A Life Together: Lucas Alaman and Mexico, 1792-1853 9780300258745

An eminent historian’s biography of one of Mexico’s most prominent statesmen, thinkers, and writers

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A Life Together: Lucas Alaman and Mexico, 1792-1853
 9780300258745

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A Life Together

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A L i f e To g e t h e r

 Luc a s A l a m á n a nd Me x ico, 1792 –1853

Eric Van Young

New Haven and London

Published with assistance from the foundation established in memory of James Wesley Cooper of the Class of 1865, Yale College. Copyright © 2021 by Eric Van Young. All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, including illustrations, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press), without written permission from the publishers. Yale University Press books may be purchased in quantity for educational, business, or promotional use. For information, please email [email protected] (U.S. office) or [email protected] (U.K. office). Set in Scala type by IDS Infotech Ltd., Chandigarh, India. Printed in the United States of America. Library of Congress Control Number: 2020941589 ISBN 978-0-300-23391-9 (hardcover : alk. paper) A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. This paper meets the requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.481992 (Permanence of Paper). 10

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For Maggie, Marin, Adrian, Arden, Sebastian, Dashiell, and August—always.

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Contents

Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 Part I | Youth 1. An Old and Distinguished Family 13 2. A Silver-Plated Youth (1792–1815) 30 3. Years of Pilgrimage, First Steps in Politics, and a Betrothal (1816–1823) 65 Part II | The Statesman Emerges 4. The Spanish Cortes and a Final Sojourn in Paris (1821–1822) 85 5. Brothers 123 Part III | Into the Maelstrom (1823–1825) 6. The Meanings of Anarchy 139 7. Domestic Tranquility 188 8. Diplomacy 215 9. The Poinsett Saga 232 Part IV | Making Money 10. Shafted: The United Mexican Mining Association (1824–1830) 255

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11. Managing the Feudal Remnant: Alamán and the Duque (1824–1853) 307 Part V | High Tide of Power, Fall, and Internal Exile (1830–1834) 12. An Ordered and Prosperous Republic 355 13. Texas 410 14. The Banco de Avío 442 15. The War of the South and the Death of Guerrero 465 16. The Reckoning 483 17. Weaving Disaster: Cocolapan (1836–1843) 521 Part VI | Alamán at Midlife, Brief Return to Power, Last Days (1835–1853) 18. Politics and Family 551 19. Texas, Santa Anna, and War 569 20. The Monarchist Plot and the US Invasion 592 21. City, Congress, Wealth, Health 611 22. Santa Anna Returns, Alamán Exits 632 Part VII | Lucas Alamán the Historian 23. Getting the Historia Written 651 24. What Is in the Historia de Méjico? 680 Epilogue: On Decolonization and Modernization 707 Notes 717 Bibliography Index 819

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Acknowledgments

So many friends and colleagues have been so patient with me for so long that this list of acknowledgments has grown embarrassingly lengthy. It would be longer still had I not lost some names along the way, for which I ask pardon from those I may have forgotten. I am very appreciative of the reading of chapter drafts, sometimes several of them at a go, and comments offered by Dana Velasco Murillo, Peter Gourevitch, Paul Kenny, Tom Passananti, Susan Fitzpatrick, and my dear, late friend Paul Vanderwood. The initial proposal for the book got careful readings and very helpful suggestions from Margaret Chowning and Gilbert Joseph. Two anonymous readers of the book manuscript for Yale University Press did their work well, for which I thank them. I have in no case followed all the suggestions offered by readers, but they were all thoughtful, meant in good spirit, and taken that way. For financial support of the research and writing it is a pleasure to acknowledge the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the University of California, San Diego; UCSD’s Office of Research Affairs also furnished a subvention to support publication. Large parts of this book were written at Twiggs Coffee House and Bakery in San Diego, a nice place to hang out. The staffs of the following archives and libraries were often helpful and always patient: Archivo General de la Nación (Mexico), Mexico City; Centro de Estudios de Historia de México CARSO (formerly CONDUMEX), Mexico City; Special Collections Library, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas-Austin; Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; Archivo Histórico del H. Congreso del Estado de Guanajuato, Mexico; Archivo Histórico de la Universidad de Guanajuato, Mexico; Archivo

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Histórico del Distrito Federal, Mexico City; Archivo Histórico de Defensa Nacional, Mexico City; Special Collections and Government Documents libraries, Geisel Library, University of California, San Diego; Los Angeles Public Library. For help of various kinds—comments, suggestions, the loan of materials, references, aid with translations, and even medical support—I thank the following people: Agustín Acosta, José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, Catharine Andrews, Linda Arnold, Alfredo Ávila, Mílada Bazant, Michael Bernstein, Eric Blau, M.D., Jeffrey Bortz, Christopher Boyer, Roberto Breña, Sergio Cañedo Gamboa, John Coatsworth, Brian Connaughton, the late Michael P. Costeloe, Guillermina del Valle Pavón, Christopher Domínguez Michael, Michael Ducey, Ricardo Fagoaga, Celia Falicov, Josh Fierer, M.D., Carlos Forment, Will Fowler, Grael Gannon, Julie Gollin, M.D., Virginia Guedea, the late Charles Hale, Luis de Pablo Hammeken, Paul Hoffman, Antonio Ibarra Romero, Iván Jaksic, Alan Knight, Paul Kruger, José Luis Lara Valdés, William Roger Lewis, Andrés Lira, Rick A. López, the late John Marino, Jorge Mariscal, Salvador Méndez Reyes, Frederick Millard, M.D., Beatriz Montes Rojas, Paola Morán Leyva, Matthew O’Hara, Erika Pani, Rosa María Pérez Luque, Sonia Pérez Toledo, José María Portillo, Karen Racine, Andrés Reséndez, David Ringrose, Jaime E. Rodríguez O., Richard Salvucci, José Antonio Serrano Ortega, Carlos Silva, Donald F. Stevens, Christopher Stroot, Angela Thompson, Cynthia Truant, María Eugenia Vázquez Semadeni, Matthew Vitz, Richard Warren, Robert Westman, Howard Williams, M.D., the late Eliot Wirshbo, Gisela von Wobeser, and María Bárbara Zepeda Cortés.

A Life Together

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Introduction

As his final illness dragged him toward death in early June 1853, and as his wife, children, his doctor, and a few friends and government colleagues moved quietly in and out of the dying man’s bedroom, Lucas Alamán must have contemplated the fate of his soul. But the fevered, nearly incoherent words of a mind quickly winding down, wrote one of his elder sons, revealed that fleeting thoughts about the reorganization of the country still jostled bits of free-floating memory and contemplation of the dark horizon he was fast approaching. He died in the early morning hours of 2 June; the funeral and burial took place the following day. Among the public men who contested for power in the national life of the young Mexican republic Alamán was surely among the least romantic, least histrionic figures in style. The thoughtfulness and serene exterior of his personal presentation marked him out as a reserved haut bourgeois—the éminence grise of the political reaction—in an age of sometimes strutting machismo, especially among the military politicians who dominated public life. In Europe and America it was the age of Byron and Géricault, of Chartism and Jacksonianism, of the steam engine and the telegraph, of Dickens, the young Verdi, and the aging Rossini, of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and Comte’s Course of Positive Philosophy, of revolutions triumphant, suppressed, and superseded, of Napoleon’s Hundred Days, Prince Metternich (to whom Alamán was compared at least once), the Decembrists, and Queen Victoria. By the time he died some of his thinking was less anachronistic than discredited, his political project unappetizing to many people. His conservative principles had been fatally tainted through association with flawed instruments and instantiation in some of the extreme policies and actions he

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sponsored. His personal role in the history of early republican Mexico was vilified by his liberal opponents, and his political legacy would be anathematized by subsequent generations. Lucas Alamán had struggled to bring Mexico within the circle of epochal change—of modernization, in other words—widening out from the North Atlantic world to incorporate ever larger chunks of the globe, yet he also expressed in his last writings grave reservations about the social dislocations and rampant materialism produced by this process. It is illuminating to see the Mexican experience within the context of a wider world, locating the country’s history during the century 1750–1850 within the framework of decolonization and modernization. These two intertwined processes form a thematic double helix that directly or indirectly receives much attention in this book and are considered in greater depth in the conclusion. Like two massive weather fronts colliding, it is their turbulent interaction that generated the stormy atmosphere through which Mexico passed during much of the nineteenth century. The problems of decolonization and modernization were key issues for all the new polities in the Americas, but the construction of workable institutions and the achievement of economic development followed a bumpier trajectory in some countries than others. Chile, for example, saw a more or less stable oligarchic republic dominating the nineteenth century; in Brazil an oligarchicmonarchical-slavocratic regime prevailed, in part transplanted directly across the Atlantic; while in the Andes and Mexico an enduring “Indian question,” unstable dictatorships, and civil struggles marked the period. Modernity had arguably fallen upon the world within the span of his six decades.1 Some of its aspects Alamán viewed warily or rejected outright as corrosive to an ordered, rational society, while others he embraced. Modernization encompassed commercial and industrial capitalism, new technologies that touched most people’s lives, and a strong state system, all of which he sought to nurture in Mexico. But the period also saw the emergence of liberal concepts of the rule of law, citizenship, economic life, popular sovereignty, and of the self as well as the replacement of the religious worldview by a scientific-rationalist one in private life, the educational system, and large segments of the public sphere. Many of these features alarmed him. Paradoxically, Lucas Alamán sought to modernize Mexico but keep aspects of modernity at arm’s length. Among the most important of his personal principles were a deep personal piety and attachment to an idealized Spanish colonial past, but an idealization more critical than many of his contemporaries and subsequent critics suggested. He also demonstrated a willingness quite ruthlessly to contract a robust popular

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political sphere in favor of government by enlightened men, social stability, and economic development, a trade-off that would emerge repeatedly in Mexican history. Most of what Alamán envisioned for Mexico would come to be realized only under the nominal aegis of liberalism a quarter century after his death, in the era of Porifirio Díaz (1876–1911). Like Simón Bolívar, he may well have felt that during his own time in politics he had plowed the sea. Judged by a number of conventional criteria, certainly, Alamán’s public life was a failure. The arc of his career shadowed that of Mexico itself—from youthful promise, optimism, and experimentation following independence from Spain to a chaotic adulthood corresponding to the early decades of the young republic and then to crisis and near death as he exited the scene. As politician, policy maker, and diagnostician of the nation’s ills he failed for the most part to realize his vision of an aristocratic, centralized, internally stable, industrializing, and territorially secure nation. As a private entrepreneur he lost a good deal of his wealth during the last two decades of his life. After a halting start, the industrialization of the country faltered. The protracted episode of Greater Texas dogged Alamán’s entire public career. The loss of more than half the national territory to the United States in 1848 proved Mexico to be anything but secure. The continuing political shakiness that followed this amputation in part prompted Alamán to found a formal conservative party in 1848 and to invite the egregious Antonio López de Santa Anna back from exile to guide the destiny of the country. The ideal of the aristocratic republic ruled by men of education and experience was disputed by liberal socalled Jacobins and undermined by the clownish dictatorship into which Santa Anna hurled Mexico after the counterweight of Alamán’s tempering influence was removed by his death barely six weeks into the regime. It is one of several richly layered ironies in modern Mexican history that the liberal Constitution of 1857 and the war powers assumed by the triumphant Benito Juárez during and after the French Intervention (1862–67) finally brought upon the national political scene the centralized government Alamán had tried for so long to construct. The convergence of a liberal developmentalist ideology with authoritarian political forms was the hallmark of the long-lived Díaz dictatorship, realizing many of the policies Alamán had envisioned. Most of Lucas Alamán’s failures were strongly determined by the times in which he lived. Early republican Mexico did not present a promising setting for large-scale industrial enterprise, for example, a preoccupation of Alamán’s both as an individual economic actor and a maker of public policy. Relatively few entrepreneurs succeeded. While recent research has demonstrated that

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the market involvement of ordinary people was more widespread than previously thought, markets were still relatively shallow. Real wages and disposable incomes remained low and sticky, transport costs high, capital scarce and expensive, the tax structure regressive, technological innovation muted until later in the century, imported machinery costly, and domestic supply of many primary materials unpredictable. Alamán ran afoul of all these obstacles at one time or another, most notably in the failure of a large-scale textile enterprise he established near Orizaba in the late 1830s. His actions both as policy maker and private entrepreneur were severely constrained by Mexico’s huge foreign debt, vengeance and predation by European powers (Spain, France) and the young United States, weak state capacity, stubborn resistance to centralized governance in the country, and a legitimacy vacuum at the center of national political life. Many of his ideas rebounded and emerged triumphant in the sphere of state action, as those of Alexander Hamilton had done decades after his death. Although the stimulation of industrialization through a government development bank was never again undertaken in the form in which the Banco de Avío (1830–41) existed, state intervention to spur industrialization did become a key feature of economic modernization beginning in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and has remained so. In political life, today’s conservative party, the Partido de Acción Nacional (PAN), can trace the genealogy of many of its ideas back to Alamán. Alamán was one of the most conservative Mexican statesmen and political thinkers of the time. Supported by the authority of long experience in government, acute analysis of Mexican realities, wide reading and much research, and high confidence in his own opinions, his pronouncements must be taken seriously, if not always at face value. For example, his lament that there were no Mexicans in Mexico due to the “complete extinction of national spirit” after the Mexican–American War captured a good deal of the political reality of his time.2 He devoted most of his monumental Historia de Méjico (1849–52) to demonstrating that Mexican independence (1810–21) had been a disaster for the political and economic life of the country. Alamán regarded separation from Spain as inevitable, but the manner of its achievement had set Mexico on a path of political instability, underdevelopment, and vulnerability to foreign predation.

Mexico in Lucas Alamán’s Time Mexico began the century 1750–1850 with considerable potential. The trajectory of silver mining was generally upward despite the characteristic wax-

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ing and waning of production. The outpouring of wealth from the colony’s mines reached new heights just after 1800, although most of it escaped the country in the form of private exports of bullion and coin, payment for imported goods, and taxes. The population of New Spain increased from about 3 million in 1750 to around 6 million in 1810 and to 7–8 million in 1850. Mexico City grew from about 70,000 people in 1750 to 120,000 in 1810, Guadalajara almost quadrupled in size, from about 10,000 in 1750 to nearly 40,000 in 1810, and other cities, such as Puebla, followed suit. Domestic consumption stimulated growth in textiles, tobacco products, and some other manufactures despite low consumer incomes. After 1789 reformed commercial policies throughout the Spanish Empire facilitated exports a bit and the consumption of imported goods as well. Commercialized agriculture was growing to feed the mines and cities, while exports were overwhelmingly dominated by silver. There were clouds on the horizon, however. The number of well-documented serious riots and uprisings, primarily in rural areas, increased after 1750, although few of these attained even regional dimensions. In the last quarter of the eighteenth century prices for food and other items of wide popular consumption were rising, pressing upon the declining real incomes of laboring people. A series of fiscal, governance, and religious reforms, dubbed the Bourbon Reforms after the eponymous reigning dynasty, increased rates of extraction from the colony through various taxes, tightened the reins of government, and sought to “cleanse” popular religious practice by suppressing the more florid forms of baroque piety to which Mexicans were fondly attached. When independence from Spain was achieved at the end of a bloody decade of civil conflict ending in 1821, the country’s potential was more highly touted than ever by Mexicans and foreigners on the basis of the optimistic account of New Spain (1803) by the great German cosmopolite and polymath Baron Alexander von Humboldt. This optimism was not born out. During the years 1824–30, for example, there was a flurry of British capital investment bent on rehabilitating the silver mines. These had languished during the long decade of the insurgency, the struggle initially for autonomy, then for independence from Spain between 1810 and 1821. This bubble collapsed almost as quickly as it had inflated, leaving behind it a detritus of abandoned mines, rusting equipment, lawsuits, crushed hopes, and bankruptcy. The providentialist rhetoric of Mexicans and foreigners about the country’s bright future failed to disguise a daunting array of problems facing the new nation. The thinness of the population in the Mexican north and Spain’s imperial overreach in attempting to hold the region in the first place prompted the policy of the postindependence

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Mexican government to colonize much of the area under contracts with American entrepreneurs, chief among them Moses Austin and his son Stephen. Mexico lost about half of its territory in little more than a decade, beginning with the independence of Texas in 1836 and its annexation to the United States in 1845. There quickly followed the cession to the US of what are essentially the US Southwest and California made by a defeated Mexico as an outcome of the Mexican–American War and the treaties that codified the victory. The war took Mexico to the precipice of state failure, its disastrous outcome being only one among a number of symptoms of the malaise Lucas Alamán diagnosed in his writings. Other symptoms of the enormous problems faced by the young Mexican republic were endemic political instability, exemplified by the astounding total of 1,139 pronunciamientos, or military uprisings, that occurred in the country between 1821 and 1876; very weak state capacity owing to an inadequate tax system; and extremely high levels of domestic and foreign debt.3 Yet another major problem was sluggish population growth over the last third or so of the period. The pace of increase was probably slowed by a combination of mortality in war and civil disturbance, continuing epidemic disease, including recurrent epidemics of cholera and typhus, and general economic debility. Mexican conservatives and liberals alike struggled after 1821 to assert their competing but overlapping visions for the country’s future, public life dominated by the perhaps two thousand or so men who made up what I call here the political nation. Ordinary people, poor, largely voiceless politically and with little prospect of upward social mobility, still enjoyed public celebratory life, the consolations of religion, the intimacy of the domestic sphere, and the other human pleasures—emotional, aesthetic, sensual, and interpersonal. Around 1850 or so most Mexicans still lived in the countryside on family farms, haciendas, and in villages or perhaps small towns and earned their living from the land as farmers or laborers. The urban population of the country was perhaps 10 percent of the whole, literacy rates correspondingly low. In Alamán’s day landed wealth was still extremely concentrated. The Indians, who made up about 50 percent of the country’s population in 1850, lived in villages and hamlets, farmed at a near-subsistence level, and produced some small surpluses of maize, small livestock, and horticultural products for sale in towns and cities within a short distance of where they lived. Most of them lived within the traditional structures of the village community: much churchcentered activity and religious celebratory life, a male-dominated, gerontocratic political structure, and the time-consecrated patterns of family formation.

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In most areas of the country landlord hegemony was still strong, and until the extension of state power in the Porfirian period the reach of the government was limited, as was that of transportation and communication systems. The performance of the Mexican economy during the early republican period is hard to assess. Scholarly work has shown that the Mexican economy as a whole stagnated or grew only very slightly between independence and 1850. By contrast, on the eve of the independence struggle, in 1810, Mexico lagged not far behind the fledgling United States in the size of its economy; by the end of the nineteenth century, however, the American economy was many times bigger than the Mexican.4 Recent research has somewhat brightened the picture for the 1820–50 period in contrast to the long-accepted image of a universal economic downturn reversing itself only in the last quarter of the century. Certain regions of the country and sectors of its economy demonstrated signs of recovery, growth, and even development. While most of the mining industry lay in ruins, and huge areas of the countryside were slow to recover from the devastation wreaked by the insurgency, some regions of the country rebounded more robustly. To the west, for example, the Michoacán area was not bogged down in the stagnation thought to characterize these decades, and the same was true of the region of San Luis Potosí to the east.5 There is evidence of an early recovery of the farming economy in certain parts of the Bajío, the traditional breadbasket of Mexico sprawling outward from the great mining center at Guanajuato. And despite competition from chiefly British imports, the textile industry gained a foothold in the east-central city of Puebla and somewhat on the western side of the country, in Guadalajara. Notwithstanding some positive signs of recovery, in the early decades of republican life political instability, very modest economic growth if not outright stagnation, and social malaise prevailed. How had this declensionist story of Mexico’s stormy passage from colony to nation come about? Certainly politics had a good deal to do with it—the failure of political actors to reach a consensus about the legitimacy of power arrangements and the continual resort to violence to settle conflicts in the public sphere. Weak state capacity arose from the absence at the national level of a firm, rational fiscal base, a function arrogated to themselves by the individual states during the spasms of federalist ascendancy. At most times this reduced to bare bones the government’s ability to perform essential tasks, putting control of fiscal resources largely in the hands of private lenders to the government, the agiotistas. Issues of human capital also played some role: the weakness or even total absence of educational opportunities for common peo-

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ple, for example, and very low rates of literacy, at most 10 percent or so at independence, as I have suggested. The expulsion decrees of 1827 and 1829 sent many European-born Spaniards out of the country, bearing with them their experience, knowledge, and what capital they could carry, helping to deplete the new country of a valuable human resource.

Sources and Methods The original manuscript version of this book contained several hundred more footnotes citing archival sources than the published version, notes left aside here due to space considerations. But the major primary sources are amply represented in the text, cited fully in the notes and at the beginning of the bibliography. The suppressed notes almost exclusively reference documents from sections of the National Archive of Mexico and the Carso Historical Archive in Mexico City; the Lucas Alamán Papers and other collections of nineteenth-century correspondence in the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas-Austin; and the correspondence published in the Aguayo Spencer edition of Alamán’s Obras. A very important secondary source for this book has been the biography by José C. Valadés, Alamán: Estadista e historiador (Mexico City, 1938). Born in Mazatlán, Valadés (1899–1976) was a journalist, diplomat (serving at various times as ambassador to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Portugal, Colombia, and Uruguay), college professor, cofounder of the Partido Comunista de México, and an extremely prolific writer on Mexican history from a left-wing perspective. Although he was a man of the political far left, his biography of Lucas Alamán is balanced and sympathetic, even celebratory, and heavily documented from unpublished sources. Unfortunately, the scholarly apparatus in Valadés’s work is not all that one might wish. Although he cites primary sources (if most of the time imprecisely), it is almost impossible to link quotations or assertions of fact with the documents and other materials from which Valadés drew them. Where I have been able to trace passages of his work to unpublished sources, however, I have found his quotations and assertions to be unfailingly accurate. He was clearly able to consult the unfinished Alamán autobiographical fragment now in the Carso archive, for example, which I have relied on heavily as a key to Alamán’s personal history, thought, and career. On the whole I am satisfied that Valadés’s work is to be trusted and have felt comfortable leaning on it for certain aspects of Alamán’s life not documented elsewhere.

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Finally, let me add a brief word to readers about the many lengthy block quotations included here, primarily from Lucas Alamán’s letters and other written works. Very little in the way of Alamán’s personal correspondence, to his wife and children, for example, survives, or at least little that I have seen. José Valadés possessed a large collection of Alamán papers, cited in his biography as “in possession of the author,” which remains in private hands and which I was not permitted to consult. From what I can tell, access to the Valadés collection would not have made a material difference in my understanding of Lucas Alamán. This gap in the sources accounts for the importance I have accorded to his unfinished memoirs. But if one wishes to fathom his personality, his mind, and his thinking to some depth—to extract some sense of Alamán the man—it is essential to look closely at his business and political correspondence, much of it with the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone. For this reason I have felt justified in quoting directly from his written letters and papers more extensively than might have been the case had documents of a more personal nature survived. All translations from the Spanish are mine unless otherwise specified.

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1 • An Old and Distinguished Family

Memoirs of an Internal Exile “I come of one of the oldest and most distinguished families of Guanajuato, capital of the province of that name.” Thus Lucas Alamán began an account of his background and early life, writing while in hiding in Mexico City in 1833 to evade the prosecution of charges against him for his alleged complicity in the murder of President Vicente Guerrero in February 1831. The thoughts of exiles often turn not only homeward but also to the past, since home is in the past. Wrote Alamán: “I began to write this work during the persecution I suffered in the year 1833. My object was not and is not to publish it, at least during my lifetime. . . . I write shut up in a room provided to me by the generosity of a friend in the most secret part of his house, without seeing or communicating with anyone.”1 An intensely private man, he presented to the world at large the very model of buttoned-up, haut bourgeois reserve and respectability. The Memorias focus less on the writer’s childhood than on the social structure of New Spain in the colonial twilight, the society of his time in the mining city of Guanajuato, and on his family background. There is a chapter heading without a chapter (regrettably never written) with the descriptive caption “Old customs of Guanajuato and of this country in general: opulence and happiness enjoyed by it. Some private anecdotes.” If it is true, as Freud wrote, that neurotics suffer from reminiscences, then so also must memoirists and autobiographers, all the more so if they see the present as fraught with risks and the future as cloudy. When Alamán began writing he was in exile, his political future highly uncertain, his economic situation in free fall. He was able to stay in contact with his wife only through intermediaries. Within the extended decade between 1830 and 1842 or so, as Mexico’s slide into po13

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litical instability accelerated, he ascended to the pinnacle of his political power, started down the other side, and saw his hopes for the acquisition of great personal wealth effectively dashed for a second time. There is an elegiac tone in Alamán’s depiction of the Guanajuato of his childhood, the early passages of the Memorias combining the personal and the political. The Memorias” begin with an epigraph drawn from Ovid: Maestus eram, requiesque mihi, non fama petita est Mens intenta suis, ne foret usque malis —Ovid, Tristium IV. Eleg. [I was melancholy; solace, not fame, has been my object, that my mind dwell not constantly on its own woes.]2 In a brief meditation on the writing of memoirs, he noted that such works were few and far between among Hispanophone writers. He remarked that a cholera epidemic was raging in Mexico City while he was in his internal exile, each day taking people he knew to their deaths.3 Alamán cited Boccaccio’s Decameron, although, as he asserted, he did not write “among beautiful women and gallant gentlemen, nor in the perfume of gardens or surrounded by delicacies, but shut up in a room. I write, then, to entertain myself.” He had no thought of publication except by accident at some future time. He regarded his Memorias, in other words, as a hostage to fortune, a message in a bottle that friends, family, or succeeding generations might or might not encounter. The following entry appears in the baptismal register of the Guanajuato parochial church for 18 October 1792: “In the year of Our Lord of 1792, on 20 October, in this Holy Parochial Church of Guanajuato, I, Dr. Don Manuel de Quesada, curate and ecclesiastical judge of this city and its district, solemnly performed baptism with holy oil on Lucas Ignacio José, Joaquín Pedro de Alcántara, Juan Bautista Francisco de Paula, a Spanish infant of three days old, legitimate child of Don Juan Vicente Alamán and Doña María Ignacia Escalada. His godfather was Don Tomás de [sic] Alamán, whom I advised of his spiritual kinship and the obligation to educate his godchild in Christian doctrine.”4 Tomás Alamán was the younger brother of Lucas’s father, Juan Vicente. While Juan Vicente Alamán achieved considerable wealth and political visibility during his lifetime, the real distinction came from the side of Lucas’s mother, María Ignacia Escalada. In his classic study of eighteenth-century Guanajuato’s

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mining industry and the society it spawned, David Brading remarks on this feature of Alamán’s background, writing of his “decidedly curious genealogy” that he had to go back to his great-great-grandfather to find a Mexican-born Spaniard among his male forebears.5 Lucas Alamán barely mentions his father at all, mentioning incidentally the elder Alamán’s origin in the Kingdom of Navarre, in northern Spain, but misattributing the birthplace of his great-greatgrandfather to Spain rather than Mexico. He wrote that his mother, doña María Ignacia, descended “through the feminine line” from the family of the Marqués de San Clemente, one of the richest miners Guanajuato had produced. The history of this family connection would convey to the reader an idea of how “that type of Aristocracy that has existed in this country” was formed and of the mining industry of Guanajuato, “now [in 1833–34] at the point of extinction.” This emphasis on his maternal ancestry bespeaks Alamán’s desire to recover aristocratic distinction in his family’s life. The autobiographical fragment ends with his guilty admission that in 1824 he sold the house where he was born and raised, while evoking the “many happy years” he spent there as a child. The house still stands in Guanajuato, now converted into an up-market boutique hotel, La Casona de Don Lucas. While the mystery of the ghostly father remains unsolved, Alamán spent many pages exalting the family connections of his mother, nested within his sociological musings on ancien régime society. Alamán’s nostalgic, melancholy tour of the Mexican mining aristocracy and the circumstances of his childhood and young manhood casts a long shadow over his life as a mature man, an influence that must be inferred from his other writings and public activities. In the public realm, the reconstitution of the faded titled aristocracy of his youth as a natural aristocracy of property and talent was an issue much pondered by Atlantic-world political thinkers of the early republican age. Such men would guide the fate of the young Mexican polity as an unofficially bounded political nation embracing the hombres de bien, individuals of education, purpose, property, and unimpeachable integrity. His perception of status loss in the generations before his birth impelled him as a private entrepreneur to overreach in a compensatory stretch. Intellectually, Lucas Alamán’s positive view of the Spanish colonial past and negative verdict on the process of Mexico’s independence from the metropolis were clearly influenced by this background. Alamán was a conservative less because of what he feared to lose than because of what he had lost already, a modernizer in large measure because of what he hoped to recover and more a nostalgic than a reactionary. Not all of us are fated to act out our personal dramas on a large public stage, as Alamán did. Erik Erikson referred to this as the

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intersection of a life history with a historical moment.6 The Memorias illuminate his life and the times in which he lived through his own eyes—shaped by a project of self-fashioning and viewed through a lens tinted with nostalgia but ground on the stone of his sharp intelligence. He invoked the religious sensibility and good works of the silver aristocracy to flog the contemporary liberals for their nihilistic destruction of the old, serviceable pieties and the public practices to which they gave concrete form, discussions layered with memories of his youth and family background. The genealogy Lucas Alamán proudly claimed stretched back seven generations on his mother’s side, principally through the Busto family, which originated in the far north of Spain, in the area of the Valle de Escaño in the mountains of Burgos.7 In his Anales de Aragón, the sixteenth-century chronicler Jerónimo Zurita placed one Pedro de Busto, a “caballero de Ocaña,” at the head of an uprising in the city of Ocaña against the forces of the Marquis of Villena and King Henry of Castile, in support of the young Princess Isabella. This took place around 1475 at the height of the civil strife in Spain that eventually produced the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic Kings.8 The homonymous Pedro de Busto, a descendant of the Isabelline warrior, arrived from Spain and settled in Guanajuato about a hundred years later, in the latter half of the sixteenth century. Pedro de Busto’s grandson Francisco de Busto y Jérez became a silver miner in Guanajuato. Busto y Jérez renovated the Mellado mine in Guanajuato, discovered around 1550, piling up a considerable fortune. Located along the same mother lode (veta madre) as the great Valenciana, Rayas, and Cata mines, the Mellado was closely associated with the Cata, which was to play an important role in the Alamán family fortunes. Busto y Jérez married the Creole woman Francisca de Moya y Monroy around 1650 and fathered four children, among them Francisco Matías de Busto Jérez y Moya Monroy, the maternal great-great-grandfather and totemic ancestor of Lucas Alamán, ennobled as the first Marqués de San Clemente in 1730. Foreshadowed in the transmission of diminishing mining wealth by inheritance from Francisco de Busto y Jérez’s generation to that of his children, the loss of economic and social prepotency over time haunted Alamán’s life. The Mellado mine’s thirty-two shares were divided equally among Busto’s four children; the first marqués thus received by inheritance only eight shares. Much of his wealth and the basis of his ennoblement derived from the neighboring Cata mine, in bonanza during his mature years.9 Born in Guanajuato in 1684, Francisco Matías de Busto Jérez y Moya Monroy was the eldest son of Francisco de Busto y Jérez. In Alamán’s memoir, a

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curious error crept into his account of his great-great-grandfather in identifying the first Marqués de San Clemente as a Spaniard rather than a Guanajuatoborn Creole.10 In his early twenties, around 1708, Busto married Luisa Marmolejo y Esquivel, the Creole daughter of the owner of the Hacienda San Juan de los Otates, a substantial estate located just east of León, in the direction of Guanajuato.11 Very wealthy by his midforties by virtue of his earnings from the Mellado and Cata mines and a regidor perpetuo on the city’s cabildo (a life member of the city council), Francisco Matías de Busto was ennobled in 1730 as the first Marqués de San Clemente in recognition of the large number of pious donations given by him and his wife. At the same time, he was named a knight in the honorific Spanish military Order of Santiago. The title San Clemente derived from a mining refinery (hacienda de beneficio) of that name located just below the Mellado mine, one of several owned by the silver magnate. Of Busto’s ennoblement, Alamán wrote, “A Spanish poet has said of this common pattern: ‘An Indiano cedes the fruit of his mines / So that he will be known as a count.’ ”12 He offered a truncated but acute analysis of novohispano society and its values: “Almost all the noble titles of this country have the same origin: in Guanajuato there later came the Marqueses de Rayas and the Condes de Valenciana, [taking their names from] the names of the mines that enriched the Sardaneta and Obregón families. . . . And in sum . . . [with few exceptions] . . . he who set himself to write a Mexican nobiliary would not need to tire himself much in encountering in every [noble] house proof of what Quevedo said, Money is quality.”13 The Mexican noble titles never conferred seigneurial rights or other privileges. Wealthy ennobled Mexicans established pious foundations, sponsored public celebrations, built new churches or adorned existing ones, and paid for the construction of other public buildings, which “would always confer advantage in favor of the men who built them even if they were things as useless as the pyramids of Egypt.” Comparing the Mexican aristocracy’s impulse toward doing social good with the destructive Jacobinism he saw in the liberals of his own time, he wrote, [On the other hand] those who are always applauding themselves on their education and wisdom have done nothing but destroy and annihilate everything that existed without building anything in its place. The aristocracy that existed in this country was therefore entirely nominal, since it exercised no advantage or privilege over the rest of the inhabitants, nor any other distinction than that which wealth confers. . . . But in our day we have seen attacks on those property holders called aristocrats,

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and a concerted plan is being carried out against anyone who has anything, since by equality is understood an equality of poverty, and our liberal mandarins hope that this country will be rich when all its inhabitants are equally poor.14 The signs and works of Francisco Matías de Busto’s great wealth everywhere around Guanajuato reminded Alamán of the faded grandeur of his clan. Busto had built a “magnificent house” near the central plaza of town, on a site known to this day as the Cuesta del Marqués (the Marquis’s Hill). When the Busto family lost much of its wealth in the late eighteenth century the mansion was sold to the Conde de Valenciana, later still (1831) acquired by the State of Guanajuato to house the state legislature, and demolished in 1887. Busto also sponsored the construction of the chapel next to the parish church of Guanajuato, which served in his great-great-grandson’s time as the baptistery, with a joint portrait of the marqués and his wife still hanging there. In the vault below the chapel the body of the first marqués was entombed, which Alamán claimed to have seen about a century after his death (in about the 1840s), still well preserved and dressed in the mantle of the Order of Santiago. The first marqués’s piety and philanthropy supported most particularly the Jesuits, who arrived in the city in 1732 borne on a wave of Busto benevolence. Workings in the Cata mine had typically Jesuit names, as did members of the family, including Lucas Alamán’s mother (Ignacia), his aunts, and himself (Ignacio and Francisco Xavier). The Jesuits were so widely known for their discretion and dignified public presence, Alamán wrote, that even in his own day when someone did something vulgar or ill-mannered in public it was said of the person that “he was not educated by the Jesuits.” Even while the first Marqués de San Clemente was reaching the peak of his wealth, social prominence, and public visibility during the second third of the eighteenth century, the seeds of the Busto family’s decline were quite literally being sown in his marriage bed. There were too many Busto heirs, too much conspicuous consumption (including the piling up of debt), and too little reinvestment of capital in the mines that formed the basis of family wealth. When Francisco Matías de Busto died in 1747 at the age of sixty-three he was a wealthy man by the standards of the time. He and a partner each reaped a fortune of 300,000 to 400,000 pesos from the mines. But Busto had ten children, and the estate was not entailed, so it was subject to rules of equal partible inheritance. The holdings included the Hacienda de Villachuato, located to the southwest of Guanajuato, valued at a very substantial 325,000

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pesos, while another hacienda was valued at a modest 55,000 pesos. In Guanajuato itself Busto’s property included an hacienda de beneficio (San Clemente) worth 30,000 pesos and his house, valued at 45,000 pesos. The first marqués’s eight shares in the Mellado mine and twelve in the Cata had no assigned value. His total assets therefore amounted to 454,000 pesos. But against this sat debts of some 240,000 pesos, probably owed to the silver bankers who financed the capital-intensive and risky mining business. Brading asserts that much of the distribution of the estate to the heirs was nominal, the total less dowries already paid to Busto daughters and shares in the value of virtually uncollectible debts owed to the estate. By 1753 Villachuato was ceded outright to the major creditor, and the remaining assets finally shared out in 1756. This destroyed the capital accumulation of two generations and led to the abandonment of the Mellado and Cata mines.15 Alamán got some of the specific facts about the reproductive vigor of the Bustos wrong, but the general drift of family history was right. He wrote that Francisco Matías de Busto Jérez left only a son and daughter as heirs, when in fact his first marriage, to Luisa Marmolejo y Esquivel, produced seven children. Of the six surviving offspring, five daughters married peninsular Spaniards, one of them Antonio Jacinto Diez Madroñero, Lucas Alamán’s maternal great-grandfather. The sole surviving male child, Francisco Cristóbal, became the second Marqués de San Clemente. The first marqués’s second union, with Lorenza de Reynoso y Manso, produced five children, including a pair of twins; two of the boys became clergymen of some distinction, while the daughters married. The peninsular Spanish husbands of the Busto daughters benefited from their wives’ inheritances and the backing of the marqués in starting their own businesses in Guanajuato. The second marqués, Francisco Cristóbal de Busto, married only once, in 1749 to Mariana Francisca Pereda y Carrera, but proved nearly as prolific as his father, siring seven children, among them the third Marqués de San Clemente, Pedro José. Against his mother’s strong objections Pedro José married his mistress, the mixed-race servant girl Andrea Martínez, and ended up renouncing the title due to his inability to support it economically.16 Alamán in his memoirs cited a proverb still current in Guanajuato in his youth to the effect that “Bustos, burros, y bastones en Guanajuato a montones.” Although the poetry is not easy to render in English, the sense of it is that there were heaps (montones) of Bustos. The drainage of wealth through the great mining clans of Guanajuato provoked Alamán to call on an old saying: “El padre mercader, el hijo caballero, y el nieto pordiosero,” which roughly translates to “Father merchant, son

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gentleman, grandson beggar.” One sees here the three-generation slide from wealth and social position to poverty and obscurity, which is exactly what happened with the Marqueses de San Clemente. Alamán commented that the numerous progeny of the first two ennobled Bustos produced a “scene of waste and disorder which conducted to ruin and poverty one of the most opulent families that has existed in this country.” He ascribed this process principally to the division of the shares in the Cata and Mellado mines among a score of heirs and the gambling habit plaguing the adult men in the family. He depicted this vividly by describing the days on which ore from the mines was sold to refiners at auction: “The day of the auction . . . all the relatives, brothers, sons-in-law, and cousins gathered at the Cata mine. . . . There, after a splendid meal, a monte game was set up, attended by all the gamblers in Guanajuato, and in it vanished all the wealth just garnered from the sale [of ore] made in the mine. Many times, seated beside the table on which the ruin of my grandparents and relatives was consummated, I have been gripped by the saddest reflections, considering on the one hand the abysses beneath my feet from which such treasures had come, and on the other the poverty I saw among my relatives and the paths by which they arrived at it.” There were relatively few sons, but the numerous daughters placed heavy demands for dowries on the first and second marqués’s fortunes: “Thus ended the prosperity of the house of the Marqueses de San Clemente, and this has been the ending point of almost all the opulent houses of this country. If some branches of it [i.e., the Busto family] have survived . . . in Guanajuato until our day [i.e., 1833], this has not come from the original wealth of the family, but from the marriages that the various daughters and granddaughters of the second Marqués contracted with industrious Spaniards, who with the fruit of their labors formed new fortunes and families that today are also almost all destroyed.”17 He portrayed what one might call the Creole escape hatch, that is, the pattern of Mexican-born elite women marrying peninsular Spaniards and establishing new dynasties, the history of Alamán’s own parents. Francisco Cristóbal de Busto y Marmolejo, the only surviving male of the first marriage of Francisco Matías and thus heir to the marquisate, was born in 1727 and died in the 1790s at a relatively advanced age.18 He wed in 1749 and fathered three daughters and four sons; one of these sons, Pedro José, was born in 1765 and would become the third marqués. By the time Francisco Cristóbal inherited the title the family fortunes were much diminished through inheritance and dowering practices, litigation among various heirs, gambling and conspicuous consumption, and the lack of capital necessary to

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maintain the mines. Alamán cites him with considerable reverence but no details. His son, Pedro José de Busto y Pereda, born in 1765, became the fourth Marqués de San Clemente, living exclusively off income from rural properties he owned in the Celaya area. Although he married his mixed-race mistress, Andrea Martínez, over the strong objections of his mother, he was noted locally for his piety. Idle rentier or not, pious or not, the fourth marqués eventually found himself forced to relinquish the noble title of San Clemente for lack of the means to support it adequately. Alamán concluded that except for “numerous bastard branches, since apparently gambling was not the only slip [desliz] made by my relatives,” the name of Busto was almost extinguished. One of these slips showed up in the form of an artillery captain named José María Bustos [sic], killed on 4 December 1828 “fighting valiantly” to suppress the Acordada Revolt in Mexico City. Other, less problematic unions linked Alamán as a distant cousin to the families of the Marqueses de Rayas (Sardaneta) and Condes de Valenciana (Septién) and to other prominent families of Guanajuato.19 Despite the complicated marital intermingling of these Creole and peninsular Spanish families over the generations, however, Alamán also pointed to tensions between these groups—“the fatal rivalry between peninsular Spaniards and Americans that has caused such evils”—often identified as a major factor behind the independence movement. Lucas Alamán’s place in this illustrious genealogy derived from his mother, the great-granddaughter of the first Marqués de San Clemente through his first marriage. One of the marqués’s daughters, Josefa Antonia, had married Jacinto Antonio Diez Madroñero, a peninsular Spaniard from Extremadura who arrived in Guanajuato in the early decades of the eighteenth century. As is true of many of the Busto women, there is little information about Josefa Antonia except for the twenty-six thousand pesos she brought as dowry to her marriage. In addition, the property left to Diez Madroñero at his wife’s death included “strong shares” (fuerte participación) in the Cata and Mellado mines, later embroiled in intrafamilial litigation. Diez Madroñero enjoyed considerable success as a miner during the early decades of the eighteenth century, serving as an elector in the mining deputation at least twice, as regidor (city councilman) of the city, and as alcalde principal (governor) of the province of Guanajuato. Alamán devoted considerable attention in his memoirs to this maternal great-grandfather, in his words “a man of singular presentation and character,” who must have died well before Alamán’s birth. Anecdotes about him were intended to illustrate the seriousness with which such people took matters of philanthropy, piety, and the transitory nature of mining wealth.

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Alamán wrote that his great-grandfather’s fortune was already in decline when his first wife, Josefa Antonia de Busto y Marmolejo, died. But looking tearfully at her corpse, he swore that much as he had loved her, should his Santa Urzula mine come into bonanza he would remarry. The enterprise enjoyed at least a brief burst of renewed productivity, since Diez Madroñero honored his vow to marry a second time. Still, he died much diminished in his fortune. In Lucas Alamán’s time his maternal great-grandfather was remembered chiefly through a street in the city bearing his name, Calle de don Jacinto. Diez Madroñero fathered six children. His daughter Antonia from his first wife, Josefa Antonia de Busto, married Captain Francisco Antonio de Escalada y La Flor Septién, a peninsular Spaniard from Llerena, in Spain, born in 1727, who settled in Guanajuato some time before midcentury and was probably involved in mercantile or mining activity or both. One of the children of this union, born about midcentury, was Lucas Alamán’s mother, María Ignacia. Her sister Gertrudis married Alamán’s paternal uncle, Tomás Alamán; the two Alamán brothers, in other words, married the two Escalada y la Flor sisters.

María Ignacia Escalada and Gabriel Arechederreta María Ignacia Escalada y la Flor’s son claimed she was one of the most beautiful women ever to be seen in Guanajuato. She bore four children, lived to quite an advanced age, handled her own business affairs while twice widowed, and was adored by her two famous sons. After the loss of most of her grandfather’s wealth the family lived in much-reduced circumstances, but her beauty, family background, and genteel upbringing portended an advantageous match. Married on 12 November 1770 to Gabriel Arechederreta, she was widowed in 1779, a year later marrying Juan Vicente Alamán, Lucas Alamán’s father, a pairing in fact advised by Arechederreta himself at the end of his life. The younger man was, at the time of his marriage, heavily involved in Arechederreta’s commercial enterprise, may already by that time have entered the mining business, and even have had his way eased by the arrival in Guanajuato of his brother Tomás some time previously. Ignacia Escalada y la Flor’s marriage to Arechederreta produced one son, Juan Bautista Arechederreta, Lucas Alamán’s much older (by two decades) half brother, born in 1771, who was to become a distinguished churchman. Her second marriage, lasting nearly three decades, produced three children. One of these, Agustina, died in infancy. Lucas Alamán’s surviving elder sister, María de la Luz Alamán Escalada, born a decade before him, in 1782, was to marry Manuel Iturbe e Iraeta,

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two decades her senior. One of their sons, Luis Iturbe Alamán (b. 1803), Lucas Alamán’s nephew, was to figure importantly as a correspondent of his uncle and in business arrangements with him. On 12 November 1770 the lovely nineteen-year-old María Ignacia married Gabriel Arechederreta, already firmly established in the Guanajuato merchant-mining community by this time. Born in the Villa de Durango in the Basque country of Old Spain in 1735, he was to die a relatively young man in 1778, at the age of forty-three, leaving behind a seven-year-old son and a wealthy, attractive young widow of twenty-seven. By the time of his marriage he was serving as alcalde ordinario de segundo voto (one of two municipal magistrates) in Guanajuato and was subsequently to occupy positions in the mining deputation (1771, 1774) and a second time on the city council (1778). In partnership with another Basque merchant- aviador, Arechederreta advanced capital to Vicente Sardaneta, the owner of the San Juan de Rayas mine. This led to the discovery of “one of the most stunning silver deposits there has been in Guanajuato,” in Lucas Alamán’s words as well as to Sardaneta’s ennoblement in 1774 as the Marqués de San Juan de Rayas. Arechederreta emerged from this episode enriched, subsequently worked the Espíritu Santo mine in the area, and engaged in other profitable business dealings with local miners. We know something of Gabriel Arechederreta’s fortune from an inventory of his estate made by his executors in 1781 at the behest of María Ignacia de Escalada and her second husband. This fortune provided at least in part the basis for that of Juan Vicente Alamán, Lucas’s father. The conflicting claims over the estate by the Arechederreta and Alamán families were to be the source of considerable friction for many years after don Gabriel’s death, opening a breach not only between Juan Bautista Arechederreta and his mother’s second husband but also between the two half brothers, Juan Bautista and Lucas. Arechederreta owned a large store on the Calle del Real Ensaye in Guanajuato, with an inventory worth nearly 18,000 pesos, being managed at his death by Juan Vicente Alamán. Smaller commercial establishments of his, in Guanajuato itself and elsewhere, totaled 60,000 pesos in value, other property and cash about 36,000 pesos, and debts owing to the store nearly 15,000 pesos. The previous year’s profits on this business had been 8,500 pesos, of which half pertained to Arechederreta’s estate, a quarter to Juan Vicente Alamán, his manager, and a quarter to another partner. Another 150,000 pesos were owing to Arechederreta personally, probably for capital sums and goods supplied to other miners. Personal goods from the home of Arechederreta and María Ignacia were valued at over 5,000 pesos. His estate also held a

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quarter interest in nine barras (a measure of length along an ore face) of two flooded silver mines in the district, valueless in their present condition. The total value of Arechederreta’s estate was just over 300,000 pesos, from which were to be subtracted 160,000 pesos in debts and liabilities, leaving clear the sum of about 142,000 pesos—a substantial estate by any measure but including no landed property. Of this amount, slightly more than 82,000 pesos were earmarked as Juan Bautista Arechederreta’s inheritance, plus about 21,000 pesos in the value of a quinto, an extra amount typically designated for an eldest or favorite heir or another legatee. About 40,000 pesos went to the widow, now remarried. Gabriel Arechederreta’s impact on the Alamán family was to extend well beyond his death in 1779. The bitter legal struggle over his estate between his son Juan Bautista Arechederreta cast a shadow over Juan Vicente Alamán’s last years, distancing the half brothers from each other for some time. On the positive side, Arechederreta had taken an interest in the education and careers of his wife’s brothers. One of these was Miguel Escalada, a wild youth whom Lucas Alamán suggested Arechederreta had treated with “excessive severity” in sending him to the Philippines to prevent his dishonoring the family name, a practice referred to as “throwing [someone] to China.” In this case, alas, the cure was worse than the disease. Wrote Lucas Alamán, “Many times it was observed that such ostracism from the family radically corrected the aberrations of those who displayed them and made productive men of those who would only have been wastrels here [in Mexico]. This did not happen in the case of my unfortunate uncle, who died in Manila at the hand of an offended husband.” Another of Alamán’s maternal uncles whom Arechederreta’s attentions could not save fathered two illegitimate children. A daughter had acquired a “sad renown” for her beauty, louche behavior, and the violent confrontations she inspired between her lovers. The other sibling was a bastard who had been a visible figure in Mexico’s political troubles for his reckless daring and adherence to antigovernment movements. By contrast, Arechederreta’s own son, Juan Bautista, enjoyed a long, distinguished career as a churchman, author on ecclesiastical matters, and rector of the venerable Mexico City schools of San Juan de Letrán and the Colegio de Santa María de Todos Santos, eventually becoming a canon of the capital’s cathedral. In closing the rich, gossipy account he gave of his mother’s family, Lucas Alamán wrote of the rapidly disappearing silver aristocracy and of his own mission to preserve its memory: “Perhaps I have extended myself too much on this junk [antiguallas—an unusually colloquial expression for such a formal stylist as Alamán]

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about my family. It appears useless and boring, [and] within a short time will be absolutely forgotten. I have heard it from many old people among my relatives. . . . In a short time perhaps I will be the only repository of this information. . . . I want, then, to provide this satisfaction to those who may come after me.”

Juan Vicente Alamán Lucas’s father, Juan Vicente Alamán, had arrived in Guanajuato in 1770 at the age of twenty-three. The young Spaniard became the principal employee of his countryman Gabriel Arechederreta, although over the course of the decade he grew to be more like a junior partner in Arechederreta’s substantial commercial establishment. Juan Vicente Alamán almost certainly came to know his future wife in a social context well before their marriage. He was a native of Ochagavia, in the Valle de Salazar, near the French border in what is today the province of Navarre. Juan Vicente’s father (1724–93) bore the same name, and his mother, Francisca Ochoa, died at a relatively young age, perhaps in childbirth, in 1753.20 In the medieval period the Alamanes had been lords of Castelnuovo de Nonafus, Labastida de Levis, Graulhet, Puybegon, and Rabastens, all in the immediate area of Albi in the Languedoc region of southeastern France; other holdings were located around Toulouse, still others south of the Pyrenees.21 These seigneuries were tied strongly to the larger history of the Albigensian heresy, in which members of the Alamán family were implicated (although if they were Catharists themselves is not clear), and therefore to an even more complex, late medieval European history encompassing France and England. How much Lucas Alamán knew of this history is impossible to say; it shows up not at all in his incomplete memoirs but neither does the life of his father. It seems implausible that at least some of the distinguished and dramatic history of the Alamanes should not have been preserved as family myth and memory and would not have come down to the young man from talk with his father (who died when Lucas Alamán was sixteen years old) and other elders. While we know virtually nothing about his personal life, we can reconstruct a good deal of Juan Vicente Alamán’s economic and political presence in his adopted city of Guanajuato during the forty years he lived there. In 1780, at the relatively early age of thirty-three, he was already wealthy and publicly prominent when he married the young widow who was to be Lucas Alamán’s mother; by the time of his only son’s birth in 1792 he was at the peak of his

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career.22 In his Memorias his son wrote that if the history of his mother’s family presented an image of wealth and prodigality, that of his father would present that of simplicity of customs, frugality (economía), and “the happiness that one and the other produce.” From being a clerk working for Gabriel Arechederreta, Juan Vicente quickly found his way to prosperity by setting up his own business (casa de avío) supplying miners and credit to them and was soon investing directly in mining activity. A number of aviadores, among them Gabriel Arechederreta and Juan Vicente Alamán, entered the mining business themselves. Since Juan Vicente Alamán had taken over the substantial store established by Gabriel Arechederreta, it is to be expected that numbers of local people would owe him sums large enough to generate a paper trail. Among the loans he extended to people outside the immediate context of the store, some brought him into contact with families whose sons later played prominent roles in the insurgency of 1810 or the political history of the early republic. Among these were Domingo Narciso de Allende, the father of Ignacio Allende; Roque Abasolo, the father of Mariano Abasolo; and José Francisco Degollado, the father of Santos Degollado, liberal politician and martyr, military commander, Supreme Court judge, government minister, and governor of the State of Michoacán. As so frequently happened, one’s ambition, industriousness, access to capital for investment, social connections, and political visibility did not guarantee success in the actual business of silver mining itself, which could generate huge wealth quickly but huge indebtedness just as quickly. It is possible to offer an informed speculation about the shape of Juan Vicente’s career by tracing the business deals in which he was involved in the two decades before the birth of his son in 1792. In the early 1780s, as an aviador, he counted among his clients the greatest silver magnates of Guanajuato, including the Conde de Valenciana. By the middle of the 1780s Juan Vicente had entered the refining business, partially backed by a loan from Valenciana. By the end of the decade Alamán had acted as banker and supplier for ten miners and was renting his own refining installation. Later still he owned his own ore refinery, El Patrocinio de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato, financed by a thirty-thousand-peso loan from the widowed Condesa de Valenciana in 1789. Lucas Alamán recalled in his memoirs that when he was a young boy his father often took him to the hacienda de beneficio to learn the basics of the refining process. By the time of his death in 1808 Juan Vicente had sunk upward of fifty thousand pesos into the Cata mine without return. As late as 1801 he was paying in taxes on his own mining operations up to 50 percent of those paid by the Conde de

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Valenciana, but by 1805 his payments had declined substantially, suggesting a softening in the family’s economic fortunes in the years immediately preceding the outbreak of the 1810 insurgency. Juan Vicente Alamán became increasingly prominent in the civic life of Guanajuato from the early 1780s up to his death in 1808, offering a model for his son. Given his economic success, political visibility, and good marriage, Juan Vicente would have been expected to take a prominent role in the city’s affairs, as successful men typically did. As early as 1782 he was solicited for a substantial contribution for the establishment of a poorhouse (casa de misericordia) in Guanajuato for the relief of the city’s indigent. In subsequent years he pledged funds toward the establishment of convents in the city and assumed a visible place in religious celebrations, both as participant and organizer. He would also have been among those socially prominent local citizens always invited to such celebrations, even when he had not taken a hand in organizing or sponsoring them. One such occasion was the memorial Mass for the recently deceased Condesa de Gálvez, the widow of the former viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez (1746–86), celebrated in the parish church of Guanajuato on 23 November 1799. Alamán was invited to this event by Intendant Juan Antonio de Riaño and the curate of the parish church, Antonio Lavarrieta, attesting to his elite status in the city.23 A document written by Juan Vicente himself around 1793 and preserved by Lucas Alamán among his father’s papers lays out a narrative of the considerable public service Juan Vicente Alamán performed for the city of Guanajuato during the 1780s.24 It was essentially a self-defense justifying his reluctance to serve in an important municipal post for the second time within a decade. His service on the city council had begun in 1781, when he was elected alcalde de primer voto—to the great detriment of his own business activities, he claimed. The following year he became a regular city council member (regidor capitular), remaining in the post for the next decade or so. In this capacity he carried out a number of “serious and difficult commissions,” including overseeing the dredging of the Río Guanajuato, which ran through the middle of town; and the coordination of poor relief in 1785–86 during New Spain’s disastrous “año de hambre” (famine year), the worst harvest failure of the late colonial period. Since there was no bidder for the city’s meat monopoly (abasto de carnes) in 1787, Alamán ran it himself that year, and in 1787 and 1788 he was put in charge of restocking the city’s granary (pósito) and continuing the flow of poor relief. In 1793 he lent his support to the construction of the Alhóndiga, although actual construction of the building did not begin until 1797. This

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massive municipal granary was planned and sponsored by Intendant Riaño, a good friend of the family and a great positive influence on the young Lucas Alamán. But however supportive of the project he was from his post in city government, Juan Vicente vocally opposed Riaño’s plan to make the building architecturally distinguished on the grounds that there was no need to construct “un palacio de maíz” and that the funds should be devoted to something more pressing, such as road building.25 Tired and disillusioned by his decade of service on the city council and feeling that with the birth of his son his personal interests now demanded more of his attention, Juan Vicente concentrated his public activities more in the mining sector of the city during the next few years, taking a prominent role in the mining deputation. Despite this relative wealth of information about Juan Vicente Alamán’s business and political activities, in the end it is difficult to know what to make of him as a man, much less as a father. Lucas Alamán praised his mother’s beauty, but with regard to his father cites only his work ethic and economical ways. Beyond this he tells us in his memoirs almost nothing personal about either parent. Virtually the sole hint Alamán offers about his childhood is to say that he spent many happy years in the home his father built at the time of his son’s birth. But it is possible to offer some gossamer-thin speculations about Juan Vicente. His early life story conforms almost perfectly, at least typologically, to the pattern Brading and other scholars have sketched out of the young, relatively poor but industrious gachupín who emigrates to New Spain from the Basque provinces, works for a while as a commercial employee, and marries a wealthy Creole woman some years his junior—the boss’s daughter or perhaps, as in Juan Vicente’s case, his widow. Through personal application, luck, and an expanding web of social connections he becomes wealthy and respected, assumes a major public role in his community, and might even be ennobled (although not in this case). What sort of social attitudes this successful, even carpetbagging insertion into local society may have bred in Juan Vicente and other Spanish immigrants can only be guessed at, but there must have been at least hints of the ant and the grasshopper fable in the Spaniards’ ideas about their Mexican Creole cousins. Given prevailing notions of gender relations in late colonial elite families and Juan Vicente Alamán’s various business and political activities, we may also speculate that he was out of the home much of the time, thus defining a fairly sharp division between a female domestic sphere dominated by his wife and an external, exclusively male sphere in which he circulated. This may have bred quite possibly respectful, even affectionate but distanced relations between Juan Vicente and his chil-

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dren. There are also indications in his own account of his political activities in Guanajuato of a man touchy about his prerogatives and personal honor— although no more so than other men of his background, class, and time— confident in his abilities and not bashful about claiming credit where he felt it due and somewhat inclined to say “I told you so” when his advice was not followed. Whatever his parents’ influence on him, Lucas Alamán’s life was also shaped by the urban and physical environment in which he spent his childhood and adolescence. The surrounding mountains, the mines, the clear, cool air, the cobbled, narrow streets, and the substantial homes of the social elite— a few palatial (although never on the scale of the more spacious Mexico City), most of them more discrete—surely exerted a pull on his senses and memory as they do on the visitor even today. He returned to the city of his birth frequently when his health allowed, drawn by family and business interests and by its particular charm. Yet against this apparently idyllic backdrop was played out the shocking episode of the Hidalgo rebellion in which Lucas Alamán was himself briefly, almost fatally, swept up and which he was later to chronicle so eloquently. People close to him died either during the attack at the hands of the insurgents or in its wake at the hands of the royalist forces, the life of his natal city was ferociously disrupted, and the brittleness of the society in which he was raised was impressed on him. The elegiac tone of his childhood recollections and the family history were therefore violently juxtaposed against the wrenching apart of the social fabric in 1810. This furnished him not only with the dramatic material he later narrated as a historian, but also with a set of social and political attitudes that came to mark his adult life.

2 • A Silver-Plated Youth (1792–1815)

City of Silver: The Guanajuato of Alamán’s Childhood The beautiful and prosperous city of Guanajuato, long the provincial capital, was designated an intendancy in 1787. A hugely rich mining and commercial center, its silver mines produced much of the world’s silver in the eighteenth century (as Mexico still does) and underwrote several of the greatest fortunes and noble titles of the late colonial period. A late-eighteenthcentury description of the wealthier families could well apply to that of Juan Vicente Alamán: “Guanajuato has an extremely large population, full of native Spanish [i.e., Creole] people and families and many from Europe who through their industry and application have made large fortunes, some from the demanding working of the mines, which is their principal occupation, others from trade and commerce in silver and gold [and] the numerous mercantile establishments.”1 The city was the center of the Bajío, central Mexico’s breadbasket. The rural landscape was dominated by prosperous haciendas and family farms and was dotted with indigenous villages. Much of the wealth from the silver mines flowed into the large-scale commercial agriculture of the countryside, spurring the agricultural economy to rapid growth after 1750. The intendancy’s population grew substantially during the first decade of Alamán’s life, from nearly four hundred thousand in 1793 to over five hundred thousand in 1803, its racial makeup disproportionately European in background compared to the rest of New Spain.2 The city with its suburbs counted over fifty thousand inhabitants, increasing to about seventy thousand by Alamán’s tenth year. The decade-long insurgency hit the region hard, shrinking the city to about fifteen thousand souls, but the numbers

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rebounded quickly with the return of peace.3 Of the city’s adult males at Alamán’s birth, over half were engaged one way or another in mining or refining. From the time of the first silver strikes in the mid-sixteenth century Guanajuato had crept down the hillsides from the silver mining camps toward the Guanajuato River, which occasionally overflowed its banks, flooding the structures along its margins. A late-eighteenth-century description pictured the terrain as “difficult, broken, and sunken among crags and canyons.”4 The streets in the center of the old town were (and are still) irregular, steep, and cobblestoned, making the passage of carriages impossible except in a few areas; the irregularly shaped main plaza had very little level space. Modern vehicular traffic is difficult, and even now one sees pack animals trudging through the city streets. Alamán noted in his description of the town that builders had been very ingenious in their use of space, the streets so steeply pitched that often the threshold of one house was at the roof level of the neighboring one below it. Since there was very little flat land in the growing town, travelers compared it to un papel arrugado, a wrinkled sheet of paper, the same metaphor invoked by Fernando Cortés when Emperor Charles V asked him to describe the geography of New Spain. A comparison is often drawn between Guanajuato and the Spanish city of Toledo, while the picturesque Tuscan city of San Gimignano has a similar feel to it.5 Downstream, in Marfil, lay the silver processing refineries, stretching along the river and numbering more than eighty around 1790. The scores of silver mines above the town were all located in close proximity along the Veta Madre, the main ore face. Most important among these were the Valenciana, Rayas, Sirena, Mellado, and Cata, the latter two closely associated with the Busto and Alamán families. The city had many beautiful churches underwritten by mining fortunes; monastic establishments, both male and female; a number of schools associated with the Church; and even a free school financed by the city government. A full complement of government buildings occupied the city center along with the grand homes of the wealthy. All the basic craft and service occupations were well-represented. The plazas and plazuelas bustled with commerce of all kinds, and at night people of all classes filled the streets: “At night the city is beautifully illuminated so that people may walk about diverting themselves with the agreeable spectacle of the infinity of vendors of food and drink set out for the pleasure of the passersby, with the pleasure and diversion of much music until a certain hour.”6 The mining population, Alamán wrote, “occupied in the hard and dangerous work of the mines, was lively, happy, spendthrift, brave, and bold.”7

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A Privileged Youth Lucas Alamán’s birth was preceded a decade earlier by his parents’ first (his mother’s second) child, María de la Luz Estefania Anna José Ignacia Alamán y Escalada, born on 25 December 1781. The following year another daughter, Agustina, was stillborn. Given the difference in their ages and the structure of elite families at the time it seems unlikely that Lucas and his surviving sister grew particularly close, although she does show up in his correspondence occasionally in later years. In his brief published autobiography, Épocas de los principales sucesos de mi vida, Lucas Alamán explicitly commented on the age gaps between himself and his siblings, underlining their significance in writing that “from the birth of my brother to the second of us [and again to me] there was an interval of ten years.”8 By the time she was twenty years old or so María de la Luz had established her own family through marriage to Manuel Iturbe Iraeta, yet another Basque immigrant to New Spain, born in the tiny town of Anzuola in Guipúzcoa in 1763 and thus nearly two decades her senior. This age difference between Spanish immigrants and their Creole brides was fairly typical, making the four-year age gap between María Ignacia and Juan Vicente Alamán somewhat unusual. Iturbe Iraeta held the rank of major in the Provincial Battalion of Guanajuato, which came to play an important role among loyalist forces during the early weeks of the 1810 insurgency. Long before this he was named governor of Nuevo Santander, today encompassing much of the modern state of Tamaulipas and bits of Texas. The couple went on to have four children between 1803 and 1810. The eldest of these, with whom Lucas Alamán enjoyed a cordial personal and business relationship, was Luis Iturbe Alamán, born in 1803 and thus only a decade younger than his famous uncle. By the time of Lucas Alamán’s birth on 18 October 1792 the family was quite prosperous and would remain so until the early years of the new century saw the sudden bankruptcy of a merchant firm in which they had invested a good deal of money. This event changed their circumstances considerably, shaping Lucas Alamán’s view of the decline in wealth and social status on his mother’s side from the days of the first Marqués de San Clemente. Another financial reverse occurred during the war years, again involving the bankruptcy of a major mercantile house, but by then young Lucas was traveling in Europe, would soon be earning his own living, and would not have been as close to the gravitational vortex of the collapse as when he was a boy. The sudden death of his father in 1808, when Lucas was sixteen years old and staying

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with relatives in the north of the country, left his mother widowed a second time in late middle age, deprived the small family of its anchor and Lucas of the senior male in his life, and threw something of a shadow over the Alamán fortunes. Juan Vicente Alamán had sufficient wherewithal in 1791–92 to build the fine house near the center of town in which Lucas Alamán was raised and that still stands today on the Cuesta del Marqués, where the Busto family mansion was also located. As his wife’s confinement for the birth of her second son approached, Juan Vicente Alamán rushed construction of the building so that the couple’s child might be born there. The house occasioned a construction cost of sixty thousand pesos, a very substantial sum at the time, making for a large, well-located, and well-appointed residence. It was described in a 1929 newspaper article by the Guanajuato poet, historian, and lawyer Agustín Lanuza: “[Its] exterior aspect tells us that it was one of the most solid houses in Guanajuato, with its wide and deeply etched main door, its façade with four spacious balconies, all of wrought iron and supported by carved, pink masonry pedestals, the front of the house flanked by . . . [carved representations of] the royal pennant. . . . The house was a veritable bank that supplied goods and financed miners and refiners, Creoles as well as Spaniards.”9 This was the house whose profitable sale to the Anglo-Mexican Mining Company in 1824 Lucas Alamán would regret. Most of what we know about Lucas Alamán’s childhood up to his early adolescence is circumstantial, with his own figure at the center, silhouetted against events within his family and the outbreak of the independence movement. Child-rearing practices were changing in Mexico, parents becoming increasingly involved with the education and personal formation of their children. In the view of an observer as sharp-eyed as the liberal writer, journalist, and politician Guillermo Prieto, describing the Alamán household in the 1840s and 1850s, Alamán and his wife, Narcisa Castrillo, were attentive and affectionate parents to their children: “In their domestic life they were the model of good spouses and loving parents. Strict in their discipline, they educated their children themselves[,] having apportioned a cloister inside their house [for this purpose].”10 Lucas Alamán maintained a close relationship with several of his children, especially the eldest, the priest Gil and the lawyer Juan Bautista, working with them (particularly the latter) over long periods and furthering their careers when he could. Despite the absence of information about his early years, we know that Alamán’s childhood was a privileged one by any measure. The Alamán home was of a piece with the bustling, wealthy city with its clearly marked class

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system, a cultural life, and a good deal of muted social ostentation by the wealthy. Living in the city there were married aunts (his mother’s sisters), their husbands, and therefore a number of cousins as well as his uncle Tomás Alamán. Given his rather late date of birth relative to the extended family, Lucas Alamán must have been one of the youngest among the cousins. The 1792 census provides some interesting information about the Alamán household. The Guanajuato count corresponds to the year of Lucas Alamán’s birth, 1792. The Alamán household appears on the Calle del Ensaye (Assay Street) no. 37. It was made up of Juan Vicente Alamán, a European Spaniard forty-five years of age, occupation merchant (comerciante), married to María Ignacia Escalada, Spaniard (i.e., Creole). No age or other information besides ethnicity and civil status was given for women since this was a census only of men for military purposes. Bachiller don Juan (without the Bautista) Arechederreta, deacon (diácono), aged twenty-one, also appears, obviously still living under his mother’s roof, as does an “hija pequeña” who must be María de la Luz, Lucas’s elder sister, ten years old at the time and therefore not so very pequeña. There was a mestizo servant of fifty, José Pablo Castro, married to a mestizo woman named Vicenta Campos, along with their fifteen-year-old son Luis, an unmarried servant, and an unnamed, unmarried daughter. Mysteriously, there also appear “two [small] daughters and a [female] orphan,” all Spanish, all unnamed; who these female children were, or who their parents, is not specified. There were two other teenaged boys, José Antonio Aguilar, Spanish, unmarried, sixteen years old, and Lorenzo Villalba, mestizo, unmarried, fifteen years old; presumably they were both servants of some sort. Finally, there were two more female maids (criadas), both widows, both Spanish. Absent is Lucas Alamán, yet to be born in the house on the Cuesta del Marqués that October. Some interesting things about the social ecology are reflected in the 1792 census. First, the household was made up of fifteen people, most of them not related to Juan Vicente or his family and most of them servants of some sort. This was a relatively large household even for the time and place, and it placed the Alamán establishment among the largest of the city, a sign of its prosperity. By comparison, on the Plaza Mayor, where Juan Vicente was shortly to move his family, the home of Intendant Riaño was listed, including only Riaño himself, his wife, three small children (one of whom must be the ill-fated Gil, who was to die with his father eighteen years later in the defense of the Alhóndiga), and a young Spanish clerk. In the same area was the home of Bernabé de Bustamante, a prominent European Spanish merchant of fifty-

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one married to a woman of the Septién clan and therefore a distant cousin of Lucas Alamán through his mother’s side of the family; the household also included the couple’s four minor children, Bustamante’s Spanish (i.e., Creole) mother-in-law, and a widowed mestiza servant. These domestic ménages were much smaller than that of the Alamáns, especially where the number of servants was concerned, although perhaps they had servants come in on a daily basis. Just up the street, at number 35, lived Tomás Alamán, Juan Vicente’s much younger half brother, a twenty-four-year-old bachelor merchant, and two young European bachelor clerks (cajeros), but no sign of domestic personnel. Finally, the house from which Juan Vicente was shortly to move his large domestic establishment was in a somewhat mixed neighborhood. Nearby on the Calle del Ensaye was the home of a young European Spanish bachelor merchant with two slightly younger single clerks, no women and no servants; a mestiza widow with an unmarried daughter; and a Spanish widow with three single daughters. This seems to have been a more modest environment than the rarefied, socially resplendent one of the Plaza Mayor; probably this accounts for Juan Vicente’s wanting to move there. The age difference of ten years between Lucas and his elder sister, Luz, was sufficiently large that he must effectively have been raised as an only child. He also enjoyed the status of being the sole male child in a household in which the carrying on of the Alamán name (his elder half brother did not bear the name and was a priest) and a certain public prominence were to be expected later on. When he came along his parents were relatively advanced in age. Juan Vicente Alamán was about forty-five when his only son was born. This was by no means old for elite fathers at the time, especially among those who had immigrated from Spain to New Spain, typically delaying marriage well into their thirties, forties, or even later. But Lucas Alamán’s mother, María Ignacia, was forty-one years old when her son was born. Given overall life expectancy at the time and the rapid waning of women’s reproductive capacity with age, this was almost elderly. There is no evidence that this late birth event did harm to either mother or son, since she lived to be at least seventy years old, and the chronic lung problems that eventually brought on his death at sixty-one seem to have developed in his adulthood. Still, one is tempted to speculate about the effect this combination of circumstances in his upbringing—privileged economic position, social prominence, possibly doting older parents, status as virtually an only (male) child—might have had on the future statesman’s psychological makeup. I think I have detected a certain strain of melancholy in Alamán’s personality as an adult, his public persona not that of

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a hyper-masculine, aggressive man, much less a flamboyant one. But there is no evidence that he doubted his abilities or significance or that he was insecure; quite the contrary. And while it is impossible to draw a straight line between these qualities and the family circumstances of his upbringing, he may well have enjoyed the sort of mirroring—the positive reinforcement of his accomplishments by his parents, allowing a certain space for infantile and childish grandiosity—that builds a healthy self-concept later in life and steers an individual away from narcissistic personality traits. Lucas Alamán’s education was eclectic, quite common among elite men at the time. There was little attendance at a university except for some classes here and there, since formal university training would have been reserved for ecclesiastics, lawyers, and the higher sort of medical practitioners. Alamán’s early elementary education and socialization outside the home were carried out at an amiga in Calle de los Pósitos, near his family home, run by doña Josefa Camacho. An amiga was a nursery school “run by a woman for the purpose of teaching the catechism, manners, and a few basic manual skills to children from ages three to five or six.”11 He then went on to further his elementary education with the priest Father José de San Gerónimo at the Belén school in the city, an arrangement so satisfactory that out of gratitude Juan Vicente Alamán made a large financial contribution to enlarge the school’s building. As he entered adolescence Alamán’s education was given into the hands of private tutors and secular schoolmasters who taught him primarily classical languages and mathematics, while his father laid down the basics of his training as a mining engineer. Beginning at about the age of eleven or twelve he studied the Latin classics for at least two years under the tutelage of Francisco Cornelio Diosdado, demonstrating “his clear intelligence” by his quick mastery of the language and texts, according to José Valadés. “In a single year,” continues Valadés, “he went through [the early stages of learning Latin] and in ten months of the [second year] he learned to perfection advanced Latin,” going on to translate the works of Cornelius Nepos, Quintus Curtius Rufus, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and the epistles of Saint Jerome.12 This early training in the Latin classics accounts for Alamán’s facility in using quotations from Ovid and other Latin authors as epigraphs in his works, although he was hardly alone in this among other educated men of his generation. At the age of thirteen he participated in a public examination of other young Latinists in Guanajuato on 6 September 1805, earning the approbation as “best among all [the contestants].” One of the examiners on this occasion was Intendant Juan

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Antonio de Riaño, already a friend of the Alamán family. Riaño was to take a sort of avuncular interest in Lucas Alamán and other young men of the city’s jeunesse dorée over the next five years until his fatal collision with Hidalgo’s army at the Alhóndiga whose construction he had sponsored. Around this time Alamán began the serious study of mathematics at the Jesuit Colegio de la Purísima Concepción under instruction from the young professor and mining engineer Rafael Dávalos, also to lose his life in the fall of 1810, but at the hands of the royalist commanders Félix María Calleja and Manuel de Flon, Conde de la Cadena, who would die on the battlefield at the Puente de Calderón, outside Guadalajara, some weeks later.13 Alamán capped his education in mathematics at another public examination around this time. Aside from normal, day-to-day interactions within the household we have little information about Alamán’s relationship with his father, but we can reasonably assume that it was a mixture of Spanish formality and the warmth generated by the ardent hopes of a man for his obviously precocious only son. There is likely to have been a certain amount of mixing with adult visitors to the Alamán household as the young Master Lucas entered adolescence, in which he would have gained at least an advanced child’s understanding of business and political affairs. His father immersed him in the world of silver mining and refining in which he had become increasingly involved in the early years of the century: “My father set me to mining, taking me every day to learn silver refining at the Patrocinio de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato, which was his and which he had built, and frequently to the Cata mine, which he was working in company with others of my relatives. . . . Because this was my first occupation and all my maternal grandparents had been miners, I developed the attachment I have always had for this endeavor.”14 José Valadés tells us something more about the role of Intendant Riaño in the young man’s life, although Alamán himself was oddly silent on this relationship in both his Memorias and Épocas. Juan Antonio de Riaño had already distinguished himself as a frigate commander under Bernardo de Gálvez in fighting against the English in Louisiana and Florida, not least in the capture of Pensacola in 1781. He had served as the first intendant of Valladolid, when at the age of thirty-five he arrived in 1792 to occupy the same post in Guanajuato. He quickly came to know Juan Vicente Alamán and his family on social terms since at Riaño’s arrival the elder Alamán was still involved in civic affairs and remained prominent through most of Riaño’s career in the silver city. Riaño’s wife, a New Orleans belle named Victoria de Saint Maxent, was sister to the wife of Bernardo de Gálvez. She charmed Guanajuato high society

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with her manners and conversation, adding much to the attractiveness of the society formed around her husband, although she never acquired great fluency in Spanish: “Her sweetness, and her fine and elegant manners, reminded one of the Court of Louis XV, at the same time that her openness led her to become friendly with all the distinguished ladies of Guanajuato, where she was universally esteemed.” One of these distinguished women would certainly have been Lucas Alamán’s mother. Lauding Riaño’s aesthetic sense, his pride, and his unimpeachable personal valor, Valadés sums him up as “the essence of the Castilian” whose many virtues outshone the empire even then guttering out. Although French was spoken in the intendant’s household, the influence of the Enciclopédistes did not come with it openly but instead the ideas of the Spanish Enlightenment and the Bourbon Reforms. Valadés goes so far as to call Riaño “the teacher of Alamán’s thought; with him he learned to love languages, music, painting, [and] the natural sciences.” While it is true that the young man was exposed to the cosmopolitan intellectual currents in the intendant’s home at a formative time in his life, how much he imbibed at Riaño’s salons is difficult to say. The male Creole youths of the city owed much to their contact in the intendant’s home with the scientists, architects, and other intellectuals whom Riaño frequently invited in.15 Some years later, Carlos María de Bustamante, as ardent a Creole nationalist as the era produced, wrote in eulogy of the intendant: “He put to effect the theory of Jovellanos. . . . He foresaw the fate of this continent; he was a victim of his own military honor. . . . Placed at the head of any branch of public administration he would have been the pride of his nation. Such a bright star transcended the orbit he was intended to follow. He loved Americans and was the only commander in the contest for our liberty who observed the principles of war and of peoples. Nature had given [him] at once greatness of spirit and personal beauty.”16 By the beginning of the century the economic fortunes of Alamán’s family had begun to slip. In about 1802 the amount of taxes Juan Vicente paid on his earnings from the Cata mine and other holdings turned quite sharply downward. Around this time another prop was knocked from under the family economy by the collapse of a large merchant enterprise in Veracruz, the Casa de Vertiz, in which Juan Vicente Alamán had invested a considerable amount of money in the form of loaned capital. The exact nature of the relationship is not clear, but it figured subsequently in the sort of collective memory that all families develop about their pasts. The gross indebtedness of the firm was enormous, amounting to nearly 2,250,000 pesos. When the case arrived in

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the commercial tribunal, the prosecuting official there accused the Casa de Vertiz of complete bad faith and fraud in the matter. The resolution of all this was that a committee of commercial tribunal merchants was formed to assess the assets of the enterprise, depositing any liquid sums realized from the sale of holdings with the Casa de Basoco, an old and secure merchant and silverbanking establishment. Where exactly Juan Vicente Alamán’s claims fit into this morass of debts is not clear, nor whether he was in a sufficiently high position on the greasy pole of creditors to recover much if anything. As the ten-year-old Lucas Alamán was continuing his early studies in the Latin classics, a reconciliation was effected in 1802 between his father and elder half brother, Juan Bautista Arechederreta, estranged from each other for some years over the matter of Gabriel de Arechederreta’s estate. A prolonged visit at the end of 1804 by Juan Vicente Alamán and his family to Mexico City may have been the first time the young Lucas saw the great city that would be his home for most of his adult life. Perhaps Juan Vicente’s softening economic position and the losses he incurred in the collapse of the Vertiz firm induced the priest to delay or otherwise moderate his claims against his late father’s estate. The years 1807–8 were to mark a major turning point in the life of Lucas Alamán: at the age of sixteen he was to lose his father. Toward the end of 1807 Juan Vicente Alamán arranged for his only son to journey to the northeastern part of what is today Mexico proper, then the province of Nuevo Santander, of which his son-in-law Manuel Iturbe e Iraeta, had been appointed governor. While at the home of his sister and brother-in-law Alamán made the acquaintance of an old Indian fighter named Ramón Díaz de Bustamante, by his account a Falstaffian character known to the Indians against whom he had fought as the Red Captain because of his reddish complexion and fair hair.17 Bustamante’s colorful tales of his exploits riveted the young visitor’s attention. Alamán wrote to his father a number of highly detailed and evocative letters (now unfortunately lost) about Bustamante, later referring to them as his first literary efforts. The young man’s northern idyll came abruptly to an end in the spring of 1808, however, with the news that his father had died suddenly on 29 April 1808, at the age of sixty-one. Lucas and his elder sister, Luz, returned immediately to Guanajuato to comfort their mother, widowed for the second time at the age of fifty-one. Although we know little of Juan Vicente Alamán’s personality or intimate relationships, José Valadés’s valedictory evokes at least a plausible portrait: “A man of irreproachable life, of great capacity in initiating and

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carrying out large enterprises—qualities that don Lucas was to inherit—, don Juan Vicente died when his fortune had begun to decline, which foreshadowed the end of the mining town that for years and years had been the central support of the colonial economy.”18 Juan Vicente Alamán left no will, oddly enough, which could well have raised complicated questions regarding inheritance, but that did not happen. At least Lucas Alamán mentioned nothing in either his Épocas or his Memorias about conflicts within the family regarding the disposition of his father’s estate. The passing of Alamán pére occasioned within weeks a family reunion in Guanajuato including his widow, María Ignacia, her children Juan Bautista Arechederreta, Lucas, and María de la Luz, the latter’s husband Manuel Iturbe, and Juan Vicente’s brother Tomás. The property settlement stipulated that the sixteen-year-old Lucas receive as his paternal inheritance sixty thousand pesos, control of which remained formally in the hands of his mother until he came into his majority in 1817, at the age of twenty-five, while he was traveling in Europe. Under the rules of equal partible inheritance, Lucas Alamán and his sister would have come into equal shares of their father’s half of the Alamán–Escalada couple’s property, the other half remaining with their mother. Any dowry María de la Luz had taken into her marriage with Manuel Iturbe would have been deducted from her share. Some portion of the estate would have gone to the widow María Ignacia as gananciales, a form of community property representing the increase in value of the couple’s joint property after their marriage, with the value of the widow’s own parental inheritance first deducted. Since Juan Vicente left no will, he could not have increased his son Lucas’s inheritance by any of the legal devices in use at the time. There must also have been debts claimed against the estate by creditors as well as sums owing to it; the former would have reduced its total liquid value while some of the latter surely would have been written off as uncollectible. There is no trace of any significant amount of rural property in the estate, which was somewhat unusual. Juan Vicente Alamán’s wealth consisted primarily of circulating capital, the commercial enterprise in Guanajuato and its related avío (silver banking) activities with other silver miners, at least one major silver refinery, shares in the Cata mine, the capacious house in central Guanajuato, and personal property such as paintings, furniture, jewelry, and silver plate. The total liquid value of Juan Vicente’s estate came to between two hundred thousand and three hundred thousand pesos. The house built fifteen years earlier remained with María Ignacia, to be sold some years later by her son. The fate of the mining refinery, Patrocinio de Nuestra Señora de Guana-

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juato, is not clear. The shares of the Cata mine remained in family hands for a long time—inventories of Lucas Alamán’s estate list some of these many years later, although by that time he claimed they were valueless—but how they were distributed is not known. Juan Vicente’s commercial establishment in Guanajuato, which he had taken over from his wife’s first husband, was left intact, to be managed on behalf of the heirs by Gregorio de Trasviña, described by Lucas as “an associate with an interest [in the business]” and an employee for whom María Ignacia “had a great predilection.” In comparison with the estates left by other major entrepreneurs and miners of the period, Juan Vicente’s was not an insubstantial fortune in absolute terms. Lucas Alamán’s paternal inheritance (he would receive a maternal inheritance upon his mother’s death some years later) was a healthy sum, therefore, but there were problems of liquidity, and there may well have been some diminution of his father’s estate subsequent to its initial evaluation. Invested in anything other than a silver mine in bonanza, assuming a steady return of 5 percent on capital, the sixty thousand pesos would have yielded about three thousand pesos per year in income. Even had he wanted to live the life of a sybaritic gentleman of leisure, therefore, Lucas Alamán could not have supported such a lifestyle or the large family he came to have on the basis of his paternal inheritance alone. He needed to work for his income his whole life, looking for the main chance to multiply his modest resources through fortunate investments. This was exactly the course he pursued, although ultimately with little success.

The Tempest Arrives With Juan Vicente Alamán put to rest and his affairs settled in amicable fashion, Father Juan Bautista convinced his mother to move with her younger son to Mexico City to expand the boy’s educational and social horizons. She and Lucas arrived in the great viceregal capital in late September 1808, just after the 15 September overthrow of Viceroy José de Iturrigaray by a powerful group of peninsular Spanish officials and merchants. Alamán commented in later writings that the deposed viceroy had just been imprisoned when he and his mother arrived in the city around 21 September. Amid much political uncertainty in the great city, he continued the study of drawing he had begun in Guanajuato and took up French with the bookseller Manuel del Valle at his home and shop at Calle Tacuba no. 24, very near the site of today’s well-known Café de Tacuba. This was a small school in which banned French and English works were read, an exposure to modern ideas that probably had a lifelong

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influence on Alamán’s broad reading tastes and may have contributed to his run-in with the Inquisition a few years later. The circumstances of María Ignacia and her younger son in Mexico City, where they stayed for the better part of a year, were comfortable enough despite the diminution of the family fortunes. The widow could still afford to respond to the call from the new viceroy, Pedro Garibay, for a two-thousandpeso donativo gracioso (voluntary donation) to support the cause of the Spanish loyalists against the French invaders in the peninsula. While in Mexico City, mother and son stayed for some time in the home of Juan Bautista de Arechederreta, by now in his midthirties and making his way upward in his ecclesiastical career. Staying there at the same time while pursuing a lawsuit was the militia officer, landowner, and future emperor of Mexico Agustín de Iturbide. José Valadés reports from an unidentified source that Iturbide dined with María Ignacia and her son daily and was on familiar enough terms with Lucas Alamán’s mother that he addressed her as mamita.19 After a year or so in Mexico City, mother and son returned to Guanajuato late in 1809 so that she might attend to the commercial and mining interests now operating under the oversight of Gregorio Trasviña. But she herself continued engaged in business, as she was to do into the 1820s, making loans both small and large, and actively involved in cleaning up the affairs of her deceased second husband. During this busy year handling the family’s business affairs, doña Ignacia had her younger son’s help with their mining interests, drawing on the knowledge he had acquired accompanying his father to the refineries and mines. In the meantime, young Lucas continued with his education, partly on the basis of the large personal library his father had left. Years later Alamán wrote explicitly of the spread of the reading habit among educated guanajuatenses and of the penetration of Enlightenment ideas despite the efforts of the Inquisition, “which up until then had had no one to pursue except Portuguese Jews, bigamists, and apostate friars, [but now] had this new field that unfortunately came to be so fruitful.”20 In the library of Father Lavarrieta he read his first work of history in the modern style, an “Historia Universal” translated from the original English, the same book that had been read by Father Miguel Hidalgo. Alamán advanced in his study of mathematics and physics on his own using textbooks by eighteenth-century French academics. He also continued reading in the Greek and Latin classics, studied drawing with a drawing master named Guadalupe García, and taught himself to play the guitar. The eighteen-year-old at this time established a small music publishing business in partnership with some children of Intendant Riaño. Printed music, he was to remark many

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years later, “was at that time scarce and expensive, and we [even] . . . trained a young man to engrave [musical notes].”21 He continued his attendance at Riaño’s home, mingling with the sons of such elite families as the Sardanetas, Bassocos, Irizares, and Bustamantes and improving his French in conversation with the intendant’s French-speaking wife. News of political ferment in the capital, Spain, and Europe and speculation about the fate of New Spain were swirling thickly about him. How this child of peninsular pedigree and Creole privilege metabolized the amalgam of political fact, rumor, and speculation we can only guess; but when the insurgency broke out in the fall of 1810 it could not have been totally unexpected, although its source may have been. On returning to his natal city the young Alamán joined the Franciscan Third Order. What specific doctrinal or spiritual preparation he may have undertaken is unknown. While the young man’s interest in the natural sciences was still being fostered by the circle around Riaño, and in Mexico City he himself would further his education in scientific subjects, another element of his character was emerging in this period—his Christian piety. Despite his ardent political conservatism later in life and his pro-Church ideological and political stance, Alamán was never to wear his religion on his sleeve. He scarcely wrote about his religious beliefs and consistent with his character kept his religious sensibility and practice a private matter. He maintained friendships with a number of churchmen, including his elder half brother; one of his sons became a priest and at least one of his daughters entered a religious order. We must suppose that he was at least conventionally observant, although what his internal religious landscape was is hard to determine. Certainly his joining the Franciscan Third Order strongly suggests a deep personal piety rather beyond the ordinary. He was opposed to the Inquisition both out of intellectual conviction and personal experience, criticized the oldfashioned Scholastic curriculum in Mexican universities, and invested a good deal of effort in establishing secular forms of elementary education (e.g., the Lancasterian System). In his 1853 letter to Santa Anna he shunned the idea of an Inquisition while embracing the concept of censorship of written works as conservative articles of faith. This stance suggests he envisioned shifting some of the traditional functions of the Catholic Church to an essentially secularized central state imbued with Christian values. In this letter as well as in the final passages of his Historia de Méjico he famously declared that in the absence of a true feeling for the nation among its citizens, which he felt had yet to develop, Catholic religious belief was the one social and ideological glue that could keep Mexico together.

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Whatever he believed or felt as an older adult, at the age of eighteen Lucas Alamán was sufficiently pious and public enough about that piety to join the Third Order of San Francisco, a fraternal organization for seculars established by St. Francis of Assisi in 1221. He was inducted on 11 February 1810, shortly after his return to Guanajuato, through the offices of Brother Antonio de la Torre, the secretary of the Third Penitential Order of San Francisco in Guanajuato. Basically unaltered until reformed by papal decree in 1883, the rules of the Third Order imposed a stronger commitment on members to observe practices already obligatory for good Catholics. These included the normal observance of fasting, abstinence, performance of the canonical office, regular confession and communion, and works of charity. Members were also enjoined to observe strict simplicity in clothing and the dressing of their hair; to avoid frivolous entertainments, casas sospechosas, taverns, and gambling; and were prohibited from carrying arms or taking solemn oaths. In general they were to lead exemplary lives, following in the footsteps of the saint himself as strictly as worldly life allowed. Alamán’s personal presentation later in life— the image we have of him from his writings, his public persona, the descriptions of him left by other people—is certainly in keeping with these precepts. His life suggests that he was a man searching for order in all things, but strictly on his own terms. He was a man to whom flamboyance, the wasting of time, public displays of sentiment, and certainly the chaos of democratic politics were at best distractions to be controlled by self-discipline and social engineering, and at worst a sort of social and personal entropy to be avoided at all costs. How closely Alamán kept to the precepts of the Third Order—whether he indulged in wine with dinner, for example, or the occasional postprandial brandy—we do not know. Later in life he was an enthusiastic theater- and opera-goer, but these forms seem not to have constituted the sort of frivolous entertainments to be avoided. The young Lucas Alamán met Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the parish priest of Dolores, at the home of Alamán’s Septién cousins at a Christmas event, a coloquio or pastoral, so it must have been in early January 1810. Alamán described Hidalgo as being of medium stature, somewhat hunched, with dark skin and vivacious green eyes. The fifty-seven-year-old priest, whom the young Alamán took to be more than sixty, was partially bald and graying, his head somewhat drooping over his chest but vigorous in his movements. Having observed the father of Mexican independence in social situations, Alamán described the curate of Dolores as not particularly loquacious but animated in argument “in the style of the college”—Hidalgo had been a professor, after all.

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He dressed in the clothing common to village priests of the time, sporting a black cape, round hat, a large cane or walking stick (bastón), knee-length breeches, and a woolen jacket of a type of material imported from China called Rompecoche. Lucas Alamán later evaluated Hidalgo as being essentially an idealistic but incompetent dreamer, a dangerous egghead. Idyllic as these Christmas celebrations of 1809–10 may have been, in the late summer of 1810 the world of Alamán’s privileged childhood and youth would suddenly implode, throwing him and millions of other novohispanos into a wider and permanently chaotic political drama in which he was fated to play a major role for half his life. In Mexico City the aged Marshal Pedro de Garibay, hastily put onto the viceregal throne in September 1808 by Gabriel de Yermo’s pro-Spanish golpistas (plotters), was replaced after ten months as viceroy by Bishop Francisco Javier de Lizana y Beaumont. The bishop took up his duties in early July 1809 under the auspices of the Junta Suprema Central in Spain, ruling from Aranjuez in the name of the usurped Ferdinand VII. During his brief government Viceroy Lizana began to put New Spain on a war footing to suppress internal subversion and resist a French invasion, which never materialized. One measure the bishop-viceroy took to raise funds was to embargo the properties of the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone in the country, the valuable feudal remnant of the conqueror Fernando Cortés’s vast urban and rural holdings, thus guaranteeing a large loan whose funds went into the royal coffers. Alamán would subsequently manage the duque’s holdings for nearly three decades, constantly either fighting off, attempting to reverse, or seeking compensation for such government sequestrations. In Valladolid in late December 1809, meanwhile, a conspiracy led by militia officers was unearthed, among whom José Mariano Michelena figured prominently. Alamán was to serve most of his first government ministry in 1823–25 under the Supremo Poder Ejecutivo (SPE), in which Michelena functioned as one of a triumvirate of executive leaders. Alamán would appoint Michelena Mexican envoy to Great Britain, maintaining a cordial relationship with him despite their political differences. But the Valladolid episode had been preceded by small conspiratorial movements stretching back over nearly two decades, among them the Guerrero Conspiracy of 1794, the Machete Conspiracy of 1799, and the Indio Mariano episode of 1801 in the area of Tepic. All of these received considerable attention a half century later from Alamán the historian, who saw them as foreshadowing signs of major stresses in the colonial order. Political events were moving rapidly in Spain, as well, with the French invasion followed by royal abdications, Spanish resistance, the

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establishment of a governing junta followed by a regency, and the convocation of the Cortes of Cádiz in 1810. Beyond these events there thrummed a constant background noise of speech and writing deemed subversive by the colonial authorities.

