BECK index

Mexico & Wars 1832-50

by Sanderson Beck

Mexico & Santa Anna 1832-44
Mexican California 1832-45
Northern Mexico & Texas 1832-45
Mexico & the American War 1845-50

This chapter has been published in the book Latin America & Canada to 1850. For ordering information please click here.

Mexico & Santa Anna 1832-44

Mexico to 1768
Mexico & Independence 1768-1831

      On 2 January 1832 the garrison at Veracruz demanded that the federal ministers be dismissed, and two days later General Santa Anna offered to mediate. He also seized 279,000 pesos from customs duties and intercepted other government convoys. Concerned about charges made against them, four ministers resigned on the 11th. Minister Facio left that day to organize a military division in Jalapa under General José María Calderon. Santa Anna led an army that was defeated on March 3 at Tolome by 3,700 ministerial troops. He went back to Veracruz to raise another army of 2,500 men; but Calderon’s army besieged them on April 12. After losing a thousand men Calderon led his army back to Jalapa, and Santa Anna made an armistice with them on June 13. Mier y Terán commanded federal troops in the eastern states; but General Francisco Moctezuma’s force had defeated them at Tampico on May 13, and Mier committed suicide on 3 July. Calderon left 800 troops at Veracruz.
      On July 5 leaders at Jalisco and Zacatecas with 4,000 militiamen persuaded the garrison at Veracruz that Pedraza was the legitimate president, not the intrusive Bustamante. That summer hundreds of citizens who opposed the government were detained in the capital. Francisco Moctezuma led a force into San Luis Potosí and defeated the troops there on August 3. Four days later the chamber of deputies made General Melchor Muzquiz the executive, and he replaced Vice President Bustamante on the 14th and appointed cabinet ministers on the 19th. Bustamante left the treasury owing 11,244,567 pesos, and he marched a Centralist army of 2,500 men and defeated Moctezuma’s 8,000 Federalists on September 18 in the bloody battle of El Gallinero. Bustamante then regained San Luis Potosí. On the 19th Santa Anna’s force defeated the government troops led by General Antonio Azcárate who was killed. Facio fled to the mountains, and Santa Anna marched into Puebla on October 4.
      In Mexico City the Congress gave executive authority to Pedraza, and they declared martial law with General Quintanar in command. He refused to surrender to Santa Anna’s army, and that army left to fight Bustamante’s force on November 12. Bustamante suffered heavy losses against Santa Anna in the suburbs of Puebla on December 5. The government had many defeats, and only Oaxaca and Chihuahua still obeyed the federal government. Pedraza met with Santa Anna, and they offered a peace plan to Bustamante on the 8th. The civil war was over, and a peace treaty was signed at Zavaleta on December 23 recognizing Pedraza as President until 1 April 1833. He appointed a cabinet that included Valentín Gómez Farías as Treasury Minister.
      Elections were completed in February 1833, and Santa Anna was elected President with Farías as Vice President. Santa Anna withdrew and let Farías govern with the liberal cabinet he chose. They introduced radical reforms of the two most powerful groups in Mexico. The military was reduced and lost their fueros (martial courts). The Church had its tithes made no longer mandatory, and their communications were to be restricted to religion. Franciscan missions in California were secularized as their wealth was sequestered. Schools were secularized, and the University of Mexico was closed. Santa Anna assumed his presidential duty on May 16, and on the 26th army officers led a revolt on behalf of the military fueros and the Church. His own revolting troops took Santa Anna captive on June 6 at Xuchi and tried to please the army by proclaiming him dictator. Some soldiers attacked the palace, but Farías was defended. Santa Anna issued his Manifesto to the Nation in support of the reforms. On the 23rd the Congress passed the ley del caso over the opposition of Farías that exiled fifty opponents of the government for six years including Bustamante who had given up his authority to Santa Anna but reclaimed it at Puebla on July 5. Five days later Santa Anna led an army of 2,400 men who drove the insurgents led by Arista into the city of Guanajuato where they surrendered to Santa Anna on October 8.
      Santa Anna then returned to the capital to govern with changed views. On December 16 he gave Vice President Farías authority again and retired to his estate at Mango de Clavo. Santa Anna returned to the capital and took the power back from Farías on 24 April 1834. On the 29th Santa Anna backed the church and then the plan of Cuernavaca on May 25, and eight days later he dissolved the Congress. The laws that had reformed the Church and the military were nullified. The President also disbanded state legislatures, deposed governors and councils, and he replaced them with those following the Cuernavaca Plan. On June 3 the Church promised to give Santa Anna about 35,000 pesos per month for six months, and they accepted the abolition of tithing; in exchange the government promised not to expropriate Church property. This plan was supported by Durango and Zacatecas, but San Luis Potosí, Michoacán, Yucatán, Puebla, and Jalisco opposed and were suppressed in the next three months.
      Late in 1834 Santa Anna convoked a congress, and they deposed Vice President Farías and replaced him with General Barragan on 27 January 1835. An amnesty law annulled the ley del caso. Once again Santa Anna retired and let Vice President Barragan govern, though Santa Anna issued his policies. On March 23 Juan Álvarez led a revolt in the south. The Zacatecas Governor Francisco Garcia also opposed the central dictatorship, but Santa Anna’s army defeated Álvarez and then the Zacatecas militia on May 11. On September 14 the two houses of Congress were merged into a general assembly, and on December 29 they enacted the Constitution of 1836 with the Seven Laws that

1) limited voting to citizens with $100, and office-holders had to have minimum annual incomes in the thousands.
2) mandated a Supreme Conservative Power with five members to balance the other branches,
3) established a legislature with deputies and senators,
4) gave the President an 8-year term,
5) provided a supreme court with eleven justices,
6) dissolved the states and organized the nation into military departments with councils chosen in their capitals, and
7) provided for amendments.

