forces. These economic disruptions, particularly, in the mining industry, would be an important factor in the failure of post-independence governments.

Regardless of the determination of the royal army to pursue and exterminate insurgents, neither force nor repeated amnesties ended their activities. It would take another political transformation, for many insurgents, to end their struggle for home rule. A few, such as Vicente Guerrero, Guadalupe Victoria, Nicolás Bravo, and Manuel Mier y Terán, would pursue successful political careers after independence. For others, pillage and violence became a way of life. Their activities were a great hindrance after independence when the new nation sought to recover from the ravages of the eleven years of insurgency.14

The Second Constitutional Period

The conflict in New Spain waxed and waned during the first constitutional period, 1810–1814. At times, it appeared that the new constitutional system might make an accommodation with the insurgents possible. The situation changed with the return of King Fernando VII. Virtually every act that had occurred since 1808—the struggle against France, the political revolution enacted by the Cortes, and the autonomy movements in America—was taken in his name. Initially it appeared that he might accept moderate reforms, but ultimately the king opted to rely on force to restore royal order in America. He abolished the Constitution and the Cortes, restoring the antiguo régimen. Unfettered by the Charter, the royal authorities in New Spain attempted to crush the rebellion.

However, raising an expeditionary force to reconquer the New World increased discontent in the Peninsula. The liberals in Spain exploited the army’s disenchantment with war in America, eventually forcing the king to restore the constitution in March 1820. The return of constitutional order transformed the Hispanic political system for the third time in a decade.

New Spain enthusiastically reestablished the constitutional system. Pamphlets supporting the return of the Constitution were published across the land. Even insurgent intellectuals endorsed the Constitution of Cádiz. Some referred to the Constitution as the “Sacred Code,” the “Divine Charter,” or “la Niña Bonita” (the pretty girl).15 The lawyer Andrés Quintana Roo—one of the authors of the Constitution de Apatzingán—wrote an allegorical composition entitled La libertad y la tiranía (Liberty and Tyranny) to celebrate swearing allegiance to the Constitution in Toluca.16 Others referred to the Constitution as the “Sacred Code,” the “Divine Charter” “la Niña Bonita.” They reprinted countless publications from the earlier constitutional era. Several political catechisms appeared explaining the significance of the Constitution. As one indicated: the Spanish nation consisted of all the possessions of the monarchy; all people were not only citizens, but also Spaniards; the king was “a citizen, just like everyone else, who obtains his authority from the nation;” and the rights of Spaniards consisted of “liberty, security, property, and equality.”17

Elections, perhaps more than any other activity, politicized New Spain’s society. Constitutional ayuntamientos were restored in towns with at least 1,000 inhabitants. Elections for the six provincial deputations of the former Viceroyalty of New Spain occurred between August and November 1820. Two separate elections were held for deputies to the Cortes: one rapidly in the autumn of 1820, for the Cortes of 1821–1822, and a second starting in December 1820, for the 1822–1823 session of parliament. Thus, from June 1820 until March 1821, electioneering and elections preoccupied New Spain’s politically active population—numbering more than a million.18

When the Cortes convened in Madrid in July 1820, the American deputies, led by the North American contingent demanded equal representation, free trade, and the abolition of monopolies. In 1821, more than forty proprietary deputies from New Spain, six from Guatemala, one from Cuba, one from Panama, and three from Venezuela arrived. They and the suplentes who remained in the new session constituted a powerful coalition. The Americans delegation in the Cortes eventually grew to seventy-eight. José Mariano Michelena from Michoacán, who fought the French in Spain, proposed dividing Spanish America into three “regencies:” New Spain and Guatemala (Central America), northern South America, and the southern South America. Each of the three regencies relied on the Constitution of Cádiz. The project fulfilled the aspirations of the deputies of New Spain because the former viceroyalty would remain intact and become an autonomous state/kingdom within the Spanish Monarchy.19

On May 3, at the suggestion of the Conde de Toreno, the Cortes named a committee of four Spaniards and five Americans—four novohispanos, Lorenzo de Zavala, Lucas Alamán, Francisco Fagoago, and Bernardino Amati, and the Venezuelan Fermín Paul—to consider the matter.

The optimism of the New Word deputies seemed justified. It appeared that the government was disposed to grant greater autonomy to America. The first major concession occurred on May 8, 1821. After considerable debate, the Cortes agreed that a provincial deputation should be established in every intendancy in America. The decision doubled the number of provincial governments in New Spain. In mid-May, the ministro de Ultramar (overseas minister) convened a meeting, which included former viceroys, captains general, and visitadores (inspectors) then in Madrid, to approve a general project to be presented to the Cortes. The officials agreed that three regencies, to be administered by Spanish princes, should be established in the New World.20 If approved, the project would grant Americans the autonomous governments they desired.

The representatives of New Spain lobbied to replace the moderate conservative viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca with a liberal who shared their particular vision of New World autonomy. Michelena, a well- known army officer and Mason, and Ramos Arizpe, another Mason and a distinguished doceañista (as the liberals of the Cádiz period were called), relied on their extensive contacts among military men, liberals, and fellow Masons to achieve their ends. In January 1821, the government appointed a friend of Ramos Arizpe, General Juan O‘Donojú, captain general and jefe político superior of New Spain.21 The distinguished officer, a liberal, and a Mason, had served as minister of war during the first constitutional period and currently was jefe político superior of the Province of Seville.22

Clearly, O’Donojú left the Peninsula believing that he had been charged with strengthening the constitutional order in New Spain. Also, Michelena and Ramos Arizpe, and possibly others, met with him to discuss their plan for “regencies.”23 When O’Donojú departed for New Spain on May 30, the project appeared to have the support of the government as well as of the American deputies. However, when O’Donojú landed in Veracruz on July 30, 1821, he faced an exceptional situation. Fernando VII had rejected the proposal and refused to send princes to America. Many novohispanos who had become impatient with the political impasse in Spain decided to act to protect their country and their rights.

