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suddenly caused himself to be proclaimed emperor, and congress, lacking a quorum, gave in a forced adherence. In furtherance of the scheme, the new emperor's family was ennobled, and the succession was ordered to be in the line of his descendants.
The republican party was by no means to be quieted by any imperial assumption. Its members were restless. The press teemed with their discontent. They charged that the decision for an empire was unconstitutional. These recalcitrant views invaded the congress, and it was not long before that body was in open rupture with the emperor, while Santa Anna at Vera Cruz inaugurated an open revolt, and organized an army of libera
tion. He was not, however, gaining ground against Iturbide's general, Echávarri, when certain Masonic influences acted upon this imperial officer, and he was induced to issue a proclamation for the reëstablishment of the National Assembly. He had in this anticipated a popular view of those who now took bold ground for the republic. Even in the capital the defection could not be stopped, and regiment after regiment took up the cry of the Republic, till at last Iturbide gave up the struggle and abdicated. The assembly, which had been slow to gather, finally appointed a provisional government in Bravo, Negrete, and Victoria. Iturbide, being conducted to Vera Cruz, was allowed to embark for Italy. After he had sailed an edict was issued forbidding his return. Ignorant of this last injunction,
After a print in Alaman's Méjico, iii. 260.
he left Italy for England, where he embarked for Mexico, but soon after landing he was seized and executed. 1
The party now in control were far from being of one mind : some were for a federation of the provinces ; others were for a centralized power in the City of Mexico. They could unite, however, on the exclusion of monarchists, and in this temper a new assembly met in November, 1823, and began to discuss a constitution. This settled, the elections followed, and Guadalupe Victoria was chosen by the Federalists over Nicolás Bravo, the candidate of the Centralists. So the United States of Mexico opened a republican era in Spanish America in 1824.
It was not long before factions began to appear in political circles, and one of the chief moving causes of disturbance in governmental policies became active in a troublous condition of the finances. The old party lines disappeared, and Bravo, who had become vice-president, gathered about him a revolutionary faction. Intrigue and revolt followed the going out of the first president, when Gomez Pedraza succeeded to his office. Still another revolution prospered under Santa Anna (1828), and Pedraza was obliged to fly
Meanwhile, in 1825, the United States had sent Poinsett as minister to 1 His remains were in 1838 reburied in the Cathedral at Mexico, with solemnities. Cf. Bancroft, Mexico, iv. ch. 29-33.
* From a picture in J. M. Niles South America and Mexico (Hartford, 1837).
the new republic, and treaties with that country had been signed. About the same time the Spanish government had surrendered the fortress of San Juan de Ulúa, and Spain had slipped at last from her only remaining foothold on Mexican soil. But Spain herself had not yet yielded to the inevitable. A predatory and intermittent warfare was kept up on the sea, until finally, in 1829, Brigadier Barradas was dispatched from Havana with a Spanish fleet. His purpose was to reconquer Mexico; but not long
after landing he capitulated to Santa Anna, and the last great struggle of Spain to maintain her colonial possession came to an inglorious end.
The political changes in the Mexican capital now became wearisome. We read listlessly of a series of ups and downs in which the names of Guerrero, Bustamante, Muzquiz, Pedraza, Farías, and Santa Anna claim honor or are despised with the revolving moons, till in 1836 the federal system is overturned, and under a new constitution the states assume relations of departments, subject to the general government, and Anastasio Bustamante becomes the first Centralist president. Recognition by Spain was not long in following
* After a print in Alaman's Méjico, v. 687. Cf. B. Mayer's Mexico, Aztec, Spanish, and Republican, ii.
A national career of political indecision is never calculated to clarify, and certainly never strengthens, the finances of a country. The French became impatient of the Mexican delays in meeting their indebtedness. So they sent a squadron to exact payment. The castle of San Juan de Ulúa fell under bombardment, and troops were landed at Vera Cruz and its defences taken. The claims were paid, and the French, surrendering their conquests,
But humiliation was powerless to win repose for the turbulence which in these years continued to make Mexico a spectacle. In 1847, Paredes, acting in concert with Santa Anna, instigated a revolution, which spread so rapidly that it was not long before Santa Anna found himself at the head of an army, with which in triumph he entered the City of Mexico, October 7th, and assumed a provisional presidency. His sway was complete enough for a while, and some of his flatterers caused his leg, which had been shot away at Vera Cruz, to be brought to the capital in 1842, and to be reburied with a ridiculous pomp. Childishness does not rule nations long, and Paredes had some reasonable countenance in trying his luck once more at a revolt, and in proclaiming Santa Anna a rebel. General Herrera strode into power, and the late president fled the country.
Meanwhile affairs in Texas were drifting towards a crisis. The United States had more than once proposed to purchase the territory, but Mexico bad declined to sell. Immigration from the United States was more effective. In 1833 there were twenty thousand Americans in the country. While the Centralists were in power Santa Anna was sent to sweep the recalcitrant Texans into the line of dependence; but General Samuel Houston with a small force of independent spirits met the Mexican general at San Jacinto, defeated him, took him prisoner, and wrung from him his assent to their independence. But Santa Anna was not Mexico, and the contract was repudiated, though during the administration of Herrera the Texans had not been meddled with ; but when Paredes overturned Herrera, the war party began afresh the work of subduing the Texans. The story of the annexation of the new State to the United States, which soon followed, and the war which came in due course, has been elsewhere told. 3
We resume the story of California where we left it at the beginning of the Mexican revolution. It was while these political revulsions were in progress in the older provinces that the Russians, feeling their way down the, Pacific coast, finally built Fort Ross at a point not far above Bodega, making a lodgment calculated to raise suspicions and to implant anxieties in the Spanish Californians. These feelings had been continued for some years when the Spanish rule on the coast came to an end, and the lot of California was cast with that of Mexico in conjoined autonomy. The new life of the coast under these freer conditions was not an exciting one. They had, indeed, their Indian revolts. New settlers appeared, now overland, mainly fur-trappers, and now up the coast, with a few from the higher regions of the Pacific shore. The tendency to secularize the missions was constantly apparent. Attempts to make the province a penal colony for
1 Cf. plan of the battle in Bancroft, Mexico, v. 3 See ante, Vol. VII. 550, and 551 for refer172. Cf. ante, VII. 550, 551, with references.
2 C. Newell's Hist. of the Revolution in Texas (N. Y., 1838).
Mexican criminals were not helpful aids to a healthy development. In the later years of the twenties, what was known as the “Solis revolt” was sufficiently powerful to capture Monterey, but the leader was in time snared. There was some further fighting when Governor Victoria was overthrown in 1831. After 1830 there began to be significance in the visits of the ships of foreign powers in the ports. American vessels bore thither not a few commercial adventurers, who carried back tales of the land's salubrity and plenty, and of the scant advantage which the trappers and traders
1 Bancroft, California, ii., iii., for a pioneer Register, 1542-1848. The earliest overland pioneers were in 1826. Ibid. iii. ch. 6.
* From a picture in J. M. Niles' South America and Mexico (Hartford, 1837).