      President Barragan became ill and died, and on 27 February 1836 the deputies made José Justo Corro acting president. They elected Bustamante president, and his term began on 19 April 1837. Industrial lobbies gained tariffs that included rice, coffee, flour, timber, salt, soap, toys, and playing cards. On 8 May the members of the Supreme Conservative Power elected General Muzquiz their president. Spain finally recognized the independence of Mexico which ratified a treaty on May 3 that promised not to interfere with Spanish colonies. With the Centralist Bustamante in power Federalists revolted in various places. His ministers resigned, and Bustamante decided to restore the federation and appointed a new cabinet on October 14.
      On 21 March 1838 the French demanded $600,000 for pastries stolen by Mexican soldiers, and on April 16 they suspended diplomatic relations. The French had 26 warships and 4,000 men and threatened the fortress at San Juan de Ulúa where ammunition exploded, killing more than 200. The French took over the fort and Veracruz. Mexico ordered the army increased to 33,000 men. On December 5 the Mexican army led by Santa Anna forced the  French to retreat. On 9 March 1839 Mexico agreed to pay the $600,000, and the French left Veracruz in April. That month the government imposed its control over the press.
      From 1839 to 1846 the Mexican government had an average annual deficit of 12.7 million pesos. In April 1839 José Antonio Mejía and José Urrea issued a federalist pronunciamiento (plan) in Tamaulipas, and they marched an army toward the capital; but the Centralist army led by General Gabriel Valencia defeated them at Acajete in Veracruz on May 3 and executed Mejía. Yucatán rebelled on the 29th, and on 14 February 1840 they seceded from Mexico. On July 15 in Mexico City the Federalists’ pronunciamiento challenged President Bustamante, and he was taken prisoner but then escaped. The revolt ended on the 27th, and Bustamante regained power. Yucatán adopted a new constitution in March 1841. Mexico negotiated with Yucatán, and Santa Anna granted them autonomy on 5 December 1843.
      General Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga began the Triangular or Jalisco revolt in Guadalajara on 8 August 1841 which erupted with the Ciudadela Barracks in Mexico City on September 4 and spread to Perote five days later. On that day Santa Anna met with Paredes and Valcencia, and they agreed that Bustamante had to go. He left for Europe on the 22nd and let the Council’s vice president Francisco Javier Echeverría fill in for him. Santa Anna occupied Tacubaya on the 25th and became provisional president on October 22. Guadalajara submitted, and Querétaro’s resistance faded away. Bravo gave in, and Urrea was made the commandant general of Sonora. Santa Anna decreed a general amnesty and began reforming the military, adding new regiments and the grenadier guard. He gained money by making Archbishop Manuel Posada y Garduño provide $200,000 and give up the Inquisition building, and a Jesuit estate was sold. Mexico had 24 departments counting Texas, and a congress convened in June 1842 to draft a new constitution that allowed a deputy for every 70,000 citizens out of a population of about seven million. The Federalists produced a liberal constitution.
      As winter was coming on, Santa Anna retired again at his Veracruz estate, letting General Bravo govern as president of the Council; but Minister of War Tornel took the reins and strengthened the garrison at the capital. He would not let the proposed constitution pass, and a protest began on December 11 at Huejotzingo near Puebla demanding that notables revise the constitution. Central provinces and the garrison at Mexico City supported this.  The deputies were locked out of the legislative hall and dissolved Congress on the 18th. Bravo announced that the government would appoint patriotic men to assist the ministers, and eighty prominent centralists were installed on 6 January 1843. Their constitution of organic laws required an income of $1,200 for deputies and $2,000 for senators. Santa Anna returned in March, and on May 11 he stopped paying creditors and made a deal for the tobacco monopoly. He inaugurated the new constitution on June 8. He raised import duties by 20% and sold mining concessions to foreigners and thousands of military commissions. On October 5 he retired again and let Valentin Canalizo act as president. Although many people disliked the autocracy of Santa Anna, the elected national delegates chose him again as President on 2 January 1844. Yet he remained secluded at his estate until he returned to Mexico City on June 4.
      General Paredes led another revolt against Santa Anna’s dictatorship that was pronounced at Guadalajara in Jalisco on November 4. On the 18th Santa Anna entered Mexico City and assumed military control, but War Minister Reyes declared that illegal. Santa Anna went to fight resistance at Querétaro on the 25th. The two chambers were to meet on 1 December, but armed force kept out returning members. News arrived that the Puebla garrison opposed Santa Anna, and a battalion of recruits declared they were for Paredes on the 5th. Other troops also called on General José Joaquín Herrera, president of the Council, to take control. The next day he summoned the deputies to a Franciscan convent, and they asked Canalizo to uphold the constitutional government and prevent violence. The Senate confirmed Herrera as interim president. Santa Anna had an army of about 14,000 men at Silao, but Herrera  had 15,000 soldiers in the capital. Santa Anna led his men to Puebla; but Bravo commanded a large army that was supported by Paredes, Álvarez, and Arias from the north. Santa Anna withdrew from Puebla and decided to escaped with a small force. He was captured at Jico and taken to Perote. Congress impeached him for violating the constitutional government, and in December 1844 they exiled him to Havana, Cuba.