Plan de Iguala

The failure of the Spanish Monarchy to adopt a consistent policy toward the Americas after Fernando VII returned had a profound impact on New Spain. There the autonomists adopted a two-pronged offensive to achieve home rule. They won control of the new constitutional bodies and continued to make their case within the Cortes. At the same time, they developed “alternative” means for obtaining home rule. Members of the national and provincial elite developed ties with like-minded individuals in the provincial capitals. Few envisioned complete separation from Spain, but the majority concluded that the prolonged political, social, and economic instability was undermining the legitimacy of the system. The rapid expansion of mass political participation had outstripped the capacity of the new institutional structures to address competing demands. In May 1821, some segments of the clergy and the military conspired to suspend the Constitution.24 Perhaps most distressing to the autonomists were reports about the political disintegration of the Peninsula. Was social revolution imminent? If so, what should they do to protect orderly representative government in New Spain? One group, which included various factions, among them discontented clergymen, army officers, and government officials as well as large numbers of autonomists, concluded that separation might be necessary to retain home rule under the Constitution of 1812, that is, to establish a constitutional monarchy in New Spain.25

Although the members of the national elite gathered to discuss their country’s future in a variety of places, one of the most prominent was the Mexico City salon of María Ignacia Rodríguez de Velasco, who had ties to the insurgents. Among the many individuals attracted to her salon during the years 1816–1820 was a then-unemployed royal army colonel, Agustín de Iturbide.26 The American was a brutal, ruthless, and efficient officer. Iturbide had lost his command in 1816, when charged with corruption and abuse of authority.27

Despite his questionable methods, Iturbide was a successful counter insurgent. On November 9, 1820, Viceroy Ruiz de Apodaca appointed Iturbide commander of the southern military district, an area where guerrillas remained active.28 When he was unable to defeat the insurgents, he used his position to forge the movement that ousted the government.

At the end of 1820, Iturbide diffidently began to pursue the possibility of independent action. He surrounded himself with men he knew and trusted by obtaining the transfer of his old Celaya regiment to his new command. He also consulted a number of people, among them his friend and deputy to the Cortes, Juan Gómez de Navarrete; his lawyer, friend, and former Guadalupe, José Zozaya Bermúdez; his old military colleague and deputy to the Cortes, Manuel Gómez Pedraza; and other army friends and colleagues. On January 25, he began to circulate a proposal that would become the basis for separation from Spain. Later, defending his actions, Iturbide declared: “I formed the plan known of as Iguala; it is mine because I alone conceived it, elaborated it, published it, and executed it.”29 But it is evident that the document possessed a more complex history. Contemporaries attributed authorship of the plan to various individuals, among them Matías Monteagudo, rector of the university and canon of the metropolitan cathedral; Antonio Joaquín Pérez, Bishop of Puebla and former deputy to the 1812 Cortes; and the prominent lawyers, Juan José Espinosa de los Monteros, Juan de Azcárate, José Zozaya Bermúdez, and Juan Gómez de Navarrete. Later, while attempting to unravel these events, Carlos María de Bustamante concluded that those individuals and other autonomists took part in framing the document.30

Iturbide then moved along two fronts: he attempted to obtain the support of leading persons in the viceroyalty and he sought assistance in formulating a program. He accomplished his first goal by corresponding with prominent military, ecclesiastic, and government leaders and by dispatching trusted emissaries to discuss his project with “influential persons.” Satisfied with his preparations, Iturbide signed his plan at the village of Iguala on February 24, 1821. A carefully crafted compromise document, the Plan of Iguala—like the Michelena plan in Madrid—combined the long discussed autonomous “regency” with the 1812 Constitution. The proposed government consisted primarily of former autonomists and constitutionalists. Although Iturbide was unsuccessful in getting Captain General and Superior Political Chief Ruiz de Apodaca to become president of the governing junta, he was able gain support by exploiting dissatisfaction in the provinces and in divisions within the military. The inability of the government to eradicate the insurgency made it increasingly impossible for local governments to convince the population to fund the military. As a result, some senior American commanders and junior officers accepted the Plan of Iguala. Their insurgent counterparts joined the movement when they were guaranteed the right to retain authority in areas they controlled.

The conflict in the provinces played out in the capital, as well. Frustrated by Viceroy Ruiz de Apodaca’s inability to defend the realm from the new insurgency, the royal army units in Mexico City forced him to resign on the evening of July 5, 1821. The former viceroy “transferred” his authority “because it best served the interests of the nation” to Field Marshal Francisco Novella.31

The Treaty of Córdoba

When O’Donojú arrived in Veracruz at the end of July, the city was under siege, large parts of the realm were in the hands of the insurgents, and in the capital, Spanish troops had overthrown the legally constituted authorities. The reality was entirely at odds with his instructions that proclaimed: “Happily, in the provinces entrusted to Your Excellency’s command, there only exist small fragments of insurrection.”32 As a result of that erroneous belief O’Donojú had only arrived with a small staff. As he informed the authorities in Madrid: “There is no garrison; there are only 150 or 200 soldiers [here]. . . There is absolutely no correspondence with Mexico City and the entire interior; we are reduced to [remaining in] the grounds of the town. There are no troops or anywhere to raise them; there is no money, no supplies, and no resources.33

O’Donojú faced a delicate task. There was no hope of receiving aid from Madrid. As a Spaniard, he was committed to maintaining ties between the mother country and New Spain; and as a liberal, he was determined to ensure that constitutional rule was firmly implanted in New Spain. It soon became evident that simply waiting for news from Madrid would not satisfy either the insurgents or the population of New Spain. Under the circumstances, the only course of action open to O’Donojú was to negotiate with Iturbide. The two men met in the city of Córdoba on August 23, 1821. The following day they signed a treaty which recognized the independence of New Spain. They reached an accord quickly because the Plan of Iguala was essentially the same as the Michelena proposal which O’Donojú expected the Cortes to ratify. As Iturbide later declared, the Spaniard accepted the American’s proposal “almost as if he had helped me write the plan.”34 The Treaty of Córdoba not only ratified the Plan of Iguala, but also established the procedures to form the independent government.

The Treaty of Córdoba not only ratified the Plan of Iguala, but also established the procedures to form the independent government. Article 1 declared: “This America is recognized as a sovereign and independent nation, called hereafter, the Mexican Empire.” Article 2 established that “the government of the empire will be a moderate constitutional monarchy.” Article 3 determined that the ruler would be either Fernando VII, a Spanish prince, or someone designated by the imperial Cortes. Articles 6, 7, and 8 stipulated that, “in accord with the spirit of the Plan de Iguala,” a provisional governing junta would be established, and O’Donojú would be a member of that body. Article 9 provided for the election of a president of the junta, chosen by “the absolute plurality of votes.” Article 11 required the junta to name a regency of three persons. Article 14 declared “the Executive Power resides in the Regency, the Legislative in the Cortes.”35 Like the Plan of Iguala, the Treaty of Córdoba did not grant Iturbide any specific role. O’Donojú acted immediately to implement the accord. Believing that the Cortes in Madrid had already approved the project of “regencies,” he informed his government of the agreement and urged its rapid approval.36 While in Puebla, O’Donojú and Iturbide had agreed on the composition of the transitional government. They expanded the regency from three to five and increased the size of the governing junta to 38 members. The body consisted of the most important men of the realm, among them leading autonomists, constitutionalists, former Guadalupes, and a few conservative clergymen and officers.