Guanajuato Falls News of events in the town of Dolores in the early morning hours of 16 September 1810—that “poisoned spring [which has been] the origin of all the ills the nation laments,” as Alamán was later to write—reached Intendant Riaño on 18 September along with word of the sacking of San Miguel el Grande and similar events in Celaya.22 Father Hidalgo’s grito (rallying cry) at the door of his parish church had raised the banner of revolt in the name of King Ferdinand VII and against the perfidious peninsular Spaniards who, it was feared, would hand New Spain over to the godless French. His call immediately spawned a rapidly growing, ill-disciplined, badly armed force of country people under the standard of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Following these relatively easy victories, realizing that the capture of the city of Querétaro would be militarily too costly an operation, Father Hidalgo resolved to advance instead on Guanajuato. The city held strategic as well as symbolic importance, and a prize of three million pesos in cash and unminted silver. There followed ten days of feverish preparations to defend Guanajuato against an attack that must inevitably come. An experienced military officer, Riaño was everywhere, directing the digging of defensive ditches, the barricading of the principal streets with wooden palisades, and the drilling of the local militia battalion, all of which would prove completely futile. On Thursday, 20 September, the city awoke to find that the trenches and other works intended as a first line of defense against a rebel attack had been destroyed by the encroaching insurgents. In the ensuing panic almost all the European Spaniards and many Creoles fled for safety to the Alhóndiga, the massively built granary that Lucas Alamán’s father had derisively called the corn palace two decades before. Acting partly on the advice of his son, Gilberto Riaño, a young lieutenant in the regular army who happened to be at home on leave with his parents, the intendant resolved to fortify the already massive granary as best he could, essentially abandoning the rest of the city and making a stand against the insurgents until help could arrive to lift the siege of the building. The great rooms in the structure normally devoted to the storage of grain were filled with food, whatever arms could be gathered, gold, minted and unminted silver, and other valuables.

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Written many years later, Lucas Alamán’s dramatic account of these fearful days interjected a touching footnote regarding the Alamáns’ closeness to Intendant Riaño and his family. He conveyed the “anxiety of spirit and bodily fatigue” of an older man whom he much admired, illustrating the discouragement and fear of the European Spaniards in the city: On one of those days on which the intendant was arranging the defense of the city, he went to see the mother of the author, widowed a year and a half [previously], telling her that he was worn out with fatigue and needed a moment’s rest. Upon taking his leave he said to her that he had already complied with what he owed to God, having arranged that day to die like a Christian, receiving the sacraments; [but] that he needed to comply with what he owed to the king, and that he would fulfill [this obligation] with fidelity, indicating by his words and the emotion with which he said them that he expected to die in the attack being planned [by the rebels]. The evocation of this episode follows immediately upon Alamán’s quotation from a letter by Riaño to Félix María Calleja of 26 September expressing his fears of an imminent insurgent attack: “I have the insurgents [almost] on my head,” Riaño wrote, imploring Calleja to hurry to the city’s relief. “[For the past ten days] I have neither rested nor taken my clothes off, and for three days I have not slept for more than an hour at a time,” he added.23 There is no reason to think that Alamán fabricated this episode, and it supports the image he paints throughout these events of Riaño as a brave, resourceful royal servant who did the best he could in a difficult situation. Yet in the end, the intendant made a series of tragically mistaken decisions that forfeited not only his own life but also those of hundreds of other European Spaniards. The insurgent attack on the Alhóndiga came on the morning of 28 September after Intendant Riaño refused to surrender the city to Father Hidalgo’s envoys. The details of this famous sanguinary encounter are well known, not least from Lucas Alamán’s own account of them. Juan Antonio de Riaño, who, the historian says, acted “with more courage than prudence,” was killed by an insurgent rifle shot to the head early in the action, and his son Gilberto died of grave wounds a few days later. After several hours of resolute fighting by the people sheltering in the Alhóndiga, the defenses were breached and by late afternoon a wholesale slaughter of those inside and the sack of the building ensued. Estimates of the immediate casualties vary to this day. Alamán put the number of deaths among the soldiers defending the Alhóndiga at about 200

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and among the European Spaniards who had sought refuge there at 105.24 Over the next few days Father Hidalgo’s undisciplined forces rampaged through the town, attacking and pillaging Spanish-owned homes and businesses. Pillaged goods—clothing, furniture, personal items—made their way onto the backs and into the pockets of insurgents, sympathizers, and inhabitants and into the flea markets of the city for some time to come. Situated not far from the ill-fated granary, the Alamán household first heard a detailed account late on the night of the twenty-eighth from Father Martín Septién, a relative whom Lucas Alamán referred to as an uncle, although the relationship was more likely that of cousins. Father Septién had somehow managed to escape from the besieged Alhóndiga, making his way through the crowd of besiegers dressed in ordinary street clothes rather than his ecclesiastical garb and using a cross he carried as an offensive weapon. Seriously wounded, he arrived at the Alamán house seeking medical assistance and refuge from the chaotic, dangerous streets. Father Septién, however, was not alone in seeking safety at the house on the Cuesta del Marqués. Hardly had he arrived than he was followed by a young woman “unclothed, wrapped in a sheet, covered in blood. She was like one gone mad, showing herself to be insensible to the pain of her injuries or the attention paid them, her mind full of the image of the horrible spectacle she had witnessed, seeing her father, her mother, and her husband murdered before her eyes, after having lost everything they owned. How many people, unhappily, found themselves in the same situation!”25 The young woman was the daughter of the royal tax collector from the nearby town of Salamanca, who had fled with his entire family to the Alhóndiga for protection, where they all died except for her. Alamán wrote that by the next day, 29 September, “Guanajuato presented the most lamentable picture of disorder, ruin, and desolation. The plaza [on which his house fronted] and the streets were full of broken furniture, the remains of goods sacked from stores, liquor spilled out after the crowd had drunk its fill. [The mob] abandoned itself to every manner of excess, and Hidalgo’s Indians presented the strangest figures, wearing over their own clothes items they had taken from the houses of the Europeans, among which were the [ceremonial] uniforms of city councilmen, and they strutted about barefoot with [fine] hats and embroidered coats in the most complete state of drunkenness.”26 According to Alamán, Father Hidalgo attempted to bring the looting to a halt with a decree issued to his forces on 30 September, but to no effect. Having emptied the stores of their goods, the mines and refineries of

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their equipment, and the homes of European Spaniards of their property, the crowds turned to the houses of Creoles (mejicanos, in Alamán’s words), rumored to hold hidden property belonging to Europeans. The Alamáns’ home was attacked. What attracted the “rabble” was a store on the street level of the house in premises leased from the family by a European Spaniard named José Posadas, who had been killed earlier by the insurgents elsewhere in the city. It was common at the time for large, multistoried homes in city centers to have their street-level spaces devoted to commercial enterprises. Posadas’s store had already been sacked once by a crowd, but an employee of the dead owner made it known to looters that in an interior patio there was a storeroom with goods and cash that had escaped the first plunder. Alamán wrote of the situation that “it was very difficult [for me] to control the rabble, which by way of the mezzanine had penetrated as far as the landing of the [interior] stairway; since they thought me to be a European I was at no little risk. . . . [He continues in a footnote:] A group of Indians grabbed me on the landing of the stairway of my house and was dragging me along the mezzanine that connects with it, when the servants, who knew me, some of them of the Guanajuato rabble, made [the men] set me free.” Alamán went on to narrate the denouement of the incident: In this struggle my mother resolved to go see Father Hidalgo, with whom she had old relations of friendship, and I accompanied her. The risk for a decently dressed person to pass through the streets among the mob, drunken with fury and liquor, was great. We nonetheless arrived without mishap to the barracks of the Regimiento del Príncipe, where . . . Hidalgo was lodged. We found him in a roomful of people of all sorts. In one corner there was a considerable quantity of silver ingots, seized from the Alhóndiga and still stained with blood; in another there was a quantity of lances, and leaning against the wall, hanging from one of these [lances], was a painting with the image of Guadalupe, which served as a banner of the movement [empresa]. The curate was seated on a traveling cot with a small table before him, dressed in ordinary clothing and over his jacket a purple sash which appeared to be a piece of a [priestly] stole of that color. He received us courteously, assured my mother of his continuing friendship, and, apprised of what we feared at the house, he provided us with an escort commanded by a muleteer, a resident of the Rancho del Cacalote, near Salvatierra, named Ignacio Centeno, whom he had made a captain. He ordered [Centeno] to defend my house and

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take custody of the property of Posadas, bringing it to his [Hidalgo’s] headquarters when possible, since he wanted to apply it to the expenses of his army. Believing it impossible to contain the riotous gathering that was increasing with every minute, since it was being joined by more and more people intent on entering the house to sack it, my mother sent word with one of his soldiers to Hidalgo, who thought his own presence necessary to contain the disorder that his public decree had done little to stop, and he came on horseback to the plaza, where my house was [located], accompanied by his other generals. They carried in front of them the painting with the image of Guadalupe, led by an Indian on foot playing a drum. There followed a group of mounted country men with some of the Queen’s dragoons in two files. This procession was presided over by the curate with his generals, dressed in short jackets such as worn by militia officers in small towns. And in place of the badges of rank they bore in the Queen’s Regiment, they had placed on their epaulets silver cords with tassels, as they had undoubtedly seen on engravings showing the aides-de-camp of French generals; they all wore on their hats pictures of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Arrived at the place where the largest crowd had gathered, in front of Posadas’s store, the group ordered the people to disperse. Since they did not obey this order, [Ignacio] Allende tried to get them away from the door of the store by moving [directly] into the crowd. The [cobblestoned] surface of the hill is quite steep there, and, being covered with all sorts of filth, it was very slippery. Allende fell with his horse, and inducing the animal to rise, and very angry, he took out his sword and started to attack the rabble, who fled in terror, one man having remained behind gravely wounded. Hidalgo continued to circle the plaza and ordered [his men to] fire upon those who were tearing the balconies off the houses. With this the multitude started to disperse, although for some time larger groups remained, among whom the goods taken as booty were being sold for a pittance. Father Hidalgo was eventually able to impose some order and follow a “more systematized pillage,” in Alamán’s words. He did not have long for this, since scarcely two weeks later his forces decamped on their way to the climactic encounter with the royalist army on the heights above Mexico City at the beginning of November. While the insurgents still occupied the town,

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however, Captain Centeno and the guard he commanded were lodged for some days in the Alamán home, at the family’s expense. During this time Centeno transferred some forty thousand pesos of the dead Posadas’s cash and goods from the storeroom in the interior patio of the house to the cavalry barracks where the insurgents were headquartered. During these days Ignacio Centeno became somewhat familiar to the Alamán family. Lucas Alamán recounts once having asked him why he joined the rebellion: “He replied with the sincerity of a country man that all his objects could be reduced to ‘going to Mexico [City] to place the Señor Curate on the throne, and with the reward he would be given [by Hidalgo] for his services, to return to working the land.’ ”27 When the royalist forces recaptured Guanajuato in late November, General Félix María Calleja perpetrated his own acts of cruelty to stamp out any surviving embers of insurgency there and restore calm and security to the ravaged city. Among many of his retributions was the summary execution of Alamán’s former mathematics teacher, Rafael Dávalos. Calleja demanded the civilian population’s weapons, including ceremonial ones, even of loyal families. María Ignacia was forced to surrender the gold- and jewel-encrusted sword awarded to Lucas Alamán’s deceased father for his long, dedicated service to the city’s town council. Despite his efforts, Juan Vicente’s son was never able to recover this item, whose loss is symbolic of the death of the colonial order. Soon after the royalist recovery of Guanajuato, on 9 December 1810, Alamán and his mother left for Mexico City under the protection of a convoy carrying whatever treasure Calleja’s forces had managed to salvage from the wrecked silver city. They were detained in Querétaro for a number of days awaiting the opening of the road to Mexico City. Alamán and his mother saw much evidence of recent fighting along the highway, including the bodies of insurgents hung from the trees by Calleja’s sometime friend and military collaborator José de la Cruz. They arrived in the capital in late December.

Was Lucas Alamán Traumatized? Looking at Lucas Alamán’s political life and historical works, some scholars and commentators have made much of the deep impact on him of the two weeks or so of his direct exposure to the violence of the insurgency in Guanajuato. It is said to have been a key moment in his life, even a traumatic one, that contributed fundamentally to his later political attitudes and his dark vision of the Mexican independence process. José Valadés stated this view eloquently:

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All that [his experiences between about mid-September and mid-December 1810] produced in Alamán such bitterness and indignation that when he wrote the Historia de México [sic] thirty years later he would not cease condemning the violence, describing it [in detail], although such a description brought upon him partisan condemnation. It is true that don Lucas Alamán gives a coloring of pathetic [sic] excess to some scenes; but those scenes he lived [through] at [the age of] eighteen were to dominate his emotions forever. At eighteen, a man aggrandizes the tragic, views reality in geometric proportions, and makes of a moment a destiny, of a destiny a life. . . . Because of this, reading Alamán one experiences at times the sensation of reading his history, and of losing from one page to the next the historicity that animated his thought. . . . Alamán thus knew how to live in the past, how to penetrate the before and after of the War of Independence. . . . [T]he spectacle of Guanajuato produced in don Lucas the unsurpassed impression of his life [la impresión insuperada de su existencia].”28 That these weeks in Guanajuato constituted for Lucas Alamán a primordial life-event that marked him permanently seems to me an unnuanced view. And although Valadés does not use the word “trauma” in this passage or elsewhere, something very like it is implied.29 Alamán himself never wrote of the emotional impact of these events at the time he experienced them or in his subsequent life. The most he wrote in his Épocas de los principales sucesos de mi vida was that “I ran a great risk that Father Hidalgo’s Indians might abuse me because they took me for a gachupín [a European-born Spaniard]” and that at the end of 1810 the family fled Guanajuato because of the revolution. He might have given readers some version of these events in his Memorias but never got around to it. Just how traumatic an experience was this for him? Is “trauma,” in the sense of a major psychic wound, whether long-lasting or not, even an appropriate category? And in the following weeks, months, or years did Alamán exhibit symptoms of what we would today call posttraumatic stress disorder?30 These questions are not unwarranted given the importance of these two weeks in Guanajuato in his later history of the period, the amount of space he devoted to Father Hidalgo’s capture and occupation of Guanajuato in his Historia de Méjico, and the significance of these events in forming his political attitudes. To begin with, there is the matter of Alamán’s age at the time of the events he describes.31 He was not quite eighteen years old, a young adult in a society

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in which life expectancy was relatively short, childhood temporally compressed, and adolescence an unfamiliar concept. He was not an impressionable young child on whom a traumatic event fell from the sky, who had neither the cognitive development nor conceptual idioms to account for it, nor the psychological defenses to blunt it. Modern clinical studies indicate that the higher an individual’s intelligence, the lower the risk of severe and prolonged psychological effects in the wake of a traumatic event.32 On this score Lucas Alamán certainly had an advantage. It is not clear from the victim’s own account exactly what occurred—if violent hands were laid on him, if there was a struggle, if he suffered physical injury, how many people were involved, what sort of language was used, and so forth. The fact that the attack occurred within his home may well have lent it extra weight, but there is no specific evidence of this one way or another.33 The violence perpetrated by the insurgents in Guanajuato peaked with the fall of the Alhóndiga on 28 September 1810, and one can surmise that Lucas Alamán was unlikely to have experienced further personal violence himself; certainly he mentions no such thing. He did comment on the evidence of fighting he and his mother encountered on their journey to Mexico City, but he lived in the capital uninterrupted from the beginning of 1811 until he departed on his European travels more than three years later, and Mexico City at that time was quite a secure environment. Arguing against any enduring psychological effect on Alamán are several statements of his own. In the Épocas he wrote, [“Since] all the employees of the family were either killed or imprisoned during the revolution of 1810, I had to take over all the affairs of the business.” Furthermore, when he returned to Mexico City with his mother he resumed his drawing, studies, and reading, got into and out of hot water with the Inquisition, and continued to support his mother emotionally while lending a hand with the family’s business affairs. Although he may have experienced physical symptoms of PTSD—eating and sleeping disorders, depression, emotional swings, and so on—he does not mention them anywhere. This does not sound like a young man seized with posttraumatic stress disorder. His involvement in a violent episode, albeit a short-lived one, marked Alamán on a more conscious cognitive level. Yet his personal experience of that time in his life may be seen more usefully not as a sharp inflection but as one point along a trajectory. His wealthy, socially privileged background in a society highly stratified by race appears to have led him to form negative, or at least disdainful, attitudes as a child and adolescent toward the people of color he saw all around him every day—the drawers of water and hewers of wood,

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the mine laborers, muleteers, street vendors, and especially indigenous people. Such views were not out of keeping with members of his class, and most particularly those as close as he to the culture of Old Spain.34 In this sense the violence and indiscipline, even the savagery, he later ascribed to Father Hidalgo’s brown army were to be expected and worked into a version of ethnicity, social class, and politics that produced the profoundly antidemocratic position he consistently occupied throughout his life. It is no accident that in describing the events of the Mexican insurgency he so often used the words indios to describe Hidalgo’s followers—even though ethnic ascription was quite slippery—and plebe (rabble) and chusma (mob) to describe crowds. While still a young man he spent the better part of a decade traveling and studying in Europe, where memories of mass revolutionary violence were still vivid in France and elsewhere on the Continent and monarchical/aristocratic regimes still dominant everywhere. In Mexican politics after the early 1820s he was perhaps the early republic’s greatest exponent of rule by hombres de bien—men of property, education, and background: the stakeholders of society, who could be expected to make rational political judgments, as opposed to the mobocracy represented by a wide franchise and democratic practices. Judging by his social background, his cool, rationalist personal style, his travels and studies, and the circumstances of his coming to political maturity, it is hard to imagine Lucas Alamán as anything other than the deeply conservative thinker and public actor he became. Does one really need to explain his attitudes, then, by recourse to a few minutes of manhandling on the staircase of his childhood home? In this light the incident shrinks to a more proper place in his life—important but more emblematic of attitudes already present and later to be consolidated by experience than formative.

Life in the Capital Lucas Alamán and his mother arrived in Mexico City in late December 1810, staying first in a house at 9 Callejón de Santa Clara (a stretch of what is today’s Calle de Tacuba), then moving after a few months to a house owned by Lucas Septién, a cousin, at Calle de la Cadena no. 5. As far as we know, they lived here at least until Lucas departed for his European travels in 1814, when he was twenty-two years old. Named for a sixteenth-century royal official and known today as Calle Venustiano Carranza, Calle de la Cadena remained a highly desirable and fashionable street on which to live for most of the nineteenth century. His residence there as a young man foreshadowed much of

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his adult life, when he would live in close proximity to the seats of civil and ecclesiastical power. Just a short distance to the northeast stood the Palacio Nacional; directly to the north of the Alamán residence, across the city’s enormous central square, stood the cathedral; a bit to the east of Calle de la Cadena no. 5 stood the Plaza del Volador. In Alamán’s time and later many prominent people lived very close to Calle de la Cadena no. 5, demonstrating how small and intimate the social and political world of the young republic was. María Josefa Sánchez de Barriga y Blanco, the widow of Political Chief Juan O’Donojú, probably lived at Calle de la Cadena no. 4 until her death in 1842. Toward midcentury a number of prominent politicians lived on the same street, men who alternated in government ministries with Lucas Alamán; the publisher of his Historia de Méjico, the bibliophile, printer, and bookseller José María Andrade, was to live and do business at number 1; and later still Porfirio Díaz lived at number 8 for a time. Simón Bolívar was thought to have lived briefly in a house on Calle de la Cadena when he passed through New Spain in 1799. The details of the daily life of Lucas Alamán and his mother during these years are unknown, but I can offer some informed speculations. At least a few servants lived in the household. There would have been frequent religious observance, perhaps even daily attendance at Mass; regular social contact with Juan Bautista Arechederreta; and a round of social engagements, including the tertulias, afternoon or evening gatherings in which gentlefolk drank chocolate and discussed the affairs of the day or books or simply gossiped. Although the city was on a high state of alert and subject to tight security measures for the entire decade of the insurgency, its citizens tried to carry on normal lives as best they could. On the basis of original sources (again very vaguely cited) in his possession, José Valadés renders this plausible description of the lives of the city’s elite during these years, with the old Marxist peeking through his prose: Our elders continued living in the old Spanish style, very leisurely, sticking to their stale customs, at peace and in the grace of God, with their Inquisition and their friars, their picturesque legal inequality, their privileges . . . [and] their complete lack of municipal or political liberty, simultaneously governed by distinguished bishops and powerful magistrates (whose respective powers were not easy to separate, given that [respectively they] entered into the temporal and the eternal). [They] paid tithes, first fruits, sales taxes . . . and fifty more [impositions] with names

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not necessary to mention here. . . . [T]he viceregal structure was firmly in place, but there prevailed that philosophical spirit that the astute monarchs of the eighteenth century, such as Charles III, Joseph II, or Catherine of Russia, utilized to the benefit of their crowns and the aggrandizement of their states . . . that spirit of Kaunitz and of Pombal, [the] subtle defenders of absolutism, disguised as modern thinkers of broad and philosophical tendency.35 The Alamán family finances during the three years between their installation in the capital at the end of 1810 and the beginning of 1814, when Lucas Alamán departed for Europe, remain opaque. Presumably the store in Guanajuato, left in the management of Gregorio de Trasviña after Juan Vicente’s death in 1808, continued to produce an income for the widow; she continued to be involved in making loans and providing avíos to miners and refiners; she made some investments in a commercial enterprise that was to implode in 1816, a loss of a substantial amount of her money; and there were still the shares in the nonproductive Cata mine. María Ignacia apparently commanded a regular, healthy income to maintain the domestic establishment, keep up social appearances, and pay for her son’s continuing education. That education now emphasized mineralogy, mining engineering, and the sciences in general. In an era when being a polymath was still within reach of well-educated men, Alamán was to be distinguished in adult life by the unusually wide range of his interests, reading, and knowledge. For the next two years, however, he was deeply involved in expanding via theory and technical details the knowledge of mining and silver refining he had acquired informally as a boy. He began studies, probably in 1812, at the Colegio de Minería—known also as the Real Seminario de Minería and by other names— in Mexico City, established a decade earlier, in 1792, by the Spanish mining expert Fausto de Elhuyar, who became its director. Its new installation, completed in 1803, was described by a traveler shortly after its inauguration as “severe, symmetrical, and imposing. . . . [E]verything about the building has an air of grandeur and formality.”36 The colegio still stands today, sunken a bit in the middle due to the geological subsidence plaguing various parts of the basin of Mexico, but very much a jewel of the Mexican neoclassical style. At the colegio Alamán must have been a so-called external student who paid fees for classes, which would by no means have strained the family resources. External students chose the subject matter they wanted to study; by contrast, scholarship or residential students went through the full curriculum of four

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years of courses and two years of a sort of practicum. Now twenty years old, he was certainly at the extreme end of the age distribution, since most students fell into the range of fifteen to twenty years of age. He studied mineralogy with Andrés Manuel del Río, whom we have already met and with whom Alamán was to have a long relationship, and chemistry with another professor. Whether he also sat in on classes in mathematics, physics, including solid and fluid mechanics and the nature of matter, or ancillary courses in drawing, French, religion and politics, and so forth we do not know but it seems unlikely since he was pursuing the study of several fields on his own and had done so for several years. He would presumably have taken advantage of the colegio’s fairly extensive library. On 11 November 1813 Alamán was awarded a “very honorable” certificate of studies by a committee of faculty examiners. He also studied botany with the renowned Spanish botanist Vicente Cervantes, the founder of Mexico City’s Botanical Garden, earning yet another certificate later in November 1813 signaling completion of a course of study.37 Outside his courses at the Colegio de Minería, during these years he applied himself to the study of calculus and crystallography, using a text of the famous French mineralogist René Just Haüy, from whose pages, Alamán wrote in his Épocas, he “conscientiously solved all the calculations.”38 Alamán also eagerly attacked disciplines and subjects distant from his interest in mining and mine engineering. His study of drawing would later stand him in good stead not only as a traveler in Europe and art connoisseur but also as a mining engineer. It may have drawn him into an acquaintance with the Spaniard Rafael Jimeno (1759–1825), the director of painting at the Academia de San Carlos, the city’s art academy. A strong influence toward undertaking a grand European tour was Alamán’s reading of Antonio Ponz Piquer’s Viage de España (1772–92), an enormous travelogue in epistolary form, comprising seventeen volumes and dealing particularly with the art and architecture of Spain.39 This work he found in his father’s substantial library, some of which he had taken with him when the family moved to Mexico City. On his own he studied Italian, while taking up again his study of French and English alongside the children of the bookseller Manuel del Valle on the nearby Calle de Tacuba. Two incidents from these years exemplify the young Lucas Alamán’s expanding mental horizon and burgeoning intellectual combativeness in his first published work. In 1812–13 he embroiled himself in a heated public controversy with the older Fermín de Reygadas, a fairly well-known mining engineer, astronomer, and ardent proroyalist pamphleteer. In the Diario de México

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of September 1812 Alamán published an anonymous article deriding the refutation that Reygadas had earlier offered in the Diario of the Copernican heliocentric model of the solar system. Young Lucas’s criticism was based on the falseness of Reygadas’s calculations about the respective size, distances, and celestial positioning of the sun and the earth, while casting aspersions on the author for deploying science that was so far behind the times. This drew a sharp rebuttal from Reygadas and from one of his supporters, who skewered Alamán as an intellectual coward for not signing his article.40 There are political undertones in the exchange in that Reygadas condemned the adoption in New Spain of foreign ideas, including scientific ones, while the young guanajuatense defended modern scientific thought no matter its national origin. At about the same time two officials of the Inquisition arrived at the door of the Alamán household inquiring after the young man’s heterodox reading habits. One of the works they encountered among his books was Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), a work to which some suspicion attached even though it was not included in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Officially banned by the Church was another work found in his library, the English edition of the Scottish divine William Robertson’s four-volume History of America (1777), one of the Enlightenment’s strongest critiques of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, the Spanish imperial tradition, and Spanish historiography, which was on the index. Nothing ever came of this investigation, and if it left a documentary trace in the Inquisition records in the Mexican archives, that document has vanished, the proceedings possibly squelched through the direct influence of Alamán’s elder half brother, Father Arechederreta.

The Mexico City Elections of 1812 Four days after Lucas Alamán’s initial encounter with the Inquisition, on 30 September 1812, Mexico City officially received the newly promulgated Spanish Constitution of 1812 with great rejoicing and public celebration. The first constitutionally mandated elections in the country soon followed, foreshadowing the volatile public life marking the early decades of republican Mexico. This event, alongside the Reygadas and Inquisition episodes, all of which took place within a period of a few months, surely affected Alamán’s ideas as a political actor, although nowhere does he say so explicitly. Polling to choose electors who would then select aldermen for the city council (ayuntamiento) of the capital took place on 29 November 1812. After considerable

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initial conflict between Spanish and Creole factions in the highest echelons of the government over age, race, and other eligibility qualifications for voting, the franchise was left quite flexible and inclusive, although it excluded women, children, and men of African descent; disqualifications were left to the discretion of local electoral officials. The city was divided into several polling districts on the basis of divisions established thirty years earlier. The Alamán household was located in a subdistrict of the Sagrario parish, the largest in the city, which had a total population of nearly ten thousand people and was divided into four smaller polling districts; qualified voters resident in Sagrario parish could cast their ballots at any one of these.41 Under the rules initially proposed by the Mexico City Audiencia, whose judges and lawyers hoped to insure through fairly rigid and exclusive eligibility requirements an outcome favoring the pro-Spanish faction, Alamán would have fallen just short of the minimum voting age of twenty-one. The results of the balloting amounted to a resounding repudiation of the pro-Spanish loyalists, both peninsular- and American-born, although the electoral process was impugned, with some reason, by Spanish loyalists as being fraudulent. Some of those selected in this primary round were suspected of being members of Los Guadalupes, a subversive clandestine, prorebel group operating in the capital. Premarked ballots abounded, and it proved impossible to tell how many people had actually voted. This lent credence to critics’ and pro-Spanish opponents’ accusation that many voters of modest social standing and education, large numbers of whom were supposed to be illiterate, had little idea of what they were doing; that they had been instructed by priests and other local leaders on how to vote; that they had been bribed; and that they had voted multiple times. Given the procedural questions about the validity of the elections, Viceroy Venegas refused to let the electors meet to choose the new city council. The political stalemate in Mexico City continued until the tough Spanish general Félix María Calleja was promoted to viceroy in the spring of 1813.42 Calleja reluctantly allowed the electors to put the new ayuntamiento in place, scheduling preliminary elections for Mexican representation to the Spanish Cortes. Held in July 1813 as a typhus epidemic was ravaging the capital and would reach most of the central areas of New Spain, these elections were held simultaneously with new city council voting and saw a much-diminished voter turnout but similar results. The same trend in the victory of proautonomy electors continued, accompanied by the same shrill chorus of criticism from royal officials and the pro-Spanish faction, including accusations of fraud and subversion. With King Ferdinand VII’s return to the

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throne in 1814, the Constitution of Cádiz was suspended, and popular electoral life went into hibernation for the next six years. More than three decades later Lucas Alamán would devote a number of pages in his Historia de Méjico to the Mexico City electoral contests of 1812, a passage clearly marked by his disapproval of the riotous behavior in the polling and his misgivings about what it might portend.43 His account of these elections is immediately preceded, however, by a discussion of the lifting of press restrictions by the 1812 Constitution, a discussion not wholly unsympathetic to the new freedom of intellectual and political expression that arrived with the temporary loosening of these controls by the colonial regime. In relating the initial journalistic blossoming prompted by the lifting of restrictions, Alamán strongly implied that journalists such as Carlos María de Bustamante, perhaps out of a lingering fear of censure and legal action, perhaps from a sense of decorum, were quite moderate in what they published. He was less charitable toward Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi, the famous “Pensador mejicano” (Mexican thinker). He wrote further that only in succeeding years, with the rise of parties and the ubiquity of paid journalists who often beat the party drums (the same criticisms raised during the Federalist / Republican struggles in the young United States in the 1790s), did the public press become corrupted, and he went so far as to liken this trend to the European press of his time. Alamán seems to have thought that, like freedom of the press, widely democratic popular elections within a republican framework were not dangerous or undesirable per se. But elections were prey to virulent factionalism, demagoguery, and corruption by unscrupulous men, making of them elements of dangerous political instability in a politically unsophisticated, ignorant, and malleable population. It is possible to view Lucas Alamán’s grudgingly positive characterization of relative freedom of the press and relatively open elections as a rhetorical subterfuge, a sort of fig leaf to cover his actual condemnation of both so as not to appear to be an atavistic curmudgeon in an era in which a free press and a wide popular franchise had become articles of faith among most liberals and moderates. But there is little reason to suspect this since he had already become so clearly associated with highly conservative political values and was not reluctant to push his views in public discourse, the pages of El Universal, a newspaper he founded, or elsewhere in the Historia de Méjico. A close, open-minded reading of his account of the 1812 Mexico City elections, therefore, suggests that in Alamán’s thinking the potential of more open political processes was to be separated from their actuality in the historical context of early nineteenth-century Mexico. This may

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appear to be a small point, but it goes to the core of Lucas Alamán’s political beliefs, the evolution of his thinking over time, and his view of historical processes. Alamán began his account by noting that “the elections to be held now were something entirely new and unknown.” The scene is set by the much older Alamán writing about his younger self through the lens of experience, so that his words are anything but transparent. It is worth parsing his language for a moment to tease out the “now” of his thinking against the “then” of the background events. Following this path into his text, I find the key phrases to be the observation that the practice of elections was “entirely new and unknown” and a long, inclusive list of groups formerly forbidden to gather without prior license from the king or prelate, including confraternities and colleges. It is sometimes difficult in Alamán’s writing to know when he is being slyly ironic. To my eye there is a hint of irony when he writes of the Laws of the Indies as being “so careful” as well as in his long enumeration of racial groups prohibited from actively participating in what are now called civil society or the public sphere, especially since the list begins with Spaniards when he might just as well have said “everyone” or “all subjects.” In any case, it reads as though he is criticizing the metropolitan policy of shutting down all public activity as excessively nervous-making, even for the laudable objective of promoting piety. The remark about elections being “entirely new and unknown” is, from one point of view, disingenuous because at the municipal level there had been elections since the advent of Spanish colonial power in New Spain, albeit highly restrictive ones governed by practices of oligarchy, patriarchy, and gerontocracy. In fact, the political legitimacy of the Kingdom of New Spain itself was based on the election of 1519 in which Fernando Cortés established his independence from the Cuban government by establishing a separate cabildo. From another point of view, however, the observation marks the novelty of national elections within a republican framework, based on a more or less wide franchise, during a time of intense political crisis on both sides of the Atlantic. In this characterization of political innovations, Alamán is suggesting that there unspooled into the future a long and tortuous learning curve in Mexican public life to adapt the political culture to republican institutions. He was to emphasize this toward the end of the last volume of the Historia de Méjico in observing that independence would not have been so premature and its sequelae so destructive had Mexico not lacked “men for the operation of the state,” people who could have brought with them to public life the lessons of a longer experience of the new political practices being

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implanted in the wake of separation from Spain. Here he likely had explicitly in mind the transition to independence of the Anglo-American colonies facilitated by the political experience of the Virginia House of Burgesses and other representative institutions within the colonial framework. He went on to describe the way voting districts were set up for the 1812 elections and the way slates of Creole and loyalist candidates were fielded. The voting itself, he wrote, was carried out “with the greatest disorder,” noting the highly irregular practices employed by the two factions to insure the election of their candidates: Money was given to the porters on the street corners to distribute voting papers with the names of the electors [already written], and with them the water sellers and [neighborhood] boys voted without even knowing the names on the papers, while others copied the votes of those engaging in these practices who were already at the polling places. As a result of all this, the triumph of the Americans [i.e., Creoles] was complete, with no European [Spaniard] emerging as elector, and with such a uniformity in the voting as a result of the [premarked] ballots that none of the four electors in the Sagrario [parish] came out with fewer than five thousand votes, [this] in a parish in which the number of votes exceeded the [total] number of residents. Popular rejoicing at this resounding Creole electoral victory went on for much of the night after the announcement of the results, with near-violent demonstrations occurring in many quarters of the city. One such incident took place at the Sagrario church, and one can only guess at the effect this might have produced on Alamán as he remembered his rough treatment at the hands of insurgents from the urban plebe in Guanajuato scarcely two years before. Some people even approached the viceregal palace asking that cannons be fired in celebration, which Viceroy Venegas refused to do. “At the head of these groups,” Alamán wrote, “were people of the more decent sort and some ecclesiastics, since, as we have seen, the revolution was sustained through their influence.” “I was an eyewitness to everything related here,” he added in a footnote at this point. At the Te Deum Mass in the parishes the following day, some of the triumphant electors, among them Carlos María de Bustamante, were carried to the parish churches on the backs of the crowds. The viceroy kept the troops in their barracks on alert, and at about four o’clock in the afternoon on the thirtieth the crowds in the streets were ordered to disperse to their homes or face armed soldiers. By nightfall calm had been re-

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stored. Similar demonstrations, Alamán wrote, took place in Puebla, Toluca, and other cities, all showing “hatred toward the [European] Spaniards in keeping with the principles proclaimed by the insurrection.” Alamán discounted a “concerted plan of revolution . . . in this popular movement,” characterizing the demonstrations rather as a “passing disturbance [due to] the transports of joy excited by the triumph obtained in the elections [by the Creoles].” But he did assert that some anti-Spanish groups and individuals had promoted the general ebullience and even violence for their own political ends. He specifically cited Francisco Galicia, the indigenous governor of San Juan Tenochtitlán, one of the Indian districts of the city. In a letter of 9 December 1812 to the major insurgent leader Ignacio López Rayón, Galicia suggested that the unrestrained, riotous outpourings of pro-Creole and anti-gachupín popular sentiment supported the hope that a rebel invasion of the city might be met with an internal rising. The fear on the part of the government, Alamán wrote, was that the upcoming elections for representatives to the Spanish Cortes would provide further opportunities for sinister forces to promote public disorder or subversive activities. Pointed comments by Fernández de Lizardi in his newspaper El Pensador prompted Viceroy Venegas to suspend freedom of the press in early December and then the application of the Constitution altogether.44 Lucas Alamán’s activities in Mexico City in 1813 are very little commented on either in his autobiographical writings or the 1938 biography by José Valadés. Since he received his certificates of completed studies in mining (engineering, mineralogy) and botany late in 1813, the year must have been taken up with the intensive study to which he was naturally inclined. He witnessed the renewed elections of 1813 for the municipal council and, at midyear, for deputies to the Spanish Cortes, of which his elder half brother was one, describing them in his Historia de Méjico in a very tight-lipped manner. Without editorial comment he noted the promulgation of a Spanish Cortes decree of 22 February 1813 extinguishing the Inquisition. Whether this change in the institutional landscape of Mexico City, over and above his elder half brother’s influence, played any role in the petering out of the preceding autumn’s inquisitorial inquiries into the young man’s reading habits is not known. He devoted in these pages some space to an event “of little importance in itself, which attracted much attention in the capital and afforded much food for curiosity.” This was the escape of Leona Vicario, later a much-venerated heroine of independence, from Mexico City in May 1813; she was declared by the government to be a traitor for her involvement with the insurgents, an episode to

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which Alamán dedicated more attention than to the pestilence of that year. In a footnote he tells his readers that since he was unable to consult the voluminous criminal file in the matter of Vicario, all the details about this anecdote were taken from the “Apuntes manuscritos” of his half brother, Canon Arechederreta. Arechederreta may have taken his very presentable half brother, a young man of unimpeachable social credentials and considerable culture, into Mexico City society—to the salons, dinners, and other events that must have marked the associative life of the Mexican elite. The following year would see Lucas Alamán’s departure for Europe and the young man’s absence for nearly six years, followed by a short return to Mexico City and then a long second sojourn in Spain. While he would never leave Mexico again after his return from his second stay in Spain, his travels left a deep imprint on him.

3 • Years of Pilgrimage, First Steps in Politics, and a Betrothal (1816–1823)

The Grand Tour Begins: Madrid, Paris, and London Lucas Alamán was to travel, study, and work in Europe for almost the entire decade 1814–1823, with the exception of a year (1820) back in Mexico. He never left the country again after his return although he had opportunities to do so and at several points considered emigrating with his family to escape the insecurity and deteriorating conditions in Mexico. We can trace his movements during his European years with some exactitude, even down to the dates on which he entered and left various cities, and we have some sense of what he learned about European modernity. But what we cannot get at are either the impressions these travels produced or what these experiences meant to him, even if the importance of this decade to him is suggested in his brief 1843 autobiography. Although he kept up his knowledge of the Old World, he would have missed a personal encounter with the technological and political change sweeping western Europe during the three decades after he returned from his travels. He would not have seen the railroad and the telegraph shrink distance and time so rapidly or the population of London, in his time already the world’s second largest city, behind Peking, triple in size between 1815 and 1860, from about a million inhabitants to over three million, while the Parisian population more than doubled. He could not have witnessed at first hand the spreading shadow of William Blake’s “dark Satanic mills” throughout western Europe or the political ferment of the post-Napoleonic period—the rise and fall of monarchies, the Great Reform, the outbreak of warfare or rebellion, the early phases of the Risorgimento. While he came to be knowledgeable about the revolutions of 1848 and almost certainly assimilated them to

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the radical political liberalism he felt was so dangerous in Mexico, he never experienced European political events as an observer on the scene. Lucas Alamán left Mexico City for the port of Veracruz in January 1814, embarking for Spain later in the month.1 For several years he had wanted to travel in Europe, preparing by learning French and English. Money proved to be no problem and would not until the family’s further financial setbacks of 1816. Even so the reversal does not seem to have crimped his style much. The signing of the Treaty of Valençay in December 1813 officially paved the way for the return of Ferdinand VII to the Spanish throne, but the Peninsular War continued through the early months of Alamán’s stay there. He was slated to cross the Atlantic in the company of a family friend, Tomás González Calderón, a judge of the Mexico City Audiencia recalled to Spain to serve in the new Ministerio de Ultramar. González, however, fell gravely ill, and Alamán traveled instead with Victorino de las Fuentes, a priest from Irapuato who had just been elected a Mexican deputy to the Spanish Cortes.2 He arrived at Cádiz via Havana on 30 May 1814 and stayed a month, traveling to Sevilla at the end of June 1814. There, Ponz’s Viage de España in hand, presumably an abridged version, he visited various sites, including the cathedral, saw the Murillo paintings and other works of art in the churches, looked at the Alcázar, and strolled the banks of the Guadalquivir. The end of July found the young traveler in Madrid. The Spanish imperial capital was a city of 175,000–200,000 inhabitants in 1814, about a fifth the size of London and less than a third that of Paris. A constant stream of migrants was attracted to the city from the interior areas of Spain, most of them day laborers, domestics, and other members of the working poor. Approaching the city from any direction, one would have passed through a desolate countryside plagued with bandits. One memoirist of the later nineteenth century described the Fernandine Madrid of years before as “An extremely ugly town [un pueblo feísimo], with few architectural monuments [and] horrible housing.”3 During the restoration under the tyrannous King Ferdinand VII, government was impecunious and in disarray, so a number of sorely needed infrastructural and monumental projects never got off the drawing boards. When Alamán passed through at the beginning of the restoration, the city was filled with aristocrats and religious, and wealth was highly concentrated, 40 percent of income accruing to 1 percent of the population. This limited the development of manufacturing to the smallest scale, most demand being met by the import of foreign goods. The celebration attendant upon Ferdinand’s return in the spring of 1814 generated a large number of triumphal arches and public rejoicing out of keeping with the city’s reduced economic

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circumstances. The young Mexican visitor might well have heard the jokes circulating in the street about the restored Bourbon absolutist, such as “God keep the king . . . and never let him return!” or “Life to the king—but the less, the better!” In the months after Ferdinand’s restoration and his abrogation of the 1812 Cádiz charter a number of American deputies were still living in the city. Alamán mentions particularly Pablo de la Llave, later to become an important figure in the government of the newly independent Mexico, and Miguel Santa María, strongly connected with the Spanish liberals and a onetime member of the Lautaro Lodge of radical Spanish American revolutionaries.4 He also met the young priest Antonio Joaquín Pérez, the future bishop of Puebla.5 Through them Alamán was introduced into the salons of other prominent public figures, intellectuals, and aristocrats, a highly educated, accomplished, and quite cosmopolitan group of men, all of liberal political inclinations. Alamán left the Spanish capital bound for Paris in late September 1814, getting there at the beginning of November 1814. On arriving in Paris he paid the obligatory visit to the Hotel de Ville to inform the French authorities of his presence, and for the rest of his time on this visit was to live at 1 rue Chaptel, the same street on which such luminaries as Georges Sand, Adolphe Thiers, and James McNeill Whistler would live later in the century. Alamán was in Paris for the next five months, until his departure for London in April 1815. Paris was in considerable flux at the time. Napoleon had just abdicated for the first time in April, and the Bourbon restoration was in full swing. The life of the salons was as vigorous as ever, as Alamán’s experience over the next few months would prove. Like Mexico City, Paris ate people. The death rate was slightly in excess of the rate of natural increase, so that the city had to be replenished constantly with the immigration of young people from the countryside. Unlike London, which was industrializing at this time, Paris remained principally a cultural and administrative center. Urban crime was rampant, compounded by the demobilization of the defeated French armies. The population by 1815 was about seven hundred thousand, considerably smaller than London’s but still one of the largest in the world. The immediate post-Napoleonic period saw much construction in the city, improvement in the urban water supply, the building of markets and fountains, and the spanning of the Seine with magnificent bridges; it is difficult to imagine that the young Alamán did not try on the role of flâneur. This was Paris before Baron Haussmann’s massive urban reconfiguration, but it was also a city on the cusp of modernization, as was London, a process closely associated with science, probably one of Paris’s strongest attractions for the young Mexican traveler.

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His very schematic narrative of his five months in Paris begins with his acquaintance with Fray Servando Teresa de Mier (1763–1827), by this time simply Father Mier since he had been secularized out of the Dominican Order in 1802. Mier may even have intended to return to Spain despite the imprisonment likely awaiting him there, as Ferdinand VII’s reaction launched a fullscale witch hunt against Spanish American revolutionaries, liberals, Cortes of Cádiz deputies, and afrancesado (Frenchified) allies of the ousted Napoleonic regime, but he stayed on in Paris for another five months or so. The ideas of the famously picaresque churchman—he escaped imprisonment for his political activities on seven occasions—historian, political journalist, and moderate federalist would not have been too far distant at this time from the young Alamán’s. Alamán himself says only that “there [in Paris] I met the celebrated Father Mier,” whose contacts in the city, as later in London and on the Continent, opened a number of doors to the young traveler and student. In his early fifties when Lucas Alamán met him late in 1814, Padre Mier was “rich in knowledge and erudition [and] he is at the same time very agreeable in his style, full of passion and enthusiasm, [and] abounds in opportune witticisms.”6 Virtually penniless at the time, Mier survived on loans and the charity of friends, among them Alamán himself. Although Mier seems to have occupied a position of minor intellectual prominence in Paris, his claim to Alamán that he had been inducted into the Institut National des Sciénce et Artes was an “academic fantasy” born of “megalomaniac illusion.”7 Alamán’s friendship with Mier opened a number of Parisian doors for him. Together they met Baron Alexander von Humboldt early in 1815, with whom Alamán was occasionally to correspond in coming years and whose letters of introduction were to help him make some contacts in London and during his subsequent travels back on the Continent. During his stay in Paris, Mier renewed an old acquaintance with the Abbé (Henri) Gregoire (1750–1831), member of the Estates General in 1789, later president of the French Convention, ardent republican, alleged regicide, abolitionist, Gallican clergyman, anti-imperialist, and at this time famous even well beyond the borders of France.8 Both Humboldt and Gregoire were to refer to Alamán in very warm terms in later correspondence with third parties, Gregoire calling him in letters of 1824 and 1825, respectively, “our wise and kindly friend” and “our dear friend Sr. Alamán, who left in Europe . . . such honorable impressions,” while Humboldt referred to Alamán about the same time as “my close friend.”9 Through the politician Duc de Montmorency, Alamán met two of the great salonniéres of the age, the celebrated beauty Juliette Recamier (1777–1849),

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and Madame de Staël (1766–1817), the daughter of the famous Swiss banker Jacques Necker (1732–1804), a writer, republican, and political opponent of Napoleon. Dazzling though he must have found these women, the witty conversation and opulent surroundings, and the people who frequented their salons, in his published autobiography many years later he remarks only on meeting Gregoire, Montmorency, “and other personages of the restoration.” The young Alamán was also to meet Benjamin Constant (1767–1830), famously the lover of Madame de Staël and one of the most influential writers on political theory of the time, whose works Alamán would later read, as did his liberal political opponents. He also made the acquaintance of the writer, historian, and diplomat François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768–1848), the already famous French revolutionary sympathizer turned conservative. Lucas Alamán was in Paris for too short a period for any of these relationships to become very robust, but over time they became important to him. When he returned there in 1822 he was a well-traveled man of thirty with much experience of the world and a burgeoning political career. Many of the figures he had met in 1814–15 were still living there, although Madame de Staël had died in the interim. Whether he renewed his contacts with them is an open question. Only with one of them, Baron von Humboldt, was he to sustain a relationship over the years to come, and that strictly an epistolary one. Although he lost his father at the age of sixteen, Alamán had had strong male role models in his life—his father, his uncle Tomás, Intendant Riaño, and his elder half brother. Coincidentally, all the intellectually powerful, accomplished men he encountered during this short period in Paris were twenty to twenty-five years older than he. The youngest, von Humboldt, who was to outlive Alamán by six years, was born in 1769. The efforts of men like Constant, who looked to the British constitutional monarchy as a political model in which liberalism was reconciled with stable political forms, and Chateaubriand, who burnished the restored Bourbon regime in France after his own flirtations with both republicanism and absolutism, must have posed questions for Lucas Alamán with which he was to struggle throughout his political career. While in Paris, he furthered his studies in languages and the sciences, taking a number of classes in physics and chemistry at the Collège de France, then as now the most prestigious institution of research and higher learning in the country. For Father Mier and Lucas Alamán this immersion in the Paris of the first Bourbon Restoration ended with the return of Napoleon to the city from his

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exile on Elba on 20 March 1815. The return of the dynasty had begun auspiciously enough with the ascent of King Louis XVIII to the throne of France in April 1814; and following the brief Napoleonic hiatus the king was to return in the Second Restoration in July 1815. In his autobiography Alamán writes of this period simply that “I saw Napoleon enter [Paris] on his return from Elba.” Owing to the renewed military conflict with France’s adversaries provoked by the emperor’s return, he left for England, taking the penniless Father Mier with him at his own expense. The two men sailed on 24 April 1815. The months of May and June 1815 are unaccounted for, but on 3 July 1815 a functionary named J. Beckett in the Alien Office in London issued a permit to the alien “Lucas Alamán, aged 23 years, native of New Spain, gent.” to reside in Britain provided he did not locate within ten miles of the coast or in the neighborhood of any royal dockyards. Samuel Johnson famously quipped that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”10 The population of the city was something over a million people and growing rapidly in the wake of the quarter century of the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars begun in 1789. The poor, working poor, and people of modest means, who comprised 75 percent of Londoners, lived in or near the East End or south of the Thames, while the city was expanding northward along streets of new terraced houses toward Whitechapel and toward the west. Alarming slums were ubiquitous, and the “Great Wen,” William Cobbett’s term for the city, remained a devourer of people, much as Paris and Mexico City were, with a constant stream of immigrants filling the gap between high mortality rates and low rates of natural increase. Yet it was also notoriously a city of conspicuous consumption, leisure, and vice, especially for the moneyed class. Beau Brummell (1778–1840) was an intimate friend of the Prince of Wales, the future King George IV, until at a fashionable London gathering in 1813, their friendship already in tatters, Brummel, after being cut socially by the prince, remarked loudly to a companion his famous “Who is your fat friend?” comment. The dandy Brummel was to seek an impoverished exile in Paris in 1816, just after Lucas Alamán’s return there from London but left behind him new trends in gentlemen’s fashions. Venues for gambling were many, prostitutes abounded, the theater was thriving. The great female star of the Georgian stage, Sarah Siddons (1755–1831), had just retired, but Edmund Kean (1789–1833), born with the Age of Revolution, was just becoming a major theatrical figure. There were a thousand or more coffeehouses, some of which we may assume Lucas Alamán visited, and many more of what we would now call pubs. The vast complex of the West India Docks had re-

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cently been constructed (1800–1802) on the Thames, and the city’s main economic activity was the trade of the post-Napoleonic world, although it was also industrializing at a rapid pace. William Wordsworth was to describe London as a “monstrous ant-hill on the plain,” the streets teeming with people and carriages. Life there would only grow more hectic over the next half century or so, the population doubling by the time of Charles Dickens (1812–70), its great chronicler. Alamán tells us in his brief autobiography that during the five months before returning to Paris he traveled over most of Britain and Scotland. A letter from him to Robert Jameson, a professor at the University of Edinburgh, written in English as he was on his way to travels in Italy, indicates that despite some orthographical and grammatical mistakes his written English was quite good. He had obviously met a number of people in Edinburgh through Jameson.11 In the British capital he met the Fagoaga brothers, sons of the great ennobled Mexican mining family. José Francisco Fagoaga y Villaurrutia (d. 1840), the second Marqués del Apartado, had arrived in London with his brother Francisco Antonio (1788–1851).12 Alamán was to travel throughout Europe with Francisco Antonio for much of the next few years, maintain a lifelong friendship and political alliance with him, and write a necrological essay about him. Among others Alamán met in London was José María Blanco White (1775–1841), also known as Joseph Blanco White, the Spanish émigré liberal, lapsed Catholic turned Protestant divine, memoirist, travel writer, and journalist, who showed Alamán around Oxford University. A number of the men he met were involved in the proautonomist or independence causes for New Spain or at the very least politically subversive activities. Fray Servando had been collaborating with Blanco White’s expatriate Spanish periodicals in London since at least 1811 or so, continuing to do so for a number of years. Another figure on the scene was Andrés Bello (1781–1865), the Venezuelan patriot, writer, and educator, with whom the Fagoaga brothers and Fray Servando became friendly. The Fagoaga brothers had also made contact almost immediately upon their arrival in 1809 with the longtime revolutionary Francisco de Miranda (1750–1816), whose house and library in Grafton Street had been a magnet for many liberal- and independence-minded Spanish Americans in London earlier in the decade. By this time he was a captive in Spanish hands and would die in prison in 1816. During these years the social thinkers James Mill (John Stuart Mill’s father) and Jeremy Bentham were involved with this group in promoting Spanish American independence through newspapers such as Miranda’s El Colombiano, supported financially by the Fagoaga brothers. Another personal and political bond within this

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group was membership in the Lautaro Lodge, originally the Lodge of Rational Knights (Logia de los Caballeros Racionales), a secret organization only tangentially related to Freemasonry and dedicated to Enlightenment ideals and eventually to the liberation of Spanish America. Thirty-five years later Alamán denied unequivocally in his Historia de Méjico that he had ever belonged to any secret society, either in Europe or Mexico. But the fluidity of his political ideas at this time may well have opened him to a flirtation with liberalism and even autonomy for his homeland. What was Lucas Alamán likely to have carried away from his relatively brief visit to London? First, just a few years down the road there was his involvement with English investors in the Mexican mining industry. The knowledge Alamán acquired in a firsthand exposure to British capitalism through reading, travel, and personal contacts may well have laid the groundwork for an inclination toward English investors. Second, as a mature statesman he was always to see Britain as a counterweight to the United States in terms of the geopolitics of Mexico and Spanish America. His presence in both Paris and London at the very moment Britain emerged as the principal arbiter of European politics, and to a great degree of world politics, surely impressed the young traveler with the military and diplomatic might of the island kingdom. Third, Alamán came to admire greatly a number of British writers on politics, foremost among them the Irish parliamentarian Edmund Burke (1729–97). Personal immersion in the agitated political atmosphere of the great capital, the reading of newspapers, and conversation within his Mexican expatriate community should be accounted a factor in the development of his political ideas. Finally, he clearly viewed English constitutional monarchy and economic development as key models for the sort of modernization to which he aspired for Mexico. A lesser but more tangible item that Alamán carried home with him from London provides the sort of detail about his life that is all too rare among the thousands of pages of his correspondence, official reports, government and private business documents, and historical writings. Given his scholarly interests, even his bookishness, we should not be surprised to find him sitting in the British Museum during some idle moments, probably in the later months of 1815. His presence there is attested by a printed sheet among his papers with the regulations—the rules of use, hours of operation, and so forth—to be observed by visitors to the museum’s reading room. On the back of the regulation sheet, which seems to have served as a user’s permit for the reading room, is a long set of verses copied out in Alamán’s hand. This is the complete, ardently patriotic, jingoistic poem “Hail England” authored that same

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year by Leigh Hunt, published initially in the magazine Hunt edited, The Examiner.13 The first stanza reads as follows: Hail England, dear England, true Queen of the West With thy fair swelling bosom, and ever-green vest How nobly thou sitst in thy own steady light On the left of thee Freedom, and Truth on the Right While the clouds, as they smile, break apart and turn bright The muses, full voiced, half encircle the seat And Ocean comes kissing thy princely white feet All hail! All hail! Despite the few orthographic errors in Alamán’s transcription, what is most interesting is that he should have copied it at all, an act that may reflect his lifelong Anglophilia.

Travel and Study on the Continent Lucas Alamán returned to Paris in November 1815 and remained until the following spring.14 We may assume he applied himself to study, networking, and seeing the sights he missed the first time around. He studied mineralogy at the Collège de France, developing an enthusiasm to travel to Italy. Alamán and a new friend named Colombelle agreed to travel south together, leaving Paris on 22 March 1816 bound for Naples. Passing through Lyon, they lingered to view the battlefields of Pavia and Marengo, arriving in Genoa toward the last week in April. They spent two weeks in Milan, visiting museums and public monuments, then in mid-May headed for Florence, arriving in the city of Dante, Machiavelli, and Galileo at the end of the month. They remained there for only a week before traveling around Tuscany and moving on to Rome. Alamán spent July, August, and the first half of September 1816 in the Eternal City. He certainly would have visited the Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish Steps, the Bernini fountain in the Piazza Navona, St. Peter’s, and Rome’s many churches. He may have been familiar already with Roman ruins through the etchings of Giovanni Batista Piranesi and almost certainly paid visits to the Baths of Caracalla, the Coliseum, the Pantheon, and the Forum. Lucas Alamán was to demonstrate throughout his life more than a passing interest in the architecture of public spaces and how it embodied and shaped collective memory. While in Rome, did he explore the narrow, tortuous streets of Trastevere or sample the favors of

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Roman courtesans? It seems unlikely, but then he was far from home, a healthy young man in his midtwenties traveling alone or in the company of other young men, with a certain amount of money in his pocket. He continued his pattern of fraternizing with the great and near-great, meeting during his time in Rome Cardinal Gonzalvo, Pope Pius VII’s chief minister; Dionisio Bardají (1760– 1826), a Spanish churchman just raised to the cardinalate in March 1816; and Prince Stanislaw Poniatowski (1754–1833), nephew of the last king of Poland, Stanislaw II August, then living in Rome after the partitions of Poland (1772, 1793, 1795) deprived him of the throne for which he was a candidate. “Having seen everything in Rome and its environs,” wrote Alamán, he and Colombelle separated, the Frenchman returning home and the Mexican going on to Naples via the Pontine Marshes and Capua, arriving in Naples on 25 September. Lucas Alamán stayed in the city and its surrounding area from 25 September to 7 November 1816. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies had been created by the Congress of Vienna just the preceding year and restored to the rule of a cadet branch of the Bourbon family. In Naples he stayed for two months in a hotel or inn at strada Speranzella no. 123, since when he left Naples in early November the innkeeper/hotelier signed a certificate attesting to don Lucas’s good health and stable residence there for about two months. A tourist guide to Naples of thirty years later described the alberghe at Speranzella 123 as a “second-class hotel” owned by Giuseppe Jorio that prepared meals for its guests.15 Since the eighteenth century the street had been the site of a number of workshops where high-quality guitars and mandolins were made. Since Alamán had studied the guitar, we may imagine him looking into the instrument shops in the neighborhood and even buying a guitar or two to take home with him. He could not have attended any sort of performance at the famous Teatro di San Carlo because the theater had been destroyed by fire in February 1816 and was being reconstructed while he was in the city. He would have sampled the fine Neapolitan wine and cuisine, if not in his own hotel, then out in the numerous other locandas. We may also envision him paying extended visits to the nearby Roman sites of Herculaneum, Stabiae, and Pompeii, the latter still being excavated with the more careful archaeological methods introduced by the French marshal and Neapolitan king Joachim Murat, executed scarcely a year (October 1815) prior to Lucas Alamán’s arrival in his short-lived kingdom. José Valadés writes (72) that Alamán also went to Sicily. If he did, it is conceivable that he met José Pignatelli de Aragón, the heir to the extensive properties of Fernando Cortés in Mexico and the title of Duque de Terranova y Monteleone, but there is no evidence that such a meeting took place.

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Alamán left Naples in November 1816, again bound for Rome. The Spanish chargé in Naples asked him to take three sealed documents for Spanish officials in the Eternal City. Arriving in Rome well before the end of the month, he awaited there the return of Francisco Fagoaga in order to resume their travels together, which would take up a good part of 1817. Valadés provides a highly plausible and evocative description of how the two young Mexicans traveled together: They made an arrangement to travel together, and [since] between them reigned the most intimate confidence, they formed a common purse replenished equally by both of them without ever giving an account of how much they put in, each of them managing the funds alternatively by weeks. The young men would spend many happy days looking over the most famous battlefields of history, visiting Venice and Milan, climbing the mountains of Switzerland, [and] following the course of the Rhine. So pleasant were the memories of these travels that “a few days before his death don Francisco still remembered this period of his life, holding it to be the happiest part.”16 Separating temporarily from Fagoaga, Alamán visited several cities, arriving at Perugia at the beginning of March, crossing the Apennines to Bologna, and arriving some days later in Florence. By the end of March he was back in Rome, where he awaited the return of Francisco Fagoaga through April, May, and June. The two Mexican travelers departed from Rome once again on 4 July 1817, Fagoaga for Florence and Alamán for Bologna, where they reunited around 10 July. On their itinerary after Ferrara was Venice, where they viewed works by Verrochio, Veronese, Titian, Tintoretto, Giotto, and Donatello. August and early September saw the pair traveling to the principal cities of Lombardy, including Verona, Mantua, and Milan, the last Lucas Alamán would see of Italy during his life. The traveling companions spent the late summer and early autumn of 1817 touring Switzerland, which they had entered via Lago Maggiore after visiting Geneva.17 Their travels then took them to Basel, Lucerne, and a number of Swiss mountain towns, and then to Berne, where they arrived in mid-September. For the next month they made their way in a leisurely fashion down the left bank of the Rhine, arriving in Frankfurt on 7 October. In Mainz the pair split up again on 20 October, Fagoaga going on to Paris and Alamán to travel in Germany through the early months of 1818, for which he had prepared himself by studying German during his long sojourns in Rome.

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Lucas Alamán’s chief interest in the German lands seems to have been the technical aspects of silver mining. At least some of the inspiration for his later investments in mining and attempted innovations in extractive techniques is attributable to his travel and study in Germany. Passing through Dresden and Weimar and pausing briefly to visit the battlefields of Jena—where Napoleon’s French army had triumphed over the Prussians in 1806—and Leipzig—where coalition forces more than evened the score in the autumn of 1813 in the Battle of the Nations—Alamán reached Freiberg, in Saxony, on 3 November 1817 and remained for a month in this ancient silver- and tin-mining district. Of his stay in the area he wrote in his Épocas (22) only that he studied the local mining techniques “with much determination,” making connections with a number of Saxon miners. He may have visited the famous mining school there, the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, established fifty years earlier. The end of the first week of December found him in Berlin, where he remained through the end of the year. In later passing on to Brussels he exercised a mysterious “interino cargo,” which suggests obliquely that, as in his journey from Naples to Rome in late 1816, he was taking part in some sort of confidential diplomatic mission as a Spanish subject. Early 1818 saw Alamán on the road again, this time in the Upper and Lower Harz Mountains, visiting the silver, copper, and iron mines exploited in the area since ancient times. In late January he visited the famous university in Göttingen, where luminaries of the period had studied, among them Wilhelm von Humboldt, the elder brother of Alamán’s much-admired friend Alexander von Humboldt, and also the (German-born) Austrian diplomat Prince Metternich, with whom, according to some of his critics, Alamán shared certain affinities. Given that he was there for ten days and that there must have been precious little else to do in the university town, one assumes that he audited classes, met the local notables, and used the university library. February and March 1818 were occupied in travels to Marburg, Cassel, and Frankfurt, descending the Rhine to Cologne, and arriving at Aix-la-Chapelle in early February. The following weeks took him to Amsterdam, the Hague, Coblenz, and Rotterdam. He returned to Paris on 21 March 1818, a few days later registering at the Spanish embassy for a stay in the city. Lucas Alamán spent almost exactly one year in Paris, leaving the city in the spring of 1819 and arriving in Mexico in the winter of that year, after further travels in Spain. Unfortunately there is almost no documentary trace of this third stay in the French capital—there was to be one more, in 1822, much better documented—except for the extremely condensed account of it he gave in

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the Épocas (22). He met up with Francisco Fagoaga again, who was living at rue de Hanover no. 5 in a reasonably fashionable area of town. Don Lucas installed himself at rue Mirabeau no. 40, in the Sixteenth Arrondissement, in what is today the Trocadero district of the city. He continued with his acquisition of languages, especially Greek, as well as his study of mineralogy at the Collège de France. He renewed his social contacts with attendance once more at the salons of the great and sinister Talleyrand, Prince of Benevento. At some point during his year in Paris his mother, doña María Ignacia Escalada, informed him that Juan Manuel Bustillo, to whom she had entrusted much of the family’s capital, had gone bankrupt, losing doña María Ignacia some ninety thousand pesos. What part of Lucas Alamán’s paternal inheritance was lost here is not clear. He was now approaching the age of thirty, having spent most of a decade in the sybaritic pleasures of travel and independent study. He was jolted by the Bustillo bankruptcy into the realization that he must turn his talents and studies to earning a living. He wrote in his Épocas (23): “During this year I received news of the bankruptcy in Mexico of don Juan Manuel Bustillo, who held all the resources that my family had saved from the ruin of Guanajuato, in which failure were lost something like ninety thousand pesos. This made me think of taking advantage of the studies I had pursued [to try to] establish in Mexico the method of refining gold and silver by means of sulfuric acid, applied in France and kept a secret.” Lucas Alamán concluded naturally enough that his future lay with the family enterprise in Guanajuato, silver mining, to which he had been continually exposed as a boy. This had furnished the basis for much of the fading family fortune, and he had studied mining systematically at home as well as in France and Germany. In the Épocas (23) he expressed a good deal of confidence in reviving the fortunes of the Cata mine. Mintage in Mexico dropped by 50 percent in the early years of the insurgency, experiencing a modest recovery in 1818–20 but continuing to be rachitic until after midcentury. As both government minister and entrepreneur Lucas Alamán was to do as much as any Mexican to spur the revival of the industry, especially during the latter half of the 1820s, but without conspicuous success. That he did not know the state of the industry on which he pinned his economic hopes is impossible to believe, so we must conclude that those hopes outran a realistic view of the possibilities, although he was by no means alone in this. Before he left for Spain to obtain a license from the royal authorities for application of the new refining method, he turned down an offer to take over government direction of the mint and mines in Potosí, in what was formerly Upper Peru but had fallen

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into the orbit of the newly independent government in Buenos Aires. The offer came from Bernardino Rivadavia (1780–1845), then on a diplomatic mission to Europe to seek support for the rioplatense (Río de la Plata; i.e., Argentine) revolution, presumably on behalf of the government he would later briefly head as president (1826–27). On exactly what basis this offer was made to Alamán we do not know, since he had yet to acquire hands-on experience in his profession of mining engineer and would never manage a mint. He must have demonstrated considerable knowledge, however, and enjoyed impeccable personal and educational credentials. Lucas Alamán left Paris on 22 April 1819, passing through Bordeaux, arriving at Bayonne on 9 May, and entering Spain through Irún. During the next two months he made a sentimental journey to the area in Navarre from which his father, Juan Vicente, and his uncle Tomás had emigrated to New Spain. He visited the small village of Roncesvalles, of Chanson de Roland fame, just below the French border, which lies on the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela, and where, he tells us in his Épocas (23), his uncle don Juan José Berradé was the superior of an abbey. He continued on to his father’s natal village, Ochagavia, finally arriving in Madrid in early July 1819. Alamán was to stay in Madrid for about four months, pursuing a license from the royal authorities to apply the sulfuric acid method in a private facility in Mexico City. The justification for his petition (Épocas, 23), apart from its utility, was to reward “the great services done by my family in mining.” He had to jump through any number of hoops in petitioning to obtain the license. Given the political upheaval rocking New Spain, Alamán’s method was never implemented, although he was granted a somewhat modified license. The entire episode may have helped to sour him on the overmuscled colonial bureaucracy under which scientific and technological innovation was in some measure stifled. Seen from this angle, his proposals under his first government ministries to make the Mexican mining industry more agile, open to foreign investment, and modern appear in a more expansive light.18 By mid-November 1819 Alamán was making preparations to leave Madrid, having obtained the proper documentation and shortly thereafter returning to Paris by the route he had come, though at a far less leisurely pace. He spent a week in December gathering further information on the refining method, acquiring the necessary sulfuric acid and crucibles for the process and investing some two thousand pesos “that I had left” in “the first commercial speculation I [ever] made,” purchasing fashionable clothing items for resale in New Spain. Leaving Paris on 9 December, Alamán made his way to Le Havre and em-

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barked for Veracruz on about 15 December, sailing on the French brigantine L’Amitié in the company of members of the Fagoaga family. The ship arrived in the Mexican port without mischance on 27 February 1820. Lucas Alamán disembarked with his luggage and the goods he had bought on speculation, which he remarked drily “sold very well in Mexico City.”

First Steps in Politics Eighteen twenty is another year in Lucas Alamán’s life about which we have little detailed information. This is hardly surprising since there is no private correspondence available and no diary, and the returning traveler was not yet publicly prominent enough to have left a trail in the official documents or newspapers of the day. He arrived in Mexico City and found out about the 1820 rebellion in Spain to restore the 1812 Constitution, led by the liberal military officer Rafael Riego, the event that would precipitate him into a political career. Alamán’s account of these months back home is so compressed, however, that the timing of things becomes quite vague. He might just barely have heard of the Riego Rebellion on his arrival in Mexico, since it had occurred on 1 January 1821 while he was still on shipboard in the Atlantic, although the news of the event did not arrive in Mexico until early April. He could not have heard of the reproclamation of the constitution by the beleaguered King Ferdinand VII until about the end of April at the earliest, since it did not occur until 10 March 1820, and the charter was not reestablished in New Spain by Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca until 31 May 1820. Alamán presumably returned to his mother’s home in Mexico City and lived there until he departed New for Old Spain again the following January. These ten months or so back in Mexico City marked the preface to Lucas Alamán’s career as a man of public affairs. This began with a pair of viceregal appointments, one of them quite understandable, even predictable, the second rather mysterious. Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca, the Conde del Venadito, appointed Alamán a special inspector (visitador) of silver and gold refining operations early in 1820. This was a logical move on the government’s part given that the returned traveler had studied advanced mining and refining techniques in Europe. How the viceroy came to know of him and his expertise, however, is an interesting question, even though the family background in the industry and its lingering social prominence may have had something to do with it. There may also have been unofficial lobbying on Alamán’s behalf by José Francisco Fagoaga, the Marqués del Apartado, or his younger brother

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Francisco, who had been Alamán’s boon companion in his European travels and would remain a lifelong friend. What the young mining engineer did in this capacity is not recorded; presumably his charge would have included encouraging refinery operators to apply the sulfuric acid technique he had learned in Europe. He could not have been at this post very long because he resigned the commission in the fall to put himself forward as a candidate for deputy to the Spanish Cortes. The second appointment looks distinctly odd, although it too probably came to pass through unofficial influence. This was the position as secretary to the High Commission on Public Health (Junta Superior de Sanidad), newly established by Viceroy Apodaca in keeping with a measure promulgated by the Spanish constitutional Cortes and installed in Mexico City in mid-August 1820.19 The influence here may well have originated with Alamán’s elder half brother, Juan Bautista Arechederreta, still rector of the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán and an increasingly powerful churchman. Arechederreta had a careerlong interest in education, including medical education, and had proposed in 1804 the establishment of a “seminario de medicina” in the viceregal capital. The public health commission was chaired by Apodaca himself, and its members included Archbishop Fonte, Mexico City intendant Ramón Gutiérrez del Mazo, several other officials, and some prominent physicians. Lucas Alamán was to serve without salary or compensation for any costs involved. There is no evidence that he had any expertise in matters of public health. We are left to conclude that since the appointment could not have been seen as a sinecure, it probably came as a mark of official favor and as a result of the lobbying by influential people who had the viceroy’s ear. The closing months of Alamán’s stay in New Spain—it would be Mexico when he returned—were to be pivotal in his life because of two key events. The first was his betrothal to the sixteen-year-old María Narcisa Castrillo Portu (1804–58), whom he was to marry when he returned from Europe in 1823. Her family had been intimately and fatally entangled with the early phase of the independence movement in Guanajuato. Narcisa, as she was known, was the daughter of Juan José García Castrillo, a Spaniard from Palencia who died in the Tacubaya district of Mexico City in 1829, and Ana Josefa Portu Bustamante (1787–1841). She was the eldest of five children, one of whom, a brother, died in infancy, but another of whom, her sister Ana Josefa Castrillo Portu (born 1820), named for their mother, was to live to be ninety-eight years old and die in 1918, just as the Mexican Revolution was winding down. Narcisa’s father had made a substantial commercial fortune in Guanajuato, as Gabriel

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Arechederreta and Juan Vicente Alamán had done before him. Much of this wealth had dissipated by the turn of the century, however, and the family fortune suffered further losses during the time the rebels occupied Guanajuato in September 1810. In the wake of the insurgency, therefore, he was left primarily with his wife’s landed wealth to sustain the family. About the time Lucas Alamán was being roughed up by insurgents in his house on the Cuesta del Marqués, across town Juan José García Castrillo, his future father-in-law, was escaping the Alhóndiga de Granaditas to hide with some other European Spaniards in the Oratorio of San Felipe Neri during the night of 28 September. In December he rendered a brief but very dramatic and evocative eyewitness account of events in the city during the insurgent occupation in an informe directed to Félix María Calleja.20 Narcisa’s maternal grandfather, Manuel Fernando Portu, a Basque from Guipúzcoa (b. 1760), was less fortunate, perishing in the Alhóndiga massacre on September 28 along with his brother Luis and one Juan José Castrillo, possibly a relative. María Narcisa Castrillo Portu de Alamán was to bear eleven children during her marriage, six of whom died in infancy or early childhood. A portrait of her at about the age of forty shows a slightly corpulent, rather ordinary looking woman whom José Valadés described as a typical mid-nineteenth-century Mexican matron of the moneyed classes whose face lacked “any trace of intelligence.”21 Fanny Calderón de la Barca, who met her in 1840 when the two women were approximately thirty-five years old, described her as “one of the most prudish women in Mexico,” leaving unexplained why she had arrived at this conclusion. She would doubtless have found her dowdy had she commented on her physical appearance and personal style. Prudish she may have been and even dowdy, but that she was unintelligent is open to question, especially given the way she helped her husband handle his affairs while he was in internal exile in 1833–34, the point at which she emerges into view most clearly in her husband’s political life. Whatever doña Narcisa may have lacked in the way of scintillating personality or physical attraction, she managed to raise at least two quite accomplished sons among her children, withstood with seeming fortitude the deaths of half her other children, navigated with her husband the turbulent waters of Mexican public life, and ran the sort of household— Guillermo Prieto described it as quiet, pious, and well-regulated—that supported her husband in his multifarious activities. But apart from her rare appearances in her husband’s papers and judging by what we can infer from her likely participation in his public life and from her social status, she remains a virtual cypher in this story. This is a great pity since it throws into

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shadow a major part of Lucas Alamán’s life while it robs his consort of her due. The second important event that year was Alamán’s standing for election as a deputy from the province of Guanajuato for the second session of the Spanish Cortes of 1820–21. A perusal of the list of electors meeting in the city of Guanajuato on 16–17 September 1820 and representing the thirteen districts (partidos) of the province demonstrates that it was composed overwhelmingly of priests and lawyers; the list of deputies turned out to be dominated by these groups. Alamán gave no hint in writing of his motives for standing. An indication of his reasons for undertaking the arduous travel and considerable expense of this service, however, may lie in the fact that in citing the beneficial legislation enacted by the Cortes the following year he mentioned in first place the reduction of royal taxes on the production of gold and silver in New Spain.22 Thus newly elected and newly betrothed on the eve of his departure for Spain on a trip of indefinite duration, Lucas Alamán must have spent some weeks winding up business affairs he had just begun to take up after his long absence in Europe, making travel arrangements, and taking leave of family, friends, associates, and his new fiancé. Conditions in the country were highly volatile, and the lay of the political landscape would be very different when he returned nearly two years later. In mid-November 1820 he was authorized by Viceroy Apodaca to collect from the royal treasury two thousand pesos to support his travel and living expenses while serving as a deputy from New Spain. Around this time he and his fellow deputy-elect José Francisco Fagoaga, the Marqués del Apartado, went to take leave of the viceroy, a meeting of which Alamán wrote in his Historia de Méjico. When he expressed the wish to find Apodaca well upon his return from Spain, the viceroy responded, “Find me here upon your return! Do you know all that will happen in the country during your absence?”23

4 • The Spanish Cortes and a Final Sojourn in Paris (1821–1822)

The Deputy from Guanajuato Takes His Seat At the very end of 1820 and in the early weeks of 1821 the Mexican deputies-elect began to converge on Veracruz for the voyage to Europe and the trip onward to Madrid, where the Cortes sat. In the ranks of the fifty or so representatives headed for Spain churchmen, lawyers, and military men predominated; in fact, the delegation from Nueva Galicia consisted entirely of priests. Lucas Alamán knew several of them, including his former teacher in the Colegio de Minería, Andrés Manuel del Río; his friend and former traveling companion Francisco Fagoaga, living in Spain, and others. Later he would cross paths with several, either in politics or business, in alliance or opposition.1 Alamán sailed for Havana in company with many of the deputies-elect on 13 February 1821, continued to Europe after a brief stay in Cuba, and, owing to bad weather, disembarked at La Rochelle, on the French coast. The deputy-elect from Guanajuato arrived in Madrid at the very end of April 1821. His credentials were approved by the relevant Cortes committee on 1 May, and he swore his oath of allegiance to the Constitution the next day. The Cortes ordinarias had convened on 9 July 1820 as a direct outcome of the successful constitutionalist rebellion led by Rafael Riego (1784–1823). King Ferdinand VII was forced to swear allegiance to the 1812 Constitution, which he had abrogated immediately upon his return to the throne in 1814, thus initiating the “trienio liberal.”2 The Spanish American delegation would eventually comprise seventy-eight representatives, always remaining a minority within the Cortes as a whole. Deputy Alamán was to make frequent, robust, and wide-ranging speeches, especially concerning the status of the American colonies, during the extended sitting of the body, the Cortes extraordinarias, 85

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from September 1821 to mid-February 1822. For the entire six months or so of his participation in the Spanish imperial parliament, all of Alamán’s speeches are recorded verbatim in the printed transcripts of the Cortes debates published some fifty years later. Many of these interventions were based on written versions submitted to the body’s secretaries after the speeches were delivered, but there were also stenographers present using a newly invented standard shorthand or their own systems of notation.3 This record makes for a considerable body of material in Alamán’s case, all of it marked by the same combination of logical acuity, wide-ranging historical, classical, and other references, occasional sharpness of tone and even sarcasm, prolixity, and baroque elaboration that make of his extended writings, in this period and toward the end of his life, a demanding but rewarding read. Alamán embraced subjects as diverse as imperial administrative matters, regulations on the importation into Spain of foreign technologies, and public health issues, including an especially interesting exchange about madhouses. There are a number of reasons for quoting his speeches at length. First, Lucas Alamán was no longer a young man at this time, relatively speaking, and was to celebrate his thirtieth birthday in the autumn of 1822.4 For politicians with military backgrounds, especially those whose careers were launched during the independence struggle, entrance into public life often came in their midtwenties. Alamán’s texts give us a benchmark against which to evaluate his later intellectual and public life. Second, he did come to play at least a walk-on role in the debates occasioned by the breakup of the Spanish Atlantic empire, so hearing what he had to say is essential in locating him in the political landscape. Finally, his interventions in the Cortes adumbrated many concerns he was later to pursue energetically, chief among them his successful proposals to loosen imperial regulations on Mexican silver mining. Most of his energies, however, were devoted to the issues of colonial autonomy and forms of governance for the overseas realms—the so-called American question. Virtually nothing is known of his living circumstances during the ten months or so he stayed in Madrid. He already knew the city fairly well from previous stays there and must have had favorite haunts, restaurants, and homes to visit on social calls. Where he lodged we do not know, although given his closeness to the Fagoaga brothers he may well have stayed in the house rented by the elder brother, the Marqués del Apartado, in the Calle del Turco.5 The deputy-elect stepped into a political atmosphere getting hotter by the day. The liberal anticlerical measures promulgated by the 1820 Cortes gave rise to heated debates in and out of the imperial diet. Alamán thought all this

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a distraction, displacing the issue of the overseas realms’ status to the wings when it should have occupied center stage. The September arrival in Madrid of Rafael Riego, then at the height of his popularity, served to inflame political spirits even further. On top of all this, King Ferdinand’s relations with his moderate ministry grew increasingly tense, so the monarch decamped for El Escorial before closing the Cortes in November 1820. The divisions between the more radical and moderate representatives, and between these and the conservatives, grew still more pronounced with the arrival of the proprietary deputies to the newly convoked Cortes during the first months of 1821. It is not surprising to see Alamán ascribe a good deal of blame for the political factionalism in Madrid to the Freemasonry among liberal politicians both Spanish and Spanish American, while he made light of Masonic ceremonies themselves. Everyone hurried to join Masonic lodges, he wrote, including government ministers, and what he called “regular Spanish Masonry” was the “principal spring of politics in that epoch.” He heaped scorn on the “ridiculous ceremonial” involved in joining a lodge, ridiculing the proliferation of lodges.6 Along with the dark brew served there, Alamán wrote, the coffeehouses of Madrid, those Habermasian incubators of civic modernity, were boiling with political discussion and even conspiracies during these years. One thing the substitute deputies did achieve through a petition to the Spanish ministry of war in January 1821, however, was the recall of the viceroys and military commanders Joaquín de la Pezuela from Peru and Juan Manuel Ruiz de Apodaca from New Spain as well as of the generals Pablo Morillo from Venezuela and José de la Cruz from western Mexico. Apodaca was replaced with the liberal Spanish general, Freemason, and Riego friend, Juan O’Donojú, under the title of jefe político superior, while the other recalls were overtaken by the fast-moving events of the day. Events in New Spain, meanwhile, were following a logic of their own. The 1820 elections for the Cortes of the following year were messy but lacked the ardent enthusiasm and sense of possibility of 1810. Most of those elected were lawyers and churchmen, along with a few military men and merchants; Alamán notes his own election only in passing. Almost all the American deputies were attached to the partido exajerado, an exaggeration in itself. But this leftward tilt did lend weight to continued reform proposals directed at the Church, including the reduction of tithes by half and the selling off of ecclesiastical properties, in the end applied only in Spain itself and not the American realms. The flood of subversive pamphletry in Mexico occasioned by the renewed suppression of restrictions on the press nourished the unrest. But

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discussions on the issue of mechanisms of autonomy for the overseas realms filtered back to New Spain. Alamán wrote, “The desire for independence had come to be general, and although it might have been suffocated [with the suppression of] the disorders of the insurrection, it awakened with greater vehemence when [once] the hope was presented of achieving it by other means.”

Mining Reforms Lucas Alamán delivered his maiden speech on Friday, 4 May 1821: “The mining [industry] of New Spain, in order to avoid the absolute ruin with which it is immediately threatened, and to restore it to its ancient splendor, upon which the [prosperity] of those provinces depends, needs a change in the system of taxes [contribuciones] it pays and in the method by which it is governed. This can be realized in the following terms.”7 The reform legislation submitted by Alamán and his Mexican colleagues initially included twenty-nine articles, dealing primarily with tax reductions and deregulation of the industry, the mining tribunal (the royally chartered body that oversaw the industry and settled disputes within it), and the training of expert mining personnel. The single most important measure was the abolition of the quinto, a royal tax on silver notionally of 20 percent collected since early colonial times, based on the monarchy’s claim to all subsoil rights. The quinto had been manipulated over the centuries, along with the price of mercury essential to the amalgamation refining process, to encourage investment by reducing production costs at key moments. This and other taxes were to be replaced by a simpler, across-the-board contribución directa of 18 percent, basically an income tax paid by mineowners on producing mines. The Mexican proposal was referred to a specially constituted subcommittee of the standing Cortes commission on agriculture, industry, and commerce, on which Alamán served with Juan Antonio Yandiola, a deputy from Vizcaya. Also on the committee was his fellow Mexican Lorenzo de Zavala, already something of a radical liberal. But since Alamán seems to have been more tolerant of the gamut of liberal opinion in these years, he and Zavala may well have got on in a civilized if not cordial manner. Deputy Yandiola was positive about the reform proposals, emphasizing that the restoration of silver production would remedy the shortage of the circulating exchange medium in Europe, with particular benefits for Spain. As a final vote on the proposals drew near, Yandiola voiced highly supportive remarks in a speech during the Cortes’s evening debates of 4 June 1821, suggesting that the moment had arrived

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when the body might revive the industry “from the depression [and even] nullity in which it lies.”8 When discussion in the Cortes had concluded, the first five measures of the Mexican proposal were approved, others modified, and one withdrawn. Like much other legislation promulgated by the Spanish Cortes, these measures became dead letters within a year or so because the empire collapsed. The deputy from Guanajuato had already done a great deal of homework on the situation of mining in New Spain when other proposals were introduced, and he may well have presented a fairly elaborate report to the subcommittee in support of the project. The draft reports among his papers are thus the first real statements we have from him on a theme that would absorb much of his time and energy over the next decade or so but that ultimately did not open the silver cornucopia he hoped for; internal evidence places their composition in 1820 or 1821. They demonstrate the attention to detail, not inconsiderable mastery of technology, breadth of historical and comparative reference, theoretical grasp of political economy, and depth of vision that would come to characterize much of his later writing, whether on politics, economics, or history. While other great writers and public men of the age could claim many of these same qualities in their works, few combined all of them as effectively as Lucas Alamán. At least one of the drafts may have been a preliminary proposal to the Conde de Valenciana for putting back into production the great Guanajuato mine, severely damaged during the insurrection chiefly through flooding, but it is very much of a piece with the other drafts intended for the Cortes. The reports are too long to quote integrally but do warrant selective attention. Alamán claimed that imposts on mining reduced earnings enough to make the Mexican mines unprofitable except under limited conditions and certainly unprofitable under the circumstances of virtual ruin into which they had fallen during the insurgency.9 He wrote that mintage figures in New Spain were presently at about the same level as a century earlier. The absence of sufficient capital and the imposition of high taxes made unprofitable the processing of the relatively ordinary ores “that have always constituted the wealth of [New Spain].” Nor had the industry ever reached its full potential, he asserted, despite its reputation, because it was unprofitable to extract silver due to the taxes imposed on the industry. Alamán recalled that the quinto was established at the time of the conquest as a royal tax on the products of military parasitism—the primitive accumulation of wealth through the appropriation of the indigenous polities’ resources as a windfall in no way comparable to the

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persistence, risk, and work required by silver mining: “[The quinto was] collected on the booty taken by the conquerors, as though despoiling the Indians were the same as working the mines, [which] requires considerable capital and the investment of labor and sweat, [and which] are taxed at the same rate.” Such taxes were inherently regressive because different mines yielded differing ratios of silver/ore, so the quinto was imposed equally on mines that required much labor to extract silver and on those whose product came more easily. Among the papers of this 1820–21 period undergirding Alamán’s proposals is a short draft on the prospects of the great Valenciana mine in his hometown. This was presented directly to the Conde de Valenciana as a sort of case study whose basic elements Alamán may well have deployed in more generalized form in the discussions of the Cortes special committee on mining. He asked a series of rhetorical questions focusing on the central problem in all such deep-shaft mines, but particularly acute given the great depth of the Valenciana—that of draining the water. The solution, he proposed, was the application of steam power, a method widely used in Europe. Here he offered a series of observations and calculations about the specific requirements of applying this technology to the Valenciana, but “not trusting my own results, I have consulted with some of the most distinguished technicians of this capital [i.e., Madrid] and above all with the wise director of the machinery in the mines of Saxony.” Alamán’s calculations encompassed the diameter of the pumps and cylinders required, the horsepower of the steam engines obtainable in Birmingham and Sheffield and the cost of the machines, the resinous properties of European and Mexican pine trees as sources of fuel, the amount of water that could be extracted from the mine, and a number of other variables bearing on the application of steam technology to Mexican mining. In an even lengthier and more detailed document from the same period he focused on the Mexican mining industry as it stood in about 1820, drawing on the Valenciana as a case study primus inter pares. This report touched not only on mining itself and proposed changes in the tax structure of the industry but also on mintage practices in a comparative European context, the history of money, the history of silver production in New Spain, and even briefly on a theory of the state. Alamán began with a disquisition on the economics of mining, whose profitability and therefore the propensity for investment in it depended on a reasonable equilibrium among the value of silver, its production costs, and taxes paid. He recalled the liquidity crisis in Guanajuato during the years of the insurgency, arguing that the collection of the king’s royalties on mintage (regalías) had been accorded priority by the government over the

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interests of the mining industry. The invention of money as a common medium of exchange and its increasing use over time “when with the growth of human wisdom commercial relations also increased among all peoples,” had created the need for monarchies to insure the mineral content of the coinage produced by mints. The centralization of mintage in New Spain, however, had discouraged production through overregulation. He calculated that the Valenciana mine alone had lost the substantial sum of 1.5 million pesos through discounting at the mint, although he did not specify how long this had taken. The argument he made here would come to support one of the Mexican deputies’ proposals, namely, that other mints be established in New Spain in addition to the one in Mexico City, an idea that did not prosper in the Spanish Cortes. One of the most striking aspects of this entire chain of reasoning is the whiff of an argument about internal colonialism within New Spain, and the inordinate attention paid by government officials to the interests of merchants over producers. His emphasis on production over commerce may foreshadow to some degree his later developmentalist ideas concerning the industrialization of Mexico, when he had come forthrightly to criticize silver mining as an open vein bleeding the country’s wealth into the hands of foreigners. The document continued with a litany of complaints against taxes in general, especially against those emergency imposts, which were still in place as he wrote, specifically levied in Guanajuato during the insurgency of 1810. Was it any wonder, he asked, that fiscal exactions debilitated the mining industry almost to the point that it was moribund? Alamán answered his own question partially by propounding a theory of the state and the social compact: “It seems that social order demands that when sacrifices judged necessary for [the general] defense and preservation have been made in common by all its members, [society should] protect equally all those who form the association. At the moment when individuals must prosecute justice by their own hands or provide for their own defense, the bonds that join them cease, since these have as their sole objective their personal security and that of their property, for which ends they sacrifice a part [of their wealth]. Guanajuato having paid its taxes, why should new ones be imposed on it for its defense? And why was it not garrisoned with royalist troops since it had paid to maintain them?” In the wake of these general comments, the author unspooled a thick skein of statistical evidence to show how the industry had declined since 1809. By 1819 or so there were only about one-tenth the number of ore-crushing mills (arrastres) in operation as a decade earlier; and silver and gold production had declined to about a quarter of their 1809 levels. High production costs meant

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that no capital had been invested in searching for new ore bodies, with the result that miners were stripping their holdings in a highly destructive manner, going after interior walls within the mines and the roof-supporting pillars. Extremely high yields were not the secret to the great wealth produced by the Guanajuato mines over the centuries, however, but rather the abundance and consistency of lower-grade ores. Alamán cited Humboldt to the effect that the Valenciana mine alone “offers the almost unique example of a mine that for the past forty years [i.e., since about 1760 because Humboldt was writing in 1802–3] had never left its owners with a profit of less than 400–600,000 pesos per year.” Since about 1700 the great hole in the ground had yielded the staggering amount of 271,183,392 pesos in silver and gold, “making of the Bajío the most populous and opulent corner of the Realm,” and paying the Spanish crown a total of nearly forty million pesos in taxes. Experience demonstrated that lowering imposts on mining produced more revenue for the state over the long run rather than less, he asserted, citing periods in New Spain when the royal quinto had been reduced to a décimo. His grand solution to the problem of reviving the mining sector after the insurgency was to abolish all taxes imposed on it since the start of the insurrection. Flooding as such was not at the heart of the problem but rather the fiscal demands of the Spanish state. Such a policy would revive agriculture, especially in the province of Guanajuato. Miners would start to invest in the sector without the need of foreign capital, “which will never lend them funds without [making them] pay dearly, which is damaging to mining.” Drainage would be encouraged through the application of steam power, and mining recovery would underwrite the comeback of the economy and of state revenues. The irony here is that by the 1830s and 1840s Alamán was unequivocally expressing the view that the economic health and future of Mexico lay along the path of industrialization rather than of silver mining.

