Mexican Independence from Spain In the late 18th century, the Spanish monarchy decided to improve the defenses of its empire because of its many military losses in Europe. Because of this, the Spanish Crown was forced to increase revenues. Between 1765 and 1771, Spain sent Jose de Galvez on an official tour of inspection of New Spain. He restructured the current taxes and their collection methods.. In 1778, Spain, attempting to increase its own revenues, lifted restrictions on colonial trade. This allowed more commerce for the colonists and allowed for more trade between the privileged of New Spain and the other Spanish colonies in America.
Since the Spanish monarchy was so determined to improve defenses, it was forced to enlarge the existing colonial militias into armies. The Mexican people were disappointed with the many tax and administrative changes. The Criollos also did not like the fact that they had not been given any of the new administrative positions. Most of the Mexicans felt that they had been prospering under the old system. When the people protested and when riots broke out against the attempts at instituting reforms, they were dissipated through force. This caused Mexicans to become even more upset.
They also had a new economic freedom and began to think that they could benefit more if they ran their own economic system apart from Spain. The Spanish Crown also began to limit the powers of the Catholic Church. It was viewed as a political rival because it had begun to amass large amounts of land and wealth in the colony. The Spanish government ignored the fact that the church did not actually have as much money as it seemed to. Much of its “wealth” was being loaned to colonists. In 1767, the Spanish Crown expelled the Jesuits from both new and old Spain and confiscated the wealth of the religious order.
Even worse in the eyes of the Mexicans was in 1804 when the Spanish monarchy took land and wealth from the Catholic Church. These actions caused the church to reclaim all loans. This greatly affected the middle class, which was made up mostly by the colonial born whites known as the Criollos, and the mixed blooded Spanish or Indian Mestizos. The priests were also greatly affected by the Consolidation decree causing an upset of both the colonists and the priests, and convincing many to start to support Mexican Independence.
The initial causes of the American Revolution were similar in that the colonists felt oppressed by their parent country of England. They felt that the monarchy they once knew as their savior could no longer provide for the best interests of the colonies and that it was taking advantage of them by imposing taxes upon them and using other means to earn revenue they it didn’t rightfully deserve. The Proclamation of 1763 restricted colonists from settling the area east of the Appalachian Mountains. This restriction angered colonists who were looking for land to call their own.
This was followed by the Currency Act of 1764, then the Sugar Act of the same year, and finally, the Stamp Act of 1765. All of these acts, and subsequent ones, were used as revenue measures by England to regain the large amounts of wealth lost during the previous war. The colonists were not protesting taxes that were intended primarily to regulate state. They were protesting those designed simply to raise money. Unlike in Mexico’s case, there had been over fifty years of salutary neglect causing the new regulations to seriously alarm and upset the colonists.
However, similarly, both the Mexican colonists and the American ones were upset by these unexpected economic costs that largely, and, seemingly, adversely affected them. According to Brune Leone’s The Mexican War of Independence the Criollo resentment in particular had greatly weakened the relations between New Spain and its mother country by the start of the 19th century. Another large factor in spurring the independence movement was the influence of the Enlightenment taking place in Europe. This was a large factor working for American Independence as well.
Many Criollos in New Spain began to read the works of the Enlightenment writers and then began to question the benefits and reasons for their colonial relationship with Spain. The Mexican colonists were also affected by the examples of the American Revolution and the French Revolution. All of the aforementioned factors contributed to the independence movement of Mexico. However, the main steps towards independence came because of Napoleon’s invasion of Spain in 1808. The monarchy was greatly weakened when Napoleon gave the crown to his brother causing the people of Madrid to revolt.
With Spain’s back turned, the leaders of New Spain began to argue amongst themselves. The viceroy was forced to allow the Criollos to participate in administration. Then, a group of Peninsulares, those who had been placed in many of the administrative positions, did not like that the Criollos were gaining any influence in the government. They staged a coup d’etat and overthrew the viceregal government. Shortly before dawn on September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla made a monumentous decision that revolutionized the course of Mexican history.
Within hours, Hidalgo, a Catholic priest in the village of Dolores, ordered the arrest of Dolores’ native Spaniards. Then Hidalgo rang the church bell as he customarily did to call the indians to mass. The message that Hidalgo gave to the indians and mestizos called them to retaliate against the hated Gachupines, or native Spaniards, who had exploited and oppressed Mexicans for ten generations. Although a movement toward Mexican independence had already been in progress since Napoleon’s conquest of Spain, Hidalgo’s passionate declaration was a swift, unpremeditated decision on his part. “Mexicanos, Viva Mexico! (Mexicans, long live Mexico! ) Hidalgo told the Mexicans who were the members of New Spain’s lowest caste. He urged the exploited and embittered Mexicans to recover the lands that were stolen from their forefathers. That he was calling these people to revolution was a radical change from the original revolution plot devised by the Criollos, or Mexican-born Spaniards. On September 16, 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest who had become familiar with the ideas of the Enlightenment, began a revolt in hopes of freeing Mexico from the Spanish colonial government and its Peninsulares.
Hidalgo wanted an immediate abolition of slavery and the end of taxes on Native Americans. Tens of thousands of Native Americans near Mexico City joined thousands of Mestizos in their uprising because they had been suffering from rising food prices and their constantly declining wages. Gathering adherents like a snowball rolling downhill, this mob-army numbered several hundred when it captured San Miguel (today San Miguel de Allende), 6,000 when it entered Celaya, 20,000 when it rolled into Guanajuato, 50,000 when it overran Valladolid and 82,000 as it engulfed Toluca and menaced Mexico City.