Cheering throngs welcomed Captain General and Superior Political Chief O’Donojú as [he entered] entered the capital on September 26, 1821, to the sound of bands, the ringing of bells, and the firing of cannon. The ayuntamiento, the provincial deputation, and other corporations paid their respects to the “effective collaborator of our independence.|.|.|.”37 The Army of the Three Guarantees entered the capital the following day. O’Donojú, ecclesiastics, and civil officials received Iturbide at the former vice-regal palace. After the army paraded before the authorities, the archbishop celebrated a Te Deum at the cathedral. That evening, the ayuntamiento welcomed the heroes of independence at a lavish dinner in the palace.38

Although New Spain had achieved its independence, tensions continued between the civilians and the military, both of which considered emancipation their triumph. Two opposing political traditions emerged between 1808 and 1821; one, forged in the crucible of war, emphasized executive power; and the other, based on civilian parliamentary experience, insisted upon legislative dominance. It is possible that an experienced administrator and a committed liberal, like O’Donojú, would have resolved those tensions peacefully. As he had declared on September 17, before entering the capital: “The government agreed upon by the Treaty of Córdoba, which is now known to all, is the legitimate authority. I shall be the first to respect the representatives of the public. My functions will be confined to representing the Spanish government, by occupying a place in tours in accordance to the Treaty of Córdoba, to being useful in every possible way to the American [government], and to sacrificing myself gladly for the sake of the Mexicans and the Spaniards.”39 Unfortunately, O’Donojú became ill immediately after entering the capital and could not attend the ceremonies of the Declaration of Independence on September 28. He died of pleurisy on October 8.40

Juan O’Donojú’s sudden death saddened the people of the Mexican Empire. He was buried with honors in the cathedral in a solemn ceremony officiated by the Archbishop of México Pedro José de Fonte. His coffin was buried alongside the viceroys of New Spain.

Political instability in the Peninsula during the previous dozen years convinced many novohispanos that it was prudent to follow home rule. They developed their own plan to implement home rule that was similar to the commonwealth proposal to the Cortes. They selected Agustín de Iturbide, a ruthless counter-insurgent officer born in New Spain. When the Spanish majority in the Cortes rejected their proposal to create autonomous American kingdoms, the leaders of New Spain chose to secede and established the Mexican Empire. Mexico achieved independence not because royalist forces were defeated militarily but because novohispanos no longer supported the Monarchy politically. The separatists convinced royalist military officers, who were weary of fighting the insurgency, to change sides.

The newly independent Mexicans followed the precedents of the Hispanic Constitution. They formed a Sovereign Provisional Governing Junta to function as the legislative branch until a Mexican Cortes was convened. After drafting and approving the declaration of independence, the Junta appointed a Council of Regency. It named Iturbide president of the Regency and head of the army. However, his political power was to be limited. It was the Junta Provisional Gubernativa that possessed the name sovereign not the Regency, which was charged with executing the mandates of the Junta.

The conflict between the two traditions—executive power versus legislative dominance—erupted immediately. The autonomists believed that they had achieved independence and that the ideas of 1808 triumphed in 1821. Iturbide on the other hand was convinced that his army had liberated the nation and that, therefore, he embodied the national will. The conflict intensified during the drafting of the convocatoria to elect the constituent Cortes. The Soberana Junta believed that it had to follow the precedents of the Hispanic Constitution and elect deputies based population. Iturbide, however, insisted on an election based on traditional estates as well as the number of districts in each province. Faced with military force, the Sovereign Junta acquiesced.41

The election of the Constituent Cortes did not settle the dispute between the legislative and executive branches. After months of contention, Iturbide and his military allies forced the Cortes to elect him emperor on May 21, 1822. While it is evident that congress had acted under duress, it is also clear that many deputies sincerely believed they could maintain the authority and sovereignty of the legislature. They had elected a constitutionalist, not an absolute monarch. Indeed, they made that point forcefully when they declared that congress was sovereign and required the new emperor to swear to obey the constitution and the acts of the legislature.42

In the months that followed Iturbide’s ascension to the throne, the Cortes sought to restore a semblance of normality and slowly attempted to reassert its authority. Soon a conspiracy, involving leading members of congress, emerged. The plotters intended to capture the emperor, nullify his election, reorganize the government, and ensure that the army was under the complete control of the Cortes. The imperial government eventually uncovered the plot, ordering the detention of seventy persons, including twenty-one deputies, on August 26, 1822. The legislature opposed the violations of the civil rights of those arrested, particularly the government’s disregard of congressional immunity. Iturbide, claiming that the legislature was abusing its authority, dissolved congress on October 31, 1822, after months of impasse.43

Discontent with the national government flowered into rebellion in the provinces. Although several revolts erupted throughout the country, the opposition to the emperor coalesced around senior army officers. Brigadier Antonio López de Santa Anna initiated the successful insurrection against the emperor. Other generals, including Spaniards who had chosen to serve the new nation, carried out the revolt to its conclusion, when they issued the Plan of Casa Mata on February 1, 1823. The plan won the support of the provinces because it included a provision granting local authority to the provincial deputations. The election of a new legislature constituted the Plan’s principal demand because provincial leaders considered the composition of the first congress flawed. Following the precedent of the Hispanic Cortes, Mexican political leaders considered the executive subservient to the legislature. Thus, a new congress, which did not possess the liabilities of the old, could restore confidence even if the executive remained in place. Mexican politicians, of course, expected the new body to keep the emperor in check. Misunderstanding the intention of the provinces, Iturbide reconvened the Constituent Cortes and abdicated on March 19, 1823.44

The failure of Iturbide’s short-lived empire ensured that any future government would be republican. The reconvened Mexican Cortes appointed a triumvirate, the Supreme Executive Power, which would alternate the presidency among its members on a monthly basis. The question balance of power within the nation remained unresolved. The Mexican Cortes, following the Cádiz model, maintained that it was sovereign since it represented the nation. The provinces, however, believed that they possessed sovereignty, a portion of which they collectively ceded to form a national government. The Cortes insisted in writing the nation’s constitution, but the provinces demanded the election of a new constituent congress based on the electoral regulations of the Constitution of Cádiz. Neither side was willing to concede.45

In the months that followed, the provinces assumed control of their governments through their provincial deputations. Four provinces, Oaxaca, Yucatán, Guadalajara, and Zacatecas, converted themselves into states. To avoid civil war, the Cortes acquiesced and elected a new constituent congress. The executive branch remained unchanged because both the provinces and they new congress considered it subservient to the legislature. The Constituent Congress, which convened on November 7, 1823, faced very different circumstances that its predecessor. Not only had the provinces declared their sovereignty, but they had also restricted the authority of their deputies; they could only form a federal republic.