What to Do about the Americas Especially in the debates on the American question in the Cortes extraordinarias of January and February 1822, Lucas Alamán was to be as volubly, consistently, and creditably engaged as any deputy from the New World. His participation in the debates over the American question in early 1822 served as a springboard for his growing reputation on both sides of the Atlantic. While his personal political ambitions and thoughts for his future may have played some role in his interventions in the Madrid Cortes, they took second

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place to the heat of the moment and his political thinking, even if the latter was not yet undergirded by a clear ideological position. Behind his warm advocacy of what amounted to a commonwealth arrangement within the imperial structure, we can detect the Mexican nationalism that came to characterize his thinking and actions throughout the rest of his public life, a sentiment he shared with Mexican liberals even as his ideas about the Mexican state were evolving in a very different direction from theirs. Nor was his well-known, deep nostalgia for Mexico’s Spanish heritage incompatible with a nationalist sensibility. This is one of the aspects of his thinking that is most interesting, in fact, and that lies more on the side of paradox than self-contradiction. Around the spring of 1822 the independence of New Spain was, in his eyes, a fait accompli, and neither at this time nor later did he offer a negative moral judgment about independence per se or pine for its reversal, despite the conventional wisdom about him. Aside from the fact that the way in which Mexican independence was achieved signified to him mindless social violence and the thoughtless abandonment of a cultural heritage Alamán regarded as noble and worthy of preservation, what was at issue for him was not the existence of an independent Mexican state but its form and viability. Many years later, in the final volume of his Historia de Méjico, Alamán wrote in a counterfactual framework that in declaring null and void the Treaty of Córdoba signed by Agustín de Iturbide and Juan O’Donojú on 24 August 1821, the Cortes had thrown away any opportunity for a relatively peaceful and orderly transition to a federative Spanish Empire: The Cortes, declaring . . . null and illegal the Treaty of Córdoba, itself closed the door to the advantages . . . [that might have been obtained] . . . as a precondition for the recognition of independence. Even if that treaty were evidently void, it could have been validated by subsequent legislation, taking advantage of an occasion that, once lost, did not present itself again. . . . Iturbide would not have been able to show his pretensions [to a Mexican throne] even if he had conceived them at that time, having to keep his commitments [made in the Treaty], even more had his vanity been flattered and his [personal] interest been stimulated. And Spain, contributing to the establishment of a new empire, sending to occupy its throne one of its princes, would . . . have enjoyed the commercial and political advantages the Mexicans were ready to concede to her.10 The failure to pursue a more conciliatory course, Alamán wrote, led to absolute independence for Mexico, its recognition by foreign powers, and the

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loss to Spain of the advantages of a commonwealth arrangement. He continued: “This . . . [course of action] brought down upon the country many years of anarchy, impeded Mexico from being a nation respected from its birth, and produced all those misfortunes that have fallen upon it, and that still give no sign that they will end. . . . The throne of Méjico . . . remained shaky, [only] to crumble under the attacks of the republicans, or to be the object of intrigues by ambitious men aspiring to gain control of it.”11 This was the much older Alamán, however, writing with the benefit of hindsight and the personal experience of the intervening years. His evaluation of the early 1820s was colored by the palpable disillusion in his great history of Mexican independence and his speeches in the Cortes in 1821 and 1822 supporting a federative structure for the Spanish monarchy. On the Spanish side, the missed opportunities stemmed from denial by the peninsular deputies of what was going on in the overseas realms, a neglect verging on criminal negligence. Indulging in some cultural psychology about the “Spanish race,” Alamán wrote of the Madrid Cortes of 1820–21, before his arrival as a deputy from New Spain: “Not even a word was said about the most important matter facing the monarchy, which was that the Americas were escaping [the empire] very quickly. . . . It appears to be characteristic of the Spanish race in both hemispheres to avoid dealing with unpleasant subjects no matter how urgent they are; or to adopt measures that [although] they may have been useful at one moment, when they come to be applied are already silly. Silence appears to be considered the best remedy in difficult cases, or it is thought that [bad] things will not occur if they are not spoken of.”12 In 1820 commissioners had been named by the government to travel to the American colonies to negotiate adherence to the 1812 Constitution with insurgent leaders in those areas where rebel governments had been established. But since Mexico was still under viceregal authority none were sent there as yet. When Juan O’Donojú was dispatched in the summer of 1821 he went as jefe político superior of New Spain under the restored 1812 Constitution. In November 1820 the Spanish envoys sent to Buenos Aires for this purpose were simply ignored by the rioplatense authorities and returned to Spain empty-handed. Generally these commissions failed, with more or fewer complications.13 The Diario of the debates bears out Alamán’s contention that except for two points—in June 1821 and the last month or so of the extraordinarias in early 1822—at which the American deputies forced the issue of colonial affairs onto the agenda, the Cortes ignored the momentous changes in progress across the Atlantic. Most historians agree, including Ivana Frasquet and Alfredo Ávila,

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for example, who note that few concerns of the American deputies about the volatile state of their homelands received much of a hearing in the peninsulardominated parliament, being pushed aside by intense debates concerning Spanish domestic political and economic matters. Among the few concrete accomplishments of the Mexican delegation was the creation of fourteen new provincial deputations by a decree of 9 May 1821, among them the conjoined body of Michoacán and Guanajuato, with its headquarters in Valladolid. Timothy Anna has suggested that even among the most exalted of the Spanish liberals, such as José María Queipo de Llano, Conde de Toreno (1786–1843), there existed a generalized belief that the reimposition of the 1812 Constitution would solve all the problems raised by the Americans or at least appease them. The notion of autonomy for the overseas realms, therefore, was not on people’s minds, much less independence. Anna ascribed this in part to the pressure on liberal Spanish deputies emanating from their supporters among the Andalusian bourgeoisie, to whom any further free-trade measures for the New World colonies were anathema, since such a policy would undermine commercial profits. Anna further asserted that political tensions in Spain, along with the king’s attempts to restore absolutism, were “no doubt the fundamental explanation of the failure of the new liberal regime to implement a genuinely renewed policy of American pacification.”14 Then, too, King Ferdinand himself was implacably opposed to any reforms of imperial arrangements. Commenting further on the debates in the Cortes extraordinarias of 1821, convened in Madrid on 28 September, the same day the provisional governing junta was installed in Mexico City, the regency named, and the Mexican Act of Independence signed, Alamán wrote that in the Spanish parliament “not a single proposal [regarding American affairs] was made, and while the monarchy was collapsing the Cortes entertained itself tranquilly in discussing whether such and such a village should belong to the Province of Cuenca or La Mancha, and if the capital of this or that district should be this or that secondrate village or town.”15 Despite the posture of stubborn neglect assumed by the peninsular deputies, events in the American colonies finally obtruded themselves into the Cortes debates. The initial breach on 3 May 1821 occurred when Diputado Felipe Fermín Paul of Caracas demanded that the government produce a file with all the documentation relating to recent events in Venezuela. In response to this, the Spanish liberal deputy José María Queipo de Llano, Conde de Toreno, proposed to the Cortes the appointment of a committee to present plans to end the uprisings in the colonies. The committee was constituted on 4 May

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and Alamán named one of its members, just three days after he had presented his credentials as a deputy. Serving with him were the Spaniards Toreno, Juan Antonio Yandiola, and José María Calatrava, and the Americans Paul, Lorenzo de Zavala, Bernardino de Amati, and Francisco Fagoaga.16 According to Alamán, the committee met often, and many other deputies and government ministers attended to listen in. The Mexican historian Alfredo Ávila has remarked that there was little the committee could do: no resolutions were reported out, but there was a great deal of bargaining with the American deputies to attract their votes to one position or another regarding colonial issues.17 In the meantime, in mid-May the government’s colonial minister, Ramón López Pelegrín, convened a separate blue-ribbon committee to examine American issues in general and the long-floated three-regency plan in particular.18 But in the face of King Ferdinand’s refusal to consider sending a prince of the ruling house to the Americas these projects came to naught, although the Mexican deputies would propose similar measures at the end of June. On 3 June Alamán rose to say that his committee on pacification of the overseas realms had in fact concluded its work, but that “the necessity of obtaining as much knowledge and news [of the American realms] as possible had impeded its presenting its report,” a refrain he would repeat often during the debates about the colonies in the winter of 1821–22.19 On the same day, deputies were informed by a dispatch from Viceroy Apodaca in New Spain of the uprising of Agustín de Iturbide. The emperor-to-be had published the Plan de Iguala on 24 February in conjunction with the insurgent chieftains Vicente Guerrero and Guadalupe Victoria and a week or so later had been proclaimed head of the Army of the Three Guarantees. The Mexican deputies Manuel Gómez Pedraza and José Mariano Michelena argued that Iturbide should be ordered by the Spanish government to await the outcome of the Cortes deliberations before going further with his movement. And there matters stood during the first days of June; now the fat was truly in the fire. Had Lucas Alamán not already emerged to some prominence in the Cortes during the single month he had served as a deputy he would surely have done so over the next weeks, even though he was set among a Mexican delegation whose members would prove to be of great distinction in the years ahead. José Valadés offers a description of some of the most prominent Mexican deputies at about this time, calling Juan de Dios Cañedo the most eloquent of them all (Alamán himself had great respect for Cañedo as an orator, but the two men would become irreconcilable political adversaries later on), Miguel Ramos Arizpe the most restless (inquieto), José Mariano Michelena the most diplo-

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matic, and Alamán the most solid.20 Another description of Alamán around this time, by an anonymous Spanish writer, was distinctly less flattering: There you have the little Secretary [of the Cortes], a bit reserved, a deputy of filigree [i.e., neatly wrought or clever], a proper little diplomat. With a calm as though nothing were going on. Although he sports eyeglasses he does not need them, and although small [in stature] he knows very well where the shoe pinches, as he has shown on certain occasions on which he has placed himself in the middle [position], leaving the extremes to less calculating people. This boy [Alamán was approaching the age of thirty at this time] is the author of the magna carta in partnership with his compadre Michelena, which everywhere to the south of Texas does them much honor, say the industrious searchers of the colonial archives what they will. Qui potest capere capiat.21 With time short and hopes dimming daily among the Mexicans for a robust debate in the body, let alone for the adoption of a project ending hostilities in America on terms even remotely favorable to the colonies, the “little Secretary” and his Mexican colleagues took matters into their own hands. Beginning on 19 June they held a series of meetings at the house of the Marqués del Apartado, Francisco Fagoaga, on the Calle del Turco, where Alamán may well have been staying during his legislative sojourn in Madrid. The main objective of the discussions was to find a way to force the condition of New Spain onto the agenda of the Cortes, specifically embodied in a plan to place one of the king’s brothers on a Mexican throne. The king viewed this proposal as nothing more than disguised independence and therefore intolerable. Prominent among this group of Mexican deputies were José Mariano Michelena, Miguel Ramos Arizpe, the Fagoaga brothers, and Alamán himself. In these informal meetings, Alamán recalled, they discussed presenting to the Cortes the confederation plan proposed decades earlier by the Conde de Aranda. This would divide Spanish America into three autonomous but not independent sections, each ruled by a Spanish Bourbon prince and each with its own parliament: “It may be said that this plan was very analogous to the system that had prevailed in [Spanish] America before the Constitution [of 1812] . . . since each of the great sections of that continent had come to be a separate monarchy, with all the elements necessary for their internal governance, similarly to those established in Spain for the monarchy as a whole.”22 Similar proposals for greater autonomy for the American realms within a confederative imperial structure had been debated for many years and were strongly associated with the name

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of longtime royal minister and diplomat Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea (1719– 98), the Conde de Aranda. What the deputies actually presented to the Cortes on 25 June 1821 came to be known as the Michelena plan, closely associated with José Mariano Michelena and Miguel Ramos Arizpe. Alamán’s involvement was substantial, but his role seems to have been that of editor of the written proposal (which may account for the word redactor, which can mean “editor,” used to describe him by the author of the “Secretario ligerito” remarks quoted above) and oratorical supporter of it in the Cortes rather than its intellectual author. Various draft versions of the Michelena plan were discussed in yet another meeting at Fagoaga’s house on 22 June, and Michelena and Alamán were appointed to reconcile them and ramp down the tone a bit, a task eventually delegated to the deputy from Guanajuato. Alamán wrote many years later that while the original drafts were “pompous and windy,” in his revision he confessed that he himself went a bit over the top, finishing the document in the space of about two hours: “With the fire of youth and a vivid imagination, the author [i.e., Alamán] asserted some things that he would not now sustain and had to copy [i.e., include] various exaggerated and vainglorious expressions from the notes given him.” By 25 June there were forty-nine signatories. The plan contained fifteen points, of which the most important was that New Spain, Peru, and New Granada be recognized as three Spanish kingdoms each to be ruled, if possible, by princes of the Bourbon house, which would have created a confederative structure within the Spanish Empire. The proposal was to be read before the Cortes by a deputy from Nueva Galicia, José Miguel Ramírez, a canon of the Guadalajara cathedral. In the meantime, however, on 24 June the Conde de Toreno presented to the full Cortes a report on behalf of the “comisión de Ultramar” (commission on colonial affairs). Toreno would be a major interlocutor of Alamán’s in the debates the following year over the situation of the colonies; he and Lucas Alamán came to rest at political positions not too distant from each other. Some years after the Spanish Cortes of 1821–22, as a man of about fifty and living through one of several periods of exile in Paris, Toreno turned his attention to the writing of history, as Alamán was to do twenty years later at roughly the same age. He wrote what is still considered one of the great works of nineteenth-century Spanish historiography, Historia del levantamiento, guerra y revolución de España (1835–37), a detailed political and military account of the Napoleonic invasion and occupation of Spain and the expulsion of the French in 1814. Condemned to death and divested of all his property by King Ferdi-

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nand when the monarch returned to the throne in 1814, Toreno spent some years in exile in London and Paris. He finally came to serve as ministro de hacienda (minister of finance) and then as chief minister of Spain in 1834–35, dying in Paris while an exile in 1843.23 Alamán later described Toreno’s report as written in “beautiful language and with the dignity corresponding to the case.”24 It finally came down to looking at the volatile condition of the “remote provinces” as a distraction blocking Spain from addressing more important matters. That Lucas Alamán should find Toreno’s gaseous effusions eloquent is perhaps understandable; that he found them to have a dignity consonant with the grave matters they addressed is less convincing. Given the judgments he was later to offer on how Mexican independence had been achieved, Alamán probably felt that the Mexican plan, that is, the Michelena Plan, about to be put forth offered a much smoother path. Still, he clearly viewed this moment as one of some fluidity, and he deemed the months of the Cortes extraordinarias of the following winter a lost opportunity for both Spain and its American realms, especially Mexico, to avoid future calamities.

What Is to Be Done?: The Michelena Plan On 25 June 1821 José Miguel Ramírez, the canon from Guadalajara, rose before the assembled deputies in the Cortes and, after a long prolegomenon that must have taken a great deal of time to read, presented the Mexican deputies’ proposals. The basic elements of the plan harked back to the Conde de Aranda, while its 1821 version was ascribed to José Mariano Michelena and Miguel Ramos Arizpe, although the latter expressed reservations about parts of it. The language was, in fact, principally Lucas Alamán’s and was based on fragmentary earlier drafts and notes coming out of the meetings at Fagoaga’s house on the Calle del Turco. Several other Spanish American deputies supported the proposal, which concurred substantially with what O’Donojú and Iturbide agreed to in the Treaty of Córdoba a few months later. O’Donojú, in fact, thought it had been adopted as policy in the Cortes by the time he arrived in New Spain. These propositions proved to be the final American gambit in the abortive attempt to keep New Spain within the Spanish Empire; the words are almost entirely Alamán’s and bear the hallmarks of his labyrinthine style:25 In the report read yesterday of the special committee formed for that motive, it is concluded only that the circumstances in the America[s] are most critical, and that the moment has arrived to take measures out of

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the ordinary to remedy the grave ills that afflict them [i.e., the Americas] now, and to prevent the even greater ills that threaten. After [the shedding of] so much blood and [so much] desolation, nothing has been achieved. Buenos Aires, Chile, Santa Fe [modern-day Colombia] and a great part of Venezuela are in effect free; Peru is invaded [by insurgent American forces]; Quito in unrest; and a new revolution of a much more fearful character than the previous one has recently broken out in Mexico. Even supposing that the absolute pacification of all the vast continent of America were achieved, if the motive for discontent is not extinguished it will show itself [again] whenever an occasion arises. What, then, do they [the Americans] want? We will tell you, sir[s]: they desire the same constitution [as in Spain], which should make them happy, but that in the present state of things they consider as a beautiful theory only put into practice in the peninsula. The Americans are free men; they are Spaniards. The general indictment of the unconstitutional and arbitrary actions of royal officialdom in the Americas included the violation of the separation of powers among the branches of government, abrogation of freedom of the press, ignoring of the voice of the governed in the imposition of taxes, and the trampling of the “sacred right to individual liberty.” This bill of particulars actually sounds more like an invocation of the rights of freeborn Englishmen than a petition for redress of grievances by subjects of the universal Spanish monarchy. It was becoming clear that what Alamán and his colleagues aimed at was not some sort of meliorist fix in Spanish colonial government, but a great, deep-cutting change of some kind. He proposed that the people of New Spain had in essence been hoodwinked into believing that conditions would improve. This self-delusion went beyond invoking the ancient formula of “Long live the king and death to bad government!”—that is, the belief that the intentions of the liberal Trienio’s constitutional regime, embodied in the Cortes and government ministries, were benign but had been subverted by tyrannous officials on the other side of the Atlantic: These, sir[s], are not the stories of [foreign] travelers or the declamations of radical politicians: they are the clamors of fifteen million inhabitants speaking to the legislative body of Spain, from whom they expect a remedy for their ills. Because, finally, it is necessary to say frankly that the Americas groan under the enormous weight of despotism, not less now

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than under the previous system, with this difference: that then the peoples sleeping beneath the deadly tree [mortífero arbol] of arbitrariness, seeing themselves as a flock of sheep, . . . or as slaves who must blindly obey their master in everything, were [at least] secure from the attacks of power. But now that it has been announced to them grandly that they are free, that they are encouraged to publish their thoughts and ideas frankly, [and] they are assured that they will not be bothered as long as they do not act contrary to express laws, they allow themselves to be taken in by these beautiful illusions, they give flight to the susceptible part of their imaginations, and in [scarcely] a moment the axe of power falls upon them. What remedy, Sir[s], is left to these unfortunate victims of their own credulity? To recur to the metropolis, two or three thousand leagues [distant], to complain against the despot? Alamán next proceeded with inexorable logic to enumerate the obstacles that stood in the way of seeking redress of these grievances. Although his remarks on this score cover several pages in written form, the gist of them can be boiled down to two points. First, imperial government was simply not efficient in the very broadest sense of the term. Second, current political conditions in the Americas dictated some profound structural changes in the empire to deal with the widespread violence and social disruption unleashed by the insurgencies. Lucas Alamán’s indictment of the inefficiencies of colonial government was relatively mild in tone, relentless in the advance of its logic, and firm in its insistence that the difficulties of geography and the heterogeneity of the American realms made reform imperative. In the final pages of the speech Canon Ramírez (still reading Alamán’s words) moved on to a more general but darker description of the situation of the American colonies and the impossibility of a fair, uniform application of the Spanish Constitution under prevailing conditions: Over and above all these reflections, which demonstrate the great impediment[s], or better said impossibility of operating in America as best suits the [Spanish] state, there are other considerations that in our opinion persuade [us] of the necessity of changing the course we are on. Extinguishing the spirit of the century is unattainable, principally in that land that even in the times of its barbarism produced thousands of heroes burning for their liberty, and millions of valiant soldiers who died to defend the rights of their fatherland [patria].26 Nothing could serve [the purpose of a just, efficient government] better than a moderate

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monarchy, which is not exposed to the convulsions of a republic. For these reasons, then, it should be believed that the Americans will have an interest in keeping this sort of government. This is not merely a theory: the example of Canada presents itself to the view of the congress. Having within its reach [the possibility] of joining itself to the United States, it has not attempted it, because it judges better the [type of] government of which we are speaking. Alamán was explicit that the proposals applied only to “América septentrional,” that is, New Spain and its Central American dependencies, and not to South America, from which there were not sufficient representatives in the Cortes to assure consensus and for which pertinent information about the current state of political affairs was lacking. The most important of the Michelena proposal’s articles were the following: 1. There would be three separate sections of the Spanish Cortes in America, one embracing greater New Spain (including the Provincias Internas of the north and Guatemala), a second the Kingdom of New Granada, and the third Peru, Buenos Aires, and Chile, their capitals in Mexico City, Bogotá, and Lima, respectively. 2. Each of these divisions would have a delegation (i.e., a delegate) exercising executive power in the name of the King of Spain. 3. The delegates would be “freely named” by King Ferdinand “from among the most distinguished [people] for their appropriate qualities, without exclusion of persons of the royal family”; the delegates were removable at the king’s pleasure and were to answer only to the “Cortes generales” [in Spain] and the king himself. 4. Each division would have ministers of government [internal and external affairs], treasury, grace and justice, and war and navy (the cabinet structure adopted in Mexico, in fact). 5. Each division would have its own supreme tribunal of justice and council of state. 6. Commerce within the larger entity embracing Spain and the three divisions was to be free of constraints or duties. The plan itself makes clear that what was not on offer from the Mexican deputies was the creation of three new monarchies. The language of the proposals explicitly referred to the executives of the three divisions as “delegates,” not “princes,” although princes of the Bourbon house were eligible. This differed

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notably from the Plan de Iguala of 24 February 1821 and the Treaty of Córdoba of 24 August 1821, both of which specified that King Ferdinand VII “will be” emperor of New Spain (Articles 4 and 3, respectively) and, failing him, his brothers Carlos, Francisco de Paula, or Carlos Luis, in that order.27 To say that the proposals were not well received by the Cortes is an understatement. One Spanish deputy even proposed that criminal action should be brought against the deputies who had proposed and signed the project, but things never went this far. There matters stood when the Cortes was dissolved on 30 June 1821. But they would be revisited in extenso (again without resolution) when the Cortes extraordinarias, petitioned for by many deputies and convened by King Ferdinand, met in the last week of September 1821. The ostensible motive for calling the extraordinary session was that too many vital issues remained to be dealt with and that the nation could not carry on without a legislative body for the eight months until March 1822, when the next Cortes ordinarias would be convened. Alamán wrote, however, that although this was the excuse given to the Spanish public for convening the extraordinary imperial diet, the real reason was the deputies’ fear that in the interim the king and the absolutist party, with French assistance, would abrogate the Constitution again and that the presence of a sitting Cortes was the only way to forestall this.28 If this was really the fear of the deputies, it was entirely justified, although the speculation about the timing was wrong since the one hundred thousand sons of St. Louis did not pour over the Pyrenees until the spring of 1823. The Cortes extraordinarias were inaugurated in Madrid on 22 September 1821. We know nothing of Lucas Alamán’s activities during the nearly three months between the end of the regular Cortes and the opening of the extraordinarias in September. He probably continued to meet with the other Mexican deputies who remained in Spain, discussing strategies for reviving the Michelena plan. He may well have traveled outside Madrid; Paris seems an unlikely destination in view of the time involved in traveling back and forth. Or he may have carried on his personal activities, such as his studies related to mining, or in pursuing business interests. When the Cortes extraordinarias did go into session several Spanish deputies proposed the disqualification of all diputados suplentes except for those from the Philippines, Peru, and Cuba, in keeping with their efforts to marginalize discussion of the overseas realms; or if that was not possible, at least to tilt the balance in favor of intransigent policies toward the American realms. This measure provoked heated protests from the American deputies but was eventually adopted over their objections.

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The Mexican delegation was by this measure depleted of some of its major talent, including Couto, Ramos Arizpe, and Cañedo, all of whom found themselves in Paris when the Cortes opened. Although much was happening behind the scenes outside the government, at the Council of State and ministry levels things were moving at a snail’s pace with little of significance regarding American affairs occurring in the Cortes itself before the beginning of 1822. News reached Spain in November of the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba on 24 August. While this bombshell occasioned little immediate reaction in the parliament, despite Juan O’Donojú’s accompanying letter explaining the circumstances (he had died on 8 October), the Spanish deputies, the government, and the king joined in rejecting the agreement as unauthorized and therefore illegitimate. On 1 December Santo Domingo declared its independence from Spain. In the midst of all this, news of the Treaty of Córdoba and discussion regarding its implications created, or exacerbated, a schism among the Mexican deputies in Madrid between monarchists and republicans. One such confrontation between Manuel Cortázar, a republican, and Manuel Gómez Pedraza, still counted a royalist, nearly came to blows in a meeting of the Mexican deputies. Looking back on this incident nearly a quarter century later, Alamán remarked that the division between monarchists and republicans “produced uneasiness that with the passage of time came to be personal enmities, and gave rise to a thousand anecdotes with which the republicans heaped ridicule on their adversaries.”29 Alamán rose on 26 October 1821 to castigate the government in no uncertain terms for its dilatory pace.30 The royal government seemed virtually inert, but it was purposely dragging its feet. In early November the Council of State finally sat down to draft a plan for the pacification of the American realms. Among the major elements was an insistence that there be no dismemberment of the empire in any form. Spanish naval forces should immediately be dispatched to Callao, in Peru, and to Veracruz; Britain would be called upon to send naval forces should Spain find itself incapable of doing so, in exchange for the concession of commercial privileges; the exclusive Spanish imperial trading system was to be dismantled; and the American realms should be urged to send delegates to the Cortes of 1822–23. The idea of recognizing the independence of the American realms was clearly in the air, although “no one dared to mention it openly,” as Alamán wrote much later. The one exception to this timidity was Gabriel Císcar (1760–1829), a distinguished scientist, naval official, and deputy from Valencia, who spoke up during a secret session of the Cortes later in the year. Alamán later wrote of Císcar that he offered the

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possibility of absolute independence for the American realms, couched in the terms of his profession of astronomer, “as a mere hypothesis, as Copernicus had explained the solar system by reference to the annual and diurnal movement of the Earth.” Using his brief allusion to Císcar as a platform for a larger discussion and for assuming a deeper historical focus, Alamán evoked events that in 1822 lay fifteen years in the future: “For a similar reason, the Mexicans, children of the Spanish in this sort of hypocritical [farisáico] reverence for something that cannot be sustained [i.e., the constitutional prohibition of dismembering the empire] against the force of [real] events, refused to recognize the independence of Texas when it could have been done to advantage, and this scruple not to erase five letters from the [Mexican] constitution has caused through a chain of subsequent events the loss of more than half the national territory.”31 Finally, on 17 January 1822, the Ultramar minister López Pelegrín, the object of Karl Marx’s scorn and of whom Alamán remarked that he had absolutely no knowledge of American affairs, submitted his report to the Cortes. The report was accompanied by the text of the Treaty of Córdoba, the proposals of the Council of State, and the letter from O’Donojú, who by this time had been dead for more than three months, explaining the steps he had taken and why. The proposals from the ministry included a two-year suspension of hostilities with the American provinces and an invitation to the Americans to send their complaints and suggestions to the Spanish government. With time very short until the closing of the Cortes extraordinarias, the sharp debates of February 1822 over American affairs in which Alamán was to be a major figure lay right around the corner. On Thursday, 24 January 1822, the “comisión de Ultramar” of the Cortes reported on the government’s proposals, characterizing them, according to Alamán’s recollection of many years later, as so inadequate as hardly to warrant discussion. For its part, continued Alamán, the committee proposed that special commissioners be sent by the government to receive proposals from the governments established in the Americas. As eventually adopted, the measure decreed primarily that commissioners be sent to the Americas to discuss reconciliation and that the Treaty of Córdoba be declared null and void. All this eleventh-hour backing and filling reflected the absence of information as to what the concrete state of affairs across the Atlantic actually was on a month-to-month basis. The influential Conde de Toreno, for one, thought any recognition of independence “unbecoming [and] impractical,” in the words of the historian Michael Costeloe, although he thought reconquest still possible, while other Spanish deputies remained implacably

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opposed to any move in the direction of recognition. The majority of the Cortes seems to have acknowledged Spain’s military impotence even as discussions were still taking place in the ministry about the dispatch of a naval force to suppress the rebellions. Costeloe summarized the situation at this point as reflecting Spanish public opinion, which was unwilling to accept colonial emancipation.32 Meanwhile, events on the international front were swiftly overtaking Spain and its colonies. On 8 March 1822, shortly after the close of the Cortes extraordinarias, President James Monroe requested and received from the US Congress funds to establish formal, if not yet ambassadorial rank, relations with Chile, the Río de la Plata, Gran Colombia, Peru, and New Spain; the Monroe Doctrine was officially enunciated on 2 December 1822; and the first Mexican minister to Washington presented his credentials there on 12 December. Alamán would later shade his account of these conversations in favor of the Cortes deputies favoring some form of autonomy for the colonies, painting the government ministry as both dilatory and ignorant. On 27 January 1822 the much younger Lucas Alamán rose in the Cortes to take up the issue of the Americas and would continue with a number of powerful interventions in the same vein until the Cortes was dissolved about two weeks later. He endorsed the overseas committee’s idea that commissioners be sent to the Americas to hear proposals from the governments already established there and that close attention be paid to the information and judgments of Americans of experience and probity already resident in Madrid. The speech is notable because of the contrast it makes with the account Alamán was later to offer of the prevailing atmosphere of early 1822, and therefore it casts light both on the change in his own thinking and his practice as a historian. But it is also of interest because it presents an acute analysis of the situation in the provincias de Ultramar as he perceived it at the time: It is not a matter here of resolving what is to become of the Americas: this is now decided irrevocably. The question is this: supposing the present state of the Americas, and that they cannot now return [to their previous condition], what course should the Peninsula adopt? The first proposal: to declare an armistice with the overseas provinces. This measure is within the attributions of the government, without the intervention of the Cortes being necessary. And why [would the government] try to make such an armistice? In order to open (second proposal) [sic] a sort of grievance procedure [juicio de agravios] between

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the provincial deputations of the overseas [realms] and the Cortes. And how can this be put into effect when in all the overseas provinces there are de facto governments established that do not permit such exchanges with the provincial deputations because [in doing so] they would deny their own essential [character]? Thus, this second measure proposed by the government is entirely illusory.33 The third measure he summarized as suspension of certain articles of the Constitution deemed injurious to the overseas provinces. Alamán continued on to the internal dynamics of the insurgency, disputing the opinion expressed by the Council of State and the overseas ministry that the rebellion in New Spain was the responsibility of only one social group or one cadre of disaffected leaders: The revolution was already made before the epoch to which reference has been made, and has not been the movement of one class. In New Spain a single voice was raised simultaneously in favor of the present revolution [i.e., that of Agustín de Iturbide], which was not raised in the previous [revolution] because the leaders then, taking to the point of inhumanity the lack of forethought, stirred up division among our spirits. It is said that the first measure was taken on another occasion, and that it proved illusory; but I say that the measure now suggested by the committee has never been applied. The commissioners sent overseas in the happy epoch of the reestablishment of the constitution [i.e., in 1820] bore no other instruction than to say “Submit!,” now not to a despotic government but a constitutional one. And those peoples answered that they had not separated [from Spain] because the government was absolutist or moderate, but because it suited them to govern themselves independently of the Metropolis. . . . It has been said that therefore it would be appropriate to recognize independence. But I think . . . [that] this recognition should be the outcome of a treaty, and to arrive at it, it is necessary to begin by understanding each other, something that up to now has not been done since nothing other than firing bullets has been thought of. When asked the ministry’s opinion of the Cortes overseas committee’s suggestion in whose support Alamán had spoken at such length, the Ultramar minister López Pelegrín replied that he saw no problem in sending commissioners, with the proviso that their only purpose be conciliation or pacification

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rather than any sort of negotiation. In the face of this response the Cortes committee presented a revised recommendation on 7 February. This occasioned heated debate and several minority views (votos particulares) from committee members, articulated chiefly by the Conde de Toreno with the support of two other Spanish deputies. The principal additional proviso, adopted by the Cortes on 12 February 1822, was that all treaties or agreements so far undertaken with the American governments—this was aimed clearly at the Treaty of Córdoba—be considered absolutely null. At this point, 12–13 February 1822, Alamán in his Historia basically leaves off discussion of his final interventions in the Cortes debates related to the American question. This is rather odd since the speeches of the deputy from Guanajuato during 12–14 February 1822 are among the most impassioned he delivered to the Spanish deliberative body, put him directly into dialogue with the European deputies, and are very revealing of his political thinking at this time, his broad knowledge of history, and the first-rate quality of his mind. Perhaps an uncharacteristic reticence or modesty was in play in Alamán’s silence on these days or possibly the conviction that since debates on the status of the Americas had gone as far as they would ever go, an account of the final debates would be gratuitous. Much of Tuesday, 12 February 1822, must have been devoted to debate on the proposals of the Ultramar committee. Alamán began on a faintly sarcastic note what during the course of the day would develop into a salty exchange with the Conde de Toreno, implicitly characterizing all the talk about the committee’s original proposal as hot air. Alamán then went on to address remarks made by some other Spanish deputies in the course of the debates: Speaking of the turbulent [events] overseas, [the deputy] says that the word war should not be used; but I do not know how the state of struggle in which those provinces find themselves can be called anything but war. If the gentleman thinks that it is peace, I would wish him to be there to experience what it is. He has said . . . that we should not speak of governments [there] since these are not recognized [as such], and that all this can only be called anarchy. This is not so: anarchy means the absolute absence of government, not the lack of legitimacy in it. Pacification should be achieved according to the particular state of each one of the provinces, since Méjico [sic], for example, which has its independence in fact and will never retreat before any human force, requires certain different elements [to end the fighting] than other provinces that do not find themselves in the same situation.

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Warming to his task of defending what he saw as a viable proposal to salvage something of the imperial relationship by converting it into a commonwealth, Alamán went on to attack directly the votos particulares of the Conde de Toreno and the other Spanish deputies: It has . . . been said that those states do not exist while the Cortes does not recognize their independence. They will not legally exist, but they will exist in fact. . . . To assert that during the war for independence of the United States commissioners were not sent by England to treat [with the colonies] . . . is not true. Many times [the English] refused to hear the proposals of the Americans; but at the end of the war commissioners were sent from England, and it then being too late, the same thing happened that has occurred with those [envoys] sent by Spain to CostaFirme [i.e., northern South America], to wit: that nothing could be agreed upon because in the end, it was necessary to start with the idea of recognition. . . . In my opinion [the commissioners] should be authorized to hear everything proposed to them. Lucas Alamán’s major interlocutor in the debates of these days was the Conde de Toreno, and while ostensibly couched in the gentlemanly terms expected of speeches in the Spanish imperial diet, their exchanges took on an increasingly acidic note as the Cortes extraordinarias wound down. Hearing what the conde had to say gives some idea of the tone of these debates and of the atmosphere in which Alamán set out on his maiden outings in political life. On this same day, 12 February 1822, Toreno responded immediately to the American’s speech, particularly addressing the issue of guarantees for the persons and property of Spaniards resident in the Americas, on which Alamán had placed much emphasis. In response to Alamán’s assertion that the Treaty of Córdoba already offered sufficient guarantees in the matter, Toreno characterized the Treaty of Córdoba as vague and iniquitous (inicuo): And what, I ask Señor Alamán—is this enough? No. And then: Is Spain to remain apathetic and tranquil if she sees that her Spanish sons are being robbed, [even] killed, against all the laws of nations? Spain knows well what she must do in case Spaniards are not respected there, and if the laws of nations are disdained and ignored. One must find one’s self lamenting deeply the horrors that now in one, now in another region of America have been committed. . . . The gentleman who has just spoken says that there is no anarchy there [in Mexico], but [rather] an established

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government de facto. [But] let us not descend to examine [in detail], I repeat, the situation in America. Anarchy consists not only in not having a fixed and stable government subject to change every two weeks; and certainly in Buenos-Aires [sic] this is the history of its revolution.34 Alamán responded that the functioning government in New Spain would provide all necessary guarantees of the safety of both European Spaniards and Creole loyalists, adding, “For myself, I have perhaps more interest in this than many others, since it may affect my family, relatives, and friends.” And as a final dig at the Conde de Toreno, he added, “The other errors into which His Excellency has fallen do not surprise me because since they represent opinions new to His Excellency that he did not have at the close of the last ordinary legislature, it need not be noted that he must not hold them very firmly.”35 On 13 February 1822, the day before the official close of the Cortes extraordinarias, which the king and queen were to attend, Lucas Alamán made one of his longest and most impassioned speeches. He condemned the view expressed by the government’s minister of Ultramar, López Pelegrín, that general opinion in the transatlantic provinces did not favor any move for separation from the metropolis. Warming to his theme, he insisted strongly on the incompetence at best and duplicity at worst of the government in arriving at recommendations and policies for dealing with the increasingly critical situation in the overseas provinces: I wanted to know then, as I do now, what basis the Ministry had to assert that [public] opinion [in the] overseas [provinces] was still not prepared for a definitive measure [favoring independence]. If we look at the facts, [we see that] it was prepared. . . . A prodigious revolution was taking place [in New Spain] that could only have been effected [with the support of] general opinion. . . . The same armed forces that had previously spilled their blood in defending the [movement for] independence from the Metropolis [i.e., the insurgents] put themselves at the head of the revolution. The majority of the [military] chiefs who before had contributed to pacifying the interior [of the country], are those who now rise up and sustain the cry for independence. . . . If, then, general sentiment [opinión] was not prepared either in Europe or in the overseas provinces, how did the revolution come to be? . . . [Even while] it was asserted with confidence [by minister López Pelegrín] that there were not in those lands [i.e., Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador] [the necessary] elements to establish a new order of things, this has [in fact] been established, and

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the marriage [of Creole patriots with elements of the Spanish loyalists] of which so much has been spoken has taken place, to which no other impediment has been offered than its having been celebrated without the consent of the parents, as if the parents would never give consent to such an alliance. Nor will I spend time in relation to Peru, Chile and Buenos-Aires. Continuing to a review of what was actually happening in New Spain and Peru, Alamán again implied the incompetence of the López Pelegrín ministry: “I do not know if the information [possessed by] the overseas secretariat is very accurate, nor if it has received news of the great events that have occurred in Lima and Mexico City. . . . I speak of the deposition of the viceroy of Peru and of the jefe superior político of Mexico [City], carried out by violent movements.”36 The Spanish government was well aware of these events, so Alamán’s suggestion that its information was faulty or entirely lacking and its responses inadequate was a rhetorical flourish meant to emphasize his characterization of the overseas ministry as incompetent at best. He was shortly to twist this particular rhetorical knife as his speech continued. His passing remark about the ills stemming from the overthrow of the Peruvian and Mexican viceroys offers some insight into his attitudes at this time toward the maintenance of legal forms as against the force of historical contingencies. Here Alamán is implicitly expressing less his belief in the virtues of the Spanish colonial regime, which he would famously rhapsodize about later in life, than in the rule of law as the preferred mode for organizing political life. He would come to think of Mexican independence as ill-starred from the beginning by the social forces and institutional chaos it had unleashed, but beyond this he seems never to have found convincing the politico-legal arguments made to justify it, since the very process that had set it off was in a sense extralegal. We see him arguing in the Cortes debates of this period in favor of the sort of orderly political transition from imperial monarchy to some sort of looser commonwealth arrangement for the fragments of the Spanish transatlantic empire in the face of the fait accompli of effective independence. He obviously believed that option to have been aborted by the incompetence of the Spanish government and the impetuousness of the Spanish Americans, especially in New Spain. And while it is true that Lucas Alamán was himself none too fastidious about legal and constitutional niceties during his nearly thirty months as the soul of the Anastasio Bustamante regime in the early 1830s, a decade earlier he can be characterized as a constitutionalist and

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moderate imperialist in his thinking. In combining this view with strands of Machiavellian realpolitik and the natural law tradition, his political thought showed considerable complexity and subtlety but also at times gave the appearance of inconsistency and even hypocrisy. He was always ready to rationalize his own abrogation of established legal forms and limits when he judged the force of historical circumstance to warrant such circumventions but did honor the rule of law rather than the rule of men, at least in theory. In the end, it was perhaps as much his personality and habits of mind—that is, an imperious belief that he was the smartest guy in the room, which he usually was—that legitimized any course of action he deemed appropriate in the light of changing circumstances. In his Cortes speech of 13 February Alamán continued to chastise the Spanish government, especially and although never by name the overseas minister López Pelegrín, for its failures in American policy, growing ever sharper in his criticism: “The door is open to place responsibility on the persons upon whom it may fall. If there has been such a delay in proposing measures for pacification [of the American provinces], which by now will be entirely useless, it [i.e., the blame] will fall on the ministry.” Alamán concluded his intervention by further impugning the competence and implicitly the honesty of the ministry for not providing the Cortes with sufficiently robust information in support of its recommended policies. Lucas Alamán’s last speech to the imperial diet came on the final day of the Cortes extraordinarias, 14 February 1822. It was addressed to the provision of the Moscoso-Toreno voto particular declaring illegitimate and null the Treaty of Córdoba negotiated by Iturbide and O’Donojú the previous summer. The speech puts forth the view that the independence of Mexico was inevitable, like a tidal wave that could not be held back, and that it was the terms of that emancipation that might still be negotiated with Spain to the advantage of both parties. He began by disputing very simply the constitutional capacity of the Cortes to approve the proposition nullifying the treaty because it was not really a treaty: it had been submitted to the Cortes as one document among others illuminating the situation in New Spain and therefore had no legal standing. Having made a rather lawyerly argument concluding that the Treaty of Córdoba was not really a treaty, the deputy from Guanajuato asserted that the document still formed the basis for a contract of potential benefit to Spain. He then spread his rhetorical wings and soared on the updraft of the Enlightenment into the eighteenth-century origins of the independence impulse:

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The cause of the revolution is none of those that have been presented. There is a fundamental cause [however], the most powerful; we should not speak of injuries done those provinces [by Spain]—the revolution has no such ignoble origin. From the moment in which such latitude was given to the commerce of America, which compared with the fleet system of the preceding epochs [truly] deserved to be called free trade [comercio libre]; from the moment when the ergotism [ergotismo] of the lecture halls [aulas] was replaced with the solid principles of mathematics and physics;37 each increase in enlightenment has seen an increase in the desire for emancipation; these advances cannot be turned back. . . . This opinion [i.e., the desire to turn back the clock] may very well be that of some individuals on the right in the French chamber of deputies who, unhappy with the enlightenment of the past century, desire to return to the twelfth or thirteenth [century], toward which they are taking great steps. But this will never be [the opinion] of the Spanish Cortes. Enlightened thinking will grow day by day, and with it the desire for emancipation in the overseas provinces. There the matter of Spanish policy toward the American realms rested, the Cortes having reached no resolution. Slightly less than a year later the Hundred Thousand Sons of St. Louis invaded Spain on behalf of other European absolutist states, ending the Trienio Liberal and sending into exile the more conciliatory Spanish liberals like Juan Antonio Yandiola, who might have come to terms with the provincias de Ultramar had a window for this still remained open. Thus any lingering hopes that the Spanish Empire might mutate into a commonwealth of independent states were dashed. This was not to be the end of the story as far as Spain and the newly independent Mexico were concerned, since Spanish forces were to hold until 1825 the island of San Juan de Ulúa, opposite and within bombardment range of the port city of Veracruz. Alamán as Mexican foreign minister was deeply involved in the negotiations to dislodge the Spanish, although the capitulation actually occurred about two months after he left office. King Ferdinand’s government then launched an unsuccessful invasion of the country in 1829 and did not finally recognize the independence of its recalcitrant former colony until 1836. On the Mexican side there were the expulsion decrees of the later 1820s directed at European Spaniards, and gachupín-bashing was always to be relied on as a convenient prop for Mexican politicians. Of this Alamán was to become acutely aware during the first two decades of republican life as he strove to defend the interests of

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the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone in the press and the corridors of power, an association that did nothing to counteract the popular perception of him in Mexico as being pro-Spanish. In his very compressed evaluation of his nine months or so at the Madrid Cortes, Alamán expressed a particular sense of accomplishment at the legislation he had drafted reducing regulations and taxes on the Mexican mining industry and transferring the process of separation of gold from silver (the apartado) from government to private hands.38 Lucas Alamán’s first major political voyage demonstrated that the young man of affairs could accelerate to ramming speed quite quickly. In the debates of the Cortes and Cortes extraordinarias of 1821–22 he deployed publicly many of the gifts on display throughout his later political life: inexorably logical thinking, a wide command of history and classical allusion, an adamantine prose tending much toward an elaborate but never florid style, the ability to employ sarcasm sparingly but to good effect, and the capacity to cut to the heart of matters, even if with some prolixity. The anonymous description of the “filigreed” deputy from Guanajuato, on the other hand, sets out a series of impressions that some of his political contemporaries would surely have recognized in future years: that if highly intelligent he was nonetheless too clever by half, a bit affected, self-contained, elegant in a very subdued manner, and Machiavellian—some would say unprincipled—in his political dealings. As a man of thirty Lucas Alamán’s self-presentation was anything but military, strongly molded to that of a civilian politician, his style that of an haut bourgeois from an aristocratic background. His interests in policy, ranging from issues of public health, education, and science to political economy and high politics, were very broad and would remain so, and he did not hesitate to make his opinions known with confidence. Aside from lifting tax burdens and restrictions on Mexican mining, his other major interventions dealt with the American question. In this he and the other Spanish American deputies faced the implacable resistance of most of the peninsular Spaniards sitting in the Cortes, the king, and the metropolitan government to their proposals for what amounted to a commonwealth arrangement between Spain and its overseas provinces. In the end, developments in the Americas acquired their own historical momentum, however, and the efforts of Alamán and his compatriots to salvage the Spanish Empire on their terms were overtaken by events. In the early 1820s he quite clearly believed, as he did later, that the virtual independence of New Spain was inevitable. He certainly demonstrated no republican sympathies at this time, but in any case this was not a view represented openly among the Mexican delegation or among other Spanish American deputies,

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whatever their later political orientations turned out to be. Whether in these years Alamán was in any recognizable sense a liberal is a harder question to answer. Liberalism meant different things to different people and did not map easily onto positions on either side of the great issue of Spanish American autonomy or independence. Lucas Alamán seems to have occupied a space to the right of moderate liberals and to the left of died-in-the-wool monarchists and Spanish imperialists. Modernization and certain sorts of reform were certainly on his agenda but more in the economic than the political sphere. While it is possible to say, therefore, that in 1822 he held essentially many of the same views he would hold until the mid-1840s or so, history—personal and impersonal—was to chisel away much of the flexibility he displayed during the Spanish Cortes. As time went on, his positions shifted to the right and hardened, especially where politics was concerned.

Another Parisian Interlude Almost a year to the day after Lucas Alamán had left Veracruz bound for Spain, his passport for his departure from Madrid and return to what was now an independent Mexico was issued on 12 February 1822. He was described as a “diputado de la provincia de Guanajuato” returning to Mexico via France or England, accompanied by Francisco Escobar, with whom he had traveled in 1821. The previous day, along with other departing deputies, he had petitioned the secretaries of the Cortes extraordinarias for the unpaid subsistence funds (dietas) owing to him for his time in Madrid. On 26 February the French legation in Madrid issued his passport to travel through French territory, and to his two passports were later added a permit for travel by diligence from Madrid to the French frontier as well as numerous visas issued by officials of the Spanish and French towns through which he would pass on his journey to the City of Light. The Cortes did not formally end until 14 February, the day Alamán made his final speech, and he and Escobar did not leave the Spanish capital until 1 March. While taking a central part in the momentous events in Madrid, Alamán was, typically, also busy pursuing his private affairs. He mentions rather laconically in the Épocas (24) that while a deputy he managed to secure a prebend (prebenda), a canonry in the Mexico City cathedral, for his half brother Juan Bautista Arechederreta, thus concluding successfully on his behalf a struggle for ecclesiastical preferment going back more than a decade. He does not say what sort of contacts he mobilized for this, whom he had to wait upon

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in the imperial bureaucracy—one imagines the minister of state for grace and justice—what it might have cost, in addition to the substantial sums Arechederreta had invested over the years, or whether he just gave a final push to an appointment already in process. But since the appointment was effective in 1821, he doubtless had some central part in finalizing it. Finally, now well into adulthood—he was thirty years old in 1822—on the verge of marriage, and thinking how to meet the economic obligations he knew awaited him at home, Alamán declined yet another invitation, as he had that of Bernardino Rivadavia in 1819, to join the ministry of a government outside Mexico, that of Spain during the Liberal Triennium. The offer was made by Juan Antonio Yandiola, the national treasurer of Spain in 1822 and about to enter the government as finance minister, a post he held for some months before the fall of the liberal constitutionalist regime late in 1823.39 What the post was exactly Alamán does not say, but it likely had something to do with fiscal matters, given where Yandiola was situated in the government. Lucas Alamán and Francisco Escobar, who was traveling on to England, shared their diligence with Manuel Eduardo de Gorostiza (1789–1851), the Veracruz-born playwright, bibliophile, soldier, and diplomat who was to serve as ambassador to Great Britain about a decade later under Alamán’s ministry during the first Anastasio Bustamante government. The journey from Madrid to Paris by diligence and the Canal du Midi took about six weeks and was apparently uneventful except for a three-day sequestration in quarantine after passing through Irún into France. After living for a brief time at another location in Paris, Alamán installed himself for the remaining six months of his stay in the city at the Hôtel de Cahors, at rue de Richelieu no. 16, a street boasting “some of the finest hotels in Paris” according to the English traveler Thomas Fragnall Dibdin. During the first half of the nineteenth century this was one of the most fashionable streets in the city. Dibdin’s description of the rue de Richelieu, in about 1821, dates from virtually the exact moment when Alamán lived there, before Baron Hausmann’s redesign of the Paris cityscape after midcentury. It is worth quoting, since it conveys the flavor of the Paris Lucas Alamán knew during his last residence outside Mexico: “The Rue de Richelieu is called the Bond-street of Paris . . . and is rendered more striking by containing some of the finest hotels in Paris. Hosiers, artificial flower makers, clock makers, and jewelers, are the principal tradesmen in the Rue de Richelieu; but it has no similarity with Bond-street. The houses are of stone, and generally very lofty—while the Academie de Musique and the Bibliothèque du Roi are public buildings of [much] consequence and capacity. . . . [No doubt other nearby streets] claim

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precedence, on the score of magnificence and comfort . . . but to my taste there is nothing (next to the Boulevards) which is so thoroughly gratifying as the Rue de Richelieu.”40 Most of Alamán’s stay in Paris during these months was spent in trying to put together a company for investment in the revival of the devastated Mexican mining industry. Alamán wrote of these months that virtually from the moment of his arrival in March 1822, “I began to solicit funds for the rehabilitation of the Cata mine in Guanajuato, whose great bonanza at the beginning of the [eighteenth] century made my grandparents rich, and in which my family had a considerable role.” This statement exemplifies the habitual linkage in Alamán’s thinking of past to future glories, as reflected in the autobiographical fragment analyzed above (see chapter 2). A few paragraphs further on in his text, after he has narrated the efforts that eventually brought into being the United Mexican Mining Association, he wrote, “Thus [my] casual acquaintance with Mr. Andriel from a note of four lines by Baron von Humboldt was the origin of that torrent of pesos that came to give new life to the Mexican mines”—but that achieved little lasting success in doing so, he might have added.41 The disillusionment in this statement is implicit if one knows what was to follow, namely, a cascade of mining investment failures in the decades after independence. Lucas Alamán’s introduction to the Frenchman Andriel came by way of a brief note from Humboldt, with whom Alamán had become quite friendly during his previous extended stay in Paris. Immediately prior to this meeting Alamán was engaged with French capitalists in the organization of his first mining enterprise under the name of Vial, Alamán y Compañía. The principal investor was Nicolás de Vial y Eydelin, who was married to a woman of the wealthy and ennobled Bassoco mining family of Guanajuato. He was a descendant of the Vial and Eydelin families, two of the most notable clans of southern France and northern Spain, which was the region where Alamán’s own paternal genealogy was rooted. Alamán tried to engage other French investors, for the moment without luck. This prompted him to ask Francisco Borja Migoni, a Mexican merchant then in London, to explore the possibilities with English investors, but the response in Britain was also tepid. Such was the state of play when Humboldt asked Alamán to inform Andriel about the Mexican mines, presumably reflecting the Frenchman’s interest in making investments. The two men met at Alamán’s hotel, almost certainly the Hôtel de Cahors on rue de Richelieu, in the late spring or early summer of 1822. Alamán referred to Andriel as an aventurero, which literally translates as

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“adventurer” but in this context means something like “venture capitalist.” The two discussed Andriel’s ambitious hopes for mining enterprises in Mexico, “[but] finding them all imaginary,” Alamán wrote, he suggested that the best “speculation” would be the drainage of existing mines, the Cata among them, that had been flooded during the decade of the independence struggle. Andriel agreed to this plan but, lacking sufficient capital, pledged to gather 6 million francs (1.2 million pesos) through the sale of shares (acciones) to his contacts for the capitalization of what he and Alamán christened the Compañía Franco-Mejicana. This venture did not go any better than Alamán’s earlier efforts in France, however, since “the French were little inclined to distant speculations.” What the terms of the Alamán–Andriel partnership were Alamán did not say. The unresponsiveness of French investors turned Alamán’s eyes once more across the Channel to the possibility of mobilizing British capital. This time he enjoyed notable success. Through José M. del Barrio, at one time the Guatemalan minister to Mexico, Alamán gained the interest of the London investment bankers Hullett Brothers and Company, with whom over a number of years he was to sustain a relationship in his mining projects. Hullett Brothers had widespread interests in Spanish America, including in Chile and the Río de la Plata; through them Alamán was able to sell more shares in the Compañía Franco-Mejicana. The English bankers insisted on running the company from London, however, so it quickly became the Compañía Unida, or the United Mexican Mining Company, to take account of the union with French investors. Alamán himself traveled to London during the summer of 1822 to meet the Hullett brothers, arriving around 15 July and returning to Paris at the end of August.42 But since he needed to return to Mexico in the fall of 1822 to see to his family affairs and to marry, the actual move of the company to Britain and the process of its incorporation there were overseen by an intermediary to whom he delegated his power of attorney, Vicente González Arnao (1776–1845). González Arnao was a well-known Spanish lawyer, writer, historian, and liberal politician who had served as minister in the government of José Bonaparte and was to live in exile in France after King Ferdinand’s restoration to the throne.43 The initial capital of the Unida was 1.5 million pesos, rising eventually to 6 million. Writing of these events around 1850 and looking forward from the perspective of these months to a future yet to unfold, Alamán commented ruefully, “Nothing is more uncertain in the mining business than choosing which mines should be worked. With a capital of six million pesos at my disposition to invest in whatever mines I pleased, and with

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the greatest desire to succeed, [several] mines were proposed to me [for investment], among them those that later have produced such wealth, with which the United Company would have had the most brilliant results, [but] in which for various reasons I did not wish to invest. . . . I had in my hands, therefore, the enterprises that have been the richest, and I was so mistaken [in my decisions] that I did not take advantage of any of them.”44 These disappointments lay in the future, however, as a sort of ever-receding fata morgana, while the hopeful time of the early 1820s opened a prospect of silver-based wealth never to be realized. In addition to his early entrepreneurial projects Lucas Alamán continued his attendance during these months in Paris at various salons. He renewed his connection with Talleyrand’s circle and met the Marquis de Lafayette. Humboldt introduced him to Jules de Polignac (1780–1847), later successively minister of foreign relations and then, until the July Revolution toppled the regime in 1830, president of the royal council under King Charles X. Polignac’s rise occurred at almost the same time that Alamán was to reach the highwater mark of his political career in the government of Anastasio Bustamante. At this point Alamán was spending a good deal of money, some of it directly for himself, some of it in commercial speculation, but none of it frivolously. In the months before his departure for Mexico he made a number of purchases of minerals for his natural history cabinet and library (German authors on mineralogy and mining) from August Breishaupt (1791–1873), a prominent German mineralogist and professor at Freiberg whom Alamán probably met during his stay there in 1817. Invoices among his personal papers from these months indicate that he also bought a fair number of books on mining, crystallography, chemistry, and other scientific themes from various Parisian booksellers. Living in a fashionable district of the city and attending the salons of Parisian high political society may have whetted Alamán’s desire to acquire the French luxury goods setting standards of consumption in the Atlantic world at the time, but he also had more practical objectives in mind as he shopped for and purchased myriad fashionable items to take home with him for sale. He may also have been acquiring items for the household he was to set up after his marriage to Narcisa Castrillo the next year or for her trousseau. He was spending extravagantly during these months, at least to judge from the pricey goods he was looking at in shops and through lists of available items from specialized merchants and manufacturers. These items included fine linens, China, including a dinner service for up to thirty-six people, and high-end glass objects. Finally, Alamán was collecting the business cards of

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many concerns in and out of Paris announcing a wide variety of wares, including leather goods, cloth, linen, metal items, parasols, books with gilded bindings, lingerie, jewelry, perfumes, guns, clocks, watches, and cases and boxes for shipping goods rapidly and securely. He did not discover until his return to Mexico that while he was in London during the summer assembling the Compañía Unida, Emperor Agustín de Iturbide, who ascended the throne in May 1822, had named him envoy to France to negotiate French recognition of Mexican independence. Alamán must have been tapped for this post on the basis not only of his previous public service both in Old and New Spain but also his long-standing personal acquaintance and friendship with Iturbide, his command of French, and the connections he had formed near the highest echelons of French society and politics. Lucas Alamán’s appointment was formalized by an official letter to him from Emperor Agustín I of 14 August 1822, endorsed by the Mexican minister of interior and exterior relations.45 This dispatch names him “envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary” to the French government with full powers to conclude and sign “stipulations and agreements” to the mutual interest of both countries, specifically French recognition of Mexican independence. But separate instructions to him from the minister delved deeper into extremely confidential levels of his duties, including the confidentiality of his mission. Alamán was also asked to help Mexican deputies with the expenses of their return to Mexico from the Spanish Cortes, for which he would be reimbursed in a timely fashion. Beyond this, he was to carry forward negotiations for a one-million-peso loan from the English adventurer James Barry, which turned out to be one of the first of many disastrous or outright failed foreign loans contracted by the impecunious Mexican government.46 Another instruction emphasized that his principal diplomatic mission was to secure French recognition of Mexican independence, while no treaty of alliance or trade was envisioned for the moment. The envoy’s letters home were to be frequent, and he was to exercise special care that they not be intercepted by the Spanish forces still occupying the island fortress of San Juan de Ulúa opposite Veracruz. He was instructed to maintain close contact with the envoys of Britain, the United States, and the South American republics who were in France, and to send numbers of the most important French periodicals to Mexico. The draft version of this letter also contains some “instrucciones secretas” to the effect that Alamán make use of “confidantes” in ascertaining the thinking of other European powers regarding Mexican independence, sparing no expense; in other words, he was to employ bribes or even paid spies. His final

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instruction read: “The envoy will omit nothing to inform himself of the secrets of the Madrid government and to discover [desentreñar] its most hidden doings, its plans for intrigues, and its agents, whether they are destined to come and work mischief among us, or whether they already exist within the Empire and enjoy the trust of the Spanish.”47 Emperor Agustín I would be forced off his throne in March 1823, so the appointment never took effect. Alamán would have another opportunity to assume the same post fifteen years later, in the end declining after seriously considering it for a time. Lucas Alamán left Europe in the late fall of 1822, never to return. On 26 October 1822 he received his French passport, on 4 November the approval of his papers by the Spanish embassy in Paris, and in the days that followed other authorizations. In one document he was described as being twenty-nine years of age when in fact he had turned thirty about three weeks earlier. He was described as being about five foot five, with black hair, eyebrows, beard, and dark eyes, a high forehead, an ordinary nose, average mouth, and oval face. In the company of the ex-deputies Cortázar and Miguel Ramírez as well as his old friends the Fagoaga brothers, he sailed from Le Havre in the last week or so of November on the French brig Navarrois, which he described in his Épocas (25) as a “terrible and heavy [i.e., sluggish] ship.” Shortly before his departure Alexander von Humboldt informed him that substantial funds were being raised in France for investment in the Mexican mines. The letters Alamán bore from Prince Polignac and the French naval ministry insured him and his party of a hospitable welcome on the French island of Martinique, where they arrived in mid-January 1823. Accompanied by a French man-of-war, the Navarrois arrived in Veracruz on 19 March 1823, the day Emperor Agustín de Iturbide abdicated his throne. Informed that there were no fewer than five deputies from the Spanish Cortes on board, the Spanish commander of San Juan de Ulúa, Brigadier Lemaur, bade Lucas Alamán and his traveling companions to pay him a visit in the fortress, receiving them with courtesy and informing them of the political situation in the country and the changes they would encounter there. An interview with Guadalupe Victoria, the Mexican commander of the port of Veracruz, ensued on the mainland, Alamán having the impression that the insurgent leader, because of his modest conversational skills, was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In fact, he described the future president, in whose cabinet he would serve during 1824–25, as “un viejo mentecato,” an old fool or idiot, depending on one’s translation. After a brief sojourn in Veracruz, Alamán continued via Puebla to Mexico City. He was never to leave Mexico

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again. While his ideas were far from ossified by this time, he was, after all, thirty years old upon his return to Mexico, had seen something of the world, and his interventions in the Cortes debates foreshadowed much of his mature thinking as statesman and historian. In short order he would enter a much larger theater for political action when he became the central minister in the presidential cabinet of the “viejo mentecato.”

5 • Brothers

Father Juan Bautista and His Half Brother Juan Bautista Arechederreta, Alamán’s elder half brother, played a very important role in Alamán’s life up to and even beyond the churchman’s death in 1836, by which point the younger of the two was himself well-advanced into middle age. I interject that story here so as not to lose the coherence of the priest’s life-narrative, even though Alamán experienced his half brother’s life episodically, in a more disjointed fashion, with periods of close association and times of separation. Since no meaningful pieces of correspondence between the brothers survive, the web connecting their lives has vanished with the paper on which it was partially inscribed. At any given point in Alamán’s life it proves difficult to close the distance between their parallel lives; but traces of the relationship nonetheless remain. The biography of Father Arechederreta can be discerned only through a few fleeting references to him within the context of the Alamán–Escalada family, documents relating to his career trajectory, and a few of his published writings. Thus he remains a somewhat shadowy figure but an important presence in his half brother’s life. The highlights of his career in the Church also illustrate something of the social and political milieu of the early republican period. The relationship between the two men seems to have been a cordial one after the reconciliation around 1804 between Juan Vicente Alamán and his stepson, but whether the cordiality was infused with fraternal warmth is difficult to tell. Given that Juan Vicente died in 1808 and that there was a twentyyear age difference between the half brothers, it is likely Juan Bautista played the role of mentor, protector, and promoter in his younger brother’s life, perhaps substituting for the absent father to some degree. The brothers lived in 123

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close proximity to each other in Mexico City, in the Sagrario parish, for more than a dozen years after Alamán’s final return to Mexico, until he moved to the western part of the capital. For the first couple of years after Lucas Alamán’s return from Europe they had their mother and her table in common and would have frequented the same, or overlapping, social circles embracing the ecclesiastical and political elite of the country, especially among those of conservative politics. Their closeness or distance from each other would have been less a matter of physical and social than emotional proximity. When Lucas was not yet twenty years old and Arechederreta already well established, the older brother almost certainly introduced his younger half sibling to capital society and may well have intervened to have the Inquisition inquiry into his younger brother’s wayward reading habits quashed without trace in 1812. He may also have been instrumental in having Alamán appointed by Viceroy Apodaca to the post of secretary to the High Commission on Public Health in 1820, a charge that jump-started the younger man’s political career. When Alamán was in a position to return the favor, while he was in Madrid as a deputy in the Spanish Cortes, he played some role in securing for Arechederreta an appointment to a canonry in the cathedral chapter in Mexico City in 1821. Much harder to assess than such singular events, however, is the question of mutual influence between the brothers and of their intellectual and political affinities. Because of their age difference the stronger influence was probably exerted by Arechederreta. Alamán leaned very heavily on his brother’s “Apuntes” as a source for his history of the independence movement. So great was his confidence in Canon Arechederreta’s completeness, exactitude, and veracity, in fact, that the footnotes of the Historia de Méjico bear no evidence that the author cross-checked his brother’s facts or assertions, although some critical evaluation may have gone on before references to the “Apuntes” went into the source citations.1 Arechederreta’s interpretive perspective was quite conservative, as one might suppose from his social background, education, and career path. While he lauded independence from Spain, he thought the nation fatally marked by the means of its achievement, a stance closely overlapping his younger half brother’s. In addition, the weight of Arechederreta’s mere presence on the scene during many of Lucas Alamán’s most active political years—the sense that he had an ideological ally, an influential lobbyist and observer at the highest levels of the Church, and a supportive friend who also happened to be a close family member—cannot have failed to lend his public and personal life a greater degree of security and even confidence than he would have had in their absence.

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Ascent of a Young Churchman Arechederreta was the child of María Ignacia Escalada’s first marriage, in 1770, to Gabriel Arechederreta, an enterprising Spanish immigrant (see chapter 3). Almost nothing is known of Juan Bautista’s childhood except for dates and what we can infer from the history of his parents—the eldest Alamán–Castrillo son was named for him. He was born on 3 September 1771, scarcely a year after his parents’ marriage, raised in Guanajuato, and spent his childhood in comfortable circumstances. His father died in 1778, when Juan Bautista was seven years old and his mother twenty-eight, leaving behind a substantial fortune that for purposes of management passed into the hands of María Ignacia’s second husband. One modern author characterizes Juan Bautista’s childhood under the roof of his mother’s second husband, Juan Vicente Alamán, as being bitter (amarga), presumably because Juan Vicente favored his own son Lucas over his stepson. How true this is and whether his own mother, who seems to have been a strongminded woman, would even have countenanced such treatment is open to question. The only evidence for it is the conflict between stepfather and stepson over the latter’s inheritance when he was a young adult of twentyfive, so any bitterness may well be a backward projection.2 Conflicts among adult siblings over their parents’ and stepparents’ estates were not so uncommon given the complicated inheritance laws of the time and the complexities of dowering practices. There was also the possibility that within the rules of equal partible inheritance parents had a certain latitude in favoring some children over others, thus engendering sibling jealousy. Having chosen a career path into the Church, Juan Bautista began his studies in the Valladolid seminary in 1782, at the age of eleven or twelve, and was probably permanently out of the parental home from that time onward.3 He obtained his doctorate in theology in 1794 at the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Mexico City. Access to at least some of his paternal inheritance, most likely in the form of a stipend, offered Arechederreta the means eventually to become something of a scholar. His paternal inheritance came to something over eighty thousand pesos, the income from which would have supported him comfortably, although not lavishly. It was over the disposition of this money, much diminished by the financial reverses of Juan Vicente Alamán, that the breach within the family developed around the mid-1790s. What Father Juan Bautista’s maternal inheritance would have amounted to at his mother’s death in 1825 we do not know, but he did receive from her the title

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of third Marqués de San Clemente, whether at her death or by earlier cession is not clear; had he not done so, the title would have devolved on Lucas Alamán.4 Juan Bautista’s rise in the Church was slow to gain momentum until about 1800, when he was nearly thirty years old. His ambition embraced Valladolid and Mexico City, in both of which he maintained homes. By the time the Hidalgo rebellion broke out in 1810 he had definitively shifted his life to Mexico City, where his widowed mother and stepbrother lived for a number of months beginning in 1808. He was licensed to preach in the bishopric of Michoacán by Bishop Fray Antonio de San Miguel in 1794, the year he was awarded his doctorate, and in 1801 to confess female religious. In 1807 came the license to preach, say Mass, and confess in the archbishopric of Mexico, extended by Archbishop Lizana y Beaumont and renewed by Archbishop-elect Pedro Fonte in 1813. His first regular ecclesiastical post (1797–1805) was as curate of the pueblo of Santa Fe de la Laguna, near Pátzcuaro in Michoacán, one of the famous “pueblos-hospitales” established by Bishop Vasco de Quiroga in the sixteenth century for the religious indoctrination, political instruction, medical care, and protection of indigenous people. During this period of early professional activity, Arechederreta began to take a more active role in the intellectual life of the Church and in civil affairs. This began with the publication in 1796 of the Catálogo de los colegiales del insigne viejo y mayor Colegio de Santa María de Todos los Santos (Mexico City: D.M.J. de Zúñiga y Ontiveros, 1796). Founded in 1573, Todos Santos was a residential study house for young men— not only ecclesiastics but also lawyers—taking their degrees at the Universidad Católica in Mexico City. More than a simple catalog of the three hundred or so members’ names over two centuries, Arechederreta’s work was in effect a prosopography based on the colegio’s archive in which he provided data about each young man and his subsequent career and gave a thumbnail history of the colegio itself.5 As early as 1794, the year he completed his doctorate, Arechederreta was lobbying hard through his representatives in Madrid for admission to the enormously prestigious Order of Carlos III, to which he was admitted as a Caballero sometime before 1800; expenses attendant upon both efforts were substantial. These costs may well have made demands on the paternal inheritance he had still not come into, occasioning the strains with Juan Vicente Alamán, but this is a speculation. Among the expenditures typically involved with this sort of lobbying effort was genealogical research to document the candidate’s limpieza de sangre, that is, his racial purity—freedom

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of any taint of Moorish, African, or Jewish blood. Father Arechederreta thus instructed his legal representative in Durango, his ancestral town in Spain’s Basque country, to find evidence in local archives of the nobility and limpieza of Domingo de Ysunsorbe, the father of his paternal grandmother. More serious and revealing were the expenses related to Juan Bautista’s actual admission to the order. Relatively minor incidents related to his joining the order, incidents regarding his sharp faultfinding with some craft items he commissioned from artisans in Spain and his refusal to pay for them, reveal that he was somewhat cranky and inclined to provoke conflict. This behavior hints at a finicky and at least mildly contentious personality that may explain his problems with his stepfather and the tone of some of his later writings. Father Arechederreta’s ambitions were certainly grand. He had been petitioning the royal authorities both in Spain and New Spain at least since 1794 for an appointment to a canonry in a cathedral chapter. A series of letters and petitions to King Charles IV in Spain and successively to Viceroys Iturrigaray and Garibay in New Spain give a retrospective view of this protracted process. The most comprehensive of these petitions was directed to the king on 30 April 1807. In it, the major claim to preferment for high ecclesiastical office, aside from his “distinguished career in the literary realm,” was the role Father Juan Bautista’s family had played in the mining industry in Guanajuato for several generations. The petition foreshadowed the laments of his younger half brother over the years about unremunerative investments and unrealized hopes for wealth. Miners and their families always deserved greater rewards than anyone else at the hands of the crown, he wrote, since mining is the principal support of the monarchy, the fecund mother of the general subsistence, but on the other hand [since] this endeavor is so risky [expuesta], costly, and generally of such dismal outcomes for the greater part of those who undertake it. . . . My family has been one of the founding and oldest [families] of the Real de Guanajuato, discovered more than two centuries ago, and consequently its services have continued during all this time. My immediate ancestors have been active miners, have spent large sums without much profit for themselves but with great benefit to Your Majesty’s royal treasury, to which they introduced by way of royal taxes [on mining] 1,524,794 pesos fuertes, without retaining anything near this amount for themselves, and even less for their heirs, since they invested [their funds] in those

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same subterranean depths where their hopes were also buried, leaving their poor families only a memory of riches. The ambitious priest also alluded to the project he had presented to royal authorities in 1804 for the establishment of studies in medicine and surgery in the capital, a presentation that had won the endorsement of the viceroy and even royal license.6 Over the ensuing years the tone of Arechederreta’s petitions to the royal authorities grew increasingly aggrieved. In the meantime, in 1805 Arechederreta began serving as interim curate of the Sagrario parish of the Valladolid cathedral, an appointment officially regularized early in 1806 by the dean and cathedral chapter of Valladolid sede vacante. The year in which he took up this post was the last of his service in the pueblo of Santa Fe, and he resigned the Sagrario curacy shortly, returning to Mexico City, where in 1807 Archbishop Lizana y Beaumont licensed him to preach and offer the sacraments. Here his half brother and mother encountered him in 1808, and here he seems to have remained for the rest of his career. Around this time he may well have taken up an appointment in the capital as rector of the Colegio de Santa María de Todos los Santos, a position he held for some years. While he was still in Michoacán, in 1804 he addressed his petition to establish a “seminario de medicina” in Mexico City to King Charles IV’s minister of grace and justice. It is difficult to know exactly what he had in mind since the detailed plan for the seminario seems not to have survived; there had existed since the sixteenth century a distinguished group of chairs (cátedras) in medicine and allied biological sciences within the Pontificia Universidad Católica. Quite possibly Arechederreta envisioned the establishment of an entirely separate medical training faculty outside the university. In later years, as he continued his struggle to procure a canonry in the Mexico City cathedral, he would claim for this project a good deal of importance and social benefit as he repeatedly made the case for his civic virtue. The list of individuals whom Arechederreta named as being able to provide supportive testimony is impressive. Among them were José Mariano Moziño and Martín Sessé y Lacasta, both living in Spain in 1804 and both major figures in the royal botanical expedition to New Spain in the 1780s and 1790s. Moziño (1757–1820), a Mexican-born naturalist, was the author of a well-known account (1794) of the Pacific Northwest. A physician and botanist, Sessé (1751–1808) for a time directed the royal botanical garden in Mexico City, in which Lucas Alamán was later to take a notable interest as chief government minister. These men

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belonged to the international republic of letters and therefore, by association, so did Arechederreta.

A Career in the Great Capital Juan Bautista Arechederreta’s career thrived in the great Mexican capital, and we may glimpse him on an ascending trajectory of ecclesiastical posts as well as stumbling briefly into the realm of electoral politics. For a time he served as rector of the Colegio de Santa María de Todos los Santos before moving up in 1816 to the rectorship of the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán, one of the most venerable educational establishments in the city. In the meantime, he was elected as deputy for the Province of Mexico in the Spanish Cortes of 1814. When summoned in March to take his post by the intendant of Mexico City, Father Juan Bautista begged off, pleading a number of excuses and asking that a substitute be invited to attend in his stead. Among his reasons were his delicate health, which, he suggested, would be further damaged by a long Atlantic voyage; a “septuagenarian mother” who required his presence (born in 1751, María Ignacia Escalada was sixty-three years old at this time); and a widowed sister with five young children whom he was supporting. He made no mention of his traveling half brother, which is fair enough since Lucas Alamán was spending money rather than making it. By the fall of 1814, however, King Ferdinand repudiated the constitution and canceled the Cortes, thus absolving Arechederreta of the service he found potentially burdensome. In 1816 Father Juan Bautista was appointed rector of the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán.7 Established by the Franciscans in 1529 and directed by Pedro de Gante (1480–1572) until his death, the school’s patronage passed from the Mexico City Ayuntamiento to the protection of the viceroy. Originally founded for the education of children from the unions of Spaniards and noble Indian women, it had considerably broadened its educational mission by the late colonial period, coming to be one of the most outstanding schools in Mexico City after a curricular reform in 1792. By the time Arechederreta came to the rectorship, however, the school had fallen on hard times and was almost closed for lack of funds, its endowment being the smallest of any of the capital’s major colegios. Some income came to it from the renting out of its license to have a butcher shop and a bit more from the rental of houses the colegio owned in its immediate neighborhood, but the former disappeared under the 1812 Constitution and the latter was extremely insecure because of the difficulty of collecting rents. Funds from the royal treasury dedicated to the

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support of a dozen student scholarships (becas reales) had gone unpaid for several years because of the stressed state of the colony’s finances, and paying students barely covered their food costs. A considerable recovery propped the institution up, however, under the patronage of Viceroy Ruiz de Apodaca (1816–21), who apportioned it a substantial income from the lotteries in the city, possibly as a result of Arechederreta’s lobbying efforts. He modernized the curriculum yet further, prescribing, for example, the use of Benjamin Constant’s works for the teaching of public law to the colegio students, a very progressive move for the time. The years immediately preceding and following Arechederreta’s appointment to the rectorship were taken up by his continued expensive, frustrating, but eventually successful efforts to win a canonry, carried on through reams of correspondence with his apoderado, or general factotum with power of attorney, in Madrid. It is not clear whose death created the vacancy in the cathedral chapter to which Arechederreta was finally appointed. In February 1822 the long-coveted title to a post as a prebendary (prebendado) of the Mexico City cathedral finally arrived from the Spanish capital, the wheels quite probably having been greased by Arechederreta’s young half brother, by now a politician with a burgeoning reputation. The years 1815–22 saw other forms of recognition arrive at the priest’s doorstep, even if the main prize—the canonry—for the moment eluded him. The same year as his appointment to the rectorship of San Juan de Letrán, he was invited by Juan José Flores Alatorre (1766–1851), a distinguished jurist, to become a member of the Academia de Jurisprudencia Teórica-práctica, in which the churchman was formally enrolled in February 1817. In late 1819 or early 1820 he was appointed capitular in the Colegiata of Guadalupe, at the famous basilica north of Mexico City, surely a sign of a rising trajectory and official favor. This office was not without its problems, however, since he was still rector at San Juan de Letrán, and he feared that the taxing commute between Mexico City and the basilica might damage his fragile health. An exchange of letters with Viceroy Apodaca in the summer of 1820 indicates that his petition to the royal authorities in Madrid to hold the two posts simultaneously had been denied. At the viceroy’s urging, however, he had agreed to stay on in the rectorship temporarily, which he did until at least April 1821. Other honors came thick and fast, among them the position of consultant/ adviser to the Junta Eclesiástica de Censura, established to assume the censorship duties of the extinguished Inquisition. In mid-1822 Emperor Agustín I appointed him honorary chaplain to the imperial family, a post he did not

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occupy for long, since Iturbide reigned for less than a year; this must have been about the same time the emperor was appointing the canon’s half brother to be minister to France for the negotiation of diplomatic recognition. After his fall, in fact, Iturbide expressed his concern that Arechederreta would be penalized by the new republican government for his close association with the short-lived empire. In his political testament of 1823, written shortly before sailing into exile in Italy, Iturbide remarked wryly, “Who knows if the Sovereign Congress will despoil my good compadre [Juan Bautista Arechederreta] of the rectorship [of San Juan de Letrán] as a reward for his merits. If this were to be, he could go to Peking to found some college where the young Chinese [chinitos] might learn an even greater servitude than they [already] have.”8 Between 1823 and 1835 Arechederreta served as vicar general of convents in the archbishopric of Mexico, and in 1831–32 he was appointed senator from the State of Guanajuato, perhaps partially at the behest of his half sibling, then the dominant figure in the national government. He served a second term in 1835–36, until just before his death on 12 January 1836. He was buried in the Capilla de Tepeyac, Guadalupe. Juan Bautista Arechederreta was not just a pretty face, however, and occupies a small but honorable niche in the history of the Mexican Church. He is best known today less for his ecclesiastical career than for being the elder half sibling of Lucas Alamán and for his literary efforts, an inclination the two men shared. Less an original writer than a compiler, cataloguer, editor, and translator, Arechederreta published a number of works during the 1820s, two of which occupy a degree of renown in Mexican literary and political history, both on their own and for their importance to his half brother: his translation of an Italian treatise on natural rights and his chronological notes on the insurgency of 1810. Of less importance but still providing some insight into early nineteenth-century Church history was his pastoral letter of 1826 addressed to the mothers superior of the female religious under his vicarship, El Dr. D. Juan Bautista de Arechederreta, prebendado de la santa Iglesia Metropolitana de México . . . a las RR. MM. preladas y religiosas de los conventos sujetos a la filiación ordinaria del Arzobispado de México (Mexico City: Oficina de la Testamentaria de Ontiveros, 1826), written in his capacity as vicar general of the archbishopric’s convents and other establishments for women and female children. Although a mere thirty pages long, this work was a densely packed compilation of regulations governing conventual life in the archdiocese of Mexico from the time of the reforming archbishop and, later, cardinal Francisco Antonio de Lorenzana (1722–1804) up to 1826, a span of more than fifty years. Ostensibly it was compiled so that mothers superior

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would have in one manual all the basic rules, thus saving them the trouble of looking them up in different sources. But one suspects that Arechederreta also compiled it to counteract what was perceived by the upper Church officialdom as a certain loosening in the practices of conventual life in the early republican period.9 The work covered everything from the regulation of conversation in the sacristies of conventual churches, to the proper uses of the wheels (tornos) installed in exterior convent walls to communicate with the interior areas, to decorous practices for novices; for example, candidates were not to pass through the streets “in luxurious coaches, as used to be permitted.” That same year saw the publication of Canon Arechederreta’s description of the establishments of female religious within the archbishopric of Mexico, his Noticia de los conventos del Arzobispado de México, año de 1826 (Mexico City, n.p.), also about thirty pages in length and dated 22 May 1826, ordered compiled by the dean and cathedral chapter of Mexico City the previous March. The data compilation itself is mildly interesting, offering information on the numbers of profesas, novitiates, female students, and domestics in each of twenty-six establishments, mostly in Mexico City, their yearly income and expenses, and so forth. The introductory pages of the Noticia offer Arechederreta’s fairly spirited defense of female monastic life on several heads. He alluded to the hostility (desafecto) with which these establishments were viewed by people of liberal political inclinations, including exaggerated ideas of their wealth. The critique of the regular Church that Arechederreta sought to counter had been in the air in Spain and its American realms since at least the preceding century and was to bear fruit a few years later in the laws promulgated under the short-lived liberal governments of Valentín Gómez Farías (1833–34) and even more so a quarter century later in the laws of the Reforma and the 1857 Constitution. The second charge against female monastic establishments he sought to refute was that of their general uselessness (inutilidad). Although he did not directly address the social and theological issue of the efficacy of prayer by nuns on behalf of the general population, he did suggest that the training of the young women being educated in the convents for domestic tasks and the female estate was an important social good. And he at least implied that conventual life offered a decent and decorous life for many other young women who had chosen lives of gentle reclusion as brides of Christ rather than hazard the perils of the century. How, then, was this sort of life useless, he asked? Of much greater import than any of these works to the intellectual and political history of nineteenth-century Mexico and also to its probable influence

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on the thinking of his younger brother and other Mexican conservatives was Arechederreta’s 1824 translation of the most consequential work of the Italian priest Nicola Spedalieri (1740–95), I diritti dell’uomo (The Rights of Man) (1791).10 While the publication of books and pamphlets of Italian political thinkers in Spanish translation was by no means unusual in the early republican decades, theoretical works translated from the French dominated the field. The obvious reason was that the French Revolution had set off tremendous shock waves in the Atlantic world and continued to generate an enormous number of works condemning it, defending it, or drawing out its implications, many of them from the pens of French writers. In one sense Spedalieri’s book was hardly radical or innovative given that he developed in his work ideas about immanent popular sovereignty and the right to rebel against tyranny that had formed part of Spanish political theory since the days of Francisco Suárez in the sixteenth century. While his essay on human rights was welcomed by Pope Pius VI, it was banned as subversive in some parts of Europe. He acquired the sobriquet of the Jacobin priest, many liberals of the time claiming him for their own. Although Spedalieri’s treatise should be viewed as a response from the political right to the challenge of the French Revolution, specifically the Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789), it certainly represented a more liberal tendency within the Church. In his brief introduction to Spedalieri’s work Juan Bautista Arechederreta suggested a parallelism between the situation of the newly independent Mexico in the early 1820s and that of Italy under the impact of French revolutionary ideas. Spedalieri’s approach to human rights, according to the historian Enrique Covarrubias, was couched in a Benthamite, utilitarian idiom that would furnish central intellectual elements for Mexican conservatism. This influence was seen in the thinking of Alamán and Luis Gonzaga Cuevas (1800–67), the author of an oft-cited conservative analysis of Mexico’s problems, El porvenir de México (1851), and several times foreign secretary. His was a natural rights–based juridical theory proposing as basic human rights the preservation of life, the rights to individual self-perfection, legitimately acquired property, and personal liberty, and the legitimacy of force to defend these when absolutely necessary. Arguing against the ideas of Rousseau, Spedalieri wrote that only in civil society could man perfect himself and that only a Christian society—by which he meant a Catholic one—offered guarantees of these natural rights. He wrote against the use of force and violence in politics, secularization (and ipso facto against the seizure of ecclesiastical property), religious tolerance, and modern materialism, which he felt lay at

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the root of the social evils plaguing contemporary societies. Spedalieri’s ideas can be located along that spectrum of religious writers of the period who sought to accommodate to the forces of social and political change without eviscerating structures of social hierarchy, religious orthodoxy, and traditional forms of governance characteristic of the ancien régime. For example, in writing about the basic human right to resist tyranny, if necessary by resorting to violence, he hedged it around with so many qualifications as to make it almost impossible to justify except in the most extreme circumstances, and never countenancing violence against the person of the tyrant/monarch himself. In associating himself with these ideas, Arechederreta signaled his position as what we might call a reformist conservative.11 This stance was in sympathy with efforts in the political sphere to allay the headlong rush toward liberal secularization and the hollowing out of the spiritual life in the face of nineteenth-century materialism without drawing in the sand the absolutist line of prominent conservative ideologues of the age, such as Joseph de Maistre. In the context of early republican Mexican political and intellectual life, however, more important than Arechederreta’s views in and of themselves are his/their influence and that of European writers such as Spedalieri on his younger half brother. That Lucas Alamán must have read Arechederreta’s translation of the Italian’s treatise, if only out of fraternal piety, seems virtually beyond question. Since Alamán himself wrote very little directly on general political theory, and when he wrote on politics he typically had more immediate and concrete goals in mind, one must suss out his views primarily from his policy writings and historical works. Certainly he shared with Nicola Spedalieri a general view of human rights based on a natural law tradition. He held highly elitist opinions about the political capacities of the mass of the Mexican population, handicapped, in his view, by its racial heritage, lack of education, poverty, and a limited stake in the fate of the nation. These ideas fostered a quite negative idea of the potential for the full exercise of political rights based in human rights and for a constructive intervention of common people in the national conversation. Among the range of Spedalieri’s ideas of basic human rights, that held by Alamán most unequivocally was the right to the absolute enjoyment of legitimately acquired private property; but this was a hallmark principle of the age all across the ideological spectrum. Closer to Spedalieri’s thinking, the Benthamite view of the social utility of religious belief, practice, and institutions does come through clearly, especially in the writings of the older Alamán. And Lucas Alamán’s condemnation of the corrosive forces of modern materialism echoes the Italian’s. That Alamán imbibed all

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this solely from reading Spedalieri is highly doubtful, but such reading as well as conversations with Arechederreta over the fifteen years or so of their parallel lives in Mexico City probably reinforced ideas the younger man already held or was developing. Finally, Juan Bautista Arechederreta is well known to have kept an extensive unpublished journal covering the era of the insurgency in New Spain, beginning in February 1810, seven or eight months before the outbreak of the Hidalgo rebellion, and terminating at some point in 1820. Lucas Alamán relied heavily on this work in writing his Historia de Méjico and is not reticent about citing it in the footnotes of that magisterial work. The canon’s extensive notes, which belong in any discussion of his literary career, were partially published in 1927 in a volume of documents concerning José María Morelos.12 Alamán wrote in the prologue of his Historia that of the many sources he used in composing his history, his brother’s was one of the most important: “[He left] very judicious observations on the state of the revolution, and so that the history would be complete, afterward added a summary of everything that occurred between [1808 and 1811] when his daily notes began. All together this makes four manuscript volumes in my brother’s hand. . . . This legacy, so precious to me not only for the genuinely fraternal affection I professed for the author, but also for the complete confidence merited by his truthfulness and good faith, almost entirely fills in the period in which I was not present or did not take part in the events to which I refer [in the Historia].” Something between a diary and a chronicle, the “Apuntes” begin, in fact, on 14 February 1810, rather than in 1808 with the overthrow of Viceroy Iturrigaray, so this earlier section of the document has apparently been lost. The truncated version we have, then, actually covers the period before Lucas Alamán’s departure in January 1814 on his European travels, although he says in his acknowledgment of his brother’s “Apuntes” that it was most valuable to him as a source for the years 1814–20, while he was out of the country. The “Apuntes” themselves take the form of completely neutral, unadorned, and sparely written entries beginning with the 14 February 1810 note of the “convocation for deputies to the Cortes, even [from among] the Americans.” The entries do not become regular on a daily basis until September 1810, and from then on, with days skipped here and there and quite often with multiple notations for single days, the entries are mostly written in a very few lines but occasionally extend for a printed page or more. The entry for 16 September 1810, for example, reads as follows: “Proclamation of independence in Dolores with [sic] the curate Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla with five volunteers and Bachiller

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[i.e., someone with a bachelor’s degree] Mariano Abasolo. They then leave for San Miguel el Grande where they join Aldama with the Queen’s Regiment, the juanino friar Luis de Herrera [the brothers of the Order of San Juan de Dios were dedicated chiefly to the management of hospitals], and they take the Villa [town] of San Felipe. In San Miguel they arrest the administrator of the tobacco monopoly, Tomás Ygnacio de Apesteguia.”13 Other entries record armed encounters between insurgent and royalist forces, troop strengths, promotions among royalist officers, and so forth. Internal evidence suggests that Arechederreta took most of his information from the official newspaper, the Gaceta de México, although in no case does he acknowledge his sources. What Arechederreta intended by keeping these notes—whether a personal record or as a basis for a later work of his own about the decade of the independence struggle—is unknown. So anodyne in tone are the hundreds of entries that reading the “Apuntes” is actually quite tedious; they seem to have been meant as raw material or an aide-mémoire—true notes, in other words. But they do provide a day-to-day account of military actions and political events during the years of the insurgency, which obviously proved extremely useful for Alamán the historian writing a dozen years after his half brother’s death. Lucas Alamán and his elder half brother were to remain close after the family reconciliation, up until the canon’s death in 1836, although the degree and quality of their intimacy are undisclosed except for the tone of the few cordial letters they exchanged. How often they saw each other we do not know, but we can suppose their meetings were quite regular while their mother was alive and maintained a household in the capital, and even after her death. That they helped each other out from time to time through political leverage and social connections is clear, and they must have been proud of each other’s intellectual and professional attainments. It’s reasonable to assume that for both of them, having a sibling of high public visibility and some political power gave each a sense of security and an anchor in a volatile time.

6 • The Meanings of Anarchy

Lucas Alamán’s Mexico City When Lucas Alamán arrived in Mexico City in late March or early April 1823 he was thirty-one years old and as yet unmarried. An undated description of him written by his son Juan Bautista after his father’s death agrees with others offered during these years: “D. Lucas Alamán was short [bajo de cuerpo] but well-formed. The whiteness of his complexion revealed the Spanish blood coursing through his veins. His wide, clear forehead made it quite obviously the seat of a superior intelligence, and his naturally wavy hair gave him the appearance of a bust modeled by a Greek sculptor. An expression of kindness [bondad] tempered the vigor of his gaze, deep [i.e., thoughtful?] rather than penetrating, and that same expression of kindness of his features, together with the dignity of his manners, made him easily recognizable as a gentleman [hombre de bien] and easily as a great man.”1 By the time he reached his late fifties or so the expected ravages of time—sagging, graying, weight gain, disappointments, etc.—the wear and tear of his physical ills, and a life of unremitting work had aged him considerably. But to judge from the well-known portrait we have of him, he must still have been a commanding presence, although anything but flamboyant. His hair was still full and wavy, his expression quite serious, even a bit severe, in keeping with the conventions of portraiture at the time, the spectacles perched on his nose giving him a scholarly appearance. As a young man of eighteen he had come with his mother in 1810 to live in the great capital: there he was to marry and establish his household with his wife, Narcisa Castrillo; raise all his children, see them into adulthood, marriage, or other life-paths, or bury them; carry on most of his business activities, pursue his public career, and live his last days. He maintained strong ties with 139

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his native Guanajuato and spent a good deal of time in extended stints at his hacienda in Celaya. He often visited the Hacienda de Atlacomulco, near Cuernavaca, whose management he oversaw for the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone. He spent long periods there and in Orizaba, but he made his life in the “great wen” of Mexico.2 During those thirty years Mexico City’s footprint expanded as the moneyed class moved to the west and southwest. Alamán and his family were eventually to follow this course, occupying for a time a spacious house on the Ribera de San Cosme that he owned until the time of his death. The population of the city hardly grew at all during his decades of residence there. In 1811 it had around 170,000 people, temporarily grown much larger during the years of the insurgency as people flocked into the city to escape the violent countryside, and was about the same by the early 1850s. The capital was not a very healthy place to live, since massive infrastructural projects to improve public hygiene—lake drainage, potable water supply, sewer system— were not within the fiscal reach of the state until the Porfirian era. Repeated epidemic outbreaks of scarlet fever (1822, 1825, 1838, 1842, 1844, and 1846), measles (1822, 1826, 1836, 1843, 1848), and smallpox (1825–26, 1828–30, 1839–40) scourged the city during Alamán’s lifetime. Typhus, typhoid fever, and cholera morbus regularly exacted high mortality, as attested by Alamán’s mention of recurrent epidemics in his writings. Given that Lucas Alamán and Narcisa Castrillo lost about half of their children either in infancy or at tender ages, it is reasonable to assume that some of these diseases invaded their family, probably mostly the dysentery or other gastrointestinal ailments always active even absent an epidemic. The relatively rapid growth of the city that was to increase its population to more than 700,000 by 1910 came after Alamán’s time, in the last third of the nineteenth century during the pax porfiriana. Residential zoning by class was clearly demarcated. In Alamán’s time the original traza, the plan of rectilinear streets radiating out from the great central plaza, the Zócalo, still dominated the urban layout, although it petered out in the poor barrios to the north and became irregular as one moved to the increasingly affluent west. Generally speaking, the closer one’s home to the Zócalo, the more elevated one’s status. The city’s upper class, among whose residents Lucas Alamán and his family were counted most of the time, was ministered to in the Sagrario parish, attached to the cathedral. This zone would almost certainly have encompassed most of the family’s social relationships as well except for when they journeyed out of town to Celaya, Guana-

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juato, the Cuernavaca area, or the Veracruz region. I have the impression, however, that Lucas Alamán did almost all of this traveling by himself, the needs of attending to her large brood of children, a large domestic establishment, and a natural shyness keeping his consort at home most of the time. The Palacio Nacional dominated the east side of the Zócalo, housing the government offices where Alamán conducted most of his business during his days in the official political spotlight, with the ruins of the Aztec Templo Mayor, still unexcavated in his time, just to its north. The cathedral occupied the north side of the plaza; and the municipal building, the ayuntamiento, the south side. The rest of the southern edge and the western side hosted portals with cafes, booksellers, and shops, much as they do today. Beginning with the removal from the Zócalo in 1822 of architect and sculptor Manuel Tolsa’s massive bronze equestrian statue of King Carlos IV, there were a number of projects to reconfigure and beautify the enormous space. The Parián, the structure housing scores of commercial establishments in the southwest corner of the Zócalo, was torn down in 1843, prompting an impassioned written response from Alamán condemning the demolition and the desecration of other historic structures in the city.3 In the same year President Santa Anna initiated the construction of a grandiose monument to Mexican independence, uncompleted save for its plinth, or zócalo, for which the enormous plaza was thenceforth named. The Plaza del Volador, belonging to the Marquesado del Valle and eventually unloaded by Alamán onto the municipal government, lay to the south of the Palacio Nacional and was also the site of market stalls. Churches, convents, and monasteries thronged the city right through the liberal reforms, measures that closed many of them and demolished a few. By 1840 or so there were nearly sixty churches, not including the cathedral, twenty-three male monastic establishments, and fifteen female convents. There were well over a hundred cafes, popular eating establishments, boardinghouses, and restaurants by the early 1840s, most of which had dreadful reputations for their lack of cleanliness and amenities. Many more informal vendors sold food on the street and to passersby at the doors of their homes. Much of the city’s food supply arrived via the La Viga canal from the areas of Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco and changed little in its makeup by midcentury, a vivid reminder that the Aztec city and its Spanish colonial successor had been built in the middle of a group of lakes. The urban hinterland supplied maize, beans, wheat, barley for animal feed, potatoes, meat, and so forth; pulque came from the Apam area to the east; fruit, sugar, and rum from Cuernavaca to the south.

