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Revolution & Independence


Sixteenth Century

Seventeenth Century

Some Eighteenth Century Historians

Alexander von Humboldt

Revolution & Independence

Rediscovering Mexican Antiquity

Emergence of Mexico




A European Response to Mexican Revolution

Bonnycastle, Richard Henry, Sir, 1791-1848.
Spanish America; or, A descriptive, historical, and geographical account of the dominions of Spain in the Western hemisphere, continental & insular.
Philadelphia: A. Small, 1819.  Calf.

By the first years of the 19th century, the example of the American and French revolutions, and the weakness of central authority in Spain during the Napoleonic wars, provided the context for a revolutionary independence movement in Mexico.  The appeal by the priest Miguel Hidalgo (1753-1811) mobilized popular devotion to the Virgin of Guadaloupe, and came near to taking Mexico City before military defeat in 1811.  Father Jose Mari Morelos (1765-1815) sustained the fight longer, though captured in 1815.   This report by a British officer of engineers describes how the Spanish viceroys were trying to maintain power against continuing guerrilla resistance.

memoirs of the mexican revolution American Commercial Interest in Mexican Independence

Robinson, William Davis.
Memoirs of the Mexican Revolution: including a narrative of the expedition of General Xavier Mina. With some observations on the practicability of opening a commerce between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, through the Mexican Isthmus in the province of Oaxaca, and at the Lake of Nicaragua; and on the future importance of such commerce to the civilized world, and more especially to the United States.
Philadelphia: Printed for the author. Lydia R. Bailey, printer, 1820. Original boards. John Shaw Billings Collection.

The temporary successes of Hidalgo and Morelos foreshadowed Iturbide’s more conservative declaration of independence from Spain in 1821, though Iturbide’s was only the first of a long series of revolutions and counter-coups.  Much of this book is a long account of manoevures in Mexico in 1816, brought up to date as an argument that it would further American interests to support an independent Mexico.  

history of revolution of mexicoMexican Independence and American Politics

Niles, John M. (John Milton), 1787-1856.
A view of South-America and Mexico, comprising their history, the political condition, geography, agriculture, commerce, &c., of the republics of Mexico, Guatamala, Colombia,  Peru, the United Provinces of South-America and Chili, with a complete history of the revolution, in each of these independent states. By a citizen of the United States.
2 vols. in 1.
New York: H. Huntington, Jr., 1825. Contemporary tree calf.

This account of Mexico is of special interest, because Niles became U.S. Senator from Connecticut, pressing the case in his first term (1835-39) for early recognition of an independent Texas, but subsequently, as an economic protectionist, turned against U.S. ambitions in the Mexican War of 1846-47.  Also shown is Niles’s revised edition (1827), with further comments on the stability of Mexican affairs.   

poinsettThe First American Envoy to an Independent Mexico

Poinsett, Joel Roberts, 1779-1851.
Notes on Mexico, made in the autumn of 1822. Accompanied by an historical sketch of the revolution, and translations of official reports on the present state of that country.
London: J. Miller, 1825.

Joel Poinsett, of Charleston, S.C., had served as a U.S. government agent working against the Spanish government in Chile and Argentina.  While a member of the U.S. Congress (1821-25), he went to Mexico as special envoy for President Monroe to newly-independent Mexico.  The first edition of this book, published both in London and Philadelphia in 1824, was issued anonymously as "A Citizen of the United States."  Poinsett  returned to Mexico City as the first American minister (1826-1830), when he became deeply involved in political intrigue, especially on behalf of his masonic allies, the Yorkistas, publishing a defense in Spanish of U.S. diplomatic activity in Mexico, under the title Esposición de la conducta política de los Estados-Unidos, para conlas nuevas repúblicas de América (Mexico City, 1827: copy in South Caroliniana Library).

This page updated May 12, 2008
by the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections,
and copyright © 2003, the University of South Carolina.

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