After months of debate, Congress promulgated the Constitution of 1824, which was modeled on the Hispanic Constitution of Cádiz, not, as it is often asserted, on the U.S. Constitution of 1787. Since the Mexican republic was essentially confederalist rather than federalist, the Mexican Charter was closer in spirit to the first U. S. constitution—the Articles of Confederation—than with the second. Entire sections of the Charter of Cádiz were repeated verbatim in the Mexican document. This was only natural because Mexicans did not reject their Hispanic heritage and because some individuals, such as Guridi y Alcocer and Ramos Arizpe, who drafted the new republican constitution, had served in the Cortes of Cádiz and had helped write the 1812 Charter. Both the Hispanic Constitution of 1812 and the Mexican Constitution of 1824 established powerful legislatures and weak executives. The framers of the Charter of 1824 carefully considered the needs of their country. They granted the states the important role demanded by the regions; that accommodation contributed significantly to maintaining national unity. It is no accident that despite numerous centrifugal forces, Mexico remained united while Central and South America fragmented into many smaller nations.46

Mexicans viewed the election of Guadalupe Victoria Mexico’s first president as proof that peace and prosperity were at hand. As Lucas Alamán recalled: “President Victoria found himself in the most prosperous of circumstances: the republic enjoyed calm, partisanship had been restrained, and the hope of a joyful future delighted the spirit of all [Mexicans].”47 Unfortunately, Mexican statesmen could not contain the tremendous forces unleashed by more than a decade of political change and violent insurgency. The First Federal Republic endured mass demonstrations, riots, and political violence at a time when representative institutions were in their infancy. Given the rise of localism and the intense political participation throughout the country, it is clear that no new government would have been able to quickly assert its authority and restore order. The inability of Mexican leaders to fulfill public expectations did not come from lack of preparedness for self-government, as is often asserted. On the contrary, they had experienced a more open and liberal political system that those of most other Western nations at that time. Economic decline, foreign invasion, and internal political divisions prevented the United States of Mexico from succeeding as most of its leaders had expected in 1824.

Discussion of the Literature

The process that resulted in Mexico’s independence has been the focus of scholarly debate since 1821. Two important politicians, Carlos María de Bustamante and Lucas Alamán, published accounts of fighting the politics of Mexico. Bustamante, a writer, patriot, and politician was one of the founders of the Diario de Méjico, in 1805. Later he became an adviser to the insurgent leader José María Morelos and contributed to writing the Constitution of Apatzingán. A strong centralist, he helped create the “official history” of independence. His personal diary “Diario Histórico de México,” in forty-eight volumes, remains an important source on the period. Bustamante’s most important historical works are Cuadro histórico de la revolución de la América mexicana (1823–1832) and Continuación del cuadro histórico de la revolución mexicana (1953–1954). Alamán, a statesman and historian, was elected to the Cortes de Madrid in 1821, but in 1822 he returned to Mexico. He served as minister of interior and exterior relations during the periods 1823–1825, 1830–1832, and 1853. In addition, he reorganized the Archivo General de la Nación and carried out research in the archives. He is best known for Disertaciones sobre la historia de la República Méjicana (1844–1849), and his Historia de Méjico desde los primeros movimientos que prepararon su independencia en 1808 hasta la época presente (1849–1852), a magisterial work that remains the best account of the epoch.48

The new nation endured decades of internal political instability and international conflict with Spain, France, and the United States of America. Order was restored at the end of the 1860’s. General Porfirio Díaz emerged as the central political figure in the 1870’s. When he became president, he used his position to foster national development and education. The new sense of optimism encouraged intellectuals to construct a different vision of the nation’s experience, one that fostered pride in its accomplishments and a belief that Mexico had great potential. The new “official history” was codified in the ten-volume México a través de los siglos, which included a volume on independence. The narrative, like much of the work done in the following decades, omitted a discussion of the Hispanic revolution from 1810 to 1823.49

Scholarly work on independence reemerged in the mid-1940s and 1950s. Some Mexican and U.S. historians published volumes focusing on the leaders of the insurgency. These works included Luis Castillo Ledón’s two-volume study, Hidalgo: La vida del héroe (1948), and The Hidalgo Revolt: Prelude to Mexican Independence (1966) by Hugh M. Hamill, Jr. Recently Carlos Herrejón Peredo published Hidalgo, maestro, párroco e insurgente (2010). José María Morelos has also been the subject of a number of books. Alfonso Teja Zabre published Vida de Morelos (1959), while Wilbert H. Timmons wrote Morelos: Priest, Soldier, and Statesman of Mexico (1963). Later Carlos Herrejón Peredo published a two-volume documentary collection: Morelos: Vida insurgente y lecturas (1984) and Morelos: Vida preinsurgente y lecturas (1985).50

Scholarly work on elections, the Cortes, and the Constitution reemerged in the mid-1940’s, when Nettie Lee Benson at the University of Texas began publishing on the impact of the Constitution of Cádiz on Mexico. She was particularly interested in questions relating to representation, including elections and governing structures at the local, provincial, and national levels. Her works include “The Contested Mexican Election of 1812,” and La Diputación Provincial y el federalism mexicano.51

Since 1971, my research Rodríguez O. has been devoted to the process of independence of Hispanic America, including an analysis of the nature of the Constitution of Cádiz and its impact on the Hispanic world. Three books are syntheses of this research: The Emergence of Spanish America, The Independence of Spanish America, and “We Are Now The True Spaniards.” The volumes analyze the debates of the constitutional congress that wrote the Constitution of Cádiz as well as the representative constitutional institutions established by the 1812 charter.52

The distinguished Mexican historian Virginia Guedea published pioneering studies of the emancipation process including discussions of the Cortes of Cádiz and the Constitution. Her volume, En busca de un gobierno alterno: Los guadalupes de Mexico (1992), provides an in-depth look at political changes in both Spain and Mexico. In the 1990s, she encouraged her student Alfredo Avila to examine similar topics. Avila’s Para la libertad: Los republicanos en tiempos del imperio 1821–1823 appeared in 2004. Such works have redefined our understanding Mexican independence in the Hispanic world and of variations of the broader process at the national level.53