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Foreign visitors of the period had a good deal to say about the city, much of it negative. The French traveler Louis de Bellamare (the pseudonym of Gabriel Ferry the elder, 1809–52) remarked that the city was the most beautiful the Spaniards had built in the New World. But the condition of the streets, where raw sewage flowed down the middle, contrasted shockingly with the elegance of the buildings, private and public. He was echoed in much of what he said by Fanny Calderón de la Barca (1804–82), the Edinburgh-born wife of the first Spanish diplomatic envoy to Mexico, the Marqués Calderón de la Barca, in her justly famous account of the country in the early 1840s, Life in Mexico (1843). Public safety was tenuous at the best of times, the police presence visible but insufficient to guarantee the security of individuals’ homes or their safe passage through the streets, especially at night. An analysis by the political prefecture of the Department of Mexico in 1837, encompassing the temporarily suppressed federal district, noted that crime was rampant despite the police presence and perpetrators rarely punished.4 Almost all visitors noted the ubiquitous presence of the city’s poor, the street people, beggars, and cutpurses known as léperos typically responsible along with soldiers for the public drunkenness, lewdness, petty crimes, and small-scale violence that abounded. English-speaking travelers in particular consistently noted the presence of such people, choosing to ignore the fate of the working poor in the “dark Satanic mills” of their homelands as they delivered themselves of sententious comments on the léperos. Not untypical was Fanny Calderón’s description in 1839 of “the lounging léperos with next to nothing on, moving bundles of rags, coming to the window [of our house] and begging with a most piteous but false sounding whine, or lying under the arches and lazily inhaling the air and the sunshine, or sitting at the door for hours basking in the sun or under the shadow of the wall.”5 The favorite intoxicant of the city’s poorer inhabitants was the mildly fermented drink pulque, sometimes adulterated with other substances such as tepache (fermented fruit juice). By midcentury there were nearly four hundred pulquerías in the city, popular drinking establishments where no “decent people” ventured, serving the pulque produced in rural zones east of the city. The largest income item in the municipal budget consisted of the licensing fees for these popular watering holes, the largest expenditure for the jails. Of those inhabitants gainfully employed, nearly one-third were artisans of various sorts, about a quarter service providers, such as porters, water sellers, bearers, coachmen, domestics, and so on, and fully a fifth soldiers, a perennially turbulent population.6

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Popular entertainments in Alamán’s mature years continued much as they had before his arrival in the city. Gambling, cockfights, bullfights, street dances, and spontaneous musical soirées dotted the urban landscape, occupying the leisure hours among people of modest means. Foreign travelers frequently made slighting comments about Mexican habits. Brantz Mayer, for many years secretary of the American legation in Mexico City, remarked in his early account of the country published in 1844 that the chief diversions of the Mexicans were revolutions, earthquakes, and bullfights, in that order. There does seem to have been a carnivalesque atmosphere surrounding elections, patriotic celebrations such as Independence Day, and religious occasions. Indoors theatrical performances in a variety of venues catered to different income groups, tastes, and levels of cultural pretension. In the early 1840s Mayer described them as follows: “The Principal [Theater], attended by the old aristocracy, was the serious theater; the Nuevo Mexico attracted people [of more recent social ascent] who dismissed ‘legitimate drama’ and tolerated the spiritedness of innovation and novelty; the [Teatro de la Unión was] . . . where the ‘people’ [i.e., the lower classes] enjoyed themselves with somewhat coarse jokes and more spontaneous scenes of ad libitum productions.” The ambit of Lucas Alamán’s life within Mexico City would certainly have been quite closely bounded. The Alamán household was a relatively affluent one, so that much of the daily minutiae of caring for the growing family would have been carried out by servants and by tradesmen bringing their goods and services to the house, thus limiting the need for Narcisa Castrillo de Alamán to shop or run errands. The homes of the wealthy and socially prominent were arrayed along the streets radiating out from the Zócalo. The handsome buildings that today adorn the city’s central precinct, some colonial and some dating from the nineteenth century, attest to the well-delineated social geography of Mexico City during Alamán’s lifetime and before, but in the present era have been turned to civic, governmental, and business uses. They were two or three stories high, typically, constructed or at least surfaced with the reddish volcanic rock called tezontle native to the Valley of Mexico and often brightly colored. Arched gateways led to interior courtyards with colonnades, a variety of outbuildings, including stables, and so forth. The family generally occupied the upper floors, with street-level rooms rented out to commercial establishments. The houses that Alamán and his family occupied for many years on the Calle de San Francisco and then on the Calle Segunda de San Agustín shared these characteristics. The Calle de San Francisco, today’s Avenida Madero, ran from the Alameda (the central park) to the Zócalo, and located

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along it were the Casa de los Azulejos (House of Tiles, today a large restaurant and store) of the Condes del Valle de Orizaba and the homes of Agustín de Iturbide, known today as the Palacio de Iturbide, and the famous beauty La Güera Rodríguez. In 1839 Fanny Calderón described the Calle de San Francisco as “the handsomest street in Mexico [City] both as to shops and houses.”7

First Days in the Ministry His traveling trunks scarcely unpacked, on 12 April 1823 Alamán was named by the Supremo Poder Ejecutivo (SPE) on an interim basis to the most important post in the cabinet, the Ministerio interino de Estado y del Despacho de Relaciones interiores y exteriores. Established in the wake of Iturbide’s fall by act of the reconvened congress on 31 March 1823, the SPE consisted of a triumvirate of men who had assumed the executive functions of the central government. In his letter of acceptance the following day to Ignacio García Ilueca (1780?-1830), who had held all four portfolios of State, Treasury, Justice, and War under the recently extinguished Iturbide government and who continued in office for a time under the SPE, Alamán wrote, “Although my knowledge of my own abilities should frighten me off from accepting such a sensitive post under the present circumstances, these last demand that all [citizens] cooperate with the Supreme [Executive] Power in taking up the offices for which it deems them worthy.”8 By 16 April the public was informed that Alamán had taken the oath of office. When exactly the appointment was regularized from its interim status is not clear, but 16 April 1823 is the date generally accepted for the start of Alamán’s first ministry. García Ilueca ceded his ministerial functions incrementally as other men were appointed to the three remaining departments of the government and entered the cabinet with Alamán. Francisco Arrillaga (1776), a Spanish-born Veracruz merchant and later the first railway concessionaire in Mexico (1837), was appointed treasury minister on 2 May; Pablo de la Llave (1773–1833), a noted botanist who had served as director of the Madrid botanical gardens, took the portfolio of justice and ecclesiastical affairs on 6 June; and José Joaquín de Herrera (1792–1854), a military man, later president, and an almost exact contemporary of Alamán’s, assumed that of war and marine on 12 July.9 Although Lucas Alamán quickly became the dominant figure in the cabinet, we do not know how the youngish politician just returned from Spain was invited into the government in the first place. The decision to appoint him must have originated with the triumvirate of the SPE, whose records are very

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opaque.10 Through the spring and early summer of 1823 the SPE consisted of Guadalupe Victoria, Nicolás Bravo, and Pedro Celestino Negrete, all men of centralist, conservative political tendencies. But with the intermittent absences of Bravo and Victoria, on 1 April 1823 congress designated two substitutes: Miguel Domínguez (1772–1852), the famous district magistrate of Querétaro, was a lawyer, later (1825–27) president of the Supreme Court, and husband of the even more celebrated Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, La Corregidora. Also appointed was José Mariano Michelena (1772–1852), soldier, independence conspirator, federalist, and York Rite Mason; Vicente Guerrero was added to the group on 3 July. The mix of men from across the political spectrum was intended to create a government of national unity after the highly polarizing rise and fall of Agustín de Iturbide, still very much a presence in Mexican politics even after departing Mexico for exile toward the end of March. In the frequent absences of the other members of the SPE Michelena had become the dominant one and probably exerted strong influence in the selection of the minister of relations. The following year Alamán would appoint him emissary to the Court of St. James, at that time the most important of all Mexican diplomatic posts. Michelena would play a key role in securing for Mexico the initial loans from British banking houses. Despite having divergent political views and a substantial age gap between them, their friendship was a warm one and may have begun when they served in the Spanish Cortes together. Their cordial relationship suggests that men of the political nation of very disparate ideological tendencies could be quite friendly with one another, although at this point Alamán was admittedly more moderate in his views than later and therefore more likely, issues of personality aside, to get on well with all but the most radical liberals, for example, Lorenzo de Zavala. Ambassador Michelena was to address his chief in diplomatic correspondence on more than one occasion as “My dear friend” (mi amado amigo), placing great confidence in his personal support, professional discretion, and sympathy.11 It is plausible that Michelena’s influence brought the younger man into the government in April 1823, although Lucas Alamán was hardly an unknown quantity in public life even before his first ministry. As noted earlier, he had served briefly on a public health board at the very end of the viceregal regime; had emerged as something of a political prodigy from the Spanish Cortes of 1821–22; and had been appointed by Emperor Agustín de Iturbide as minister plenipotentiary to France in 1822, a post he declined. Moreover, due to his background, his education, his travels in Europe and familiarity with its people and politics, his command of several languages, and his high-visibility

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service in Spain, he bore a certain patina of civilization and a strong association with the North Atlantic world upon which much of the elite of newly independent Mexico had, even at this early date, fixed its gaze as a model for modernization. Lorenzo de Zavala, the radical liberal tribune of the age—as Lucas Alamán came to be of the conservatives—put his finger on some of Alamán’s appeal, although he spun it negatively: “[Alamán was] one of the best-informed men in the cabinet. . . . Although his studied manner of speaking and presenting himself in society have earned him a reputation as a man of importance in a country in which civilization is not yet much advanced, and he speaks with facility, he never delves deeply into any question, much less analyzes it.”12 Barely a week before Alamán’s arrival in the government the interim congress had begun the process of expunging the works of the short-lived Iturbide regime by abrogating the Plan de Iguala and the Treaty of Córdoba. Retained, however, were the Three Guarantees of religion (the monopoly of the established Catholic Church), independence, and union (the equality of European and American Spaniards). The brief experiment with post-Bourbon kingship had discredited the concept of monarchy for the moment. There is no evidence that when he entered the cabinet of a government clearly headed toward a republican form Alamán had the serious reservations he would increasingly develop, or that he intended to subvert republican institutions. His strongly centralizing inclination was quite another matter; it would emerge from the beginning, provoking early and fierce political opposition. Congress itself was filled with interesting men, many of whom would remain on the national scene for some years and form relationships of alliance or antagonism with the new minister of interior and exterior relations. Among the leaders of the centralist block of deputies, those most in tune with the new minister’s ideas, were Francisco Fagoaga (1788–1851), a scion of the great mining family and an old friend of Alamán’s from London days and before; the military intellectual Manuel Mier y Terán (1789–1832), a sort of prior-day Felipe Ángeles (1868–1919, the Mexican revolutionary soldier); and Carlos María de Bustamante. These men were called successively Bourbonists, centralists, Escoseses (from their Scottish Rite Masonic affiliation), or simply hombres de bien. The chief voice among the federalists was the formidable political priest José Miguel Ramos Arizpe (1775–1843), seconded by ardent liberal federalists such as Valentín Gómez Farías (1781–1858), Francisco García Salinas (1786–1841), Juan de Dios Cañedo (1786–1850), and the ever-vocal Lorenzo de Zavala. A more moderate republican-centralist position was oc-

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cupied by Fray Servando Teresa de Mier (1765–1827), the picaresque Dominican priest and much older traveling companion of Alamán from their days together in Europe. The congressional debates were often turbulent, and Alamán attended almost daily, speaking to the assembled deputies several times, mainly in specially convoked evening sessions. In these appearances he consistently warned that failing strong resolution and proactive steps on the part of the central government, the country was at risk of dissolving entirely. The members of the SPE were ill-suited to the delicate political tasks at hand and thus ceded much space for action to Alamán. Vicente Guerrero was “withdrawn and suspicious, more peasant than powerful official”; Miguel Domínguez old and decrepit, although he was scarcely more than fifty years old at the time; and Michelena “indecisive [but] headstrong.”13 The everyday tasks of running the country mostly fell to Alamán’s ministry. Within his section of the government the oversight functions were vast, far exceeding those of any other area of ministerial responsibility. The more important units of the nearly fifty under Alamán’s direct supervision were as follows: State: Diplomatic affairs Government: Provincial deputations congressional deputies Passports Public disturbances (turbulencias) Public security Police Guatemalan affairs City councils (ayuntamientos) Territorial divisions Community treasuries Public festivities Constitutional infractions Suppression or expansion of regular clergy Political chiefs (jefes políticos) Postal service Public lands Statistics

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National militia Public works Census Charitable institutions: Poorhouses Cemeteries Medical regulation Public health Missions (as in the Californias) Epidemics Vaccinations Development: Colonization Mining Arts and inventions (i.e., patents) Agriculture Public instruction Commerce Consular officials Highways Money.14 As the federal government’s reach extended during and after Alamán’s first years in office, other responsibilities were added, including administration of the federal district, created in November 1824 during Alamán’s ministry. When fully staffed, his office included six senior officials, six lesser officials, four clerks (dictation clerks and copyists), a porter, a file clerk (archivero) with two assistants, and a general helper (mozo). His ministerial salary amounted to six thousand pesos annually, a substantial sum. Taking into account what came in from the provinces, other units of the government, and abroad, the ministry’s capacity to organize the mountains of correspondence, reports, and other documents lagged far behind its capacity to generate new paper. What is remarkable about the collections in the Gobernación section of the Archivo General de la Nación, however, is not the random nature of many of its surviving files, but the legibility Alamán and his staff managed to impose on them in the face of the naturally entropic tendency of paper.15

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Little documentation survives as to how Lucas Alamán ran his complex, understaffed satrapy. His detailed and characteristically eloquent ministerial reports to congress of 1 November 1823 and 11 January 1825 he certainly wrote himself, although the data cited in them would have been gathered by the officials under his supervision. His manner of dispatching business was to read carefully the most important letters, petitions, reports, and other documents demanding attention that reached his desk through the phalanx of senior ministry officials. He would then annotate fairly brief but occasionally longer replies in the margins, have an official or even a clerk write up a response to the originating person based on these notes, in some cases correct the draft and interlineate phrases or sentences, then sign the final clean copy. In some cases he would write notes, letters, or longer responses himself. Shortly after assuming office he did write a revealing letter in early July 1823 to the jurist, Supreme Court justice, journalist, and politician Juan Gómez Navarrete (1785–1849), occasioned by criticisms launched at Alamán from congress to the effect that he had peremptorily discharged certain officials from the ministry. This certainly fell within his purview as minister but probably stepped on some congressional friend’s or patron’s toes. He was also accused of not being sufficiently available to all comers who wanted to approach him on official business and of having provided government financial support for the antifederalist newspaper El Sol. The accusations were certainly politically motivated. But in attempting to refute them the minister revealed in his tone something of the cool hauteur and prickliness that many people seem to have found off-putting. Alamán dismissed the first accusation by defending his prerogative to discharge and hire officials short of legally proven malfeasances. He continued: There is no difficulty whatsoever in getting to [see] me, since I receive everyone whom my pressing duties in the office or attendance at congress permit me [to see], particularly on Tuesdays and Fridays. As for the rest, I have no part at all in the editing or ownership of El Sol, although I confess that if the attentions of the ministry left me a free moment, I would use it with pleasure to do something for a newspaper whose editors, always constant in their liberal principles, had the courage to sustain [those principles] without bending their knees before an idol adored by so many now calling themselves true federalists. I will also contribute as much as I can to the success of all the newspapers, not only those with articles in line with ministry thinking, but also [with those of] the opposition as long as these

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have, as in England, the goal of improving the present system [of government] and not destroying it. [I] will adopt as my own the judicious observations of the press, above all those of my compatriots, since it seems [to me] that a foreigner is not the most appropriate [person] to enunciate an opinion about our domestic affairs, about which they cannot have the necessary knowledge.16 Matters of transcendent political significance—for example, the calling of new elections for a constitutional congress and the federalist movements that threatened for a time to dismember the new republic—were mostly to occupy minister Alamán’s attention from at least the beginning of May. Among other matters needing attention were the resistance of the Franciscan missionaries of California to swear an oath of allegiance to independent Mexico; the issue of seating precedence in the city council of Guadalajara; a report from the municipal authorities in Veracruz concerning a painting of ex-emperor Iturbide hanging in its council chamber; accusations of “disaffection from the government” of some prominent military men; complaints against the Mexico City police; reports regarding thieves and highwaymen; a petition aimed at the reestablishment of the Jesuits (expelled from New Spain in 1767); a report from the north of the country that families from the US were “passing into Mexican territory,” presumably without license, and so forth. And foreshadowing legislative initiatives that Lucas Alamán was to undertake was a memorandum written on 23 April by Francisco Calderón, one of the six senior ministry officials, dealing with pending issues of fomento (i.e., economic development). Among the most interesting of these were projects for the colonization of Texas, New Mexico, and California, involving eight empresarios and upward of three thousand families, some from Switzerland or the Netherlands, others from Louisiana. A veritable torrent of executive announcements, decrees, and descriptions of congressional measures poured from the government printing offices, published in circulars over Lucas Alamán’s name and presumably written by him after consultation with the SPE.17 Certainly the SPE afforded the political legitimacy under which the government was run, but how much the triumvirs actively intervened in the minister’s work remains an open question inasmuch as many records of the body’s deliberations never existed or have been lost. Major decisions, such as the convocation of elections, must have been deliberated seriously, but it seems likely that the elaboration of the thinking and the language in which it was couched were Alamán’s.

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Hardly of a trivial nature but unfolding over a much shorter time span was the question of what to do with Agustín de Iturbide and his family. This raised the weightier problem of strong restorationist sentiment in the country. Two iturbidista deputies in the reconvened congress petitioned Alamán on 24 April for the ex-emperor’s father and sister to be allowed to remain in Mexico. José Joaquín de Iturbide, formerly Prince of the Union, was eighty-five years old and in frail health, and his daughter Nicolasa, formerly Princess Iturbide, presumably remained behind to care for her father. Having left the capital at the very end of March under a military escort commanded by Nicolás Bravo, the Iturbide party during these weeks was on its way to Veracruz to take ship for Europe on the English frigate Rawlins, contracted by the government to carry the former emperor into exile. On 26 April, while Iturbide was still en route to Veracruz, Guadalupe Victoria wrote to Secretario de Relaciones Alamán of the anticipated difficulties of accommodating Iturbide’s larger party. The government had arranged for the frigate to be supplied with water and food for a group of twenty-five to thirty people, but the Iturbide party amounted to sixty or more. Alamán responded rather laconically on 2 May that the group should be kept to the number originally contracted for, including the abdicated monarch’s immediate family, chaplain, secretary, and servants. Eventually the party was reduced to twenty-eight. Iturbide departed from Mexico on the Rawlins on 11 May 1823, bound for the port city of Livorno, on the west coast of Tuscany, where he would live with his family and entourage before moving to England at the end of the year.18 Iturbide was gone for the moment but hardly forgotten. All the reports of the many plots to restore his reign came across Alamán’s desk, some of them indeed scarcely more than rumors of half-baked plans. But these were in evidence from early in the summer of 1823, the moment of the abdicated monarch’s departure for his Italian exile. Some of them originated from unexpected quarters, including Sonora and Texas. Yet another plot involved an attempt to induce Manuel Gómez Pedraza to lead a restorationist rebellion; restorationist placards appeared around the capital in March 1824; twenty people were arrested in May 1824 for complicity in a plot to assassinate the members of the SPE and return Iturbide to the throne; suspicions surfaced that Anastasio Bustamante favored Iturbide’s restoration; and charges were also raised against Luis Quintanar in Guadalajara, alleging that he too wished to restore the ex-emperor to the throne under the banner of federalism.19 Lucas Alamán had to deal with the chaotic state in which the country found itself in 1823. The eruption of conspiracies to restore Iturbide was one element

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among several here, another being the transition from the short-lived monarchical system toward a republic. The federalist movements took a central position in this political landscape, which included the anomic opportunism presented to individuals to further their political or personal goals, and the semivacuum created by the weakening of state police capacity. Alamán’s repertoire of responses included spying, repression, negotiation, and reward for loyalty to the central government. Diffuse political suspicions about plots and disloyalty to the regime of the SPE arose in Querétaro, Durango, Guanajuato, Izúcar, and elsewhere beginning in May. On the other hand, in mid-May the secretario drafted a circular to the jefes políticos all over the country ordering them to remit the names of outstanding individuals who might be recompensed in some fashion for their services to the republic. This sounds very much like an attempt to identify not only meritorious men but dependable ones who might be entrusted with government commissions or who could be counted on to furnish reliable, confidential information as informants or even spies. How many names Alamán actually harvested in response to this canvass is unknown, but a number of names did come from Veracruz, Tlaxcala, and Puebla, the latter including a long list of clerics and military men, among them three members of the Flon family.20 The counterpoint to this was the problem of banditry perpetrated by mustered-out Spanish soldiers whom the local commander in Oaxaca, for example, wished to disarm by force. Similar complaints about the carrying of prohibited weapons and the frequency of crime came from towns such as Guanajuato and Zumpango.21 Alamán’s role in the export from Mexico City of the very much alive former emperor found an ironic counterpoint in the import of the independence heroes’ mortal remains to the capital later in the summer of 1823. Most of what remained of the heroes’ bones were in Guanajuato, where the severed heads of Miguel Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama, and Mariano Jiménez had been displayed in metal cages on the four corners of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas for many years after their execution and decapitation in Chihuahua in the spring of 1811. Now, along with the remains of Pedro Moreno and Javier Mina, the skulls of the independence heroes were to be sent to Mexico City to be reinterred with high honors in the city’s cathedral. Minister Alamán monitored the process at every step, beginning with his authorization on 28 August of a stately cortege from the relics’ resting places to the national capital. The heads of Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama, and Jiménez were exhumed on 31 August from the church cemetery of San Sebastián in Guanajuato, to which they had been removed from the Alhóndiga. The headless skeleton of Pedro Moreno

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was brought to the silver city from the Hacienda de la Tlachiquera to be reunited with his skull, brought from Lagos, while the intact remains of Javier Mina arrived from Pénjamo, where they had been interred in the cemetery of San Gregorio. A route to Mexico City was carefully planned out, leading from Guanajuato to San Miguel el Grande, Querétaro, San Juan del Río, Cuautitlán, and the Villa de Guadalupe, with lesser stops along the way. The skulls of the four heroes were all put into an urn together, in which confused state they remain today, having been moved from the Mexico City cathedral to the independence monument on the Paseo de la Reforma in 1925. One can only imagine that Lucas Alamán must have bitten his tongue over all this, but, on the other hand, his attitudes had not hardened into the condemnatory position toward the process of Mexican independence he was to adopt in the years after 1832 or so and was to express so eloquently in his great historical work. He was also a political realist and may well have felt that the young, politically unstable republic was in dire need of patriotic icons to forge its people into a nation, a goal he felt had still not been achieved by midcentury. But before an “imagined community” and patriotism could be birthed, the political and territorial integrity of Mexico must be guaranteed, and these appeared gravely at risk in the spring and summer of 1823.

The Federalist Crisis of 1823: An Introduction Before plunging into the complex narrative of the federalist crisis of 1823, I want to say what the following pages are and are not intended to accomplish. Through much of 1823 Lucas Alamán was attempting to hold Mexico together with his bare hands. That the country did hang together was owing to a great many factors beyond his control but also in large measure to his statesmanship. It is difficult to dispute Timothy Anna’s relatively restrained judgment that during this period “Alamán was perhaps the most skilled of the conservative antifederalists.”22 As the principal figure in the national cabinet he played a key role in reining in the impulse toward national dissolution occasioned by the impassioned center/periphery conflict over the nature and locus of political sovereignty and the control of fiscal resources that went with it. The immediate causes of the crisis were to be found in the centrifugal forces unleashed by the philosophy and practice of federalism, the bankruptcy of the national treasury, the struggle between center and periphery over taxing powers and fiscal revenues, and the precipitous fall of the first Mexican Empire. Other political actors besides Alamán also played key roles, including Minister

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of Defense Mier y Terán, factional elements in the national congress, and the provincial leaders whose stance ranged from absolute allegiance to the central government to determined separatism. There were a host of other factors at play as well, such as the capacity of the central government to exert selectively both political and military intimidation, the good sense of politicians at both ends of the struggle, and at some point a certain burnout from the acute federalist crisis among men of the political nation. This period of struggle between the central government in Mexico City and the provinces soon to become states eventuated in the federal constitution of 1824, although it was a relatively short-lived triumph. Federalist philosophy and practice and particularly the crisis of 1823–25 have been studied extensively, and there is little to add to the discussion of federalism.23 So central a figure was Alamán in this crisis of governance and so important this historical passage in his political career that his actions and views require close attention. The creation and durability of nation-states have come to be seen as one of the major hallmarks of modernity, their violent disaggregation into their constituent parts or the incapacity to carry out even their minimal functions— maintenance of territorial integrity, effective political control within national borders, a monetary system, domestic policing, and so forth—as state failure. While the fragments left in the wake of such failures are not necessarily the same as federal entities, they may bear a resemblance to them. The lines of internal perforation along which states break apart often correspond to previously existing parts with more or less strong identities that were joined together in federative or even centralized systems to make up a nation-state. What we in the modern world have come to think of as a natural polity—the unitary nation-state—was not necessarily the default object of enlightened political thinking in the early nineteenth century. In the case of New Spain, the intensely subregional or local interests aggregated into the recently decolonized provincial units were represented by the provincial deputations claiming to speak for them. These small polities rested on material and political bases that trade patterns, geography, transport systems, ethnicity, and a host of other elements would long combine to reinforce and preserve. Although with the later resurgence of centralism the Mexican federal states emergent in these months would temporarily be reduced to departments, the basic template for states within a federal union had been set. During the course of 1823 the provincial units would rapidly mutate into the states with their legislatures and strongly autonomist postures, for many people of high condition and low an altogether more natural arrangement than that of a strongly centralized

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Mexican nation. If any diagnosis of political pathology is ascribed to this period, therefore—and Alamán’s habitual invocation of anarchy seems to fit just such a political nosology—it can be attributed more aptly to the nation-making ambition than to the federalist impulse. In this sense one might consider whether the vortex of political conflict that whirled up during these months should more properly be labeled a centralist crisis than a federalist one. Whatever territorial arrangements or loci of power might come to prevail as things worked themselves out, Alamán made clear through his entry into the cabinet in April 1823 that he was prepared to work within the bounds of a republican form of government despite his elitist predilections and his reservations about the viability of a republic.24 By now it was reasonably clear that reestablishing the empire or inventing a new monarchical regime was off the agenda for the time being. Moreover, Alamán remained at his post until nearly the end of September 1825, with one hiatus of about three weeks in the spring of 1824 and a longer one, spanning the twilight of the SPE and the dawn of the Guadalupe Victoria government, stretching from the late fall of that year until early 1825. Neither Victoria’s election to the presidency nor the enactment of the Constitution of 1824, uncongenial though he may have found them, proved so unpalatable as to force him from the cabinet. Battered though he had been by the events of 1823–24, there is some doubt in my mind as to whether Lucas Alamán left the government in the autumn of 1825 because of any strong antipathy to the new constitutional order or the newly elected president or because of the attacks on him from liberal quarters as a Bourbonist and aristócrata and the burgeoning tensions with Joel Poinsett. Lucas Alamán’s north from his early days in politics was economic development, supported by inviolable rights to private property and a well-ordered national polity, a goal that did not change throughout the next thirty years. What the most efficacious political structures to achieve this objective might be were somewhat open questions for him. His ideas about means were always subordinate to a reasonably clear vision of ends, in other words, and politics likely never became an end in itself to him. It was when discussion moved in the direction of what he regarded as ill-advised political experimentation, as under the liberal government of Valentín Gómez Farías in 1833–34, that he turned increasingly conservative and more clearly Burkean in his attitudes. In fact, had he known Auguste Comte’s works—and widely read as he was, I have encountered no evidence that Alamán was familiar with the Frenchman’s ideas—he might well have agreed that nineteenth-century liberalism corresponded to the metaphysical stage of Comte’s theory of social evolution. But

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these attitudinal changes were an outcome of changing circumstances acting on inclinations rather than of deep-graven convictions rising to the surface. Nor was centralism theoretically or practically incompatible with republicanism, as his own outings in government and the midcentury and later liberal ascendancy would amply demonstrate.25 On the whole, however, his preferred model for the Mexican polity was probably a constitutional monarchy, in line with his espousal of the tripartite plan for the Spanish Empire in the debates over Spanish America’s fate in the Madrid Cortes a couple of years earlier. He had a lifelong affinity, apart from the geopolitical concern of counterbalancing US territorial ambitions, for British governmental forms, or at least a strongly centralist republic. It is therefore quite revealing to see Alamán grappling with the federalist crisis of 1823–24 from the very center of the government and to hear his opinions about party, faction, and the so-called anarchy against which he saw himself struggling. His role and the ideas behind it were articulated in his correspondence with federalist chieftains and other public figures while the political bonds integrating the young republic were being strained virtually to the breaking point. This was, however, even if several military confrontations almost tipped over into exchanges of gunfire, almost exclusively a war of words in which remarkably few shots were fired, aside from some local armed confrontations involving Santa Anna. Alamán was thus engaged with provincial chieftains and deputations in a sort of loud discussion about political philosophy and state making, or state maintenance. This was precisely the course of action advocated by Carlos María de Bustamante in his famous diaries, when he suggested that the federalist impulse in the provinces should be addressed through “[eloquent] writings, opening a literary combat in which reason [will] triumph.”26 While the stakes were very high—nothing less than the national integrity of the country— it is remarkable that the parties actually employed armed force so little. True, there was a good deal of threatened violence, which some observers might see as equivalent to the real thing; of marching around and deployment of relatively large armed forces; and of brinksmanship. But the dispute turned out to be virtually bloodless. In the end, as Anna writes with just a whiff of teleological reasoning, “With a unanimity that was truly remarkable . . . the provinces (or at least most of them) made no attempt to propose secession or withdrawal from the polity composed of their sister provinces, whatever that polity might turn out to be. They knew they had to create the kind of nation in which they could voluntarily participate.”27 A good place to begin an account of Alamán’s role is with a timeline laying out the principal events of 1823 (see table 6.1).

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Table 6.1: Timeline of major political events in Mexico from the fall of Iturbide to the presentation of a draft version of the federal constitution of 1824 27 March 1823 29 March 8 April 16 April 18 April 23 April–7 May 9 May 12 May 16 May 20 May 27 May 30 May 1 June 3 June 4 June 5 June

7, 9 June 12 June mid-June 16 June 17 June

Army of Casa Mata enters Mexico City First Constituent Congress reconvenes Congress abrogates the Plan de Iguala and Treaty of Córdoba Alamán enters the ministry Provincial commissioners demand convocation of new national congress Provincial deputations of Puebla, Yucatán, Guanajuato, and Michoacán demand new congress Provincial deputation of Guadalajara revokes recognition of national congress Guadalajara calls for a federal republic, refusing to obey congress or remit funds to Mexico City Provincial deputation of Querétaro polls municipal council, which calls for a new national congress Congress agrees to convene new congressional elections Eastern Interior Provinces demand a federal republic Alamán tells national congress it must act to prevent disintegration of Mexico Oaxaca declares its separation from the national government and installs its own provincial government Santa Anna and the army in San Luis Potosí call for a federal republic; the province of SLP refuses to accept his leadership Saltillo calls for self-government for the Eastern Interior Provinces Provincial deputation of Eastern Interior Provinces calls for federal republic, the intention to form one or more sovereign, independent states, while in San Luis Potosí, Santa Anna declares himself “protector of the federation” Chiapas declares its independence from both Mexico and Guatemala National congress votes in favor of the principle of a federal republic Central government attempts to oust Luis Quintanar as captain general of Guadalajara, but move fails Guadalajara declares itself the “free, independent, sovereign state of Jalisco” and forms alliance with other states Electoral law issued for new national congress (continued)

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Table 6.1: Continued 18 June 20 June 25 June 1 July 1–10 July

July 5 July 18 July 19 July 8–18 August 6 September

14 September 19 October 31 October 20 November

Provincial deputation of Zacatecas withdraws recognition of national congress Provincial deputation of Veracruz endorses demands for federal republic Pablo de la Llave, minister of justice, proposes that congress adopt a provisional federal charter In San Luis Potosí, Santa Anna abandons his first federalist revolt, and Oaxaca installs its state congress In a meeting in Celaya, delegations from Michoacán, Puebla, Guanajuato, and San Luis Potosí demand a federal republic and the election of a new congress Guadalajara and Zacatecas refuse to reelect provincial deputations as required by the 17 June electoral law An army led by Nicolás Bravo and José Celestino Negrete leaves Mexico City to invade Jalisco Bravo and Negrete halt their advance Provincial deputations of Nuevo Santander and Mexico declare for federalism Meeting in Lagos between central government, Guadalajara, and Zacatecas Pronunciamiento of San Luis Potosí proclaims province as sovereign, free, and independent state but recognizes existing national congress as “convocante”; also recognizes SPE as “centro de la unión” for external defense of the nation and arbiter of interprovincial relations Jalisco installs state congress Zacatecas installs state congress Second constitutional congress seated Miguel Ramos Arizpe presents draft of Acta Constitutiva

Source: Adapted from Anna, Forging Mexico, 118–19; and Benson, The Provincial Deputation, 129.

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The Meanings of Anarchy The tempest of the federalist crisis broke just a month or so after Lucas Alamán entered the ministry. It began with the Plan of Casa Mata and moved on to calls from several provincial deputations for the election of a new congress to write a national constitution. It then mutated within a matter of days into open repudiation by some provinces of the Mexico City government’s authority, culminating in a declaration by the politicians of Guadalajara, Zacatecas, and Oaxaca provinces of their definitive separation from the central government for all purposes except national defense and the convocation of elections for a constituent congress. By November the immediate crisis had burned itself out since the country was headed in the direction of institutionalizing federalism in its first national constitution. Underlying centrifugal forces long stressed the national fabric, however, and in the case of Yucatán were to reassert themselves as later separatist movements. The provincial deputations were among the key points of origin of this political turbulence. Nettie Lee Benson established their origins, evolution, and demise many years ago in a definitive study, but nevertheless it requires discussion. The juntas that later became the deputations were established in the various provinces of New Spain in the last years before the outbreak of the 1810 insurgency. At the time of their suppression with King Ferdinand VII’s return to the throne in 1814 there were seven of them, comprising the very large units of Guatemala, Yucatán, New Spain (the central and southern parts of the viceroyalty), San Luis Potosí, New Galicia, and the megaterritories of the Western and Eastern Interior Provinces. Reestablished in relatively short order, their numbers grew to fourteen by 1821, proliferated to eighteen in 1822, and reached twenty-three by the next year. These units closely corresponded in their territorial configurations to the modern states of the Mexican federation but were finally supplanted in many provinces by state congresses under the federalist arrangement of the early 1820s. The deputations had mixed political and administrative functions, one of the most important being oversight of tax collection and spending. Although they represented an assertion of the autonomist impulse on the part of subnational units within New Spain, they were by no means popular institutions. The deputies were elected, but the diputaciones were oligarchical bodies made up of very few men and composed of lawyers, professional men, and wealthy landowners. In summing up their important historical role, their biographer, Nettie Lee Benson, remarked that few if any historians have accorded them more than a passing nod, although

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Alamán noted laconically at the very end of his great history that they brought a federal republic to Mexico. Benson herself summarized their significance cogently: “The Provincial Deputation in Mexico played an important role in bringing autonomy to the provinces of Mexico . . . and finally [in] the establishment of a federal republican system of government in order to maintain Mexico as a single nation and not some eighteen different nations, as occurred in Central America.”28 Minister Alamán’s response to Brigadier Antonio López de Santa Anna’s resounding declaration in favor of a federal form of government and of his role as federalism’s protector came in a printed circular of 5 June 1823: “If the nation were oppressed by despotism, a general who believed himself a force to destroy what weighs on the people would justly merit the title of liberator. But [that] is not the case here, and the circumstances are different.” After reviewing the events of April and May in which the reconvened congress disavowed any provisions in the Treaty of Córdoba and Plan de Iguala linking the form of government to a foreign dynasty, Alamán continued in a sharp rebuke to Santa Anna, without naming him: There can be only one power in the nation, and only the supreme [i.e., central] government can wield it. To create another, separate [power] to guarantee rights that this congress has [already] known how to respect and sustain, to form an army independent of the power to which it owes obedience . . . to entrust to that army the faculty of activating a call for elections [convocatoria] that is already decreed and nearly published, to offer forces to the provinces to carry forward a system [i.e., a republic] that the representatives of the Nation have yet to reject, to divide [the Nation] at precisely the moment when union is most essential . . . to appropriate without any legal authorization an alarming title [i.e., Protector de la libertad Mexicana] that tends openly toward violation of the [as yet unwritten] constitution, to division, and to anarchy—these are things that amid such delicate circumstances can be the origin of infinite troubles, [that may] take us to the most horrible disorder, and because of it to the despotism that disguised [though it may be] under any name would produce in the nation that sad influence we have [recently] experienced.29 This was an unequivocal condemnation of Santa Anna’s activities in proclaiming himself national protector and arrogating to his liberating army the functions of the national congress in convoking elections for a new constitutional congress. Alamán’s argument rested on two points. First, he raises the indivisi-

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ble nature of national sovereignty: “There can be only one power in the nation.” By “power” he intends not simply the practical matter of a monopoly of the means to coerce but, more important, that of a legitimate, undiluted authority. The second, more crucial issue, in relation to which the question of sovereignty was raised, was the danger of anarchy. The undivided sovereignty embodied in a centralized state and the union it represented were therefore a prophylactic against political and social disorder. The idea of anarchy recurs frequently in Alamán’s official papers and correspondence over many years and was also much on the minds of other public men of the time in the Atlantic world. Alamán never invoked “anarchy” with any positive implications, always deploying its suppression as the ultimate justification for policy decisions. What he probably had in mind in the most immediate sense were the scenes of collective violence he had witnessed as a young man in his native Guanajuato. He did not mean it as a condition of endemic social war on an individual or tribal level, such as that speculated upon by Thomas Hobbes for men in a natural, prestate existence. Alamán identified three more extended meanings of the concept: one concerning the constitution of the state, the second the relationship between the state and civil society, and a third, more shadowy understanding—the relationship of law to private property—intertwined with the second. The first sense of the term prevails in his response to the federalist crisis of 1823. The union of which he writes above, a condition antithetical to anarchy, was essential to the preservation of Mexico as a single polity for very concrete reasons, including defense against external threats to the nation. Rumors of a Spanish expedition of reconquest were circulating continually, having materialized at the beginning of 1829 in the news of a Spanish expeditionary force being prepared in Havana, and would continue to do so even after Santa Anna and the mosquitoes repelled such an invasion force in 1829. The foreign policy doctrine that would forever bear his name was not enunciated by President James Monroe until the end of 1823. But the ink was barely dry on the Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819 ceding Florida to the United States and fixing the border between New Spain and the United States. This arrangement gave ample notice of American intentions toward New Spain/ Mexico a generation before the term “manifest destiny” came into general usage. The same was true of the beginnings of Anglo-American colonization in Texas, begun in 1820 under the contracts with the colonization entrepreneur Moses Austin. British recognition of Mexican independence seemed on the diplomatic horizon but did not actually arrive until 1825, even if British consular officials arrived before.

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The second sense in which Lucas Alamán used the term “anarchy” was that of widespread political disorder stemming from weak state capacity and the inability of political factions to reconcile their views and arrive at compromises regarding great matters of national policy. During the months of the crisis these apparently irreconcilable differences took the form of a struggle between centralism and federalism, although conservatism and liberalism, respectively, did not map easily onto those projects for the form of the state. One could be a moderately liberal centralist, for example, as Alamán himself was in these years, or a moderately centralist liberal, as Father Mora was. This was an age when still inchoate but recognizable political tendencies were emerging in Atlantic nations as factions with one foot in civil society and the other in parliamentary regimes and state organs, rather than just court parties versus rural parties or aristocrats versus bourgeois commoners. The great bogeyman for Alamán and other public men of his time in Mexico and elsewhere was the French Revolution, whose leading cadres were riven by divisions between Girondists and Jacobins, radical and more moderate Jacobins, and so forth. Alamán’s fear, borne out in the endemic strife plaguing the next decade, was that such divisions might paralyze state action and lead to destructive domestic violence. But this was a fear amply shared by the more practiced politicians of the young North American republic—more practiced in the sense that British colonial institutions, with their provincial assemblies and governors’ councils, had furnished a laboratory (or perhaps a nursery?) for republican political life. The dread of factions based upon interests and prescriptions for palliating their effects, since, given the nature of human beings, they could not be prevented, lay at the heart of one of the most famous and revered of the Federalist Papers, James Madison’s Federalist No. 10. Published in 1787 under the nom de plume Publius adopted by the Federalist authors Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, this essay in theory and practical politics was preceded by Hamilton’s equally cogent but less famous Federalist No. 9. In fact, the most astute modern reader of Alamán’s political writings, José Antonio Aguilar Rivera, has suggested that Madison, not Edmund Burke (whose influence on Alamán’s thinking was deep), was Alamán’s “dios tutelar” in the writing of his Examen imparcial de la administración del general vicepresidente D. Anastasio Bustamante, although nowhere in his text does the Mexican statesman mention Madison explicitly. The acute political analysis in this long essay was produced by Alamán while he was in hiding in Mexico City during 1833–34, a period during which he also wrote his Memorias.30

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Lucas Alamán might well have written many passages of these two Federalist essays himself, hardly surprising given his affinity for ideas paralleling Hamilton’s. Whether he read the Federalist Papers is not clear, but it would be surprising had he not been familiar at least at secondhand with the more wellknown of them. Although in the passage quoted above he ties “anarchy” to the ambitious machinations of Santa Anna rather than to the play of “factions” or “interests” in the Federalist sense, he would adopt the latter meaning in other correspondence written during these months, so what Hamilton and Madison had to say is useful. In the opening paragraph of Federalist No. 9 Hamilton wrote as follows: A firm union will be of the utmost moment to the peace and liberty of the states as a barrier against domestic faction and insurrection. It is impossible to read the history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy, without feeling sensations of horror and disgust at the distractions with which they were continually agitated, and at the rapid succession of revolutions, by which they were kept in a state of perpetual vibration, between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy. If they exhibit occasional calms, these only serve as short-lived contrasts to the furious storms that are to succeed. . . . The definition of a confederate republic seems simply to be, an “assemblage of societies” or an association of two or more states into one state. The utility of a confederacy, as well to suppress faction and to guard the internal tranquillity [sic] of states, as to increase their external force and security, is in reality not a new idea. [If we are to take Montesquieu’s ideas as a model] we shall be driven to the alternative, either of taking refuge at once in the arms of monarchy, or of splitting ourselves into an infinity of little jealous, clashing, tumultuous commonwealths, the wretched nurseries of unceasing discord and the miserable objects of universal pity or contempt.31 And in Federalist No. 10, published as a newspaper article the day after Hamilton’s (22 November 1787), Madison wrote of factions less obliquely, linking them to “interests” in the economic sense: Among the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. . . . By a faction I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of

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passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community. . . . [T]he most common and durable source of factions, has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold, and those who are without property, have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of government.32 Madison’s definition of factions as political groupings formed primarily around common material interests leads to the third sense in which Alamán used the term “anarchy.”33 To jump ahead to the 1828–34 period, when Alamán reached the pinnacle of his political career in the Bustamante administration and started down the other side of the mountain, Aguilar Rivera notes of the statesman’s Examen imparcial (1834) that it was produced in a context of elite fears of class warfare. These were provoked first by the Parián Riot and then by the clearly populist Guerrero regime: “In general, the property-owning classes feared the anarchy they had seen in the destruction of the Parián Market at the hands of a lower-class mob [el populacho], [which] ‘had been surpassed in the few months of the Guerrero administration.’ ”34 I contend, however, that Alamán’s preoccupation with anarchy dated from an earlier time, was present from the start of his public life, and was mostly linked to his concern with establishing the absolute sanctity of private property rights, of which the chief guarantor was social and political order (i.e., the absence of anarchy). His emphasis on the security of private property as the basis for a peaceful, prosperous civic life in his statement in mid-May 1823 of the SPE’s goals was not gratuitous. Given his class background as the scion of a declining clan of the silver aristocracy, it is not unexpected. But in the congressional debates of 1822 over the removal of Fernando Cortés’s coat of arms from the Hospital de Jesús, of which the conqueror had been patron, Alamán would have seen an alarming harbinger of liberal attacks not only on Spanish traditions but also on the symbols of private property. Such a form of possession fully applied to the holdings of the ex-Marquesado del Valle, the sprawling

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holdings of the Cortés heirs, as he spent much of the following decade insisting in the newspapers, the courts, and the corridors of power. Moreover, while he was still in the thick of the federalist crisis entails were abolished by congress in August 1823. The right to untrammeled possession of private property thus became one of the chief tenets of his political thinking and anarchy its chief potential enemy.

“Federalism, That Beautiful Invention of Modern Politics” The most radical cases of the federalist impulse that Lucas Alamán viewed as leading inexorably to the spread of anarchy and the dissolution of Mexico as a nation occurred in Oaxaca and Jalisco, with secondary but nevertheless important roles played by federalist outbursts in Zacatecas and other provinces. So it was chiefly in his correspondence with the leaders of those movements during 1823 that his ideas about federalism, centralism, the nature of states, and the shape of the national polity first found expression. The federalist crisis of these months embraced two successive, intertwined, but discernibly distinct political conflicts—the first between Iturbide and the congress regarding the limits of executive power, the second over the balance of power between provinces and federal government. The political horizon of the Iturbide regime did not darken suddenly but clouded over incrementally with a series of movements protesting the emperor’s high-handed suppression of political dissenters, the mass arrest of congressional deputies, and finally his 31 October 1822 decree dissolving congress entirely. One such movement was a revolt in Nuevo Santander launched on 26 September 1822 by its governor, Felipe de la Garza, with the support of the provincial deputation. Prompted by Iturbide’s actions, this uprising aimed at forcing the release from prison in Mexico City of the congressional deputies José Servando Teresa de Mier and Carlos María de Bustamante, both sometime friends, if hardly intimates, of Lucas Alamán. The pronunciamiento was squashed by the dispatch of troops and had faded within a month.35 The immediate trigger for the fall of the empire was the rebellion headed by Antonio López de Santa Anna in Veracruz in early December 1822. This grew out of a personal rivalry between him and José Antonio Echávarri, a peninsulaborn military officer who had fought in the royalist ranks during the insurgency, later attached himself to Iturbide’s Plan de Iguala, and was subsequently much favored by the emperor. By way of easing the tension Iturbide removed Santa Anna from the military command of Veracruz, prompting him to

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declare for a republic in his Plan of Veracruz on 6 December 1822 and to demand the restoration of congress and the establishment of a regency to replace the emperor. He was joined in this by a number of the old insurgent chieftains, among them Guadalupe Victoria. Quickly defeated by Iturbide’s army and entrapped with his forces in Veracruz, Santa Anna had his plan coopted from an unanticipated quarter on 1 February 1823 by Echávarri’s own Plan of Casa Mata (named for the town in which it was published), to which Santa Anna quickly adhered along with Victoria and Nicolás Bravo. This plan called for the election of an entirely new national congress and the drawing up of a constitution, two of the most basic demands soon to be launched by the federalist movements in the provinces; what it did not call for was the overthrow of Iturbide. Within a few weeks the Plan of Casa Mata attracted the adherence of the province of Nueva Galicia under its military and political chief, Luis Quintanar, and in short order of the provinces of Guanajuato, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán, Yucatán, and all the Eastern Interior Provinces save Texas, then of almost all the others. Meanwhile the emperor temporized, commissioners scurried back and forth, meetings were held, politicians debated what course of action to pursue, and the country effectively found itself without a functioning government. On 4 March Iturbide recalled the congress he had earlier closed at bayonet point, now in the absence of most of its deputies restyled the Junta Nacional Instituyente. Even some of the sitting deputies themselves, however, among them Lucas Alamán’s uncle Tomás, José Joaquín de Herrera, and Lorenzo de Zavala, insisted on the illegitimacy of this body. Agustín de Iturbide abdicated on 19 March, and the liberating army of Casa Mata entered the capital a week later. Now composed of 123 deputies, congress declared itself in legitimate session and named a committee to designate a provisional executive power. In the absence of definitive action from congress toward initiating the constitution-writing process, several provinces, most notably Nueva Galicia and Oaxaca, moved toward establishing state governments completely independent of the central authority, allied horizontally to other states solely for purposes of mutual defense, and reserving to themselves exclusive control over all matters within their borders. Through May the provincial deputation of Guadalajara consolidated this position, receiving a flood of supportive correspondence from outside the province.36 The military and political chief of Nueva Galicia, Luis Quintanar (1772–1837)—long a royalist commander during the insurgency, then a supporter of Iturbide’s Plan de Iguala, and later the first governor of Jalisco—deployed troops along the frontiers of Nueva Galicia,

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blocking a large force dispatched from Mexico City sent to replace him with Herrera. During June the provincial deputation of Nueva Galicia sent minister Alamán a plan for a provisional government of the “free, independent, and sovereign” State of Jalisco that designated Quintanar as governor but recognized Mexico City as the center of a national union. The provincial deputation ceded its powers to the new state government and snuffed itself out on 18 September, replaced by a state congress. The Jalisco state government rejected the new law for elections to the national constituent congress, prompting the SPE to send a force under Nicolás Bravo and José Celestino Negrete to compel its submission. In the face of militia mobilization in Zacatecas and Jalisco the centralist forces halted their march on 18 July, and, despite the collapse of a series of inconclusive meetings between the two sides on 18 August, the military confrontation never took place. Meanwhile, in midAugust Alamán was urging negotiation with the breakaway provinces rather than military measures; failing some accommodation, he suggested, Mexico as a nation would cease to exist. The new national constituent congress was seated at the end of October, its work in concocting a national constitution fully accommodating federalist aspirations and obviating the necessity of a military confrontation between center and provinces. During these months Alamán and the SPE were to focus more efforts on bringing Guadalajara back into the fold than on any other province, although Oaxaca and Zacatecas also raised grave concerns. The main issues of contention were the repudiation of the central government by what was now Jalisco, its refusal to remit any fiscal proceeds to Mexico City, and its resistance both to the calls for new congressional elections and those to renew the provincial deputations through election. Many figures in the central government in Mexico City also feared that both Quintanar and his military associate Anastasio Bustamante harbored secret wishes for an iturbidista restoration. Any such plot would seem disproven by a mid-July 1823 exchange of letters between Quintanar and Alamán in which the former advocated the federal republic as a preemptive measure insuring that any attempted return of Iturbide would not acquire much political traction. Jaime E. Rodríguez O. has noted that centralist politicians may have been alarmed that, given the city’s importance, an untamed but powerful Guadalajara might edge Mexico City out of the picture by taking on the role of national capital or might even become the center of an entirely separate nation embracing the western and northern parts of the former New Spain.37 Events in the province of Oaxaca had begun earlier and moved faster by the time Agustín de Iturbide abdicated on 19 March. Following the election of a

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provisional governing junta in February, its dissolution in April, and the reinstatement of the provincial deputation, the complete independence of the province from Mexico City was declared on 1 June, precipitated in part by popular demonstrations and the establishment of governing principles substantially similar to those of Nueva Galicia. The native oaxaqueño Carlos María de Bustamante described his home province as “delirious, and the same prudence was necessary [on the part of the Mexico City government] to deal with it as would be used to deal with a crazy person [or] a child.”38 The city’s ayuntamiento supported the separatist position, as did most major social groups save the upper clergy, who remained irresolute. After elections the provisional congress of the Free State of Oaxaca was seated on 6 July, supplanting the deputation completely; a formal and definitive declaration of statehood came on 28 July. Armed forces sent by the SPE to bring the errant province to heel failed to dislodge the jefe político Antonio de León, now the chief executive of the new state.39 Leading militia units, León advanced to meet central government forces. Negotiations ensued, and rather than coming to blows on the field the two commanders agreed on 21 September that Oaxaca would submit to the newly convoked constituent congress and await the establishment of the federal system. The provincial deputation of Zacatecas declared the territory a state on 18 June, seating its first elected congress in the fall and recognizing the sitting national congress exclusively for purposes of convening elections for a new, constituent body. Laws, regulations, or decrees emanating from the congress in Mexico City would be accepted only if they did not come into conflict with those already in place or yet to be promulgated by the State of Zacatecas, a clear statement of where sovereignty was thought to reside. The new state also initiated negotiations with the authorities in Guadalajara regarding a mutual defense pact. Similar steps were taken through the summer by other provinces, establishing themselves as free and sovereign states, repudiating the Mexico City government and arguing for a federal system with complete autonomy for each state in its internal affairs. Attempts at armed intervention in these processes by the central government proved to avail as little as with Jalisco, Oaxaca, and Zacatecas. During these months Lucas Alamán’s letters were addressed to the authors of the many provincial declarations establishing statehood and favoring a federal republic, demonstrating the minister’s efforts to slow the onrush of events until congress could issue a call for new elections, which did not go out until 17 June 1823. Jaime Rodríguez has written that “the politics of the period appear confusing because no one seemed to be in charge of the country,” and

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Timothy Anna that the concurrent unfolding of political events in so many places made for an “overly complex narrative.”40 Alamán was also charged during these months with the conduct of ordinary government affairs, none of which ever proved to be quite ordinary. These included everything from overseeing Guadalupe Victoria’s negotiations with the Spanish forces occupying San Juan de Ulúa, expediting legislation to deal with banditry and public security issues, and negotiating foreign loans. Although nothing is known of the internal deliberations of the SPE, much can be learned from the minister’s correspondence with Luis Quintanar, the political and military chief of Nueva Galicia. The lengthy, sometimes heated exchanges between Alamán and Quintanar are very interesting in and of themselves because of what they reveal about the political language of the day. They also comprise the most complete documentation of the minister’s role in the federalist crisis and of his political thinking. These exchanges make clear that Alamán assumed the country would be governed as a republic, that he was prepared to work within that framework, and that this was not just a bargaining position dissembling monarchist motives. He was also prepared to countenance a federal organization for Mexico if it did not imply a disavowal of the central government by the provinces or the arrogation to themselves of what he considered the proper spheres of authority of the national power. On 1 May 1823 Quintanar wrote to Lucas Alamán from Guadalajara describing the ardent profederalist sentiment in the city and expressing concern that the local military commanders might declare for separation of the province from the central government rather than awaiting resolution by the national congress.41 The question arises as to why his posture changed just a few weeks later from a respectful wait-and-see attitude, with an implicit criticism of profederalist officers and their sympathies, to one taking the province of Nueva Galicia to the brink of secession. Possible explanations are that on 1 May he was being disingenuous with minister Alamán; or that he experienced a genuine federalist epiphany over the ensuing weeks; or that within a short span of days he decided to get out in front of his provincial political constituency and effectively lead from the rear by proclaiming the independence of the free and sovereign State of Jalisco. Whatever the explanation, by 9 May the provincial deputation had revoked its recognition of the national congress, and on 12 May it called for a federal republic, with Quintanar refusing to obey the sitting national congress or remit tax funds to Mexico City. Toward the end of May, in an order drafted by Alamán, the SPE revealed its decision to resist the federalist tide by replacing Quintanar as jefe político with the congressional deputy and

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brigadier general José Joaquín de Herrera. The dispatch of the force toward the borders of Nueva Galicia in what Quintanar described as “the insulting character of pacifier” was later clearly ascribed by the provincial deputation primarily to Alamán.42 Learning of this in less than a week, Quintanar wrote to Herrera from Guadalajara on 1 June telling him in no uncertain terms to keep his troops out of what was soon to become the State of Jalisco, adding that his own actions had “no object other than to sustain civil liberties and to organize themselves in a manner most conducive to [the people’s] happiness. The opposition of a small aristocratic party, very far from aspiring to the perfect equality [of citizenship] enjoyed in free states, yearns to fix a despotic throne [solio] in the center [of the country], the Mexican capital, to exercise over all a prideful domination . . . that can[not] be suffered under the enlightened ideas of the nineteenth century.” While praising Herrera’s integrity and patriotism, Quintanar warned him not to bring his troops into Jalisco. Some interesting exchanges ensued between Herrera and Alamán, in which the soldier assessed the feasibility of invading the province of Nueva Galicia as low because of the small size of his force.43 Lucas Alamán’s first extended response to Luis Quintanar’s protestations of his honorable intentions, obedience to the central government “insofar as my own honor permits,” and fervid adherence to the federal system supported by a virtual unanimity of public opinion came in a letter of 11 June 1823: How can it be called an offense [insulto] to the provinces that the sovereign [national] congress occupy itself with the urgent matters of public finance, war, and justice? Can it be claimed perhaps that until the gathering of the new congress everything remains in a state of disorder incompatible with the political existence of the nation? . . . [O]nly to the representatives of this same nation, empowered by it [i.e., the nation] to this end, does it correspond to resolve [the issue]. . . . Without previously establishing by common accord the mutual relations of the federated provinces, without providing for the means to meet common expenses and to cover common obligations, how can a provincial deputation pretend [to do this] without [the country] ending up in the most complete anarchy? . . . [I]t is evident that society will dissolve if before a new pact is celebrated the existing one is not honored . . . [L]acking the unifying center that should exist in any government, whatever its form—a center that cannot be maintained if the segregation of the provinces were to proceed without previously establishing the bases for their federation—

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this disunion would open the door to cruel despotism, a necessary and inevitable consequence of anarchy.44 Prior to this passage, Alamán invoked some very practical reasons for national union: the necessities of territorial defense, of paying common expenses conducing to national prosperity, and so forth. In addition, he called up the vaguer argument that national disunion—that is, the disaggregation of what was formerly New Spain into large, disconnected territorial units—would open the door to anarchy, and anarchy to despotism. How exactly this chain of events was to follow from the dissolution of the country he did not specify, unless the dissolution itself would produce such a condition. Here as elsewhere in his writings of this period, however, the key concept seems to be anarchy in the sense in which I have tried to tease out above, a bogeyman whose conjuring-up probably worried him as much as it was intended to warn his readers. He asserted as an inherent property of functioning polities that they have centers—“the unifying center that should exist in any government, whatever its form”—lest they fall into chaos and society itself dissolve. Later in the letter he insisted that sovereignty, or the legitimate authority to define the form of government and to make laws, resided in the nation as a whole through its representatives—in other words, in a republican structure—rather than in what were essentially little more than administrative units charged with municipal affairs and the expenditure of taxes. Lucas Alamán’s differences with the federalist views expressed by provincial leaders like Luis Quintanar were based on complicated historical and constitutional reasoning but were quite clear for all that. On the one hand, Alamán’s position was that there was a preexisting center, that there always had been, and that disavowing it before making arrangements for altering it to fit the circumstances of the age would produce a dreadful state of political liminality, namely, anarchy. Referring to Mexican nationhood not in any affective or mystical register but as a concrete system of state institutions exercising dominion over a unified territory, he wrote to the authorities in breakaway Oaxaca province in June 1823 that “it would be the greatest absurdity to destroy that which is already built in order to rebuild it afterward.”45 On the other hand, Quintanar and the provincial deputation of Guadalajara expressed the view that the center had basically disappeared already. In the resulting political vacuum the provinces, now rapidly evolving into states, had always been the repositories of sovereignty, they asserted, and might construct a totally new one through a process of horizontal pact making. In this latter view,

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awaiting the convocation from the sitting congress of new congressional elections was at best a matter of convenience. To put all this in spatial terms, the question was whether the center of the union was a hub (Alamán) or a virtually dimensionless point (Quintanar and other federalist chieftains). But events were running against the minister in Mexico City. While this political colloquy was going on, the provincial deputation of Guadalajara, under Quintanar’s leadership, had issued a manifesto on 5 June affirming Nueva Galicia’s agreement with the other Mexican provinces that a convocatoria for new congressional elections should go out, that the only acceptable national arrangement would be federalism, and that interpreting the province’s stance as advocating complete secession from Mexico was false. In the absence of a functioning legislative branch, since Guadalajara recognized the national congress only for purposes of convoking new elections, Nueva Galicia acknowledged the government in Mexico City as the center of the union. The tapatíos nonetheless asserted that any laws emanating from Mexico City regarding the province would be obeyed or not according to the wishes of the provincial authorities and only insofar as they did not touch on matters internal to the province / state.46 As the situation played out over June, July, and August the respective positions waffled rhetorically somewhat for the sake of striking a mutually conciliatory tone, even while at their core both views remained consistent and even hardened. That is where matters stood when a printed circular convoking elections for a new constituent congress was finally issued by the Mexico City government on 17 June 1823. It is virtually impossible to believe that Alamán was not its author. Beginning with a good deal of flowery language, the convocation continued as follows: “Federation, that beautiful invention of modern politics, requires without doubt to be founded on solid and just bases: that the different interests of the provinces be combined; that its [i.e., the federation’s] constitution make a harmonious whole of the parts that compose it; that stability be reconciled with liberty, that every seed of dissolution be banished, and that a congress in which are united the interests and ideas of all put [on a firm footing] the unstable fatherland and steer it toward a happiness that for long has been the most ardent of its desires.”47 Timothy Anna implies strongly that Alamán meant the phrase with which he began the circular decree, the invocation of “federation, that beautiful invention of modern politics,” ironically.48 It certainly sounds odd coming from his pen, but absent documentary evidence to the contrary one must assume the words are his. No such irony was intended, even if in the phrase he was truckling to federalist sentiment through-

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out the provinces. In his Historia de Méjico, Alamán would later come to express unequivocally the power of the foundational moment of the conquest and of Spanish rule in the creation of the country. Here he justifies union and a powerful central government on the self-evident principles of natural law, political philosophy, and practical necessity. Had this convocation of new congressional elections ended matters by quelling the objections to centralized government or forestalling the personal ambitions of Luis Quintanar or any other provincial chieftain, things would not have escalated over the course of the summer up to the threshold of armed conflict. But it did not. About a week after the SPE’s convocatoria went out, the provincial deputation of Nueva Galicia, now converted into the provincial deputation of the State of Jalisco, wrote to Alamán with the political chief’s assent in an ostensibly more conciliatory tone wrapped around a political position actually hardening quickly: “Never could the Deputation have conceived of a violent separation of this State from its sisters, much less in ceasing to recognize the center of the union of all of them. The State of Xalisco [sic] glories in being part of the great Mexican Nation.” But the lack of progress in Mexico since independence from Spain was palpable, the letter continued: “There is no treasury, there is no administration of justice, there is no mining, there is no agriculture, there is no industry, there is no commerce, and there is no credit or confidence: everything has disappeared, and such a lamentable situation must of necessity [have] led the Nation to the edge of the precipice, if the measures necessary to remedy such grave ills were not undertaken.” These perceptions were amply shared by Alamán, but the curative measures he attempted to apply during his first ministries depended on strengthening the central government rather than the periphery. The provinces had decided that the best solution to these problems was the adoption of a popular, representative, federal form of government. In Guadalajara a federal republic had been declared two days before, and public tranquility was now complete, even though the reseated national congress had declared Jalisco to be in a state of criminal resistance to the authority of the central government. At a time when “liberality and honesty” were required of all, the Guadalajara authorities continued, “there was being put into execution [by the central government] the tricks of the viziers Venegas, Callejas [sic], and Cruz to sow discord between brother and brother.” This might have led to outright national dissolution, Quintanar asserted, had not he and the provincial deputation intervened to calm the situation. One power the State of Jalisco had arrogated to itself was the appointment to virtually all official posts:

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In monarchies and central[ized] republics all [public] employments are conferred by the supreme governments without consultation with the provinces, and it is proper [in this form of state] that the provinces obey the orders of the metropolis [i.e., the central government]. But in a federated republican regime, which has been declared by this State and asked for by the other States of the great Mexican Nation, [as well as] by the congress and the SPE, Your Excellency knows full well that each federated state confers all the Posts within its territory, and only those positions are reserved to the general Executive Power of the union that look directly to the preservation of that same General union.49 This was followed up in short order by another communication from Quintanar warning the minister that if the rump national congress did not write into law the existence of “provincial [i.e., state] legislatures,” the “horrors of the political storm that threatens us” would be inevitable.50 Events elsewhere in Mexico had been moving swiftly (see table 6.1). In his response to Quintanar some days later, Lucas Alamán asserted even more strongly than before his conviction that sovereignty could not be divided but resided exclusively in the people and was delegated by them to the national congress without any intervening institutions or bodies. The SPE would make no proposal regarding the establishment of state legislatures to the sitting congress, since it was not within its legal or political purview to do so, and such an enactment could arise only from provisions of a constitution yet to be written: “[To act] contrary is to shatter the social order, introducing among us a cruel and desolating anarchy and precipitating . . . us into all the ills and misfortunes afflicting for some time past Buenos Aires and Colombia. . . . Where would we be led by the bizarre system of a partial sovereignty that in dividing us one from another . . . would lead to [each individual’s] sovereignty, and that dissolving and defying all social bonds would reduce us to that terrible and pitiful situation in which only the right of force is recognized?”51 In the weeks that followed, Quintanar maintained a certain temperamental equilibrium and moderate tone in his correspondence with Alamán, while the latter seemingly became more and more frustrated, agitated, and angry. Alamán’s biographer José Valadés claimed that the minister faced the federalist crisis in general, and the events in Guadalajara in particular, with “the greatest serenity,” expounding his ideas about the political organization of the country with “the clarity of noon-day.”52 One does see the clarity in many of these exchanges but less of the serenity. Nor is there much in these long letters of his on the political organization of Mexico in the positive sense, but

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rather sharp criticism of federalist ideas and prophetic thunderings about the anarchy to come should a radical federalist program prevail. It may have been easier for Quintanar to maintain his equanimity because the authorities in the State of Jalisco had staked out a position they felt they could defend, one echoed by most of the other major provincial units of the country as they accelerated rapidly toward a unified federalist stance. By contrast, the minister in Mexico City felt himself besieged and on the defensive, with hardly any resources but his strong words to forestall or prevent national dissolution. As noted earlier, the man whom the SPE had sent to Guadalajara to replace Quintanar, General José Joaquín de Herrera, had been turned away; and on 5 July an armed force left the capital under Pedro Celestino Negrete and Nicolás Bravo to subdue rebellious Jalisco but halted its advance about two weeks later on the grounds that it did not have enough men to make an invasion of Jalisco plausible. Lucas Alamán’s ripostes to other letters from Quintanar defending Jalisco’s stance followed with regularity, tending to be quite sharp in the first passages, then ramping down in tone to a lecture in the latter parts. On 19 July he wrote to the political chief of Guadalajara of the “various errors” in his latest communication, of contradictions between the actions and words of the provincial deputation, of their obvious inconsistency with “the institutions that govern us, and even with the general [rules] adopted by all societies,” and of the deliberative pace at which the SPE had judged and answered the expressions emanating from Guadalajara. Referring to the plan of governance put forth by the provincial deputation on 5 June, Alamán continued, When the SPE ordered that I tell you that it was very satisfied because in analyzing the plan of 5 June it noted conformity with [the general] desire that the nation constitute itself a federal republic, it did not intend to say that it approved the measures Guadalajara has adopted without the authority of the national government. Its approval extended [only] to the recognition of a common center and of supreme authorities constituted by previously [existing] laws and the vote of the people; for how could it authorize proceedings that infringe so far on the constitution that has been adopted [i.e., the Constitution of 1812 and its modifications]? What has pleased the SPE is that you have not aspired to provoke a fatal break with the nation [patria] to dissolve those bonds that in common interest unite all the provinces. . . . To approve the separation of Guadalajara and its subsequent steps would be to abrogate faculties that do not pertain to the SPE, and to stray from the constitutional path.

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The pretext of popular sovereignty with which Guadalajara has sought to justify its proceedings is very much misapplied. Sovereignty resides solely in the Nation: this is an Axiom in politics; but its exercise pertains [exclusively] to legitimate representation, and this cannot be assumed by only one state or Province of those that have always comprised a [single] society, because the result would be as many sovereignties as there are states. And since there is no reason why the pueblos in themselves cannot then enjoy a similar mastery [preeminencia], they would be sovereign unto themselves, and there would everywhere be a monstrous confusion, an infinite disorder of the most dismal and far-reaching consequences, anarchy and destruction. Now is the time to banish the spirit of party among us. The national interest demands sacrifices. The closest union with the center of power is the only [thing] that can guarantee our liberties and independence.53 Alamán in this official communication drew with considerable adroitness on several different arguments and rhetorical forms. Beginning with a reproof of Quintanar for misconstruing official policy, he passed on to a constitutional argument, namely, that it was not within the purview of the SPE to countenance Jalisco’s separation even had it wanted to do so, and thence to a disquisition on sovereignty: “sovereignty resides solely within the Nation.” Beginning about the middle of July, Quintanar and Alamán had an interesting exchange about the rumored return of Agustín de Iturbide to Mexico that opened up the minister’s thinking and demonstrated his rhetorical resources and the sharpness of his pen even further. Quintanar used the exchange as an opportunity to urge upon the central government a federal system, and the impatient, angry Alamán to reassert the foolhardy nature of extreme federalism while dragging in the international context as a motive for maintaining a strongly centralist government within a republican, moderately federal framework. Alamán’s increasingly irascible tone, moreover, might well have been aggravated by Quintanar’s appearing to lecture him on the nature of politics, since the minister himself almost invariably liked to occupy the role of lecturer. Quintanar wrote on 15 July 1823 of a rumor in wide circulation that Iturbide was in the US, having reversed his plan to emigrate to Italy, and although he himself did not believe it, it does not cease to agitate public opinion, since the hope that many harbor of an imperial return leaves them irresolute as to the form of government desired by the majority [of the population]. . . . [T]he Su-

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preme Government should once and for all save us and protect itself from the storm clouds that threaten us on every side, redoubling its patriotic efforts for the congress to organize the nation on a federal basis as quickly as possible [and decree] the establishment of provincial legislatures. . . . Accepting [this system] would undoubtedly result in permanent stability for the nation because if the return of Sr. Iturbide is true, it will happen that finding ourselves already constituted under another form [of government] the hope that monarchy will gather force or influence will perish, and if it is not true, [adopting federal forms] will at least [admonish] the proponents of that system not to make more efforts to increase opinion in its favor. [Once the federal system is adopted], then Iturbide and his henchmen will find no support for their machinations.54 Alamán characterized the rumor of Iturbide’s return as “absolutely false”— only for the immediate future, as it turned out, although no one could foresee this at the time. Moreover, he asserted that the pro-Iturbide conspiracies so far uncovered in the capital had few supporters and involved only “a few ambitious opportunists . . . having as their object the proclamation of a tyrant of odious name.” Of the rumored return he wrote, The falsity of that news is almost palpable and no man gifted with common sense would dare to give it any credence. . . . The supposed arrival of D. Agustín de Iturbide at a port of some neighbor state of ours is a means to fragment [public] opinion into factions, alarm the population, and tear it apart and [thus] introduce the most disastrous anarchy, afterward gathering the fruit of such a brutal misfortune. And the situation may even become more delicate: it is not a remote prospect that the political affairs of Europe may become more and more delicate. The League of sovereigns [arrayed] against the liberties of the [Iberian] Peninsula perhaps has as its object not only the [maintenance] of royal absolutism on the European continent; our [own] independence and liberty, secured by the most prodigious effort, may be endangered if we find ourselves divided. If the provinces, repudiating the very federation they proclaim, appropriate to themselves at their whim the faculties of the Government, impeding its policies, what could then be done in the possible case of an exterior attack? . . . [Internal] separation will always damage general interests, but in the present circumstances no better means could have been invented to make our independence and liberty illusory.

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To avoid the approaching storm we see coming upon us, the SPE sees no other remedy that can save us from shipwreck than union.55 The heated colloquy with Luis Quintanar over these months is the most robustly documented of Lucas Alamán’s responses to the expressions of federalist sympathies in the provinces and in the face of the snowballing declarations of statehood by the provincial deputations.

The Protector of Federalism Parallel to the events in Guadalajara, the provinces continued to boil with provincial assertions of federalist autonomy and repudiations of the central government mostly disguised with the fig leaf of contingent recognition. In late June, if not earlier, the provincial deputation of Zacatecas, in concert with the city’s ayuntamiento, declared for federalism but was urged by minister Alamán not to pursue a separatist course. The Zacatecas leaders then agreed to recognize the authority of the sitting congress and the SPE until a new congress was elected, essentially the same watch-and-wait position adopted by most federalist provinces. Tangled episodes of provincial assertion and central government counterassertion also arose in the provinces of Sonora and Sinaloa stretching over the summer and into the fall of 1823 and in San Antonio de Béjar.56 Much of the agitated political activity of these months reached a crescendo in the profederalist junta celebrated at Celaya early in July 1823 by representatives of the provincial deputations of San Luis Potosí, Valladolid, Guanajuato, and Querétaro.57 Discussions took place there during 1–10 July. Coincidentally Santa Anna, having failed to capture the federalist leadership for himself, on 10 July marched his troops out of San Luis Potosí, and the central government forces of General Gabriel Armijo marched in. Invoking yet again the specter of anarchy lurking behind federalism, minister Alamán wrote to the four deputations on 5 July that the talks were no longer necessary. The convocation for congressional elections had been issued, the new congress once elected would surely be summoned and seated without delay, and the SPE, despite the centralist leanings of its members, had in principle endorsed the establishment of a federal system of government. Alamán described with horror the rumored project of the four provinces to form a single state separate from and independent of the rest of the country, writing that central government forces under the command of Bravo and Negrete had been dispatched to discourage any further military adventurism.

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The stern warnings of minister Alamán notwithstanding, the Celaya junta met, elected a president, and approved the credentials of the men representing the four provinces. They wrote to the SPE justifying the conference due to the delay in issuing the convocatoria for new elections, which had provided “the motive, or served as pretext, for the pronunciamiento” of Antonio López de Santa Anna in San Luis Potosí, some uprisings in the garrisons in Guanajuato, and yet others feared imminent in Valladolid. It was to tamp down these outbreaks that they had decided to meet to formulate a general and uniform policy. After the 10 July meeting the four delegations proposed to recognize the SPE as “the single point of unity” in the country while at the same time expressing their strong sentiment in favor of a federal republic, thus staking out a middle position between Quintanar and Alamán. Agreeing to accept the convocatoria issued by congress despite the document’s flaws, they elevated to high military command of the four provinces’ forces Brigadier Miguel Barragán. In the “remote, but possible, case” that the central government should fall, the four pledged to band together to repel any invasion force from outside. Finally, on 11 July the junta agreed to disband because it would be “ escandaloso [shocking, outrageous] to disobey the government that has ordered it to do so”; but since it had concluded its business anyway, there was nothing to be lost in this bit of theatrical submission.58 Despite the relatively conciliatory tone of this exchange between Alamán and the Celaya junta, it seems quite clear that the respective positions of the central government and profederalist forces had hardened beyond recall. On the day the newly seated constituent congress elected its officers, the SPE issued a printed manifesto describing the condition of the country. It was sent out over the names of the triumvirs Miguel Domínguez, Vicente Guerrero, and Mariano Michelena but was quite probably written by their chief minister. With the fall of Iturbide, the manifesto stated, the Mexican provinces began to pull away from the center, thus abrogating the pact of republican nationhood made after the breakdown of the empire: The Government found itself in a dismasted ship and at the mercy of the waves. With paper but no credit, with employees but no funds [to pay them], with resources, and means finally exhausted, it is a miracle that [the Government] has not yet been shipwrecked. . . . Now, as is hoped, if the proposal of the Government to the Sovereign congress for a [foreign] loan of twenty million [pesos] is approved, What a promising future! We will have the army and navy we need, smuggling will disappear, the public

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treasury will be replenished, our commerce and industries will flourish, and the loan [itself] will become the guarantee of our independence, and the creditors our friends and allies. In a word, we shall be happy. This fortunate condition and the means to achieve it, however, were contingent on maintaining public order and legal forms and on “some provinces not arrogat[ing] to themselves faculties and attributions that the rest do not enjoy. All that is necessary is the sacrifice (if it merits this name) of two months while the future congress gathers, and that once the national assembly is installed we solemnly commit ourselves to respect and obey its decisions.”59 Yet despite these sanguine predictions the country continued beset with unrest well into the fall of 1823. Provinces and their subunits continued to fall like dominoes before the federalist tremors sweeping Mexico almost everywhere but the capital. From among all this political Sturm und Drang I have opted above to devote a good deal of discussion to events in Guadalajara. But federalist self-assertion embraced an enormous and extremely vital segment of the country’s territory and its economy. It also generated an interesting exchange of communications between Lucas Alamán in the capital and Luis Quintanar in the principal city of Nueva Galicia, much of which survives and reveals the political thinking on both sides. But a good deal was going on elsewhere in the country as well.

Oaxaca Under the revived provincial deputation, suppressed in favor of a governing junta and then reinstated in April 1823, the province of Oaxaca had declared itself independent on 1 June 1823. The elected congress of the state was seated on 6 July. During these summer months, then, in the order of priority he seems to have accorded them, Alamán had federalist Guadalajara in front of him, federalist Oaxaca at his back, and Santa Anna over his right shoulder, roiling the waters in and around San Luis Potosí. In a printed circular analyzing the situation, his arguments about undivided sovereignty and the threat of anarchy echo those he was pressing at these very moments upon Luis Quintanar in Nueva Galicia. The tone adopted here, harsher than in some other public declarations by the minister, bespeaks his impatience and also the undeniable power of his prose: It is incontestable that Sovereignty resides in the Nation. But from this principle it does not follow that each section of it may have the faculty of

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altering the constitutive laws recognized by the whole, and to disobey the orders of the legitimately constituted government. . . . How can it not be recognized that in whatever the form of government ultimately adopted, there must be demands common to the entire Nation, as there are common obligations to undertake? . . . Will we not precipitate ourselves into anarchy, and into the most frightening disorder, [if we] attempt to separate from the government at [such] critical moments? It is not to be thought that the provinces [will] attempt to govern themselves in isolation [from each other] and with no center of union until they unite again under the arrangements of federation.60 The sense and purpose of this document are abundantly clear: to warn that dissolution of the national union would bring anarchy upon Mexico, sap the central state’s already weak capacity to fulfill basic public needs, and lay it open to internal subversion, the return of despotism, and possible foreign predation. In its baldest terms, the question Alamán asked of provincial federalists in this exchange and others was, “If we are doing what you want anyway [i.e., moving in the direction of a federal government], what is the basis of your completely renouncing political allegiance to the institutions of the central government, in whose hands the fate of the nation lies?” If there were ever any lingering doubt as to whether Lucas Alamán was a republican at this point in his life, these words should put it to rest. These occurrences initiated a sort of rhetorical duel in political theology that might have produced interesting results had it not been truncated by events. The newly seated congress of the State of Oaxaca conceded in early July that the central government “should not stop existing for even a single day.” On the other hand, the Oaxaca congress’s statement seemed to envision that the government in Mexico City, the “centro de unión,” had become a dimensionless point rather than a hub or circle of authority, thus echoing the opinion of the officials in Guadalajara. Invoking the concept of the general will, the minister in the capital insisted that this resided in the national congress, not in the constituent provinces of the nation, and that in effect abrogating it would produce anarchy and disorder. He further asserted that the Oaxaca state congress could not and would not be recognized by the SPE.61 A printed edict of 28 July by the Congreso del Estado Libre de Oaxaca setting forth the interim bases of its own state charter pending the writing of a national constitution drew no direct response from Alamán. He refused to communicate with any Oaxacan authorities save the jefe político. The minister had thus

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placed himself in the somewhat awkward position of trying to deal with a body he insisted did not exist—and dealing severely, at that. The leaders of the state congress answered in a somewhat more philosophical tone that throws some light on the political theory of what amounted to secession. Whereas the minister invoked the national congress as embodying the general will, the Oaxacans tried to trump it with reference to both natural, that is, inherent, and positive, or man-made, law: “If the wellbeing [salud] of the people is the supreme law, and if natural and positive law authorize men collectively, or individually, in the defense of their physical or political existence, this state [Oaxaca] has in no way betrayed those principles, and even less has it strayed from the path laid out by them.” Yet another powerful motive, the Oaxacans claimed, had forced their hand to action while the national congress dithered over calling new elections: a popular clamor for the clawing back of sovereignty by the state government from the central authority. The error of the central government, the Oaxacans continued, was to construe the state’s position as a rejection of all legitimate central authority, including the SPE, an attitude of which the state, its leaders, and its newly seated congress had never given any evidence. Should the central government move against the state without any attention to the justifications for its actions, the blow to the honor and rights of Oaxaca would criminalize its authorities, subjugating them “with violence, and [acting] contrary to liberal principles.” Oaxaca’s legislature suggested that the charges hurled against it arose from misapprehensions about the motives for embracing federalism, unfounded predictions of disaster, and even a “theatrical fantasy.” Nonetheless, the Oaxaca authorities sought a reasonable compromise, backed by the state’s resolution and resources.62 In his continued stern rejoinders to the breakaway oaxaqueños, Alamán also asserted that the SPE had directed all its actions toward the goal that the provinces “not change by themselves the system that they voluntarily recognized, nor violate the pact contracted between them and the supreme [i.e., central] authorities.”63 Except for his correspondence with the breakaway Oaxacan authorities, nowhere else in his writings in this period have I encountered the idea of a voluntary pact between provinces and central authorities. When he imagined this voluntary pact to have occurred he does not say. It may be that he had in mind a sort of tacit pact arising out of the three centuries of Spanish colonial rule, or even from the putatively unified action of the Mexican regions to overthrow Spanish authority during the independence wars. Or he may have been thinking of some concrete moment of agreement among the constituent parts of New Spain/Mexico, such as the elections for the Span-

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ish Cortes of 1812 or 1820–21, the elevation of Agustín de Iturbide to be emperor, or the election of the first national congress in 1821. While this usage points toward a theory of pacts within polities, it also implies one of secession. So Alamán’s argument in support of the authority of the central government rested not only on the practical matters of avoiding a state of anarchy, preventing internal subversion, defending the country against possible foreign predation, and so forth—on negative grounds, in other words. It also depended on positive grounds—a pact voluntarily undertaken by the provinces whose unilateral abrogation was precluded by the prior cession of sovereignty to the central government. This was the nexus creating a nation out of the Mexican provinces, a sort of corpus misticum for which a contract was presumed to exist, sanctified by a common history. At this point in his political thinking Lucas Alamán seems to have been more concerned with what might be termed the mechanical or legal solidarity of the country than with its affective cohesion. He could give no ground even in response to the vague and coy overture from the Oaxaca legislature offering to “cede part of its rights” for the sake of the nation, since to do so would have undermined his staunch posture of resistance to the radical federalist pretensions of Nueva Galicia and other provinces as well.64 The federalist venture in Oaxaca was approaching implosion despite the legislature’s boast of its defensive capabilities. The province of Tehuantepec, a dependency of Oaxaca, had refused to adhere to the separatist movement, overpowering and expelling the state forces there, whose men were now drifting back to Oaxaca City, and the national-level treasury officials had fled the new state. In late July several other districts followed suit. By the end of July or so the federalist state congress in the city of Oaxaca had been reduced to six of its ostensible fourteen deputies. The fourth of August saw the resignation of the municipal Ayuntamiento in the state capital, leaving the city effectively without a government. Describing what he considered a situation of anarchy in Antequera, an unnamed city official wrote to Alamán at the ministry that a murder had been committed in town on 4 August, but since the municipal alcaldes had renounced their offices and the alleged killer had sought sanctuary in a church, the victim was buried without any further action being taken for the moment. The writer characterized the incident as “a frightening occurrence, which would not be seen [even] in the saddest town anywhere on the globe.”65 There followed the advance of central government forces upon Antequera, the mobilizing of resistance, the avoidance of bloodshed on the field of battle by the negotiations between Antonio de León and the government commander Manuel

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Rincón, and the dénouement in a sort of standoff between the breakaway province, now state, of Oaxaca, and the central government. The immediate outcomes of the political crisis of 1823—the Mexican national constitution of 1824 and the structuring of Mexico as a popular, representative, federal republic—have generally been construed by historians of the period as a victory for federalism and, to some extent, for liberalism. On this interpretation the victory, therefore, must have meant defeat for a centralist vision of the nascent republican state. The forces arrayed against the autonomist impulse of the provinces (soon to be states) were portrayed as an aristocratic, Bourbonist reaction, or of those politicians and military men promoting the restoration of Iturbide’s “humane tyranny,” or advocates of centralism pure and simple. Notwithstanding what I have suggested above in calling a federalist arrangement rather than a unitary nation-state, the default position adopted by much of the political nation at this time, the situation is not quite so clear. On the one hand, a “Mexican nation” was invoked a good deal in the language of provincial politicians; I doubt very much that this was purely empty rhetoric—a fig leaf, in other words, hastily pulled over nefarious separatist intentions. The doctrine that men like Quintanar, León, and many members of the congress were espousing was federalism, after all—a form of state structure that not only implies but ipso facto requires a bond between constituent political entities and a center. What provincial federalist leaders wanted, therefore, was a nation without a center or at best a very weak one charged with coordinating external defense and some other minimal but basic public functions. In other words, they sought a weakened central authority in which sovereignty was not nominal but shared asymmetrically or delegated from the provinces, since a center with claims to dominate the constituent parts had carried over from the colonial government, even though it was soon discredited by the Iturbide regime. That such men seriously contemplated the sort of Balkanization into statelets absolutely autonomous from each other and from an erased center—such as we have seen in our own time, for example, in the case of the former Yugoslavia—or a central authority reduced to a dimensionless point seems out of the question, even though their sharp rhetoric sometimes belied their reservations. The issue in contention was where the fulcrum of balance should lie. What the ontological status of “the nation” was remained vague, and the way it worked out was a matter not only of ideology but also of practical struggle in the political and military arenas. If the federalist chieftains were far from envisioning a total Balkanization of the country, Lucas Alamán was at this point hardly the adamantine central-

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ist that he would later become and that historians have portrayed him as. The evidence of his strong advocacy of a tripartite structure for the Spanish monarchy, the Michelena plan, in the Cortes debates of 1821–22 suggests that he thought federative (or confederative) political arrangements under certain circumstances to be both viable and desirable. While it is true that loosening up the Spanish monarchy in this way in order to keep it intact was not the same thing—in scale, complexity, or historical antecedents—as putting into place a federative structure for the eighteen or twenty states of the young Mexican republic, it did bear a certain resemblance to it. The point here is that Alamán seems to have been predisposed to accommodate the federal arrangement before the circumstances of Iturbide’s fall and the centrifugal crisis of the spring and summer of 1823 imposed it on him, even if he did not think it quite the optimal one. This willingness to do what he could with what he had suggests one of his major characteristics as a statesman—that he was less an ideologue than a practical politician. It may be, in fact, that he had less trouble with a federal structure than with federalism and federalists. In other words, he was not sympathetic either to a theoretical political system—here his Burkean tendencies were emergent—with known but rigid boundaries or toward politicians whom he viewed as using the leverage such a system provided either to promote their own advantage or to further the interests of factions inimical to the realization of a broader vision. To borrow a term from the field of statistics, Alamán preferred a nonparametric centralist system embracing a federal structure, which is what the United States came to have; how robust the powers of the federative entities were to be was a matter of discussion. This brings us back to his fears of anarchy and the forswearing, should his fears of anarchy be realized, of economies of scale in political and economic life that would inevitably result from the fragmentation he saw inherent in the provinces’ disavowal of central authority. The issue was not primarily that of national identity, but of maximization—of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, and of what that whole would be enabled to accomplish by the very fact of its unity. From the perspective of the provinces looking in, Alamán’s centralist position as well as that of the SPE he served smacked of the tyranny so recently overthrown. But from his point of view looking out, it was intended to build a bulwark against political disorder, and the waste of material resources and human capital—of potentialities—that such disorder necessarily implied. In fairness, Alamán’s views and actions in favor of a weightier or even dominant, central government were not entirely disinterested or altruistic. The ends he sought to achieve were all more easily attained through the agency of a uni-

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fied nation with a strong central authority than by individual Mexican provincesturned-states or even clusters of them. Among these were a sound national credit, an inflow of foreign capital, a plausible foreign policy—including recognition of Mexican independence by the European powers and the development of a network of alliances among the Spanish American nations—the corraling of popular political forces, and eventually the broadening and deepening of the national market and the rooting of industrialization. Should they be attained, several of these objectives would benefit him directly. For example, the derogation of colonial prohibitions against foreign, that is, nonimperial, investment in mining properties was best achieved, for purposes of uniformity, inclusiveness, and credibility, by a national government. This policy, which was to allow British investment to flood into the Mexican mining sector, was one that deputy Alamán had advocated in the Madrid Cortes, that minister Alamán was to push through during his first turn in the cabinet, and from which the mining entrepreneur Alamán harvested personal profit—or at least hoped to. The same was true a few years later of the Banco de Avío project and the national tariff policy, with much the same unhappy result for its sponsor. On which side of this argument did victory lie? The established wisdom is that Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Zacatecas, and the other self-assertive provinces got their way in the end, with the convocation of the 1823 elections, the backing away of centralist military elements from enforcing the centripetal mandate the SPE thought itself to enjoy, and the federalist constitution of 1824. This certainly looks like a failure of centralist nerve. How the federal system that Lucas Alamán probably had in mind, however, based on a sort of distributed sovereignty with most of that precious substance pooled at the center, would have been worked out was a matter of practical politics rather than ideological prescription. He articulated perhaps his most powerful statement of the unitary nature of sovereignty in dealing with Santa Anna’s abortive attempt in San Luis Potosí to seize control of the federalist movement in the late spring of 1823: “There can be only one power in the nation, and only the supreme government can wield it.” Most likely this statement was not principally a rhetorical gesture on Alamán’s part meant as a slap in the face to Santa Anna and therefore an exaggerated expression of his views to give the slap more sting, although that may have been part of his thinking. The idea of an indivisible sovereignty appears in other writings of his of the time. What he may have meant is that sovereignty inhered in the national legislature within a republican framework and that therefore if the provinces/states were to exercise any part of it there had to be a sort of regranting of it from the national congress

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outward. There is some irony in his insistence in 1823 on the primacy of the legislative power, however, since a decade later his analysis of the failure of the 1824 Constitution was to place the blame not only on Mexico’s lack of experience with such institutions but also on the failure of this charter, with its hypertrophied legislative branch, to achieve a balance among the powers of government.66 He was to restate this position strongly in the closing passages of his Historia de Méjico three decades later. Alamán may also have calculated that the apparent concessions to the federalist project by the SPE would turn out to be a sort of Trojan horse from which reconstituted central power would later emerge. The ardent tribunes of federalism may actually have been less willing than they appeared to Balkanize the country, which would have been the logical endgame for them. They were not bluffing, exactly, but neither were they looking ahead sufficiently to work out the consequences of their position. Centralists, on the other hand, particularly Lucas Alamán, were more ambivalent about the federalist project and less opposed to it on grounds of principle than on process. Seen in this light, the supposed victory of federalism appears less a victory than a compromise between the contending parties. This was a tug-of-war, in other words, in which no one ended up in the mud— or perhaps everyone did.