Mexican California 1832-45

      In the north Captain Agustin V. Zamorano organized a compania extranjera to defend Monterey from the southern takeover; but at Santa Barbara in May 1832 he made a truce, and Echeandía gave him military command in the north, establishing peace for the rest of the year.
      The Mestizo José Figueroa was appointed commandant general on 17 April 1832, and he governed Alta California from 15 January 1833 until he resigned because of illness on 27 August 1835. He was the first to issue printed proclamations in California. On 17 May 1833 Figueroa directed Minister Ortiz Monasterio to distribute mission lands to neophytes capable of farming. On July 14 Mexico’s acting Governor Farías appointed José María de Híjar as political chief to direct new colonization in California, but President Santa Anna soon reversed this. A legal election for the Council was finally held on 1 and 2 December 1833 by which Bandini was elected to Mexico’s Congress, and the seven members of the Council were re-elected. An epidemic in the Central Valley has been estimated to have killed about 35,000 Indians in 1833 and perhaps 60,000 California Indians in the 1830s.
      On 16 April 1834 the Mexican Congress decreed that all natives at the missions were to be emancipated and secularized, and self-supporting Christian neophytes were to be given land and goods from the missions; the California legislature enacted this on August 9. On 23 May 1835 Los Angeles proclaimed itself a city and the capital of California, but the capital Monterey indignantly objected. By the end of the year 16 of the 21 missions had been secularized, and this led to the founding of the San Juan Capistrano pueblo.
      José Castro became acting political chief on 29 August 1835, and on 2 January 1836 he transferred that office to Lt. Col. Nicolás Gutiérrez who held it for four months and then again from July to November. Col. Mariano Chico had been appointed on 16 December 1835, and he only governed from April to July 1836. Chico decreed that foreign cargo could only be imported at Monterey. On July 29 he announced he was going to Mazatlan, and on that day Juan Bautista Alvarado for the Council brought charges against Chico who put Gutiérrez in command and left to get aid to restore order. At a meeting Castro moved that Gutiérrez must give up command or be banished. Alvarado was sent to get the cooperation of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo in Sonoma, and Castro was put in command. Gutiérrez surrendered on November 5. On the 29th the Council made Vallejo commandant general, and on December 7 they elected Alvarado interim governor. Alvarado in July 1837 swore to uphold the constitution and to restore California to Mexico.
      Mexico had appointed Carlos Antonio Carrillo governor on 6 December 1836. On the 30th Mexico decreed that California had been made a department, and Alvarado circulated this publication on 4 September 1837; but news of Carrillo’s appointment did not reach Los Angeles until October 20 and Monterey ten days later. Carlos Carrillo took the oath on December 6. Although he supported Alvarado’s government, he wanted to make Los Angeles the capital. Alvarado in March sent Castro with fifteen men to Santa Barbara. On the 28th Castro reported that in a brief confrontation at San Buenaventura he had one man killed, but the 110 defenders fled from there. In early April he urged a committee in Los Angeles to meet Alvarado and cease hostilities. Don Carlos mobilized an army of at least a hundred men, but Castro and Alvarado marched south from Santa Barbara with 200 soldiers. Carlos Carrillo did not want to use a cannon, and he agreed to a treaty on April 23. The northern army took the captured cannon and returned to Monterey by ship.
      About May 20 the citizens of Los Angeles arrested Carlos Carrillo, José A. Carrillo, Pio Pico, and four others. Pio Pico was ill and served a short sentence, and Carlos Carrillo was paroled after a few days but had to stay in Santa Barbara and avoid politics. Alvarado visited Los Angeles in late June, and an assassination plot was prevented. Carlos Carrillo escaped from Santa Barbara in early August; but he urged the supreme government to pardon Alvarado, and he even entrusted his own family to his care. On June 30 the Mexican government had decreed amnesty for the political conflicts in California, recognized Alvarado as governor, urged him to grant an island to Antonio and Carlos Carrillo, and appointed Vallejo commandant general. In December 1838 the two Carrillos were suspected of plotting to overturn the government in San Diego, and they were arrested along with two Picos.
      On 17 January 1839 Alvarado issued new rules for managing the missions, and on 24 April he appointed the naturalized Englishman W. E. P. Hartnell to inspect the missions and make a report with a salary of $2,000 paid by the missions. Reforms were implemented, and he reported to Alvarado on 1 March 1840. The populations at the missions had been reduced greatly. San Diego had 1,455 neophytes in 1832 and only 274 in 1839; those at San Luis Rey fell from 2,788 to less than a thousand, at San Juan Capistrano from 900 to 80, at San Gabriel from 1,320 to 369, and at San Fernando from 782 to 416. The total number of cattle had been 151,180 with 137,977 sheep, and each had been reduced to less than 50,000.