A number of scholars have published regional studies of politics in New Spain and Mexico that provide a deeper understanding of the processes that shaped the new nation. Two of those works focus on Oaxaca: Peter Guardino’s The Time of Liberty: Popular Political Culture in Oaxaca, 1750–1850 (2005) and Silke Hensel’s El desarrollo del Federalismo en Mexico: La elite política de Oaxaca entre ciudad, region y estado nacional, 1786–1835 (2012).54

The bicentennial of the Constitution of Cádiz encouraged scholars to reevaluate our understanding of the period. An important part of the process was convening numerous conferences (1989–2014) that addressed the status of knowledge and new research relating to constitutional government in the period. They produced a number of innovative studies. Many were published in conference proceeds. Those volumes include Jaime E. Rodríguez O., The Independence of Mexico and the Creation of the New Nation (1987); Marta Terán and José Antonio Serrano Ortega, Las guerras de independencia en la América Española (2002); and Manuel Chust, Revoluciones y revolucionarios en el mundo Hispano (2000). In the next few years, the bicentennial of Mexican independence may encourage scholars to undertake research that will ask new questions, employ new analytical tools, and incorporate the experience of new groups into this period of structural change.55

Primary Sources

Alfaro, Tavera, and Morelia Xavier, eds. Actas y decretos de la Diputación Provincial, 1822–1823. Morelia: Publicaciones del H. Congreso del Estado, 1989.Find this resource:

    Mier, Servando Teresa de, Jaime E. Rodríguez O., eds. Obras completas IV: La Formación de un republicano. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1988.Find this resource:

      García, Genaro. Documentos históricas mexicanos (7 vols.). Mexico City: Museo Nacional de Arqueología Historia y Etnología, 1985.Find this resource:

        Hernandez y Davalos, Juan E. Historia de la guerra de independencia de México (7 vols.). Mexico City: Comisión Nacional para celebraciones, 1877.Find this resource:

          Herrejón Peredo, Carlos, ed. La Diputación Provincial de Nueva España. Actas de sesiones 1820–1821. Mexico City: Instituto Mora, 2007.Find this resource:

            Mexico. Cronicas: Constitución Federale de 1824 (3 vols.). Mexico City: Cámara de Diputados del Congreso de la Unión, 1974.Find this resource:

              Mexico. Historia parlamentaria mexicana. Sesiones secretas, 1821–1824 (2 vols.). Mexico City: Camara de Diputados Instituto de Investigaciones Legislativas, 1982.Find this resource:

                Mexico. Historia parlamentaria mexicana. Cronicas 1823. Mexico City: Camara de Diputados Instituto de Investigaciones Legislativas, 1983.Find this resource:

                  Mexico. Historia parlamentaria mexicana. Cronicas 1824. Mexico City: Camara de Diputados Instituto de Investigaciones Legislativas, 1983.Find this resource:

                    Navarro Gallegos, César, ed. La Diputación Provincial de las Provincias Internas de Occidente (Nueva Vizcaya y Durango). Actas de sesiones, 1821–1823. Mexico City: Instituto Mora, 2006.Find this resource:

                      Noriega Elió, Cecilia, ed. La Diputación Provincial de México. Actas de sesiones, 1821–1823. Mexico City: Instituto Mora, 2007.Find this resource:

                        Rojas Nieto, Beatriz, ed. La Diputación Provincial de Zacatecas. Actas de sesiones, 1822–1823. Mexico City: Instituto Mora, 2003.Find this resource:

                          Rojas Nieto, Beatriz, ed. La Diputación Provincial de Nueva Galicia. Actas de 1810–1822. Mexico City: Instituto Mora, 2004.Find this resource:

                            Tena Ramírez, Felipe, ed. Leyes fundamentales de México, 1808–1991 (16th ed.). Mexico City: Editorial Porrua, 1985.Find this resource:

                              Zuleta, María Cecilia, ed. La Diputación Provincial de Yucatán. Actas de sesiones, 1813-1814- 1820–1821. Mexico City: Instituto Mora, 2006.Find this resource:

                                Further Reading

                                Anna, Timothy. The Mexican Empire of Iturbide. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990.Find this resource:

                                  Avila, Alfredo. Para la libertad: Los republicanos en tiempos del imperio 1821–1823. Mexico City: Universidad Autónoma de México, 2004.Find this resource:

                                    Benson, Nettie Lee, ed. Mexico and the Spanish Cortes, 1808–1822. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1966.Find this resource:

                                      Benson, Nettie Lee. The Provincial Deputation in Mexico: Harbinger of Provincial Autonomy, Independence, and Federalism. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992.Find this resource:

                                        Chust, Manuel. La cuestión nacional Americana en las Cortes de Cádiz, 1810–1814. Valencia, Spain: UNED/FIHS/UNAM, 1999.Find this resource:

                                          Frasquet, Ivana. Las caras del águila: Del liberalismo gaditano a la república federal mexicana, 1820–1824. Castelló de la Plana, Spain: Universitat Jaume I, 2008.Find this resource:

                                            Guardino, Peter. The Time of Liberty: Popular Political Culture in Oaxaca, 1750–1850. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

                                              Guedea, Virginia. En busca de un gobierno alterno: Los Guadalupes. Mexico City: UNAM, 1992.Find this resource:

                                                Hensel, Silke. El desarrollo del Federalismo en México: La elite política de Oaxaca entre la ciudad, región y estado nacional, 1786–1835. Zamora, Mexico: El Colegio de Michoacán, 2012.Find this resource:

                                                  Ladd, Doris M. The Mexican Nobility at Independence, 1780–1826. Austin: Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas, 1976.Find this resource:

                                                    Marichal, Carlos. Bankruptcy of Empire: Mexican silver and wars between Spain, Britain, and France, 1760–1810. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.Find this resource:

                                                      Mirow, Matthew C. Florida’s Constitution: The Constitution of Cádiz. Durham, NC: Carolina Press, 2012.Find this resource:

                                                        Quijada, Mónica, “Sobre la ‘nación,’ ‘pueblo,’ ‘soberanía,’ y otros ejes de la modernidad en el mundo hispánico.” In Las nuevas naciones: España y México 1800–1850. Edited by Jaime E. Rodríguez O, 19–51. Madrid: Fundación MAPFRE, 2008.Find this resource:

                                                          Rieu-Millan, Marie Laure. Los diputados Americanos en las Cortes de Cádiz. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1990.Find this resource:

                                                            Rodríguez O., Jaime E. The Emergence of Spanish America: Vicente Rocafuerte and Spanish Americanism, 1808–1832. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.Find this resource:

                                                              Rodríguez O., Jaime E. The Independence of Spanish America. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

