Struggle for Independence, 1808-1821 1867-1911

Mexico 1821-1867

AGUSTIN DE ITURBIDE's Mexican Empire (1822-1823) was only a short episode, which included the temporary annexion of Central America. By 1824, the United Provinces of Central America (bar CHIAPAS, which was to stay with Mexico) had reasserted their independence.
In 1824, Mexico adapted a federal, republican constitution. Yet, the country experienced further turmoil with the SECESSION OF TEXAS (1835-1836), a first FRENCH INTERVENTION (1838), the SECESSION OF YUCATAN (1839-1843), the war with the United States (1846-1848), a serious rebellion in Yucatan (1847) and the cession of a large stretch of territory - most of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado as well as what is now western Texas - to the USA (1848). The GADSDEN PURCHASE of 1853 ceded further Mexican territory (southern Arizona and New Mexico) to the USA.
With the United States involved in a Civil War (1861-1865), the French under Emperor Napoleon III. launched a second intervention (1862-1867), attempting to place a Habsburg, MAXIMILIAN, on the throne of a Mexican Empire thought of as a French vassal state. Yet, after initial successes, the French met determined resistance lead by BENITO JUAREZ. The French were defeated, Maximilian executed.
Regarding domestic policy, Mexico was notoriously instable, seeing 30 administrations in 43 years, the years 1853 and 1855 seeing 4 administrations each. The most conspicuous Mexican president before Benito Juarez was ANTONIO LOPEZ DE SANTA ANA, who occupied the office 4 times, was blamed for the defeats in Texas and in the war against the USA 1846-48, but was credited the victor in the first French intervention of 1838. The federal constitution was reinstated in 1846, the states of GUERRERO and CAMPECHE established in 1849 resp. 1856. In 1857, Mexico adapted a new constitution.
The 1840es and 1850es saw the emergence of the conflict between the CONSERVATIVES (the Conservative Party being founded in 1848) and the Liberals who in the late 1850es implemented separation of church and state as well as confiscation of land property of the church and of Indian communities. Conservatives were unwilling to take such measures, and the country split into hostile camps; this was the situation when the French appeared in 1862.

The Mexican Adventure, from The Austro-Hungarian Army, 1848-1918
Het Mexicaanse avontuur van Maximiliaan en Charlotte door Belgische ogen. Het Mexicaanse keizerrijk in de dagbladpers (1864-1867). (The Mexican adventure of Maximilian and Charlotte seen through Belgian eyes. The Mexican Empire in the daily gazetts 1864-1867), by Wim Bouw, diss. Leuven 2003, in Dutch
DOCUMENTS Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo (1848), from
Documents and Testimonies on the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), from The Mexican-American War Memorial Homepage, partly in Spanish
Charlotte's Letters and Photographs (Charlotte of Belgium, wife of Emperor Maximilian), from Rice University
REFERENCE A Concise History of Mexico, by Brian Hamnett, 1999, 336 pp., Cambridge Concise Histories
Article : Mexico, in : The American Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events 1862 pp.583-584, 1863 pp.631-645, 1864 pp.517-529 [G]

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First posted in 2001, last revised on September 1st 2007

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