      On 27 March 1840 the Junta accepted Monterey as the capital, though Pio Pico wanted it to be Los Angeles and protested vehemently. Isaac Graham was accused of being the leader of a conspiracy to revolt against the government. He and his companions were arrested on April 7, and in four days 39 foreigners were detained. Governor Alvarado had the prisoners deported from Monterey on the 24th to the island San Blas. More arrests were made in the south, and twelve were deported. An investigation found that they were innocent. They were brought back, and some were paid $250 in compensation. The Swiss immigrant Johann Sutter had changed his name to John. He came to California in 1839 and was naturalized in 1841. Governor Alvarado granted Sutter 48,827 acres along the Sacramento River to establish Nueva Helvetia. Russians had established a colony at Fort Ross near Bodega Bay in March 1812, but by the end of 1841 the remaining Russian colonists had left California. Francisco Garcia Diego was made the bishop of the Californias in Mexico City in September 1840, but he did not reach his place of residence at Santa Barbara until 11 January 1842.
      That month Mexico appointed Brigadier General Manuel Micheltorena governor, commandant general, and inspector of California with a salary of $4,000. He raised an army of 500 soldiers, though 300 of them were criminals selected for their trades from prisons. Micheltorena reached San Diego on August 25, and he took the oath of office in Los Angeles on December 31. Commodore Thomas Ap Catesby Jones commanded the US Pacific fleet of five ships. On 19 October 1842 he had demanded that Monterey surrender, and the next day he went ashore with 150 men. After a brief negotiation Mexican sovereignty was restored, and the Americans departed. Later the United States government made it clear that Jones had acted without authority, and he was recalled; but this harmless incident showed the desire of some Americans to take over California. Micheltorena stayed in the south for six months and did not reach Monterey until the summer of 1843. On 29 March he had decreed that padres were restored to twelve missions, but one-eighth of produce had to go into the public treasury. Yet the main problem of the missions was that they lacked funds.
      After driving government horses from Monterey to the Salinas Valley, Manuel Castro, Jesus Pico, and about fifty others met on November 14 and 15 pronounced their revolt at the Cañada de San Miguel. One week later Governor Micheltorena led a battalion of about 150 men to put down the rebellion. Castro’s force retreated to Salinas. Alvarado was second in command, and he wrote to Vallejo asking for his support, horses, and supplies. About 220 rebels met Micheltorena’s battalion at the Laguna Seca, and in three days they negotiated a treaty. On December 16 he announced that the threat of civil war had passed away. Six days later they arrested Charles M. Weber for plotting against the government. On the first day of 1845 John Sutter led a force of 220 men to attack the rebels led by Castro and Alvarado at San José. Micheltorena on 4 January proclaimed that Castro and Jesus and Pio Pico had failed to return the horses and cattle, and he declared martial law in Monterey. Two days later he led a force that joined with Sutter’s men for a combined force of 400, but the rebels moved south. The Picos and J. A. Carrillo in Los Angeles organized a militia to defend Micheltorena. The rebels arrived and attacked a garrison on the 20th, and several men were killed and wounded.
      President Pio Pico convoked the Junta in Los Angeles on January 28, and they appointed commissioners led by José Antonio de la Guerra to meet with Micheltorena at the Santa Barbara mission; but on February 7 he refused to recognize them or the Junta. One week later the Los Angeles Junta prepared accusations against Micheltorena, and the next day they declared Pio Pico the interim Governor of California. On the 17th citizens were ordered to present themselves for active service. Castro was leading 150 men who were watching Micheltorena at San Buenaventura. Then Castro went to Los Angeles where Alvarado joined him with reinforcements. The opposing forces confronted each other at Cahuenga; but Micheltorena raised a white flag and capitulated, and no one was injured. On the 22nd they signed a treaty at the Campo de San Fernando that recognized Lt. Col. José Castro as Commandant General of California. Micheltorena and his followers were allowed to leave with honor, and he returned to Monterey and then to Mexico City.
      Los Angeles became the capital. In May 1845 news arrived that the United States was at war against Mexico. On the 29th the Mexican government sent a message recognizing Pio Pico as governor. They appointed the commissioner José María de Híjar to go to California, and the Governor and the Assembly welcomed him in June. Civil offices remained at Monterey, and on July 5 Governor Pico published that Alta California was divided into two districts. Prefect Castro was the civil authority in the north. In early October a general election chose Alvarado as the deputy to the Mexican Congress. On the 28th Pico proclaimed the sale by auction of the missions at San Rafael, Dolores, Soledad, San Miguel, and Purísima as well most of San Luis Obispo, Carmel, San Juan Bautista, and San Juan Capistrano and most of the property.