                                                                Rodríguez O., Jaime E. “We Are Now The True Spaniards”: Sovereignty, Revolution, Independence, and the Emergence of the Federal Republic of Mexico, 1808–1824. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012.Find this resource:

                                                                  Rodríguez O., Jaime E. Political Culture in Spanish America, 1500–1830. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2017.Find this resource:

                                                                    Romero, Sotelo María Eugenia. Minería y guerra. La economía de Nueva España, 1810–1821. Mexico City: El Colegio de México & UNAM, 1997.Find this resource:

                                                                      Terán Fuentes, Mariana. Por lealtad al rey, a la patria y a la religión. Zacatecas (1808–1814). Toluca de Lerdo: Secretaría de Educación del Gobierno del Estado de México, 2012.Find this resource:

                                                                        Terán, Marta, and José Antonio Serrano Ortega. Las Guerras de independencia en la América Española. Mexico City: El Colegio de Michoacán, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia & Universidad Michoacana, 2002.Find this resource:

                                                                          Van Young, Eric, The Other Rebellion. Popular Violence, Ideology, and the Mexican Struggle for Independencia, 1810–1821. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.Find this resource:


                                                                            (1.) Carlos Marichal, Bankruptcy of Empire: Mexican silver and wars between Spain, Britain, and France, 1760–1810 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

                                                                            (2.) Spain is Gabriel H. Lovett, Napoleon and the Birth of Modern Spain (New York: University Press, 1965), vol. 1, 133–179.

                                                                            (3.) Virginia Guedea, En busca de un gobierno alterno: Los Guadalupes de México (Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1992), 2–65; and Timothy E. Anna, The Fall of the Royal Government in Mexico (Lincoln, NE: University Press, 1978), 35–63.

                                                                            (4.) Lovett, Napoleon and the Birth of Modern Spain, 85–298.

                                                                            (5.) Karl Marx subsequently observed:

                                                                            The circumstances which this Congress met are without parallel in history. While no legislative body had even before gathered its members from such various parts of the globe, or pretended to control such immense territories in Europe, America, and Asia, such a diversity of races and such complexity of interests—nearly the whole of Spain was occupied by the French and the Congress itself, actually cut off from Spain by hostile armies, and relegated to a small neck of land, had to legislate in the sight of a surrounding and besieging army. (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Revolution in Spain (Part One by Karl Marx). New York: International Publishers, 1939, 56)

                                                                            (6.) Jaime E. Rodríguez O., “We Are Now The True Spaniards”: Sovereignty, Revolution, Independence, and the Emergence of the Federal Republic of Mexico, 1808–1824 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012), 68–110.

                                                                            (7.) Rodríguez O., “We Are Now The True Spaniards,” 149–166. Marx replied to those who maintained that the Cortes was a copy of French constitutions:

                                                                            On a closer analysis, then, of the Constitution of 1812, we arrive at the conclusion that, so far from being a servile copy of the French Constitution of 1791, it was a genuine and original offspring of Spanish intellectual life, regenerating the ancient and national institutions, introducing the measures of reform loudly demanded by the most celebrated authors and statesmen of the eighteenth century, making inevitable concessions to popular prejudice. (Marx , Revolution in Spain, 68)

                                                                            (8.) Francois-Xavier Guerra, “El soberano y su reino: Reflexiones sobre la génesis del ciudadano en América Latina,” in Hilda Sabato, coord . . ., Ciudadanía política y formación de las naciones: Perspectivas históricas de América Latina (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1999), 45.

                                                                            (9.) Rodríguez O., “We Are Now The True Spaniards,” 166–186.

                                                                            (10.) El Despertador Americano, México: Comité Patriótico Mutualista (December 20, 1810).

                                                                            (11.) Much has been written about Miguel Hidalgo. Two important volumes by distinguished scholars at different times are listed: Hugh M. Hamill, Jr., The Hidalgo Revolt: Prelude to Mexican Independence (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1966) and Carlos Herrejón Peredo, Hidalgo, maestro, párroco, e insurgente (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán, 2014).

                                                                            (12.) The most important scholar of José María Morelos is Carlos Herrejón Peredo who has published many documents. Among them is: Morelos: Documentos inéditos de vida revolucionaria (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán, 1987). Brian R. Hamnet, Roots of Insurgency. Mexican Regions, 1750–1824 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 150–161. Guedea, En busca de un gobierno alterno, 233–286.

                                                                            (13.) Rodríguez O., “We Are Now The True Spaniards,” 220–232; and Anna Macías, “The Genesis of Constitutional Government in Mexico, 1808–1820” (PhD diss., University of Columbia, 1965).

                                                                            (14.) Jaime E. Rodríguez O., Down from Colonialism: With an Introduction by Roberto Moreno de los Arcos (Los Angeles: University of California1983), 1–46.

                                                                            (15.) Canción patriotica: La niña bonita (México: Ontiveros, 1820).

                                                                            (16.) Andrés Quintana Roo, La libertad y la tiranía. Composición alegórica en celebridad del juramento de la Constitución política de la Monarquía Española solemnizado en la ciudad de Toluca el 11 de junio de 1820 (México: Imprenta de D. Juan Bautista de Arizpe, 1820).

                                                                            (17.) D. C. J., Catecismo político arreglado a la Constitución de la Monarquía Española: para la ilustración de la juventud, y uso de las escuelas de primeras letras (Puebla: Imprenta de San Felipe Neri, 1820); Carlos María de Bustamante, La Constitución de Cádiz o motivos de mi afecto a la Constitución (Mexico: Federación Editorial Mexicana, 1971); and Nettie Lee Benson, The Provincial Deputation in Mexico Harbinger of Provincial Autonomy, Independence, and Federalism (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992), 1–46.

                                                                            (18.) Jaime E. Rodríguez O., “The Transition from Colony to Nation: New Spain, 1820–1821,” in Mexico in the Age of Democratic Revolutions, 1750–1850, ed. Jaime E. Rodríguez O. (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1994), 97–132.

                                                                            (19.) Benson, The Provincial Deputation in Mexico, 54–59; and Ivana Frasquet, Las caras del águila. Del liberalismo gaditano a la república federal mexicana (1820–1824) (Castellón de la Plana: Publicaciones de la Universidad Jaime I, 2008), 29–54.

                                                                            (20.) Benson, The Provincial Deputation in Mexico, 27–46; Frasquet, Las caras del águila, 67–76. Jaime Delgado, España y México en el siglo XIX, 3 vols. (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1950), vol. 1, 103–104.

                                                                            (21.) According to D. U. L. A., a supporter of Ramos Arizpe, who published a pamphlet entitled: Idea general sobre la conducta política de D. Miguel Ramos de Arizpe, 13–14.

