As with almost all the Latin American republics, the Mexico’s independence It constituted a long historical, political and social process that put an end through arms to Spanish rule over this nation of the American continent.
This process began with the French invasion of the Kingdom of Spain in 1808, in which King Fernando VII was deposed. This weakened the presence of the Spanish Crown in the colonies and was used by the enlightened American elites to proclaim their disobedience to the imposed king, thus taking the first steps towards independence.
In the Mexican case, the first openly pro-independence gesture was the so-called “Pain scream”, of September 16, 1810, occurred in the parish of Dolores in the state of Guanajuato, when the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, along with Messrs. Juan Allende and Juan Aldama, rang the church bells and addressed the congregation to call the ignorance and disobedience of the viceregal authority of New Spain.
This gesture was preceded by a military uprising in 1808 against Viceroy José de Iturrigaray, who proclaimed authority in the absence of the legitimate king; But although the coup d’etat was stifled and the leaders were imprisoned, the clamor for independence spread to various cities of the Viceroyalty, radicalizing their demands as they were suffocated and persecuted. Thus, demanding the return of Fernando VII, the rebels went to deeper social demands, such as the abolition of slavery.
In 1810, the rebel José María Morelos y Pavón summoned the pro-independence provinces to Anahuac Congress, where to provide the independence movement with its own legal framework. This armed movement was however reduced to guerrilla warfare around 1820 and almost to dispersion, until the proclamation of the Constitution of Cádiz that same year upset the position of the local elites, who until then had supported the Viceroy.
From then on, the clergy and aristocracy of New Spain will openly support the independence cause and, led by Agustín de Iturbide and Vicente Guerrero, who unified the efforts of rebel struggle under the same banner in the Plan of Iguala of 1821. That same year the Mexican independence would be consummated, with the entrance of the Trigarante Army to Mexico City on September 27.
Causes of the independence of Mexico
- The deposition of Ferdinand VII. As we said before, the taking of Spain by Napoleonic troops and the imposition of Napoleon’s brother, José Bonaparte, on the throne, generated discontent in the American colonies, which, long ago dissatisfied with the commercial restrictions imposed by the metropolis, saw the opportunity to be openly opposed to the Spanish Crown.
- The oppression of the caste system. The constant confrontation of Creoles, mestizos and Spaniards in New Spain, as well as the misery to which the caste system subjected the indigenous and the peasantry, as well as three centuries of European oppression, were the ideal breeding ground for the aspirations revolutionary movements and the desire for social change that prompted the first revolutionary attempts.
- The Bourbon reforms. The kingdom of Spain, despite its extensive American colonial territories, poorly managed its resources and lost much of the wealth of the New World in the transfer of minerals and resources to Europe. Seeking to modernize these arrangements and benefit even more from the riches of New Spain, a series of reforms in the administration of the colony were promoted in the 18th century, which would further impoverish American life and directly affect the economy of the local elites. .
- Creole patriotism and French enlightened ideas. Educated in Paris, the Creole elites were receptive to the rationalist discourses of the Enlightenment, which came from the French Revolution. To this must be added the ideological struggle between the Mexican Creoles, who exalted the viceroyalty over fidelity to the metropolis, and the peninsular regency over the American territories. This Creole patriotism played a vital role in the propagation of independence ideas.
- American independence. Immediate neighbors of the United States, whose independence from the British Empire was formalized in 1783, the Creoles of New Spain saw in this conflict an example to follow, fueled by the triumph of Enlightenment ideas over the old European imperial tradition.
Consequences of the independence of Mexico
- The beginning end of the colony and beginning of the Mexican Empire. After eleven years of the War of Independence, the total autonomy of New Spain from the peninsular metropolis was achieved, which would not publicly recognize it until 1836. The struggle for independence continued the First Mexican Empire, a Catholic monarchy that lasted just two years, claiming as their own territory the one belonging to the now extinct Viceroyalty of New Spain, and proclaiming Agustín de Iturbide as emperor. In 1823, amid internal tensions, Mexico separated from Central America and proclaimed itself an independent Republic.
- Abolition of slavery, taxes and sealed paper. The independence revolution saw the occasion in 1810 to announce, through the Decree against slavery, gavels and sealed paper from the head of the insurgent army, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the purpose of putting an end to the social slave regime, as well as the taxes assigned to mestizos and indigenous people, the prohibition of the work of gunpowder and the use of stamped paper in businesses.
- End of caste society. The end of the feudal regime of the colony, which distinguished between people by their skin color and their ethnic origin, allowed the beginning of the vindictive struggles for a society of equality before the law and more just opportunities for oppressed minorities.
- War between Mexico and the United States. The weakness of the new regimes of independent Mexican government did not know how to cope with the expansionist desires of the United States, whose claims for compensation for the destruction that occurred to Texas (which had declared itself independent in 1836 with American help) during the War of Independence, led in 1846 to a warlike confrontation between both countries: the American Intervention in Mexico. There, those who initially showed themselves as allies of independent Mexico shamelessly stole the north of their territory: Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Utah.
- Frustration of hopes of wealth sharing. As in many of the nascent American republics, the promise of fair economic distribution and equal social opportunities was frustrated by the enrichment of local elites, who ceased to be accountable to Spain but wanted to maintain a certain privileged status quo as conductors of postcolonial society. This would lead to internal tensions and internal conflicts for years to come.