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The First Mexican Empire was the official name of independent Mexico under a monarchical regime from 1822 to 1823. The territory of the Mexican Empire included the continental intendencies and provinces of New Spain proper and those of the former Captaincy General of Guatemala. After the declaration of independence on September 27, 1821, it was the intention of the Mexican parliament to establish a commonwealth whereby the King of Spain, Ferdinand VII, would also be Emperor of Mexico, but in which both countries were to be governed by separate laws and with their own legislative offices. Should the king refuse the position, the law provided for a member of the Bourbon family to accede to the Mexican throne. Ferdinand VII, however, did not recognize the independence and said that Spain would not allow any other European prince to take the throne of Mexico. By request of Parliament, Mexican Agustín de Iturbide was proclaimed emperor of Mexico.
The First Mexican Empire was short-lived, lasting only eight months from July 21, 1822 to March 19, 1823, and having only one emperor, Agustín de Iturbide.
After Napoleon I invaded Spain in 1807 and put his brother, Joseph, on the Spanish throne, Mexican Conservatives and rich land-owners who supported Spain's Bourbon royal family objected to the comparatively liberal Napoleonic policies. Thus an unlikely alliance was formed in Mexico: liberales, or Liberals, who favored a democratic Mexico, and conservadores, or Conservatives, who favored a Mexico ruled by a Bourbon monarch who would restore the status quo ante. These two elements agreed only that Mexico must achieve independence and determine her own destiny.
Taking advantage of the fact that Spain was severely handicapped under the occupation of Napoleon's army, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest of Spanish descent and progressive ideas, declared Mexico's independence from Spain in the small town of Dolores on September 16, 1810. This act started the long war, the first official document of independence was the Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America signed in 1813 by the Congress of Anáhuac. Eventually led to the official recognition of independence from Spain in 1821 and the creation of the First Mexican Empire. As with many early leaders in the movement for Mexican independence, Hidalgo was captured by opposing forces and executed.
Prominent figures in Mexico's war for independence were Father José María Morelos, Vicente Guerrero, and General Agustín de Iturbide. The war for independence lasted eleven years until the troops of the liberating army entered Mexico City in 1821. Thus, although independence from Spain was first proclaimed in 1810, it was not achieved until 1821, by the Treaty of Córdoba, which was signed on August 24 in Córdoba, Veracruz, by the Spanish viceroy Juan de O'Donojú and Agustín de Iturbide, ratifying the Plan of Iguala.
It was the intention of the Mexican Parliament, when it ratified the Plan of Iguala, to establish a commonwealth, whereby the King of Spain, Ferdinand VII, would also be Emperor of Mexico, but in which both countries were to be governed by separate laws and with their own legislative offices. Should the king refuse the position, the law provided for another member of the Bourbon family to accede to the Mexican throne. Ferdinand VII, however, did not recognize the independence and said that Spain would not allow any other European prince to take the throne of Mexico.
Later that year, General Agustín de Iturbide, a Mexican-born criollo who originally fought for the pro-Spanish royalists but switched his allegiance to the insurgents in the final phases of the war, was elected head of the provisional junta government and of the regency that held the imperial power that Spain once had. On the night of the May 18, 1822, a mass demonstration led by the Regiment of Celaya, which Iturbide had commanded during the war, marched through the streets and demanded that their commander-in-chief accept the throne.
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On May 19, 1822, the Sovereign Congress named him emperor and on May 21, 1822, they issued a decree officially confirming this appointment, which was officially a temporary measure until a European monarch could be found to rule Mexico.
Iturbide's official title was "By Divine Providence and the National Congress, First Constitutional Emperor of Mexico" (Spanish: Por la Divina Providencia y por el Congreso de la Nación, Primer Emperador Constitucional de México). His coronation took place on July 21, 1822, in Mexico City.
As factions in the Congress began to sharply criticise both Iturbide and his policies, the emperor decided on October 31 to dissolve it. This enraged the commander of the garrison at Veracruz, Antonio López de Santa Anna, who himself would be President in several terms, during the Secession of Texas and the disastrous Mexican-American War. Santa Anna and his troops rose up against Iturbide and declared a republic on December 1.
Defeat and Abolishment
In December 1822, Generals Antonio López de Santa Anna and Guadeloupe Victoria wrote and signed the Plan of Casa Mata. This was an agreement between the two generals, amongst other Mexican generals, governors, and high-ranking governmental officials, to abolish the monarchy and replace it with a republic.
Several insurrections arose in the Mexican provinces beginning in December, but they were all put down by the Imperial Army, except for Santa Anna's forces in Veracruz. This was only because Santa Anna had previous made a secret agreement with the General Echávarri, the commander of the Imperial forces that. By this agreement, the Plan of Casa Mata was to be proclaimed throughout Mexico on February 1, 1823 and Echávarri was to switch sides. This plan did not recognize the First Mexican Empire and requested the meeting of a new Constituent Congress. The insurrectionists sent their proposal to the provincial delegations and requested their adhesion to the plan. In the course of just six weeks, the Plan of Casa Mata had arrived in such remote places as Texas, and almost all the provinces had been united to the plan.
When a provincial delegation accepted the Plan de Casa Mata, it withdrew its obedience toward the imperial government and assumed a sovereign attitude within its province. As a result, Agustín de Iturbide was isolated without any support from his capital, Mexico City, and a few fractions of the Imperial Army. Consequently, he installed the dissolved Constituent Congress, which had previously been abolished, abdicated to the crown, and fled the country on March 19, 1823.
- Second Mexican Empire
- Federal Republic of Central America
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