7 • Domestic Tranquility

Out of the Public Spotlight: Family Life At the age of thirty Lucas Alamán was not only a highly prominent public figure but also a private citizen and a very private man. Despite the scarcity of evidence concerning his domestic life and his daily routine, one can speculate by drawing on what is known of his personal life and extrapolating from the descriptions of elite capitalino families of writers, travelers, and a few memoirists, among them Fanny Calderón de la Barca, Guillermo Prieto, H. G. Ward, and others. A bit easier but still difficult to track are Alamán’s friendships. The major entrepreneurial projects in which he was involved as a private citizen, on the other hand, are relatively well documented, mostly because they were less than successful, and we get strong hints of his personality in those documents. By all accounts Lucas Alamán was happily married, and happily played the role of paterfamilias in the very large family of which he was the sole breadwinner. As to his relationship with his wife, one gets the impression of great uxoriousness on his part and of a quiet, orderly domestic life. Nothing is known of conflicts that may have arisen between Alamán and Narcisa Castrillo or within the large family. This was certainly no mariage blanc, however, since the first little Alamán Castrillo came along almost exactly nine months after the wedding, and he and his wife went on to have ten more children together. He must have enjoyed some of the pleasures of the urban elite of his time, among them days in the country with his family, possibly at the Hacienda de Atlacomulco but probably nearer to the city at the homes of friends and relatives, or even on rare occasions at his estate near Celaya. He probably joined family and friends for the occasional afternoon tertulia, with its typical sociability over gossip and hot

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chocolate. Almost certainly he went to the theater, where one imagines that his taste ran to classic drama and opera seria, while his wife’s may have tended toward lighter fare. The couple certainly went on drives in the Alameda, and he enjoyed the society of his mother and elder brother, spent calm moments reading works from his large personal library, and so forth. He was often out of the capital city on business, although the method of his travel is unknown—he considered himself a mediocre horseman at best, so it’s probable he journeyed by coach of some sort. Of the country house on his Celaya hacienda we have no inkling but can suppose it to have been more than respectable. Together with his wife he maintained a large domestic establishment in the capital that would have included a number of servants. José Valadés described Lucas Alamán’s lifestyle in the mid-1820s as that of “un gran señor” in his house at Bajos de San Agustín no. 3 (it had reputedly belonged to the Conde de Santiago Calimaya), in Sagrario parish, which the young couple occupied immediately following their marriage.1 The smooth functioning of this household near the center of the city and also of the one in which his family lived for years on the Ribera de San Cosme would have been in the charge of doña Narcisa Castrillo de Alamán. Some descriptions of their domestic life indicate that she kept the household running in a very orderly and tranquil fashion— not only because that is the way elite homes were managed but also because of her husband’s particular distaste for disorder—although at any given time there were undoubtedly several of the couple’s children running about. These little ones, giggling and shouting, were unlikely to have invaded their father’s study and been swept up affectionately and indulgently into his arms, however. He stood at his writing desk—Guillermo Prieto described Alamán as working this way—transacting government business, seeing to his affairs, or composing his historical works. It takes no stretch of the imagination to envisage the couple attending Mass with great regularity, trailed by those of their brood who had reached an age at which they could take the sacraments, while the younger ones remained at home in the care of a governess. On the whole the Alamán-Castrillo household and the family life that filled it almost certainly ran like a well-oiled machine, a model of haut bourgeois decorum, piety, and prosperity. The best-known portrait of Alamán reflects this, a retouched daguerreotype done in the 1840s. The great statesman-historian looks out at the viewer with a serious, even somber, expression. It is the face of a middleaged man that might almost be considered handsome were it not for the turned-down corners of his mouth—not in a scowl, exactly, but an expression of determination—his spectacles, and the right hand thrust into his coat in the

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Napoleonic fashion so typical of male portraits of the age. Still, if one looks at the image for a while, it is possible to detect the faintest of sub-Gioconda-like smiles on his face. Of María Narcisa Castrillo Portú de Alamán we know unfortunately very little. Born in 1804, she was nineteen years old when she married and thus a dozen years younger than her husband, an age gap by no means uncommon for the time, especially among elite couples. She was the eldest of five children, one of whom had died at a young age, so her three younger siblings may well have attended her wedding to the youngish, now-famous politician. Other considerations aside, this would in the future prove to be a good marriage for her from a financial standpoint since the couple’s wealth at its peak amounted to at least two hundred thousand pesos. In 1823, however, their resources were not very obvious. Even though the Castrillo family fortunes had been diminished by the 1810–21 insurgency, Narcisa brought a substantial dowry into the marriage, consisting of the total amount she expected to inherit from her parents together, adding up to something over seventy-two thousand pesos, more than twice her husband’s declared net worth of thirty thousand pesos. He enjoyed a ministerial salary of six thousand pesos per year, but in 1823 had yet to purchase his hacienda in the Celaya area. Nor had he begun to receive a yearly retainer or commissions for handling the properties of the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone or any income from the mining ventures in which he was managing very large infusions of British capital. Whether the house at no. 3 Bajos de San Agustín was rented by the couple, recently purchased, or inherited I do not know. If the building was arranged like other large houses in the center of the city, the family’s quarters would have occupied the second floor and businesses the street floor, probably retail stores of some kind leased out by the owner of the house and thus providing a modest stream of cash income. There would have been a large portal with massive, more or less elaborate double wooden doors through which carriages and mounted horsemen might enter, an internal courtyard/patio, possibly with a stone fountain, and somewhere toward the back a stable for horses and perhaps other outbuildings. The family later occupied a house on the Calle de San Francisco, in the same area, and some of their final years were spent in a spacious residence west of the city center, on the Ribera de San Cosme. Narcisa and Lucas were married in the chapel of the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán on 31 July 1823, about three and a half months after he assumed his ministerial post. Given the groom’s heavy official responsibilities at that moment it was logical that the ceremony be held in the capital, which would have

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necessitated travel on the part of some guests. The venue is most likely explained by the fact that Juan Bautista Arechederreta had only recently stepped down as rector of the institution to take up his canonry in the cathedral chapter and probably still retained considerable influence at the school due to the old association and the new, highly visible post. Alamán’s mother and Narcisa’s parents were all still living, she in Mexico City, they possibly in Guanajuato. Lucas’s elder sister María de la Luz Alamán Escalada (b. 1782), who had married at the age of twenty and had several children, was now widowed and also probably still living, although I have been unable to verify the date of her death. His paternal uncle Tomás, as of 1805 a remarried widower seeking to produce a second family and who would sire a total of ten children from his two unions, would likely have been there, and there were also a good number of Castrillo and Alamán cousins. Whether any of Lucas Alamán’s ministerial colleagues or political friends and associates attended there is no way of knowing, but I am inclined to think this unlikely. At most there may have been a small, select group given that in the coming years he went to some lengths to maintain a separation between his family life and his public life. Carlos María de Bustamante, the chatty diarist to whom we owe much knowledge of Mexico City and national political life during the years 1822–48, and who became Alamán’s sometime friend and political ally, remarked of the union, “Feliz él!” (Happy is he). Whether he was praising the charms of Narcisa Castrillo or the married state in general we do not know.2 Narcisa Castrillo and Lucas Alamán had eleven live-born children over the course of their marriage. Doña Narcisa had at least one miscarriage, and there may well have been others—given her fertility, in fact, it would be surprising had there not been—but I have encountered no record of them. We do not have an account of Narcisa Castrillo’s obstetric travails, if any, the only references being in her husband’s letters. The birth of the couple’s first son, Gil, in the fall of 1825, saw his mother suffering from dysentery, but she recovered relatively quickly. Less lucky at the time, as the same illness assumed epidemic proportions, were many other inhabitants of the capital. Lucas Alamán wrote to his friend Migoni in London, “This illness has sent to the grave during the last three months a number of people, especially young people, among them one of my nephews, 21 years old, who died on the thirtieth of last month [i.e., 30 August 1825].”3 The first child, Catalina Alamán Castrillo, came into the world on 29 April 1824 and was baptized in the parish of San Miguel Arcángel the following day. Born almost nine months to the day after her parents’ marriage, she spent her life as a nun and was to be one of the longer lived of the Alamán

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children, dying in 1892, at the age of sixty-six. That the married pair had been sexually active together before their wedding seems almost inconceivable (readers will forgive the pun), so one supposes they were just lucky to have a first child so quickly. Theirs was a fecund union, certainly. With one exception the children who survived into adulthood were not a particularly long-lived group, even taking into account the relatively modest life spans of the middle and later nineteenth century and even though they all enjoyed a reasonably elevated social status.4 The two eldest sons, Gil and Juan Ignacio, otherwise known as Juan Bautista, were born in 1825 and 1826, respectively, and enjoyed successful careers, Gil as a parish priest and Juan Ignacio, who lived well past 1900, as an attorney. Since children loom so large in the life of any couple, biographically and affectively speaking, and since there are some interesting aspects to the lives of the Alamán-Castrillo offspring, including marriages among cousins and linkages with famous historical figures, the little that can be documented about them warrants some attention (see table 7.1). As each of his children was born, Alamán had their baptismal entries from the parish register printed on rich silken cloths festooned with braids and tassels made from gold and silver thread, as was then the custom in Mexico among the moneyed classes. The texts of two anonymous sonnets dedicated late in 1826 to Lucas and Narcisa early in their marriage, as their family was growing, are given by Valadés. Apparently they were meant to evoke in poetry the domestic pleasures the pair enjoyed.5 The first two stanzas of the sonnet dedicated to Lucas Alamán read as follows: Fix your eyes for a moment, Lucas, On those two volcanoes to the east Snow-covered their broad sides Which the sun dresses in pearls and diamonds In our time, not long since They were mountains of fire so hot That their flames even heated the heavens And turned to ashes the poor traveler And those dedicated to Narcisa Castrillo: If you enjoy the wellbeing of a tender spouse Whose joy is embodied in pleasing you

Table 7.1: Children of the Lucas Alamán–Narcisa Castrillo marriage Name

Date of Birth

Date of Death

Marriage/Children

Comment

Catalina Gil Juan Ignacio

29 April 1824 10 September 1825 9 December 1826

29 January 1892 2 May 1882 after 1900

unmarried unmarried married to María Josefa Vidaurrázaga Castrillo, 7 children

nun parish priest lawyer

Antonia Pedro Justino (1) Lucas Pascual

17 January 1829 1 August 1830 26 September 1831 13 September 1837 17 May 1839

24 September 1829 1834 1849 1839 9 January 1893

Justino (2) Sebastián

25 September 1849 20 January 1845

unknown 20 July 1905

Carlos

unknown*

5 June 1854

unmarried married to Rita Guerrero Meza [children: unknown] unknown married to María Encarnación Vidaurrázaga Castrillo, 7 children unknown

died at 8 months died at 4 years died at 18 years died at 2 years

lawyer ministry clerk

*I have not found the birth date of Carlos Alamán, whom his father, in his 1850 testament, refers to as living. An exchange of letters on 5 June 1854 between Juan Bautista Alamán and Manuel Diez de Bonilla sheds some light on Carlos’s fate. Juan Bautista informed Bonilla that Carlos had died of cholera at 11:30 a.m. on 5 June 1854, having held the post of escribiente primero (senior clerk) in the American section in the foreign relations ministry. This was a respectable position but hardly more than that. According to Bonilla, Carlos “knew how to gain special esteem for his knowledge, hard work, and excellent behavior, arising from the principles and distinguished education he had received.” President Santa Anna ordered that Carlos Alamán be interred in the chapel of the Hospital de Jesús, where his father’s remains were. On 1 August Bonilla named Ángel Lerdo de Tejada (1828–90), one of the Lerdo de Tejada brothers, to the clerkship vacated as a result of Carlos Alamán’s death; Manuel Diez de Bonilla to Ministro de Gobernación, 5 June 1854, SRE-LE, 742-78v; Bonilla to Juan Bautista Alamán, 5 June 1854, ibid., 79r-84r, 1 August 1854.

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If in every action he shows that he loves you In that is constituted your repose What desire more laudable and loving Can you long for, other than to see yourself Glorying in a union that not even death Can take from you a pleasure so loving? It is actually rather difficult to make out what the elaborate trope of the volcano in Alamán’s case was meant to convey as opposed to the simpler, more conventional images in his wife’s. Perhaps masculine power, although a volcano would be an odd phallic image, or the risky geography of politics, and the modest contentments of the domestic sphere, respectively? The joys of family life notwithstanding, neither Lucas Alamán’s children nor their children ever achieved the public renown of their father or grandsire. Father Gil enjoyed some success as a clergyman. Juan Bautista carried on his law practice—it is sometimes assumed that his father was a trained attorney, but he was not—working with his father on the affairs of the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone as a young man, taking over these duties after the elder Alamán’s death and seeing them through into the early twentieth century. Given that two of the eleven children pursued careers in the Church, that at least four died in infancy, childhood, or very young adulthood, and that we know nothing of another, the second Justino, there were perhaps fewer grandchildren than might have been expected of such a fecund union as Lucas’s and Narcisa’s. Among the pair’s fourteen grandchildren infant and child mortality seems to have declined considerably during the late nineteenth century, reflecting the improved public hygiene conditions of the Porfirian period, improvements from which even elite families benefited. Infant mortality still continued high, though, since two of Juan Ignacio’s four children died in infancy, and two of his younger brother Sebastián’s seven children died very young. The repetition of given names within and across generations was relatively frequent. Among Lucas Alamán’s own progeny there was a Lucas, who died in 1839 at the age of two, and two Justinos. Among the grandchildren of Narcisa and Lucas there were a María de la Luz, named for Lucas Alamán’s sister; a Lucas, a Sebastián, a Narcisa, and a Gil. Also notable were the marriages of Lucas Alamán’s sons Juan Ignacio and Sebastián, nearly two decades apart in age, to children of their mother’s sister, that is, to first cousins.

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While there is no specific evidence that the Alamán-Castrillo children or grandchildren came to violent ends, one death did occur unnaturally, under peculiar circumstances. One of Juan Ignacio’s sons (and therefore the elder Lucas Alamán’s grandson and namesake), Lucas Alamán Vidaurrázaga, born in 1871, died in a hunting accident on Saturday, 6 February 1909, in the prime of his life. In the press coverage of the incident he was referred to as belonging to “the principal social circles [of the capital],” as a member of a distinguished family, grandson of the historian Lucas Alamán—the headline read “El Nieto del Gran Historiador Alamán muerto en una Cacería”—as the wealthy (acaudalado) owner of the Hacienda Xhijay or Xalay straddling the states of Querétaro and Hidalgo, and as related with “our aristocracy.” Among these aristocratic connections (aristocratic in the widest nontechnical sense) was the then ambassador to the United States, Francisco León de la Barra, described as his host’s concuñado, that is, in this case the spouse of Alamán Vidaurrázaga’s sister-in-law. An ardent aficionado of hunting, don Lucas had invited a small party of friends to go deer hunting with him on his property.6 After traveling from the capital to the hacienda on the Ferrocarril Nacional the party enjoyed a lavish meal at the estate, “attended splendidly by the [estate] staff [servidumbre].” The guests then split up into groups, Alamán accompanied only by his young servant, a ten-year-old boy named Villafuente. The shotgun being carried by the boy, the only witness to the hacendado’s death, accidentally discharged, Alamán taking the full blast to the area of his liver. In the short time it took the guests to run to the scene, their host had already died. An autopsy and an inquest were conducted in Mexico City, and the final judicial verdict would presumably have been something like the modern “death by misadventure.” Lucas Alamán’s grandson left behind a grieving widow, Refugio Borneque Schneider (1876–1953), and three children. The widow seems not to have grieved for long, however, since on 11 February 1911, almost exactly a discreet two years after her husband’s death, she married Francisco León de la Barra, then still serving as Mexico’s ambassador to the United States and shortly to serve as interim president of Mexico between the fall of Porfirio Díaz and the installation of Francisco Madero. Doña Refugio was the sister of León de la Barra’s deceased first wife, María Elena.7

The Minister Buys an Hacienda Whether in the government or out of it Lucas Alamán was never bashful about pursuing his business interests. During the early and mid-1820s he had

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additional reasons to look to his investments and other income-producing possibilities as little Alamán-Castrillos started arriving in the world. Catalina was born in 1824, her brother Gil the next year, and by the spring of 1826 Juan Ignacio was on the way, arriving in December. Narcisa was only twenty-two at this point, and whatever his more deeply submerged concerns about the issue of regaining the social status that had ebbed along with the Busto-Alamán mining wealth, extrapolating from the couple’s current rate of reproduction Lucas Alamán must have realized that short of declaring the conjugal bed offlimits he needed to provide for a family likely to grow considerably in the years ahead. Even were he to remain in the most elevated reaches of government service—highly unlikely given the typically short turnaround time in the tenure of cabinet-level posts—his salary would be inadequate to support his household in the aristocratic style to which he aspired and had probably already adopted. The wealth to be reaped from silver mining undergirded by British capital investment was one solution and would take time to materialize, but it never did so to the extent he hoped. His annual retainer and other emoluments from his position as Terranova y Monteleone’s factotum helped a bit but were only just beginning to contribute to his income. At this time he took his first steps in the textile industry, investing much of the money he received from the sale of his parents’ home in Guanajuato in a woolen textile installation in nearby Celaya. Not only these interests in Celaya but also the management of the mines in Guanajuato kept him traveling back and forth constantly between the capital and the silver city. He would have passed through Celaya going in both directions, so he would have become aware of the availability on the market of the Hacienda de Trojes in the area.8 In a sale registered in Celaya on 9 September 1826, Alamán bought the Hacienda de Trojes from the heirs of Colonel José María Fernández and María Inés Fernández, who in turn had inherited it from Colonel Manuel Fernández Solano. The purchase price was a substantial 55,000 pesos, of which Alamán put down 5,500 pesos in cash—realized in part from the sale of his natal home in Guanajuato—agreeing to pay an additional 7,287 pesos within six months, and within five years the balance of whatever equity value the sellers retained of the remaining 42,213 pesos of the purchase. Such properties were typically burdened with debt, sometimes heavily, from Church loans or liens made in favor of ecclesiastical institutions, for which the purchaser assumed the obligation of the principal and the debt service. In this way rural estates of substantial size and value might change hands for relatively little liquid cash, since the loans were generally considered to be perpetual and the equity por-

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tion of the hacienda’s value to be bought out by the buyer relatively small. What is clear from a mortgage arrangement he had notarized in 1828 is that he exercised the power of attorney of his elder sister María de la Luz, forty-six years old and by now the widow of Colonel Manuel de Yturbe, and that the hacienda and its attached properties had been purchased “by virtue of the partnership [compañía] that he manages for both.” Also figuring centrally in this rather complex transaction was a two-story house in Guanajuato valued at 16,000 pesos, which Lucas and María de la Luz inherited jointly from their parents, Juan Vicente Alamán and Ignacia de Escalada. Possibly he wanted to reduce the debt service on the hacienda in order to take more profit out of the property or perhaps to reduce the debt load so that he could borrow more for its development.9 How much total mortgage debt Lucas Alamán and his sister took on with this purchase of the Hacienda de Trojes—payable to the sellers and/or recognized already to be charged on the property from previous debts or liens—we do not know, but it may have been large. His later financial woes with the estate may have resulted from his inability to service the original debt or from additional debt he took on while he owned the property. He immediately bought the Hacienda de Juan Martín and the Rancho de San Lorenzo, smaller properties presumably both adjacent to Trojes. The lands of all three properties together comprised about eleven thousand acres, a reasonable size for a heavily cultivated, fertile area like the Bajío and the Valley of Mexico, where land values were high but the estates were quite small compared to haciendas in the more northerly areas of the country. About 22 percent of the acreage was devoted to irrigated or irrigable land, which would have been planted to cereal crops; about 15 percent to rainfall-dependent cereal lands farmed as demesne, with another 10 percent rented out; about 20 percent in grazing land; and 33 percent in hilly land (terreno cerril). Describing Alamán’s experience with the Hacienda de Trojes and its adjunct lands, Valadés writes that when the ex-minister purchased the principal property it was in a state of virtual abandonment because of damages wrought by the insurgency of 1810–21: its buildings were deteriorated, the irrigation works a shambles, livestock of all kinds and even agricultural tools totally absent. The new owner lived in Celaya for months at a time after his purchase, investing large sums to recover and even increase the productivity of Trojes. He planted olive trees, grape vines, fruit trees like quinces, apricots, chirimoyas, pomegranates, figs, and peaches; experimented with mulberry trees to produce silkworms; produced olive and linseed oil, vinegar, and wine made

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from quinces; cultivated alfalfa and wheat; and rebuilt herds of cattle, horses, and sheep while adding burros and goats to the livestock. This all suggests a highly commercialized property linked to the markets of Mexico City and Guanajuato. Alamán later commented that land values in the Bajío had risen precipitously after the mid-eighteenth century as nearby urban and mining markets presented rapidly rising demand. Despite the attention and investment he lavished on the hacienda, however, he had certainly sold it off by the end of the 1840s, since it does not appear in his testament of 1850. The sale probably resulted from the unprofitability of Trojes itself and/or Alamán’s inability to service the burden of debt on the estate, combined with the need to realize funds to deal with liabilities arising from the collapse of the Cocolapan textile factory in the early 1840s. He enjoyed much more success managing the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone’s sugar hacienda in Cuernavaca than in efforts on his own behalf. Many years later he claimed that the hacienda was “the cause of all my [financial] setbacks.” But in the fall of 1826, almost exactly a year after he left the government, the estate must have seemed a highly attractive and promising investment. Between these two points in time, in 1831, he was still hopeful if guarded; his brief correspondence about the issue with Francisco Borja Migoni in London sheds some light on his experience in this regard. In response to a passing remark of Alamán’s in the summer of 1831 that he was going to spend some time on his Celaya hacienda—Alamán never mentions taking his family with him on these trips—Migoni queried his friend regarding the price of a rural estate like his and its projected level of profitability. Alamán answered his question about the profitability of haciendas by citing the variations in soils and other variables, concluding, “Up to now, not only have my haciendas yielded me nothing, but I have invested much money in them, [given] that I have had to supply [them] with everything, since everything was lacking. This year they will begin to produce something, which I think will not be less than ten percent [on investment].”10 His personal involvement in the agricultural sector suffered much the same fate as his adventures with British capital in the mining industry and his direct entry into textile production, thus completing a trifecta of entrepreneurial failures and disappointed hopes for any accumulation of wealth. Family events continued to run their course. Lucas Alamán’s mother, María Ignacia Escalada Madroñero, died on 10 December 1824 of a “terrible pneumonia” at the relatively advanced age of seventy-three.11 By this time she had seen her second son married and had met the first of her grandchildren,

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the infant Catalina. She lived to see Lucas not only launched on a public career but also occupying one of the highest offices in the young republic, and her elder son attaining great success as a churchman. His mother’s death must have affected Lucas Alamán deeply, since one has the impression that he was very close to her. Lucas Alamán’s and Narcisa Castrillo’s first son, Gil, was born on 10 September 1825. Alamán wrote to his friend Migoni in London that the delivery had been an easy one, but that Narcisa was struck with a serious case of dysentery immediately thereafter (this could not have been fun for a woman recovering from childbirth). And as he was to do all his life, Lucas Alamán continued to buy high-end goods from Europe: books, scientific instruments, mechanical devices. Sometime in late 1825 he received on the English ship Hottentot a chiming pocket watch of gold manufactured by Barwise of London, “watchmaker to the king,” at a price, exclusive of shipping and insurance, of fifty-seven pounds, about three hundred pesos, the equivalent of the annual salary of a white-collar clerk or minor bureaucrat in the capital.12

Preserving the National Memory As a statesman, Lucas Alamán made mistakes, bad decisions, and on occasion even acted in ways some would describe as sinister. As an entrepreneur he proved pretty much a failure in most of his ventures and cut some corners in his economic dealings with a few people. His promotion of science, however, and his efforts to maintain and organize the material remains of the nation’s past are areas of his public and intellectual life that stand virtually unblemished. His prodigious intelligence, acknowledged even by his political enemies, and his avowing of interests both broad and deep, led him to be strongly predisposed to take more than a casual interest in the sciences of his day. These included geology because of its connection to the mining industry and also chemistry, botany, and other fields. His scientific studies in Europe during his extended travels there as a youth as well as his lifelong friendship with Alexander von Humboldt and other Continental scholars of distinction such as the Swiss botanist Augustin de Candolle laid a solid foundation for his continuing interest in the sciences of the time. He was something of a polymath in an age when an educated man could still know a good deal about many subjects without specializing in any one of them. Alamán’s efforts in preserving and exploring the historical memory of the nation might well have grown out of his political activities even had his obvious deep concern with his family’s past not driven him into Clio’s embrace. The first concrete manifestation of this

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sensibility was the official establishment of the Archivo General y Público de la Nación on 23 August 1823, commemorated today as the Archivo General de la Nación by a prominently displayed stone plaque visible to anyone using the archive. Certainly the founding of the repository responded to the practical administrative needs of his ministry and the other organs of national governance and to the need to overhaul the antiquated system of the viceregal secretariat. But Alamán was also doing his future historian-self a great service given that he was to ransack the national archive for his historical works, especially his Historia de Méjico. But in the beginning were the garden and museum. In early June 1823 the congressional deputy José María de Bustamante (not to be confused with the historian Carlos) received a note via Alamán’s ministry from the SPE expressing a desire to give every possible support to the development of “science and useful knowledge” in the country. The triumvirs had therefore decreed the collection for a national museum of “Mexican antiquities already gathered, and [also] the observations of [those foreigners] who have traveled the Americas.” Bustamante had in his possession many such materials, including objects, sketches, and field notes, collected by one Mr. Dupée; these he was asked to place at the disposal of the ministry, which he did immediately.13 Two days later minister Alamán asked Vicente Cervantes, professor of botany at the university and director of the capital’s botanical garden, if there were any nearby buildings that might serve as a museum suitable for the deposit of the “curiosities” from Dupaix’s and other collections.14 There followed a long, detailed correspondence between Alamán and Cervantes evaluating the feasibility of locating the planned museum and expanded botanical garden in various places in the center of the city.15 The botanical garden had been established by royal edict in the early 1780s as part of a major botanical expedition to New Spain sponsored and funded by the Spanish crown.16 Officially inaugurated in 1789, it was directed for many years by Cervantes, the Spanish-trained botanist who made his career and home in Mexico. Bedeviled during its initial phases by problems of swampiness at the huge site chosen for it in the middle of Mexico City, the Royal Botanical Garden eventually came to occupy two separate but complementary locations: one in the interior patios of the viceregal (later the national) palace on the Zócalo, the other on the hill of Chapultepec, where the castle that today dominates the Parque de Chapultepec, begun in the late eighteenth century, was still an unfinished construction. The garden’s fortunes waxed and waned, but the initial steps after independence to resuscitate it and combine it with a

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museum of antiquities were undertaken by minister Alamán. In his report to congress of late November 1823 the minister made the case that the botanical garden had suffered terrible neglect in recent years and was now barely adequate to support instruction in the most basic rudiments of this “beautiful and useful science.”17 In his report he proposed to congress that the decommissioned Hospital de Naturales, or General Indian Hospital, be repurposed for a national museum and some installations of the university’s school of medicine, that the attached cemetery be devoted to the Jardín Botánico, and that another plot serve the botanical garden as well as a place for the enjoyment of the general public. But like so many other projects aimed at the betterment of Mexican society in this era, the museum–botanical garden fell victim to the fiscal weakness of the central state, and the grandiose plans stalled. Cervantes was finding it impossible to comply with the simplest requests of Alamán’s ministry, as when the minister asked that he send some seeds and other plant samples to England, presumably for the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. The tone of the sections in Alamán’s memoria dealing with the museum, botanical garden, and archive is the most elaborate and enthusiastic of the entire long document, hinting strongly as to where the minister’s personal and intellectual sympathies lay. The foundation of the archivo was already a fait accompli when Alamán presented it to the congress. In the viceregal secretariat “the heaping of the files [expedientes] in confusion, with no division into sections nor any indexes to their contents, has made it necessary to begin [the work of organization] and to extend it not only to the archive of that secretariat, but also to those of the sections for war and government, with the object of forming a well-arranged general archive where the public can find with ease and promptness the documents it requires.”18 Viceroy Iturrigaray had initiated a reevaluation of the viceregal secretariat’s organization in 1803 under one of the senior clerks, but the effort bogged down with the advent of the permanent political crisis through which New Spain passed beginning in 1808. There were practical reasons for undertaking this organizational effort. Although the minister had about six months to write his first memoria before he delivered it in November 1823, a great deal of preparatory work was required. Documents were constantly going astray: they were not filed properly even under the rather loose criteria prevailing at the time, or had drifted into private hands or to other ministries, or were simply not to be found at all. The ad hoc nature of paper management continued even while the Archivo General itself was being set up. At the end of 1823, for example, a group of native people

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from the town of San Miguel el Grande asked the minister to locate some papers related to litigation over the title to certain lands in which they were engaged with the Spanish vecinos of the town. Alamán referred the request to the archivist of his office, only to be told that the documents could not be located anywhere.19 Clearly, action to resolve such problems was called for, so minister Alamán reassigned some of his own staff to the project while asking for the transfer of personnel from other departments. The minister wanted not only to have a functioning bureaucratic archive at his own disposal and that of other high officials as well as the public but also to conserve important elements of the nation’s past. Here his ideas of an archive merged a bit messily with the museum–botanical garden project and even spilled over into the area of a broader public enlightenment. Alamán wrote in his Memoria (ministerial report) that “precious testimonies of Mexican antiquities”—primarily consisting of rare texts, travelers’ accounts, and so forth, gathered “due in great measure to the enlightenment of the celebrated traveler Boturini”—be combed out of the archives and collected in a separate department.20 Alamán even proposed regional or local museums of antiquities, an idea never to be realized in his time.

“No One Would Be Secure”: The Pursuit of Domestic Tranquility Overseeing the daily operations of the Mexican government and responding to crises as they arose often took precedence over projects that would only unfold completely over time, such as the archive, the museum, and the botanical gardens. This was a critical moment in the new nation’s history, when recognition of its nationhood by European powers needed to be pressed in foreign capitals, loans secured for the operation of the impecunious government, Spain’s final exit from Mexican soil engineered, the country’s relationship to the area of Central America resolved, and the territorial ambitions of an increasingly powerful northern neighbor kept at bay. All these goals may be gathered under the broad rubric of imposing order on Mexico, as Lucas Alamán understood the concept. Whether the country was really teetering on the edge of entropic doom, as Alamán seemed to think in continually invoking the specter of anarchy, is a matter of interpretation. The first item of business in the imposition of order was internal security; without some semblance of public tranquility nothing else could be accomplished. In practice, however, a strong state posture in this regard often amounted to a sort of Kabuki theater

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that expressed the necessity of offering pardons, extending terms, and arriving at accommodation with dissenters and rebels, at least until after the revolutionary settlement of the 1920s. The concern to keep the highways safe for travelers and commerce and to maintain a basic level of calm in the countryside, was hardly unique to Lucas Alamán. The drive to create and maintain public order reflected his ideas about exerting control over the military, insuring the sanctity of private property, and keeping the lower orders in their place. He would also have thought of robust police measures, large-scale information gathering, spying, and other technologies of state power not only as contributing to internal security within the country but also as instilling the larger principle of the rule of law—in other words, order through purposive government action undergirded by the delegation of sovereignty from citizens to central power. This maps very well onto his lifelong belief in the virtues of centralized state institutions. That Mexico had barely thrown off the yoke of centralized colonial control two years before he entered the government and had repudiated a failed domestic monarchical experiment scarcely a month before in large measure accounts for the fact that he was seen as a reactionary and a Bourbonist and his ideas so retrograde, both in his own time and since. If any national political actor in the early republican period saw “like a state” in James C. Scott’s evocative phrase, however, it was Lucas Alamán.21 While political tempers cooled during the late summer and fall of 1823, episodic disturbances in the provinces continued. Santa Anna was out of the picture temporarily. The declaration by the reseated national congress favoring a federalist arrangement of the country had cleared the political horizon somewhat, and Alamán repeatedly assured restive provincial chieftains that a convocation for new elections was right around the corner. Minister Alamán’s expectations were excessively sanguine by a long shot, however, in assuming that new elections would obviate most of the difficulties when the convocatoria for new elections was finally published on 17 June 1823. His invocation of “the federation, that beautiful invention of modern politics” was prefaced in the printed circular with a summary of the salutary effects Alamán and the SPE foresaw resulting from elections, among them the expression of “the general will” in any constitution to be written.22 Nor did the rules under the new federal constitution for the election of the first congreso ordinario, the procedures for the presidential election of 1824 and those for the election of Supremo Tribunal judges and other officials, or the numerous decrees issued for the organization of the legislative branch placate dissident spirits outside the capital city.

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While Lucas Alamán was dealing with the large matters of public security and asserting the authority of the central government, the manifold life of the great capital eddied about him, some of it criminal in nature. Monthly criminal reports from the overlapping authorities in Mexico City flowed across his desk with regularity. The month of August 1823 is quite representative. In the early morning hours of Friday, 1 August, a suspicious man carrying a large wrapped object was detained on the Calle de Vizcainas near the center of the city; later it was discovered that a house on the same block had been broken into, so he was taken to jail on suspicion of burglary. A woman had been beaten up by a man, resulting in the arrest of both. The following night five drunken individuals, three of them women, were hauled off to jail. Robberies, burglaries, fights, unruly and abusive soldiers, transvestites, stolen livestock, military deserters, murderers, madmen, and couples cohabiting adulterously thronged these reports. On Wednesday the twenty-seventh a soldier stumbled into an ice cream parlor on the Calle de la Cadena, near minister Alamán’s house, with a knife wound in his stomach inflicted by an unknown assailant; last rites were administered to him on the spot. And so it went, night after night, month after month. Security problems of a much higher order occupied minister Alamán’s attention for the two and a half years he occupied the post. Reports came in regularly from the provinces/states of movimientos revolucionarios, often conflated with banditry, either in reality or in the perception of officials, as in San Antonio de Béjar (Texas) and San Martín Tesmelucan (Puebla) in July and September 1823, respectively. In September Alamán received detailed news of disturbances in Querétaro from the jefe político Antonio Gama. The situation had grown out of a drunken encounter between soldiers and civilians, but there was no evidence of “any faction bent on attacking order and the system [of government].” Minister Alamán tersely ordered that such groups be pursued militarily “without pause until [their] complete extermination.” Nor was the landscape free of conspirators and spies. From Querétaro, again, came charges from Gama of subversive, pro-iturbidista activities by the lawyer and former congressional deputy Ramón Martínez de los Ríos, whom Alamán ordered watched carefully and eventually arrested. Spies for foreign powers (or at least suspicions of such) also showed up from time to time. The minister informed the Jalisco governor Prisciliano Sánchez in the fall of 1824 that a certain French physician named Fessel had arrived in Guadalajara. He urged that Fessel be watched carefully since “all the individuals of that nation should be justly suspicious to us while she [France] does not recognize our independence”; recognition would come in 1830.23

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The partial surviving records of the SPE’s deliberations for the May 1823 through July 1824 period, for most of which Alamán was in the cabinet, are full of allusions to civil disturbances, subversion, and political conspiracies. Although he was deeply preoccupied with the problem of imposing order on Mexican society by almost any means possible, he himself was not above attempting to circumvent the rules, as when he embroiled himself in a monarchist conspiracy in the 1840s. Why conspiracies should have loomed so large in Mexican political culture of the time is a complex problem, with no single convincing answer. To suggest that early republican political instability in itself inspired conspiracy is to beg the question, but there was observably a circular relationship in which instability bred repression, repression conspiracy, and conspiracy further instability. A major nutrient for the growth of a conspiratorial tradition was the legitimacy vacuum produced when Mexico came out from under the umbrella of the Spanish monarchy. There were also a number of factors that tended to restrict the space for open political discourse, debate, and contention, thus driving dissent into the shadows, where it might fester into conspiracy. Among these were the failure of institutionalized political parties to develop until quite late, the generally limited electoral franchise, and the periodic censorship of the press. Yet other contributing elements were a certain casualness of attitude toward legal norms in general and the weakness of civil society. So important a problem were political conspiracies that in the fall of 1823 the national congress considered passing a law suspending certain procedural guarantees for those credibly accused of political conspiracy against the government. The law was proposed by Carlos María de Bustamante and another deputy and favorably recommended out of a congressional subcommittee in early October. The unease was over conspiracies to raise “el bajo pueblo”—the lower class, in other words—in revolt; under debate was the suspension of legal forms in the arrest of accused conspirators and the summary detention of such people for months. The subcommittee went so far as to suggest, in a sort of hypothetical aside, “the establishment of a dictatorship, which may in the end be absolutely necessary.”24 What Alamán thought of this proposed measure when it crossed his desk is not recorded, but given what he had earlier proposed to congress with regard to the suppression of banditry it is not a stretch to imagine that he approved of it. Then there was the problem of endemic, purely criminal banditry to be dealt with. Whether banditry in Mexico—violent criminal activity, especially in rural areas and often on the highways, exercised by groups of armed men ranging in size from a pair of miscreants to large gangs of a score or more—

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was ever purely criminal or not has come in for a certain amount of discussion by historians. Endemic it certainly was, increasing in frequency and scale during and after periods of civil unrest, especially the insurgency of 1810. Travelers during the early republican decades often wrote of it, it became a central theme in costumbrista novels of a slightly later period, and modern historical scholarship has devoted a good deal of attention to it. There was little the central government could do to control it, however, since the national coffers were virtually empty during these years, and the states of the federation born in 1823–24 either had no resources to dispose of or refused to apply their scant means to the suppression of rural criminality. Moreover, having just asserted their autonomy during the federalist crisis of 1823, the states were loath to empower the central government by creating any sort of national gendarmerie. The newly created State of Mexico, for example, simply refused to comply with a November 1823 order from Mexico City, whose author must have been minister Alamán, to establish two companies of rural mounted police. While he could do little to establish a police presence in the Mexican countryside, however, Alamán might at least tinker with the legal framework within which banditry was confronted. In his first annual memoria to congress at the end of 1823 he invoked briefly the conditions that gave rise to and sustained endemic banditry: “After a tenacious and bloody war, which during ten years caused the desolation of our countryside, transformed the tools of cultivation into instruments of destruction and death, the ruin of property, and the other inevitable consequences of domestic turmoil, a great number of the [country’s] inhabitants became accustomed to violence and murder.” He reminded the legislators that the government’s response to banditry was the law of 27 September 1823 enacted by congress at his behest, a project for a law streamlining the procedures for trying highwaymen.25 The document I have seen is undated as to composition but was clearly drafted by Alamán. The proposed law would suspend constitutional rules normally guiding judges regarding imprisonment and criminal proceedings, authorizing the commanding officers in pursuit of bandit gangs to proceed with criminal prosecutions, sentencing, and punishment up to and including lengthy presidio sentences and the death penalty. The low threshold for action was that the accused belong actively and voluntarily to any bandit group, whether as mere highwaymen (salteadores) or as attackers against public order and tranquility. The minister, the SPE that backed the proposal, and the congress that would approve it were all aware that such a radical suspension of procedural norms placed a high degree of authority in the hands of military officers untrained in the law and that miscarriages

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were bound to occur. These factors apparently made congress pause because similar proposals from the central government had been rejected on at least two previous occasions. Still, the situation with banditry was so dire that the risks of the measure seemed outweighed by the benefits to public order.26 While the application of this severe measure did something in the short term to alleviate the damages done by banditry to travel and the economy, there were always more bandits on hand, and bandolerismo was thus to remain a constant feature of Mexican rural life until the latter part of the nineteenth century.27 There is an interesting coda to this episode involving Lucas Alamán. The passage of a quarter century made him less enthusiastic about the law of 27 September 1823, a measure he himself had urged on the congress. By the time he wrote the final volume of his Historia de Méjico in 1852, he had come to see the legislation suspending constitutional guarantees of due process for conspirators and highwaymen as a potentially nefarious tool in the hands of political factions. In writing about this he subtly distanced himself by attributing the initial impulse first to the discredited tyrant Iturbide and then to the congress, while he himself faded into the background.28 Was the once and future minister being disingenuous here or really reflecting on the 1823 law in the light of experience? Perhaps a bit of both. He was certainly not above ascribing sinister motives to his political opponents and purer ones to himself.

Breaking Away Having labored to make the central government’s gravitational pull under the SPE and the presidency of Guadalupe Victoria more potent, Alamán found that escaping it when he wanted to leave the ministry was difficult. Officially he served from 16 April 1823 to 23 April 1824, from 15 May to 21 September 1824, and from 12 January until 26 September 1825. But he also tendered his resignation on several occasions, both to the SPE and to President Victoria, and enjoyed a number of temporary leaves to see to his personal affairs. At the end of 1825 Alamán responded to an earlier letter from Francisco Borja Migoni in London complaining that the minister had not corresponded with him often enough of late, writing, “I will have plenty of time [now], since I have separated from public affairs and am dedicated exclusively to private ones.”29 His absence from the government was to last for the rest of the 1820s. The politics behind his final departure were quite complicated, resulting not least from Joel Poinsett’s gaining the upper hand in a struggle with the British diplomatic presence in Mexico to influence officials in the government. But there

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were domestic and business reasons as well, including the need to spend time with his growing family, his accelerating involvement in the affairs of the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone, the daily and minute demands of the mining investments he was overseeing for British capitalists, and the rehabilitation and management of the Hacienda de Trojes. He had first offered his resignation sometime early in November 1823, barely six months after entering the cabinet. What had prompted his offer to leave were the violent, popular anti-Spanish sentiments expressed in the streets of the city during the attempt to incinerate Hernán Cortés’s remains and in response to the minister’s order to remove Manuel Tolsa’s great equestrian statue of King Carlos IV to the patio of the university. Although the minister’s sentiments were not in favor of a monarchy at this time, much less a Bourbon restoration in Mexico, he was thereafter branded an apologist for the conquest, a monarchist, and a Bourbonist. On this occasion the SPE refused to accept Alamán’s resignation, and he remained at his post: with what degree of reluctance is not clear. What power the ruling triumvirate had to enforce its decision to keep him on is not obvious, but the decision to stay was in part prompted by an eloquent protest against the resignation offered by the ministry staff. The tone of the petition to the SPE illustrates the admiration and loyalty Lucas Alamán could inspire in his subordinates despite his propensity to make enemies. The petition to the triumvirate bore the signatures of twentytwo members of the ministry staff. The petitioners wrote as follows: A step of this nature will fill us with sadness, since his [Alamán’s] promptness and judgment in the office, the skill with which he has conducted the most sensitive affairs that have arisen in the difficult circumstances in which the Patria has found itself, his patriotism, his zeal in behalf of the public welfare and happiness; and, to sum up, the combination of qualities of all kinds that he possesses makes us regret his absence extremely. Your Highness [i.e., the SPE] has witnessed his disinterest and probity: [in him] the Nation has seen an official dedicated exclusively to the tasks of his ministry and has felt the zeal that animates him for the prosperity and greatness [of Mexico]. The knowledge he acquired in his travels in Europe he has turned to good use for the Patria, and although it may seem presumptuous [of us to say so], we believe that he will be replaced with difficulty.30 Citing his “outstanding qualities,” the SPE rejected the resignation. And so, in the face of this testimonial from his ministry staff and repeated urgings from the SPE, he stayed.

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On 7 February 1824 an official printed circular announced Alamán’s resignation from the ministry of interior and foreign relations, to be replaced by his ministerial second in command. Alamán initially intended the separation to be permanent or at least quite extended rather than temporary, although the retirement from the government was never acted on. The day the circular announcing his departure from the government appeared, he wrote to Hullett Hermanos in London that having left his ministerial position he could now attend to his business affairs. He noted in his letter that although “there have been troubles here, I can promise myself that the public tranquility will not be disturbed in future, and industrial enterprises can advance,” almost making it sound as though his work in the government was finished. He had tendered his resignation to the SPE on 4 February, shortly after the suppression of a barracks revolt in the capital led by the former insurgent general José María Lobato (1790–1830). The Lobato Rebellion, as it came to be known, began on the evening of 22 January, when Lobato barely avoided arrest for his putative participation in an anti-Spanish conspiracy, and the short-lived military uprising was put down by the twenty-eighth. In the loudly anti-Spanish pronunciamiento the rebels demanded the expulsion from the country of all peninsulares and the removal from the executive triumvirate of Michelena and Domínguez, both thought to be pro-Spanish in their political inclinations. This echoed the kerfuffle that had prompted Alamán to resign in November of the previous year and foreshadowed the later expulsion decrees enacted by the national congress in 1827 and 1829. As it happened, Michelena and Dominguez, who by now was relatively elderly, being sixty-seven years old, did end up on the political chopping block. Both left the SPE in short order, Michelena to accept an ambassadorial appointment to the United Kingdom engineered by Alamán, and Domínguez the presidency of the Supreme Court, where he remained until his death a few years later. In proffering his resignation, Alamán wrote to the SPE on 28 January 1824 that his health had been affected by his work in the ministry and that in any case the critical circumstances that had induced him to remain had now passed. There was a larger political question at issue, however, involving the balance of powers between the executive and legislative branches of the government. In his Ensayo histórico Lorenzo de Zavala implied that Alamán himself instigated the Lobato Rebellion through Michelena, then the presiding member of the SPE. Zavala does not specify what the men’s motives were, but presumably they would have been to demonstrate the necessity of a strong, agile central executive, a vacuum Michelena was well situated to fill, at least temporarily. In the end, however, the incident effectively squelched

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any presidential ambitions José Mariano Michelena might have harbored. Meanwhile Alamán remained in the cabinet, his position fortified in short order with the appointment to the war and naval ministry of his political ally Manuel Mier y Terán. Alamán’s hold on power was strengthened further with the announcement in March that Great Britain had extended diplomatic recognition to the new republic, a long process in which he had played a key role.31 Alamán’s comings and goings from the government shed some light on the politics of the era in that they were by no means unique to him during these tempestuous early years of state formation. The holders of the other secretarial portfolios—treasury, war and navy, and justice and ecclesiastical affairs—could turn over with striking rapidity. Sometimes the ministers lasted only a few weeks in office, then left, and might return again. Some of the same names kept cropping up over a number of years, occasionally rotating among the various ministries in an irregular fashion. Calculating the average time in a ministry for each of the 43 periods in office of the men who occupied the four major departments between 2 April 1823 and 1 April 1829—that is, under the SPE and the administration of Guadalupe Victoria—yields a period of 26 weeks, or about six months. Some individuals in the group of officials represented by this sample served more than once. Some of them stayed in office for quite extended and uninterrupted periods. For example, Alamán served in his first stint for 52 weeks, Pablo de la Llave for one stretch of 56 weeks, Francisco Arrillaga for 60 weeks, Juan José Espinosa de los Monteros for 80 weeks, and the title holder, Miguel Ramos Arizpe, for 108 weeks. If one subtracts these and some other anomalously long continuous periods the average for the entire group drops to 18 weeks, or just over 4 months. Several names keep recurring, sometimes at the head of different secretariats, among them Pablo de la Llave, Francisco Arrillaga, José Ignacio Esteva, and Manuel Gómez Pedraza. Alamán finally left the scene in September 1825 after serving on three separate occasions. One wonders what the learning curve of such officeholders might have been and how it would have affected the conduct of government. True, a number of them returned several times to the same position, but with few exceptions they were in a sense amateurs, some with significant political experience but mostly with no administrative or institution-building credentials. There were a number of reasons for this generally rapid movement through the government, none of which in themselves accounted for the volatility of ministerial careers. The four cabinet secretaries served at the pleasure of the

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executive, their appointments and resignations thus reflecting the uneasy equilibrium of centralist and federalist tendencies within the executive authority.32 Moreover, sharp, even vindictive criticism and accusations of the ministers flew around congress and were aired in the robust political press. Alamán was a particular target of this owing to his principal role in the government and his tendentious personality. Public criticism of this sort could turn up the heat on high officials and make ministerial life highly uncomfortable, and there were personal and family considerations as well. Although ministerial salaries—six thousand pesos annually for many years—were respectable relative to what private professionals or entrepreneurs could expect to earn, they were by no means munificent—bribes and peculation aside. Most of the men who held these portfolios therefore had to sacrifice their economic interests while in the government and might need to depart the halls of power to attend to their finances after a few months. This seems to have been the case with Lucas Alamán, who apparently suffered throughout his public career what amounted to bouts of financial exhaustion that impelled him to retreat to the cultivation of his own garden from time to time. When ten weeks or so had passed after his return to his ministerial duties some time in February 1824 following a hiatus of at most a few days, Alamán tendered his resignation once again, on 24 April 1824, and once again under circumstances that are not entirely clear. Since his and Narcisa’s first child, Catalina, was born on 29 April 1824 and since death of the mother in childbirth or postpartum medical difficulties, among them puerperal fever, was not uncommon, Lucas Alamán might well have wanted to be at home with his wife as they saw their first child into the world. If so, his resignation from the government might have been the equivalent of the increasingly fashionable paternity leave in our own day. His resignation on this occasion was probably connected more to politics and his personal business interests than to domestic considerations, however. He might simply have grown tired of political attacks from the likes of Lorenzo de Zavala, Brigadier Juan Pablo Anaya (1785–1850), and other federalist politicians, finding the impending triumph of federalism unpalatable. But it is worth remembering that federalist ascendancy, the Constitution of 1824, and the presidency of the “viejo mentecato” (old fool) Guadalupe Victoria notwithstanding, Alamán eventually stayed on in the government until the fall of 1825. So one should take at least partially at face value his explanation that business interests claimed his attention. The day of his official resignation, 24 April 1824, the SPE appointed Pablo de la Llave, just recently returned to the ministry of justice and ecclesiastical affairs

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after a bout of illness, to the portfolio of secretary of state for interior and exterior relations. Alamán was out of office for only three weeks, returning to the ministry on 15 May 1824. His return was prompted by an official recall from the SPE in a letter drafted by de la Llave, dated 13 May. This letter, taken at face value, hints at the esteem in which the minister’s talents were held by the SPE: Since the first days of its installation, Your Excellency, with great prudence and foresight, worked with [the SPE] in the salvation of the Fatherland, and helped with your [wise] counsels to free [the Fatherland] from the anarchy and other ills that have threatened it. Nor has it forgotten that the good name Your Excellency has won in some European countries has contributed much to reestablish the credit of the Nation, and to supply it with those resources demanded by its great and urgent necessities. And such [being the] case it [the SPE] is pleased again to name you to the Ministry of State and Relations. Their Highnesses are certain that Your Excellency will not hesitate to accept this honored and distinguished post, and that to this end you will dispense with the motives that obliged you to resign it at another moment. Alamán’s reply to de la Llave and the SPE came the next day: I see from Your Excellency’s letter that Their Highnesses [of the SPE], weighing [my reasons] in their prudent [judgment], have not found them as pressing as in my opinion they are, [so] I must nonetheless present them again. Although the esteem and appreciation of hombres de bien appears to have accompanied me to the solitude of my House, it would be very regrettable if, at the same time I took upon my shoulders a post so much beyond my powers, my name should give occasion to new pretexts [for criticism] that would increase the difficulties that even in the best of times beset such a dangerous post. [And] add to this motive [that] the affairs with which I am presently burdened [are] increased recently with the foundation of a company for the financing of mines whose management I have the honor of accepting. I will not mention [as an excuse] the peculiar difficulties of the [present] circumstances; nor the troubles and unpleasantness that embitter the life of a public man at every moment; nor the continual sacrifice of one’s calm, [domestic] tranquility, and even reputation. Your Excellency

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knows this from practical experience, as do the worthy individuals of the Supreme Executive Power, who experience it daily. This is the tribute that every hombre de bien is obliged to pay to his Fatherland, which has the right to require of its children any kind of service. But true as this principle may be, I confess frankly to Your Excellency that I cannot look but with horror upon the high post that Their Highnesses are pleased to confer upon me. Please convey to the Supreme Executive Power my reasons, at the same time making clear to them my deepest expressions of gratitude for the many and repeated proofs of appreciation with which they have honored me, and protesting all the recognition and obedience that I owe. On behalf of the SPE de la Llave replied to Alamán that having considered the former minister’s reasons carefully, they still insisted that he return to take charge of the ministry.33 On 15 May Alamán took the oath of office and returned to the cabinet. Over the following weeks the announcement of his return provoked a wave of objections from liberals and federalists who saw him as the bête noir of aristocentralist reaction but also a flood of congratulatory letters from state governors, bishops, and other officials. Fairly typical, if more fulsome than most, was a note from Governor Pedro José López de Nava of Zacatecas, one of the states that had been at the forefront of the federalist wave the preceding summer: “I know well Your Excellency’s enlightenment, which extends to the knowledge of many fields, not just politics, but other sciences [widely] different [from each other], a circumstance that excuses you from paying heed to my own limited understanding.” It is not at all clear what the dynamics were of Alamán’s return to the ministry just a day after strongly insisting he could not accept the appointment. Whether he was shamed into it (unlikely, I think, given his character), flattered into it (slightly more plausible), had second thoughts about it based on what he believed he might accomplish with a return to the cabinet (possible), or whether he arrived at some secret arrangement with the SPE—about the scope of his powers, for example, or an amplification of his ministry’s resources—he does not tell us. On the very day he renewed his refusal, however, he sent a note to his English agents, the firm that brokered the financing of the United Mexican Mining Association (the Unida referred to in the letter), that partly reveals his thinking: “The energy with which the government is acting, and the stability that the [European] loan gives it, will consolidate the order of things. It is being asked of me that I

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return to the ministry, and I will need to do it very soon since only some personal considerations delay me [in accepting]. This will not damage the company and thus it [the company] can rely on the support of the government.” This letter suggests that Alamán was less than frank with de la Llave and the SPE. He may have reached the conclusion that returning to the cabinet would give him more leverage in his efforts to revive the mining economy with the injection of British capital. That would prove to be important to the early republican economy, if episodically and of uneven effects.34

8 • Diplomacy

Perfidious Albion and the New Republic: Loans and Gunboats There were three routes by which British capital might enter the newly independent Mexican republic. The least significant of these by volume but the most visible in the day-to-day lives of ordinary Mexicans was the establishment of private commercial enterprises in the major cities of the country.1 Another was the massive infusion of capital that flowed through the London bond market into mining enterprises like the United Mexican Mining Association and other concerns. The third route was that of sovereign loans, also originating with private British investors but in the form of obligations assumed directly by the Mexican government. The foreign loans that so alarmed many of Lucas Alamán’s contemporaries were all undertaken in 1823–25 while he occupied the chief ministerial post in the national government. The Iturbide regime had also negotiated loans whose principals and interest charges the later contracted debt was intended to amortize in part.2 Amounting to £6.4 million borrowed from London banking houses, the loans of 1823–25 went into default by 1827, and the accumulating sovereign debt would haunt Mexico for many decades to come. Defaulted British loans to the new Latin American republics during this period came to some £21 million, of which the Mexican share thus amounted to nearly a third. Even before Mexico formally defaulted in 1827, the accumulated weight of these bad loans played a large role in the London stock market crash of 1825. A final settlement of the Mexican debt came only via an agreement between the government of President Manuel González and the British stakeholders in 1887. Aside from ruining Mexico’s credit rating, the loans themselves, the terms on which they were contracted, and the disposition of the funds realized kicked 215

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up a considerable amount of political dust and tended to stain the reputation of anyone involved with the transactions. The story of these debts is immensely complicated and far-reaching. Was Mexico a victim in the situation, did the country victimize itself, or was the nation at least initially in a more advantageous position, with more bargaining room, than the received wisdom suggests? Opinions vary, but rehearsing this history here in its entirety would needlessly duplicate the work already done by scholars, most recently Richard J. Salvucci, whose book Politics, Markets, and Mexico’s “London Debt,” 1823–1887 (2009) tells the story in detail while keeping in sight the larger issues involved. The snowballing defaulted loans and accumulating debt service, despite attempts to restructure the debt through conversions in 1830, 1837, 1846, 1850, and 1864, all of which failed, prompt Salvucci to comment, It is no exaggeration to call the London Debt one of the great issues of nineteenth-century Mexican history. Indeed, as late as 1891, several years after the London Debt had finally been resolved, the great liberal newspaper, El Siglo Diez y Nueve, termed the “contracting of the loans of 1823 and 1824 with the houses of Goldsmith [sic] and Barkclay [sic]” one of the great economic disasters of the century, the fruit of precisely the sort of economic ignorance that the paper had been launched to eradicate. . . . [C]apitalizing arrears produced a debt that doubled each decade, even as the Mexican economy stagnated. Something more than juggling was required to hold this set of arrangements together, but in the end that something, real economic growth, did not materialize.3 Lucas Alamán was deeply involved with the British loans through his personal relationships with the two main Mexican negotiators, Migoni, in political matters a centralist with monarchist sympathies, and Michelena, a moderate federalist. He was also at the helm of Mexico’s foreign relations, and the British loans were much affected not only by the ill health of other Spanish American loans and the political situation in Europe but also by the effort of the Mexican government to tie the interests of British capitalists, and therefore of Britain itself, to Mexico via the bonds sold on the London market. This link, it was believed, would hurry along diplomatic recognition while making Britain a guarantor of Mexican independence against the ever-present threat of the Spanish reconquest of its errant colony. It also seems likely that Alamán’s success in getting the United Mexican Mining Association off the ground with British capital, along with his own high reputation in Europe, generated a more favorable environment for the transactions than they would have had he

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not been in the government. Centralist reconfiguration of the government at various points during the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s in part drove the London market for Mexican debt, since the increases in the collection of fiscal revenues supposedly linked to centralism corresponded to an increased likelihood that foreign bondholders would be paid.4 This story begins with the “Manifiesto del Supremo Poder Ejecutivo a la nación,” published on 16 May 1823 and probably written by Alamán on instructions from the SPE: “Convinced of the necessity of equalizing the income and expenses of the state, and [since] it is impossible to raise the former with the promptitude desired, the SPE has occupied [itself] in reducing the latter, [while still] desiring to provide public officials and employees with a reasonable wage. . . . [Public finances are being reorganized] so that [government affairs] will receive a new energy with the foreign loan that the Sovereign Congress has authorized it to contract.” The new loan authorized by congress was to be paired with a recognition of the old debts, “illegal though they may appear.” The imperial government had also printed too much paper money, undermining in value even the low tax income flowing haltingly into state coffers. This led to the difficulty of paying the salaries of government employees.5 The public penury calling forth these measures during the first years following independence can be ascribed to a number of causes. The destruction in the mining sector wrought by the decade of insurgency has generally been cited as the major one. In the wake of independence what domestic capital there was tended to take shelter wherever it could owing to the generally insecure state of the country and out of justified fear of forced loans by the state. The loans from abroad crowded out domestic capital from the private financiers (agiotistas) who later became so important in keeping the central state afloat financially. Where investment in manufacturing might have occurred, the shallow national markets, technological underdevelopment, inadequate infrastructure, and expensive transportation that characterized the tiny industrial sector discouraged investment. Nor was the country awash in tradable exports apart from silver. There were other tradables, such as cochineal, but they were produced in relatively small quantities and certainly not on a scale sufficient to fill the empty coffers of the national treasury with taxes collected on them, much less by revenues produced by the stream of backward and forward linkages emanating from them. The “misalignment” of the exchange rate between the silver Mexico produced and the gold standard to which Great Britain adhered put the new republic at a considerable disadvantage in terms of the exchange rate and trade. Burgeoning industrial and entrepreneurial

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groups clung to the high-tariff policy advocated by centralists, but this measure reduced imports and therefore fiscal income from customs duties. Absent economic dynamism in the country, it was clear by the late 1830s that the Mexican economy was stagnating. So Mexico could either sell its way out of public penury with the export of tradable goods or borrow its way out. The country did have one important export good, however, in addition to the product of its mines: the overly sanguine, as it turned out, expectation in Mexico itself and in Europe that the new nation was rich in resources, would rebound quickly from the effects of the insurgency, and was headed toward a bright future.6 In a Britain flooded with capital following the Napoleonic wars, this vision of the country encouraged investors to take risks with their money, but within a few years they and the people they lent to would have a rude awakening. Independent Mexico’s debt problems had begun with the financial shortfalls of the Iturbide regime in 1822. Alamán commented of the pre-Iturbide regency’s actions in the fiscal arena that they “seem to have had no other object than to increase expenditures . . . while reducing resources” and that this course arose from an impulse to “popularize the revolution.” After the fall of Iturbide there was much debate in and out of congress on the merits and dangers of funding the Mexican state this way. At this point Francisco Borja Migoni entered the picture. He was the Mexican-born merchant—although he had secretly been naturalized a British citizen—who would come to be named Mexican consul-general in London by President Guadalupe Victoria in 1824. Prickly, abundantly ambitious, and unselfconsciously given to trading on high associations in the Mexican government for his own advantage, he was on fairly intimate terms, at least familiar epistolary terms, with Lucas Alamán and would become a major player on the London end of the SPE’s search for loans. Alamán and Migoni continued an active and familiar correspondence, chiefly concerning the United Mexican Mining Association, through the 1820s and probably up until Migoni’s death in 1831. By the summer of 1823 Migoni was authorized by the government to negotiate an eight million peso loan in London on the best terms he could get. The first serious loan to be negotiated was that underwritten by B. A. Goldschmidt and Company, one of the smaller London merchant banking houses. Patrick Mackie, a Glasgow physician about whom not much is known, had been sent to Mexico by the British foreign secretary George Canning to explore the issue of diplomatic recognition with the Iturbide government. He returned to London and put himself in contact with Migoni, offering to intercede with the British govern-

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ment to facilitate the transaction with Goldschmidt. Mackie dropped out of the loan picture after having somehow managed to extract some £39,000 from Migoni, which the latter buried in the administrative costs of the Goldschmidt loan. Early in January 1824 Migoni made an oral agreement with the Goldschmidt concern to borrow £1.6 million (about eight million pesos) against a Mexican government bond issue of twice that amount, formalizing the contract in January and February 1824. Migoni claimed that the terms on offer were the best he could obtain because the bond issues of Colombia, Peru, and Chile had had a chilling effect on the international bond market, and the federalist uprisings of 1823 had further aggravated the situation, forcing interest rates up in the face of increasing risk factors. The conditions of the deeply discounted Goldschmidt loan were in fact the most unfavorable of any Latin American bond issue before 1826. Even while the terms of the Goldschmidt loan had been agreed to by both contracting parties, Migoni approached another London merchant-banking house, Barclay, Herring, and Richardson, and received an immediate positive response about extending a sovereign loan to Mexico.7 Appointed by the foreign and interior minister Lucas Alamán as envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain, meanwhile, José Mariano Michelena arrived in England in June 1824 and immediately clashed with Migoni. The most likely explanation for their mutual antipathy was jealousy on Migoni’s part over Michelena’s diplomatic appointment and their economic competition regarding commissions over the loans to be secured. In letters to Alamán, Migoni repeatedly referred to Michelena as being arrogant and rude, while Michelena accused Migoni of being disrespectful and evasive, particularly with regard to the Goldschmidt loan.8 Michelena continued the negotiations with the Barclay, Herring, and Richardson firm where Migoni had left off, managing to consummate a deal for a bond issue of £3.2 million which went on sale on 7 February 1825. This was the basic chronology of the two loans that were to plague Mexican public finance for the next sixty years. Lucas Alamán maintained a regular correspondence with Migoni even before the entire affair of the London loans began. Migoni’s tendency to querulousness was in evidence by the summer of 1823, when he wrote to the minister that other initiatives to borrow English funds cut across his own, impeding his progress in finding an underwriter for the eight million peso loan he sought. He wrote that in 1820–21 Spain, “nothing more than a pile of rubble,” had secured a loan from a Paris merchant bank; so if ruined Spain, why not promising Mexico?9 By the fall of 1823 Migoni was in discussions

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with B. A. Goldschmidt, which he described as “a house of the first rank”; it was not. Constantly playing up the delicacy and difficulty of his task, Migoni wrote that the only place to seek such a loan was London, “the center of riches of America, Africa, and Europe.” Buoyed by Migoni’s optimism about obtaining a London loan, Alamán saw a cloud on the horizon in the manly form of the exiled emperor “since [his return] is the only thing that can interrupt the [present] state of things.” There followed a blistering epistolary war between Migoni and Michelena beginning in June 1824, Michelena accusing Migoni of single-handedly lowering the creditworthiness of Mexico and botching the Goldschmidt loan. Michelena wrote of his rival’s activities in an increasingly apocalyptic tone, saying in one letter that “never has a government been as humiliated as that of Mexico, and never has an excess so prejudicial to the interests of the Nation [as the Goldschmidt loan] been committed.”10 An infuriating burr under Michelena’s saddle was his inability to shake loose any of the proceeds from the Goldschmidt loan from Migoni’s grasp. Michelena continued his avalanche of letters directed to Alamán, sending no fewer than twentythree between 28 July and 1 August 1824, mostly addressing the issue of securing British recognition for Mexico but mixed in with more critical remarks about Migoni. The hostility between the two boiled unabated through the summer of 1824, although Michelena’s energies were increasingly devoted to the diplomatic recognition question and to his dealings with British Foreign Secretary George Canning. Both Migoni and Michelena continued to address Alamán in cordial, even intimate, terms: amado amigo (dear friend), Alamanito, Alamanito mío, and even Alamancito. Each expected the minister to support him against the other. In August Migoni essentially threatened to hold his breath until he turned blue, expecting his friend Alamán to back up his position against Michelena. In resigning his posts as receiver on behalf of the Mexican government of funds borrowed in Britain and as consul general in London, Migoni continued to complain, now aiming his invective at Michelena’s fatuous secretary, Vicente Rocafuerte; he suggested even that people were opening his mail, adding the spice of paranoia to the fermenting brew of his dissatisfaction.11 Alamán eventually tilted somewhat in the direction of Michelena in this rivalry, probably because the crucial question of British recognition lay in his and Michelena’s hands. The subsequent history of the two loans is quite complicated. Lucas Alamán largely dropped out of the picture by the end of 1824 or so, turning his attention both to the domestic politics that were to make his position in the ministry increasingly untenable during 1825 and to the pressing issue of British

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diplomatic recognition. Major incidents in that history included the increasing involvement of Rocafuerte, whom the envoy left as chargé d’affaires in London upon his return to Mexico in late in 1824. Rocafuerte was tasked with managing the two loans and the application of much of the funds from Barclay to pay off Goldschmidt. Also important were the appointment of a British parliamentary commission to look into the Spanish American bond market, the failure of both the Goldschmidt and Barclay, Herring, and Richardson houses, and the assumption of the Barclay loan by Baring Brothers. Furthermore, a general collapse of the London bond market in 1826 rippled outward to the rest of Europe. Finally, Mexico defaulted on payments to its bondholders in 1827. In the end, the Mexican government realized about 15 million pesos from the loans. Michelena, in the meantime, managed to put together a small fleet of ships, under the command of British and American officers, to whose activity Alamán ascribed the surrender of San Juan de Ulúa in November 1825 and thus the final expulsion of Spanish forces from Mexican soil.

Getting the British In . . . There were other important strategic geopolitical and commercial interests at stake for Great Britain in considering the diplomatic recognition of the new Latin American states as Britain became the major trading partner of the Latin American republics. From the Mexican point of view, British recognition carried a number of positive benefits, chief among them the hope that it would ward off a Spanish invasion backed by the Holy Alliance of Austria, Russia, and Prussia. In 1824–25 George Canning effectively engineered the diplomatic recognition of Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina by virtue of signing bilateral commercial treaties with the three new states.12 The expulsion of the French forces from Spain and the return of Ferdinand VII to the Spanish throne in 1814 restored Bourbon rule. Following Napoleon’s downfall, the congress of Vienna (1815–16) aimed at creating an overwhelmingly conservative and solidly monarchical post-Napoleonic settlement in Europe. The trienio liberal (liberal triennium) in Spain (1820–23) and the second restoration of King Ferdinand to his throne by dint of the return of the French in an armed intervention by his cousin King Louis XVIII (1823) plus the establishment of the Holy Alliance (1815) helped forestall the spread of republicanism. The most important diplomatic-military issue immediately affecting the question of British recognition in the early 1820s was the possibility of a Spanish attempt to reconquer its wayward reinos de ultramar (overseas kingdoms).

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Canning’s role in the recognition of Latin American independence and therefore in the political consolidation of the young Mexican nation was singularly important. Several of the Latin American nations whose official birth he attended certainly acknowledged this. When he died on 8 August 1827, after only a few months in office as British prime minister, mourning among Spanish Americans was general. Rejoicing among the conservative monarchical courts and ministries was just as widespread since they had regarded him as little better than an anti-Christ.13 Prince Klemens von Metternich, for example, had called him “a malevolent meteor” and “the scourge of Europe,” and Tory ultras in Britain loathed him, while European liberals, among them Goethe and Heinrich Heine, lauded him. Until 1985 there were streets in Buenos Aires and Montevideo named for the British foreign minister and, briefly, prime minister. There is also a street named for him in Rio de Janeiro, while Santiago, Chile, boasts two. In Mexico there is no street, plaza, or even alley bearing his name. The story of the struggle for British diplomatic recognition begins with the arrival in Mexico of the Scottish physician Patrick Mackie, sent by Canning in late 1822. He addressed a series of favorable confidential reports about Mexico to Canning, and with Alamán’s backing held a series of meetings with Guadalupe Victoria in Jalapa. He exceeded his instructions about opening negotiations for recognition by Britain, however, and was recalled. To replace Mackie, Canning sent the British commissioners Lionel Hervey, Charles O’Gorman, and Henry G. Ward to explore the situation. In the meantime, Iturbide had appointed Arthur G. Wavell (1785–1860) to represent Mexico in London, his mission aborted by the fall of the Iturbide regime in March 1823.14 In short order the Mexican government (i.e., Alamán) appointed Francisco Borja Migoni as its representative in London, until he was replaced by Michelena. The basic dramatis personae of the recognition episode had now been set and included Canning, Alamán, Migoni (in the first act), and Michelena, with walkon parts played by the British Parliament and the Mexican Congress. While actively working toward British recognition, however, minister Alamán was not idle on other fronts. He put together a treaty of perpetual union and confederation with Colombia, basically a treaty of mutual military assistance in case of external attack, ratified by the Mexican Congress in November 1823 and envisioned by Alamán as the basis of a broader arrangement among the Spanish American states. During 1823 Canning’s position was evolving toward recognition, where it would definitively settle by the spring of 1824. In a letter of 31 December to a

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political colleague he touched on a number of issues of politics and geopolitics as they concerned Mexico, even adding a prophetic pronouncement regarding Mexico–US relations: “The Spanish American question is, essentially, settled. There will be no congress upon it; and things will take their own course on that continent which cannot be otherwise than favorable to us. I have no objection to Monarchy in Mexico—quite otherwise. . . . Monarchy in Mexico and Monarchy in Brazil would cure the evils of universal democracy, and prevent the drawing of the line of demarcation which I most dread: America versus Europe. The United States, naturally enough, aim at this division, and cherish the democracy which leads to it. . . . Mexico and they are too neighborly to be friends.”15 Pressure on London to extend recognition increased as the United States officially recognized Mexico in 1822, building even further when President James Monroe enunciated his doctrine regarding hemispheric affairs at the very end of 1823. Yet Canning did not immediately bend to it. Under the apparent unity between the US and Britain in keeping powers other than themselves out of the Western Hemisphere, however, lay a fundamental Anglophone rivalry about domination of the half globe. The War of 1812 had been ended less than a decade earlier by the Treaty of Ghent, after all, and the conflict between the United States and Great Britain over the Oregon Territory would drag on into the 1840s. In Mexico the diplomatic and economic rivalry was exemplified by the struggle between the diplomatic representatives H. G. Ward and Joel Poinsett to influence the national government. The latter and his yorkino (York Rite Freemason) allies emerged triumphant, at least for a while, an outcome that in part prompted Lucas Alamán to leave his post in the cabinet of President Guadalupe Victoria. When José Mariano Michelena assumed his duties as Mexican commissioner to Great Britain in the early summer of 1824, he carried both general and secret instructions from Lucas Alamán. The secretary of relations strongly insisted that his envoy keep clear of British domestic politics and not try to outflank Canning, a Tory, by appealing to the Whigs. Recognition once granted, a reciprocal treaty of commerce and navigation was to be negotiated. The secret instructions ordered Michelena to work toward the independence of Cuba from Spain and the prevention at all costs of the island’s acquisition by the United States. He was also to keep the ex-emperor under strict surveillance and acquire ships for the blockade of the Spanish forces on San Juan de Ulúa.16 After about a month or so in London, however, Michelena was less than sanguine about diplomatic recognition, summarizing the situation in an interesting and acerbic letter to his friend Alamán. The British government,

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he observed, only acted when its interests were threatened, as by overtures of the newly independent Spanish American republics to France; he thought French policy was pretty much the same. Canning he believed to be highly talented but hard to pin down. The Mexican government, he wrote, “has not been received with a just acknowledgment of its overtures. It is [even] less considered than the King of the Sandwich Islands [i.e., Hawaii], and the Mexican nation endures a snub and occupies in the British court the same position as the Comanches.” Michelena asserted as well that the reconquest of Mexico was acknowledged by all informed people he was dealing with to be beyond Spain’s capacity, “except for the stupid government [estúpido gabinete] in Madrid.”17 Bumps in the road to recognition notwithstanding, the cause of British recognition was moving forward. By the fall of 1824 Alamán’s notes to Michelena had taken on a distinctly impatient tone regarding the matter. French forces, the Hundred Thousand Sons of St. Louis, had only completed the restoration of King Ferdinand VII to his throne near the end of 1823. Upon his return the king once again launched a ferocious reprisal against the Spanish liberals. In early September 1824 Alamán wrote to Michelena that in light of such recent developments he saw little hope either for Spanish recognition of what “she still calls her colony” or presumably for the surrender of Spanishoccupied San Juan de Ulúa. The news of Agustín de Iturbide’s execution in Mexico—Canning had refused to receive him in London—arrived in Britain on 27 September 1824, changing the diplomatic calculus quickly and giving major forward impetus to the conversation about recognition. The manner of Iturbide’s passing meant that the conditions laid down by Canning for recognition—the adoption of a national charter (the federal constitution of 1824), the establishment of a solid executive authority (President Victoria), and general political stability (the federalist crisis for the moment quelled)—had been met, and Alamán instructed Michelena to press the British foreign secretary once more for recognition. Events in London now gathered momentum, Canning finally agreeing to meet with Michelena on the last day of November 1824. Several factors pushed Canning over the goal line. Among them was his fear that the French influence in Spanish America might ascend in the face of British inaction. Another element was that commercial interests in Britain, with which Canning was in sympathy, continually pressed for recognition because of the benefits of free trade with the new nations that presumably would follow. In the Cabinet, Canning and Lord Liverpool proposed recognition of Buenos Aires, Colombia, and Mexico on 14 December and the next day, over

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the strong objections of the Duke of Wellington, agreement was reached. Canning wrote to a political colleague shortly after this that “the fight has been hard, but it is won. The deed is done. The nail is driven. Spanish America is free; and if we do not mismanage our affairs she is English and Novus saeculorum nascitur ordo (a new order of the ages is born).”18 Then, in an evening meeting on 30 December 1824, Canning told Michelena that formal diplomatic recognition would soon follow. When the news was received in Mexico in March 1825, President Victoria ordered three days of bell ringing, artillery salvos, illuminations, and the decoration of house balconies. The “Gaceta Extraordinaria” accompanying the circular reproduced Michelena’s note to Alamán of 4 January 1825, in which the envoy stated, “It is done: England recognizes our independence.” And by the summer, writing to Migoni, Alamán was painting a rosy picture of the state of Mexican affairs—“everything is progressing marvelously”—at least partially due to British recognition.19 At some point during the early weeks of 1825 George Canning announced to all the ambassadors resident in London his intention to negotiate a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation with Mexico. This was new territory for the Mexican government, as was diplomacy itself, since the colonial entities within the Spanish Empire had made no such treaties. In characteristically punctilious fashion, minister Alamán requested that his envoy acquire and remit the best collection of such treaties among foreign powers that he could gather, along with “the best diplomatic dictionary known,” since the process on the Mexican side would require consulting such documents “at every step.” A draft was completed by early April, but the treaty was not ratified by both parties for another two years. A key issue in the discussions was the freedom of religious practice for Britons resident in Mexico, a point insisted on by Canning. There was certainly a constitutional issue here in that the Mexican constitution of 1824 had left Roman Catholicism as the established and exclusive religious persuasion in Mexico. In his assurances to Canning that constitutional reform would allow an accommodation on this point, President Victoria blamed initial Mexican rigidity on Lucas Alamán, suggesting that he had been forced out of the government because of it. Alamán’s views on the matter of religious liberty for foreigners, in fact, were more nuanced. The issue had arisen in connection with the burial of non-Catholic Englishmen who died in Mexico, since they could not be buried in Church cemeteries. In response to this situation, in July 1824 Alamán had ordered the city’s Ayuntamiento to set aside a separate, spacious plot of land for the burial of non-Catholic British subjects. Consul General Charles O’Gorman extended his “profound gratitude.”20

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The alacrity with which Alamán had intervened with the Mexico City council to establish an English cemetery does not mean he favored freedom of religious worship in Mexico, but neither does his support of an established Roman Catholic Church in the country bespeak a reactionary attitude. Most liberals of the time, after all, even if they believed privately in religious freedom, were loath to express such opinions. It was the more or less liberal federalists who had framed the Constitution of 1824, which established Catholicism as the country’s only permitted religion. From one point of view, Alamán may well have been trying to forestall Canning’s objections to the treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation by making a small concession and portraying it as a large one. And he would aim critical remarks at the Inquisition as the guarantor of religious orthodoxy on a number of occasions throughout his public life, including in his 1853 letter to Antonio López de Santa Anna explaining the principles of the Conservative Party and inviting the perennial president back to take the reins of government. For all its dark history and enormous connotative power, the Inquisition was clearly an archaic institution and therefore a relatively easy target, a sort of straw man at which Alamán and other conservatives might aim their criticism without imperiling the entire structure of the hierarchical society they wanted to preserve.

. . . and the Spanish Out The campaign to dislodge Spanish forces from the island fortress of San Juan de Ulúa ground slowly on during the years recognition and loans were being negotiated. Begun before Alamán entered the ministry and not completed until November 1825, after he had left, the military expulsion of the Spanish was intertwined with negotiations for Spanish recognition of Mexican independence, itself a major consideration in George Canning’s evolving foreign policy in Europe and the New World. While the mainland was now under Mexican control in the wake of the Plan de Iguala and the Treaty of Córdoba, a substantial and heavily armed Spanish garrison still held San Juan de Ulúa, only a kilometer or so distant from the city of Veracruz and within easy range of Spanish guns. Sustained by logistical support from Cuba, Spanish possession of the island went considerably beyond sheer symbolism or nuisance value. It compromised Mexican national sovereignty and might conceivably have served as a military launching pad for a Spanish reconquest of the errant colony. The actively aggressive Spanish military presence interfered

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with and then totally cut off shipping through the harbor of Veracruz, the western terminus of the country’s Atlantic lifeline, although the slack was temporarily taken up by the ports of Alvarado to the south and Tampico to the north. The strangling of shipping made life extremely difficult for the successive governments of Iturbide, the SPE, and President Guadalupe Victoria because it deprived them of customs duties, the country’s principal source of fiscal revenues. When Lucas Alamán came into the government of the SPE in 1823 in the key cabinet post, it was already clear that getting the Spanish out of San Juan de Ulúa, whether by diplomatic or military means, was a major problem.21 By the time Alamán entered the government, the empire had disappeared, and a pair of commissioners, Juan Ramón Oses and Santiago de Irisarri, had been sent by the Spanish Cortes to negotiate terms for some sort of rapprochement between Mexico and its former metropolis. Oses was a lawyer and former audiencia judge with a decade’s experience in New Spain, and Irisarri was a high-ranking military officer. Their mandate from king and Cortes was vague enough—to reach some sort of conciliation with New Spain— but their actual powers were strictly limited.22 By the time they arrived, the Spanish commander of the island fortress had been replaced by Francisco Lemaur de la Muraire (1769–1857), a high military and political official from Cuba who had arrived with Juan O’Donojú. The talks of the Spanish delegation with their Mexican counterparts took place chiefly in the more salubrious and comfortable setting of Jalapa. Nearly three decades later Lucas Alamán wrote that the negotiations were essentially doomed from the start.23 Acting on the authority of the SPE, Alamán and Guadalupe Victoria, the governor of Veracruz who was shortly to become president, exerted themselves to establish correct and civil relations with Oses and his party. On 14 May 1823 minister Alamán issued instructions to Victoria reflecting a remarkably sanguine expectation of the results of the talks about to be undertaken, stressing that, before anything else, Spain must recognize Mexico’s absolute independence. This dictum was intended as a repudiation of the Plan de Iguala and the Treaty of Córdoba and particularly of any claim the Spanish government might have to reestablish the Bourbon monarchy in Mexico. In another instruction of the same date regarding the style of the talks rather than their substantive points, Alamán told Victoria “to exercise particular vigilance that [the commissioners] not be in contact with suspicious persons whose influence might induce mistrust [in them], changing their motives and opinions. Similarly, you will make sure that neither the common people nor any individual insults them or lacks in the smallest degree the consideration

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and harmony that should be observed, since they must be treated with the decorum of all civilized nations and the civility due persons of their rank.”24 The stakes of the talks were high for both sides. On the Spanish end the commissioners sought a constructive disengagement with the former colony, the preservation of trade ties, the maintenance of a transatlantic Hispanic culture zone, and a strategic foothold in a Spanish America rapidly slipping from Spain’s grasp. On the Mexican side the SPE looked not only for recognition of Mexico’s absolute and unconditional independence but also for a favorable commercial treaty and the recovery of San Juan de Ulúa by diplomatic rather than military means. But the Mexican minister was acutely conscious of the international context and of how his country appeared in European eyes. Guadalupe Victoria realized this as well and in early June articulated it to Alamán, whose own thoughts it must have echoed, despite his famously low opinion of the future president: “Upon receiving the said commission I realized [as negotiator] my insufficiency to take on such an affair, which weighs heavily on my weak shoulders, and which only several [compelling] considerations and above all my deep obedience [to the national authorities] could have induced me to accept. All of Europe has its eyes fixed on our present political behavior, and on the nature of the first agreements celebrated between Mexican America and Spain. On the correctness of our [decisions] depends the higher or lower estimate of our sophistication [ilustración] and what in [European] judgment can be expected of us.” In the meantime, Oses transmitted to Alamán an eloquent, somewhat formulaic, highly conciliatory, but finally rather patronizing statement of what he viewed as the profound bases of a possible rapprochement between the Spanish motherland and its wayward child. Citing the bonds of three centuries between Spain and Mexico, Oses pointed out that New Spain had been “settled, formed, and educated, let us say” by Old Spain. The bland assurances of cultural and historical commonalities, with Spain assuming the parental position, very probably caused radicals like Lorenzo de Zavala to grind their teeth in rage. The ideas were in large part to be paraphrased and elaborated upon with equal eloquence by Alamán a quarter century later in the first volume of his Historia de Méjico, where he lauded the Spanish heritage Mexico seemed to have repudiated. But that was a much older, disillusioned, more openly Hispanophilic Alamán imputing the arc of his country’s decline in part to that same thoughtless rejection of its own history and transatlantic roots. By the third week of the talks Guadalupe Victoria was actually sounding an optimistic note, suggesting that “after long debates” the Spanish commission-

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ers had agreed in principle to consider three propositions that might be codified in a treaty: the recognition of Mexico’s absolute independence, the territorial integrity of the country (implying the evacuation of San Juan de Ulúa), and the uncompromised right of Mexicans to constitute their government as they saw fit. During this critical period Alamán was dealing with the federalist movements. Although his presidency would soon be played out under the auspices of the federalist Constitution of 1824, Victoria voiced his own grave qualms about federalism and the way in which it could destroy the credibility and therefore the negotiating position of the national government. This perception was certainly shared by minister Alamán: “In the critical circumstances of the day, when everything seems to augur the dissolution of the [national] state through the immature pronouncement of some provinces, which will necessarily produce the . . . lack of recognition of the supreme powers because of the rapidity with which the pernicious and fatal maxims of partial [i.e., divided] sovereignty are spreading . . . it must be clear to the superior apprehension of the Supreme [Executive] Power that [even so] the business of such high importance has much advanced along a terrain strewn with difficulties, to the point of leaving the door open to all sorts of relations [with Spain].”25 The outcome of meetings between Victoria and the Spanish commissioners in May and June was a series of tentative agreements boiling down to procedural matters, provisional trade arrangements, and a determination to let the respective congresses arrive at formal determinations. What was not met either to Guadalupe Victoria’s or Alamán’s satisfaction was any stipulation about recognizing Mexico’s absolute independence. Victoria repeatedly insisted on this, stating that “a definitive and satisfactory response can contribute very much to end the rumors that still exist among the common people [gente vulgar] about the sinister intentions of that [i.e., the Spanish] government,” but was met only by polite diplomatic evasions from the Spanish commissioners. As though things were not already complicated enough, two other factors now came into play: the aggressive actions of Francisco Lemaur from San Juan de Ulúa and the desire of the Mexican Congress to intervene in the situation. The need to establish a tactical foothold to embarrass any impending blockade of San Juan de Ulúa by the Mexican naval fleet being assembled in Britain prompted Lemaur to lay claim to the Isla de Sacrificios, a small, nearly desolate island thought to control the approach to the larger island fortressprison. Alamán saw this as flagrantly contradictory to the negotiations going on with the Spanish commissioners. Victoria was ordered to determine

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whether Lemaur’s intention was to dislodge Mexican troops from the Isla de Sacrificios (there were none) or if his forces had already occupied it; in either case, the Spanish commissioners were to be handed their passports. Victoria meanwhile was overseeing the placing of the entire Veracruz area in a state of military preparedness. Oses and Irisarri seem genuinely to have been caught in the middle by the impetuous actions of Lemaur and claimed to have no knowledge of the Spanish commander’s doings. More and more heated notes were exchanged; Mexican military measures accelerated; claims and counterclaims flew over whether the Isla de Sacrificios had always been considered an extension of San Juan de Ulúa, whether Lemaur was sheltering smugglers, and so forth. Both sides threatened to resort to artillery bombardments. Alamán wanted Victoria to press on with the treaty negotiations, but if he could not, then military action could be launched against the fortress island. Eventually Lemaur agreed to remove his small garrison from the Isla de Sacrificios, haul down the Spanish flag, and abandon the tiny island, an arrangement agreed to by the SPE and an apparent step forward in the talks. But events in Spain conspired to abort the negotiations over the recognition of Mexico’s independence, a commercial treaty, and the rendition of San Juan de Ulúa. There had perhaps been some hope of a peaceful resolution of these issues while the liberal government in Spain was in power and King Ferdinand was out of the picture, but the French invasion of early 1823 signaled the return of royal absolutism and the dashing of these prospects. Pressure mounted on the Spanish commissioners to complete the treaty by the end of September or leave the country. On 25 September at one o’clock, without warning, Lemaur’s artillery began firing on Veracruz, and Guadalupe Victoria handed Oses and his companions their passports. Upon their departure from the port of Alvarado they expressed their warm appreciation for the manner in which they had been treated while they were in Mexico. On 30 September the SPE severed all relations with Spain, all Spanish warships in Mexican waters were ordered to depart immediately, a complete embargo was placed on the entry of any Spanish goods into Mexico through any port, and the government decreed that any Spanish merchant ships arriving after January 1824 would be treated under terms of war. There things stood for the next two years without forward movement—the Spanish forces dug in on San Juan de Ulúa, the city of Veracruz being shelled periodically, the commerce of the port paralyzed, and relations between Spain and its former colony completely cut off.26 In late January 1825 Lemaur was succeeded as commander by José María Coppinger (1773–1844), a Havana-

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born military man who had been the last governor of Spanish East Florida (1816–21). About this time the ships purchased in Britain with the proceeds of the London loans arrived at last, commanded by English and American officers, and the island was blockaded. The relief force dispatched from Cuba was finally deemed inadequate by its commander to break the Mexican blockade of the island fortress and sailed back to Cuba. Coppinger surrendered San Juan de Ulúa on 18 November 1825 and, about two months after Alamán had left the ministry, the Spanish garrison vacated the island. Relations with Spain would remain very delicate even after the Mexicans repulsed the invading Cuba-based Spanish invasion force in 1829, but after that year there was no realistic prospect of reconquest.