Northern Mexico & Texas 1832-45

      On 28 April 1832 the Mexican government excluded citizens of the United States from settling in Texas, though the rights and contracts of colonists were recognized. The Texans held a second convention on 1 April 1833, and they formed two committees head by Sam Houston to draft a constitution and by David G. Burnett to petition the government to separate Texas from Coahuila. The republican constitution provided free elections with universal suffrage and other human rights. They formed a commission, and Stephen Austin went to Mexico City in July and asked for a state government for Texas. On October 2 he sent a letter to the San Antonio Council urging them to organize a local government independent of Coahuila despite Mexico’s opposition. The Council disapproved and sent the letter to the central government. Austin was arrested in January 1834 and was imprisoned until December and was not allowed to leave Mexico City until August 1835.
      On 17 July 1835 meetings at Rio Navidad and Guadalupe Victoria in Texas passed resolutions for war and condemned Santa Anna’s arbitrary rule. Mexican troops were arriving in Texas, and the American Texans defeated them at Gonzalez on October 2 and at Goliad on the 6th and the 28th. Austin led 600 men who besieged San Antonio de Béjar (Béxar) from October 13 to December 11 when the Mexican garrison surrendered. On November 3 the delegates met at San Felipe de Austin and formed a provisional government with Austin and two others as commissioners and Samuel Houston as commander of eastern volunteers. A declaration of independence was adopted, and a plan for a provisional government passed on the 13th. Mexican General Cos withdrew his troops, and by the end of 1835 no Mexican soldiers remained in Texas.
      In Hubert Bancroft’s History of Mexico at the beginning of his chapter “Causes of War with the United States” he noted, “It was the result of a deliberately calculated scheme of robbery on the part of the superior power.”1 From 1836 the policy was to coerce Mexico into ceding the territory of Texas. President Jackson instructed the envoy Powhatan Ellis to demand reparations for numerous alleged wrongs. Ellis was a slave-holder from Mississippi and wanted war and Texas, and on September 26 he submitted 18 grievances to the Mexican government. On November 4 he began threatening to leave if his complaints were not satisfied.
      On 23 February 1836 a Mexican army of about 2,300 men besieged the Alamo. On March 6 they stormed the old mission and killed 180 men while the Mexican soldiers had 521 casualties. Lt. Col. William Travis, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett died there. Seven men surrendered, and General Santa Anna ordered them shot. About thirty women, children, and slaves were left alive to tell people about Santa Anna’s victory. Rebels fought the Mexican army at Goliad from February 18 to March 27 when 332 Texan prisoners including Col. Fanning were shot dead.
      Meanwhile on  March 2 by the Brazos 45 delegates from 21 municipalities declared independence, and on the 17th a national convention adopted a constitution and elected David G. Burnet president with Lorenzo de Zavala as vice president. General Houston led about 900 men to the San Jacinto River, and on April 21 they caught General Santa Anna asleep as they attacked in the late afternoon, killing 650 and capturing 300 while only 11 of their men died. They also captured Santa Anna. The Mexican minister notified the Americans that Santa Anna had no authority while a prisoner, and he was returned to Veracruz on 23 February 1837. Mexico changed generals from Filisola to Urrea to Bravo.
      In the fall of 1836 Austin, Houston, and Henry Smith were nominated to be president. Because Texans were divided between Austin and Smith, Houston offered to organize a government. He was elected and served from the day Burnett resigned on October 22 to 10 December 1838. He used Austin as Secretary of State and Smith as Secretary of the Treasury. They sent William H. Wharton to negotiate the annexation of independent Texas to the United States. The Texas Congress authorized incorporation of the Texas Railroad, Navigation, and a Banking Company on December 16, but it was criticized for corruption. On the 19th Texas claimed the territory between the United States and Rio Grande from its mouth to its source. Zavala had died on November 15, and Stephen Austin died of pneumonia on December 27.
      In March 1837 the United States recognized the independence of Texas. The Texas Constitution did not allow President Houston to succeed himself, and in the fall of 1838 diplomatic Mirabeau B. Lamar was elected President for a three-year term with Burnett as Vice President. Lamar supported public education and a municipal code, but he opposed annexation to the United States.
      The United States sent Bernard E. Bee to Veracruz in May 1839; but the Mexican government refused to talk to him because he was asking for the independence of Texas. That year some Texans tried and failed to form a North Mexican republic. On 19 March 1840 twelve Comanche chiefs met with Texan commissioners to discuss a peace treaty. General McLeod demanded that they return 13 white captives, but they produced only one little girl. When they refused to return the others, the Texas military detained them. The armed chiefs fought and were killed along with 21 Comanches outside while seven Texans died. In revenge on August 4 about 600 Comanches attacked Victoria and Linville and then retreated. The Texas army attacked them on the 12th near Gonzalez and killed about 65 fleeing Comanches. In October ninety Texans with 12 Lipan Indians attacked a Comanche village, and they enforced Lamar’s policy of extermination by killing 128 men and women. Then they burned the village and stole 500 horses.
      After much negotiation Mexico and the United States agreed on 10 September 1838 to let claims be settled by a mixed commission’s arbitration. By February 1842 only one-fifth of the claims were allowed, and the commissioners and the umpire decided that Mexico owed the United States $2,026,139. President Tyler in March sent the slave-owner Waddy Thompson to pressure Mexico which on 30 January 1843 agreed to pay the interest over five years.
      The Texas government in 1840 warned Mexico that if they did not recognize the independence of Texas soon, they would blockade Mexican ports. That year about a hundred Texans joined with more than two hundred federalists to fight for the Republic of the Rio Grande, but Centralist Mexico’s army of a thousand men defeated them on October 23. After the state of Yucatán seceded in March 1841, they welcomed Texan warships and got their support in 1842. Also in the spring and summer of 1841 a Texan expedition with 270 soldiers led by General McLeod to Santa Fe to annex New Mexico failed miserably. Santa Anna released 119 prisoners on 13 June 1842.
      In September 1841 Sam Houston was elected President of Texas again. On 9 January 1842 General Arista proclaimed that Mexico would never agree to the separation of Texas, and General Rafael Vasquez led an army of 500 men who arrived at San Antonio on March 5, but they left two days later. On the 10th Houston called up soldiers, and on the 26th he imposed a blockade of Mexican ports on the east coast. On May 12 the minister Bocanegra accused the United States Government of violating their friendship treaty. The Texas Congress approved an offensive war against Mexico in June 1842, but Houston vetoed the bill because of lack of funds. About 700 Mexican forces with mostly cavalry attacked Texans led by General Davis on the Nueces in early July, and General Woll’s Mexican army took over San Antonio on September 11. Five days later Houston called for volunteers to invade Mexico across the Rio Grande. On the 10th the United States had declared its neutrality. Texas records in the new capital at Austin were considered in danger, and they were moved in December to Washington on the Brazos where the Congress met.
      The Texan Mier Expedition with about 700 men began in November 1842. In the battle at Mier on December 25-26 with about 300 on each side the Texans were defeated and had 280 men captured, and the rest killed or wounded. In August 1843 the Mexican government declared that if the United States annexed Texas, they would consider it a declaration of war. On December 5 US President Tyler advised Congress that the United States should end hostilities between Texas and Mexico because war weakens both sides. Diplomacy led to an armistice signed on 15 February 1844; but President Houston refused to ratify it because it called Texas a department of Mexico. On June 8 the US Congress rejected a treaty of annexation. On the 16th President Santa Anna sent a message resuming hostility.
      The Congressman doctor Anson Jones was elected President in the Texas election on September 2 as an anti-annexationist. President Jones in his inaugural address said he would maintain public credit, reduce government spending, stop issuing paper money, revise tariff laws, establish public schools, and make peace with Mexico and Indians. The Tennessee Democrat James Polk campaigned that he would annex Texas, and he was elected US President in 1844. On 1 March 1845 he signed the joint resolutions favoring the annexation of Texas. While the treaty was being negotiated, he sent General Zachary Taylor with 1,150 men to Fort Jessup near Natchitoches and a naval squadron to the Gulf of Mexico. President Jones called a convention that met on July 4 at Austin and appointed a committee that recommended annexation with a new constitution. On October 13 the Texas Congress ratified both, and the United States admitted Texas as a state on 29 December 1845. On 19 February 1846 President Jones resigned and was replaced by the elected Governor J. Pinckney Henderson.