                                                                            (22.) Lucas Alamán, Historia de Méjico desde los primeros movimientos que prepararon su Independencia en el año de 1808 hasta la época presente (vol. 5; Mexico: J. M. Lara, 1849–1852), 33–34; and Delgado, España y México, I, 54–59. The Cortes also named General Juan de la Cruz Murgeón, another distinguished liberal and Mason, capitán general de Nueva Granada and jefe político superior of Quito. Jaime E. Rodríguez O., La revolución política durante la época de la independencia: El Reino de Quito, 1808–1822 (Quito: Corporación Editora Nacional, 2006), 92.

                                                                            (23.) During the debate about Ruiz de Apodaca’s report on the Iturbide insurgency, Michelena informed the Cortes that he had met with O’Donojú to discuss that and other issues concerning New Spain. There followed a discussion about what ought to be done to prevent New Spain from separating. Michelena argued that the best solution was the proposal of regencies. Juan Nepomuceno Gómez de Navarrate—Iturbide’s close friend—proposed sending a ship to inform O’Donojú, so that he could communicate “clearly with the dissidents,” which “at the suggestion of the deputies from Ultramar the Cortes was considering a plan of government that makes compatible the observance of the Constitution with the enormous distance that separates those provinces from the Metropolis.” Diario de sesiones de Cortes [de 1821] (4 de junio de 1821), 2045–2050, quote on 2047–2048.

                                                                            (24.) There is no reason to reject the so-called plot of La Profesa, as Ladd and Anna do, simply because the evidence is indirect and often provided by Iturbide’s enemies (Ladd, The Mexican Nobility, 123; Timothy Anna, The Mexican Empire of Iturbide [Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990], 8–9). A number of contemporaries, not merely Iturbide’s opponents, refer to it. Often forgotten is the point Alamán makes so clearly, that: “all this plan was disconcerted because the viceroy was forced to proclaim the Constitution.” Alamán, Historia de Méjico, V, 50–58. None of this is inconsistent either with past or future events.

                                                                            (25.) Such a proposal is totally consistent with the aspirations of the autonomists, joining as it did, the older notion of home rule with the more recent concept of a limited constitutional monarchy. In that regard, it was the same sort of proposal that was being discussed in Spain, not only by the Americans but also by Crown officials. The nature of planning is, of course, difficult to identify. As Alamán indicated:

                                                                            Which were the plans conceived and which were adopted in the end? Who participated in them and who contributed to their execution? Is today impossible to discover. Because the results are quite different than the proposed outcomes, the actors in those conspiracies have taken all possible measures to hide any evidence of their role in those events. The documents that might have clarified their activities have disappeared. (Alamán, Historia de Méjico, V, 61)

                                                                            (26.) According to Ladd: “Iturbide frequented the Rodríguez salon during his retirement in April 1816 until his wife joined him in January 1817. He may have been introduced by his father-in-law, who bought a hacienda from the Güera’s first husband. By 1822, Iturbide was said to be romantically involved with the Güera’s daughter, Antonia, Marquesa-consorte de Aguayo.” Ladd, The Mexican Nobility, 122–123, 264.

                                                                            (27.) Alamán believed that “D. Agustín de Iturbide distinguished himself among all other [military men] in that kind of abuse. [He was also accused of] horrible atrocities committed against the insurgents . . .” Historia de Méjico, IV, 447–448.

                                                                            (28.) Alamán’s account seems accurate and is consistent both with an earlier intervention by conservatives and with the changed circumstances. As he reminds us, Iturbide received the post because of “the scarcity of commanders able to carry out such an important command. . .” Alamán, Historia de Méjico, V, 66.

                                                                            (29.) Iturbide, Manifiesto al mundo, 43.

                                                                            (30.) Carlos María de Bustamante, “Copia de la Memoria de Iturbide con comentarios,” BLAC: Hernández y Dávalos Papers, HD, 17–8.4255; Alamán, Historia de Méjico, V, 121; Bustamante, Cuadro histórico, III; Vicente Rocafuerte, Bosquejo ligerísimo de la revolución de Megico (n. p.: Philadelphia, 1822), 5–6; José R. Malo, Apuntes históricos sobre el destierro, vuelta al territorio y muerte del libertador (México: Imprenta de la “Revista Universal,” 1869), 52; “Copias de documentos relativos a la consumación de la Independencia de México e Imperio de Iturbide,” Archivo General de la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores de México, H/310.11; and “822”/40–16–153. There is an undated plan by Gómez de Navarrete; see “Proyecto del C. Juan Gómez de Navarrete” (LC: Iturbide Papers).

                                                                            (31.) Bustamante, Cuadro histórico, III, 269–273; and See also Timothy E. Anna, “Francisco Novella and the Last Stand of the Royal Army in New Spain,” Hispanic American Historical Review 51, no. 1 (1971), 97–102.

                                                                            (32.) “Instrucciones dadas a Don Juan O’Donojú” en Delgado, España y México, III, 7–36.

                                                                            (33.) Quote in Delgado, España y México, I, 56.

                                                                            (34.) Quote in Nettie Lee Benson, “Iturbide y los planes de Independencia,” Historia Mexicana, 2, no. 3 (1953), 442. See also: Alamán, Historia de Méjico, V, 267–279; Delgado, España y México, 45–65; and Frasquet Miguel, Las caras del águila, 85–88.

                                                                            (35.) “Tratados de Córdoba,” in Felipe Tena Ramírez, Leyes fundamentales de México, 1808–1991 (México: Editorial Porrúa, 1991), 116–119.

                                                                            (36.) Robertson, Iturbide of Mexico, 118–119; and Delgado, España y México, I, 67–79.

                                                                            (37.) Bustamante, Cuadro histórico, III, 332. Ayuntamiento de México, Actas, 680–685.


                                                                            Que O’Donojú la paz nos asegura

                                                                            Sobrehumano mortal, de España gloria.

                                                                            La agradecida americana gente,

                                                                            Mientras el Sol caliente

                                                                            Loor dará a tu memoria.

                                                                            [O’Donojú who assures us peace

                                                                            Superhuman mortal, the glory of Spain

                                                                            The grateful people of America

                                                                            While the Sun shines

                                                                            Will praise your memory].

                                                                            Bustamante, Cuadro histórico, III, 334–336.

                                                                            (39.) Jaime E. Rodríguez O., “The Struggle for Dominance: The Legislature versus the Executive in Early Mexico,” in The Birth of Modern Mexico, ed. Christon I. Archer (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), 205; and Juan O’Donojú, “Habitantes de Nueva España,” Gaceta del gobierno de México, 15, no. 128 (September 22, 1821), 994–995.