9 • The Poinsett Saga

Joel Poinsett in Spanish America I see with pain that Alamán in his Registro Oficial repeats these calumnies [that Poinsett speaks ill of Mexico and its government at every opportunity]. Really, if I had not the sweetest disposition in the world I should verify their opinion, and then they would find that [even then] my revenge was not to be [satisfied]. . . . I wish you would say from me to Mr. Alamán that I have both spoken and written in favor of Mexico ever since my return without distinction of persons or parties, but that it is time these attacks upon me should cease. They are unworthy of the Mexican government.1 Even as the situation with Spain had reached stable hostility in the mid-1820s, relations between Mexico and its sister republic to the north were becoming ever more tense. Principal among the problems, all of the United States’ making, was US concern over the form of government in Mexico itself—whether it was to be monarchical or republican, although whether federalist or centralist was less the issue. Other issues concerned the fate of the “ever loyal isle” of Cuba; the aggressive American approach toward commercial relations, especially regarding the Santa Fe Trail between Missouri and New Mexico; the geopolitical position of Mexico in the world order, which assumed the form of a contest between British and American influence in the country; the establishment of plausible territorial limits; and the effective possession of Texas. The first American minister plenipotentiary to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, a South Carolinian, was to be a key player in these struggles between the two republics during his nearly five years as envoy (1825–29). The British loans that had underwritten the Mexican naval

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blockade of San Juan de Ulúa were intertwined with the question of British global strategy (the security of its sugar islands in the Caribbean and Atlantic sea lanes, the embarrassment of Spain, the thwarting of the Holy Alliance), British economic interests in Mexican mining and commerce, and the ascendancy of British influence in Mexico during much of the 1820s. Poinsett’s difficult relations with Alamán and his incautious mixing in Mexican domestic politics arose from his perception of a sinister British sway over the government, as opposed to the more liberal, republican, and salutary influence of the United States. Poinsett arrived in the early summer of 1825, Alamán resigned the ministry at the end of September, and the envoy had been recalled before Alamán reentered the government at the beginning of 1830; the two thus overlapped in an official capacity for less than four months. But this was enough time to breed between the two strong-willed men an open enmity that echoed down the years even though at the time it was partially covered over with the strict protocols and artificial niceties of diplomatic formality. The chief grievance of Lucas Alamán and other Mexican moderates and conservatives toward Joel Poinsett was that by establishing York Rite Masonry in the country he had been a principal mover in implanting factionalism in national political life, contrary to ancient norms of diplomatic neutrality in domestic politics. This had created a sort of seismic fissure through which the mass politics of the great unwashed spewed forth, especially in the capital city.2 In the view of the hombres de bien, the York Rite Masons wrested the tiller of the ship of state from the hands of the rational political class, thus destabilizing public life and laying the groundwork for the populist style of the more radical liberals, the 1828 coup d’état by Vicente Guerrero, and the bloody internal war that followed. There is no denying that the York Rite provided a set of political idioms and a rallying point for liberals long before parties in the traditional sense arrived on the scene. But that Poinsett’s activities were anything more than a proximate contributing factor in the political instability of the late 1820s is a gross exaggeration. As the federalist crisis of 1823 and other episodes of the pre-Poinsett years amply demonstrate, Mexican domestic politics had long since reached the boiling point on its own. There were already differences among factions within Scottish Rite Masonry, for example, and with the passage of time these might well have constituted the same vehicles for dispute furnished by the conflict between the Escoseses and the Yorquinos. Some other foreigner, or one of the more cosmopolitan Mexicans, such as Lorenzo de Zavala, might have introduced the York Rite. In this sense Masonry was less a cause of political conflict than a channel for the focusing of established, if still

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somewhat inchoate, conflictual tendencies. Added to Poinsett’s self-righteous pronouncements, his meddling, and his violation of diplomatic norms and the dictates of good sense were his often expressed and patronizing views of Mexicans in general, attitudes that probably became palpable to the Mexicans themselves in his interactions with them and in his public statements. He was particularly dismissive of most men of the Mexican political class, whom he found to be sinister, inexperienced, without talent, or simply to be like dangerous children. Had he been less serious or less accomplished, the life of Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779–1851) might in some respects be described as picaresque; it was certainly adventurous. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Poinsett made much of his long political career in that state. Upon the death of his father he inherited at least one plantation, various urban properties, and holdings of English bonds. Substantial but not enormous, his wealth nonetheless underwrote a gentlemanly lifestyle, extensive travel as a young man, an important role in international diplomacy (a gentleman’s game), an active political career that brought him into the US Congress and national cabinet, and along the way a serious interest in botany and intense involvement with Masonry. He toured extensively in Europe and Russia for several years around the beginning of the nineteenth century, following some of the same routes Lucas Alamán, Poinsett’s junior by about a dozen years, was to travel fifteen years later. While in Europe, Poinsett and Alamán even hobnobbed with some of the same social, intellectual, and political luminaries of the age, among them Germaine de Staël: the American met her in Switzerland, the Mexican in Paris in 1814–15. President James Madison appointed Poinsett consul general to Chile, Peru, and Argentina (1810–15), which set the course for much of his life. He spent these years mainly in Chile, where he urged the Chileans to draft their first constitution in 1812 and eventually rose to the rank of general in the army, gaining, on the basis of this experience and his fluency in Spanish, a reputation as an expert on Spanish American affairs. Elected to the US House of Representatives from his native Charleston district in 1820, he was soon obliged by poor health to seek a more salubrious climate and a cure abroad but continued to hold his congressional seat until 1825, although with long absences. Even while serving in congress he was appointed special envoy to Mexico in 1822 by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, traveled extensively in the country and met a number of important political and other figures. In 1825 he published an account of his sojourn there and of the state of the country, titling it Notes on Mexico, Made in the Autumn of 1822. Accompanied by an

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Historical Sketch of the Revolution and Translations of Official Reports on the Present State of that Country. In this work Poinsett offered a fairly detailed and pessimistic picture of the state of the Guanajuato mining industry, specifically mentioning among other mines the Cata, in which the Alamán family still held a major ownership stake. This could hardly have endeared him to Lucas Alamán, who, when Poinsett’s book was published, was trying to revive the industry with huge infusions of British capital. After a stormy five years in Mexico, in 1829 Poinsett, at the request of the Mexican government, was recalled to the US by President Andrew Jackson. He returned to the US, served again in the South Carolina legislature and as secretary of war under Martin Van Buren (1837–41), then retired from politics to spend the last decade of his life on his South Carolina plantation. A Jacksonian Democrat unequivocal in his Southern loyalties, he was nonetheless a strong Unionist during and after the Nullification Crisis of 1832–33, which had originated with the Ordinance of Nullification passed in his home state of South Carolina. In terms of personality, even many of his Mexican enemies praised his personal charm, genteel manners, and abilities. The British envoy H. G. Ward, with whom Poinsett was to find himself in a continual state of tension, remarked that had he met the American in any circumstances other than those of sharp rivalry, he would eagerly have sought his friendship.3 Having opposed US recognition of the emergent South American republics in 1818, Poinsett as a congressman later reversed his position and vocally supported President Monroe’s request that congress appropriate funds for support of diplomatic postings to the region.4 Poinsett shared with Lucas Alamán the opinion that the process of divergent development between Spain and colony would sooner or later have prompted separation even absent the peninsular political crisis of the Napoleonic period. In the meantime, Manuel Zozaya (1775–1853), a lawyer from Salvatierra in Alamán’s home state of Guanajuato, presented his credentials as Mexican minister (not yet at ambassadorial rank) in Washington, DC, in June 1822. Appointed by the first Regency, he was to serve through the Iturbide regime and was briefly succeeded by a chargé d’affaires. Zozaya was followed as minister plenipotentiary by Pablo Obregón (1796–1828), who served until he hanged himself in 1828 when he became, in the rendering of J. Fred Rippy, Poinsett’s biographer, “deranged because of unrequited love and financial difficulties.”5 The process of appointing a minister plenipotentiary to the Republic of Mexico began under President Monroe and continued into the first month of the John Quincy Adams administration. First offered by Secretary of State Adams to a senator, the

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appointment next fell in early 1823 to Andrew Jackson, who turned it down, ostensibly out of potential embarrassment at dealing with a monarchical regime. Next in line was Senator Ninian Edwards of Illinois, who accepted but resigned almost immediately, then Thomas Hart Benton, William Henry Harrison, and Poinsett, all of whom declined. Poinsett claimed to be more interested in domestic politics and the upcoming presidential election, in which his vote in determining the ballot of his home state might be decisive should the election be thrown into the House. Pressured by the newly elected President Adams through his secretary of state, Henry Clay, the congressman from Charleston, although disappointed that the job of secretary of state did not fall to him, reluctantly accepted the post of envoy to Mexico on 6 March 1825. Poinsett’s biographer, Rippy, described him as well-suited to the job of envoy because of his ardent republican sympathies, his fluency in Spanish, and his experience in Spanish America. But Poinsett was also “a flaming evangel of democracy” who had already revealed in his previous diplomatic activities “both an imprudent aggressiveness and a disposition to violate the rules of diplomatic decorum.”6 Poinsett’s instructions from Secretary of State Clay called on him to promote democracy in a government dominated by aristocrats and monarchists and among a people to whom the concept might prove alien; promote American interests over European ones, especially those of Britain; press for “most favored nation” trading privileges for the US; oppose Mexican designs on Cuba; and acquire territory for the US if possible.7 This was not a particularly friendly slate of objectives, but Poinsett pursued all the points vigorously— and impolitically. He did step into a highly fraught situation, bringing with him a set of negative predispositions toward the Mexicans. Along with the existing anti-American attitudes of many public men in Mexico, the identification of Poinsett in particular as undesirable arose from what was known of his career in South America. Manuel Zozaya had written from Washington, DC, in 1822 that the United States “will be our sworn enemies, and foreseeing this we ought to treat them as such from the present day.” President Guadalupe Victoria saw Americans, quite correctly, as it turned out, as “ambitious people always ready to encroach” on others’ territory and “without a spark of good faith,” as evidenced by the situation in Florida and Louisiana and by the constant menace of filibuster invasions. Even before his arrival in the country Poinsett was described by the envoy Pablo Obregón as “not a person of great talents.”8 On the day after he received his instructions Poinsett declared in a letter to a Charleston friend that “the society of Mexico is only calculated to

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give or to confirm dissipated habits.” He did not seriously consider the many applications he received from young men eager to attach themselves to his mission because he felt there was no diplomatic career to be made in Mexico.9 In addition to two other men staffing the mission, the position of unpaid private secretary to the minister was filled by Edward Thornton Tayloe (1803–76), the twenty-two-year-old son of a Virginia grandee planter father who footed the young man’s bills. Tayloe had been educated at Harvard, and he had some command of Spanish, Italian, and French.10 Sailing from Norfolk, Virginia, in April 1825, Poinsett’s party arrived in Mexico on 3 May. Joel Roberts Poinsett presented his credentials to President Guadalupe Victoria on 1 June 1825, a day after the British chargé d’affaires, Henry George Ward, who at twenty-eight was eighteen years younger than Poinsett and whose official recognition was accompanied by much fanfare. The open tension between Escoseses and Yorquinos can be seen as a proxy for the British– American struggle for influence in Mexico, which seeped into the domestic political sphere as well as the foreign relations of the new republic. British chargé Ward wasted no time in writing to Foreign Secretary George Canning to describe the situation. Poinsett’s speech on the occasion of his presentation was more than likely offensive to the Mexican officials present. While his mention that one goal of his mission was to arrive at a treaty of friendship, navigation, and commerce was unlikely to have raised many Mexican eyebrows, the same polite reception was not accorded Poinsett’s allusion to his other diplomatic task, the establishment of firm territorial limits between the two nations. And the American envoy’s depiction in his speech of the US government’s pleasure at seeing that Mexico’s 1824 constitution had mandated a federal form for the nation “so similar to our own” must have antagonized the Mexican foreign minister. Taking a swipe at the British, he reminded the Mexicans of the early sympathy of the United States for their country’s independence. Poinsett wrote to Washington three days later that the secretary of state and other cabinet members strongly favored the British over the Americans in almost every way. On the other hand, he wrote, there was a “respectable party” in both houses of the Mexican Congress—foremost among their leaders he would have counted Lorenzo de Zavala, with whom he had become friendly during his Mexican sojourn of 1822—along with “a vast majority of the people” inclined to closer relations with the United States and a distancing from Britain. So as not to burn any bridges, diplomatically speaking, Poinsett sought to establish cordial relations with representatives of all political viewpoints. To mark US independence he hosted a lavish banquet on 4 July

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attended by all members of the government, presumably including Lucas Alamán but excluding President Victoria. Toasts were offered by the future presidents Nicolás Bravo, Vicente Guerrero, and Antonio López de Santa Anna.11 From the very outset of his mission to Mexico, Poinsett identified minister Alamán as the leader of the “European party, and therefore the government figure chiefly inimical to American interests.” In a dispatch to Henry Clay of 1 August 1825 he wrote, “The secretary of state is entirely devoted to England and not disposed to ultimate friendly relations with the U.S. [In the Mexican Senate Alamán had remarked that the US should be regarded as an enemy] and [that] Mexico had everything to fear from our ambition and nothing to hope for from our friendship. . . . The present ministry is adverse to the interests of the United States and will avail themselves of every means to lessen our influence with the people.” Poinsett characterized Victoria as decent, weak but well-intentioned, and easily manipulated by Alamán; the minister plenipotentiary was also convinced that the president disliked him personally. Poinsett saw José María Tornel (1789–1853), the president’s secretary—he had previously been Santa Anna’s—as exercising a nefarious influence over his boss and went so far as to accuse Tornel of being in the pay of the English. While acknowledging along with other political contemporaries that Alamán was “talented and especially well prepared to deal with whatever Mexico faced” and that the minister’s ideas of political economy were sophisticated, Poinsett wrote that Alamán’s notions of the national political interests were misguided, in part because he was “Anglicanized” (sic) and was earning a large poundsterling salary as director of a major mining enterprise.12 Poinsett believed that the inclination of Victoria and members of the government toward the British had originated with the president’s first contacts with Patrick Mackie. He included among the number of targets of British envoys’ flattery Tornel, a “vain and banal” man.13 In general Joel Poinsett’s letters portray Mexican politics of the time as a viper’s nest of competing personalities and interests. This estimation was perhaps not so far from the truth, but the interpersonal striving and back stabbing did not necessarily map neatly onto political orientation. There is precious little direct evidence, unfortunately, of Alamán’s reaction to all this ill will or to the personality of the American envoy, but one can reasonably assume that it was the mirror image of Poinsett’s suspicious, if not hostile, reaction to the Mexican statesman. From the perspective of about a quarter century Alamán laid the blame for the establishment of York Rite

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Masonry at Poinsett’s feet, and beyond this his attempt to change entirely the so-called aristocratic and pro-British cast of the government. Alamán wrote, He had been in the country shortly after independence was achieved, having traveled to Chile, in whose bloody revolutions he took no small part. Scarcely [having] arrived in the character of minister plenipotentiary, he formed a plan to eliminate the somewhat aristocratic character the government had retained, where people of old families, churchmen, and the army had influence, to put in their place not a democracy— impossible [in any case] in a country in which the people take no part in public matters—but [rather] the unbridled seeking after office [aspirantismo] of some individuals full of ambition and of less respectable social standing. . . . With the arrival of Poinsett, Zavala [and other public men who had belonged to the Scottish Rite] planned to form a different Masonic [rite], which Poinsett offered to incorporate into the York Rite then prevalent in the United States. [President] Victoria adopted the plan, which he discussed with his ministers [Finance Minister José Ignacio] Esteva and [Father Miguel] Ramos Arizpe, the first of whom exercised such influence over the president that he could have been called his royal favorite instead of his minister. As a consequence, in the month of August 1825 five lodges of the [York] rite were established.14 The history of the Masonic lodges in Mexico during the mid- and late 1820s has been studied a good deal by historians.15 The first formal lodges appeared about 1806 and received a boost with the arrival of the Spanish military officers who fought the insurgents after 1810. The last viceroy of New Spain, the ill-fated Juan O’Donojú, whose formal title was jefe político superior y capitán general, was himself high up in the Spanish Masonic hierarchy. The five lodges in Mexico already loosely linked to York Rite Masonry obtained official charters from the New York Grand Lodge in the late summer and fall of 1825 through the good offices of minister plenipotentiary Poinsett, himself a prominent officer in the York Rite before arriving in Mexico. This was one of the two or three great offenses alleged of him by Mexicans of conservative views. Among the prime movers in forging this affiliation among politically prominent Mexican public figures of liberal tendencies were Guerrero, Zavala, Esteva, and Ramos Arizpe, all political foes of Alamán, although the last was on reasonably good personal terms with him. The Scottish Rite Masons were a good deal more conservative, their lodges bastions of Spaniards and Creoles, while many among the political opposition to the SPE and the more radical

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liberals joined York lodges. Alamán himself appears not to have been a Mason, although in an oblique manner he occasionally expressed sympathy for the general drift of the Escoseses’ political ideas. To say he was cagey about his possible membership is unfair given that he was never accused of it and would have felt little need to deny membership if he had ever joined. Many years later Alamán wrote, With the arrival of Poinsett, [Lorenzo de] Zavala and D. José María Alpuche, both separated from the Scottish Rite to which they had belonged, planned the formation of a different Masonic [rite], which Poinsett offered to incorporate in the York Rite [then] dominant in the United States. The Yorkinos, under which name the adepts of the new sect came to be known, expanded their numbers rapidly [since] they counted with all the support of the government since Esteva had at his disposition all the funds of the [British] loans. Thus they enlisted in their ranks all the pretenders to [government] position, all the aspirants to the post of [congressional] deputy, [and] all those who wanted to escape responsibility for the management of public affairs . . . and, in sum, all the worthless men [gente perdida] who aspired to make their fortunes, many abandoning the Scottish Rite, which offered no such advantages.16 Although in neither his public nor private writings did Poinsett link the establishment of the York lodges explicitly to his effort to block the advance of British influence in the government, Lucas Alamán and other people did so at the time, and historians have done so since. The Scottish Rite was connected to the aristocratic faction in the government, and that faction to British interests. The York Rite ipso facto occupied that part of the political spectrum opposed to the Bourbonists, including the liberals and “popular groups,” and was thus positively disposed to the more democratic US influence. J. Fred Rippy described the envoy’s role in organizing the York Rite as “a dangerous step [that] at first worked like a charm” in counteracting British influence. A cabinet shuffle by President Victoria removed the Alamán ally Manuel Mier y Terán from the ministry of war and marine, replacing him alternately with Manuel Gómez Pedraza and José Ignacio Esteva for the remainder of 1825 and beyond. Alamán was thus left in a virtually untenable position in the cabinet as the sole pro-British minister. Esteva hastened to assure Poinsett of his friendship and sympathy for American ideas, while President Victoria visited the American envoy to offer the same reassurances; on the other side Ward worked on the president to discredit Poinsett and the American diplomatic

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goals more generally. Not incorrectly, Lucas Alamán saw a conspiracy in all this “to remove the [minister] of relations [i.e., Alamán himself], against whom other persons surrounding and influencing Victoria were also conspiring.” The principal anti-British conspirators he identified as Gómez Pedraza, Ramos Arizpe, and Esteva, but he clearly also had Poinsett in mind.

Poinsett and Texas The principal material issue between Mexico and the United States while Alamán’s ministry and Poinsett’s envoyship overlapped was the status of the boundary between the two nations; that and the question of Texas would loom large for Lucas Alamán during his second administration (1830–32), under President Anastasio Bustamante. Alamán’s friend, political ally, and fellow cabinet minister General Manuel Mier y Terán would write to him in 1830, “How will Texas end? Where God wills” (En qué parará Texas? En lo que quiere Dios).17 But for the moment it nestled in (or perhaps even bulged, like a cuckoo hatchling) among other foreign policy issues: the expulsion of the Spanish forces from San Juan de Ulúa and consolidation of national independence from Spain, the British loans, the status of Central America, and initiatives in the direction of some sort of Pan-American cooperative arrangement. American settlers had started coming into Texas under the terms of the 1820 Spanish government land grant made to Moses Austin (1761–1821) and carried forward after his death by his son Stephen F. Austin (1793–1836). The initial modest trickle of three hundred American families contracted by the Austins began to arrive at the end of 1821 but quickly swelled to a flood that neither Alamán nor his successors could contain, try as they might through legislation, menace, negotiation with Austin, and a highly attenuated military presence in the Mexican northeast. Alamán was certainly not opposed at this time to colonization of the emptier parts of the republic, and in the absence of European settlers was content, if wary, to have Americans come in. In his 1825 Memoria for congress minister Alamán spoke approvingly of the Austin colony at San Felipe de Austin: “Those [families] that make it up are working energetically [con empeño] in farming the land and raising livestock. Other colonists have arrived in the same state, and their settlement awaits only the conclusion of the regulations to govern [their settlement].”18 Lucas Alamán’s concern with regard to American colonization, however, was that it might eventually erode Mexican sovereignty over the settled territories and should be subject to strict regulation. Mier y Terán, a military intellectual who had

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become friends with Alamán while he served (March–October 1824) as minister of war and navy under the SPE and then the Guadalupe Victoria presidency recommended the substantial increase of the Mexican military presence in east Texas in his report on the 1828–29 boundary commission expedition. But such a buildup was far beyond the capacity of the government, and by the middle of the next decade it was too late to keep Texas from escaping the Mexican orbit. Joel Poinsett was authorized to accept at worst the 1819 line of demarcation stipulated in the Adams–Onís Treaty if the Mexicans proved unwilling to agree to any modifications but was instructed to acquire more territory for the United States. He entered into discussions with Alamán immediately upon his arrival in Mexico City, encountering adamant resistance to pushing the Adams–Onís line further west. The first step for the Americans in the acquisition of territory, either de jure or de facto, was the opening of the Santa Fe Trail. Poinsett followed a conscious, aggressive policy of infiltrating as many American material goods and as many American settlers into the Texas–New Mexico area as possible, reasoning that this would resolve the question of effective possession of a vast territory over which Mexico exercised little actual control. Alamán, on the other hand, played the delaying card during the few months he interacted with the American envoy, insisting that the opening of the Santa Fe Trail must await a formal demarcation of the international boundary, which could be accomplished only through the work of a surveying commission. In a note of 20 June 1825 the “gobierno mexicano” (i.e., minister Alamán) informed Poinsett that it declined to open the Santa Fe Trail until a treaty of limits and commerce between the two nations had been ratified. The issue of territorial boundaries would be highly time consuming, however, due to the nature of the trigonometrical calculations to be made in a vast, difficult, and unexplored territory. The Mexican government would therefore give priority first to the separate negotiation of the commerce treaty, leaving the question of the trail to the territorial limits agreement. In a note sent two days later Poinsett wrote to his government that “this [Mexican] government regards all our movements towards Texas and New Mexico with jealous apprehension; and I much fear that they are resolved to postpone marking out the road in question through their territory, until commissioners are appointed to make a regular reconnaissance of that portion of the country with a view to the ultimate settlement of the boundary line between the two nations.” By the end of July he was writing to Clay in a coded message: “Most of the good land from the Colorado [River] to the Sabine [River] has been granted . . . and is rapidly

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peopling with either grantees or squatters from the United States, a population they will find difficult to govern, and perhaps after a short period they may not be so averse to part with that portion of their territory as they are at present.” And on 5 August 1825 Poinsett wrote, “I feel very anxious about the boundary line between the two nations[;] while it will be politic not to justify the jealous fears [of the Mexicans] on that subject by extravagant pretensions, I think it of importance that we should extend our territory toward the Rio del Norte either to the Colorado or at least to the Brassos; we ought to have on the frontiers a hardy race of white settlers between the Mississippi and the Balsabine [sic].”19 Poinsett proposed rather disingenuously that the cession of Texas would leave the central government in Mexico City in control of a more compact national territory easier of administration and that the US would assume sole responsibility over the troublesome Comanche Indians. His concise account of what must have been his last meeting with Alamán, on 20 September 1825, portrayed the two men continuing to wrangle in polite terms over the appropriate boundary line, Poinsett insisting on the validity of the Adams–Onís demarcation of 1819, Alamán on that of the Treaty of San Lorenzo between Spain and the US of 1795. After about a year of talks, first with Lucas Alamán and then with his successors holding the portfolio of relations, Manuel Gómez Pedraza and Sebastián Camacho, Poinsett reached the conclusion that it was wiser to accept the Sabine River line. Later attempts on the American’s part to buy large chunks of the territory proved fruitless, so at the beginning of 1828 he signed an agreement acknowledging the 1819 boundary.20 In the meantime, the boundary commission had left for Texas in November 1827. Parallel with these negotiations, talks regarding the treaty of friendship, navigation, and commerce were carried on from the US side by envoy Poinsett and from the Mexican side by Alamán and treasury minister Esteva beginning in late August 1825. Alamán was replaced by Manuel Gómez Pedraza in late September, and the treaty itself was not ratified until the spring of 1831, when Alamán had returned to the government and Poinsett was no longer on the scene. By then, too, the Mexican Congress had passed a law at Alamán’s instigation prohibiting further American settlements in Texas. In a long letter to Secretary of State Henry Clay written on 8 July 1827, Poinsett conveyed his perception of the political situation in Mexico from the time of his arrival in June 1825 to the summer of 1827.21 Alamán had left the government nearly two years before and was now deep into his private economic affairs. Granted that Poinsett’s letter was a privileged diplomatic

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communication and that he was trying to absolve himself of charges the Mexicans had made against him for meddling in the domestic politics of the country, his dismissive attitude toward the Mexican political class had not softened over the two years of his mission. And although he does not mention Lucas Alamán by name, it is clear that he had the former minister of relations in his sights as representing the most retrogressive elements on the political scene even after he had left office. Poinsett wrote, Many of the [Scottish Rite Masons] conscientiously believe their countrymen to be incapable of self government, . . . still regard as visionary the existence of a republic in Mexico, and still wish to see planted on the throne of Mexico a prince of the house of Bourbon. . . . Their leaders had frequently declared . . . that Mexico ought to regard the United States as natural enemies [sic]. . . . This party has behaved towards me . . . in a most unfriendly manner. [T]he people, until my arrival, have been taught to believe that Great Britain had set the example to other nations in the recognition of the independence of this country. The principal charge brought against me is that I established the Grand Lodge of Ancient York Masons . . . [but since then] the progress of liberal principles has been most rapid. . . . In what is really nothing more than the natural course of events they see the direction of some able hand, and have thought proper to attribute the success of the republican party, the consolidation of the federal system, and the establishment of liberal principles exclusively to my influence. We ought in the United States to view the errors committed by these people with great indulgence. The science of government is new to them . . . [and] the revolution found them surrounded by an impenetrable barrier which had for ages shut out all access to the ordinary means of information. Foreigners were not permitted to enter the country, the study of foreign languages was discouraged, and the introduction of some of the best and most useful books prohibited. The improvements in the arts and sciences, which made such rapid progress in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were to the inhabitants of this country as a sealed book. From almost utter darkness a full blaze of light has suddenly burst upon them, and it is not to be wondered at, that they have passed almost instantaneously and without any preparation to the enjoyment of the freest and most liberal form of government. . . . Born with strong passions, living without occupation and without incentives either

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to industry or study, divided by nature and by their interest into distinct classes, their only excitement consisted in mutual hatreds and jealousies, and they waged against each other a perpetual war. . . . [I]t is not to be expected that milder and better feelings should immediately succeed the change from slavery to liberty. This most desirable alteration in the character of this people must be a work of time, and years will pass away and another generation arise before they will cease to slander and vilify and calumniate each other and every foreigner they may think proper to mingle in their domestic squabbles, and that without the slightest regard to the truth or falsehood of the charges which they may bring against them. There exists, moreover, an inbred distrust of foreigners; a most inordinate vanity on the subject of the vast superiority of the natural resources of Mexico over those of any other nation: an unfounded idea, that their neighbors are jealous of their rising prosperity.22 Joel Poinsett’s uncomplimentary remarks about a number of Mexican public figures, his insistence on the nefarious ambitions of the British–aristocratic party, and his sincere, ardent, but self-congratulatory puffing of himself as the valiant defender of republicanism continued unabated until his recall by Andrew Jackson and departure for the United States in 1829. To be fair, Poinsett found himself under constant attack from the conservative capitalino newspaper El Sol, one of whose important backers and moving spirits was ex-minister Lucas Alamán. Putting aside the superior, patronizing tone of his 1827 letter and other communications, there is a good deal of irony in the fact that Alamán himself might well have agreed with much of what the undiplomatic American diplomat wrote, albeit reversing the positive and negative signs of the purportedly monarchist and republican factions.

The Minister Departs The backstory of Lucas Alamán’s definitive departure from the government in the autumn of 1825, after nearly two and a half years, took a long time to spool out. He tendered his resignation shortly after the third meeting of himself, Treasury Minister Esteva, and envoy Joel Poinsett on 13 September 1825, at which Alamán objected strongly to the American envoy’s proposals to specify in the agreement under negotiation the preferential commercial treatment of the United States over other nations—a most-favored-nation clause.

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Alamán’s growing discomfort in the ministry originated much earlier than his tensions with Poinsett over York Rite Masonry, the treaty talks, or the question of Texas, however, going back at least to the adoption of the federal constitution of 1824 if not before. It is not difficult to construct a teleology of his fall in which the inevitable rise of liberal federalism, particularly as embodied in that first Mexican constitution, simply made the government too hot for him. With its devolution of powers to the new states of the union and the dominance within the central government of the legislative authority over the executive, the constitution was a clear repudiation of the centralizing impulse. Still, Alamán remained in the government through the drafting and adoption of the charter and nearly a year into the administration of Guadalupe Victoria. He could have resigned, which he did on at least two occasions but was persuaded to stay on, at any time before late September 1825. José Valadés writes, “If Alamán committed errors in his political career, the greatest of them was to have participated in the ministry of a President whom, like Victoria, he considered a fool. Don Lucas never explained why he served that administration, especially since he was [almost] always in complete disagreement with his colleagues in the cabinet.”23 So the question is why he remained at his post, and why he left it when he did. The likely answers do not suggest any particularly sinister motives on Alamán’s part. In favor of his remaining, no matter what the minister’s personal opinion of his boss, was the fact that after the inauguration of President Victoria a number of highly important and delicate matters in which Alamán was playing a key role were left pending. The British loans were still being negotiated in 1824–25, and British recognition of Mexican independence was not made public until March 1825. Furthermore, the expulsion of Spanish forces from San Juan de Ulúa was not made good until November 1825, after Alamán left the cabinet. Then there were such issues as the regulation of American settlers pouring into Texas in numbers well in excess of those permitted in the Austin concessions, the plan for the colonization of the Tehuantepec region and the building of a canal across the isthmus, and various domestic projects. In other words, since Lucas Alamán was not a man to cut and run in the face of political opposition or to abandon projects once begun—in fact, he tended instead to dig in his heels—there simply were things to accomplish that could be done only from the seat of government and which he felt himself uniquely positioned to oversee. Then, too, since in the early months of the Victoria administration he was said to exercise a heavy influence over the president, he may well have hoped to be a counterweight to

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the federalists and liberals in the government and the congress, something that became especially critical with the arrival of Joel Poinsett. In favor of his stepping down were not only the changing political environment but also the fact that his personal interests screamed for attention, a factor not often acknowledged by historians writing about this period. He would again invoke the need to repair his own neglected economic situation when he left the Bustamante government in 1832, although in that case there were also political pressures on him to resign. In 1825 his family was growing with the birth of his second child and eldest son, Gil, just two weeks or so before he tendered his resignation; he had recently purchased an hacienda that required close management; and he was increasingly involved in the affairs of the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone. Perhaps most important of all, he was the linchpin of a large part of the British investments in the silver mines in Guanajuato and elsewhere, an activity that was held against him by his political opponents, always on the prowl for ways to discredit him. For Lucas Alamán the transition from the government of the SPE to the constitutional-presidential regime had not been an easy one. The spring and summer of 1823 plunged him and the country into the federalist crisis. Hardly had this begun to abate when charges were brought against him in congress over his assignment of salaries to some government appointees without congressional approval. He was accused especially of having favored his friends, an accusation similar to that made against him two years later in the same body by Deputy Juan de Dios Cañedo regarding the appointment of consular officials in US cities. The minister appeared before congress on 1 September 1823 to defend himself, as he was to do on a number of other occasions, asserting that rather than usurping congressional powers the executive authority had in fact generally acted timidly and certainly well within the limits of its legitimate sphere. He remarked on that occasion, “It is not liberal [i.e., proper or just] conduct to attack a government [i.e., the SPE] established by your [own] Sovereign Authority. To proceed liberally [i.e., justly] with a government of the nature of the present one, it should be supported while it exists and removed if it is judged bad, but by no means weakened.”24 His counterattack against the accusations suggests a theory of government in which sovereign authority might lie with the legislature, but executive authority lay with the government ministries and bureaucracy once the legislative power had delegated governmental functions to those bodies. This was perfectly in keeping with his critical views of the 1824 constitution, the idea that the branches of the government occupied separate spheres and his career-long advocacy of a centralism anchored in a

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strong and agile executive. Alamán was exonerated of the charges by a congressional committee at the end of the month, but this was hardly the last time he would be accused of cronyism or of overstepping his authority. The constituent congress that produced the popular, federal, representative constitution of 1824 was elected on the basis of the 17 June 1823 convocatoria published over Lucas Alamán’s signature on the authority of the SPE, and it finally met on 7 November. The constitutional charter was drafted by a committee in relatively short order but was debated for nearly a year before its formal ratification on 4 October 1824. The congressional debates dealt primarily with the issues of distribution of sovereignty among the Mexican people as a whole, their elected congressional representatives, the newly formed states, and the powers in Mexico City; and, within the central government, of the distribution of power between legislative and executive branches. Although the more radical confederationist structure was avoided and a compromise adopted, many of the more moderate federalists were not happy with the charter. Changes in the composition of the SPE, meanwhile, alternately strengthened and then undermined Lucas Alamán’s position, while disturbances continued to rock various parts of the country. Guadalupe Victoria and Nicolás Bravo, both of whom had unimpeachable revolutionary credentials, highly vaunted personal character, and centralist tendencies, faced each other in the presidential election (indirect, by state), the former emerging the winner by a margin of eleven states to six, with Bravo as vice president. They were inaugurated on 9 October 1824. Of the cabinet changes and President Victoria’s drift toward federalism over the following year, Alamán later wrote, “The seeds of future misfortunes were being sown, the first symptom of the changes that would [shortly] be suffered in public affairs [being] those in the ministry.” He added that Ramos Arizpe formed an alliance in the cabinet with Manuel Gómez Pedraza, who had replaced Mier y Terán, to “remove the minister of relations [i.e., Alamán himself], against whom other persons surrounding and influencing Victoria also conspired, due to which plot he [Alamán] had to resign [his] post.” Offering a general characterization of the transition from the regime of the SPE to that of the new constitutional order, Alamán was later to write, [There was a grave] scarcity of resources at first, since on the day of its installation there were found in the treasury no more than 42 pesos; and in the course of its [the SPE’s] existence there were continual revolutions. Nonetheless, in the midst of the uncertainties caused by the fre-

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quent changes in the individuals making it up, all these [men] and their ministers being opposed to the system that [others were] trying to establish [i.e., federalism], [the ministers] knew how to control [the expression of] their opinions [and] worked with determination to implant the very [system] they disdained. . . . President Victoria, then, found himself in the most prosperous circumstances. His authority was recognized by all, and insofar as the great problem—the lack of funds—that had so much contributed to the fall of Iturbide was concerned, [Victoria’s] treasury minister had only to take letters of credit on London to obtain as much as was desired, and the wise investment of them was all he needed to do.25 On the one hand, when he left office the tensions between Escoseses and Yorquinos were still intense. And although there had been something of an economic rebound during the mid-1820s, the foreign loans so easily drawn on for current government expenses sowed the seeds of immense future problems. On the other hand, there was a hiatus in serious political violence during the Victoria administration. What is especially striking in the above passage is Alamán’s assertion that he and other figures in the government worked to implement the new constitutional system together with federalism, even though they profoundly disagreed with it. This assertion is supported by the fact he remained in the cabinet for nearly eighteen months after the adoption of the federalist constitution of 1824 and nearly a year after Guadalupe Victoria’s assumption of office. However much he might have aspired to curb wrongheaded liberal-federalist excesses in governance and policy, surely he could not have hoped to subvert it single-handedly from inside. As in other instances of the older Alamán looking back on his political life, this raises the question of whether the younger man was actually as conservative as the older man portrayed him or whether the mature, disillusioned Alamán was shading his own biography to match the views he held later in life. Alamán departed from the ministry for the last time in tendering his resignation to President Guadalupe Victoria via the minister of war and navy, Manuel Gómez Pedraza, on 26 September 1825. The next day the president thanked him for his service in the post, and Alamán left the government. One factor leading to this was that Alamán could no longer stomach the machinations of Joel Poinsett, especially the terms he was proposing for the preferential treatment of the United States over all other powers in the treaty of friendship and commerce at that moment under negotiation. Neither could

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he tolerate President Victoria’s drift toward federalism or recent changes in the makeup of the cabinet. Carlos Bosch García, one of the twentieth century’s most prominent historians of Mexican diplomatic relations, basically agrees with much of this interpretation of Alamán’s final departure but differs with it in some respects and adds meaningful details. He notes that during 1825 there was a faction of growing strength in the Mexican Senate pressing for Alamán’s removal from the ministry. His withdrawal was precipitous, however, since his relations with Henry G. Ward had become frosty for the moment—they were restored to cordiality a few years later—and the British envoy was pressuring President Victoria to dismiss his minister of interior and exterior relations. Alamán found out about Ward’s stance and resigned before he could be dismissed. In the wake of Alamán’s exit, Ramos Arizpe tried to have José Mariano Michelena appointed, but the president feared and disliked him. In the end, the ministry of relations went briefly (27 September– 2 November) to Manuel Gómez Pedraza, then for the rest of 1825 and the first half of 1826 to Sebastián Camacho (1791–1847), a Veracruz-born lawyer, sometime state governor, congressional deputy, and diplomat, who was to occupy the post briefly on two more occasions. A series of other men filled the post for the rest of Victoria’s presidential term.26 Joel Poinsett saw in Alamán’s fall the triumph of American over British influence in Mexico, while Lorenzo de Zavala ascribed it to Miguel Ramos Arizpe’s entry into the cabinet to hold the portfolio of justice and ecclesiastical affairs—this did not actually occur until two months after Alamán had left. Zavala offered an interesting dual portrait of the two men that, although exaggerated by his intense dislike of Alamán, nonetheless echoes several other impressions of him rendered over the years: “There was nothing in common between these two individuals. Arizpe is impulsive, Alamán calculating [astuto]; Arizpe is open, Alamán reserved; Arizpe invites danger, Alamán avoids it; Arizpe is generous, Alamán greedy [ávaro]; Arizpe, like all men of strong imagination, does not act with method or order; Alamán is meticulously orderly and methodical. Consequently, [while] Arizpe has friends, Alamán has none. Finally, with Alamán everything is artifice, and in Arizpe everything in natural.” Another equally ardent but less volatile liberal republican, Vicente Rocafuerte, who had been secretary to the Mexican legation in Britain, assessed Alamán’s talents on the basis of his recent ministries and proffered an alternate evaluation of the ex-minister some months later. In a cover letter to the ex-minister transmitting a communication from Baron von Humboldt regarding the isthmian canal project, Rocafuerte wrote, “I pray you will allow me

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[this] occasion to tell of the fine esteem I profess for you, which grows from a natural sympathy augmented by the admiration and respect inspired by the superiority of your talents, so happily cultivated and of such use to the Nation. I would not have allowed myself to write of these sentiments before, wary that [their expression] could be attributed to a spirit of adulation, which I disavow, [thus] confusing flattery with the sincere expression of friendship and gratitude of this, your very faithful servant and friend.” Meanwhile, Alamán’s Hullett Brothers correspondent in London lamented his departure from the government: “We see from the newspapers that you have withdrawn from the ministry, which will certainly give the Company [i.e., the Unida] the advantage of your complete attention in its affairs. But at the same time the friends of prosperity in that republic should regret the loss of your intelligence to a new [i.e., newly established] government that requires the unity of all men of talent, experience, knowledge, and pure patriotism.” Almost immediately following his departure from the cabinet Alamán spent a good deal of time traveling to Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and Sombrerete to oversee the interests of the United Mexican Mining Association.27 Alamán might leave the government, but the government would not leave him. He faced generally scathing criticism both while he was in office and after he left, typically from liberal politicians and newspapers. He was saved from immediate attack in the final rerun of the Santa Anna administration in 1853 only by his death after about two months in office, although his reputation suffered deep opprobrium reaching into our own era for his role as architect of the dictatorial regime whose excesses in part ushered in the Reform era of the mid-1850s. Alamán was the most visible conservative politician of the early republic. He had a strong but completely unflamboyant personality whose selfpresentation easily lent itself to the perception of him as a ruthless conspirator. Moreover, as a public servant he showed a strong penchant for conducting the business of governance with opacity rather than transparency. Called “the man with the black brain,” he drew more fire than most and had acquired a sinister reputation even during his lifetime. This more or less constant stream of criticism, even invective, directed at him began quite early in his first ministry and continued through and beyond it. An example during one of his early periods out of the ministry, in the spring of 1824, was the indirect but ferocious attack by Juan Pablo Anaya (1785–1850), a prominent insurgent, brigadier general, liberal politician, and sometime cabinet member. The allegations were of peculation by Alamán in connection with diplomatic appointments he had made. Not surprisingly, accusations launched against public figures for ostensibly

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ideological reasons or to allege corruption originated in less than disinterested motives, including political or personal animosity or both, which is what appears to have happened here.28 Another instance among several occurred immediately after his definitive resignation from his ministry, in late September 1825. The liberal Juan de Dios Cañedo brought charges against Alamán in the Senate having to do with his appointment of vice-consuls in some US cities, allegedly a violation of the 1824 constitution. As Cañedo continued to allege and Alamán to defend himself, the accuser launched yet another formal charge that revealed his more fundamental problem with Alamán, describing him as “[being] in continual struggle with our system [i.e., federalism], and swept along by a vehement passion for arbitrary [power]. In the end, we now see him humiliated before public opinion, and without influence in the government; but this is not enough for the complete repayment of his ill deeds . . . and if we have patriotic love, and if we desire to build the confidence of the states [in the government], it is necessary to punish him so that his successors [in the ministry] learn from this example.” Most members of the body discounted the vehemence of these vague accusations, although others were raised. A senator from Tamaulipas, Father Eustaquio Fernández (1780?—1843), a theologian, lawyer, and politician, charged Alamán with raising the salaries of some ministry officials without congressional approval, for which he deserved exemplary punishment. And in the same vein as Cañedo, the senator added that Alamán was an enemy of the republic, of the federalist system, and of liberty, allegations often leveled against him during his public life. At a Senate session in mid-January 1826 these charges were found to have no substance, and yet another minor accusation was dismissed, although the Yorquino members of the body, including a relation of Alamán’s wife, Narcisa Castrillo, supported them. The next time serious charges were raised against him for his actions while in office, shortly after the fall of the Bustamante administration in 1832, Lucas Alamán would be less lucky. He would be forced into internal exile and hiding to protect himself and would live under a political cloud for the rest of his life. But that lay a decade in the future.

10 • Shafted The United Mexican Mining Association (1824–1830)

Alamán and the Unida: An Introduction The United Mexican Mining Association, or Unida, was formally incorporated in London on 14 February 1824. The enterprise survived longer than most Mexican mining companies established in these boom years of British investment and mining revival and in time produced some profits. In the short and medium term, however, the enterprise fell far short of everyone’s expectations.1 The tsunami of British mining investment had receded by the late 1820s after millions of pounds sterling had drained away down the deep shafts of silver mines in Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Real del Monte, and other silver fata morganas, leaving behind a detritus of abandoned works, rusting equipment, and shredded hopes. As he did in regard to his other abortive attempts to become rich, Alamán remarked ruefully in later years that “I had, then, in my hand what have been the richest enterprises, [but] I went so far astray that I benefited from none of them.”2 In his early reports to the Court of Directors of the new company, no less than in private surveys, Alamán’s projections of the wealth to be taken out of the Mexican mines breathed optimism. This was certainly the experience of Henry G. Ward, the British chargé d’affaires in Mexico during the mid-1820s. Ward’s account of his travels, the general state of the country, and its mines, México en 1827, has become a classic among the works by foreign observers of Mexico during the early republican decades. Cordially received by Alamán, Ward arrived at Veracruz with his family on 11 March 1825 as minister plenipotentiary to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce between Britain and Mexico (ratified in 1827). The Englishman had had previous diplomatic experience in Stockholm, The Hague, and Madrid.3 Ward wrote of the years when 255

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British investment in Latin America in general was just beginning to gather momentum and when Lucas Alamán directed the operations of the Unida, as the company came to be known: “Mr. Alamán . . . declined to venture any specific calculation about the likely production of the mines operated by the Association because (to use his own words) it can never be said that the production of a mine is in exact proportion to the capital invested in it. . . . [But] since the great capital of the company allows it to work in various districts at the same time, the probability of large profits [grows] in proportion to the number of mines capable of producing them.”4 Ward’s observations conveying Alamán’s optimistic predictions, shared by many participants in the early wave of mining investments, were seductive to readers in Britain.5 Captain James Vetch, for example, the first director of the Real del Monte Company, told Ward that within short order his company could expect a yearly return of $1.5 million [i.e., pesos].6 Along with the flourishing British capital markets of the post-Napoleonic decades, the wide familiarity in Europe of Alexander von Humboldt’s famous Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain, available in English from 1811, supplied much material to stoke the fire of the “Mexicomania” raging among British investors and statesmen in the 1820s, singeing many people and burning itself out just as quickly as it had been ignited.7 In a reflection on his own book, Ward wrote that he himself relied very heavily on Humboldt’s account.8 Still more tinder for the blaze of enthusiasm was heaped on by Lucas Alamán’s reputation, personal networks in France and Britain, and acknowledged expertise about the Mexican mining industry. In the middle of the decade, by which time several British mining investment companies had already gone belly-up, Ward explicitly conveyed the impression that Alamán’s prestige in Europe and the Mexican statesman’s belief (later to change) that silver mining should continue to be the central pillar of a flourishing Mexican economy were key to opening the spigot of British capital. Writing in the 1840s after the high tide of British investment had long ebbed, Fanny Calderón de la Barca remarked that “Don Lucas Alamán went to England and raised, as if by magic, the enthusiasm of the English.”9 Yet scarcely a year after the incorporation of the Unida the London merchant bankers brokering the sale of company shares on the English market, Hullett Brothers and Company, were remarking on the dangerously volatile atmosphere of British investments and the rapid shakeout of many less robust firms and projects.10 By the end of 1825, less than two years after the establishment of the Unida, the investment bubble had largely deflated, leaving many

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an English investor staggering to find a footing. Lucas Alamán had earlier purchased some shares of the Unida set aside by the English directors specifically for Mexican investors but now wanted to unload them, probably to provide him with liquid cash for some of his other economic projects. In counseling him to wait for a more advantageous moment to sell, Hullett Brothers wrote, “A year ago there began in this market the madness of speculations in the shares of mines, funds, and commodities of all sorts, of which the cause is said to be in part the abundance of capital. After increasing for several months this madness began to calm itself. . . . The disdain in which many shaky businesses find themselves has dragged [down] public opinion regarding others established on sound foundation.”11 The passage of another half dozen years or so would see Alamán completely out of the Unida as officer and shareholder, even though the Unida was one of the few British-backed mining concerns to survive the bust. Almost all the others proved unprofitable and had disappeared by 1830, among them the Catorce Company (1826), dragged down by the bankruptcy of the English merchant-banking house of B. A. Goldschmidt; the Tlalpujahua Company (1828); and the smaller Mexican Company. The Anglo-Mexican Mining Association, or Anglo-Mejicana, as it was called, survived slightly longer, to be dissolved in 1838, the Bolaños and Real del Monte companies struggling on until 1849.12 The United Mexican Mining Association probably survived as long as it did and produced the profits it did because of the strategy of diversified investments that Lucas Alamán had put in place while he was Mexican director. The Unida was beginning to produce dividends for its investors by about 1830, the year Alamán withdrew from the company. His resignation stemmed from his differences with English company officials working with him in Mexico, from his disillusion with the prospects for his enrichment, and from the press of responsibilities arising from his newly assumed government ministry (January 1830). Had he stayed longer he might well have harvested some of the wealth to which he aspired. A close account of Alamán’s involvement with the Unida illuminates not only his talents and aspirations but also the political culture, economic environment, and state policies of the young Mexican republic. The story knits together across the Atlantic the peripheral capitalism of Mexico with the Britain fast gaining fame as “the workshop of the world” and its position as the major capital exporter of the nineteenth century. To Lucas Alamán the conservative modernizer nothing seemed more plausible at this moment of risk and promise in the life of the young republic than to return the mining industry to

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the robust health that had made New Spain an object of general cupidity. But the very considerations that directed Alamán’s hopes outward—the underdeveloped condition of the Mexican economy, the weakness of state capacity insofar as domestic economic stimulus was concerned, the lack of technical expertise in the country, and obstacles, chiefly geographical and infrastructural, to the circulation of goods and services—proved to impede the full utilization of the foreign capital that flowed into the country in the second half of the 1820s. The disappointments produced by the Unida episode demonstrated to Alamán that what were essentially palliative measures intended to modernize an old economic sector by half measures via the injecting of massive capital infusions and new technologies, important though that sector was, would at best produce indifferent results. Some of these limits on modernization were overcome by the Porfirian regime sixty or eighty years later. To suggest that Mexico was not yet ready for modernization in Alamán’s time is to say both a good deal and very little at the same time. But for the moment optimism ran high on both sides of the Atlantic.

A Hectic Boom: British Investment in the 1820s and the Foundation of the Unida The potential profitability of the industry was substantially a matter of mythologizing and wishful thinking, considerably overestimated. Up to 1810 the colony’s mines poured forth legendary riches that made some Mexican mineowners lavishly wealthy, propelled the economy of New Spain, and seduced the Spanish crown into overextending itself militarily. By the eve of the independence struggle Mexican silver amounted to about two-thirds of the world’s total production of the precious metal, the three thousand or so registered mines in New Spain employing about forty-five thousand Mexican workers. Although there is some controversy over mining production data and the interpretation of trends, a precipitous fall began in 1810, so that the levels of 1810–40 were approximately equal to those of the mid-eighteenth century. According to Lucas Alamán’s figures, silver production in Guanajuato alone had fallen by about 75 percent between 1809 and 1818.13 Production at the fabled Valenciana mine in his native Guanajuato reached its nadir in the years 1825–28, precisely when the United Mexican Mining Association was investing heavily in the district. Although the mine enjoyed a relatively consequential recovery in the early 1830s, even then it returned only to the level of 1820, far below production results on the eve of the insurgency.14 One observer of

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this was Joel R. Poinsett, who passed through Guanajuato in November 1822, noting the “melancholy effects of the late civil wars” in the form of dilapidated buildings among the still handsome houses in the city. The great Valenciana mine he described as being ruined, its former population of twenty-two thousand workers reduced to a mere four thousand. Sharing the Veta Madre ore body with the Valenciana were the Cata workings, one of the so-called principal mines of the district and the pit from which the Busto, Alamán, and other family fortunes had been drawn. Poinsett wrote of these mines that “they are now nearly filled with water, and are but partially worked.” Putting his finger on precisely the problems that all pursuers of mineral fortunes were to grapple with over succeeding years, the American traveler continued, “The state of these mines is deplorable. The expenses of working them have already been prodigiously augmented by the depth of the shafts and prolongation of the galleries, and it will require a large capital to establish . . . pumps to extract the water. In many instances it will be impossible to employ steam as the moving power, from the great scarcity of fuel.”15 Investment in Mexico was but a single example, however, of a general frenzy that seized British capital markets in the first half of the 1820s. Between 1824 and 1825, 624 joint stock companies were established in Britain with a total authorized capital of £102,781,600.16 This was equivalent in 2010 sterling values to about £6.6 billion, a staggering sum.17 Humboldt’s Political Essay played a major role in sparking interest as speculators and entrepreneurs beat the drum for investment in Mexican mining. Humboldt was thought to provide detailed information regarding the mining districts targeted for investment. Never mind that the information it contained was a quarter century old or that the intervening decades had seen enormous, generally unfavorable changes in the Mexican economic sphere, above all, in mining: Humboldt’s book was nevertheless a sort of holy text. Another vital element in the rapid development of the London market for Latin American mining shares was publicity, where Lucas Alamán’s name figured more prominently than any other apart from Humboldt’s. Much of the publicity was propagated by word-of-mouth stories from one investor of large wealth to another. Many of the most respected British newspapers and periodicals, among them the Morning Chronicle, the London Times, and the Quarterly Review, paid a good deal of attention to Latin American affairs, emphasizing the potential of investment in Mexican, Peruvian, Colombian, Brazilian, and even Haitian mines. Not untypical of the sort of tub-thumping about the money to be made in Mexico, often steeped in the romantic exoticism and extravagant

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political tropes attached to the “land of the Montezumas,” was this passage from one of the catalogs published by the museum entrepreneur William Bullock for the exhibition of Mexican antiquities at his Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly in 1824: “Mexico, the unreal El Dorado of Elizabethan times, seems destined to become, in our day, really what it was pictured centuries ago. It has obtained a distinct political existence; its long-riveted chains, and its long-endured slumbers, have broken; it starts and struggles at first . . . there is the confusion of the waking; but there is also the riches and the strength of nature, which need but to be cherished in order to convert a poor powerless province into a wealthy and mighty empire.”18 The mining companies hired writers to sing the praises of the mining sector in general and their own concerns in particular. Among the works of this sort whose authorship can be traced, one of the most interesting involved the young Benjamin Disraeli and the mining promoter John Diston Powles. The Danish-born Powles (1787–1867) was chairman of the London-based merchant firm Herring, Graham, and Powles, which had substantial interests all over Latin America, especially in Colombia. He hired the young Benjamin Disraeli (1804–81) as a flack to promote the concern’s interests in mining, probably while the future statesman and novelist was pursuing his abortive legal studies in Lincoln’s Inn at about the age of twenty. In 1825, at the height of the investment boom, Disraeli anonymously wrote three long pamphlets, at least two of them printed and distributed by the famous literary publisher John Murray (1778–1843). At about this time Powles, Disraeli, and Murray also established a newspaper together, The Representative, dedicated to flogging the interests of the Latin American mining concerns and supporting political candidates, among them George Canning, sympathetic to the fledgling Latin American states and their mines. When the mining bubble burst, it took Powles down with it, loaded Disraeli, who had also invested in the Powles firm, with debts that shadowed him for the rest of his life, and cost other investors dearly, among them Simón Bolívar. The financial problems faced by Disraeli arising in part from this dèbâcle turned him to the pursuit of literature to earn a living, beginning with his first novel, Vivian Grey (1826). The most important of Disraeli’s pamphlets—at 135 pages a short book, really— An Inquiry into the Plans, Progress, and Policy of the American Mining Companies, third edition, with considerable additions (London: John Murray, 1825), began on a portentous note: “Among the undertakings of the present age, paramount in importance for the magnitude of the interests, which are involved in their management, may be ranked the American Mining Compa-

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nies” (7). Although many of the American projects—later in his account he included among these the Poyais scheme of Gregor MacGregor, not strictly a mining enterprise—had proved fraudulent, many others were genuine and had produced such “brilliant expectations [that] we should almost be tempted to believe . . . Eldorado [sic] was no longer an idle dream” (8). Disraeli wrote in a confident voice of the geography, economic structure, potentialities, and technical aspects of the American mines, establishing his authority through his claims of objectivity as against the “wild conjectures” (8) in circulation at the time, even though he had never set foot in the New World. He wrote of the backwardness and inefficiency of the mines in Mexico and elsewhere, not to discourage investors but to induce the belief that European capital and expertise could bring forth great wealth if applied strategically. Disraeli devoted singular and favorable attention to the United Mexican Mining Association, and to “Don Lucas Alamán, late a representative in the Spanish Cortes for Guanajuato, [who] had been associated with the company, and was to be appointed President of the Mexican Board of Management” (38). In glossing recent debates in the Mexican Congress over the tax and ownership status of foreign investment in the country’s mines, Disraeli wrote, “We must also remember that Alamán, one of the most influential men in Mexico . . . is now a leading member of the Mexican administration” (51). In the final pages of the work he quoted Alamán’s ministerial reports extensively. Disraeli obviously intended to create a sort of halo effect radiating out from the Mexican’s absolute integrity, talent, and wide knowledge of the mining industry.19 In a passage of truly Disraelian literary flair, the future British prime minister evoked the way in which the speculative fever in mines had spread in Britain: Then began the game. We heard of Lord Knows-Who lounging upon ‘Change, of Sir Frederick Fashion’s Colombian curricle, and of the Honourable Mr _____ condescending to become a Director of ‘the New Company.’ The mines were la chose; they were the sujet at concerts, conversaziones [sic], and clubs . . . and the hebdomadal assemblé of ‘the Athenaeum’ diversified their usual topics of conversation, strictures on modern literature, and their own execrable wines, by an occasional inquiry ‘after the state of the market.’ . . . A mining story was as regularly expected [among those dining out] with the second glass of Johannisberg, as a dissertation on the operatic legalities, or the latest piece of scandal served up with the sauce piquante . . . of modern exaggeration,

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and jeweled beauty listened, if not to tales of ‘Africa,’ at least ‘to golden joys.’ After continuing in this vein for a while, Disraeli circled back around to Lucas Alamán “to show, that the present state of the Mexican mines arises only from the revolution of 1810, which to borrow the words of Alamán ‘ . . . began in the districts in which the richest mines are situated, and their proprietors were the first victims. . . . ’ The mines [Alamán] observes, ‘are the fountain of the true riches of this nation; and whatever some speculative economists have said against this maxim has been victoriously refuted by experience.’ ”20 The tide of optimism that was to bear all this ill-fated British investment to Mexican shores began with a modest diplomatic wavelet. Immediately in the wake of New Spain’s effective separation from the Spanish Empire, the ink on the Treaty of Córdoba (24 August 1821) barely dry and the throne of Mexico scarcely warmed by the imperial derriére of Agustín I (his coronation took place on 21 July 1822), fully two years before formal recognition was to come, the British Foreign Office under the leadership of George Canning began to explore the possibility of recognizing Mexican independence. Canning sent as confidential and unofficial emissary to Mexico Patrick Mackie (discussed in chapter 9 in connection with the London loans of 1823–25), a Glaswegian physician about whom little is known. Apparently he had lived in Mexico previously and claimed to know a number of the major political players in the immediate postindependence years, among them Agustín de Iturbide and the future president Guadalupe Victoria. Although dubious of Mackie’s claims, Canning nonetheless dispatched him to Mexico late in 1822 to open discussions about diplomatic recognition with Iturbide’s government; he stayed for much of 1823. The emissary was instructed by Canning to remit observations concerning the stability of the political situation, the disposition of the Mexican leadership to establish friendly diplomatic and commercial relations with Great Britain, and whether British commercial agents who came to reside in the capital or the country’s port cities would be received well and guaranteed their full civil rights. The Glaswegian arrived just a few months short of Iturbide’s fall and the assumption of the government’s reins by the SPE. Exceeding his instructions from Canning, Mackie sought meetings with Guadalupe Victoria, facilitated by Alamán, then in the ministry. Four of these encounters took place during July and August 1823, during which discussions (unauthorized from the British side) took place regarding diplomatic recognition. News of Mackie’s freelance activities prompted Canning to repudiate and recall him

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and to send in his place formally accredited British agents. One of them was Henry George Ward, who arrived in Mexico late in 1824 and was officially accepted as His Britannic Majesty’s Chargé d’Affaires in May 1825.21 Aside from the wealth that the regeneration of mining might produce in the country, from the standpoint of Mexican leaders there were a number of political reasons to encourage foreign investment in the sector. First, there were the taxes that would accrue to the national treasury. Moreover, by creating external stakeholders in Mexico’s sovereignty and political integrity, foreign investment would naturally encourage diplomatic recognition by European sovereign states in the face of Spain’s obstinate refusal to do so and of the continuing threat of Spanish attempts at reconquest.22 Finally, the Monroe Doctrine was enunciated at the end of 1823 in President James Monroe’s annual address to the US Congress, and Alamán certainly envisioned the British as a counterweight to burgeoning American power. The Mexican statesman’s growing predilection for British-style constitutional monarchy over American democratic republicanism, or failing that a highly centralized republic, drove him during his career to keep the British connection strong, beginning with sovereign loans and private investment. Before foreign capital could flow into the mining sector, however, some roadblocks had to be cleared away, and this Lucas Alamán set about doing immediately upon his assumption of the ministry in 1823. The revival of his own family fortunes with the Cata mine in Guanajuato seems never to have been far from his mind. He had been the main drafter of a measure presented in 1821 by the Mexican deputies in the Spanish Cortes proposing the reform of the tax structure of silver mining as well as instituting changes in the Mexican Tribunal de Minería. When Alamán took up his first ministry he renewed his effort to facilitate the entry of foreign investors into the Mexican mining industry. The legislation eventually enacted permitted foreigners to contract with mineowners investments of all kinds for the rehabilitation of existing mines.23 These initiatives provoked a surge in economic nationalism and some resistance in congress, where a sellout of Mexican natural wealth to foreigners was alleged. The mining tribunal that oversaw mineral extraction activities was abolished in 1826, after Alamán left the ministry, in accordance with liberal notions anathematizing special tribunals. The path had now been cleared legally for foreign capital to attempt the revival of Mexican silver mining. In his Historia de Méjico, Lucas Alamán wrote, “The greatest things often proceed from an insignificant or casual beginning, and thus it was with the United Company for the development of the Mexican mines, after whose

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example the other [companies] were formed.”24 The prehistory of the United Mexican Mining Association is shadowy. The concern was built on the ruins of the Franco-Mejicana company, which Alamán had established in Paris in the early months of 1822 with French partners but lamentably few investors, as we have seen. About the middle of 1823 he made contact with the merchant-banking firm of Hullett, which was convinced to act as English agents for the sale of Franco-Mejicana shares in Britain as soon as a prospectus and shares could be printed.25 The reluctance of English investors to buy shares of the French company, however, reflected not only concerns about the solidity of the company itself and about the feasibility of mining operations in Mexico but also anti-French sentiments. In a letter to Alamán of October 1823 his Hullett correspondent put the difficulties with the Franco–Mejicana into the context of British anti-French feelings: “Nonetheless, we confess to you that our efforts to stimulate the sale of shares have encountered many grave difficulties, born in large part from the concerns of the English public, which has a repugnance to enter speculations under French direction, and would have preferred the name of the company to be [simply] the ‘Mexicana.’ ” Hullett Brothers had tried a number of tactics to “humor English worries” about the Franco-Mejicana, emphasizing Alamán’s on-the-scene involvement, describing him as “the master key to the whole building.”26 While interest in the French company remained tepid, a new mining company, the Anglo–Mexican, was established in London under the directorship of a mysterious figure named John Dollars, attracting much favorable attention from British investors. So the Franco-Mejicana was abandoned and trading in its shares suspended in late 1822 and early 1823. The idea for the United Mexican Mining Association—“uniting” French and British capitalists but effectively pushing aside the former—originated among the Hulletts. The French concern of Vial, Alamán y Compañía was dissolved, and Alamán’s French partners, in exchange for monetary compensation, renounced any claims they might make against the new company, in which Alamán was absorbed as a director. The initial offering of six thousand shares was snapped up by British investors and the first installment of five pounds per share paid in immediately.27 Those associated with the newly established company—the English directors, the auditors, the bankers of Hullett—were all “men of the first rank in society.” The United’s Court of Directors consisted of twelve men, two of whom were partners in the firm of Hullett Brothers. The social, political, and economic prominence of many of these companies’ directors was notable. The United Mexican Mining Association’s own board included

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Sir John Easthope (1784–1865), a successful stockbroker, newspaper owner, and a liberal MP during the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s. Serving at the same time was Thomas Masterman, almost certainly the distinguished naval commander Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy (1769–1839), Admiral Horatio Nelson’s flag captain at the Battle of Trafalgar (fatally struck down by a French sniper, among Nelson’s last words were, “Kiss me, Hardy”). Hardy had some experience of Spanish America, having commanded the British navy’s South American station from 1819 to 1824, charged with interdicting any Spanish threats to the newly independent Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina. Another member of the board, shortly to become more distinguished as a notorious debtor than a successful public figure, was Rowland Stephenson (1782–1856). Born at sea between Florida and England, he became a banker in London and was elected a Tory MP in 1826, at about the time the United was being organized. His bank collapsed under the weight of unsecured loans in 1828, plunging him into bankruptcy. Fleeing to Savannah, Georgia, briefly jailed in debtors’ prison in New York, and evading extradition, he lived out his days on a rural estate in Pennsylvania.28 Alamán’s own title in the concern would be presidente de la junta de administración de México. The junta was to be composed of Alamán and two Englishmen jointly selected by him and the London directors and sent out to Mexico. Capital calls for the present would amount only to £5 of the £40 face value of the shares until the organization of the company in Mexico was completed. Should initial indications under Alamán’s directorship prove favorable, the remaining capital would be called in, while the English directors reserved the right to offer further shares for sale in future. For the present, capitalization would remain at £200,000 (about a million Mexican pesos), with a reserve fund of £40,000. Alamán’s compensation entitled him to a one-eighth share of any profits above 10 percent of the invested capital. His role in the United was thenceforth to be that of both shareholder and salaried employee, albeit one of enormous authority and influence. He held his ministry in the national government, with interruptions, between April 1823 and October 1825. The salary element proved a somewhat delicate issue, since the payment of a salary by a foreign company to a high government official might prove unseemly (it did) and was almost certainly illegal. Competition was stiff among British companies eager to invest in the mines of Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí, and Real del Monte, and they fell over each other to secure contracts with Mexican mineowners, making aggressive action essential to success. The cutthroat rivalry between the United Mexican

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Mining Company (later Association) and the Anglo-Mexican Company, another London-based concern, was not in itself due primarily to the efforts of either group to corner opportunities but rather to the questionable ethics of the mysterious John Dollars, the Anglo-Mexican’s director, and his associates. The backers of the Anglo-Mexican “directed against it [the Unida] maneuvers [maniobras] that seemed to have as their objective to suffocate [the company] at birth.” Rumors were propagated in the London press that the Anglo-Mexican was based on preexisting contracts with Mexican mineowners, an advantage the Unida lacked and that would have attracted to its rival a disproportionate amount of investment capital. The intention here was to reduce potential investors’ confidence that the United Mexican Mining Company could operate successfully in a Mexican environment.

The Unida in Operation Lucas Alamán’s codirectors on the Mexican end of the United Mexican Mining Association were to be Arthur David Louis Agassiz, generally referred to as Louis Agassiz, and William Glennie; Agassiz arrived first, Glennie some time later. According to Hullett Brothers, Agassiz (no relation, it appears, to the famous geologist and paleontologist of the same name) was “a respectable and knowledgeable merchant,” for many years the head of a trading company with connections in the major economic centers of Europe and the Americas but with no experience in mining. He had traveled in Spain and Spanish America and spoke Spanish. The directors intended him to be a sort of liaison between Alamán and the British directors in all operations “requiring tact, good judgment and commercial experience,” and he was to act as treasurer of the Mexican operations. Agassiz was on his way to Mexico—he arrived around the end of May 1824—even as final documents for the establishment of the United Mexican Mining Association were being reviewed by the lawyers in London. Arrangements to draw on company funds for Mexican operations were still incomplete, but Lucas Alamán was beginning to order specialized refining equipment and chemicals from Paris and London. William Glennie, the third codirector, was a slightly younger contemporary of Alamán’s descended on one side from a landed Oxfordshire family. Glennie (1797–1856) had made his early career in the Royal Navy as an engineer. After his stint in Mexico he would work briefly under the direction of the famous English railroad and marine engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, specifically on the Box Tunnel on the Great Western Railway in England, the longest railway tunnel

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in the world at the time of its completion in 1841. Glennie remained a director of the Unida at least as late as 1834, several years after Alamán had quit the concern.29 While the first of Alamán’s codirectors was on his way to Mexico, the Unida investors back in London were close to ratifying the establishment of the company, and a series of complicated financial arrangements were being carried out by Hullett Brothers to get cash flowing to underwrite the expenses Lucas Alamán was incurring on its behalf. By May 1824 news of Alamán’s resignation from the government at the end of the previous month had reached London. The timing of Alamán’s resignation in relation to the establishment of the Unida suggests that he relinquished the post to devote his energies exclusively to the company’s affairs. And while the Hulletts and the directors of the Unida may have felt they had reached a truce with the Anglo-Mexican Mining Company, their principal Mexican director clearly did not. Now out of office for the moment and perhaps therefore feeling himself free as a private citizen of the need for discretion, he wrote of the mining companies in May 1824 to his friend Francisco Borja Migoni in London. He communicated his view of the relationship of the foreign firms’ prospects to the political situation in Mexico and his feelings about Iturbide: [I have had a letter] informing me of the dissolution of the unhappy Compañía Franco-Mexicana and the establishment of the new United whose management I am charged with. . . . I hope for an outcome all the happier since the mismanagement and ignorance with which the interests of Dollars’s [company] and the bad reputation and ill fame of the people contributing to its formation will [allow] us soon to surpass it. [The economic prospects of Mexico] have taken on an encouraging aspect with the promising hopes presented by the [English] loan and the mining companies. God grant that Iturbide does not get it into his head to come and cause new problems, as I do not doubt he intends in view of the letter to [the Mexican] congress of which I spoke to you in my previous letter! Renew your vigilance of him, since [his return] is the only thing that can interfere with our [promising] situation.30 Lucas Alamán plunged immediately into the operations of the Unida, characteristically assuming a role at all levels of the operation. In his capacity now as Mexican manager of the Unida, Alamán had taken steps to sign contracts with several mineowners, fully aware that his prestige would ease the way. The day before he returned to his ministry (15 May 1824) he wrote, “We will

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not be wanting for contracts and the reputation I enjoy in this country means that they [the mineowners] will prefer me [to any other contractor].” Pressing the London directors to increase the capital of the Unida, he wrote that while a million pesos might be sufficient for the moment to carry on the operations of the company, more would certainly be required later. He was involved in negotiations with the owners of the Valenciana, whose rehabilitation, because of its size, might well absorb the capital that could be invested in six or eight smaller mines. But the Valenciana was so famous an enterprise that when it became known that the Unida had contracted to invest in it, this fact alone would, in Alamán’s words, “augment the credit” of the company. However the increase in capitalization and the transfer of funds was achieved, these were crucial tasks since the Mexican mineowners wanted to see cash immediately; for lack of capital, the Dollars contracts were already shriveling. Descending to more detailed questions, Alamán wrote that steam-driven pumps for draining deep-shaft mines were not practical in Guanajuato or Zacatecas because of the lack of fuel, while horse-drawn winches had generally been successful. Equipment, sulfuric acid, and an expert—perhaps recommended by “my friend” William Wollaston—with the knowledge to apply them to the separation of gold from silver, he advised, should be sent from Paris. Alamán also informed the Hullett Brothers that he was about to return to his ministry after a hiatus of only about three weeks, expressing an optimism about Mexico’s prospects that would progressively fade over the coming years: “The energy the government is displaying and the [fiscal] consistency that the [new London] loan provides will affirm the [more stable] order of things. I am being urged to return to the ministry and I will have to do it very soon; I am only detained by some personal considerations. This will not damage the company and because of it [the Unida] can count on the support of the government.”31 Generally speaking, Alamán took care to avoid conflicts of interest, or at least the appearance of such impropriety, either between his own affairs and those of the Unida or between the company and the government while he was in it. Still, he certainly was not above envisioning how his position at the heart of the national government might benefit the interests of the company. There is evidence that he may have cut some financial corners at other times in his life. The question therefore arises as to how impervious the firewall actually was that he tried to build between the United Mexican Mining Association’s more generalized interest in a great number of Mexican mines and his own particular stake in Guanajuato’s Cata mine.32 Barely had the dust settled from the collapse of the Franco-Mejicana and the first course of the Unida’s founda-

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tions been laid in 1824 when Alamán’s intense interest in the rehabilitation of the Cata mine surfaced. In May of 1824 he noted in a letter to his Hullett correspondent that an Englishman named Mornay was working to rehabilitate the Cata, in which don Lucas and other members of the Alamán family held shares. He was almost certainly referring to the Yorkshireman Aristides Franklin Mornay (1779–1855), who was also involved in negotiations with the Conde de Valenciana to drain and bring back into production his great enterprise. Alamán remarked to the Hulletts, “I have said I have a share in the Cata mine, and this circumstance would have [prevented] me from ever contracting to rehabilitate it on the account of the [Unida] company so that it might never be said that I had employed [company] funds to my own benefit; but since it has already [begun to be] rehabilitated by Mornay, I could not have this hesitation.”33 Perhaps in response to the frankness of this and other letters—his repeatedly disparaging remarks about John Dollars, for example—Alamán’s Hullett correspondent suggested discreetly to the Mexican director of the Unida that “in future all your reports to the Court of Directors or the Secretary should be of an official nature and without any reference to what you may direct to us in [other] familiar and friendly letters, since anything communicated to the Directors is archived and can lead to consequences. . . . [O]ur correspondence should be perfectly private. . . . At the same time you may remain completely persuaded that we will never abuse your frankness and that we will make use of all your reports with prudence and discretion.”34 Just how Mornay’s activities meshed or conflicted with those of Alamán and the United Mexican Mining Association is far from clear. Mornay seems to have been an engineer or a merchant, while he is sometimes identified as a mineralogist. Given the role he was to play in the Guanajuato mining industry he probably possessed experience, if not expertise, in all three activities. He was a partner in the commercial firm of Herring, Graham, and Powles, the London-based merchant concern with substantial interests in mining companies all over Latin America.35 The firm was behind the Colombian Mining Association, headquartered in Bogotá, established in about 1825 to revive the gold mines of Colombia. It also represented Colombia’s British creditors, had a contract with the Colombian government for a colonization scheme, and was involved in mining ventures in Brazil and Chile. Partner Charles Herring Jr. was superintendent of the company’s operations in Brazil and served on the executive boards of concerns in Mexico and Chile. The director of mining operations in Brazil between 1824 and 1827 was Robert Stephenson (1803– 59), the son of the famous English railway entrepreneur and inventor George

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Stephenson. Powles served on the board of directors of the Anglo-Mejicana, while Captain James Vetch managed mines in Real del Monte and Bolaños, served on the board of the Anglo-Mejicana, and was for a time associated with the United Mexican Mining Association.36 Much like these other British firms, the Hullett Brothers had more eggs in their investment basket than just mining investments in Mexico, interests that pulled them to the very center of British policy toward the newly independent Spanish American states. These relationships included investments and commercial connections in the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata and Chile, at least, although the firm profited more in Mexico than elsewhere. Among Alamán’s large problems in managing Unida operations in Mexico were his efforts to diversify Unida holdings in the mining sector, the uneven progress of the Cata rehabilitation specifically, the lack of competent technical expertise in the actual mining operations themselves, the political condition of the country, and the key but unforeseen difficulty of obtaining cash to finance day-to-day operations. The scarcity of cash operating funds was due to the many domestic mining firms all trying to borrow at the same time, and not even the more highly capitalized British or American merchant houses in Mexico City could be expected to fill the gap for long—that is, lend them funds based on credit with London firms. The most efficient way to maintain liquidity on a daily basis, Alamán suggested, was for the Unida in London simply to send cash through Veracruz or the port of Alvarado—although there were attendant risks, as he well knew, of bandit attacks on the roads. Short of operating funds or not, Lucas Alamán was forging ahead with plans to diversify the investments of the United Mexican Mining Association, a strategy that served the company well in subsequent years, even if Alamán himself was not the beneficiary of it. In keeping with his personal priorities and the fact that the Cata constituted the Unida’s primary foothold in the rich mining district of his birth, Alamán moved more quickly to get the enterprise into production again even while opening discussions with other miners in the region. The major problem with almost all the larger mines at this time, both in Guanajuato and elsewhere, was the flooding that had followed when they were abandoned during the insurgency. This not only made the working of the deep shafts and tunnels impossible but also rotted timber supports and other elements essential to productivity (the major concern) and the safety of workers (a lesser concern). By early summer of 1824 Alamán had three hundred horses powering the winches draining the Cata, with four machines (horse-powered capstans and

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lifting buckets) in operation and a fifth under construction. Despite his heavy official responsibilities he must have overseen much of this work personally during his frequent visits to Guanajuato. Alamán hoped to reduce water levels by as much as four or five varas (twelve to fifteen feet) per week. By about late August promising ore from newly drained areas of the Cata was being excavated, there was a refining plant (hacienda de beneficio) in operation, and he expected that by the end of September silver would be produced. Despite these optimistic assessments Alamán insisted that the technical personnel available in Mexico, including mining engineers, refining experts, experienced builders of waterwheels, men versed in the sulfuric acid technique of separating gold from silver, and other trained men, were woefully inadequate both in numbers and expertise for the scale of operations he envisioned. His recommendation was that such people be recruited from Freyberg, in Saxony, as soon as possible by Hullett Brothers. Henry Ward’s remarks on the Cata around this time, based on observations he made as he toured Mexico’s mining districts during 1826, comport closely with Alamán’s. In Guanajuato Ward’s chief contact was Domingo Lazo de la Vega, the Unida administrator there, who was to continue a personal friendship and business relationship with Lucas Alamán for many years after the dissolution of the United. “One of the oldest [mines] in the district,” wrote Ward, the Cata had acquired its fame at the beginning of the eighteenth century, when it was worked together with the Mellado, now being operated by the Anglo-Mexican Company, by Francisco Matías de Busto, who took from it his large fortune and the title of Marqués de San Clemente. Occupying a large site, the mine reached a depth of 360 varas (nearly 1,000 feet). Ward observed that it had been drained and put back into operation within fourteen months, at a cost of no more than 225,000 dollars (i.e., pesos), which comes close to Alamán’s calculations. While Lazo de la Vega and Alamán believed unshakably in the mine’s potential, Ward reported that local public opinion considered it exhausted and any attempt to revive it senseless. The Englishman commented, “From this, however, no conclusion can be drawn, since the same has been said of many other famous mines when their first great bonanzas had ended.” He expressed the hope that the name of the Cata might be added to the glittering list of silver mines that had been brought back into substantial production, among them the Quebradilla in Zacatecas and the Pabellón (and Veta Negra) in Sombrerete.37 The Cata mine’s history over the next few years exemplifies many of the problems Alamán and his English backers faced in reviving the Mexican mines. The

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Cata was the first mine in Guanajuato to benefit from Unida avíos: at least 157,000 pesos had been invested in the Cata alone by the end of 1825, about half the amount spent in the Rayas, and perhaps another 100,000 or so over the next year. But despite the fact that it was producing promising ores even in the early phase of its rehabilitation, yielding to the end of 1825 about a 21 percent return, drainage operations were not concluded until March or April of 1826, nearly two years after they had begun. Alamán’s report to the Court of Directors of early 1826 noted how the successful operations at his family’s mine were achieved in the face of considerable problems involving not only the scarcity of qualified personnel but also the application of modern mining techniques. He made a case for the use of “appropriate technologies,” seemingly backward but well adapted to Mexican conditions, and touched on the problems of modernizing large-scale industrial operations in early nineteenth-century Mexico generally: The draining of Cata is to me the clearest demonstration, that in this country, until we have better roads, iron foundries, and many other material resources, the machines commonly employed, although very imperfect, are notwithstanding preferable, except in some particular cases, to those which might be substituted for them from Europe. . . . You know the time that has been employed in draining, and consequently are in possession of the data necessary to compare the system that has been followed, [and] with the consequences that would have resulted if a steam engine had been employed. Consider the cost of [a steam engine] of a power equal to four whims briskly worked; the expenses and enormous difficulties of conveyance from Vera Cruz to Guanajuato [and other difficulties]; and the conclusion appears to be, that if this method had been adopted in Cata, much more money would have been expended, and perhaps not a drop of water would at this time have been extracted. . . . It appears to me that, except in some very rare cases, no other machines should be used in this country, than those which are easily constructed on the spot where they are required. The draining and internal inspection of walls, supporting columns, and timbers completed, many workers and animals were discharged. Ore samples and a plan of the workings were on their way to London, while the management of day-to-day operations was in the hands of his uncle, D. Tomás Alamán. As the quality of ores had improved, the refining operations had passed from an auction system, in which ore was sold at the mine head to independent refiners, to the company’s own facilities.38

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In this same 1826 report Alamán expounded at some length his strategy for the Unida’s activities, framed within the question of whether it was preferable to invest in new mines or old ones. The passage helps to explain some of the choices he made about the company’s diversified investments. But it also offers some insight into his attachment to the Cata mine in particular as he discusses one of the principal activities of his early maturity, the basis of his family’s lost fortunes, and therefore the origin of his drive to recover those fortunes and the powerful influence this motive wielded over his political life: With the formation of English Companies . . . [t]he question has been frequently agitated, whether the working of old or new mines, is the more expedient. Against the first, it is commonly urged, that they required great expense to drain the water and repair the ruins, that their ores have been, in a great part, extracted already, and that those which remain are more difficult to obtain, from the depth at which they are found, and less profitable . . . in proportion to the depth. And it is said of new mines, that the costs are less . . . and there is a probability of obtaining riches that in the old mines have been cleared. . . . The supporters of the [old mine position] argue, that although old mines require large outlay, it is compensated by the immense advantage of finding the essential works already made, such as shafts, levels, offices, etc. [T]he quantity of water is, in many instances, very great, but this being occasioned by the extent of the works, the opportunity is afforded of examining many points of the lode, an advantage not to be had in a new mine, without much time and expense. [I]n a new mine there are as many probabilities of loss as of gain, or more of the former than the latter, since . . . you depend on a mere contingency, whilst in old mines there are wellgrounded inferences for our guide. . . . These are the guides that we have taken, and it is upon these principles that, in Guanajuato, we have acquired an interest in Rayas and Cata, two mines which have been very rich in former times, and which now offer great hopes of being so again.”39 It is not entirely fortuitous that Alamán’s analysis in this passage closely paralleled his evolving philosophy about politics. There are a number of ways one could encapsulate this approach—as a calculation in opportunity costs, for example, or in risk analysis. It is quite clear, however, that he saw the opening of new mines as both costly and risky, with the prospect of returns extremely unsure in proportion to the investment. Old mines entailed certain

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expenses but were already known quantities, the essential works already made—that is, transposing his perception to the political sphere, solid principles established. If one substitutes in the passage just quoted “federalism” or even “liberalism” for new mines and conservative “centralism” for old mines, one hears a distinctly Burkean, and typically Alamanian, formulation. I am not suggesting his attitude about mining investments shaped his political thinking, and still less that his political experiences in his first ministry influenced the strategies he deployed in his Unida projects, but that they both originated in the same source. Lucas Alamán took a political drubbing during the years 1823–25, first at the hands of the federalist chieftains, then from Joel Poinsett and the yorkinos. So it may be that his deeper-lying dispositions about these and other aspects of his life had begun to shift rightward from a more open-minded conservatism, and even a moderate liberalism, toward the pronounced conservatism observable in him by the time he returned to the government in 1830. That change has been misunderstood, I believe, as the politics of reaction. The value of Unida shares (acciones) in London, meanwhile, soared when Alamán’s participation in the enterprise became known. The execution of Iturbide in July, especially, was perceived to have improved the domestic political situation by promising greater stability and playing favorably into Mexico’s diplomatic situation. By the late fall of 1824 Unida shares had attained a face value of £40, and the premium paid to acquire them had doubled in just a few days from £6 to £12, while the Anglo-Mexican premium was at £10/ share. The news that the British government was about to strike commercial treaties with Mexico, Colombia, and Buenos Aires pushed them even higher. By mid-January Unida shares had climbed as high as £160, four times their nominal value of a few months before. The rise in the face and premium value of some other London-based mining companies, on the other hand, was owing more to manipulation by major shareholders than to a real push from investor demand. By the end of the year Alamán had secured a contract for the rehabilitation of the Rayas mine in Guanajuato, remarking, “The dealings of the company continue to prosper even beyond what I could have promised myself.”40 As Unida shares rose in value, at Alamán’s urging the company directors authorized a further £5 call on the committed capital late in 1824. In January 1825 the directors voted to raise the capital ceiling to at least £1 million, and by March to £1,240,000, a five- or sixfold increase that would translate into a fivemillion- to six-million-peso working fund, of which a million pesos would

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make up a reserve. There was to be a proportional increase in the number of shares that Alamán could dispose of in Mexico, which eventually rose to one thousand or more. The Hulletts remarked that “your wise management [of the Unida] has inspired the [confidence of the] public.” They wrote of the continuing frenzy among investors, pondering whether the “extravagant prices [of shares] can be sustained at the cost of men who have more money or greed than judgment.” The directors discouraged Alamán from approaching the Anglo-Mexican Company about a cooperative agreement between the two companies: the deal had “taken on the aspect of a negotiation as complicated and difficult as a treaty of peace or alliance between two nations.” For the moment the project fell through.41 From its very inception the company was entangled in a complex web of international finance, technology, and industrial inputs extending well beyond the London shareholders and the Hullett Brothers firm. In addition to the financial arrangements, this held true of technical knowledge, mining expertise, equipment, and inputs drawn from France, Germany, and Britain. Importing technology in the form of qualified personnel and equipment could be prohibitively expensive. Among the most fascinating problems illustrated by the Unida’s project to rehabilitate the Guanajuato mint were these technological, logistical, and basic material requirements. In a general way they echo parallel problems on the technological side of mining operations themselves, while foreshadowing similar issues that Alamán and other entrepreneurs would face a decade or so later as Mexico pushed further into the industrialization process. Equipment had to be purchased in Europe and, later on, in the United States, but it was expensive, difficult to handle given its weight, bulk, and delicacy and hard to transport over Mexico’s inadequate or nonexistent roads, especially to interior areas like Guanajuato. Lucas Alamán’s plans for the Unida involved not only the production of silver but also the minting of the ingots into coins for circulation within Mexico. This required the rehabilitation of the Guanajuato mint and therefore contracting for its lease from the government. Employing the most modern equipment, the Hulletts estimated, such a minting operation could produce more than 10,500 coins an hour. The estimated capital cost of such a rehabilitation came to about £8,000, including the physical premises, a small steam engine, and so forth. By March 1825 Alamán was given the green light for this project on the basis of a very concrete budget put together along the lines of a similar enterprise in Buenos Aires. In the case of the Guanajuato mint the transatlantic connection was projected to be with the M. R. Boulton firm,

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founded in the English Midlands in the late eighteenth century by the manufacturer Matthew Boulton (1728–1809). In partnership with the famous Scottish engineer James Watt (1736–1819), Boulton manufactured high-quality steam engines used in mining operations worldwide. His Soho Mint produced British coinage on a vast scale for many decades and was considered a model for up-to-date mintage operations. The United Mexican Mining Association thus looked to Boulton for technological expertise and equipment. The estimated cost of the actual coin-stamping machines themselves was reasonable, but the rolling devices to reduce silver ingots (barras), which were three to four inches thick and five to six inches wide, were very high in cost. Rolling mills of less cost and lower power requirements to run them might be employed, but this would mean developing iron molds to produce longer, thinner pieces of silver more readily handled by the machinery. The transport of the coining presses themselves, each weighing up to several tons, presented an even more serious problem. Skittish though the Court of Directors was about the move to vertical integration suggested by Alamán’s mint proposal, they had not hesitated in March 1825 to raise the company’s capitalization to £1,240,000, which somewhat eased the pressure on operating funds Alamán had experienced the first year. Alamán’s share of the company profits would remain at 12.5 percent, while the London directors felt that the salaries and shares of Agassiz and Glennie should also rise with total capitalization. About this time Alamán was complaining that he had had to concentrate so much of his attention on Unida business that his income from other sources dropped, and he was finding it hard to meet his family expenses. In the meantime, shares in the Unida continued to climb in value. Of the 1,000 shares set aside for Mexican investors, Hullett Brothers suggested that Alamán might want to purchase as many as 750 for himself, presumably against his future profits, although then, as now, such operations in the market required a delicate sense of timing. The United Mexican Mining Association occupied a position above the fray through its first years, relatively immune from the internal dissension plaguing other firms and free of legal entanglements or litigation in Britain. This lack of friction was due primarily to the timely increases in its capital at several key junctures, to the general conservatism and solidity of its contracts—for example, its reluctance, finally, to become involved with the Valenciana—and to the expertise, reputation, and political influence of its principal Mexican director. Alamán had returned to the ministry of interior and exterior relations at the beginning of 1825 and was to remain there until September, this time

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in the administration of the independence hero Guadalupe Victoria, now constitutionally elected president and for many years the only head of state to complete his term. Using his position and influence, Alamán helped to quash, for example, a congressional measure proposed by the finance minister José Ignacio Esteva, a Yorquino liberal and Alamán’s political foe, aimed at raising taxes on gold and silver production. The continuing frenzy of speculative investment in the British market produced conditions in which the bad faith of some speculators and moneylenders spawned more undercapitalized concerns and disputes within those that already existed. The Real del Monte Company, for example, had fallen into an internal dispute that could not be resolved within the company and ended up in court. The lord chancellor, Lord Eldon, was reputed to be a great legal scholar but never reached a decision until there was no doubt in any given case, and since these cases were so full of ambiguities he scarcely ever reached a decision. Some of the newer companies went so far as to obtain private acts of incorporation from Parliament. The Hulletts even had an interview with William Huskisson, president of the Board of Trade, asking him to affirm the solid standing of the Unida, which he did. They wrote to Alamán that while other mining concerns were experiencing legal, administrative, and financial difficulties, “in the meanwhile we remain tranquil, trusting in the merit of our establishment,” owing in no little part, they strongly implied, to Alamán’s role at the helm of the enterprise.42

The Picture Darkens As early as the spring of 1825 the overall prospects of mining investments in Mexico had begun to recede, a downturn to which the Unida was not immune. Stock sales of all sorts were slowing, the value of Mexican government bonds had fallen, and a new issue of Unida shares at the end of April saw the premium per share slip, although it had quickly rebounded somewhat. In late May, Migoni in London was lamenting his failure to sell his fifty shares of the United when the price was up to 140 percent of par value since of late it had dropped suddenly.43 This softening of the market notwithstanding, the Unida’s position remained more solid than that of most companies. Ironically, because of this very solidity the Unida was experiencing some difficulties with a sell-off of its shares in the London market. Speculators in the numerous weaker concerns were selling Unida shares to gain some liquidity, causing their value to fall. This more bearish market for Latin American mining shares contributed to the London directors’ reluctance to undertake risky contracts in

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Mexico. The concern’s (i.e., Alamán’s) risk-averse behavior, however, had certain costs in the form of foregone opportunities. Lucas Alamán, meanwhile, continued to deal on a daily basis with a thousand and one details on the technical end of the mining business. Louis Agassiz, in Alamán’s words, was “useless for the mines but works much in the office,” while William Glennie was “highly determined and a hard worker.”44 Certainly Alamán himself was prepared by his background, training, and experience in the industry to handle technical questions, while his personal style consisted of a hands-on approach and a disinclination to delegate to others what he felt he could and should do himself. For the Unida interests in Mexico, among other tasks, he needed to oversee the order of steel from Milan and the Basque country; manage the reception in Mexico and shipment inland of large quantities of mining supplies; and ensure for the refining process a constant supply of mercury, whose price and availability fluctuated considerably. Foreign technical personnel—for example, Hüttenmeister (foundry master) Lauckner from Freyberg—had to be recruited and their demands for payment negotiated through Hullett Brothers as agents. The problem of transporting heavy equipment from the ports of Tampico or Veracruz to Guanajuato and other mining areas caused constant headaches throughout the period and had to be dealt with quickly or the machinery might be lost to rust or other forms of damage. Certain pieces of this equipment, Alamán wrote, “present great difficulty with their transport from the coast since they are very heavy and are hard on the mules, so that the mule-drivers do not want to deal with them.” New technological procedures had to be assessed for their relevance and applicability to operations in Mexico, and the proposals of foreigners filtered through Alamán himself. “Your countrymen,” wrote the Hulletts, “ . . . have long been involved with the nations of Europe, [but] only with time will they learn to distinguish the adventurers [from the] charlatans, of whom swarms have gathered in that capital [i.e., Mexico City]. . . . Here [in London] the directors of mining companies are besieged by schemers who pretend to have invented miraculous processes for the separation of precious metals from ore quickly, with little work, and with little cost.”45 These and other chronic problems plagued the business. There were also reverses. For example, contracts to run various mints had slipped away from the company into other hands, and the contracts for the Mellado, which would end up with the AngloMexican Company, and Frausto mines in Guanajuato were proving almost impossible to pull off. Still, despite the drain on his time of everyday management, Alamán pronounced himself at about this time “very content with the

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state of things [of the company].” And there were some immediate successes on the horizon, such as the mines at Temascaltepec and the assumption by the Unida of all the mining contracts of the Herring, Graham, and Powles Company, a deal completed in August 1825.46 Alamán’s exchanges with his Hullett correspondent at this time reveal that amid the accumulating investment wreckage of other firms, the Unida Court of Directors believed the company’s success to be attributable in large measure to the prestige, social connections, experience, and wise investment strategies of the Mexican codirector, and therefore that he should be handled gently and kept happy. For this reason he was frequently offered more shares of Unida stock at par, though he declined at least one such offer. And although the Hulletts were not above casting mild reproofs Alamán’s way, they were generally very deferential to him. In offering a detailed description of some refining techniques presently in use in Germany and Hungary, for example, the Hulletts almost tripped over their own feet in their deference: “We flatter ourselves that you will pardon our boldness in explaining a technique you will have seen in Europe and that we know only through books . . . and if you will overlook our impertinence, we will not risk again explaining ourselves badly in a foreign language.” Furthermore, the willingness of the Hullett Brothers company to do a series of favors for him not directly related to the mining business grew from their interest in keeping him happy. The firm opened credit lines, for example, for a young relative of Alamán’s wife, Narcisa Castrillo, who had come to Britain to study English; for the son of General Pedro Celestino Negrete, waiting in London at that moment to take up a position attached to the Mexican legation in Rome; and made purchases in Paris, a pianoforte among them, on behalf of the Condesa de Pérez Gálvez, an Alamán family friend. While Lucas Alamán was esteemed, much flattered, and generally cultivated by the Hullett Brothers on behalf of the United’s directors, he nonetheless had to navigate some sensitive issues with the English investors, and they with him. Expressly forbidden direct contact with the Court of Directors, Alamán knew that his most important official link to company officials and the broader investing public was through the reports he wrote, which were regularly published by the United Mexican Mining Association. The accounts had to strike the correct notes of honesty and optimism, while at the same time not raising the hopes of investors unjustifiably. Another matter of some delicacy was the desire of the Unida’s Court of Directors to send more English employees to Mexico to work in the administration of the company. Eventually

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this practice drove a wedge between Alamán and the company, resulting in his severing his relationship with it. It was not foreigners as such to whom Alamán objected, since technical personnel—of a higher order from Germany and at the craftsman level from England—were always coming and going. German workers were preferred, on the whole, because they were cheaper and less presumptuous than Englishmen. But there is a subtle hint in certain passages of Alamán’s correspondence with the Hullett Brothers that he bridled at efforts to thicken the layer of English middle- and upper-level administrative personnel participating in the operation—mostly engineers who often knew little or nothing about mining and even less about Mexico. These men might compromise the Mexican codirector’s autonomy, and their presence suggested to his prickly sensibility a lack of confidence in his leadership. Louis Agassiz was at first an example of this, although in the end his presence was acknowledged as being helpful; and Alamán wrote warmly of William Glennie’s hard work and effectiveness. Still, the board’s decision to send several men so that there would be “at least one trustworthy Englishman in each principal office of the company to watch over [i.e., insure] honest administration” must have rankled the Mexican director.47 Other Englishmen showed up periodically in this same ambiguous capacity. In the winter of 1825, for example, Alamán was informed that Robert Walkingshaw and James Nelson Schoolbred were on their way to Mexico with a group of millwrights, wheelwrights, sawyers, and smiths. The Hulletts suggested tellingly that Walkingshaw be placed in one of the Unida’s principal mining sites, such as Real del Oro or Temascaltepec, to oversee operations there and report directly to London. Little is known about Walkingshaw (1779–1861) except that he was probably a Scot with some previous experience in Buenos Aires. Schoolbred was to serve as an assistant to Alamán and Agassiz, carrying out ordinary correspondence and other mundane duties (and, one wonders, spying), but at some point he went on to become a Unida manager in Zacatecas.48 Both men, as well as the contingent of artisans they accompanied, were explicitly to place themselves under Alamán’s direction. On occasion it looks very much as though young Englishmen were being dumped in Mexico or sent there principally to make their fortunes rather than to further the Unida’s operations, as in the case of a Mr. Woodfield dispatched to work on Alamán’s staff: “He is a young man of talent and good temper, and we assure ourselves that you will find him useful in any position to which you assign him. It would be convenient that he not be sent to a place with an intemperate climate, such as Zacatecas, Durango, or El Chico, since his delicate

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health requires a more benign and temperate one.”49 Whether Alamán was ever consulted about these appointments in advance is impossible to tell but it seems unlikely. Despite the constant reassurances from the Hullett Brothers that these men were to be at the Mexican codirector’s disposition, in the end it was a falling out with some of the high-level English employees of the Unida that provoked Alamán to separate from the company in 1830. It was easier and simpler for Alamán to deal with imported technologies than imported people. Some technological elements could be applied directly, others needed to be scaled down or otherwise adapted, and still others were not applicable under Mexican conditions. The use of sulfuric acid in separating gold from silver (the apartado process) on the basis of techniques developed in Europe was brought to Mexico by the German foundry foreman Lauckner, for instance, and seemed to the Hulletts and Alamán unproblematic.50 On the other hand, there were certain specialized rolled or cast metal parts used in the mining and refining processes that in their normal scale were too heavy for the mules to carry from Veracruz. So they were made in smaller versions in England to accommodate the animals’ strength and the roughness of the roads over which they moved—in other words, technology was adapted by downsizing it. Then there was the application of steam power. Long in use in European factories and now at the point of revolutionizing land transport in the form of the railroad, steam power was held out by many in Europe not only as the avatar of a new age but also as the great hope for the revival of Mexican mining, especially in the draining of flooded shafts. But, as often remarked in Mexico, there were a number of huge problems to be resolved before steam technology could be applied. The first of these was the depth of the shafts; another the lack of suitable fuels in the mining areas to run steam boilers; yet another the enormous costs and difficulties of transporting equipment from Veracruz to Guanajuato or other inland sites on the central Mexican plateau. Alamán’s friend and mentor Baron Alexander von Humboldt, whose status among Mexican intellectuals of the time approached that of a demigod, wrote a letter in 1825 addressing the prospects for the application of steam power to Mexican mining. Addressed to the secretary of the Court of Directors of the Unida from Paris on 3 November 1825, the letter was written in response to some corrections Alamán had made in his report regarding Humboldt’s observations on the Guanajuato mines twenty years earlier: “I have long since expressed my doubts as to the general applicability of steam engines in Mexico, and, I am convinced, that rapid strides may be made in the science of mining, without having recourse to such assistance, by

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rendering more complete the machines at present in use, and by introducing, where the fall of water is considerable, machines à colonne d’eau.”51 The problems of transport are vividly illustrated by the diary of John Buchan, a member of the large group of Cornish miners engaged about this time in moving some fifteen hundred tons of equipment from Veracruz to Real del Monte, in the Pachuca area. The operation took a year, from May 1825 to May 1826 and faced innumerable obstacles, chief among them the inadequacy of the roads. A number of men died along the route from mishaps, yellow fever, and other causes, and when the equipment was finally installed at Real del Monte the results were very disappointing.52

The Long, Slow Cave-In By the end of 1825 much of the enthusiasm of English investors for mining ventures in Mexico and other areas of Latin America had dwindled considerably; the shakeout of British companies had taken only about a year. There were to be ups and downs for the United Mexican Mining Association over the rest of the 1820s. The Unida survived where other concerns failed, but the overall trend line pointed gently downward. It became increasingly apparent that the fortunes of the company’s shares on the London market were more closely tied to the presence of Lucas Alamán as principal director of its Mexican operations than even the initial years of the company’s history could have foretold. As for Alamán’s personal stake in the company, he realized little if anything from the several hundred shares of stock he owned. His efforts to rehabilitate the Cata mine in Guanajuato came to naught, since by the mid1830s the property was again flooded and unworkable, and by the end of the following decade he would write off his interest in the mine as worthless. In general, the unhappy fate of British investment in the Mexican mines seems to have grown out of two converging miscalculations on the part of almost everyone involved: an overestimate of the richness of the silver ores remaining to be worked in 1821 and an underestimate of the costs involved. As early as the fall of 1825 formerly abundant capital was scarce due to the previous rush into investment in Latin America and because stock and currency manipulations in France had attracted great quantities of liquidity to Paris despite the presumable aversion of British investors to things French. The Hulletts predicted that this situation would prevail for some time but were sanguine about Unida share values in particular because they were sustained by high public confidence in the company. Aside from his stake in the

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general health of the United as a government official and thinker in political economy, Alamán had a particular problem: he held some five hundred Unida shares. Although the long-term prospects of the company might be good, in the short term things looked decidedly precarious. His eagerness to sell was likely spurred by the financial outlays involved in his purchase about this time of the Hacienda de Trojes. In later years he regarded this investment as one of the biggest mistakes of his life, but at the time of its purchase it held out the prospect of profit and the diversification of his personal portfolio. Throughout the fall of 1825 Alamán’s correspondence with Migoni and the Hullett Brothers indicates that he was repeatedly advised that this was a bad time to sell company shares and that he ought to wait. While the capital value of the British mining companies traded in London did not exactly go into free fall at the end of 1825, the situation remained dire for the next six months or so, and many a fortune or at least substantial portions of them must have been lost in the downturn. Toward the close of the year Alamán’s departure from the ministry—he left the government on 26 September—was noted by his Hullett correspondent, in the most flattering terms, as bad for Mexico but good for the United in that the statesman could now turn his full attention to the company’s business. The Hulletts also offered a sobering evaluation of the situation of the market for mining stocks, an account now stated with considerable vehemence, along with an implicit warning to Alamán to hold on to his Unida shares a bit longer: A year ago there began in this market the madness in stock speculation for mines, government bonds, and commodities of all kinds, of which the cause in part has been attributed to the abundance of capital. After growing for some months this madness began to calm down, and it appears that at this moment we have arrived at the extreme of weakness and decadence. . . . Daring speculators, committed to amounts [of investment] beyond their capacity, seduced by excessive greed . . . see them [their investments] turn into large bankruptcies. . . . In these circumstances you can well imagine that we have hesitated to accept [for sale] the shares at your disposition . . . since it would have been impossible to sell a substantial number of these shares at a reasonable gain when sellers were abundant and any increase in supply would have reduced the value [even] further. While Alamán was seeking to liquidate his position in Unida shares, he wanted to purchase British or French government bonds. This certainly looks

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like a tactical retreat from the mining company and hardly bespeaks a vote of confidence in the concern’s prospects, although the purchase of the Hacienda de Trojes and his desire to become a member of the landed squirearchy may have been the most important factors. Never one to sugarcoat bad news, especially since he enjoyed Alamán’s confidence, about six weeks later Migoni wrote that both the government bonds of the new Latin American states and the mining company shares “are as low [as if] trampled by horses, which has ruined a multitude of speculators.”53 The entire Unida episode illustrates one of the hallmarks of Lucas Alamán’s personality. If there was a paradox in his character, one might say that he was conservative but not risk averse. Seeking to achieve stasis in any sphere was never his style but rather a rational feeling for the plausible and least disruptive course of action among alternatives. Alamán repeatedly plunged into projects with great initial enthusiasm only to fail in the end, generally as a result of adverse external circumstances, then drawing back from the project with a certain bitterness. In the case of the Unida at this time, although his correspondence betrays a good deal of concern over the progress of certain of the United’s contracts in Mexico, Alamán typically continued to be proactive on the company’s behalf, renewing his efforts to expand the Unida’s business by exploring the possibilities for new contracts. His reasoned conservatism in affairs of state, as in business, led him to find anarchy, as he so often put it, and unreason in the short and intermediate term as well as the possibility for good in the long term, so long as men’s propensity toward error and the violent pursuit of self-interest could be corralled and their energies focused. Whether this attitude of Alamán’s was theological or characterological in origin is a matter for debate—probably it was both; but it seems to have colored his public as well as his private life. It can be argued that one man’s anarchy is another’s assertion of his freedom and that people occupying the high ground of power and the technologies of coercion often are given to characterizing their own motives as disinterested and other people’s as self-interested. But in this light it is plausible to see the statesman’s espousal of strong central authority as a means to mold, in Kant’s phrase, the “crooked timber of humanity” to higher ends. That a strong state—which was in any case beyond his means given the circumstances of his time—lay beyond his reach pushed him in the direction of increasingly illiberal policies to try to bridge the distance; that it would have served the interests of his class was a secondary benefit, though not a negligible one, but not his only motive.

