Thursday, June 4, 2015

Agustin I - The First Emperor Of Mexico

Mexico's victory and autonomy from Spain occurred in 1821, after a decade of fighting and two centuries of colonial rule. Two different predominant views took shape in Mexico as to how the country should be governed, now that their autonomy was secured, and this created more political struggle. The flash point for dissent began with the First Mexican Empire (that failed in a short ten month time frame) and it was headed up by the nation's first Emperor, Agustin de Iturbide.

Agustin was born in the state of Michoacan in 1783, while the country was still called New Spain. His parents were privileged, owning several haciendas and with a long history of serving in political positions in their native Basque. He entered the royalist army while a teenager, became a full lieutenant, and when the War of Independence broke out in 1810, he initially fought with the Spanish royalists against the insurgency.

While he campaigned against the rebellion for over a decade, in 1821 Iturbide became convinced that the only way to ensure a decisive victory for Mexico was to unite the royalists and the guerrillas into a coalition. He accomplished this unlikely truce, with the eventual goal being to bring the Spanish King Ferdinand over to rule the newly independent nation; at that juncture it appeared that Spain's monarchy would collapse completely. He worked out a proposal which appealed to both sides, and was a major figure in ending the war.

With Mexico freed from colonial ties, Iturbide named himself the President while he searched for a member of the royal House of Bourbon to rule. European princes would not take the chance of losing their nobility rights to rule Mexico, due to the possibility that their monarchy would fail, even though Spain still considered Mexico a colony.. People loyal to Agustin, from the congress that he'd assembled, named him Emperor.

The Emperor went mad with power after his coronation on July 21, 1822.. When Congress began to criticize him, he dissolved it; the troops of Commander Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, arrived in Mexico City in December after he became infuriated. Plans were conceived to start a republic government in the place of the monarchy. Agustin de Iturbide fled the throne and the country in March 1823 because he lost military support when the insurrectionist gained the loyalties of the the head of the imperial armies, Echavarri..

The First Emperor of Mexico's regime was the first attempt at a Spain-free governing structure, and it failed fairly quickly. While not much infrastructure changes came about in his brief 10 month reign, it clearly sealed the ideals of both the democratic liberal political party, and those of the centrist conservatives. The definition of this political spectrum would set the stage for a long struggle that would come to shape the country in ways no one could yet imagine.

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