                                                                            (40.) Alamán, Historia de Méjico, V, 358–359; and Robertson, Iturbide of Mexico, 135.

                                                                            (41.) Bustamante, Cuadro Histórico de la revolución mexicana, III, 339; and Alamán, Historia de Méjico, V, 338–339.

                                                                            (42.) Benson, The Provincial Deputation in Mexico, 47–105; Rodríguez O. “We Are NowThe True Spaniards,” 270–287; Frasquet, Las caras del águila, 121–131; Jaime E. Rodríguez O., “Las elecciones a las Cortes constituyentes mexicanas, in Louis Cardaillac and Angélica Peregrina, ed. Ensayos en homenaje a José María Muriá (Jalisco: El Colegio de Jalisco, 2002), 79–110; and Alfredo Avila, Para la libertad. Los republicanos en tiempos del imperio, 1821–1823 (Mexico: Uiversidad Nacional Autómoma de México, 2004), 115–174.

                                                                            (43.) Rodríguez O., “We Are Now The True Spaniards,” 287–304; Avila, Para la libertad, 213–221; Frasquet, Las caras del águila, 205–285; and Timothy E. Anna, The Mexican Empire of Iturbide (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990), 189–216.

                                                                            (44.) Benson, The Provincial Deputation in Mexico, 73–81; Frasquet, Las caras del águila, 253–283; and Avila, Para la libertad, 221–266.

                                                                            (45.) Frasquet, Las caras del águila, 287–315; Avila, Para la libertad, 266–276; Jaime E. Rodríguez O., “The Constitution of 1824 and the Formation of the Mexican State,” in Jaime E. Rodríguez O., ed. The Evolution of the Mexican Political System (Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 1984), 71–90.

                                                                            (46.) Benson, The Provincial Deputation in Mexico, 83–129; Frasquet, Las caras del águila, 339–368; and Rodríguez O., “We Are Now The True Spaniards,” 306–334.

                                                                            (47.) Alamán, Historia de Méjico, V, 812.

                                                                            (48.) Carlos María de Bustamante, Cuadro histórico de la revolución mexicana (3 vols.; Mexico: Ediciones de la comisión nacional, 1961); de Bustamante, Continuación del Cuadro histórico de la revolución mexicana (4 vols.; Mexico: Biblioteca Nacional de México, 1954); see Lucas Alamán, Disertaciones sobre la historia de la República Méjicana (Mexico City: Impr. De Lara, 1844–1849); and Alaman, Historia de Méjico desde los primeros movimientos que prepararon su independencia en 1808 hasta la época presente (Mexico: Méjico Lara, 1849–1852).

                                                                            (49.) Vicente Riva Palacio, México a través de los siglos, 10 vols. (Mexico: Editorial Cumbre, 1981).

                                                                            (50.) Luis Castillo Ledón, Hidalgo: La vida del héroe 2 vols. (Mexico: Austral, 1948); Hugh M. Hamill, Jr., The Hidalgo Revolt: Prelude to Mexican Independence (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1966); and Carlos Herrejón Peredo, Hidalgo, maestro, párroco, e insurgente (Zamaro: El Colegio de Michoacán, 2010); Alfonso Teja Zabre, Vida de Morelos (Mexico: Direccion General de Publicaciones, 1959); Wilbert H. Timmons, Morelos: Priest, Soldier, and Statesman of Mexico (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1963); and Carlos Herrejón Peredo, Morelos: Vida preinsurgente y lecturas (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán, 1984) and his Los procesos de Morelos (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán, 1985).

                                                                            (51.) Nettie Lee Benson, “The Contested Mexican Election of 1812,” Hispanic American Historical Review 26, no. 3 (1946), 336–350; Benson, La Diputación Provincial y el federalism mexicano (Mexico: El Colegio de México, 1955), Benson, “Texas Failure to Send a Deputy to the Spanish Cortes, 1810–1814,” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 64 (1960), 14–35; Benson, Mexico and the Spanish Cortes, 1810–1814 (Austin: University of Texas Press 1966); Benson, The Provincial Deputation in Mexico: Harbinger of Provincial Autonomy, Independence, and Federalism (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992); and Benson, “The Elections of 1809: Transforming Political Culture in New Spain,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 20, no. 1 (2004), 1–20.

                                                                            (52.) Jaime E. Rodríguez O., “An Analysis of the First Hispanic American Constitutions,” Revista de Historia de América 72 (1971), 413–484; Rodríguez O., The Emergence of Spanish America: Vicente Rocafuerte and Spanish Americanism, 1808–1832 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975); Rodríguez O., The Independence of Spanish America (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Press, 1998); Rodríguez O., “We Are Now The True Spaniards,” Sovereignty, Revolution, Independence, and the Emergence of the Federal Republic of Mexico, 1808–1824 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012). The three volumes appeared in Spanish. However the last Spanish publication, has two volumes and includes extensive examination of elections. Jaime E. Rodríguez O., “Nosotros somos ahora los verdaderos españoles” La transición de la Nueva España de un reino de la Monarquía Española a la República Mexicana, 2 vols. (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán & Instituto Mora, 2012).

                                                                            (53.) Virginia Guedea, “The First Popular Elections in Mexico City,” in Jaime E. Rodríguez O., ed., The Evolution of the Mexican Political System (Wilmington, DE: SR Books, 1993); Virginia Guedea, ed., La independencia de México y el proceso autonomismta novohispano, 1808–1824 (Mexico: UNAM & Instituto Mora, 2001). Guedea’s student, Alfredo Avila, published his thesis entitled En nombre de la nación: La formación del gobierno representativo en México (Mexico: CIDE & Taurus, 1999). Thereafter they colaborated in conferences, such as: Alfredo and Virginia Guedea, ed., La independencia de México: temas e interpretaciones recientes (Mexico: UNAM, 2007).

                                                                            (54.) Peter Guardino, The Time of Liberty. Popular Political Culture in Oaxaca, 1750–1850 (Chapel Hill, NC: Duke University Press, 2005); and Silke Hensel, El desarrollo del Federalismo en Mexico: La elite politica de Oaxaca entre ciudad, region y estado nacional, 1786–1835 (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacan, 2012).

                                                                            (55.) Jaime E. Rodríguez O., ed. The Independence of Mexico and the Creation of the New Nation. (Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center, 1989); Marta Terán and José Antonio Las guerras de independencia en la América Española (Zamora: Colegio de Michoacán, 2002); and Manuel Chust, Revoluciones y revolucionarios en el mundo Hispano (Castelló de Planta: Universitat Jaume I, 2000).