Friday, June 26, 2015

On the Factors Behind the Texas Revolution Against Mexico

I just finished Chapter 5 of Lone Star Rising: The Revolutionary Birth of the Texas Republic by William C. Davis. This complements earlier chapters that discuss the European context for the creation of the Texas Republic (see my previous post). In this chapter, author Davis addresses the Mexican context.

The Criollo leadership in the Viceroyalty of New Spain, long dissatisfied by the lack of influence and respect that they perceived that they received from their Spanish administrators, took advantage of Spain's weakness to begin an insurrection in 1811. Davis suggests that this was in part due to the revolutionary examples before them (United States, France) and part of a larger Hispanic American movement that involved parallel revolutions led by Bolivar (in northern Sourth America), San Martin (Argentina) and O'Higgins (Chile).

The revolution succeeded in that Mexico was created as a nation 1821, and a new Constitution was written in 1824. (Spain was not content with the loss of its huge colony, and continued it attempts to reconquer Mexico. Starting in the Caribbean, Spain eventually landed an expeditionary force at Tampico in 1829, but that force was repulsed. New Spain was huge, as the map below shows, spanning an area from Oregon to Panama, from Louisana to the Pacific Coast of California.

Unfortunately for Mexico and its people, there was little basis to establish a new nation. Various forces preferred a centralized or a federal government. Caudillos supported by army factions competed for national power (the army was perhaps the strongest national institution in the country). The Central American states separated from Mexico, and several of the states of what is now Mexico were in revolt against the government in Mexico City. The northern territories (shown as Alta California, New Mexico and New Philippines) were very sparsely populated -- often more Indian than Mexican.

The various governments in Mexico City had little time nor interest in the aspirations of those in the far north, and perhaps especially not for the Anglos who were moving into Texas (and also California) The Mexicans had outlawed slavery, and this was especially repugnant to the Anglo settlers of Texas -- southerners who had brought their slaves with them as necessary to the operation of the plantations (for King Cotton) that they were developing on their large land grants. This situation led to the Texas revolt in 1836 which created the Texas Republic (which was annexed by the USA in 1845.) The weakness of the Mexican government, also led to a revolt in California in 1846, the Bear Flag Republic, and (after the California gold rush of 1848) annexation of California and California statehood in 1850.)


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