      In New Mexico several men were killed on the Santa Fe trail in 1832-33, and in 1834 Captain Wharton escorted them with 60 dragoons. John Sutter began trading with Santa Fe in 1835. Taos got a printing press, but the Crepúsculo newspaper was published for only four weeks in 1835 so that Padre Martínez could get elected to congress. He became the Curate of Taos, and on 28 November 1843 Martínez wrote “An Exposition of Things in New Mexico” to General Santa Anna advising that the Mexican government had allowed the Indians to fall into a miserable condition, making them thieves and robbers. He warned that buffalo hunting had become hazardous, and he noted that millions of calves were lost each year because cows were slaughtered during the breeding season. He suggested that they “induce these Indian tribes to live in civilized society, to cultivate lands, to exercise various arts or industries.”2
      On October 16 Governor Albino Pérez proclaimed a new law to stop the sale of weapons and horses to Comanche, Apache, Ute, and Navajo raiders. Apaches were usually friendly to Americans until 1836. Mexican citizens would have to get a license from the Governor to trap beaver, and they were prohibited from selling beaver to the Americans. In June 1836 another law imposed a tax on wagons bringing foreign merchandise to Santa Fe. Pérez established two primary schools on July 16, and a law imposed fines and jail for children who did not attend regularly. The Mexican republic made New Mexico one of the departments on December 29.
      Navajos devastated the Hopi village of Oraibi in 1837. That year Taos opened a custom-house for foreign trade. In April the Mexican government increased the power of the governor. In July the northern Pueblos, dissatisfied with Mexican protection and taxes, revolted and marched on Santa Fe. Governor Pérez led a force of 150 militia that included Pueblos; but they were defeated, and the rebels captured Pérez and a few other leaders and killed them. On August 9 about 2,000 natives gathered at the capital, and they elected as governor José González from the Taos tribe. He appointed other natives and confiscated property of former politicians. Manuel Armijo raised an army on 8 September and was joined by 300 troops from Chihuahua at Santa Fe. They defeated the rebels on 27 January 1838 and executed González and several leaders. Armijo was elected governor.
      In the summer of 1841 Col. Hugh McLeod led the ill-fated Santa Fe Expedition of 300 Texans, but Comanches and Armijo’s soldiers overcame them in the desert. On October 5 McLeod and 200 men surrendered at Laguna Colorado, and the prisoners did not reach San Miguel until January 1842. Some were released in April, and President Santa Anna ordered the others let go on June 13. Texas President Houston sent two forces to retaliate against the New Mexicans, but both of these excursions were punished by the United States government and military.
      In the late 1830s Antoine Robidoux became a Mexican citizen, and he built trading posts in the northern territory on the Gunnison and Uintah rivers. He traded guns and ammunition for pelts, and this worsened the conflicts between Utes and New Mexicans.
      On 13 June 1843 Mexico decreed that the departments would have elected legislative assemblies with 7 to 11 members replacing the juntas. In 1844 Governor Mariano Martínez de Lejanza provoked a war with the Utes, and they intensified their raiding.
      A few Spaniards had colonized what is now Arizona on ranches near presidios until their rule ended in 1822. After that the only Mexican settlements were at Tucson and Tubac. In 1843 Manuel Gándara incited the Papago and Gila tribes, but they repented and were pardoned in May.