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After leaving the ministry Alamán traveled extensively between November 1825 and February 1826 to check on the status of mines already under contract and to reconnoiter new ones. His principal itinerary included Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and Sombrerete and would eventually include Pachuca, Atotonilco el Chico, El Oro, Temascaltepec, and other sites. The latter months of 1825 and the early months of 1826 saw a flurry of activity in the signing of contracts with mineowners. Under Alamán’s stewardship the United Mexican Mining Association would ultimately come to hold contracts on forty-six silver mines (and one of magistral, or copper sulfate, an essential element for refining mercury), thirteen ore refineries (haciendas de beneficio), the mint and the facility for separating silver from gold (casa de apartado) in Mexico City, and an ironworks in the State of Durango. These holdings stretched across the states of Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Michoacán, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Mexico, Guerrero, Durango, Chihuahua, and Sonora as well as the Federal District. Although technically separate enterprises, a number of the mines were adjacent to each other, and their subsurface workings were therefore intertwined, while several of them were abandoned as being unproductive at some point in the Unida’s investment history. Still, in variety and number these holdings were more extensive than those of any other British company operating in Mexico at the time.54 Between the end of 1825 and the summer of 1826, while he was engaged in an intense round of activity for the United and in the takeover of his newly purchased Celaya hacienda, Alamán’s relationship with Hullett Brothers and Company seems to have ended. The firm’s place as his personal business agent was immediately filled by Frederick Huth and Company, a very prominent merchant-banking concern in London. What accounted for this change is not clear. Hullett Brothers did not sever its relationship with the United Mexican Mining Association certainly, given that the senior partner John Hullett was still on the Court of Directors as deputy chairman in the spring of 1827. Alamán’s connection with Huth and Company was to last for many years and may have originated with his recently formalized business relationship as administrator of the Mexican properties of the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone, for whom the firm may have been acting as business agents before Alamán became involved with it. In any case, Alamán’s history with the Unida after August 1826 can be traced through his correspondence with Frederick Huth and Company rather than Hullett Brothers.55 The history of the Huth firm reflects the cosmopolitan nature of British merchant banking in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars and Alamán’s involvement with it. The founder of the firm was the long-lived John Henry Andrew

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Huth, born Johann Friedrich Andreas Huth in Harsefeld, Hanover, in 1774. Establishing himself as an apprentice, then a clerk with a Spanish trading house in Hanover, Huth became the company’s agent in La Coruña in 1797 or 1798 and then made at least two extensive journeys to the Americas, touching at Callao, Valparaiso, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro. Now a man of the world instead of an untraveled young boy from the provinces, he continued working as a trader in La Coruña and in about 1805 married a Spanish woman of very good family but rather mysterious background, a household member of the Duke of Veragua, a descendant of Christopher Columbus. In the wake of the French invasion of Spain, he and his young family fled to London in 1809, where, five years later, Friedrich (now Frederick) Huth and a partner founded Huth and Company. He was naturalized a British subject by act of Parliament and left a prospering business and a large fortune at his death at the age of ninety in 1864. The company had commercial contacts in Spain, Germany, Mexico, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, at least, and survived as a banking concern until its liquidation in the 1930s. Frederick’s eldest son, Charles Frederick (1806–95), eventually partnered in his father’s business, married the daughter of the lord mayor of London, fathered ten children, became a director of the Bank of England, and was to decline a peerage offered him by William Gladstone. A younger son, the peripatetic Henry (1815–78), worked for the family business in a number of cities, including for a time around 1840 in Mexico City, where he surely had contact with Lucas Alamán. Henry eventually became a famous bibliophile, as was his son Alfred Henry Huth (1850–1910), whose biography of the English historian Thomas Henry Buckle (1821–62) is still cited as the standard work on its subject.56 The latter half of 1826, when Lucas Alamán’s correspondence with Frederick Huth—the founder was fluent in Spanish—was increasing in frequency, saw a rebound in the condition of the London market, but it was a trend marbled with risk. Money was abundant once again, confidence reestablished among investors, and speculative investment rampant. But Huth noted the widespread worries about a continuing shakeout of mining companies. By late fall, trade in the United Kingdom was picking up again after the banking crisis of 1825–26, but a number of mining concerns had gone bust. The lack of knowledge among the English directors of many companies, their bad faith in management practices, and their speculation in the shares of their own companies had brought “total ruin to thousands of English families.”57 The best situated concerns, Migoni suggested, were the United, Anglo-Mexican, Tlalpujahua, and Real del Monte.

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The palmy initial days of the United Mexican Mining Association once past, Alamán grew increasingly uneasy about whether there would be sufficient capital to consolidate the gains already made in the Mexican mines, much less advance them into true profitability. The continual ups and downs of the London bond market and the recurrent meltdowns in the British banking system fueled disquiet reinforced by what he must have been reading in the English press. Juxtaposing the political situation in Mexico to a summary of Unida activities in Guanajuato, he described mine productivity as being “highly promising.” But for some reason he failed to see the connection between lack of investor confidence and political instability in Mexico, perhaps because his personal interests were so closely wedded to the fortunes of the Unida. This constituted a sort of blind spot, or perhaps disingenuousness, so that he had a clear vision of political conditions but a fuzzier one of their connections with economic projects and circumstances, at least in the case of mining. In the succeeding three years or so of his association with the United Mexican Mining Association, Alamán’s growing concern, even alarm, with the issue of inadequate capitalization was to be voiced continually, although tempered with optimistic statements about the immediate progress of the company’s multifarious projects. His worries may have been among the factors that led him to separate from the company in 1830.58 Some of the accounting categories enumerated in the financial summaries in his official reports of the later 1820s may seem opaque, but one can arrive at some rough idea of why Alamán felt success was just around the corner. As of the beginning of the second quarter of 1827, the United Mexican Mining Association had forty-two contracts in its portfolio, of which twenty-two were in force, two had not been activated, six were suspended, and twelve abandoned, including the great Quebradilla mine in Zacatecas. Between about mid-1824 and the end of 1826 some of the major Guanajuato mines in the Unida’s portfolio—by no means a complete list—had produced silver in relation to investment as follows (figures rounded to nearest thousand): Guanajuato: Rayas—expenses: 497,000 pesos; production: 91,000 (18.3 percent) Cata—expenses: 271,000 pesos; production: 71,000 (26 percent) Secho—expenses: 92,000 pesos; production: 68,000 (74 percent) In the case of the major Zacatecas mines the ratios are hard to come by, but production figures for the major properties were approximately as follows:

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Zacatecas: San Bernabé—12,851 pesos Loreto—28,224 pesos Malanoche—52,598 pesos Quebradilla—396 pesos (thus accounting for its abandonment) Furthermore, Alamán calculated that on an annual basis some of the mines were showing an improving ratio of production to operational (not initial investment) costs; for the Pabellón and Veta Grande properties in Sombrerete, for example, the ratio was approaching unity. The production figures for Guanajuato were impressive, but taking into account the entire portfolio production was not up to the expectations of English shareholders. As to what Lucas Alamán personally earned, it is unfortunately impossible to tell even approximately what he had netted in salary advances or profits or what he may have invested of his own or borrowed funds. To cite by way of analogy one welldocumented example of expense/income ratios, and of the sort of losses that eventually forced British investors out of Mexican mining, we may look at the case of the Real del Monte Company. Between its establishment in 1824 and its dissolution in 1849, total expenditures amounted to 16,218,490 pesos (just over £3,250,000) and income to 11,139,207 pesos (just under £2,230,000), for a loss of 5,079,283 pesos (slightly more than £1,000,000).59 Despite his optimism about the future, Alamán’s calculations that many of the projects were already paying their operating costs or were close to doing so and his eloquent lectures about the unpredictability of mining costs, the June 1827 report by the Court of Directors in essence turned most of his arguments on their heads. The cost/yield ratio had already exceeded the investment the company was prepared to make. The directors did commit the Unida to one further capital call on existing shares but alerted Alamán that it would be the last. The Unida directors were prepared to issue a further capital call of £2 10 shillings per share, due on 10 July 1827, but by the end of the month they hoped to tell the shareholders that “not only will calls cease, but the treasures of the new world, will reward the enterprise and perseverance of the old.” This sounds like an effort to sugarcoat a bitter pill. The report of a general shareholders’ meeting in London at the end of July 1827, meanwhile, shows an implicit backing away from the Unida’s direct investment in the rehabilitation of Mexican mines. The directors cited as a major factor in the perceived inadequacy of returns on investments the backward technical state of Mexican mining, once again urging investor patience.60 A resolution of thanks was

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tendered to Lucas Alamán “for his zealous attention to the interests of this Association, in Mexico” and “for the ability and integrity manifested by him in the management of its affairs.”

Last Years with the Unida Lucas Alamán was to spend another three years or so actively involved in the management of Unida affairs in Mexico, only to terminate the relationship in ambiguous circumstances but with some acrimony around the middle of 1830, several months after he had returned to the government under Anastasio Bustamante’s presidency. His correspondence with Frederick Huth and other friends during these years includes only general statements about the changing fortunes of the company. Absent periodic reports from the United Mexican Mining Association for this period, the outlines of his activities and the condition of the Unida’s investments in Mexican mines become quite blurred. It is readily apparent, however, that over and above the drying up of capital infusions from London, Alamán felt political conditions in the country to be deteriorating and often noted how this affected mining in general and the Unida’s activities in particular. As 1826 passed into 1827 the Unida continued to bump along despite Alamán’s unremitting concerns about inadequate capitalization. The Real del Monte Company meanwhile was suffering some reverses, and a number of the surviving South American concerns saw substantial decreases in the value of their shares or failed altogether. By early 1827 the British recession of 1826 had passed, the London financial market had returned to a semblance of order, and the imminent ratification of a treaty of commerce between Britain and Mexico was expected to have a positive effect on both political relations and private investment. But during this period the political situation in Mexico was deteriorating, so that news of events there began to obtrude more and more on the attention of British investors. Although the sudden death of Prime Minister George Canning on 8 August 1827 raised little concern that policy toward Mexico would change significantly, the news from Mexico was not encouraging. Frederick Huth wrote in mid-August 1827, “[The situation in Mexico] present[s] an unpromising aspect and inspire[s] little confidence . . . but it appears to us that this state of things cannot last long [little did they suspect], so we hope for something better.” For his part, Lucas Alamán expressed a much darker insider’s view: “The state of this country is truly distressing in every sense, and everyone is fearful of greater calamities to follow.” Nonetheless, Alamán continued to

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send optimistic reports about the Guanajuato mines through early summer of 1828, his favorite term to describe their prospects being “very promising [muy lisonjero].” Even as general economic conditions in Mexico were weakening after the first congressional decree, of December 1827, expelling Spaniards from the country, Alamán wrote that amid “continual signs of turbulence” in the country “only the mines of the United Company present a very promising aspect.” He predicted it would not be long before he could stop drawing on (already called-in) Unida funds at all, since he foresaw that current operations could be supported by production.61 All these challenges to his managerial skills notwithstanding, Alamán had put the projects of the Unida on a reasonably firm footing over the past three years. This meant not only dealing with engineering, administrative, labor force, and financial problems on a day-to-day basis but also accommodating in some manner the constant, low-level tensions inherent in the close proximity of the United’s competitor, the Anglo-Mexican Company, which had contracts embracing both the Valenciana and Mellado mines, while the United Mexican Mining Association was operating the Rayas and Cata, among others. The two companies had inherited a long-standing legal conflict—a “noisy argument [ruidoso pleito]” in the words of one contemporary Mexico City newspaper— that originated before 1810 and was not brought to a close until the summer of 1828, largely through Alamán’s efforts.62 The way this was resolved evokes the importance of the mines in local culture, and Lucas Alamán’s place in it. The dispute concerned the boundaries of the Mellado and Rayas, located along the same lode, and had cost the owners and English companies a good deal of money, time, and lost production over the years. So bitter had the conflict become that workers from the two mines occasionally came to violence. The flooding after 1810 had put a stop to the confrontations, drowning the dispute temporarily without settling it, but the rehabilitation of the past few years had revived it, and attempted intervention by impartial third parties to arbitrate the conflict had come to nothing. A recent recurrence of flooding in both properties was “causing the ruin of both enterprises with enormous detriment to the Anglo-Mexican and Unida [companies] investing in them” with concomitant losses to the economy and public finances of the State of Guanajuato. On 17 July 1828, however, an agreement was signed by the two parties, Alamán on behalf of the shareholders of the Rayas, of whom the principal figure was José Mariano de Sardaneta, ex-Marqués de San Juan de Rayas, and the United Mexican Mining Association; and Antonio Pérez Gálvez, ex-Marqués de Valenciana, and the Anglo-Mexican Company. During the following two days the

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area under dispute was measured and divided by experts representing the two companies and a boundary marker placed. Rejoicing over this happy resolution was general, while according to the press account in El Sol bells tolled in the churches at the mines and fireworks marked the event. On Sunday, 20 July, a Te Deum Mass was sung in the Rayas church with an overflow crowd in attendance, among whom were shareholders, officers of the two English companies, and “many of the principal people of this capital [i.e., Guanajuato].” A band played military tunes, there were more fireworks and bell ringing, and two women placed on the new boundary marker a wreath of laurel intertwined with flowers. The officialdom of the United—with Alamán at their head, one assumes—laid on a splendid breakfast at the Rayas minehead, with some eighty tables seating a “numerous and brilliant” attendance, including the vice governor of the state, several members of the state supreme court, some legislators, the parish priest, Sardaneta and Pérez Gálvez and their wives, other shareholders in the Mellado, the directors of the English companies and their principal employees, and several distinguished figures from Mexico City. An “abundant refreshment of punch and biscuits” was served up for the mine workers. At the height of the proceedings José Mariano de Sardaneta offered a toast to the prosperity of both enterprises, but most especially to the health of Lucas Alamán, whom he described “with much emotion as the conciliator of [the parties].” Alamán offered a toast to the prosperity of both mines, the city, and the State of Guanajuato; a glass was raised to the health of the ex-Marquesa de Rayas, Asunción Busto, a distant cousin of Alamán’s, for her role in forging the agreement; and the officials of the two English companies toasted each other. That evening the Anglo-Mexican Company gave a dance for the shareholders and backers of the Rayas as well as those of the Mellado and the principal citizens of Guanajuato. Although Alamán still traveled frequently back and forth between Mexico City and Guanajuato supervising mining matters in general, more of his prodigious energies were dedicated to his growing family and his recently purchased Celaya hacienda. Also occupying much of his attention were the increasingly complicated affairs of the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone, which reached a boiling point (but no resolution) in a series of intense public debates with Lorenzo de Zavala and other liberal statesmen during the years 1827–29. Ever since coming to adulthood Alamán had been a political animal. Even as he withdrew from active public life to pursue his economic fortunes after leaving his first ministry late in 1825, he maintained a keen interest in affairs

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of state. In the last years of his involvement with the United his intense focus on matters relating to the mining concern broadened into a delta of thinking about domestic and foreign politics. He derived a great deal of information about European events and about how Mexico was perceived across the Atlantic from his correspondence with Frederick Huth, whom he obviously trusted, to judge by the tone of their letters. Alamán’s persistent juxtaposition of the prosperity of the Unida’s mining enterprise with the chaotic state of Mexican politics illustrates a fundamental theme of his thinking not evident before this. The country’s economic development, whether through foreign or domestic capital investment, was intimately tied to political stability achieved either by natural evolution or imposition—preferably the former, but if not, then necessarily the latter. The half decade of his involvement with the United Mexican Mining Association served as a laboratory for Alamán to work through his thinking about the connection between political and economic life. These were politically charged, violent times in Mexico, and Alamán’s increasingly grim accounts of the national scene invoked the ills of the country. He remarked in the late summer of 1828 that mining was doing well, promising yet again that soon the Unida directors in Mexico would not need to draw any further credit from committed shareholder reserves since the enterprise would be self-sustaining. By contrast, he painted a dark picture of the political situation. Guadalupe Victoria’s presidency was coming to an end amid revolts, riotous political factionalism, and a looming contested presidential election promising yet more political violence. The Plan de Montaño and the associated uprising of December 1827, captained by Nicolás Bravo, had been suppressed by government forces led by Vicente Guerrero and saw Bravo exiled from the country. Joel Poinsett was becoming more and more a public lightning rod, and the York Rite Masons a cohesive political force on the left. The presidential election of 1 September 1828 was just around the corner and would in part provoke the Acordada Revolt and the Parián riots at the end of the year, although neither Alamán nor any other political observer could have predicted those events. He wrote of Mexico’s political troubles, comparing the state of the country with conditions in Europe, to the great disadvantage of the former: “Those who are not witnessing it [directly] will have difficulty in forming an exact idea of the disastrous picture of anarchy, disorder, and misery [we are seeing], without any expectation of improvement, but rather with the approaching and well-founded fear of greater troubles. In Europe I see that there are also a thousand reasons for worry from the complicated state of things in

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the east . . . and the lack of harmony and stability in the British cabinet. . . . But these are ills of a [quite] different sort than those we suffer here . . . so that [in Britain] credit is maintained, money is abundant, and commerce flourishes.”63 The disputed presidential election of 1828 ultimately brought to power a decidedly left-wing, populist, Yorkist-supported government led by Vicente Guerrero, who was inaugurated as president on 1 April 1829. Initially Alamán had a cautiously optimistic estimate of what might be accomplished by the man in whose judicial murder he was to be implicated less than two years later. Four days after Guerrero’s ascent to his short-lived presidency Alamán wrote again that the Mexican mines, chief among them the Unida’s properties, were the only bright spot in the national picture. But he embedded this brief evaluation in a pessimistic account of politics: “As far as political occurrences are concerned, we have the taking of possession of the presidency of the Republic by Señor Guerrero, who assures [us] that he is well disposed to work for the reestablishment of [public] order and to temper the rigor of the atrocious law of expulsion [of Spaniards] that has so many families in tears. [But] [i]t is to be feared that he may not be able to do everything he wants for lack of resources, since his predecessor [Guadalupe Victoria] had the wit to find this country in a flourishing condition, [of which] now only the skeleton remains, with which it is difficult to do anything.” Scarcely a month later Alamán had reversed his cautious hope that Guerrero might improve the condition of the country: “Here things go from bad to worse, [since] all the promising hopes conceived at one moment for the government of Señor Guerrero [have vanished], giving way to public fears, distrust, and discouragement, and the state of the country is extremely sad. The expulsion of the Spaniards has been effected, with very few exceptions and great cruelty, [bringing with it] the ruin of a multitude of respectable families and the absolute annihilation of the country.”64 Despite brief reversals, these Cassandra-like pronouncements would continue for the rest of his life. The last months of 1829 were a momentous period for Alamán and the nation as a whole, the final month of the year vaulting him again to the center of the national political arena. His activities on behalf of the Unida are thinly documented for these months, but it is clear that he continued in his directorial capacity well past the end of the year. While he was thus occupied, the illfated presidency of Guerrero began to unravel with the declaration of the Plan de Jalapa, issued on 4 December 1829 by Melchor Múzquiz—insurgent, republican, sometime governor of the State of Mexico, congressional deputy, and interim president of Mexico, August–December 1834—and José Antonio

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Facio, shortly to be Alamán’s colleague as secretary of war and navy in the cabinet of Anastasio Bustamante and later accused with him of culpability in the murder of Guerrero. The plan was principally directed against the emergency executive powers granted to President Guerrero by congress to deal with the Spanish invasion earlier in the year, also aiming to defend the federalist system against growing fears of centralism. In mid-December President Guerrero went off to command the army against the pronunciados (rebels), while during the last week of 1829 a junta composed of Alamán and two other men governed the country. This was the closest the talented guanajuatense ever came to becoming president of Mexico, except for a later election in which he was soundly trounced. congress having declared the absent Guerrero unfit to govern, Vice President Anastasio Bustamante assumed the presidency on 1 January 1830, appointing Lucas Alamán secretary of interior and foreign relations on 12 January. Alamán’s plunge into the vortex of Mexican national politics with his return to the ministry after a five-year lapse signaled the beginning of the end of his relationship with the Unida. Under his supervision the Rayas mine in Guanajuato was doing well, although apparently it had not yet produced dividends as such. He does not specifically allude to the Cata mine or to other Guanajuato projects of the company in his later correspondence, but presumably it too was producing at encouraging levels, at least for the present. Despite his disillusion about public affairs and his solemn oaths to himself that he would never again enter the political fray, he was inexorably drawn back into it. Meanwhile, the trajectory of Alamán’s ebbing commitment to the company is documented in his exchanges with Migoni in London, whose letters heavily populate Alamán’s correspondence during the first half of 1830. During these months of his intense political involvement, the United Mexican Mining Association faded more and more into the background, even though news of the successes of some other British mining companies was brought regularly to the minister’s attention. The Veta Grande mine in Zacatecas, for example, now managed by the Bolaños Company, was at last producing prodigiously. Figures from the government’s Registro Oficial, under the editorial control of Alamán’s ministry, indicated that for the calendar year 1829 total expenses for mining operations there had amounted to 1,326,705 pesos and the value of silver extracted to 2,019,862 pesos.65 The considerable decline in the value of Unida shares was a response by the market to the assumption that Alamán would henceforth be preoccupied with affairs of state, “since all the hopes [of the company] depend on your knowledge, labor, and integrity.”66 But all the

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mining companies appeared to be in varying degrees of trouble. Partly this was due to political events over which neither investors nor managers had any control. The July Revolution in France was coming to a resolution with the accession of Louis-Philippe of the House of Orléans in July 1830, King George IV was being succeeded by his younger brother, who would rule for seven years as King William IV, and the French invasion of Algeria was digging in. While all this was happening, the change in the Mexican government and Lucas Alamán’s role in the new regime became widely known and celebrated among the European powers “due to the confidence it inspires, so contrary to the situation with the previous government.” But this confidence did not extend to the Mexican mines despite Alamán’s repeated assurances to the United’s directors that the company’s operations would soon cover their own costs and produce positive dividends. Moreover, were Alamán himself not still at the head of Unida operations in Mexico, the situation would be even worse. Migoni wrote in one of his honest but pessimistic letters in the summer of 1830, “But unfortunately we see that the confidence of this country [i.e., Britain] in the new government of Mexico is not paralleled by [confidence] in the mines, which with every moment become more discredited. Regarding the Unida, you will hear directly from the [Court of] Directors the result of the meeting of the 13th [of July] [to discuss] the raising of more capital. [If] you were not at the head of the [Mexican] Directors—I say this in all honesty—the value of the company’s shares would some time ago have fallen [even further].” During these early months in the ministry, even as Alamán was distancing himself from the Unida he was still encouraging the industry as a whole. For example, when Governor Francisco García of Zacatecas approached the minister in late August 1830 about participating as a shareholder in a new concern, La Segunda Compañía de Zacatecas, to be focused on the Veta Grande mine, Alamán politely declined but offered to approach other potential investors: “For myself, I cannot subscribe for now, since I am attending to other enterprises that require large funds. . . . [But] I have passed the invitation on to . . . other individuals who will be able to contribute to the good success of your project.”67 Lucas Alamán resigned as the Mexican director of the United Mexican Mining Association in late summer or early fall of 1830 with as little fanfare as possible. But the separation was neither easy nor quickly effected. Since Alamán’s style was more deliberative than impulsive, he probably had been contemplating this move for some time. His frustration over repeated unsuccessful attempts to get the company to cough up further capital in support of

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the operations at the Rayas mine in Guanajuato may have had something to do with his decision, as did the continued downward drift in the value of company shares. He wrote that his motives had less to do with doubts over the long-term prospects of the company than with personal issues. Alamán thought that the Unida directors in London would be disinclined to accept his resignation; but such resistance, he wrote, “will put me in a difficult position, since although I certainly owe them much consideration for what they have done for me, I have had too much unpleasantness here [i.e., in Mexico] to be inclined to continue.” Skipping ahead in time a few months throws more light on why Alamán severed his long relationship with the British investors. Not until April 1831, at least five months after his resignation, did Alamán come closer to explaining, but with no details, in a letter to Francisco Borja Migoni: I will content myself [here] with including for you copies of the disagreeable exchanges [no such documents appear in the file] I have had with my associates of the United Company, from which you will see that I have not been able to suffer any longer the continuous irritations to which I have been exposed. . . . I am very much afraid that the affairs of this Company will become entangled. But after I have said and done everything within my power to avoid it, this [situation] is not my fault. And it appears to me that after having worked for nothing [i.e., with no recompense] for some time, and suffered the insults of the gentlemen here, I have done even more than could be expected [of me].68 Whatever Alamán included in his letter to document his problems with his “compañeros of the United Company” produced quite an impression. Even allowing for some tendency on Migoni’s part to be a bit hysterical in his language, the letters must have painted a picture of sharp conflict within the Mexican end of the concern, an impression reflected in Migoni’s response of mid-June 1831: “From what I deduce, you have been in a continual purgatory that only [through] your moderation and sufferance you have been able to endure. Thus I am almost pleased to know that you are out of that happy company, whose shareholders here have shed who knows how many tears of blood [over your resignation].” Who it was within the United—whether a company official in Mexico or in the London Court of Directors—with whom Alamán had had his falling out, or what the nature of the argument was, remains murky. His codirector Agassiz had left Mexico early in 1830. William Glennie was in Mexico at least until 1827 (ascending Popocatépetl) and would remain

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associated with the company for many years after, although whether he was still in the country around 1830 we do not know. What had happened? Lucas Alamán’s separation from the Unida was prompted at least in part by the London directors’ efforts to reorganize the Mexican mining operations. The immediate instrument of this initiative was Simon McGillivray, sent out from England in 1829 to effect the restructuring of the company in Mexico, where he was to remain until 1834 or 1835. McGillivray (1785–1840) was born into a once-landed but now gently impoverished Scottish Highland family. As a young man he made his career in a family trading firm in Canada, earned a substantial fortune and lost it in a bankruptcy, then gained much of it back in the last years of his life, by which time he owned two newspapers in London. McGillivray had ascended to the degree of Masonic Grand Master in Canada, continuing this affiliation upon his return to London in the mid-1830s.69 Nothing about his relationship with Alamán is known, but the coincidence of the timing of his arrival, his ardent Masonic connections, and the larger, tempestuous movement of Mexican political life at the close of the 1820s and the beginning of the 1830s is suggestive. It may well have been Simon McGillivray with whom Alamán had his differences, given that there is no evidence in Alamán’s correspondence with people in London that his relations with Agassiz and Glennie had been anything but cordial during the preceding five years. We do know that in July 1830 McGillivray had supported before the United Court of Directors the unsuccessful proposal to call in more capital on the outstanding shares for the Mexican mining operations. But this may not have been a sufficient shared interest with Alamán to counterbalance any compelling differences between them, including personal rivalry. There was also the matter of Masonic affiliation, which packed very great weight in Mexican political life at this time. As a Mason, possibly of the York Rite and a Grand Master, at that, McGillivray is unlikely to have kept his membership a secret. In the superheated political atmosphere of Mexico during these years such openness may well have put him at odds with Lucas Alamán, who, although not a member, maintained a more benign attitude toward the Scottish Rite. He associated York Rite Masonry and its adherents, such as Lorenzo de Zavala, with Jacobinism and with the recalled American minister to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, who had left the country at the request of the Mexican government in January 1830, just as Alamán was entering the ministry. Then, too, it may be that while the codirectors Agassiz and Glennie had in some degree been subordinate to Alamán, the latter viewed McGillivray as an interloper whose very presence on Mexican

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soil posed an implicit and offensive question about the way he was directing the Unida’s affairs. And although no record of the extent of McGillivray’s authority exists, he was sent out to reorganize the Unida’s affairs in Mexico and may well have thrown his weight around in a manner likely to antagonize the thin-skinned Alamán, who did not like being reorganized. This is pure conjecture, but, considered as a whole, the fragmentary evidence is suggestive. Immediately following his resignation in the autumn of 1830, Alamán offered a summary evaluation of some of the British mining companies while addressing the issue of his resignation. The Unida’s shares continued to drop in value, which he claimed not to understand; he saw here “the manipulation by the speculators” and continued to insist on the soundness of the company’s prospects. In his eyes this optimism was justified for almost none of the other concerns, however, except for the Veta Grande in Zacatecas.70 Lucas Alamán’s separation from the United Mexican Mining Association continued to produce serious ripples for some months. Because many of the United stockholders had entered into the company largely on the assurance that Alamán would be at the helm in Mexico, the London directors asked the minister to stay on temporarily in order to stave off a complete collapse of the concern; he must have done so, although for how many weeks or months we do not know. He wrote rather cryptically, “I will see if it suits me, reserving for that time to make a definitive resolution.” The nature of the reorganization charged to McGillivray is not clear but may have involved a larger role for Glennie. From London, Migoni remarked that “the [Unida] shareholders were so irritated with the company that they would [in hindsight] rather have lost fingers than embark on such an unfortunate affair.”71 His resignation was finally accepted by the Court of Directors in April 1831. At this news the British shareholders, considering Alamán the “anchor for their hopes,” were plunged into dread. Having rebounded slightly in the early spring, the price of Unida shares traced the downward path of the investors’ collective mood, and the prospects for the British mining concerns as a whole followed. By May the shares of the Bolaños Company, the “only shares that had constantly sustained themselves [at a good level],” had fallen from £140 to £110 and those of the “unfortunate United” to the “miserable” price of £5, from which it could be inferred “how the English public stands with everything related to [Latin] America.” And in the fall of 1831 “due to the disastrous state of English mining companies in Mexico, the [English] public is so irritated that they even curse the independence of the new nations of America.”72

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His messy exit from the United Mexican Mining Association may have given Alamán money worries, if not second thoughts. This was not an amicable parting of the ways, after all, and as in many such divorces financial issues remained to be settled between the parties, even as their attentions turned elsewhere. In the last months of 1831, as Alamán approached the end of his ministry (May 1832), he was pressing an outstanding compensation claim against the United for what he called “my direct services to the Company.” The company official charged by the Court of Directors with addressing this claim was Simon McGillivray, although what resolution he and Alamán came to we do not know. The settling of accounts with the United was to drag on for a number of years, at least until the mid-1830s. Although he was to continue his personal involvement with the mining industry for many years to come, now he shifted much of his attention to his hacienda in Celaya, about whose prospects he was very tentative: “Not only have my haciendas up to now not rendered me anything, but I have invested a great deal of money in them [without return], given that I have had to restock them with everything, since everything was lacking. . . . Here [in Mexico] the most productive [estates] are those on which sugar cane is sown, particularly in the Valleys of Cuernavaca and Cuautla. From these, great fortunes have been accumulated.”73 Thus Lucas Alamán’s seven-year relationship with the United Mexican Mining Association fizzled out, although he was to maintain an active but attenuated presence in the industry for the rest of his life. But since I am following this strand of the statesman’s life over several decades as a coherent, linear story rather than in the episodic rhythm at which he lived it day-to-day and month-to-month, I will continue the story past the Unida as far as the documentation goes. Even though he was now out of the United, the company would wind its way through his affairs for a number of years. Furthermore, projects in which he had initially become involved while directing the company’s operations—the Sombrerete mines, for example, not to mention those in his native Guanajuato—would still be part of his personal economic portfolio as late as the 1840s. Whether he became more cautious or not after the Unida experience is hard to tell, but certainly the scale of his involvement declined in proportion to the reduced amount of resources available to him. By the mid-1840s, even as he continued his involvement with the family interests in the Cata mine in Guanajuato, he pulled back a good deal from the industry, greatly modified his expectations, and even suggested that Mexico should pursue national prosperity in other directions.

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Alamán and Silver Mining after the Unida Under Alamán’s guidance, the portfolio of the United Mexican Mining Association had included investments in the Pabellón and Veta Negra mines in Sombrerete, concerns with which he had a personal connection through the Fagoaga family. After his departure from the English company in the early 1830s he made an abortive attempt to revive the fortunes of these mines after one of their periodic downturns. The two deep-shaft workings were, in fact, one mine, having been joined by the extension of an extremely expensive lateral tunnel between them in 1790, and were in bonanza for a time during the last decade of the century. They had long been the property of the Fagoagas, managed as part of a vertically integrated enterprise that produced enormous wealth and in part underwrote the title of Marqués del Apartado, granted to the Fagoaga patriarch in 1771 and inherited by his son José Francisco. Alamán knew the second (later ex-) marqués and his younger brother, Francisco Antonio, traveling with him in Europe for several years and becoming lifelong friends and political allies. As was the case with many other silver mines in Mexico, however, the great problem with the Pabellón and Veta Negra mines for the Fagoaga family and all subsequent owners or contractors was drainage. Eventually the costs became too great in relation to the yield, and the mines were abandoned. The Fagoaga family retreated from the mining business entirely but also saw its wealth dissipate through intrafamily litigation and the same reproductive robustness (i.e., too many heirs) that Alamán was to remark on in his memoirs of his own and other great mining families. The condition in which Narciso Anitua, a local miner, encountered the Pabellón and Veta Negra when he acquired them in 1820 or 1821 was lamentable. As of 1825 he began to rehabilitate them in concert with the United, and they were brought back to respectable levels of production remarkably soon, remaining in operation for the rest of the 1820s. In his report to the Court of Directors and shareholders of March 1827 Alamán described the mines’ condition when Anitua took them over and the progress made during the succeeding eighteen months. Since he rarely had much good to say about any of his collaborators or was at best restrained in his praise, his evaluation of Anitua’s work is striking: “Two such extensive mines as Pabellón and Veta Negra, filled with water, nearly to the surface, and kept full by considerable springs, in a state of almost total ruin . . . situated in a country barren of resources, and moreover of inhabitants have . . . been completely supplied, drained down to

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the lowest levels, [and] repaired, both as to the external and internal works. . . . Such are the surprising effects of the intelligence, economy, and extraordinary activity of Mr. Anitua [which] may be regarded as a model for all great undertakings of the same class.”74 Alamán was not alone in his praise of what capital investment and careful management had done to rehabilitate the Pabellón and Veta Negra, as other observers of the industry joined in the general admiration. After Narciso Anitua’s death in 1830, Alamán tried to have the local mining entrepreneur José María Bracho purchase what remained of the Unida contract on the mines in 1833.75 In the spring of 1833, a year after he had been forced out of the ministry but before he went into hiding to avoid prosecution for his alleged complicity in the judicial murder of Vicente Guerrero, Alamán was involved in negotiations with the state government of Zacatecas about taking over on his own account (por mi cuenta) several other abandoned mines in Sombrerete, possibly in partnership with Bracho, but this came to nothing. In the post-Unida years and after these abortive attempts of the early 1830s to reenter the mining business in Sombrerete, Alamán was occasionally approached by other entrepreneurs about mines in other areas of the country, opportunities he never took up. His prestige as a figure in the mining business, his public visibility, and his connections with prominent figures in the political and entrepreneurial spheres also attracted the attention of investors who sought to use him to mobilize capital for promising ventures. A few years later, in the absence of financial capital of his own, he would trade on this social capital, overplaying his hand and putting himself and his creditors into an extremely difficult situation in the collapse of the Cocolapan textile mill. But for the moment he did not take this step. One such instance was an approach by Manuel Baranda in 1836 on behalf of a group of investors who wished to form a company to work mercury mines in Guanajuato. Alamán knew about the plan and accepted the charge of raising capital “with much pleasure” but did suggest that few shares would be subscribed until the business was up and running. Moreover, he was quite clear in saying that he lacked the wherewithal at the moment to buy any shares himself but expressed the hope that the project would help revive the “languid” mining economy, “or in other words, it [and other such projects] are the only thing that can save [mining] from utter ruin.”76 As for the Cata mine in Guanajuato, the year 1836 was a point of inflection from which his willingness to place any more expectations in the enterprise turned sharply downward. The Cata was a source of continuing disappointment to him for many years, like an adored child who cannot

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find his or her way, and attempts to revive it through investment and management changes proved futile. The next dozen years or so saw Lucas Alamán backing further and further away from mining as an entrepreneur while maintaining an interest in the industry as a thinker and policy maker in political economy. Most modern scholars have suggested that even though British investors enjoyed some small successes, the overall picture for the industry was quite grim until the Porfiriato, the fall in silver production in the second quarter of the nineteenth century catastrophic. The annual share of silver as a percentage of the gross domestic product dropped from about 10 to 5 percent during this period. There were a number of reasons for this, including the rise in the price of mercury, essential for refining, by the early 1850s to three times that of its late colonial levels; the political instability of the era, which proved a disincentive to investment; and vacillating, unpredictable, and often predatory government fiscal policies.77 The value of shares in the surviving British mining companies in general, not just the Unida, dropped precipitously during the last decade and would continue to decline. Shares in the Real del Monte Company, for example, which had reached a price of £1,479 at the beginning of 1824 (against a nominal value of £400), had fallen to £21 by 1836 and to £.63 by 1848, virtually nil.78 A decade before Alamán’s death, the 1843 inventory of his wealth revealed his total liquid worth—the gross value of all his property less outstanding debts—to be about 100,000 pesos, a substantial estate but one that did not locate him in the category of great wealth. Among his holdings were an unspecified number of shares in the Cata mine, which he classified as having no value. There is also some indication that he continued to sell off equipment associated with the mine—to decapitalize it, in other words.79 Yet Alamán’s reputation and expertise in silver mining still made his presence highly desirable in organizations devoted to protecting and furthering the faltering industry. In the closing days of 1848 José María Bassoco wrote with some urgency to Mariano Riva Palacio to ask that he exert his influence for Alamán to be elected as apoderado, or general agent, with power-of-attorney, of the Junta de Fomento y Administrativa de Minas, a body of entrepreneurs charged with educating mining engineers and in general promoting the industry. Bassoco wrote of Alamán, “His intelligent laboriousness will produce much good in the administration [of the Junta]. His talent and the reputation he enjoys will serve powerfully to defend the funds, and his knowledge will serve to stimulate legislators to keep the Colegio [de Minería] under the control of the miners.”80

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A Final Verdict The United Mexican Mining Association was a large-scale, internationally financed enterprise on which Lucas Alamán had fixed high expectations both for himself and for Mexico; it had brought him much public prominence but little wealth, at least in the long run. Some of the company’s projects enjoyed short-term success while others failed, along with most of the other British mining firms. Had he lived for a century instead of his sixty-one years, Alamán would have observed by the 1890s some of the lessons learned by his countrymen from the history of the Unida, and how they were applied after about 1875 or so. The investment boom in silver mining was, after all, the first episode in the history of independent Mexico, if one brackets the sale of government bonds in foreign markets, through which non-Mexican capital was massively injected in an effort to build or rebuild an important economic sector, whether for the domestic or export markets. In this sense it foreshadowed much of the economic history of the country, particularly during the Porfiriato. A number of the problems faced by Alamán and his English backers were attacked with some success by the Porfirian regime under the banner of “order and progress.” For one thing, the political ferment and endemic violence of Alamán’s day, which at moments affected not only mining operations themselves but also the willingness of Englishmen to invest in the revival of the industry, were eventually papered over by the pax porfiriana instituted by the wily old dictator, but at political and social costs that would become clear only in the last years of the regime. For another, the problem of transporting mining equipment and other inputs into the country and mineral products out was in large measure solved by the spread of the railroads. In 1830–31, however, when Alamán withdrew from the English company, these advances still lay nearly a half century in the future, so if he was going to stay involved with mining as an entrepreneur he was obligated to rely on available capital and technology. In the early 1830s he was still hopeful about mining in general and the family’s Cata mine in particular, but these hopes were not met. The tentative steps toward recovery in some of the Mexican mines resulted from their draining and rehabilitation; the constant inflow of British capital during a boom that took off, peaked, and began to fade in no more than about three or four years; and the conditions of relative peace that prevailed in the country during the presidential term of Guadalupe Victoria from 1824 to 1828. When the sudden spurt of silver production ebbed and British investment slowed to a trickle, then to nothing, then to reverse itself, the fragile

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equilibrium was ruptured, and the profits to be had did not warrant the amounts of money invested or the risks undertaken. Whether Alamán felt himself to have been burned in his dealings with the United Mexican Mining Association or whether his withdrawal from mining was primarily a response to objective economic conditions or to the press of his obligations as a government official, we do not know; it was probably a bit of all three. Lucas Alamán’s public pronouncements on the place of silver mining in the nation’s economy changed noticeably between the early 1820s and the early 1840s, a reorientation directly attributable at least in part to his experience with the Unida and his observations about the early 1820s more generally.81 It is revealing to compare his early ministerial informes with his later reports from the perspective of the Junta General de Industria Nacional, which he headed. In his first ministerial report to congress, in 1823, Alamán devoted more time to mining than to any other issue of public policy, praising the 1822 legislation of the Spanish Cortes that reduced taxes on silver production. He also lauded the action of the Mexican Congress of 1823 in lifting restrictions on investment in the mines by foreigners; for both of these measures he had been the strongest advocate. In the same document he even supported enthusiastically the application of steam technology to mining operations, which proved premature for the most part, as his own experience would demonstrate. In offering an analysis of Mexican silver mining, he went on to describe the backward linkages forged by the prosperity of the industry before 1810: Abundance and prosperity then reigned in Zacatecas and Guanajuato. The farmer found in those famous mining districts a quick and secure market for his produce. . . . The nature of our mineral deposits is a powerful cause of these happy results. Generally poor in yield and abundant in quantity, they require for their refinement a multitude of machines and ingredients, and as a consequence it may be said that the miner does no more than take out [of the earth] funds to distribute by the handful among the farmers, merchants, and artisans, [leading us] to conclude that the prosperity of these [groups] depends principally on the impulse lent to them by mining, the main mover of all the other industrial sectors in our country. The minister predicted that the mines could soon be brought back to a state of prosperity on the basis of the “plentiful funds” that foreign capitalists were now poised to invest.82 In the representación directed to the provisional president Antonio López de Santa Anna in 1843 by the Junta General Directiva de la Industria Nacional,

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director Alamán had shifted his focus perceptibly outward from mining to the rest of the Mexican economy. He still dwelt on the backward linkages nourished by the sector but was now more openly skeptical of the benefits of mining per se. Enemies of industrialization, he wrote, claimed that all the nation’s bills could be paid and its ills cured by silver, “to whose exploitation they want to reduce all the industry of the nation, limiting it to the mining sector only. [But] the branch of industry most useful to the nation is not that which produces the most wealth, but that which occupies the greatest number of hands, and it will be still more appreciable if employment is constant, subject to few vicissitudes and which by itself produces a permanent skill transmittable from father to son, from generation to generation.” To an economist, he wrote, mining was no more than one economic sector among many—an important one, to be sure, but only a sector, one whose chief advantage lay in the fact that its products, silver and gold, were easily marketable. The most valuable thing about mining was its ripple effects in the larger economy. Given the capitalintensive nature of the industry and its highly unpredictable character, more like a game of chance than even a speculative venture whose rules were more or less known, no national fortune should rest upon it. The Spanish colonial regime had favored it not for the benefit of Mexico but for that of Spanish commerce and the fiscal exigencies of the crown. Although mineral wealth was important, therefore, and was no more a block to national prosperity than any other sector, it was dangerous to view it as the economic pivot of the nation. He concluded with an eloquent, even passionate defense of the idea that an industrialization broader than mining would forge a prosperous national economy: If, then, our nation cannot pay for the goods it receives from abroad with the products of its agriculture; if it cannot count on any consumption for those [agricultural] products within any market [other] than the domestic one; and if this [market] depends upon the physical constitution of [the nation’s] territory and upon the distribution of population on its surface, factors that do not lie within the power of men to change; if the products of mining cannot enrich the country by themselves—it is [then] necessary to recur to the development of industry as the sole source of a general prosperity. In effect, Sir, due to the peculiar circumstances of our nation, only [industry] can give an impulse to agriculture, providing the market for its products and multiplying their use; only [industry] can increase the wealth of the property owners, giving a value to their estates

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that they hardly possess at the moment, except in this or that point somewhat richer and more populous; only [industry] can make the population grow [by] providing means for its subsistence, and with this improving the state of its inhabitants, and [industry] alone can stimulate more than any other alternative all social advancement. With industry will come peace, abundance, morality and liberty established upon the bases of order, property, and enlightenment, and without [industry] there will be nothing but poverty, disorder, and servitude.83 Lucas Alamán was involved with the mining of silver throughout his life, above all in his native city of Guanajuato—intimately through his midthirties or so, then more critically and at a distance for his last two decades. Generations of the Busto and Alamán family fortunes were built on the industry, he was trained as a mining engineer and knew the technology and chemistry of mining as well as anyone at the time, and even patented a refining process of his own invention. Along with other Mexicans he pinned what would prove to be extravagant hopes on the revival of the mining industry for the recovery and expansion of the Mexican economy, doing much while he was in a position of great influence in the early 1820s to facilitate the recapitalization of the sector through foreign, primarily British, direct investment. But with the substantial failure of the United Mexican Mining Association his desire to grow his own wealth through the revival of the industry was frustrated, disappointing him and leaving him with a certain bitterness. With the shriveling of the Unida, Alamán turned his thinking as a political economist to other paths, coming to argue that the country must not depend so heavily on the production of mineral wealth and that its future lay with manufacturing. For this he established the Banco de Avío in 1830 primarily to stimulate the textile industry through government loans, following his own advice in investing in this sector of the economy and failing here as he had at mining. His family still held shares in a once-successful silver mine in Guanajuato, but at the end of his life, with weary disillusion, he judged this stake to be worthless. The Unida episode may well have taught him that Mexican industrialization, in whatever sector of the economy, could not in this early period depend on foreign investment, but that domestic capital must be mobilized, which is what the Banco de Avío was established to do. Silver mining did recover and flourish again, but only toward the end of the century, too late to make him wealthy or to restore vanished family glories.

11 • Managing the Feudal Remnant Alamán and the Duque (1824–1853)

A Walk through the Paris Exposition As the expatriate American novelist Henry James strolled the Champs de Mars during the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889, what might have caught his interest among the many exhibits, entertainments, and national pavilions at the world’s fair?1 Like other visitors he would surely have marveled at (or at least been impressed by) the Eiffel Tower, still unfinished but now open to the public for the first time. James would certainly have paid some attention to the American, French, and British pavilions. Given his resolutely Eurocentric view of the world, however, and the inherent vulgarity of many of the entertainments on offer, he would probably have skipped the display of Western horsemanship and sharpshooting by Buffalo Bill’s troupe, starring Annie Oakley; and of the more exotic ethnographic exhibits, he might well have ignored the zoo-like Negro Village with its four hundred African inhabitants. On the other hand, he might have walked through the Egyptian exhibit, the chaotic bazaar stretched along the mockup of a sinuous Cairo street standing proxy for the devious Oriental mind. Had the writer walked through the Mexican pavilion, with its Aztec theme, he might have cast a glance at the sculptures by Jesús Contreras on the façade of the building and more than a glance at the magnificent landscape paintings of José María Velasco inside.2 What would probably not have captured his attention in the pavilion were food products from Mexico on show, huddled next to crafts and other displays. Among these were sugar and otros frutos produced on the Hacienda de San Antonio Atlacomulco, which had won medals (first prize for sugar, honorable mention for cane brandy) for their high quality. The hacienda belonged to the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone, whose general agent in Mexico was still

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Licenciado D. Juan Bautista Alamán, Lucas Alamán’s attorney son. Juan Bautista had been working for the duke’s casa, that is, his administrative establishment in Mexico, since his youth and immediately after his father’s death in 1853 had stepped into the position as apoderado general for another generation of the Sicilian noble family. In 1905, a half century after his father’s passing, Juan Bautista was still the general administrator of the Terranova properties in Mexico.3

The Mexican and the Sicilian More than thirty-five years earlier, some three weeks before beginning his final stint as a government minister under the presidency of Antonio López de Santa Anna and about two months before his death on 2 June 1853, Lucas Alamán dispatched to Palermo what was very likely his last direct communication with the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone. In this relatively long letter Alamán addressed a familiar list of items relating to Terranova’s affairs in Mexico and commenting on the state of the country in general. Sandwiched in with these discussions was a reference to the writer’s health that presaged his death: “I have also not been very healthy, since I find I am not as well here [in the city] as at Atlacomulco, and that just as soon as I come up to this high cold country I begin to suffer from the lung ailment that has been bothering me for some time. But I hope this will not prevent me from completing the arrangement of your affairs.” Alamán lamented the ducal household’s lost opportunity to cash in on the government’s concession of an exclusive right to construct a permanent road across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. He tried to involve his friend Alexander von Humboldt in this enterprise, but the famous German polymath declined. The project eventually lost out to the Isthmus of Panama route. Alamán wrote to the duke, “[To be successful] it [is] necessary to be able to guess [the future], since with the way things turn out, through extraordinary [i.e., unpredictable] events, it is not possible to hit the mark every time, and because of this, more than once I have erred in [conducting] my own and other people’s affairs, with grave injury to myself.”4 Lucas Alamán’s nearly three-decade-long linkage with the Hacienda de Atlacomulco and other ducal holdings, and his relationship—often bumpy but in general trusting, positive, and exclusively developed through letters—with its owner, José Pignatelli de Aragón, Duque de Monteleone, Duque de Terranova, and fourteenth Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca, wove together a number of strands in the great statesman’s character, his background, and the

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history of his times. Had Alamán lacked strong personal motives, it is difficult to imagine that a man of his intelligence, amour propre, and public prominence would have put up with the episodic stream of guff directed at him by the duque in his darker moods. Despite all this, Alamán played the key role in rationalizing the duke’s family finances and in keeping money flowing to Palermo. Pignatelli’s greatest claims to virtue seem to have been his descent from Fernando Cortés and his small role in the great drama of Neapolitan and Sicilian politics at midcentury. Among the critics of the duke was the first Spanish ambassador to Mexico, Ángel Calderón de la Barca, who was married to the famous Fanny Calderón. In a letter to the American historian William H. Prescott, the Spanish diplomat remarked that the writing in Terranova y Monteleone’s correspondence with him was “not distinguished for sprightliness.” Prescott himself referred to the duque in a letter as an imbecile, remarking a bit later in yet another letter to Calderón, “I received, by the by, a letter the other day from the Duke of Monteleone in Sicily, who singularly enough is the descendant and representative of the great houses of Gonsalvo de Cordova and Hernando Cortes. What a pedigree! Such blood does not flow in the veins of any living man. I am told he is not likely to pluck a leaf of the same laurel for himself.”5 During most of their thirty-year correspondence, the duque’s side often consisted of whinging about why Alamán was not remitting more cash to him through their English commercial agents and, with tales of his financial obligations, urging his general factotum, or apoderado general, to greater efforts on his behalf. His letters also included a great deal of finger wagging alternating with flattery and occasional expressions of gratitude for the services Alamán was performing in the face of formidable political obstacles. Occasional sparks of exasperation flash from Alamán’s long letters, but he generally managed to keep his temper and maintain a businesslike tone. Alamán’s work on behalf of the Neapolitan magnate was not without its personal economic benefits to himself. These included a yearly salary plus a commission collected at a low but predictable percentage on all the properties he was instrumental in selling as the Cortés entailed estate (mayorazgo) was disentailed and steadily liquidated. In addition, he almost certainly had access to sums of liquid cash he may occasionally have borrowed from the coffers of the Marquesado offices in Mexico City to fund his business investments. He also took advantage of the opportunity, more and more often as he aged, to retreat to the Hacienda de Atlacomulco to escape the winter cold of Mexico City in the lower altitude and more benign climate of the Cuernavaca area. There he rested and restored his health from the chronic lung ailments that

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eventually contributed to his somewhat premature death. Lucas Alamán was probably undercompensated economically for the services he performed for the duque over three decades, and thought himself so. Why, then, did he continue in this role for so long, and why did he tolerate the frequent peremptoriness, recurrent bouts of ingratitude, and insistent dunning for money directed at him by the Cortés heir? There were a number of motives. In the first place, direct economic benefit was not unimportant. Second, Alamán was something of a contrarian. He was a remarkably practical man but could be quite adamant in his beliefs and seems to have liked provoking his political opponents and critics. Overseeing and defending the interests of the duque, who served as a lightning rod for liberal attacks on privilege, feudalism, and the forces of reaction, may therefore have accorded him a certain amount of personal satisfaction since they were tantamount to sticking his thumb in the eye of Mexican liberals.6 Third, Alamán believed ardently in the sanctity of private property, not only as a defense of the privileged classes—the hombres de bien whom he felt should control the destiny of the country by right of their intelligence, inherent abilities, education, experience, and stake in the Public Good—but also as a bedrock principle of political economy and a sound social order. It is no accident that in the initial number, in 1848, of the last newspaper he was to found, El Universal, he began to serialize the treatise on property of the French conservative statesman Adolphe Thiers.7 Finally, Alamán’s involvement with the Marquesado had a more intimate meaning with origins in the circumstances of his youth. On the level of his personal history the Cortés connection was a compensatory identification that shored up his own self-concept in the face of his family’s loss of status. He was protecting the large fortune of a foreign nobleman that had originated in the singular anomaly of a feudal grant from the Spanish crown, defending it on the grounds that it had become private property and was therefore substantially inviolate against state action. This was a case in which his personal psychological needs clashed with his more pragmatic ideas. One aspect of his ideology, that private property was an absolute good and social necessity, contradicted another aspect, that the feudal origin of the Marquesado holdings should have made them illegitimate as a form of accumulated wealth. Some of this contradiction would have been obviated by the legal suppression of entails in Mexico in 1823. This policy stripped the Cortés inheritance of its legal protections, converting it into the modern form of private property, exposing the holdings to normal market forces and in theory eliminating the grounds for

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calling it feudal. At a still higher level, Alamán’s relationship with the duque and his properties spoke to the more expansive issue of political legitimacy in the wake of the colonial regime and the poisoning of the historical well by the very process through which Mexico had gained its independence from Spain. Alamán has been accused with some justice of creating in his historical works a Spanish fantasy past that contrasted with the remarkably messy historical present in which he came to political maturity.8 Although his ideas were more nuanced than is often acknowledged, his apologetic stance toward the colonial regime is very clear. The continued existence of the “feudal remnant” of the Cortés properties in republican Mexico was, to him, symbolic of a time when life ran an orderly course, in contrast with the endemic instability of the early republican period, the ongoing legitimacy vacuum in governance, and the opportunism of military politicians. Thus as an economic actor Alamán derived some material benefit from the thirty-year association with the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone and also psychological ones from the direct, palpable link to the Spanish past he treasured—a link, to recall Peter Laslett’s phrase, to the world he had lost.

The Conqueror’s Bones Lucas Alamán’s long struggle to preserve Mexico’s Spanish heritage began with measures he took to protect the physical remains of Fernando Cortés against grandstanding politicians and enraged, anti-Spanish Mexico City mobs. The long saga of the wanderings of the conqueror’s bones is an interesting one in itself, but an abbreviated version can lead to Alamán’s involvement, which began in 1823. Fernando Cortés died of pleurisy in his sixty-second year, on 2 December 1547, in his house at Castilleja de la Cuesta, near Seville. His initial burial place was the chapel of Seville’s San Isidro monastery, in the family vault of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia. In his last will and testament, however, he had specified that within a decade of his death, if possible, his successor in the marquisate should send his remains for reburial to Coyoacán, near Mexico City, to be interred there in the convent of the Immaculate Conception, of which Cortés had been founder and patron. Fifteen years after Cortés’s death, in 1562, his son Martín, the second Marqués del Valle, had his father’s remains removed to New Spain to the Franciscan monastery in Tetzcoco. In 1629 Cortés’s bones were transferred, with much pomp and splendor, to a new location yet again, this time to the church of San Francisco in Mexico City to lie beside those of one of his grandsons, the fourth marqués,

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Don Pedro, who had died in Mexico City that year. In 1791, at the behest of the twelfth marqués, Hector María Pignatelli, the governor of the Marquesado del Valle, the Marqués de Sierra Nevada (Joaquín Ramírez de Arellano) went with a notary to the Franciscan convent to make a fully certified report as to the resting place, authenticity, and condition of Hernando Cortés’s remains, contained in an elaborate chest behind the church’s principal altar.9 Then in 1794 the remains were moved yet again to the chapel of the Hospital de Jesús, where in one locale or another in the building they have rested until today. The removal and reburial were to be effected secretly, at night, with no public pomp and only the officials and employees of the Marquesado in attendance. At seven thirty in the evening on 2 July 1794, the Marqués de Sierra Nevada went to the church of San Francisco with the required notary in tow. Inside the various nested boxes “the said bones amount to some leg and arm bones [canillas], ribs, and others that although broken are quite hard. The skull is narrow, flattened [achatada, that is, presumably without the septum], and long, but all the bones are brown and of good appearance and odor.”10 The marqués and his party conducted the remains, in their boxes, by coach to the chapel of the Hospital de Jesús, where they were placed on a table in the sacristy. The boxes were opened again at the hospital (presumably to make sure none of the old boy had escaped en route), checked, and locked, the marqués keeping the key. The next morning, 3 July 1794, the relics were transferred to a vault in the church, which was surmounted by a bronze bust of Cortés sculpted by Manuel Tolsa. On Tuesday, 8 July, an elaborate funeral was conducted within the church itself and a Mass sung, following which the Dominican Fray Servando Teresa de Mier “delivered a highly learned funeral oration in praise of the political and moral virtues” of the conqueror, which lasted for threequarters of an hour. In attendance were Viceroy Branciforte, many nobles, and a bevy of public and church officials.11 And there the conqueror’s mortal remains rested, apparently without incident, for almost the next thirty years. Following the fall of Agustín de Iturbide, Lucas Alamán was minister of internal and external relations under the government of the SPE when a crisis blew up over the burial site and fate of Cortés’s remains. During 1822 and 1823 anonymous anti-Cortés and anti-Spanish pamphlets were circulating in Mexico City. The fall of the Iturbide regime and the popular odium focused for the moment on monarchical forms of government, most singularly on the man who had instituted them in Mexico, may have had something to do with the pamphleteering. Helping to heat up the atmosphere was the continuing Spanish occupation of the fortress island of San Juan de Ulúa and the rumors

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of an impending Spanish invasion of its rebellious former colony, both accompanied by sharp anti-Spanish outbursts in the press and by anonymous pamphlets. Congressional debates the previous year relating to the dismantling of the monument over the site of Cortés’s remains in the chapel of the Hospital de Jesús included a proposal by Fray Servando Teresa de Mier that the coat of arms on the hospital and the tomb inscription be removed to a museum. The officials in charge of the Marquesado held a meeting at the end of the month. Present were the duke’s paternal uncle and general agent, or apoderado, the Conde Fernando [Ferdinando] Lucchesi; Manuel de Füica, at this time gobernador of the Marquesado, a loyal, long-serving functionary of the marquisate; and the accountant and attorney of the casa.12 The discussion of the alarmed officials ranged over the resolutions debated in congress, the pamphlets, the rumored attacks on the Hospital de Jesús, and a shadowy plot to extract the bones to take them to the San Lázaro garbage dump. Officials of the Terranova establishment held an emergency meeting in late September, presided over by Count Fernando de Lucchesi, the duke’s paternal uncle. Lucchesi had had conversations with minister Alamán about the menacing situation, and in response the minister had ordered the church of the Hospital de Jesús closed to forestall any attempts at desecration. A priest moved Cortés’s remains to a different place in the chapel to confound any ill-intentioned persons. The immediate danger past, the place of interment was kept secret, and it was long believed that the conqueror’s relics had been shipped to Terranova in Palermo for yet another reburial. More than a century later, in 1929, Antonio Pignatelli, the eighteenth marqués—a title by then extinguished for more than a century in Mexico but still recognized in Italy and Spain—stated categorically that the bones were still entombed in the Hospital de Jesús. In 1946 the remains were unearthed from one of the walls of the chapel, along with a notarized document attesting to their genuineness, and Fernando Cortés eventually came to rest behind a modest plaque in another wall of the church, where he remains to this day. The plausible idea that Cortés’s remains were shipped to Palermo in 1823 survived for a century and may well have originated with Alamán himself in order to forestall further threats against the relics. The American historian Francis A. MacNutt devoted considerable discussion to this in his 1909 biography of Cortés.13 He remarks that a footnote (number 353) in volume 2 of Vicente Riva Palacio’s México a través de los siglos asserts that Cortés’s remains were sent to Palermo in 1823 and suggests that Lucas Alamán himself implied as much in his narrative of these events in his Disertaciones, from which most other accounts

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are drawn. MacNutt, however, says there is no concrete evidence that anything of the sort occurred. To support this belief he quotes from a letter of the great Mexican antiquarian, philologist, and historian Joaquín García Icazbalceta (1824–94) to the historian of the early explorations of the Americas, Henry Harrisse (1823–1910), strongly suggesting that Alamán himself was evasive about the truth of the story: “Notwithstanding the friendship with which Señor Alamán has honoured me, I never could obtain from him a positive explanation [of the whereabouts of the remains]; he would always find some pretext to change the conversation. . . . [B]oth Señor Alamán and Count Fernando Lucchesi . . . assisted at the temporary hiding away of the remains under the steps of the altar.” Although most of the drama had drained out of the story by the time he took over management of the Cortés heir’s affairs in Mexico, Lucas Alamán was to be involved in every twitch in the narrative until it petered out late in the Mexican–American War. In 1835 a plan was broached to move Fernando Cortés’s remains to Palermo, presumably for eventual reburial in Spain. This plan was probably the brainchild of the duke because even though the apoderado was dedicated to protecting the remains, one may assume that he preferred to keep them in Mexico, if possible, so as not to break this palpable link with the history of the former metropole and the conquest itself. The holdings of the ex-Marquesado were sequestered by the government during 1833–35, and Terranova y Monteleone may have feared that the embargo would somehow embrace the Hospital de Jesús and damage the building and its precious relics. Although at first he feared the bones were lost, the following year Alamán had a new chest made to contain them and moved them in the utmost secrecy to a new location within the church, reinterring them in great luxury, as a precaution against their being “damaged and scattered in the streets” during popular disturbances. At the same time Alamán sent to Palermo the arms removed from Cortés’s tomb in 1823 along with a portrait of the conqueror—of which he had a copy made for himself. Along with the portrait of his illustrious ancestor, the duke received the black lace fringe from the cloth in which the bones had been wrapped. He wrote to the apoderado that he “would without doubt venerate [it] as a type of [sacred] relic” (Alamán had taken the liberty of keeping a small piece of the fringe for himself); in 1837 followed a bust of Cortés. Finally, yet another plan to ship Fernando Cortés’s remains back to Spain was discussed during the Mexican–American War, this time at the suggestion of the Spanish ambassador in Mexico, Bermúdez de Castro, who offered his own protection and ipso facto that of Spain for the transfer. The plan was never effected. The knowledge that the conqueror’s

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remains were resting someplace in the chapel of the Hospital de Jesús may explain why Lucas Alamán wanted to be interred there as well. Amid the unsettled circumstances of the early 1820s Lucas Alamán began to forge his long-lived links to José Pignatelli, initially through the Conde de Lucchesi. Little is known about Fernando de Lucchesi-Palli (1784–1847), perhaps because he was one of the less distinguished members of a family that traced its Sicilian roots as far back as the eleventh century or because as a younger son who did not inherit the family titles and entail he had less opportunity to attain distinction. His elder brother Antonio Lucchesi-Palli, seventh Prince of Campofranco, etc. (1781–1856), had married Anna María Francesca Pignatelli Tagliavia d’Aragona Cortez (1784–1837), and the daughter of this union, contessa Blanca [Bianca] Lucchesi-Palli (1801–84), married Lucas Alamán’s employer, José [Giuseppe] Pignatelli Aragona Cortés (1795–1859), Duque de Terranova y Monteleone, principe di Noia, and fourteenth Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca.14 When Fernando Lucchesi had come to Mexico or exactly what he was doing there we do not know, but he seems to have resided in the country for some time. The most plausible scenario is that he came in the immediate wake of independence to manage the extensive holdings of his nephew-by-marriage, who had inherited them at the death of his father in 1818. In June 1824, when he had been in his first ministry for more than a year and the hubbub concerning Fernando Cortés’s remains had subsided, Lucas Alamán received a letter from the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone inviting him provisionally to replace Lucchesi as apoderado general (general legal agent) for the Marquesado in Mexico. In a letter to his nephew of 15 February 1824 Lucchesi gave an account of a number of meetings he had had with minister Alamán and conveyed to Terranova a general idea of the state of the ex-Marquesado interests in Mexico. Terranova y Monteleone voiced his misgivings about whether certain guarantees in the new constitution would protect those people who owned property in Mexico but resided outside the country.15 Writing from Guanajuato in late November 1824, where he found himself on temporary leave from his ministerial duties, Alamán ceremoniously accepted the duque’s charge of the provisional power of attorney, offering “that in any circumstance I will do with pleasure whatever lies within my power to promote Your Grace’s interests in this country.”16 During 1824–25 Lucas Alamán seems to have proven the worth of his services to the casa of the duke. By the end of March 1825 the nobleman was writing to his temporary Mexican agent that his uncle, Fernando Lucchesi, had been heaping praise on the Mexican statesman, prompting Terranova to offer Alamán a permanent

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general power of attorney. Alamán accepted the charge in August, since by September 1825 he was sending a substantial memorandum to Palermo outlining the reforms he intended to make in the administration of the casa. Lucas Alamán’s salary as apoderado was to start at around three thousand pesos per year plus a housing allowance, expense account, and other perquisites that seem to have been established in side agreements between the two men. Terranova did demand in very polite terms that his new general agent post a bond as he took over the considerable annual cash flows and remissions to Palermo from casa income. The amount was reduced from thirty thousand to twenty thousand pesos when Alamán stated that he lacked the resources to cover the larger amount.17 The colonial practice of posting bonds (fianzas) as surety for public and private posts whose duties included the handling of large sums of money remained common for at least some federal government officials into the republican years.18 On 22 May 1826 Alamán signed a formal instrument at a meeting with the junta de administración of the duke’s Mexican properties. Where he got this large sum in the end and, if he did not selffinance it, who his guarantor was is unknown.19 The emphasis in Alamán’s labors on behalf of the Sicilian nobleman changed a good deal over time. From the 1820s to the mid-1830s his attention was directed chiefly toward public relations efforts to keep the ex-Marquesado out of the newspapers, the courts, street-corner conversations, and public consciousness (and Fernando Cortés’s mortal remains out of the garbage dump), to defend it against political attack, and to squeeze a substantial income from it for the duke. In the mid- to late 1830s much of Alamán’s energy was devoted to the liquidation of properties no longer held in entail in order both to make an equitable distribution of the holdings between José Pignatelli, the fourteenth marqués, and his eldest son Diego, who would become the fifteenth marqués at his father’s death in 1859, and to forestall claims against the properties from other family members in Europe. The later 1840s saw the apoderado’s major efforts invested in reviving the Hacienda de Atlacomulco, which became highly prosperous by the time of his death.

The Economic Structure of the Marquesado and Alamán’s Personal Benefits The account books of the property and income streams the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone owned run to hundreds of volumes. And the litigation in which the Marquesado was involved fills hundreds of files, to say nothing

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of the voluminous correspondence Alamán carried on with Terranova and other people with regard to the affairs of the estate. When Alamán took over the management of the casa in 1825 there were five major components. First, there were the large rural holdings, consisting of the Hacienda de Atlacomulco, located about five kilometers southeast of Cuernavaca, the sprawling Haciendas Marquesanas on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and a miscellany of other, smaller rural properties. Second, there were large numbers of censos, basically perpetual mortgages, mostly imposed on urban properties belonging to private individuals and owing annual payments to the Marquesado, some of which reached far back into the colonial period (see table 11.1).20 The third element was made up of a substantial number of residential houses and other properties owned outright by the Marquesado that were rented out to private parties and were located almost entirely in the choicer parts of Mexico City; under this rubric fell other public buildings, public plazas, a municipal abattoir or two outside the capital, and so on. Fourth, the Marquesado claimed against the federal government huge unpaid sums arising from government embargoes during the colonial period, stretching back to the sixteenth century. Finally, the marqués was patron of the Hospital de Jesús, a medical facility for the care of the poor founded near the center of the city by Fernando Cortés himself and supported primarily by urban rents. Although the hospital was formally separate from the casa, Alamán oversaw its activities and finances, and it was economically tied in many ways to the Marquesado holdings. By the time Alamán died in 1853, the ex-Marquesado had shrunk a great deal in size, its supposedly feudal characteristics burned off in the political fires of the early republic, most of its real estate holdings converted to disentailed private property and sold off. What remained was the Hacienda de Atlacomulco; the still-enormous monetary claims against the Mexican government carried on the books of the casa year in and year out but that, as far as I can determine, were never paid to the duke’s successors; a large number of extant censos difficult or impossible of collection; and a portfolio of urban properties reduced to very modest dimensions, not counting those holdings whose income supported the Hospital de Jesús.21 My foray into the sources of Marquesado wealth was motivated principally not by an interest in the ex-Marquesado itself but by the desire to follow Lucas Alamán’s involvement with it. Based on the slim quantitative evidence, it appears that the total income from rentals and censos experienced an uptick at exactly the time Lucas Alamán took over the administration. In years when it was not leased to a

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Table 11.1: Marquesado income from censos and casas (rentals), various years (in pesos) Censos and Casas Combined

Year

Censos

Casas

1821 1822 1825 1826 1827

13,396 16,840 — — 5,965

1,636 1,417 — — 22,000

15,032 18,257 28,136 22,447 27,965

1828 1829

— 3,361

26,071 26,055

— 29,416

1830 1831 1834

— 7,056 5,401

26,109 26,327 34,469

— 33,383 39,870

1840





Remarks

Another document for same year gives 25,810 With properties outside Mexico City: 39,851

With properties outside Mexico City: 40,224

26,662

private individual but managed directly by the Marquesado under Alamán’s supervision, the Hacienda de Atlacomulco produced, from sales of sugar and other products, some 30,000 to 40,000 pesos. There were considerable fluctuations outside this range until it began to flourish under direct Marquesado stewardship from the late 1840s. About the time Alamán came into the picture, the plantation was valued at some 150,000 pesos.22 From what I have seen, it’s impossible to calculate the total capital value of all these holdings together. One can make a stab, however, at estimating the global value of the urban real estate holdings in Mexico City. Assuming the houses leased out were earning rent at 5 percent of their capital value—a standard practice for the time, given strictures against usury—and taking the average total of rents collected for the five years 1827–31, something over 25,000 pesos, we arrive at a total capital value of just over 500,000 pesos (i.e., 20 ∑ 25,000), a substantial sum indeed. The funds remitted by Alamán to Palermo varied enormously from year to year—for example, 21,500 pesos in 1827, 45,849 in 1829, and 27,597 in 1840—but the spikes and troughs tended to smooth out in the later years of Alamán’s stewardship. Overall, the sums collected from fixed sources fell quite short of what they were expected to be. For

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Table 11.2: Actual income vs. expected income from fixed Marquesado sources, various years

Year

Expected income (pesos)

Actual income (pesos)

Percentage collected

1827 1829 1830 1831 1834

90,669 113,954 129,889 134,558 88,257

59,964 48,252 55,061 97,436 81,794

66 42 42 72 93

the five years 1827, 1829, 1830, 1831, and 1834, the average actually taken in was about 63 percent of nominal value (see table 11.2). Working against the headwinds of perennially difficult conditions in Mexico, Alamán felt this to be a reasonable yield, whereas the duke continually complained that it was too low. A reasonably conservative estimate of the global value of the Cortés holdings for the years before Alamán started to liquidate much of the disentailed estate for the purpose of division between José Pignatelli and his son Diego, therefore, would put it at around a million pesos, probably not less and quite possibly more.23 In combination with his earnings as administrator of the Hospital de Jesús and with commissions he earned on the sale of the duque’s urban properties, Alamán’s earnings formed a substantial part of his family income. So he took up these duties and stayed with them until his death, not simply out of nostalgia or ideological affinity but also because they offered palpable economic benefits. On the other hand, as he noted on several occasions over the years, his association with the Marquesado had cost him because it made him a target of attacks by liberal politicians. While he may have enjoyed a temporary increase in earnings from his position as the director of the United Mexican Mining Association, his longer-term hopes for the revival of silver mining in his native Guanajuato and of his diminished family fortunes along with it went nowhere. Roughly the same thing happened with his central involvement in the Cocolapan textile enterprise in the late 1830s and early 1840s, the difference being that he came out of that episode saddled with heavy debt to a consortium of angry investors. Alamán’s salary as a state minister—6,000 pesos per year between 1823 and 1825—applied only for about five years altogether between 1823 and 1853, although he received lesser sums in other government posts

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from time to time, for example, the commission on the amortization of copper coinage, the Council of State, and the directorship of industrial development.24 So his yearly earnings from managing the Marquesado holdings and as chief administrator of the Hospital de Jesús were certainly the most stable elements of his income over the thirty years he received them. Initially his yearly salary was set at 2,400 pesos, but in addition he drew a 600-peso housing allowance that he took in cash, bringing the total to 3,000 pesos per year. Lucas Alamán’s salary remained at this level for nearly twenty years, until sometime in the first half of the 1840s. Then, inexplicably, by 1846 at the latest Alamán’s salary dropped to 1,600 pesos per year with an annual housing allowance of 567 pesos, most likely remaining at this level until his death. At the same time, however, he was receiving a separate 800 pesos per year as administrator of the Hospital de Jesús, along with the housing allowance of nearly 300 pesos annually attached to that position. This made for a total yearly income from his Marquesado and hospital emoluments of about 3,300 pesos. And he was certainly not above occasionally bringing to the attention of the duke the weight of his workload in connection with the Cortés holdings and the understaffing of estate operations. The spring of 1838, for example, found Alamán feeling vexed with the demands of his duties for the casa and complaining in May that “what I do not do [myself] does not get done, or gets done badly, so I cannot rest.”25 Generally these pleas fell on deaf ears. The annual salary was not the only economic payoff he derived from his work for Terranova y Monteleone. Through the 1830s and well into the 1840s Alamán was the chief agent in Mexico for the liquidation by sale of Marquesado properties removed from entail (mayorazgo) by a law from the Spanish Cortes in 1820, applied in Mexico in 1823 but enforced very patchily in succeeding years. At first it went smoothly, so that by 1838 he had overseen the sale of about 250,000 pesos worth of urban holdings and estimated that the final figure would climb to about 500,000 pesos. Over the course of the next decade things were a bit more difficult given that the low-hanging fruit had been harvested early on, and what remained to be collected was “very little and very uncertain.”26 Lucas Alamán’s agreement with the duke was that he receive a 3 percent commission on all such sales, although he felt that his efforts warranted 5 percent. Assuming that the total sales amounted to 500,000 pesos, Alamán’s cumulative commission would have come to 15,000 pesos, although the later sales of the Haciendas Marquesanas and the Plaza del Volador would have added to this sum. This was not a paltry amount, certainly, but neither was it a great fortune. Calculated as about six times his official annual

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Marquesado salary (minus the housing allowance) it seems like a good deal of money, but when compared to his yearly ministerial salary of 6,000 pesos during his first ministries in the 1820s, it does not look like much. Thus during the 1830s at least, Alamán’s annual cash earnings from the Marquesado came to about 4,500 pesos per year. In addition to his formal salary, commission, and occasional income, Lucas Alamán may have availed himself of the considerable cash resources of the Marquesado on an unofficial basis. There is thin but intriguing evidence to suggest that he made a possibly unauthorized loan to himself from casa funds on at least one occasion and possibly more than once. The loans seem to have been related to covering the outlays involved in his personal venture into the cotton textile industry, namely, the enormous cotton yarn factory at Cocolapan, near Orizaba, in the late 1830s and early 1840s. The details of this incident have not been preserved, but it is alluded to in a letter to Alamán from Terranova y Monteleone in the summer of 1850. The sum involved, 7,000 pesos, was not huge but still substantial. “I am informed,” wrote the duke, that you still owe some seven thousand pesos to the sales account . . . for the house you sold to Señor Tejera, and which you have not been able to reimburse [to the Marquesado] owing to the misfortune that overtook your interests in the [textile business]. . . . [I]f the resources of the house were what they once were, it would not be necessary to speak of this [matter]. . . . [But I ask that you] draw up all the accounts of this . . . activity in order to determine the effective debt, and let me know what it is, indicating to me the easiest and least burdensome terms for you to repay the debt so that I may send to you a separate [back-dated] letter authorizing you to draw from the cash box the resulting amount as a loan payable [by you] in the terms you propose to me. I am sure that in this manner you will be satisfied, and will observe [in it] my desire to please you, declaring that I am sure of the probity with which you have managed my interests.27 Somehow the information had come to the duque about Alamán taking out this loan from Marquesado funds, and he implies that he has only just learned of it. And although the duke offered to let his apoderado set easy repayment terms for himself, he still wanted a formal document in the files in which he authorized the loan retroactively. The matter was still pending three years later, however. In the last year or two of his life and his dealings with Terranova, Alamán received communications from the duque indirectly on a

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number of occasions from a man named Pedro Peláez, some sort of functionary, a secretary, perhaps, in the Palermo establishment. In 1853 Peláez made the same allusion to the loan Alamán had made to himself from the Marquesado cash box. Moreover, an anonymous denunciation of Alamán to the duke hints that this episode was by no means a singular one: Some enemy of yours has written several times to the Duke that you have trafficked with his [i.e., the duke’s] money, that you have gone bankrupt, etc., but the Duke in truth has not lent any credence to these rumors. It was only when you wrote a letter to him during the last cholera [outbreak in Mexico in 1850] that he confirmed that you had made use of some small sum of money. Without anyone in the casa knowing about it, he instructed me to write to you to find out how much it was, in order to authorize you [retroactively] to take the sum from the cash box and pay it back over a number of years. You may believe that the Duke esteems you highly and has the most favorable disposition in your favor; and for my own account, I have always seconded [this sentiment]. I repeat this [to you] because I am convinced that you are a man of honor.28 Neither Terranova nor his man Peláez gave any indication that they saw it as anything other than a loan. How many such nonformalized loans Alamán might have availed himself of is unknown, as is the question of whether he ever actually repaid the funds before his death less than two years later. The most positive construction of this mysterious incident implies that the rectitude so much a part of Alamán’s public persona sometimes slipped in private as he bent the rules to bail himself out of a difficult financial situation. Finally, one material but nonpecuniary perquisite of which Lucas Alamán took increasing advantage over the years of his involvement with the Marquesado del Valle was his privileged access to the beautiful Hacienda de San Antonio Atlacomulco, located near Cuernavaca. He stopped leasing out the estate in the wake of the Mexican–American War, turning it into a highly lucrative agroindustrial enterprise that became something of a showplace in the area. In the mid-1820s Alamán made an inspection of the estate, reporting that in terms of production the hacienda was “only of the second class with respect to other [estates] of this jurisdiction or Cuautla,” its soils nearly exhausted, but the main buildings still in good condition. An 1847 inventory described the hacienda as being in good condition and productive.29 There is no evidence that he ever took Narcisa or their children on the extended yearly visits he made. He apparently kept the estate as a sort of hideaway for himself, although

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he may well have entertained the local squiredom. Perhaps the chief benefit it offered Alamán was its climate and the temporary alleviation this offered from the chronic lung problems he suffered in the capital. He was, in essence, enjoying the spa-like comforts of the countryside on the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone’s dime. The sort of sensual, aesthetic, and spiritual pleasures Lucas Alamán enjoyed on his forays to the more humid, softer, benign climate of the Morelos lowlands are well attested by an account of an overnight stay there with her husband in February 1841 written by Fanny Calderón de la Barca in a letter to her sister in Boston.30 Her impressions of the place as just short of an earthly paradise reveal why visits there were such an important privilege for the duke’s apoderado. After traveling from Mexico City to Cuernavaca by diligence the travel-weary couple were met at around dusk by horses and guides from the hacienda to escort them “over hill and dale” to the estate: At length the fierce fires, pouring from the sugar oven chimneys of Atlacomulco, gave us notice that we were near our haven for the night. We galloped into the courtyard, amongst dogs and Negroes and Indians, and were hospitably received by the administrador. . . . Greatly were we divided between sleep and hunger; but hunger gained the victory, and an immense, smoking supper received our most distinguished attention. This morning . . . we went out into the coffee plantation and orange walk. Anything so lovely! [sic] [T]he orange trees were covered with their golden fruit and fragrant blossom; the lemon trees, bending over, formed a natural arch which the sun could not pierce. We laid ourselves down on the soft grass, contrasting this day with the preceding. The air was soft and balmy, and actually heavy with the fragrance of the orange blossom and starry jasmine. All around the orchard ran streams of the most delicious clear water, trickling with sweet music, and now and then a little cardinal, like a bright red ruby, would perch on the trees. We pulled bouquets of orange blossom, jasmine, lilies, double red roses, and lemon leaves—and wished we could have transported them to you [her sister], to those lands where winter is now wrapping the world in his white winding sheet. The gardener, or coffee-planter—such a gardener!—Don Juan by name, with an immense black beard, Mexican hat, and military sash of crimson silk, came to offer us some orangeade; and, having sent to the house for sugar and tumblers, pulled the oranges from the trees, and

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drew the water from a clear tank, over-shadowed by blossoming branches and cold as though it had been iced. There certainly is no tree more beautiful than the orange, with its golden fruit, shining green leaves, and lovely white blossom with so delicious a fragrance. We felt this morning as if Atlacomulco was an earthly paradise. It belongs in fact to the Duke of Monteleone, and is let by his agent, Don Lucas Alamán, to Señor Anselmo Zurutuza. Its average annual produce of sugar is about thirty thousand arrobas [an arroba was about twenty-five pounds]. . . . There are few Negroes on these sugar plantations. . . . We observed but one old Negro, said to be upwards of a hundred, who was working in the courtyard as we passed; the generality of the workmen are Indians. Alamán typically visited between November and February, his stays tending to become longer over time, eventually extending into March when he could manage it. The weather in the Cuernavaca area was much milder than that in Mexico City during these months, and the air in the sugar zone more humid. Cuernavaca is about twenty-four hundred feet lower in altitude than Mexico City, so for someone with respiratory problems it would presumably have made breathing somewhat easier.31 The trip was demanding, taking about sixteen to eighteen hours on the road, with an overnight stop along the way. The apoderado did not travel by diligence, at least not in the early years, but on horseback and with an armed escort, since during the nearly three decades of his visits to the estate the area teemed with bandits. The first record of a visit by Lucas Alamán to Atlacomulco dates from 1826. He planned to leave Mexico City for the hacienda on Friday, 22 December 1826, but there is no mention of Alamán’s family on this or any other such occasion. After departing on Friday afternoon, he planned to spend the night in San Agustín de las Cuevas, initially deciding that the party should arrive at the hacienda in time for the afternoon comida on Saturday. But he changed his mind and decided to eat and spend the warmest part of the day at Huichilaque, just short of Cuernavaca, then bypass the city and arrive at Atlacomulco in the evening, so that only a light cena would be required to refresh the travelers. His intention was to take advantage of the “many festive days” during the Christmas period to look over the hacienda. He planned to be there eight or ten days, presumably so that he could return to Mexico City to celebrate Epiphany (Día de los Reyes) with his wife and children. He asked the estate administrator to have the hacienda’s account books ready for his inspection and all rents col-

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lected. The Alamán party was not to be a small one. He planned to bring his own horse but ordered that there be available a change of horses “or a mule, taking into account that I am not much of a horseman, [but] it is necessary that the animal [the mule] be very tame; I always prefer a horse [however], since I have little love for mules.” The party would need three pack mules “loaded very lightly, so that they can keep up with us.” He required four hacienda men as bodyguards because the roads were insecure; the number was eventually increased to six just to be on the safe side. Horses, mules, and men, he specified, should be in Mexico City by Thursday, 21 December.32 These visits to the Hacienda de Atlacomulco became yearly sojourns, although on occasion Alamán was too ill to travel. He was ailing in December 1831, for example, when he was still exercising his ministerial functions in the waning months of the Bustamante administration. The estate administrador sent best wishes for his recovery, offering that a visit would give the minister “a rest from paperwork.”33

The Ex-Marquesado under Attack The gifts—a euphemism for bribes—given to government officials by Lucas Alamán over the years on behalf of the duke could not shield the Pignatelli establishment from political attack or predation by the national state. Much of this was announced by the violent assertions of liberals that the duke’s holdings, as property of feudal origins, were not in keeping with republican or modern values. Motivated in part by genuine ideological concerns, these attacks also arose from the desire of state and federal governments to avail themselves of material resources in an environment of perennial fiscal stress. The extended history of sequestrations, for example, stretched back into the early colonial period. More recently, a series of royal provisions extinguished all functions of Marquesado officials and the estate’s legal jurisdiction effective 21 January 1810. This and other punitive measures were provoked by the fact that José Pignatelli’s father, Diego María Pignatelli de Aragón, Duque de Terranova y Monteleone and 13th Marqués del Valle, was in Paris in 1810 serving as the ambassador of Joaquin (Joachim) Murat, king of Naples, to the court of Emperor Napoleon at the very moment the Spanish crown had been usurped by Joseph Bonaparte.34 The political clouds that would shadow the Marquesado del Valle throughout the period between independence and Reform appeared on the horizon almost immediately after 1821. The first indications that the Cortés holdings

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would prove a lightning rod for Mexican nationalism and a screen for the projection of liberal ideas were associated, as I noted above, with congressional debates and public pamphleteering about the resting place of Fernando Cortés’s bones and the public display of the Marquesado’s coat of arms. These questions arose in the national congress in the form of resolutions passed on 6 May, 3 June, and 12 August 1822 decreeing the removal of Fernando Cortés’s coat of arms from the façade of the Hospital de Jesús. His sepulcher was to be removed from the attached chapel, which would be demolished “to erase the ominous memory of the Conquest.” During the congressional debates on these measures in 1822, Alamán’s occasional traveling companion in Europe, Deputy Servando Teresa de Mier, suggested that the coat of arms and the inscription on the conqueror’s tomb be housed in a museum “as monuments of history, of which it was always advisable to preserve a memory even when the memories are not agreeable ones.” Several other deputies supported Mier in this opinion, among them Manuel Mier y Terán, Rafael Mangino, and Carlos María de Bustamante, who cited ample European precedents for such preservation. One deputy took the historically relativist point of view that Cortés had acted merely according to the thinking of his unenlightened time, which condoned military conquest carried out to the greater glory of kings, but that in ensuing centuries the “light of philosophy” had tamed the customs of men. By 16 September 1823 Iturbide’s brief reign as emperor of Mexico had ended and Lucas Alamán had entered the transitional government as minister of internal and foreign affairs. Rumors had already been circulating for some time in Mexico City, where public opinion was “always and so manifestly contrary to the memory of Señor Cortés,” of a plot to seize the conqueror’s remains from the hospital chapel and take them to the public dump in San Lázaro to be burned. This threat raised more general fears among those charged with the administration of the Marquesado interests of attacks against the ducal establishment in Mexico. It was at this point that Alamán’s thirty-year history with the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone began. By the summer of 1825 the political drumbeat of criticism aimed at the Marquesado had reached another crescendo. In a nationalist spasm, congressional deputies had proposed a law mandating that foreigners who owned property might have it confiscated failing their return to take up residence in Mexico within a year of the law’s promulgation. The duke, unsurprisingly, objected violently to this legislation. Behind the effort to move the proposal into law Alamán saw the hand not only of radical deputies but also that of Joel Poinsett. Alamán strongly encouraged Terranova y Monteleone to come to

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Mexico himself to establish residence and oversee the liquidation of his holdings inasmuch as “no powers of attorney or instructions [from you] can suffice.” He predicted that the new congress to be elected for 1826 would prove even more inimical to Pignatelli’s interests than the current one, which indeed turned out to be the case. Alamán wrote to Pignatelli that the situation had worsened since the upper house had approved the measure. He thought the proposal likely to face even less opposition in the Chamber of Deputies, and that President Victoria would surely sign it into law. Alamán saw elections for the new congress as pervaded by “great intrigues [by] the two Masonic parties of Scottish [Rite] and York [Rite], which leave no stone unturned to pursue their respective interests, for you the worst thing that could happen.” After dropping below critical levels for a few years, the argument over the nature and legitimacy of the duque’s property once again came temporarily to a head—although not to a resolution—in congressional debates during the years 1827–29. Alamán vigorously defended the interests of the Cortés holdings in a series of extensive written refutations of direct attacks by liberal politicians against the Marquesado itself. Chief among the political figures arrayed against the Cortés holdings in these episodes and ipso fact o against Alamán himself were José Matías Quintana, Juan de Dios Cañedo, and Lorenzo de Zavala, the last already on his way to becoming an implacable political foe not only of the Marquesado but also of Alamán personally.35 Now a private citizen bound neither by political constraints nor by fear of repercussions for his future public career, Alamán was provoked to make more overtly conservative pronouncements by the expulsion decree of 1827 (another would follow in 1829) against European Spaniards and by the high public profile of Joel Poinsett. His representation to congress in the spring of 1827 was thus the first occasion on which he stated his ideas on these questions publicly and at length. Although written in a restricted, legalistic, albeit nontechnical, framework, Alamán’s exposition lays out his thinking on the natural right of individuals to the unencumbered ownership and disposition of private property. These writings of the late 1820s—in the deployment of historical data and narrative, the wealth of allusion, the careful argument, the complex and adamantine prose style—preview the writing of Alamán the historian as well as his political turn toward the right from his stance as a moderate republican while he occupied his first ministries. One is thus prompted to speculate that Lucas Alamán became the great historian he was at least in part because of his early linkage with the Marquesado del Valle, or at the very least that his interest in history and his involvement with the Cortés heir and his properties were mutually nourishing.

