Imágenes de páginas

which, after various revolutions, overthrows, and reforms, was rëadopted in the year 1847.”

The unwise and unfortunate emperor returned to Mexico in July, 1824, in disguise, probably in the hope of restoring his fallen fortunes. He was recognized, taken prisoner, and delivered over by General Garza to the authorities of the province of Tamaulipas. In conformity with a decree previously passed by the general congress, the provincial legislative body at once condemned the returned exile to death, and he was accordingly shot on the 19th of the same month.

Upon the convention of the Mexican congress in 1825, the patriotic Guadalupe Victoria received the appropriate reward for his sufferings and self-devotion in the cause of freedom, by being declared president of the republic. At this period the party in favour of a free federal government was completely in the ascendancy; various seditious attempts to overturn the constitution of the previous year had been promptly and forcibly suppressed; and so completely had the power and influence of the old Spaniards declined, that they were mostly removed from office, and their places were supplied by nativeborn inhabitants. The last hold of Spain upon her immense North American provinces was by her retention of the strong fortress of San Juan de Ulloa.

Opposed to the existing constitution, and anxious to secure a form of government less dependent upon the will of the masses, was a strong minority, consisting mainly of landed proprietors, those connected with the church, and others intimately associated with the interests of these powerful portions of the community. The movements of this opposition were centralized by the establishment of a secret society, of Masonic formation, denominated the Escocesses. A formidable insurrection, headed by Nicolas Bravo, who had espoused this side of the question, was quelled by the instrumentality of Guerrero, without an engagement, although the insurgents had gathered in great force, with the apparent determination to make a desperate effort for the overthrow of the federal government.

Gomez Pedraza, the successor to Victoria in the presidential chair, was, notwithstanding, a member of this obnoxious party. At this juncture it was confidently hoped, in Spain, that these dissensions between different factions in Mexico had so weakened the power of the republic as to offer the opportunity for a hostile demonstration upon the coast. Such efficient measures were, however, resorted to by the republic, that these attempts proved abortive. The Mexi

can feet, under command of Commodore Porter, of the United States' navy, not only proved sufficient to ward off the attack of the Spanish vessels, but succeeded in taking numerous valuable prizes from the enemy.

An army of about four thousand men, under command of Gen eral Barradas, was landed at Tampico for the purpose of marching into the interior, and taking advantage of the unsettled state of affairs at the capital, to rëestablish the Spanish dominion. This force, much reduced, it is said, by the sickness attendant upon a summer spent near the Mexican sea-board, was attacked and defeated in September of 1830, by the republican army under General Santa Anna.

Pedraza, being opposed in principles to the great mass of the community, was unable to retain his position. He had been elected by a majority of but two votes, and the leaders of the popular party, feeling assured that their course would be sustained by the country, violently and unconstitutionally overturned his administration. The chief of these new revolutionists were Generals Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Guerrero, Montezuma, and Lobald, and Lorenzo de Zavala, the grand master of the masonic lodge called the Yorkinos, and opposed to that of the Escocesses.

After a season of sanguinary tumult, order was restored in the capital. With the commencement of the year 1829, congress again assembied, and formally installed Guerrero, Pedraza's opposing candidate, in the office of president.



GUERRERO was not long permitted to hold the reins of government. So disturbed were the times, and so unsettled were the minds of the people, that it was easy for any subtle and politic intriguer to create a popular commotion, and certain unwarrantable or injudicious assumptions of authority on the part of the president gave opportunity for the formation of a new faction, whose object was his destruction. At the head of this movement were Santa Anna and the vicepresident, Bustamente. Mexico was soon distracted by the renewed horrors of civil war. The unfortunate Guerrero, driven from the seat of government, defeated at all points, and a fugitive on the western sea coast, was finally seized, tried by a court martial for treasonably levying war against the republic, and shot in the month of February, 1831.

Bustamente had assumed supreme power in the republic, but was enabled to retain his position no longer than suited the views of his more celebrated and able associate Santa Anna. This arch intriguer was among the first to excite an insurrection against the usurper, and, although defeated in the first engagement, had so far gained the favour of the people, that he was enabled to bring about his ends. Bustamente was forced to yield, and Santa Anna, probably for the purpose of gaining over the party of the "Escocesses," restored Pedraza to his lawful position of president. The politic and successful general was himself elevated to that office in May of 1833.