Few Criollos joined this rebellion because of the violence and destruction. Many sided with the offering of stability from the Peninsulares instead. Groups of Criollos across Mexico had been plotting to overthrow the authority of Gachupines who, because of their Spanish birth, had legal and social priority over the Mexican born Criollos. When Joseph Bonaparte replaced King Ferdinand as the leader of Spain, the Criollos recognized a prime opportunity for Mexican sovereignity.
The nucleus of this movement was a group of intellectuals in Queretaro led by the Corregidor of Queretaro (state official), his wife and a group of army officers distinguished by the adventurous Ignacio Allende. The Criollos plan for revolution did not originally focus on the manpower of the Mexicans. Instead, the Criollos sought to avoid military confrontation by convincing Criollo army officers to sever their allegiance to the Gachupines. By claiming loyalty to the defeated King Ferdinand, the Criollos aimed to establish Mexico as an independent nation within King Ferdinand’s Spanish empire.
The Gachupines who claimed authority under Bonaparte’s rule would be driven out of Mexico. Hidalgo had close ties with this group. Approaching sixty years of age, Hidalgo was beloved and greatly respected by Mexicans. Once the dean of the College of San Nicolas at Valladolid in Michoacan (now Morelia), Hidalgo was a well-educated, courageous humanitarian. He was sympathetic to the Indians, which was unusual amongst Mexican clergymen. Against Gachupin law, Hidalgo taught Indians to plant olives, mulberries and grapevines and to manufacture pottery and leather.
His actions irritated the Spanish viceroy who, as a punitive measure, cut down Hidalgo’s trees and vines. Rebel forces fought royalist forces near Mexico City. Many inexperienced soldiers deserted the force, however, which had suffered large losses even though the royalists did retreat. By January of 1811, the remainder of Hidalgo’s army was defeated near Guadalajara. Hidalgo himself was caught when he fled to the north in March of that year. He was executed on July 30, 1811. Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon was the next priest to lead in the way of independence. He also called for racial and social equality.
He was a better military commander than Hidalgo and under him large amounts of territory was captured. He declared Mexican an independent nation in 1813. However, royalist forces still controlled Mexico city. Morelo’s continued to fight until 1815 when Morelos was captured and executed. The Spanish revolution of 1820 changed the rebellion in Mexico. It restored the more liberal constitution of 1812 and emphasized representative government and individual liberty. The Mexican leaders were dismayed by these liberal political tendencies in Spain, but their biggest concern was the instability of Spain.
Iturbide met Guerrero in 1821 and they signed an agreement to combine their forces to bring about Mexico’s independence. Their plan was called the Plan of Iguala. It guaranteed that Mexico would become an independent country and be ruled as a limited monarchy, that the Roman Catholic Church would be the state church, and that the Criollos would have the same rights as the Peninsulares. The viceroy did not oppose Iturbide and was thus forced to resign. The last viceroy of New Spain arrived in Mexico in July of 1821 and was made to accept the Treaty of Cordoba. This marked the formal beginning of Mexican independence.
Iturbide became emperor of Mexico. He held that position until 1823 when he was overthrown by military revolt. A republic was then proclaimed and Guadalupe Victoria became the first president. Mexico was not prepared for creating a new republic. Social stability and the economy had been destroyed because of civil war. There was no one who had the political experience to unite the nation together. Deciding the actual role of the federal government needed time and debate. In 1824, the first constitution was ratified. It allowed state legislators the power to elect both the president and the vice president.
This resulted in a series of weak presidents that were forced to attempt to create as effective government as possible. The American and Mexican revolutions were very similar in their initial reasons for beginning their struggle for independence. The actual revolutions were also less than fifty years apart. Both the American and Mexican revolutionaries lacked the great deal of military force that their mother countries had. Their combatants were supposedly far superior military wise, but they were defeated in both conquests for independence. When Mexico first gained its independence, however, it began as a monarchy.
America had more of sound beginning on paper, but also had many problems in establishing a government best suited for the people, that would be accepted by them. Both America and Mexico suffered economically right after their true declarations of independence. Besides the military aspects, the American and Mexican independence were incredibly similar in the reasons for seeking independence and the first outcomes after independence. Bibliography: Galicia, Angie. “Don Miguel Hidalgo, Father of Mexico’s Independence” http://www. inside-mexico. com/laentrevista2. htm Paz, Octavio, “Exit from the Labyrinth, The Hidalgo Revolt”
Sisk, Cynthia. “Hidalgo y Castilla, Miguel. Historic Text Archive” < http://historicaltextarchive. com/sections. php? op=viewarticle&artid=551> Stein, Conrad R. “The Mexican War of Independence (The Story of Mexico). ” Oct 31, 2007 Wilmington, DE: SR “The Wars of Independence in Spanish America. ” Books, 2000. Works cited: Galicia, Angie. “Don Miguel Hidalgo, Father of Mexico’s Independence” http://www. inside-mexico. com/laentrevista2. htm Stein, Conrad R. “The Mexican War of Independence (The Story of Mexico). ” Oct 31, 2007 Wilmington, DE: SR “The Wars of Independence in Spanish America. ” Books, 2000.