Mexico & the American War 1845-50

      Mexico’s Congress declared that José Joaquin de Herrera won the presidential election, and he was inaugurated on 16 September 1845 promising to take care of the army and finances. Officers in Querétaro and San Luis Potosí refused to move to the frontier and mutinied. General Paredes was summoned to Mexico City and was ordered to surrender his command. The government approved a plan to borrow $15 million from the clergy which meant using Church property as collateral. On December 14 about 5,000 soldiers in San Luis Potosí refused to march on Texas, and the city assembly agreed. The next day Paredes declared that he would reorganize the republic’s rights against the United States’ aggression. A revolt by the Celaya regiment in the capital was quelled, and on the 28th the Congress met. Two days later General Valencia proclaimed revolution in the Ciudadela, and President Herrera gave up the government.
      Paredes and his army entered the capital on 2 January 1846. The next day a junta of representatives elected him interim president and convoked an extraordinary congress. The press was concerned that a monarchy might be formed, and Federalists, Centralists, and followers of Santa Anna were working to overthrow the new government which imposed censorship on the press. Santa Anna sent Col. Alejandro Atocha to the United States, and he told President Polk that Santa Anna would be willing to accept the Rio Grande as the Mexican border and sell California north of San Francisco for $30 million. President Paredes issued a manifesto on April 24 promising to retain the republic. He was accused of neglecting to respond to Indian raids in Chihuahua, Durango, and Sonora.
      In 13 January 1846 President Polk ordered General Taylor to move his troops to the east bank of the Rio Grande, and on April 24 Mexico’s General Arista arrived with his army of 4,000 men at Matamoros on the other side of the river. In the battle of Resaca de la Palma near Brownsville on May 9 Taylor’s force of 1,700 men defeated Arista’s army. Four days later the United States declared war on Mexico. The US Congress approved an army of 50,000 volunteers and authorized $10 million. The Mexican Congress forced the clergy to contribute $200,000 per month. Santanists gathered at Guadalajara, and officers there on May 20 proclaimed Santa Anna their leader. On June 6 the extraordinary congress met and confirmed the interim presidency of Paredes with Nicolás Bravo as vice president. Paredes sent money north to the army and then on July 28 he turned the executive authority over to Bravo who chose a new cabinet. On August 3 the garrisons at Veracruz supported the Guadalajara plan, and the next day General Salas did so in the citadel of Mexico. That night Paredes escaped but was caught and brought to the citadel as a prisoner. A conference deposed Bravo on the 6th and made Salas general-in-chief on the 22nd while suppressing the council and department assemblies.
      In the north Mexico’s Governor Manuel Armijo abandoned Santa Fe, New Mexico and ordered the 3,000 troops to evacuate the town before the Americans arrived on August 19. General Pedro de Ampudia with 7,300 men defended Monterrey for three days against the American army led by Zachary Taylor before surrendering on September 24.
      On 16 August 1846 the people at Veracruz welcomed Santa Anna’s return. The cabinet chief Valentín Gómez Farías went to Puebla to receive him, and on September 15 the return of Santa Anna and restoration of the federal government was celebrated. The national treasury had only 1,839 pesos. Two weeks later he led a force of 3,000 men from the capital for the frontier. A congress with a liberal majority was installed on December 6, and on the 24th they made Santa Anna interim President with Vice President Gómez Farías governing while Santa Anna commanded the army. Farías took Church property to raise 5 million pesos for the war effort.
      On 6 January 1847 Santa Anna learned that Taylor had sent troops to aid Scott at Veracruz. Santa Anna’s army lost 4,000 men crossing 240 miles of desert. Yet his 15,000 men were three times Taylor’s army at Buena Vista on February 22-23, but the Mexicans had many more killed and wounded and 1,894 missing. Santa Anna decided to retreat, and they were not pursued. By the time his army reached San Luis Potosí on March 12 he had lost 10,000 men on the expedition.
      On February 26 demonstrations in Mexico City opposed Farías, Congress, and Santa Anna. Radicals accepted Santa Anna as President, and Farías had arrested some in Congress which now opposed him. Many were upset by the Mexican army’s defeat at Buena Vista, though Santa Anna had claimed victory. He reached Mexico City on March 21 and resumed the presidency as Farías retired, ending the revolution.