One year later, the president, relying upon the adherence of the army, and careless of longer cloaking his own inordinate ambition for self-aggrandizement with an assumed spirit of republicanism, dissolved congress, and, nullifying the constitution, attempted to place the whole of the Mexican states under the control of a central mili- • tary despotism. Every province was speedily compelled to submit, with the exception of Zacatecas and Texas. The reduction of the former was conducted with great cruelty and ferocity. The inhabitants, after enduring every enormity from an unscrupulous and rapacious soldiery, were disarmed, and compelled to submit to the rule of a military governor.

The proceedings in Texas, both at this period and during the more important and eventful campaign of the spring of 1836, will be found more fully detailed in our sketch of the history of that state. The Mexican army, under General Cos, overran the refractory province, and without difficulty broke up the legislative assembly, and bore down for the time all opposition. The so-called “Plan of Toluca," by which the legislative power of the separate Mexican states was annulled, and a central form of government established, went into operation; but the Texans, instead of yielding to their fate, assumed an attitude of sterner and more determined resistance. A series of brilliant victories left them free from Mexican usurpation, and the tyrannical president, a prisoner in the hands of his enemies, saw his prospects of ambition blighted, as then appeared, for ever. In 1838 he had opportunities for retrieving his military reputation, upon the occasion of the revolt headed by the unfortunate Mexia, for the purpose of restoring the old republican system.

During the following winter, the claims of France to remuneration for former injuries received by French subjects in Mexico, and in respect to various other unsettled questions in dispute between the two nations, were enforced by a hostile demonstration. The town of Vera Cruz was blockaded, and the castle of San Juan de Ulloa, deemed impregnable by its Mexican possessors, was taken after a six hours' cannonade. Santa Anna's services on this occasion, in defending the town from the forces landed by the French, are spoken of in terms of high commendation. The loss of his leg, by a small cannon-shot, also served, so far as such a circumstance might affect popular feeling, to secure him a greater degree of sympathy and favour from his countrymen.

Bustamente was at this period president of Mexico. The successful revolution in Texas, and insurrections in the eastern provinces of Coahuila, Tamaulipas, and Durango, and in Yucatan, disturbed the peace of the nation; while the grievous burden of supporting the heavy expenses of the government and the army, aroused a general

discontent. The president became unpopular, and weighty influences were brought to bear for his overthrow. Santa Anna, supported by Paredes, Valencia, and Lombardini, had organized a powerful party, and again aspired to the presidency. The outbreak occurred in the month of August, 1841; the capital itself was the scene of action.

As described by Mr. Mayer: "For a whole month the contest was carried on with balls and grape-shot in the streets of Mexico; whilst the rebels, who held the citadel outside the city, finished the shameless drama by throwing a shower of bombs into the metropolis, shattering the houses, and involving innocent and guilty, citizens, strangers, combatants and non-combatants, in a common fate. This cowardly assault, under the orders of Valencia, was made solely with 9 view of forcing the citizens, who were unconcerned in the quarrel between the factions, into insisting upon the surrender of Mexico, in order to save their town and families from destruction."

An interview was finally brought about between the leaders of the two parties, and the result of their negotiations was the "Plan of Tacubaya," under the provisions of which supreme power was placed in the hands of General Santa Anna, until a congress should be chosen, and assembled to establish a new constitution. That any really independent action could be taken by a convention of delegates under such circumstances, was scarcely to be expected. The dictator, perceiving that he could not carry out his original plans for maintaining a central government, again dissolved the assembly, and assumed the entire control of affairs, through a junta of his own appointment. A constitution was formed by this body in 1813, of a character widely variant from that of 1824, and little calculated to meet the approval or acceptance of the people.

In the winter of 1844, congress having been convened, a large appropriation was made for the purpose of a renewed attempt upon the liberties of the victorious colonists of Texas. Before, however, any effectual measures were adopted for carrying out this project, the opponents of the president, under the direction of General Paredes, rose against the existing government. A year passed by, during which the country was distracted by a contest between three parties; for Santa Anna, having violated a provision of the new constitution, by assuming military power without special authority from the congress, had created new opponents upon constitutional grounds.

In January of 1845 the party of Paredes was successful: Santa

« AnteriorContinuar »