      On March 9 the American Occupation Army of 8,600 men led by General Winfield Scott landed at Veracruz. Juan Morales had only 3,360 soldiers who were overwhelmed as American bombarding killed about a thousand civilians. They negotiated surrender from the 25th to the 29th, and 3,000 soldiers were captured. On April 18 at Cerro Gordo against Scott’s 8,500 troops Santa Anna’s army of 12,000 had more than a thousand men killed and 1,036 captured. The citizens of Puebla declined Santa Anna’s offer to defend them, and Scott’s army took over the city. Mexico City was threatened, and Mexicans fought valiantly at the Churubusco bridge. On August 20 at the capital Santa Anna asked Scott to negotiate while he prepared the city’s defenses. After the armistice Scott’s cavalry led the attack on September 8, and they fought for a week. The outnumbered Mexican army suffered more than three times as many casualties and had about 3,000 men captured. After the Chapultepec Castle was taken, the US Army occupied the city on the 16th, the day President Santa Anna resigned and left the country.
      On November 9 the Mexican Congress elected Pedro María Anaya to be interim president for two months. He had also done that for 38 days in the spring of 1847. On 8 January 1848 Anaya was replaced by the Supreme Court president Manuel de la Peña y Peña who had served as acting president for seven weeks in the early fall of 1847. Peña was well respected and taught law at the university. He upheld the Constitution and prevented anarchy after the war ended.
      On 2 February 1848 the United States and Mexico signed a peace treaty at Guadalupe Hidalgo in which Mexico ceded nearly half its territory that included Texas, New Mexico, and Alta California as far south as the port of San Diego. The United States paid Mexico $15 million in compensation for damages and assumed Mexico’s debt of $3.25 million to American citizens. More than 70,000 men fought on each side. The United States had 1,733 men killed in battle and 4,152 wounded, and the Mexicans had about 5,000 die fighting and another 5,000 from diseases. Ratification of the treaty by both republican governments was completed with amendments by June. Many Mexicans would resent for a long time that Americans from the United States used armed force to take half their territory. These feelings were often expressed in their corrido folk songs.
      The long-time resentment of the Mayans broke out in Yucatán. Their chiefs Manuel Antonio Ay, Cecilio Chí, and Antonio Pat had learned how to use firearms in the war. The rebellion had begun on 30 July 1847 at Tepich as they murdered mestizos and mulattoes in their sleep and raped many women; but in the ensuing battles the natives were defeated. On 2 February 1850 the Yucatán government offered a peace treaty that granted pardons and was accepted. By October cholera had killed about 14,000 people. Some rebels held out at Chan Santa Cruz until Chief Tzuc made peace in 1853.
      In June 1848 General Paredes and Manuel Doblado joined the revolt that was led by Governor Casio and the guerrilla Celedonio Dómeco de Jarauta who with a thousand men drove the commandant general Manuel Artega out of Aguascalientes and deposed the governor. On July 18 they were defeated by the Mexican army led by Bustamante at Guanajuato. Jarauta was taken prisoner and taken to Valenciana where he was executed. Paredes fled to Europe but was pardoned and returned and died in 1849.
      On 30 May 1848 Herrera was again elected President of Mexico, and on June 3 acting president Peña resumed his position as president of the Supreme Court. President Herrera rebuilt the treasury department, and the foreign debt contracted at London was fixed at £10,241,650. On 27 October 1849 the legislature declared the new state of Guerrero with Álvarez as chief commandant. In November monthly expenses were limited to $500,000 with two-thirds of it going to the War Department, and the army was limited to 10,000 men. Salaries of officials were reduced by a quarter. In the fiscal year 1849-50 expenses were $16,500,000 with $7,600,000 for war and $5,800,000 for the debt leaving a deficit of $8,500,000.

Copyright © 2006, 2012, 2021 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book Latin America & Canada to 1850. For ordering information please click here.

Latin America & Canada 1850-1935

Caribbean & Central America to 1580
West Indies 1580-1850
Central America 1580-1850
Incas, Peru & Chile to 1817
Brazil & Guiana 1500-1850
Southern South America to 1850
New Granada & Bolívar to 1830
Bolivian Nations 1830-50
Mexico to 1768
Mexico & Independence 1768-1831
Mexico & Wars 1832-50
Iroquois & French in America 1534-1744
Canada 1744-1817
Canada under British Rule 1817-50
Summary & Evaluation of Latin America & Canada to 1850

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