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This public battle was occasioned by the introduction of a measure in the lower house of the congress by Deputy Matías Quintana on 27 April 1827 proposing that a special committee be appointed as quickly as possible to recommend whether or not the properties “donated” to Fernando Cortés and inherited by his descendant ought to be returned to the nation. There were several problematic terms in the proposal. In what sense did the nation hold some primitive or residual claim on properties granted within its present limits by the Spanish monarchs? There followed from this the questions of whether the properties were to be returned to it, and what the nature of the donations or grants made to Fernando Cortés was. The underlying idea of the proposed legislation was that the Cortés holdings in Mexico were in effect illegal and therefore subject to expropriation by the national government. They had originated in now-invalid feudal grants by the Spanish king, grants that independent republican Mexico had repudiated by the very fact of its existence. Alamán asserted that none of the rents presently being collected on properties held by the Marquesado were based on seigneurial rights, but only on the private possession of real property owned as any other individual might own it. Beginning with the proposition that questions about the legitimacy of the Cortés holdings should properly be settled in the courts since they did not fall within the purview of the congress, he also declared that the constitution did not allow the enactment of retroactive laws on such issues. He added that the congress’s aim of depriving an individual of his private property was not only illegal under the Mexican constitution but also at odds with universal social practice “[since] property was the basis of all societies, and the object of government to secure it, and [insure] respect for it, as one of the rights of man consecrated by the fundamental laws of all civilized peoples, whatever the form of the state. . . . The right to property is nothing more than the right of every individual to possess peacefully and under guarantee of authority the properties acquired according to the laws prevailing at the time the acquisition was made.” Alamán’s reference to the “laws prevailing at the time the acquisition was made” was intended to discredit the idea aired in the congressional debates and in the public sphere more generally that because the conquest of the Aztec realm by Cortés had in effect been an illegal, violent, and predatory act of military usurpation, and since Mexico had repudiated the suzerainty of the Spanish monarch by gaining its independence, grants made by the Spanish kings no longer enjoyed validity. Alamán’s argument related to the immediate issue of the Marquesado holdings and the state’s right to sequester them

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or expropriate them outright and furthermore to his vision of the relationship between the Spanish past and the Mexican present.36 Alamán went on to argue that all the rural estates and urban real property in the country found their origins in colonial grants from the kings of Spain or their viceroys. It would therefore be unjust and illegal to question the basis of the duque’s properties in this way unless the legitimacy of all holdings that came into being through the same mechanism were similarly questioned: “Should the principle be granted that all the properties having their origin in the said grants are null and should revert to the nation, it would be necessary to sweep off its very foundations the right to property among us, and thus to cause a general dispossession of all present proprietors. . . . In Mexico as in Peru, all that exists in the present order of things recognizes its origin in the conquest.” Once the absolute respect for private property had been compromised, in other words, society would find itself on the slippery slope of anarchy. His view of historical processes and his absolute fidelity to a natural law interpretation of the right to private property was one of the enduring hallmarks of his activities as a public man. His exposition went on to problematize the concept of the nation as the residual repository of the property rights in question: “Is the present [Mexican] nation, perhaps, that which was despoiled by the conquistadors? Is it not composed of the descendants of the same conquerors amalgamated [amalgamados] with the conquered? We need do no more than cast a glance around us—our religion, our language, our clothing, the variety of color and features of our population, our customs: everything, everything tells us that we are not the nation despoiled by the Spaniards, but a new nation in which everything is recognized as beginning in that same conquest.” If the existing Mexican nation was not despoiled by the conquerors, therefore, but was in part their heir, on what basis could it demand restitution? “If we claim to trace [backward] the chain of peoples who have successively gained domination over these regions, what series of successive usurpations would we not discover, and who could pretend to an incontestable right to restitution? In effect, the Mexicans [i.e., the Aztecs] despoiled by the Spaniards had in their turn despoiled settled peoples they had encountered, these the ones that preceded them, and these yet others who had possessed the land before them.” Alamán went on to assert that private property in all nations originated in the same primordial event as in Mexico, namely, conquest, and that these property regimes were not to be interfered with despite the eras of political instability through which nations ineluctably pass:

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Thus it is that in England, despite the fact that properties proceed in their majority from grants made by William the Conqueror, their owners have been left in the peaceful enjoyment of their [lands], as much under the Republic and Protectorate as during the frequent changes in [ruling] dynasty, and especially during the present happy epoch of law, security, and liberty. In the French Revolution, no one was deprived of their property because of its evil origins. Yes, feudal rights and taxes were suppressed, a law was enacted depriving of their properties those who left the Republic because of their opposition to its institutions, and the penalty of confiscation was imposed, but no inquiry was ever made as to whether these properties originated in grants made by the Frankish kings to those who aided in the conquest of the Gauls, nor if they originated in properties confiscated from Huguenots or Protestants expelled when the Edict of Nantes was revoked. In this discussion of the duke’s rights are three emergent aspects of Alamán’s thought that were to characterize his writing and public pronouncements in years to some. First, there was the absolute defense from the natural rights perspective of private property as the bulwark of social order and the basis of both individual and national economic well-being. Second, there was the tone of Burkean conservatism that viewed the rational observance of historical precedent as essential to the social constitution. The core of this position was that established institutions were not to be meddled with in the service of passing political fashion. Finally, the view of the nation expressed here sees it neither as the inevitable product of a teleological process toward which all of history was tending nor as the best of all possible polities. Rather, the nation was a complex reality that had come about under specific historical circumstances, some of them contingent, some of them inevitable in an almost biological sense. Considering what an ardent nationalist Alamán was to be for all his life as political actor, public intellectual, and historian, this position located him on a rather slippery slope. In demystifying the nation he took on the burden of unrelenting rationalism at the dawn of the Age of Romanticism. In a slight shift in his argument, Alamán asserted that from the beginning of the Marquesado it was impossible to distinguish what part originated in donations from the Spanish king and what from completely legitimate, private entrepreneurial activities. He concluded by asserting that by 1827 there were few holdings left that had originated in grants from Emperor Charles V and that in any case the income realized from them was risible. The Hacienda

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de Atlacomulco in the Cuernavaca area, by far the most important of all the landed properties, grew out of a number of purchases and from protracted judicial suits over ownership rights and boundaries. It had not been consolidated until nearly the end of the seventeenth century and had nothing to do with royal grants. Nor had the urban properties of the Marquesado originated in royal grants, and moreover most of them were committed to the support of the Hospital de Jesús, a pious establishment of great public benefit. According to Lucas Alamán, therefore, the Marquesado did not possess a fraction of the wealth often attributed to it in the aggregate. Marquesado properties did not surpass “an ordinary private fortune inferior to that of other hacendados in this same republic.” The general heating up of the political atmosphere over the ownership of property by nonresident foreigners in general and the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone in particular, the congressional debates, and incendiary stories in the press—all written in bad faith, according to don Lucas—were inducing renters and mortgagees not to pay their outstanding debts to the estate. These people hoped, Alamán speculated, that the properties would be expropriated by the national government, thus relieving them of their obligations.37 Signs of impending disaster were to be seen on all sides. Lucas Alamán continued to advise the duke that the best strategy for the Marquesado was to keep a low public profile. This public relations campaign for a time drew in even one of the greatest polymaths and intellectuals of the age, Baron Alexander von Humboldt. About the time these debates were taking place in the Chamber of Deputies, Alamán was worrying about how the public exposure of Fernando Cortés’s testament might compromise the situation of Pignatelli’s properties. In the spring of 1827 he wrote to the duque that Humboldt planned to insert in a new edition of his Ensayo político a copy of Cortés’s testament. Alamán had urged Humboldt not to do this and had even offered to compensate the German sage for any printing costs entailed in the document’s withdrawal.38 That Alamán should go to such lengths to suppress the publication of a document he felt would compromise the position of the Marquesado and that he would implicitly even hint obliquely to threaten Humboldt by invoking the illegality of bringing the testament to light without the duke’s express permission bespeaks his desperate view of the situation at that moment as well as his confidence that the weight of his name and his friendship with the older man could prevail. Alamán advised that an explicit counterattack to liberal “calumnies” would only further inflame the situation. One detects at this time, however, in his parallel correspondence with Terranova y Monteleone

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and the English merchant bankers Frederick Huth and Sons his effort to manage the former’s anxiety, while he gave the latter a more unvarnished version. To his correspondent in the London firm he remarked that because of the more liberal composition of the new congress there was even less chance of a positive outcome for the Marquesado regarding the legislation under debate.39 Informed of all the continuing threats to his holdings, Terranova y Monteleone wrote to his Mexican agent, with a rare show of sardonic humor: “It seems the entire happiness of the Mexican Empire [sic] depends upon my properties, and that only in them can the necessary resources be found to cure the ills Mexico is suffering, since in any situation thought turns only to them.” The proposals against the Marquesado in the national congress were advancing only slowly, but the legislature in the State of Mexico, in which the Hacienda de Atlacomulco was located, had passed a law imposing surtaxes on properties owned by foreigners.

The Sequestrations of the 1830s Just before another political onslaught by Lorenzo de Zavala against the duque’s holdings late in 1832, Alamán, in one of the most apocalyptic of his statements to Terranova, got around to addressing his patron’s plaintive comments on the rule of law in all civilized societies as a protection of private property. He offered in his letter to Terranova y Monteleone a clear critique of what might be called Mexican political culture of the early republican age. The critique centered on the noxious effects on public life of political factions, on the arbitrary and unpredictable swings in governance and the rule of law that factionalism produced, and on Alamán’s conviction that wide popular participation in politics, especially in electoral life, was conducive to these wild oscillations. For if power were sufficiently concentrated in the state and the play of factional competition and conflict thus reduced, if not eliminated, to that degree the likelihood of maintaining political and economic stability would increase. This model was inherently incompatible with the concept of liberal citizenship and all it entailed—a wide franchise, frequent elections, a free press, guaranteed individual rights: democracy within a republican framework, in other words. The question arises here as to whether Alamán’s impulse toward centralized forms of power and authority grew out of strictly practical considerations or was ideologically based. This is not to say he lacked strongly ideological convictions or the full repertoire of social prejudices against the ignorance, suggestibility, and political malleability of the common

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people. And it may well be that in the end little distinction can or should be drawn between an ideological conservative and a practical one. Conservatism in the sense of a determination to preserve the status quo, after all, was inherently a defensive stance based in existing social realities and dedicated to taking concrete actions to preserve them. But by my reading Alamán was first and foremost a practical man in politics, in business, even in the writing of history, a man who wanted to get things done with as little clamor and misspent energy as possible. In this light his affinity for Edmund Burke is quite understandable. The most revealing passage in his long letter of late 1832 to the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone sets forth his views on political factionalism and the rule of law: You are proceeding here [in citing the universal rule of law] on a very mistaken assumption. . . . This principle [that laws will be objectively applied no matter what party is in power] applied to the circumstances of this country is completely false, because here the laws are completely silenced by the voice of faction. Those laws existed when the debtors of Toluca, in order not to pay [what was due on] their mortgages, petitioned congress to despoil you of your property on the grounds that it had originated in the conquest. Those same laws protective of property existed when various congressmen proposed expropriation. . . . The laws protected the persons and property of the Spaniards [when] the former were expelled and the latter confiscated. . . . There is no trust to be placed in the authority of the laws. They [the laws] had recovered some vigor in the years 1830 and 1831 [emphasis added], but a new revolution has arrived to reverse all that work, so that today the fate of the nation and of individuals depends on the caprice of a junta of generals; and shortly we shall again have congresses composed of the most ignorant and immoral [men of] the country, in which there will be enacted laws for expropriation or any other form of error proposed by any of these rogues by disposition of the [Masonic] lodge to which he belongs, and agreed to by a majority of sans-culottes. The struggle over the Marquesado holdings, cut short in 1830 by the fall of Vicente Guerrero, was renewed in 1833 by Lorenzo de Zavala, an implacable foe of the ducal establishment in Mexico, and returned to the governorship of the State of Mexico. The Hacienda de Atlacomulco and the Marquesado properties in Toluca—both in the State of Mexico since the State of Morelos would

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not be created for another thirty-five years or so—were seized by order of Zavala, who had returned to the governorship as Manuel Gómez Pedraza returned to the short-lived presidency to which he had been elected in 1828. With the change in regime the national congress was dissolved, new elections were called, and many of the liberal officials in the states were restored to the positions they had occupied in 1829. In writing to his aristocratic Neapolitan correspondent of the election of Santa Anna as president later that winter Alamán described the new national congress and state legislatures as composed of “the most extreme [exaltados] men of the victorious party.” Conversations with Governor Zavala regarding the return of the properties had achieved nothing, while Zavala’s ideas about the breakup and redistribution of large properties Alamán described as “the most extravagant and destructive, [which even] in the French Convention of 1792 would have appeared extreme.” A key element for both sides in this dispute was the testament of Fernando Cortés. Alamán was asked in a peremptory manner by the minister of exterior and interior relations in the interim Gómez Farías government to produce this ancient document. When he claimed not to have it he was called a liar by the minister, who then revealed to him that the government already had a copy anyway.40 This involvement on the part of the central government indicates that it was working in concert with or at least parallel to Zavala in the State of Mexico in anticipation of the renewed congressional attack on the Marquesado predicted by the apoderado. Alamán anticipated no remedy from the State of Mexico legislature given that Zavala had filled it, in his words, with “extremely ignorant people . . . who will serve as his instrument to carry out by this means everything he wants.”41 Lorenzo de Zavala was quick to reply to a petition from Alamán in March 1833 demanding disembargo of the duke’s holdings, on 4 March 1833 writing two articles in the Mexico City newspaper El Fénix de la Libertad. He recounted the initial introduction of the question of the Cortés holdings in the national congress by deputies Manuel Cañedo and Matías Quintana in January 1828 and Alamán’s powerful rebuttal before congress of the arguments in favor of sequestration. Governor Zavala argued that raisons d’état and the contingencies of volatile Mexican political life trumped the absolute sanctity of private property rights. This argument might appear to be an irony given our traditional view of nineteenth-century liberalism as the ideological bastion of an aspiring bourgeoisie to which private property, free markets, and a retraction of the state from economic life were central articles of faith—but it really was not. What was in play here was the idea that political interventions might kick-

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start a shift in the concentration of landed property, especially away from the old landowning aristocracy, the Church, and indigenous peasant communities into the hands of more productive groups, thereby effecting a sort of primitive redistribution of capital through political means. Any claims to the historically transcendent priority of private property, therefore, were to be considered socially and politically contingent. This was a historical conjuncture, in other words, intended to consummate the uncompleted transition begun by the Bourbon Reforms of the late eighteenth century, whose étatiste, productivist rhetoric the liberals echoed. The situation was rife with ironies but not necessarily where one might expect to find them. When in power and pressed by circumstances, both liberals and conservatives proved willing to impose forced loans on wealthy private citizens, confiscatory taxes, and other emergency measures. That elements of political ideology such as the right to private property were not present in pristine, undiluted forms in this period has made the political life of the early republic hard to categorize and liberalism and conservatism hard to pin down relative to each other. In the first of his articles Zavala wrote that when he took over the governorship the State of Mexico was plagued by violence and factional conflict, its coffers empty. He therefore felt amply justified in appropriating income from the Marquesado holdings for public purposes. Zavala went on to write that the end had justified the means since depriving the liberals’ enemies of the economic resources to sustain their cause had insured the triumph of a “republic under paternal governments” that guaranteed individual rights and subdued the terror under which citizens had lived. In a rhetorical flourish, Governor Zavala reminded his readers that “any element of aristocratic [privilege] is repellant.” The continued existence of any properties held in entail was therefore illegal.42 Zavala went on in his essay to develop the idea that the good of the community takes priority over the absolute right to private property. He added that by permanent, centuries-long foreign residence the duke’s family had in essence abandoned Mexico except for the Marquesado properties, thereby forfeiting any right to hold property there. Lorenzo de Zavala’s disquisition deployed cool reasoning and warm political rhetoric. But in a second article in the same newspaper on the same day he attacked Lucas Alamán as a public figure, implicitly impugning his character in heated words. In scarcely veiled terms he wrote of the “vipers” whose ardent desire was to devastate the republic, in the next breath assailing “the Alamáns and [allies]” who hid their corrupt cause under the “standard of religion.” He wrote of state legislatures during the Bustamante government “not voted into

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office” but handpicked by “the agents of the ministry ruled by the servant of the Duke of Monteleone,” hinting at conspiracies of dark political forces in the “bloody hands of the Alamáns,” who were constantly attacking Zavala himself with “sarcasm and calumny.” Of these, chief among them the apoderado of the duque, he concluded: “The eyes of such men take pleasure only in misery and bloodshed: they want the people to remain submerged in ignorance in order to tyrannize them at their whim, to enrich themselves with the sweat of the poor.”43 This sort of rhetoric was to follow Lucas Alamán for the rest of his life and even well beyond his death into modern interpretations of the period and his career. As Zavala’s references make clear, Alamán’s long involvement with Pignatelli’s affairs was only one item in the bill of particulars condemning him in the eyes of patriotic Mexicans. His hypocrisy as a defender of religion, his tyrannous propensities while in power, his cupidity and lack of sympathy for the mass of the Mexican people, and above all his complicity in the death of Vicente Guerrero—all these, with the later addition of his monarchist leanings, were to make up the standard version of Alamán’s character and public persona. There matters stood in the spring of 1833, with the Hacienda de Atlacomulco and other Cortés properties in the hands of the State of Mexico government, while the Marquesado and Alamán himself continued in a sort of political limbo through the early and midsummer. Events at the national level meanwhile swirled in their typically unpredictable way. First they surged against the interests of Alamán and the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone during a brief liberal ascendancy, then tided after some time in their favor as conservative tendencies reasserted themselves. At the end of March 1833 Santa Anna replaced Gómez Pedraza in the presidency, with the radical liberal Valentín Gómez Farías as his vice president. During this time Alamán, who remained in hiding in Mexico City, had begun to write the unpublished fragment of a personal memoir I have analyzed. He emerged from hiding in the late spring of 1834 to face a trial before the Cámara de Diputados for his complicity in Guerrero’s murder and to defend himself in the court of public opinion with a long pamphlet on his role in the Bustamante government. Responding to the news that Alamán had emerged from hiding in the spring of 1834, the duque, in one of his oscillations back toward the fulsome praise of his apoderado (sentiments that he insisted would remain “constant forever”), expressed his enormous satisfaction at Alamán’s reappearance in public.44 In the meantime, Lorenzo de Zavala had left the governorship of the State of Mexico in the fall of 1833 to take up a seat in the national congress and then the Mexican ambassadorship to Paris.

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By the end of 1834, with the sympathetic intervention of President Santa Anna, the Marquesado had again come fully into possession of all its recently disembargoed properties in the State of Mexico and efforts were under way to clear up pending problems with yet other holdings elsewhere. A new national congress was about to sit, which would assent officially to the total restitution of the Cortés properties by February of 1835. Alamán regarded this happy circumstance, however, as entirely contingent on the short-term political situation.45 Somewhat earlier he remarked rather dolefully of himself in a letter to the duque that while he would soon be absolved of complicity in the Guerrero murder, he was “very resolved never again to become involved in public [affairs], which have brought me nothing but misfortunes.”46 In keeping with this resolution, even while awaiting final resolution of his trial before congress in the early months of 1835, he declined appointment as ambassador to France (to replace Zavala), partly because of understandable resistance from his family. In subsequent years Alamán would energetically pursue government compensation for the damages to the ex-Marquesado properties and the foregone income sacrificed to the sequestration, but to no avail. If history indeed repeats itself as farce, as Marx famously observed, neither Alamán nor Terranova would have laughed very hard when the Hacienda de Atlacomulco was seized yet again by the State of Mexico during the early months of the Mexican–American War, probably in the autumn of 1846. At this point, if not before, the Spanish chief of mission in Mexico (1844–47), Salvador Bermúdez de Castro, involved himself in the protection of Terranova’s holdings by exerting pressure on the national government through contacts with the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations to lift the embargo on Atlacomulco. Alamán shared with the Spanish diplomat a deep political conservatism as well as literary talent and ambitions, which made for a good working relationship between the two men. The association was not to the benefit of Alamán’s subsequent political reputation, however, inasmuch as during these years the two became embroiled in a monarchist conspiracy to put Mexico back into the hands of the Bourbon dynasty. Bermúdez even offered to transfer Cortés’s bones secretly to Spain for reburial, but neither Pignatelli nor his distinguished agent thought the time right. The embargo on Atlacomulco was lifted by early February 1847. Lucas Alamán’s efforts to protect the properties of the conquistador’s heirs against what he viewed as the unjustified and politically dangerous depredations of the Mexican state, to manage optimally the remains of the Marquesado del Valle, and to burnish the reputation of Fernando Cortés took many forms during the nearly three decades he served the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone. One

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of the most powerful forms, and at the same time one of the most diffuse, was his treatment of the colonial regime in his magisterial history of the independence wars, the Historia de Méjico (five volumes, 1848–52), and in other historical writings. Yet one should not discount the importance of his historical work as a large-scale public relations project intended to sway general opinion away from further governmental molestations of the Marquesado holdings. This is by no means to imply that Lucas Alamán was the hired pen of a grasping Italian magnate, a sort of Mexican Grub Street hack. He wrote to Terranova y Monteleone that his interpretation of Cortés’s role in the conquest of Mexico enjoyed success in pulling public opinion toward the inviolability of the Marquesado and therefore exerted pressure on other opinion makers and the political class. The author of the Historia de Méjico seems genuinely to have been convinced that he had successfully begun to rehabilitate the colonial regime in the eyes of his countrymen and that this redemptive exercise had benefited the duque. On the eve of Antonio López de Santa Anna’s resumption of the presidency in April 1853 little had changed in the relationship with the duke except that Alamán’s health was visibly and irreversibly failing. “I can no longer work at night,” he wrote, complaining of lung trouble, the emphysema that would contribute to his death a few weeks later. Alamán commented about the apparent hopelessness of the duke’s financial claims against the Mexican government: “It is not enough to be right, or even to be able to prove it, without recurring to other means [i.e., bribery] in a time when nothing is accomplished without money, and so much more so now that General Santa Anna is returning to the government. He is a man who does not move without [being paid] money. I think it necessary that you give me wide authorization [to pay bribes] because this is the way things get done in this virtuous republican government.” Just two weeks or so before Alamán’s death, while he was principal minister in the government of the man he had sometimes reviled but had nonetheless invited to return to Mexico to take up the reins of power, Pignatelli wrote in a letter of the “base trivialities” of the Mexican government in refusing to recognize a large sovereign debt to Spain in which his own claims were now ensnared. And there matters stood when Lucas Alamán died on 2 June 1853.

Making the Remnant Pay Alamán, members of his administrative staff, a number of commissioned agents in the provinces, and eventually his own son Juan Bautista spent an enormous amount of time over the years in the collection of money owed to

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the duke in the form of censos (mortgages) and rents. Many of these encumbrances originated well back in the colonial period, looked ancient, and therefore attracted unfavorable comment as being remnants of monarchy, Spanish conquest, and seigneurial privilege. In the cases of both censos and ordinary property rentals, Alamán’s collection policy was to tread lightly so as not to rock the boat of public and political opinion. For my purposes the property rentals are the more interesting of the two sources of income, since they brought Alamán and the Marquesado into direct confrontation with some of the important political figures of the period. The Hospital de Jesús was supported principally by rental income from urban property in Mexico City, although this income stream was kept distinct from that going to the duke. Getting the renters to pay on time or getting them to pay the back rents once they had fallen behind was no less a headache over the years than keeping current with the censos. Interestingly, Lucas Alamán himself seems to have written virtually all of the letters to errant renters; records from the early 1830s, for example, show Alamán writing scores and scores of these dunning notes in his own hand.47 The collection of current rents and arrears on urban properties owned by the Marquesado but leased to private individuals brought Lucas Alamán face to face in potentially awkward situations with a number of prominent public figures. Most of the houses were in the central part of Mexico City, on the more fashionable streets nearest the Sagrario parish, the cathedral, presidential palace, and other stone icons of power. The broader significance of this landlord / renter relationship is to highlight the fact that the Mexican political and social nation was quite diminutive, embracing probably a couple thousand people at most, the largest part of those in Mexico City and others scattered throughout the provinces. This group was certainly gendered exclusively masculine in the sphere of politics, but the social world of such people included spouses and families as well. The much-talked-of category of the hombres de bien encapsulates such people in a general way, as do concepts of economic solidity, even wealth, political influence, and social networking, although none of them captures it entirely. The propinquities of the urban environment—spatial, economic, cultural, and political—made for interaction, if not intimacy or friendship, among people who on other grounds might have avoided each other. They lived in the same neighborhoods, probably crossed paths with relative frequency, and would have attended at least some of the same political, social, and ceremonial functions.

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One of the first lease agreements Alamán made on behalf of the Hospital de Jesús was very probably with doña Josefa Sánchez, the widow of the last viceroy of Mexico, the Spanish military man Juan O’Donojú. She remained behind in Mexico after her husband’s sudden death from pleurisy—or, if one prefers, from poison administered by agents of Agustín de Iturbide, as Carlos María de Bustamante alleged—in the fall of 1821. The lease of a house at Calle de Tacuba no. 19, in a fashionable neighborhood, was for eight hundred pesos annually; according to the 5 percent rule of thumb, the value of the house would therefore have been something like sixteen thousand pesos. By 1832, however, doña Josefa was apparently having considerable difficulty coming up with the rent and had fallen into arrears. The widow O’Donojú deployed all sorts of excuses, including the long nonpayment of a government pension, saying that she had had to pawn her jewelry at the Montepío (the government pawnshop), that her servants had not received their wages, and so forth. What action the duke’s apoderado took in this case is not recorded, but in other instances he was inclined to leniency and the granting of extensions only so far.48 Yet other leases of properties belonging either to the Marquesado or to the Hospital de Jesús brought Alamán into business contact with prominent politicians. One of them was the military politician and former president Manuel Gómez Pedraza, in 1841 renting a house in Tacuba at nine hundred pesos a year. A case of rent arrears messier than some but in the end resolved in a reasonably amicable fashion was that of Miguel Lerdo de Tejada (1812– 61), the author of the famous Ley Lerdo (the 1856 law disamortizing communally held lands, among other measures) and elder brother of Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada (1823–89), liberal politician, treasury secretary under President Ignacio Comonfort, and later president. The estate that José Pignatelli de Aragón, Duque de Terranova, Duque de Monteleone, and Fourteenth Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca, had inherited from his father Diego in 1818 he eventually passed on at his death in 1859 to his son, another Diego, still a minor in the mid-1830s.49 While titles of nobility and the entailment of estates were still legal in Italy and Spain during all this time, they were no longer so recognized in Mexico. The real reason for disentailment had less to do with the mechanics of inheritance than with justified fears on the part of Terranova, fears which Lucas Alamán shared and even encouraged, about the uncertain economic and political conditions endemic to Mexico during most of the three decades of the men’s relationship. So it is certainly no coincidence that the initiative to liquidate as much of the property as possible took shape at almost exactly the same moment that the government embargo of 1833–35 was offi-

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cially lifted, on 24 April 1835. The revolucionarios, as Pignatelli frequently referred to Mexican liberals—Alamán tended to prefer the label jacobinos—could not sequester or expropriate what they could not lay their hands on; so if the Marquesado properties were converted to cash and the cash shipped to Palermo, from the duke’s point of view the problem would be solved. The way sales would work Alamán illustrated with the actual sale of a house on the corner of Calle de Tacuba and Calle de San José del Real that he had made to Manuel Diez de Bonilla, serving at the time as minister of interior and exterior relations. Capitalized at the 5 percent rate, with an annual rental payment of 1,244 pesos, the house was valued at 24,800 pesos, although Bonilla ended up paying 30,000 pesos for it. At 3 percent commission, Alamán netted 900 pesos from the transaction, a not-insignificant sum. By early 1836, when his apoderado was able to tell him that at least four houses had been sold, the duke expressed enormous relief that the liquidation was rolling along. The difficulty, messiness, and unpleasantness of selling houses in Mexico that Alamán anticipated and so often remarked on was not slow in materializing. Indicative of the problematic process of these sales was that of a house occupied as a renter by the sister of Antonio López de Santa Anna, who was out of the president’s chair at the time. Since this sister is referred to in the documents only as the sister of Santa Anna or as “señora,” definitely identifying her is impossible, but the most likely candidate among his four living sisters was Francisca López de Santa Anna, thrice-married and politically active on behalf of her brother. The sale of the house by Alamán to an unnamed party late in 1835 prompted “many very sharp exchanges to arrange with her the transfer [to the new owner].” By the following spring the situation had deteriorated even further, although the difficulties for sellers of rental properties in dislodging occupants was common to other landlords as well: This is exactly what is happening to me with the sister of General Santa Anna, who occupies one of the best houses [you own]. She pays nothing in rent, and she is taking as much time as she wants to vacate the house. [The house] was sold, and despite everything [I have done] there is no way to make her leave. We will end by having to rescind the sale contract and having to pay damages and costs to the purchaser. The lady will end up with the house since she has had the audacity to say that you should give it to her [as a gift] in return for the services her brother has done you, and that she understood the matter in this way.

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By the late summer of 1836 Alamán wrote that the situation with Santa Anna’s sister had become “scandalous, and I am certain that he does not approve in the slightest what she is doing because it is not worthy of a person of quality.”50 In some cases the houses were sold by Alamán to the renter-occupiers, in others to third parties. The properties sold were located in the best areas of the city center, and many of the purchasers were members of the most socially and politically prominent families of the time: not only Manuel Diez de Bonilla but also those bearing the names Escandón, Cortina, Pérez de Castro, and Ortiz de Montellano, among others. From October 1835 to November 1837 Alamán sold fourteen houses and two rural properties, for a total value of 370,000 pesos. Alamán’s commission on these sales, at 3 percent, would have amounted to over 11,000 pesos, nearly twice his yearly income of 6,000 pesos when he had been chief minister in the republican governments of the early to mid-1820s and from 1830 to 1832. Over and above the endemic political instability of the time—a sort of low-level, normal noise and a generalized feeling of apprehension and nervousness about what might be around the corner; and chronically bad economic conditions, such as the lack of capital and the circulation of devalued copper coinage—the effects of specific political events had an impact on the pace at which sales could proceed and the prices that could be obtained. After the spasm of sales in the later 1830s the liquidation of the Marquesado slowed considerably but continued in a desultory manner into the 1840s. In 1849, with his last, small remission to Palermo of funds from the sales, Alamán wrote that what remained to collect was “very little and very uncertain” and hardly worth the cost in time, bad press, and legal fees.51

Going Through the Mill at Atlacomulco Lucas Alamán’s chronic health problems and the restorative power of his extended winter visits to the Hacienda de San Antonio Atlacomulco led him to develop a strong personal connection to the place over and above the concerns of his official position at the helm of the Marquesado administration. Over the years he certainly invested much more effort in bringing the estate back to profitability, improving it, and making decisions about day-to-day activities there than he did on any other aspect of the Marquesado holdings. His most intense direct involvement was probably during the five years or so between the end of the Mexican–American War and his death in 1853. As was true of many Mexicans of his background, from a tender age he was certainly no

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stranger to country life. Family members and friends owned rural estates, and excursions into the countryside could not have been rare occurrences. In addition, many families among the Mexican elite typically sought to diversify their holdings through the acquisition of rural estates. Alamán possessed his own hacienda in the Celaya area from the mid-1820s, experimenting with the introduction of new crops and techniques as an improving landlord, and he may well have regarded the Atlacomulco estate as another laboratory for such innovations. Although Alamán envisioned the country’s long-term future as advancing along the path of industrialization, he realized the essential role large-scale agriculture must play in this development as a domestic source of food and raw materials. What is more, the rural pursuits of humble folk supported a pool of reserve labor. The duties Alamán had thrust upon him in the ultimate supervision of the estate were many, and those he took on himself were many more, since he was loath to assign them to anyone else. Pignatelli generally ratified his apoderado’s decisions. In any given year Alamán generated enormous numbers of letters on managerial matters, almost all in his own hand; reviewed all accounts personally; and signed mountains of receipts for all manner of things. His management of Atlacomulco demonstrates the obsessive perfectionism, the enormous command of detail, and the reluctance to delegate tasks that characterized his work as a government minister and as a historian. In the early period of direct management and from 1848 on the experience and aptitude of the on-site manager, the administrador, was crucial to the health and profitability of the estate. Despite the presence of some highly competent managers, however, political and economic circumstances conspired against the prosperity of the hacienda at various moments. For about fifteen years the management of the hacienda was out of Lucas Alamán’s hands while it was successively leased out to several individuals, periods during which Alamán’s involvement with the estate receded considerably. The attempt to sell Atlacomulco did not prosper given the state of the hacienda nearly up to midcentury, so the leases were in lieu of disposing of the hacienda on the market. Alamán wrote to Pignatelli in 1838, for example, “As far as Atlacomulco is concerned, it is a very difficult property to sell. This is true at present of all rural properties here, which are valued little, but especially this one. . . . Its buildings are [in] bad [condition], and [it is in] frequent conflicts with the neighboring pueblos because its boundaries are not well defined. Add[ed] to all this [is] that like other sugar-producing estates it needs for its operation a considerable sum [of cash].”52 This situation prevailed for a number of years,

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or even worsened, so that by end of the Mexican–American war neither potential buyers nor renters were to be found. Lucas Alamán’s decision in the summer of 1847 to resume the management of the hacienda directly on behalf of the Marquesado after so many years seems to have been his alone, prompted in part by the sequestration of the property in 1846–47 by the State of Mexico government in connection with land suits by Indian communities abutting the hacienda. Other factors were Alamán’s continuing failure to find a renter and the chaotic political situation. The embargo was lifted in the winter of 1847, not because any good reasons to do so were offered, wrote Alamán, but “because in these revolutionary governments reason has no part in any [decision], nor is there any attention paid to justice, but everything is done by caprice, because of rivalries and interests of the moment.”53 Always eager to consolidate his position with the latest occupant of the presidential chair, Pignatelli had sent a congratulatory letter to Santa Anna—who occupied the presidency between 20 May and 16 September 1847—via his apoderado and apparently an earlier one to José Joaquín de Herrera, preceded by Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga, preceded by Nicolás Bravo, preceded by Mariano Salas. In a characteristically mordant commentary on Mexican political life, Alamán informed his boss in late October 1847, by which time Santa Anna was out, that the letter should be held back: “Neither the letter for General Santa Anna nor the other for Herrera are worth anything now, and with the rapidity with which revolutions here throw down those who manage to rise, it would be necessary to have an assortment of [such] letters for everyone imaginable, or a blank one [that might be addressed] to [the man] who happened to be in command. But none of these gentlemen are worth much. . . . We will see what is advisable to do according to how things develop, [since] now the [situation] is very unclear.”54 Following the war with the United States and during the American occupation, the real estate properties of the Marquesado were treated quite respectfully by the American officers. They paid visits to the hospital to see the portrait of Fernando Cortés, which “they look upon with veneration” as the second conquerors of Mexico studying the visage of the first, and to look at his burial place, his weapons, and his signature on documents. Alamán’s fears for Atlacomulco were assuaged when the American brigadier general Caleb Cushing—“with whom I have closer relations than with the other [American officers],” he wrote—stationed in San Ángel, enjoined the colonel in charge of troops sent to Cuernavaca not to molest the property. In order to travel to Atlacomulco to oversee operations there, he got a letter of safe conduct from

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Winfield Scott, “imposing the death penalty (and in this business of punishments, they [the Americans] apply the penalties better than [they themselves] give out) on whoever molests or damages in the least the ‘estate of Cortés,’ accompanying this order with very flattering compliments for you [i.e., Pignatelli] and me.” Anticipating the three hundredth anniversary of Cortés’s death on 3 December 1847, Alamán had earlier asked the rhetorical question, “Who would have thought [in the time of Cortés] that three centuries after the death of the great Conqueror, the city he sacked to its foundations would be occupied by the army of a nation that at that time did not have its first beginnings?”55 Alamán’s efforts to turn a handsome profit on Atlacomulco, however, could have availed little had not market conditions at this time of revival (1849–50) of the hacienda’s fortunes under his direct stewardship fortuitously expanded to absorb the huge quantities of sugar the hacienda was producing. The California Gold Rush supplied this market from as early as 1849, although Alamán thought the demand from the north would slacken eventually.56 One aspect of Atlacomulco’s administration over which Alamán himself exercised total control was that of technological innovation. The impulse for it, if not unique to Alamán, was typical of a pattern of interest in modern technologies that always characterized him. Moreover, his experience with innovations on the hacienda echoed his ambitions and problems with the application of foreign mining technology in the late 1820s. These efforts revealed much about the economic environment of his era and the limits of modernization in Mexico up to the late nineteenth century. He was thinking of technological innovations for the hacienda in the later 1820s—very seriously in the areas of distilling and coffee production, for example, as well as the introduction of higher-yielding types of sugar cane originating in Cuba and Tahiti. If not exactly a technological innovation in itself, the building of a distillery to process into aguardiente the large quantities of molasses (miel) produced as a by-product of sugar refining was in the apoderado’s mind since the mid-1820s. This was displaced, however, by other, more pressing matters on the hacienda and resurfaced periodically over the next twenty-five years or so. It took a very long time to get up and running, but the distillery project became successful with the importation of US-manufactured distilling equipment.57 A few months before his death in June 1853 Alamán reported that “everything has turned out so beautifully, and I can even say magnificently, that it attracts the attention of everyone who sees it.”58 English plows replaced old-style Mexican ones to very good effect, but the experiments with new cane varieties had mixed success.

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Milling and refining techniques for sugar were stubbornly resistant to change, however, until much later. In Lucas Alamán’s time commercial agriculture was a risky, insecure undertaking that at best furnished only moderate wealth for proprietors. Alamán battled against a number of specific reverses and chronic problems in his overall management of the Hacienda de Atlacomulco. These included the weather, access to water, incipient soil exhaustion, fluctuations in consumer and capital markets, the recalcitrance of technological innovations, and the availability and tractability of labor. Some of what we might call externalities he and his administrators could control or at least palliate, others not. Among the most bothersome of the latter, from Alamán’s perspective, were land suits brought by neighboring indigenous communities and banditry. These two hindrances were not only nuisances but could also produce mortal outcomes depending on the degree of violence involved. Both affected the security of the estate. Litigation over land imperiled potential sale of the property and its control over productive resources, while banditry disrupted its daily operations, possibly affecting its capital stock and endangering the lives of personnel.

The Personal Relationship In all the hundreds of letters I have seen directed to Lucas Alamán by the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone relating to the management of the former Marquesado holdings in Mexico, only very rarely did the duke express the least interest in these properties for reasons other than their actual or potential value as sources of income. The one or two occasions when he did give voice to any sentimental attachment to his inheritance or pride in it were focused on the Hacienda de Atlacomulco when Alamán sent him either a daguerreotype or painting of the estate. Even then one senses that he viewed the images in the way the seller of a house today might regard a glossy pamphlet produced by a real estate agent. He had never set foot in the country, while the perennial political instability there threatened his ownership and the value of the holdings at every turn. He had a large ducal establishment to maintain in Palermo at decent levels of aristocratic decorum. Whether Terranova managed his income prudently at home or what other sources of income he had in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies or elsewhere is unknown. But his constant demand for regular remittances of funds—now friendly and muted, now aggressive and shrill—started in 1825, when Alamán took over the management of his affairs in Mexico and continued in that office for the next thirty years. The

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owner’s badgering set up a tension between Alamán and his principal that played out in the apoderado’s efforts to satisfy the duke’s insistent importunings while at the same time pursuing a prudent course of action in Mexico. For example, Alamán consistently urged Terranova to be cautious about initiating legal action against errant renters or mortgagees so as not to rock the public relations boat by attracting attention to the ex-Marquesado and the putatively feudal holdings so antithetical to republican sensibilities. By the same token, the apoderado counseled against selling properties at bargain basement prices to deepen the duke’s income stream in the short term. Neither did he encourage pushing the sugar cane harvest at Atlacomulco ahead of its cycle of maturity, when a bit of patience might well bring improved economic and political conditions and with them increasing property values and sugar prices. On the other hand, the two men did develop a friendship of sorts through three decades of their epistolary exchanges. In a letter of 1851 acknowledging the duke’s notice that a shipment of coffee beans and cigars Alamán had sent had at last arrived safely in Palermo, in an uncharacteristic intrusion into the ducal household Alamán allowed himself to let the nobleman know he was imagining the pleasure Terranova must be taking in enjoying the produce of his Hacienda de Atlacomulco: “You will have been able to drink a cup of excellent Atlacomulco coffee, [accompanied by] a glass of mezcal from Tequila, and then to smoke a good Havana cigar, all this in the company of my lady the Duchess, whose fondness for the coffee you have told me of on another occasion.”59 It is not a simple matter to characterize the exclusively epistolary relationship between Lucas Alamán and the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone, who never met personally. Their consistent, frequent, robust correspondence was the most extended of the Mexican statesman’s life except for members of his family, especially his wife and two elder sons, of which remarkably few examples survive. His correspondence with the duke was marked by a formal tone, although it was often friendly within respectful limits. On neither side was it intimate or self-revelatory despite its long history, although Alamán did offer the occasional tidbit of information about his family life and personal activities in politics. These were not reciprocated by the duke, however; the closest he ever got to discussing his private life were the occasional references to family members who were asserting what he saw as spurious claims against his fortune, to his son in the context of the division of the entail, or to public occurrences in Sicily, such as outbreaks of epidemic disease. Lucas Alamán

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was naturally reserved and not very self-revealing, but next to the dry letters of the duque—now and then tinged with sarcasm, frustration, or anger but betraying little personal information—Alamán looks positively histrionic. The Mexican statesman’s correspondence over the years with his London agent and banker Frederick Huth, by comparison, was much warmer and more cordial in tone and even breathed a sense of mutual confidence up to a point. What accounted for the degree of asymmetry in the Alamán–Terranova correspondence—whether it was a matter of personalities, discretion on the nobleman’s part for political reasons, the difference in their social stations, or what was essentially an employer–employee relationship—is difficult to say. In his letters to Terranova, filled overwhelmingly with business matters and politics, Alamán occasionally alluded to his personal and family life, especially in the early years of the correspondence. Generally speaking, except for his letters to Huth, his other correspondence lacked such references. He wrote to the duke in 1829, for example, of the death of his father-in-law, Juan José García Castrillo; the illness and death of an Alamán infant child the same year; the death of his nephew Juan Vicente Alamán, the son of his sister María de la Luz, in 1830; the birth of another child to him and Narcisa in the summer of 1830; and the death of another child in 1850, news to which Terranova remarked briefly, “I regret very much the loss you have suffered of one of your children, and I sympathize with your pain.”60 On at least one occasion he opened a window into his domestic arrangements, writing to Terranova in 1850 a brief account of moving his home from the city’s western suburbs to a house at Calle de la Tercera Orden de San Agustín no. 5 in the center of town, not far from the Hospital de Jesús. The house, he explained, had been home to the British legation and was occupied by British ambassador Bakhead (i.e., Charles Bankhead) until his return to Britain: “The tasks of the move are very troublesome, and [also those related to] the examination of my second son, Juan [i.e., Juan Bautista], who has been admitted [to the practice of law] with great approbation by the Supreme Court; as well as the new Mass [to be celebrated by] my eldest son, which will take place next Monday, the 6th [of March]; these have taken up much [of my] time. [But] I will soon be free of these duties and although those [occupations] of the congress are not insignificant, not for that will I lack the time to attend to everything [i.e., the duke’s affairs], although I cannot work as much as before.”61 The apoderado’s loss of a child thus raised scarcely a ripple on the Palermo end of the men’s correspondence; to do him justice, it is not clear what more the duke might have said in an age when the loss of children through early death was still quite common. But whereas Alamán’s activities not directly

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related to the management of the nobleman’s holdings impinged on his own interests, Terranova expressed a lively interest in Alamán’s personal news regarding the duke’s properties. One instance of this was the protracted exchange between them regarding Alamán’s possible emigration with his family during a period of high volatility in Mexico’s public life in the years 1828–29. The atmosphere was one of political conspiracies, a hotly contested presidential election, the ascent of Vicente Guerrero’s so-called Jacobin regime, an active civil war, and the second of two expulsion decrees directed at European Spaniards. Exactly what led Alamán to consider this very serious step is not clear. It may have been for fear he would be swept into the political vortex of the expulsion decrees—many of his friends and associates were of Spanish birth, but he was not—and the rise of the radical political faction led by Guerrero. The most likely destination for the family was Great Britain. What initially set off the Duque de Terranova y Monteleone, before Alamán even broached the possibility of his emigration explicitly, was Alamán’s suggestion that in anticipation of his absence or incapacity he be allowed to settle on a substitute—presumably his half brother Canon Arechederreta—the general power of attorney to manage the Sicilian’s affairs. This drew forth the requested letter of permission from Palermo but along with it a very alarmed response to the request itself, framed in hyperbolic language: I regret above all things the request you have made of me to confer upon you the authority to substitute [someone else to hold] my power [of attorney] in case of necessity. I do not know where this request originates, but I think that perhaps you may want to leave Mexico, or at least leave [aside] the burden of my affairs, [since] perhaps they are incompatible with your own. In the situation in which things stand in relation to my house, this change does not [conduce] to my tranquility, but instead puts me in deep confusion. I again urge my friend [to look after] my most important affairs, and beg my sincere friend to interest himself in so grave a matter. . . . Do not abandon, then, those properties that up until now you have preserved intact!62

Politics All but the last two years of Lucas Alamán’s life were lived before the telegraphic age, initiated in Mexico in a limited way only in 1851, and he died many years before the transatlantic cables were laid (effectively, 1866). The

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only means for transmitting knowledge of domestic or foreign political developments, therefore, were face-to-face conversations or chains of interpersonal transmission, correspondence, and the newspapers. Particularly where his familiarity with foreign political and economic conditions was concerned, much of what he knew came to him through correspondence with people like Frederick Huth or the Hullett Brothers firm in London or with other business associates and friends, chiefly in Europe, above all Terranova. Even after the advent of steam shipping, assuming decent weather and given the time it took for news to cross the Atlantic, information could be two or three months old by the time it reached Alamán in a letter from Europe; the same was true of the foreign newspapers that he presumably read with some regularity. Since he never left Mexico after his return in March 1823, he had no firsthand knowledge of political events or economic conditions outside of Mexico through personal observation or participation. Lucas Alamán rarely if ever offered Terranova extended descriptions or analyses of political events in Mexico. He was much more likely to do this with his London or other foreign correspondents. Part of the reason for his reticence may have been that he tired of the paraphrases of his own letters that the duke tended to offer in answer to his apoderado’s letters as well as the nobleman’s generally bland responses except where immediate interests of his own were concerned. Such self-involvement could not have been an inducement to enter into detailed accounts and deep analyses of domestic politics or personalities. Alamán may also have sought to avoid alarming the Sicilian with his generally gloomy views to such an extent that the nobleman decided to take precipitous actions where his Mexican properties were concerned. So the best policy for Alamán to pursue in his correspondence with Palermo, above all where information about politics was concerned, was to say just enough to appear serious and knowledgeable and to provide the basics but not so much as to keep the duke in a constant state of alarm. To mask this strategy the statesman occasionally invoked the weight of his responsibilities in the government, which prevented him from writing at greater length. The nearly three-decade business and epistolary relationship Lucas Alamán sustained with the duque de Terranova y Monteleone rewarded both men substantially, even if on the Mexican statesman’s end there were also some political costs. The Sicilian nobleman enjoyed the sagacity, discretion, intelligence, management skills, social-political connections, and loyalty of a major figure in the Mexican political landscape. For his part, Alamán reaped economic advantages in the form of salary and commissions—and some unauthorized

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loans—making up a sizable part of his personal income over many years. His supervisory role in the management of the Hospital de Jesús charitable establishment gave him both the appearance and reality of a public beneficence. In the end, however, this distinction was probably outweighed by the negative associations and outright attacks brought on by his canny, very visible connection to a feudal past vehemently rejected by most Mexicans. Beyond these benefits, his involvement with the Cortés properties yielded more than financial and public relations benefits. It comprised a palpable link to a Spanish past, cultural values, and social practices that he valued highly but that had been repudiated by Mexico’s move through independence into nationhood. Alamán, therefore, retained both an intellectual and affective attachment to the ex-Marquesado del Valle, by virtue of which he sought to protect the duke’s Mexican establishment against the predation of the state and the onslaught of liberals. The irony of his position was that during three decades or so he presided over the dismemberment of the estate through disentailment, sale, and attrition. His emotional calculation was probably that if anyone should kill Fernando Cortés’s patrimony, he should be a sympathetic loyalist rather than a hostile adversary.

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12 • An Ordered and Prosperous Republic

“Saving Once More the National Honor” On 23 February 1831 Lucas Alamán wrote to Urbano San Román in Guadalajara. A major printer of liberal convictions, San Román had been a member of the city’s Ayuntamiento and a militia officer. Judging by the tone of the letter the two were on friendly terms: “I have seen with great sorrow that some individuals are [questioning] . . . the legitimacy with which the Vice-President is exercising the executive power. . . . [T]he low interests that provoked the war in the south [la Guerra del Sur] . . . appeared to have no other object than murder, robbery, arson, and the finishing off of whatever morality remained to us. . . . [T]he agitators who have now shown themselves openly . . . will in the end push us into the pit from which we had [only just] miraculously escaped. It is therefore our duty to offer Resistance . . . saving once more the national honor, the federal laws, and the public tranquility.”1 The legitimacy of the government of Anastasio Bustamante was in question because it had come to power through the violent overthrow of an administration that itself had annulled a constitutional and valid national election, also by means of a political rebellion, the Acordada Revolt. In formal terms the legitimacy of the Bustamante regime rested on the frail reed of an 1830 congressional declaration of President Vicente Guerrero’s incapacity to carry out his executive duties based on a highly ambiguous provision in the 1824 constitution. The reasons adduced for this incompetence oscillated among mental incapacity—that is, stupidity, although no one said as much publicly—lack of experience in governing, the inadequacy of his education for the task, and diminished physical ability owing to his war wounds. The penultimate Senate resolution, into which the qualifier “moral” had crept, declared the old insurgent to be “a man who took on himself more 355

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responsibilities than his natural abilities [could sustain]” and was “morally disqualified” from the presidency. The word “moral” having been suppressed, a joint congressional committee approved the resolution on 4 February 1830. The official printed circular of that date stated simply that “citizen general Vicente Guerrero is disqualified [imposibilitado] from governing the Republic.”2 Congress’s action thus simultaneously affirmed and bypassed the question of the legitimacy of Vice President Bustamante’s claim to authority. For if Guerrero’s ascent to the presidency was illegitimate in the first place, he was not the chief magistrate, so how could his executive incapacity even be called into question? A more legalistic argument advanced by El Sol (8 January 1830, p. 4), Alamán’s instrument of combat journalism, suggested that if Guerrero’s election as president was invalid, Bustamante’s as vice president was also invalid ipso facto. Manuel Gómez Pedraza had renounced his claim to the presidency, the argument ran, and congress in September 1828 had proscribed as traitors all those, among them Guerrero himself, who had supported Santa Anna’s pro-Guerrero Perote pronunciamiento of 16 September 1828. It followed that congress’s designation of Guerrero as president after the Acordada Revolt had placed in the first magistracy a man ineligible for the office, and therefore Vice President Bustamante had legitimately acceded to the presidency.3 This simply clipped Vicente Guerrero out of the presidential loop entirely, as a surgeon would excise a piece of gangrenous intestine. Alamán would use the term “legitimacy,” however, in a much broader sense than that of legality. His effort to justify the legitimacy of the Bustamante regime depended less on the marshaling of facts than on the vivid coloring of his language itself. Alamán’s repeated implicit references to the unnamed figures disturbing public tranquility—“demagogues” and “agitators”—would have included Lorenzo de Zavala, Joel R. Poinsett and other Yorquino notables, Vicente Guerrero, and the individual whose “name [was] many times proscribed,” Santa Anna. There is a shift in Alamán’s thinking over the course of his first year in the ministry leading from the more legalistic reasoning of January 1830 to the combination of rhetoric and realpolitik in his letter to Urbano San Román a year later. The San Román letter tenders some insight into his style as a ruthless practical politician rather than a theorist or legal thinker. He was not trained as a lawyer, although a great many of his contemporaries in the political class were. He was so widely knowledgeable in political and legal culture, however, that he was able to invoke legal and constitutional arguments convincingly when it suited him. He often demonstrated his view that ends justified means, and on a number

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of occasions was none too punctilious about the means employed to achieve those ends. During the twenty-eight months of his ministry under Bustamante he acted on the centralist, republican, but antidemocratic principles toward which he had always leaned, but that had increasingly come to dominate his thinking about political life during the late 1820s. It is difficult to locate a precise point of inflection in his political attitudes. Rather, there was a gradual evolution over several years confirming his dark view of the popular politics of the first decade of Mexico’s independent life. This deep aversion to democratic forms and federalism did not extend to republicanism, at least not until his involvement in the promonarchist plotting of the mid-1840s. By the time he came to treat the 1820s and early 1830s in the final volume of his Historia de Méjico he had smoothed out any ambiguities or ambivalences in his thinking and his behavior as a public figure, assuming the Olympian tone so characteristic of his mature work. In adding in a later passage in the letter to San Román that there was “no Mexican who did not doubt he had a Fatherland”—the double negative in both the original Spanish and in my rendering in English makes the syntax a bit complicated, but the sense is clear enough—he foreshadowed his melancholy and much stronger assertion toward the end of the Historia that “in Mexico there are no Mexicans.” While many Mexicans may have doubted the very viability of their patria in 1831, by midcentury Alamán believed that Mexicanness itself had drained away or never existed in the first place. This affective gap where the patria was concerned was a matter not just of a failed state but of a failed nation and had moved from a political almost to a metaphysical critique. As politically beleaguered as he saw himself in the 1820s and early 1830s, however, he could hardly voice such doubts publicly since he was charged with helping to realize the promise of the young republic rather than wrapping it in a winding sheet. In his private correspondence while out of office during the latter half of the 1820s one can discern an increasingly apocalyptic view of Mexican public life, a stance that seems to have developed steadily between 1823 and 1828. By the time he joined the Anastasio Bustamante government at the beginning of 1830 his ideological arteries had already hardened.

Retirement to Private Life, 1826–1830 Both push and pull factors induced Lucas Alamán’s departure from the Guadalupe Victoria government in September 1825. Among the push factors were the ascent of the Yorquino group around Zavala and Poinsett,

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President Victoria’s own drift in that direction, and the waning of pro-British opinion and waxing of US influence in national political life. He surely wanted to wash his hands of the federal constitution of 1824 under whose auspices he had served his last year in the Victoria government. Chief among the pull factors drawing him back to civilian life was the economic situation of his growing family. Given his background and the displays of wealth around him in the capital, he would hardly have embraced any but a highly respectable living standard reflecting solid prosperity. This would have entailed substantial outlays in maintaining his household, entertaining, keeping a stable, carriage, and riding horses, paying domestic servants, and so forth. His family was growing, four children having been born to him and doña Narcisa between the spring of 1824 and the late winter of 1829—the last of whom, his second daughter, Antonia, died at the age eight months. Throughout his adult life Alamán periodically expressed his worries about money, although less in terms of covering his immediate expenses than of having missed opportunities to acquire and accumulate real wealth. In an undated letter of about 1827 to the administrator of the Hacienda de Atlacomulco, Alamán commented on the desire of one of the estate’s supervisory personnel to find something more lucrative to make his fortune quickly: “I do not know that there are any positions that can make one rich within a few years, and if I knew of any I would certainly try to take it for myself. But only from a mine in bonanza is such a fortune to be made.”4 His managerial duties for the United Mexican Mining Association had yet to yield much financial benefit, and the commissions he would later earn on the liquidation of Marquesado properties were not yet on the horizon. His purchase of the Hacienda de Trojes in Celaya lay in the future and would prove an economic black hole in terms of income flow. Finally, whatever opportunities the ministry of interior and exterior affairs offered for peculation, they were not enough to keep Alamán in the government, and we do not even know if he took advantage of them. During the years of this political hiatus, therefore, Alamán was busy cultivating his own economic garden, largely staying out of the political limelight. The mid and late 1820s saw him increasingly involved with the United Mexican Mining Association. About six months before leaving office he remarked in a letter to Hullett Brothers in London that the business of the Unida was growing rapidly as its capitalization grew in tandem. The private life of the Alamán–Castrillo family meanwhile moved on. This was frequently disrupted by Alamán’s almost continual travel to Guanajuato,

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Cuernavaca, and other districts on Unida or personal business. These trips were almost certainly taken by coach, since he considered himself an indifferent horseman at best, and hated mules. While little documented, the family’s round of ordinary activities—church-going, socializing, attending entertainments, family gatherings at holidays, the household arrangements, seeing to the children’s education, and so forth—has left some traces. There were invitations to dine at friends’ and associates’ homes, although if Lucas and Narcisa attended these as a couple is not clear. Whether the couple did any entertaining is not documented. He was quite fond of the opera, and here one imagines he went with his wife. An uncharacteristically quirky example of this enthusiasm on his part is extant. So taken was Alamán with the performance of the Spanish tenor Manuel García, who sang the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni (generally a baritone role) during a run of performances in Mexico City in 1828, that he crafted a poetic ode to the singer and published it in El Sol, the newspaper he supported, on 9 July 1828.5 Although the piece as published bore only the initials L.A., given Alamán’s well-attested taste for the art form and his relationship with the newspaper his authorship is very plausible. Among the last verses he wrote: ¡Genio del mundo! ¡Divina García! Quien la extension de tu poder midiera? ...... ¡Ay! Qué desierto sin tu vista el teatro En do ora asistes se verá algún día. Todo fenece . . . fenecer tú solo Tú no deberías [World genius! Divine García! Who can measure the breadth of your power? ...... Oh! Some day the theater where now You perform will seem so desolate! Everything comes to an end Only you should not] As the elder generation exited the world and the younger entered, vital events in the family are, predictably, better documented. The couple’s first child, Catalina, destined to become a nun, was born at the very end of April

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1824. The first-born son, Gil, came along on 10 September 1825; a second son, Juan Ignacio—generally known as Juan Bautista—was born on 9 December 1826; and a second daughter, Antonia, born on 17 January 1829, was to live for only about eight months. The sole hint of how her father reacted to the loss of his infant daughter is the mention in one of his letters that for a month or so after her death he had felt unable to carry on his normal business activities. Lucas Alamán’s mother, María Ignacia Escalada Madroñero de Alamán, died on 10 December 1825 “of a terrible pneumonia” at the age of seventy-four. Narcisa Castrillo’s father, Juan José García Castrillo, was at least sixty years old when he died in Tacubaya on 8 February 1829. His widow was to survive him by fifteen years. The death of Narcisa Castrillo’s father necessitated a change in plans under discussion in the Alamán–Castrillo household since the beginning of 1829. This concerned the possible emigration of the family from Mexico, an idea first broached by Lucas’s father-in-law early that year. The most likely destination was England because of Alamán’s business connections and acquaintances there. In a letter to Terranova of 31 January 1829 he described the unsettled conditions in the country arising from Vicente Guerrero’s annulment of Manuel Gómez Pedraza’s election to the presidency, adding that the situation had obliged him to suspend his plans to take his family abroad.6 In early April Alamán wrote to the duke that he was still executing his father-in-law’s will and waiting to see how public events would unfold, particularly the rumored Spanish expedition of reconquest. The passage of six months saw him sworn in on 23 December 1829 as one of three triumvirs, with Luis Quintanar and Pedro Vélez, of a provisional national executive authority, and all consideration of emigration put aside for the moment.7 Increasingly dark forebodings about the fate of the country were to pervade Alamán’s correspondence in 1826–27, a tonality in his thinking that would find its ultimate expression in his Historia de Méjico two decades later. The late 1820s were marked by the definitive Yorquino ascendance, the expulsion from Mexico of peninsular Spaniards in 1827 and 1829, the crisis of the 1828 presidential elections and the seizure of power by Vicente Guerrero, the Spanish invasion of reconquest in 1829, the Plan of Jalapa that same year, and the ousting of Guerrero by Anastasio Bustamante. The backdrop of these events, as Alamán saw it, was the anarchy created by the politics of extreme factionalism. He wrote to the duke, “Each party continues to carry out great intrigues to win the elections for the next congress: the two Masonic orders of Escoseses and Yorquinos leave no stones unturned to further their respective interests.”8

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These Cassandra-like pronouncements had ample foundation. But their obsessive repetition suggests the inclination of their author toward negativity and perhaps even an underlying mild depression as personality characteristics. Psychological speculations aside, his views of these years formed the immediate background to his role in the Anastasio Bustamante government during 1830–32. In a series of letters to Huth and Terranova in 1827–28 Alamán repeated the refrain about the terrible state of the country over and over again, a litany of national woes that continued for years. Among them were the following: 3 October 1827 (to Terranova y Monteleone): “Each letter may be to announce new unfortunate events or new fears.” 3 November 1827 (to Frederick Huth): “Political affairs continue [to be] very sad. . . . There are also unpleasant and dangerous symptoms that more and more are reducing public confidence.” 5 March 1828 (to Huth): “[The state of the country] is worse by the moment.9 [I]n truth the picture of disorder, violence, and poverty of this unhappy nation is most horrible, [and there] is in view no hope of improvement. . . . It seems there is a fleshly [i.e., concrete] fatality pursuing all peoples in which the Castilian language is spoken.” 18 August 1828 (to Huth): “All [the economic troubles] are the consequence of the general state of disorder in which we find ourselves and of the total bankruptcy of means of this political machine. It is feared that [the imminent elections] will produce new convulsive movements and armed uprisings.” 27 November 1828 (to Terranova): “The composition of the [newly elected] Chamber of Deputies is so bad as to inspire prayers . . . for the interests of the country. So, the only thing that can be done is to ride out this violent storm we are in, and which is becoming more fierce and lasting longer than we had expected.” 18 December 1828 (to Huth): “I have been fortunate not to suffer [damage] in my person or property, but it is impossible not to share in the general ruin, and since the future looks so unpromising, I am taking measures to emigrate with my family.” 30 January 1829 (to Huth): “Things continue to be very bad in the country, and we are really in a complete [state of] anarchy, surrounded by fears and with news of new disasters every day, without the horizon clearing anywhere and without hope of any improvement.”

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2 March 1829 (to Huth): “Here we continue in a state of convulsion and ruin. There are no authorities, no government, no security or [public] confidence. Every day new uprisings are spoken of. The highways are infested with robbers.” 1 May 1829 (to Terranova): “The state of the country continues lamentable. . . . The hopes that for a moment were conceived of the government of the new president [Vicente Guerrero] have completely vanished, and we continue with a thousand doubts [and with] mistrust and insecurity.” 18 July 1829 (to Huth): “Here every day we go from bad to worse. News of the Spanish expedition [of reconquest] has come to augment our fears.”10 Alamán painted all of Spanish America in these somber colors, and “in general the picture presented by America is in its totality terrible.” The only exception was Gran Colombia, “where the energy of Bolívar at least maintains calm.”11 In early June he commented in another letter, “Who could have foretold that we would long for [Agustín Iturbide] to put this people at peace? To such a point have we arrived.”12 By the late 1820s anarchy and the sad state of the country seemed to threaten a more profound form of social and political dissolution—not just the failure of the state but the breakdown of the nation. It is incautious to read uncritically the statements Alamán was making to his foreign interlocutors in these years, but it is quite apparent that he viewed the construction of a centralist regime, one that could serve to dampen factional strife, as a logical way to check or even reverse the downward momentum of events. This view inclined him to look favorably on Simón Bolívar’s centralizing tendencies in the government of the megarepublic of Gran Colombia. This observation of Alamán’s, plus a characterological impulse to control situations down to small details, were strong elements in the attitudes he struck and programs he advocated when he again had his hands on the levers of state power.

The Spanish Expulsion, the Guerrero Coup d’Etat, and the Spanish Invasion It is tempting to draw a straight line between Joel R. Poinsett’s appearance and many of Mexico’s political troubles of the late 1820s. No Poinsett, no York Rite Masonry; no York Rite, no Yorquino faction or sharp polarization in the political sphere; no polarization, no Arenas conspiracy in reaction; no Arenas

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conspiracy, no expulsion of the Spaniards from Mexico; no expulsions (possibly), no Cuba-based invasion by Spain; no invasion, no opening for the heroism of Antonio López de Santa Anna, no Plan de Jalapa, no Ejército de Reserva, no assault against the Guerrero government, no Bustamante/Alamán regime, and so forth—tempting but misleading. Public men of liberal or radical opinions would surely have found a point of coalescence absent York Rite Masonry; and liberalism and federalism were already on the scene long before the meddlesome Poinsett arrived. Anti-Spanish sentiment was rife and further nourished by the episode of San Juan de Ulúa, the stubbornly irredentist attitude of King Ferdinand VII, rumors of an impending attempt at reconquest, the fate of the Spanish reformers and radicals upon the fall of the Trienio Liberal, and the threatening posture of Europe’s Holy Alliance. Alamán came to ascribe many of these troubles to the Yorquino–Escosés division, and at least the temporary resolution of the troubles to the centralist government he began to construct under Anastasio Bustamante’s aegis. The instability of the years 1827–30 focused his generalized anxiety about the condition of Mexico onto a number of concrete problems. The more specific of his preoccupations were triggered by the various expulsion decrees of peninsular Spaniards in late 1827. Accounts of the patriot factions in the Greek struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire (1821–32) as well as the war and the political situation in Portugal may well have added to Alamán’s sense of a global political crisis during the late 1820s. By the time the state and federal legislators took formal action to expel their peninsular cousins from the country, many Spaniards of the moneyed class had already emigrated, carrying with them all the liquid assets they could. Then, in January 1827, a conspiracy to restore the Spanish Bourbon monarchy was uncovered in Mexico City, ostensibly led by the friar Joaquín Arenas, a peninsular Spaniard whom Lucas Alamán claimed was a forger as well as a political conspirator.13 As the official investigation into the matter deepened it swept up several notables, among them the peninsula-born political generals José Antonio Echávarri and Pedro Celestino Negrete. Eventually Arenas and five other putative conspirators were executed. The consensus among historians is that the conspiracy, which Alamán referred to as an act of lunacy, was half-baked and not actually much of a danger to the government. But the plot did have major political implications. Conservatives and the Scottish Rite faction lost much of their credibility, the political balance tipped definitively to the left, and the Yorquinos jumped on the incident to prove that sinister forces were combining to reverse Mexico’s independence. Many years later Alamán

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wrote, “The minister of war, Gómez Pedraza, and the Yorquinos made astute use of [the conspiracy], ascribing to it an importance it was far from having. They took advantage of it as a handy means to carry out their ghastly intentions toward the Spaniards.”14 The anti-Spanish measures that followed prompted Alamán to characterize the expulsions as a self-destructive, inhumane, and unrealistic denial of Mexico’s Spanish heritage. From an economic point of view he thought it a disastrous policy, while from a personal standpoint it jeopardized the lives and fortunes of several valued friends and employees. The national congress promulgated a law in May 1827 purging peninsular Spaniards from all public posts. At the state level Jalisco took the lead, expelling Spaniards on 3 September 1827, a measure adopted within a few months by all the other states. Alamán described the measure to Terranova as fatal “since the Spaniards are related by kinship with most families [in Mexico], are the principal capitalists, and [are] those who carry on trade and the most productive [economic] activities.”15 By year’s end congress had passed a national law of expulsion, although at the state level exemptions were allowed. José María Tornel, the governor of the Federal District, expelled many, while Lorenzo de Zavala and Santa Anna, respectively governors of the states of Mexico and Veracruz, allowed more exceptions. The capitalino newspapers heatedly reported the application of the expulsion decrees, El Sol and El Observador, the latter edited by José María Luis Mora, standing up for the Spaniards, Zavala’s and Tornel’s liberal papers pressing the attack. Anti-Spanish violence took place outside the capital, including riots and even lynchings. In late December Alamán remarked in a letter to his employer in Palermo that “the revolutionary movements with the motive or pretext of demanding the expulsion of the Spaniards have been increasing . . . in Valladolid, . . . Guanajuato, [and] Veracruz. There have been some very serious ones in Oajaca [sic], in Puebla they took the form of the sacking of different houses . . . and finally in Toluca and other places nearby [Mexico City] various groups of armed men are in movement.” Alamán did not escape personal involvement in the forced emigration of the Europeanborn Spaniards. During this time his intention and preparations to emigrate with his family reached their highest pitch. He tried to defend friends and employees of the ex-Marquesado establishment from the application of the decrees, achieving at least some small victories in seeking exemptions. While Alamán pursued his business interests, events at the national level were moving swiftly. The most contentious question was, Who should succeed Guadalupe Victoria in the presidency? In the face of the apparent increas-

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ing radicalization of the Victoria government under the influence of Yorquino figures, aggravated by a personal falling-out between Nicolás Bravo and President Victoria, Bravo mobilized for a rebellion. This eventuated at the end of 1827 in the Plan de Montaño, whose major demands were the outlawing of secret societies (read: York Rite Masonry) and a demand that Washington recall Poinsett. With Vicente Guerrero’s defeat of the pronunciado army under Bravo at Tulancingo in January 1828, the old insurgent chieftain’s popularity and “presidentiability” soared. Nicolás Bravo was forced into exile along with several other conspirators; his only son died on the way to the United States, as did Santa Anna’s brother Manuel, also exiled. The more moderate Yorquinos put War Minister Gómez Pedraza up for the presidency, with Anastasio Bustamante as his vice presidential running mate. Writing in his Historia de Méjico, Alamán ascribed support of the Gómez Pedraza candidacy to such men as justice and ecclesiastical affairs minister Ramos Arizpe, secretary of relations Juan de Dios Cañedo, former minister Esteva, senator and future Zacatecas governor Francisco García, other moderate progressives, and even President Victoria himself. The so-called Jacobins supporting Guerrero included Federal District Governor Tornel, the perennially enragé Lorenzo de Zavala, and Santa Anna. The summer of 1828 saw a presidential campaign (the vote was indirect, via state legislatures) of “unparalleled viciousness,” in the words of one historian, with more conservative–centralist newspapers supporting Gómez Pedraza, the more radical organs Guerrero.16 The balloting by state legislatures on 1 September 1828 produced a slim margin of victory for Manuel Gómez Pedraza, eleven states to nine. From Veracruz, Vice Governor Santa Anna raised the banner of revolt in a pronunciamiento supporting Guerrero, but his attempt fizzled, and he ended up besieged by government forces in Oaxaca. The largely pedracista Senate set about persecuting the Guerrero supporters, sending Zavala into hiding for a short time in Mexico City, indicting Tornel, and making life difficult for other Guerrero partisans.17 By the end of November another rebellion had broken out, christened the Acordada Revolt for the building in which the old constabulary for the suppression of highway bandits and rural crime had once been headquartered, converted now into a military barracks. The movement was led by Lorenzo de Zavala and the generals José María Lobato and Vicente Guerrero. The rebels prevailed following a three-day artillery battle between the mutineers and government forces defending the National Palace and other nearby buildings; in the meantime the Parián market in the central plaza was sacked. Presidentelect Gómez Pedraza fled the city in disguise on the night of 3 December,

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ending up in Guadalajara and sailing into English exile in March 1829. On 12 January 1829 the Chamber of Deputies declared Gómez Pedraza’s election invalid, naming as president in his stead Vicente Guerrero and Anastasio Bustamante vice president, while Guadalupe Victoria finished out the remaining months of his term in a blaze of passivity. Guerrero and Bustamante were inaugurated on 1 April 1829. Considering his later attitude toward Guerrero, Alamán was surprisingly sanguine about the incoming administration: “Señor Guerrero took possession of the presidency of the Republic, and [we are] assured that he is well disposed to work for the restoration of order and to temper the rigor of the atrocious [new] law of expulsion [of the Spaniards] that has so many families weeping [a second law was enacted on 20 March 1829]. [But] it is feared that he will not be able to do what he wants for lack of resources, since his predecessor had such skill that having received this country in a flourishing [condition] it is now [only] a skeleton from which it is difficult to squeeze any resources. . . . Only the mines hold the hope of an economic recovery . . . [and] require public tranquility and calm to enjoy a boom.”18 President Guerrero’s ministry was manned by figures with Yorquino credentials, chief among them Lorenzo de Zavala with the treasury portfolio. Zavala’s measures to revive the treasury, especially a direct income tax proposal of 22 May 1829, were met with general consternation. Rival newspapers in the capital meanwhile continued their political battles, El Sol with vituperative attacks against Joel Poinsett, whose recall Guerrero finally requested of President Andrew Jackson on 1 July; by Christmas the controversial South Carolinian was saying his goodbyes in the capital and left the country in January. Hardly had the dust from the Guerrero coup settled than Mexico was faced with a Havana-based Spanish invasion. Rumors of such an expedition of reconquest had been in circulation for years, supported by the long Spanish occupation of the island fortress of San Juan de Ulúa and by King Ferdinand’s adamant irredentism. Under the command of General Isidro Barradas, the Spanish invasion force of thirty-five hundred men landed near Tampico on 26 July 1829. Since Barradas was working on the ill-founded assumption that he would be welcomed as a liberator, his men were ill-equipped for a full-scale reconquest of the country, and the warm welcome by Mexicans did not materialize. Alamán remarked of the size of the expedition, “Although this number [of troops] is certainly negligible, the state of disorganization and lack of resources in which this country finds itself make [the invasion force] to be feared; and what is more [to be feared] are the means of resistance to be employed, since the president will be endowed with such broad faculties to dispose of the

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persons and property of private [citizens] that only the governments of the Orient have in equal [measure].”19 He did see a small silver lining in all this: “The congress will suspend its sessions, which will be a stroke of luck since the propositions brought before the Chamber of Deputies each day are horrifying.” Alamán described the situation after about a month, the momentum having shifted in favor of the Mexican defenders led by Santa Anna and Manuel Mier y Terán: The Mexican troops under the orders of generals Santana [sic] and Teran have placed themselves around Tampico, cutting off communications and supplies from the Spaniards and having some [armed] encounters with them, as a result of which they [the Mexicans] recovered the town of Altamira that the Spanish had captured. Up to now this is the state of the war: the Spaniards are awaiting reinforcements from the 500 men who strayed from the convoy and ended up in New Orleans, and 2–3,000 who should have left Habana. To avoid the delays of discussions [regarding war funding], congress took the course of dissolving itself, giving to the president the broadest powers imaginable.20 After a brief armed action the “imprudently planned” Spanish invasion force surrendered completely to Manuel Mier y Terán.21 The Spanish invasion indirectly furnished the pretext for the overthrow of Guerrero, made a national hero of Santa Anna, definitively settled the matter of Mexican independence by thwarting Ferdinand’s attempts to recover the lost New Spain, and entered the narrative of Mexican history as a triumphant assertion of national sovereignty, honor, and courage. It merited scarcely a paragraph in Alamán’s Historia, much less detailed than in his private letters to Frederick Huth. The author of the Historia is clearly much more interested in drawing out the political significance of the invasion, “for which reason the congress authorized the president to take whatever measures might be necessary for the preservation of independence, of the federal system of government, and of public tranquility, with no other restriction [on him] than not being able to take the lives of Mexican [citizens] or expel them from the territory of the republic.”22

The Plan of Jalapa President Vicente Guerrero’s problems were evident from the moment he assumed office. The Plan of Jalapa that drove him from the presidency in December 1829 stands out for being successful compared to the numerous

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other pronunciamientos of these years that fizzled. During the elections of 1828 doubts arose even among Guerrero’s partisans as to whether the qualities that had made him an undeniably great insurgent chieftain could sustain him in the presidency. Another motive for his overthrow was resistance to Treasury Minister Zavala’s imposition of forced loans and an income tax on some Mexicans. The administration justified these measures under the president’s emergency powers, required to resist the Spanish expedition, but provoked the strong objection that they infringed on the federative entities’ fiscal prerogatives under the Constitution of 1824. Lucas Alamán’s role in organizing the forces arrayed against Guerrero under the banner of the Jalapa movement has remained shadowy, particularly before about mid-December 1829, although after that time he was by his own admission a key player. He later portrayed himself during these months as a passive victim of events—“I have had to accept the Department of foreign and interior affairs in the new ministry” (emphasis added). He soon became the major figure in the cabinet of Anastasio Bustamante’s government and remained so for more than two years.23 Following the fiasco of the Spanish invasion a group of powerful military politicians mobilized against President Guerrero. Cantoned at Jalapa was the Ejército de Reserva under the command of Vice President Anastasio Bustamante, composed of some three thousand men originally intended as reinforcements but who formed the core of the military elements that overthrew Vicente Guerrero. Lorenzo de Zavala was the first victim of the reaction to Guerrero’s populist regime, his downfall prefaced by a falling-out with Santa Anna over an appointment to the Veracruz customshouse. Increasingly vocal opposition to the tax measures, pressure from the rest of the cabinet, and accusations that President Guerrero had abused the extraordinary powers granted him by congress to combat the Spanish invasion grew in tandem. Given the moderation of the president’s actual policies, however, it is difficult to believe that these grievances were not a pretext. Hoping to appease the opposition, Guerrero forced the treasury minister’s resignation on 12 October, but this did not ease the situation. José María Tornel, another Yorquino ally, was forced out of the governorship of the Federal District and eventually packed off as envoy to the United States (17 November 1829–1 June 1831). The Reserve Army encamped at Jalapa was full of military politicians of antiYorquino leanings, among them Nicolás Bravo, Miguel Barragán, and José Antonio Facio, Vice President Bustamante’s private secretary, the first two back in Mexico from their exile under an amnesty by Guerrero. For the mo-

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ment, Bustamante and Santa Anna remained aloof from any movement against Guerrero but refused his order to disband the Ejército de Reserva. On 4 December Melchor Múzquiz and Facio published the Plan de Jalapa, which rapidly found adherents elsewhere in the army and in various regions of the country. While the plan did not attack the president directly, its main elements were a proclamation defending the federal system and a call for Guerrero to renounce the extraordinary powers conferred on him by congress. A wall of political and military isolation soon surrounded President Guerrero. After some temporizing Bustamante assumed leadership of the developing movement by announcing his adherence to the Plan of Jalapa on 6 December, while Santa Anna, ever inconstant except to himself, first adhered to it and then reneged some days later. Guerrero asked Lucas Alamán to go to Puebla to talk some sense into Bustamante but then cancelled the mission. As President Guerrero prepared to take the field with a hastily organized armed force, the Cámara de Diputados seized the final political initiative on 17 December 1829, electing the Yorquino lawyer José María Bocanegra provisional president; Vice President Bustamante could not fill this political role since the constitution forbade a president or vice president from actively exercising the office while commanding an army in the field. Then, on the night of 22–23 December, General Luis Quintanar, Alamán’s old federalist adversary from Jalisco, deployed an infantry regiment to occupy key locations in Mexico City in support of the Plan of Jalapa. In short order Guerrero’s troops deserted him, leaving him completely unsupported except for Santa Anna’s declared fealty. On Christmas Eve the government council met and replaced Bocanegra, who had occupied the presidency for all of five days, with a provisional executive triumvirate made up of Pedro Vélez (1787–1848), the president of the Supreme Court; General Luis Quintanar; and . . . Lucas Alamán. This was the closest Alamán ever came to being president of Mexico except for a frankly implausible candidacy in the elections of 1837, in which he received one vote of the twenty cast by the states of the federation. He occupied his post in the ruling triumvirate for only the few days before Anastasio Bustamante picked up the reins of government on 1 January 1829. In the meantime, Vicente Guerrero wrote to Alamán on 25 December stating that he was prepared to accept any decision by congress, and Santa Anna once again reversed himself, withdrawing his support from the beleaguered president and agreeing to stand down while the situation resolved itself. Lucas Alamán’s role in all this remains murky—or rather its timing is. He hints at his own part in the Jalapa movement in a documentary appendix to

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volume 5 of the Historia de Méjico: “In these first days of upheaval and disorder, everything was done through private letters rather than official orders, all the more so [since] the ministry had not yet been formed, and these letters were all directed to me, on whom all the work of pursuing the correspondence with all the military commanders fell.”24 Alamán’s assumption of this central position in the rebellion definitely seems to have occurred before late December, if not earlier. Federal District Governor José Ignacio Esteva (Tornel’s replacement) certainly thought Alamán the prime mover of the uprising. He wrote to him on 21 December asking him to “hasten [abreviar] the pronunciamiento” because he could no longer keep the police and night watchmen off the streets. Alamán later wrote, “I answered him that I did not have, as in truth [I did not], the role in the revolution he attributed to me,” referring him instead to Quintanar.25 Written more than twenty years later, the historian Alamán’s version of events boils down primarily to an account of his relations with Quintanar: “I did not know Quintanar personally, given that when I returned from Europe [in 1822] he was in Jalisco and afterward there was no occasion to see him, since we were in opposing [political parties]. The looks of this general were noble: he was above average height, but with hunched shoulders, his complexion so white and high in color that he appeared more German than Mexican, his appearance even more imposing because of his entirely white hair. . . . As soon as he saw me enter the salon in the Palace he approached me and, embracing me, said, alluding to the opposed factions to which we had [formerly] belonged, ‘Against these villains we are all [as] one.’ ” Once Alamán was on the scene and so central an actor, his selection for the short-lived provisional executive triumvirate was only a short step away and his entry thence into the cabinet even shorter. The question is, Why was he so important to these events in the first place? What suggests itself is that he was, in fact, already conspiring against the Guerrero government when the Plan of Jalapa was published. Or at least his involvement was coeval with the promulgation of the plan, a connection he was at some pains to weaken, if not entirely airbrush out of the picture, when he wrote of this period many years later.

The Initial Challenges of the Second Ministry The Bustamante administration (1830–32), or the administración alamánica, as it has been called, was characterized by an atmosphere of crisis; but then, except for brief periods the country was in a state of political crisis from 1808 on. This segment of Alamán’s career was punctuated by the Guerra del Sur,

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the death of Vicente Guerrero at the hands of the Bustamante regime, futile efforts to keep Texas out of American hands, and the establishment of the Banco de Avío. But these events have tended to overshadow developments in foreign relations, domestic policy, and the day-to-day governance of the country, all of whose strings were in Lucas Alamán’s hands. Among such less spectacular and visible affairs were the protracted discussions to accelerate diplomatic recognition of Mexico by Spain, negotiation of a treaty of friendship and commerce with the American government, the ordering of the national fisc, the suppression of rampant rural banditry and urban crime, the bureaucratic reorganization of Alamán’s ministry, and the setting of the national museum and archive on a sound footing. When Bustamante triumphantly entered Mexico City at the head of the Ejército de Reserva on 1 January 1830, the sense of relief among the hombres de bien at the sidelining of Guerrero and Zavala was palpable. Alamán was the first appointment to the new ministerial cabinet (4 January 1830, sworn in on 8 January). Although he intended to remain in the ministry for a relatively short time, the new government afforded him the opportunity to refashion the Mexican state along centralist lines, thereby establishing political stability and laying the basis, he hoped, for national prosperity. What exactly prompted him to remain in the Bustamante administration longer is not clear—perhaps possibilities that opened before him to enact policies to benefit the country, the attractions of power for its own sake, or even the regular ministerial salary. Alamán’s long-held belief that centralism was the best medicine for Mexico now enjoyed the unequivocal support of the chief executive. Political institution building as a necessary precondition of economic modernization was exemplified by his work to establish the Banco de Avío, a government-funded industrial development bank dedicated to moving the Mexican economy away from its extremely heavy dependence on mining, chiefly through bankrolling the cotton textile sector. Alamán had a space of two years or so to move his programs forward even though the prosecution of the Guerra del Sur absorbed enormous amounts of his time and government resources during 1830. The historian Stanley Green has limned the minister’s intellectual dominance and personal influence in the government as well as anyone in noting that Anastasio Bustamante “placed no great store in his [own] ability to direct affairs, and for the duration of his term remained somewhat in the background. It was from Alamán’s office that basic policy came.”26 The minister of interior and exterior relations, writes Green, was “a type of alter ego for the vice-president,” whose strong influence extended beyond his portfolio to

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military affairs and who drafted legislation and Bustamante’s addresses to congress. Privately, Alamán viewed his chief as a man of limited intellectual capacity. But then he seems to have felt this way about many of his contemporaries and probably almost all military men, certain individuals excepted, among them his friend Mier y Terán. Alamán mostly failed in both his political and economic programs, frustrating for him but costly for the country in foregone opportunities. To assert that circumstances were not propitious for economic modernization amounts only to a description. At the time, such a change entailed the industrialization of consumer nondurables, the growth of the domestic market, the development of national infrastructure, stronger territorial integration, government fiscal stability and sufficiency, an economic atmosphere conducive to capital investment, and so forth. Alamán’s strategy of imposing stability in the public realm as the essential precondition of economic development anticipated that of Porfirio Díaz fifty years later whose motto was Order and Progress, but without the tools to effect it. Alamán could limit the franchise, censor the press, and throw political enemies into prison—or, as some asserted, have them assassinated or even murder them with his own hands, as Fayette Robinson wrote. To carry out his deeds Porfirio Díaz had at his disposal not only all these political technologies but also the telegraph, the railroad, the repeating rifle, a flourishing treasury, a national population almost twice that in Alamán’s time, abundant foreign investment, the resolution of the British Debt, and a functioning nationalist mythology. Nor was the sacrifice of political liberties and freedom of expression in favor of economic development a sine qua non of modernization—viz the Anglo-Atlantic—but Lucas Alamán and Porfirio Díaz thought it was. Liberalism was already an important force on the scene but was not as strongly rooted in the political culture, national psyche, and mythology as it was to be later. The grafting of liberalism onto the triumphant defeat of a foreign usurper (the French) lay in the future, the soft authoritarianism of the Spanish monarchy a mere two decades in the past. To Alamán, the sacrifice of democracy and liberal values was both plausible historically and personally congenial in keeping with his ideological predilections.27 Alamán’s window of possibility was little more than two years, half of that time overshadowed by the War of the South, a violent civil conflict with elements of a caste war that proved a major political headache. As the key player in the Bustamante regime after the vice president himself, Lucas Alamán was immediately faced with a number of critical issues

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affecting the viability of the new government. Most prominent among these were security questions in the broadest sense. One of them was the physical security of private citizens and their property, menaced by thieves and bandits. The protection of private property from criminals but equally from state predation and irregularities in legal procedures was a deep preoccupation of Alamán’s, linking conservatives with liberals and Mexicans with Europeans. There were also constant threats to the security of the government itself, the most unpredictable being the unquiet spirit of Antonio López de Santa Anna. Externally, Mexico was compelled to defend its territorial integrity against the insistent claims of King Ferdinand VII despite the embarrassing failure of the reconquest effort in 1829. The making of foreign policy required a constant, trustworthy stream of intelligence from both private and public sources as well as the pursuit of Mexico’s diplomatic interests abroad. Finally, the country needed to resist the creeping territorial ambitions of its northern neighbor. That none of these three problems was ever really resolved during his ministry casts a bright light on the frailty of Alamán’s modernization initiatives. Criminal banditry and Santa Anna’s doleful influence on political life persisted, and Spanish recognition of Mexican independence came in 1836, four years after Alamán resigned. But while there were things he could not achieve during his relatively extended tenure in office—ministries turned over rapidly in these decades—nor could have achieved even had he held his position longer, there were Public Goods he could implant or at least consolidate. These had to do with administration, national memory, raising or maintaining the level of public culture, and health, welfare, and regulation.

An Ordered and Prosperous Republic José Manuel de Herrera (1776–1831), an insurgent churchman during the independence uprising, served as secretary of interior and exterior relations under the first and second regencies and the empire. His 1822 memoria presented to congress was quite schematic at about ten pages in length but established the precedent for such ministerial memorias. Alamán, during his ministries, elevated these to the level of highly analytical, detailed informes on the state of the Republic. He wrote five—in 1823, 1825, 1830, 1831, and 1832— all of them wide-ranging in subject matter and averaging about fifty pages each.28 I am particularly concerned here with tracing Lucas Alamán’s interest in gathering national statistics and in the fates of the national archive, the

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botanical garden, the national museum, and Mexican antiquities as reflected in his memorias and policies. In the early 1830s he was primarily concerned less with diachronic than horizontal knowledge, with the knowledge of the national territory in the most inclusive sense, with drawing information into the center both as an instrumentality of power and for the building of an archive of the knowable. One of the most important tools for collecting that knowledge was statistics. True, his Historia de Méjico demonstrates the shift in his thinking from the synchronic to the diachronic aspects of his society, that is, from the horizontal to the historical dimension. Still, the work’s appendices are replete with statistical tables of all sorts, whereas the great histories of the country and its independence movement written by his contemporaries—Mora, Zavala, Bustamante, Bocanegra, and so forth—were typically not so marked. The first of his ministerial memorias delivered to congress, in 1823, makes clear the importance he accorded to statistics for purposes of good governance: “The basis of economic government should be an exact statistics. From the earliest days of our independence, the Junta Provisional ordered the Provincial Deputations and Ayuntamientos to collect the necessary elements to form them [i.e., statistics]. . . . [On them] depend the proper division(s) of our [national] territory, the fair distribution of taxes, the arrangement of national representation corresponding to each province, and the knowledge of our resources and our productive capacity.”29 He lamented that the collection of statistics from the provinces had advanced little. In his general project to create an ordered and prosperous republic through the action of the central state, one tool was the legibility nourished by statistical knowledge.30 In his ministerial memoria of January 1831, for example, he proposed the compilation of a statistically based Atlas de la República formed with maps of the various states, reconciled and corrected through astronomical observations and trigonometric methods, with accompanying statistical tables.31 Institutions such as archive, gardens, and museum had numerous functions ranging from the bureaucratic to the scientific and from preservation to identity formation. They were key elements in what today is called controlling the narrative. The acquisition, analysis, shaping, and dissemination of knowledge were thus key to modernization and construction of an orderly society. The archive, gardens, and museum seem relatively minor in importance compared to life-and-death questions, but Alamán had a direct personal and ideological investment in pursuing the growth and stability of the three institutions, spent a good deal of time on them in his public work life, and wrote compara-

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tively extensively about them in his ministerial memorias. So they are revealing in a biographical sense since they show us something of his understanding of the past and his vision for the future. In his burgeoning historical sensibility, Lucas Alamán saw these repositories as the reservoir of the national memory. In the ministerial memoria of 8 November 1823 he made an implicit pitch to the congress to continue funding the ordering of the former viceregal secretariat, a “long and troublesome” labor being carried forward solely by cesantes (government workers recalled from retirement) without any specialized skill in working in large archives or handling masses of documents. When he rendered his next accounting to congress in 1825 he was able to report that the “organization of the general archive is progressing with the greatest energy.” Swept back into the ministry by the Jalapa revolution at the beginning of 1830, at the start of 1831 he wrote that the progress of the archival organization had been vigorously renewed since its transfer to another location within the Palacio Nacional but that it was inadequately staffed. He also summarized the work accomplished during 1830, including the gathering in one place of judicial records from the old tribunals of the colonial audiencia, the sala del crimen, the Acordada, and the General Indian Court. Alamán’s 1832 memoria said very little about the archive, but despite interruptions, funding problems, and other issues the Archivo General de la Nación, as it is known today, was on a firm footing by the time he was forced from office in the spring of 1832. The development of the botanical garden and the museum were other pet projects of Alamán’s, but traveled a bumpier road than the general archive, slowed primarily by the stinginess of government support. Alamán the polymath was deeply interested in the sciences of his day, particularly botany, believing that Mexico was uniquely endowed not only with mineral wealth but also with biological diversity (the country is, in fact, one of the most biodiverse in the world). The botanical garden, established in the late colonial period, had long been neglected and underfunded minister Alamán wrote in his 1823 ministerial memoria. The greatest attention paid to it during Alamán’s first ministries was to determine a venue or venues of sufficient size to meet the botanical needs of the medical school, of collecting for its own sake, propagation, and public enjoyment. Where antiquities were concerned, by which Alamán seems initially to have meant manuscripts exclusively, he wrote in the same 1823 memoria, “The same disorder mentioned [for the botanical garden] has produced a similarly bad [situation] difficult to remedy. There existed in the archive of that

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[viceregal] secretariat very precious monuments of Mexican antiquities and of the first years of Spanish domination, the larger part due to the enlightenment of the celebrated traveler Boturini. [But] many have disappeared and others are incomplete or torn.”32 His goal here was not only the preservation of these objects but also their being made accessible to facilitate the work of scholars. By the time Alamán came to write his 1825 memoria he singled out the lack of progress in this project.33 Memorias by other ministers of the later 1820s suggest that both the botanical garden and antiquities museum languished under his successors. The jardín botánico and the antiquities collections had seen some “slight improvements” by 1830, although the longtime botany professor and curator of the gardens Vicente Cervantes had died in 1829. Despite the slight advances, Alamán told congress in February 1830 that he wished to move the projects along more speedily. So he proposed the uniting of the gardens and museum into one megamuseum with sections devoted to antiquities, “productos de industria,” natural history, and botany. A year later the minister revealed that the antiquities holdings had grown through the purchase of a major private collection and the discovery of yet more preconquest material artifacts in excavation sites for the foundation of new buildings in central Mexico City (which is still occurring today). The unification of the museum and botanical garden into one entity had been approved by the Chamber of Deputies.34 The national museum was an institution to be supported not only for the sake of preserving his countrymen’s memory of their remote past and therefore making them more Mexican but also so that European scholars might be made aware of the antiquity and high level of preconquest Mexican civilization.35 This contradicts to some extent the assertion often made that Alamán wanted to expunge the Mesoamerican cultural heritage in favor of exalting Mexico’s European–Hispanic past. The most noteworthy part of Lucas Alamán’s last ministerial memoria, that of 1832, touched on the antiquities of pre-Columbian Mexico: “The ancient monuments of the diverse peoples who inhabited this part of our continent in epochs dating back to the beginning of time still have not [come] to be known or studied sufficiently. Their study will without doubt lead to the discovery of great historical truths that will decide questions of the greatest interest about the antiquity of the first populations of America. It would be a disgrace to our [national] reputation if we did not take part in these learned investigations.”36 Alamán mentioned here a scientific archaeological expedition, that of JeanFrédéric Maximilien de Waldeck (1766?—1875). Most probably born in Prague but acknowledged as being French, Waldeck was an antiquarian, artist, sec-

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ondhand pornographer, and explorer whose 1834–36 travels and sketching of Maya ruins at Uxmal, Palenque, and other sites came to fruition after Alamán had left the government. The minister apparently envisioned the antiquities of the museum, and therefore his burgeoning museum project itself, as playing a major role in beginning to settle the long-standing controversy across the Atlantic world about the scale, social complexity, and antiquity of New World state-level societies.37 Below the level of these formal ministerial status reports, prescriptions, and proposals, the work of the museo in relation to antiquities and natural history went on, as did the collecting, instructional, and other functions of the botanical gardens. Natural history oddities flowed into Mexico City from all points of the republic, including mineral samples, precious and semiprecious stones, fossils, and other objects. This warranted the writing and wide diffusion of an instruction manual on the collection and remission of items of natural history, addressing plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, and minerals, of which the minister may have been the author of all or part.38 As the natural history and antiquities collections started expanding fairly rapidly, the museum soon began to outgrow its physical space, and plans came under discussion for a larger, more permanent venue. Following the recommendation of the museum conservador Isidro Ignacio de Icaza, in May 1831 congress decreed that the museum be installed along with the Academia de San Carlos, the art academy, in the old Inquisition building. But when Alamán left office, sympathy for the project as a whole flagged and with it interest in moving to the new venue. While objects of natural history might come and go and botanical items die, be replaced, or even sent out of the country to grease the wheels of diplomacy, the collection of antiquities for the central national repository was a more delicate matter. Many of these pieces were large and visually striking as well as built into local landscapes and traditions, anchored there by sentimental and historical values, so that their removal by the central government might encounter stiff local resistance.39 To exert near-absolute control in the matter of retaining items within the country and bringing them to the centralized site of the national museum, minister Alamán issued an order in a printed circular of March 1832 that read, “[The national government,] as protector of scientific establishments, enjoys the preferential right as such to purchase over other buyers the beautiful productions of art and science [and antiquities] that may be discovered on private land.” It was also empowered to prohibit the export of such pieces from the country, if necessary paying the owners for the

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items.40 Pre-Columbian artifacts and manuscripts did tend to go astray despite Lucas Alamán’s insistence. The conservador Icaza alleged, for example, that Carlos María de Bustamante had borrowed some pre-Hispanic pieces— whether manuscripts or objects is not clear—and then kept them at his home, a charge Bustamante vehemently denied; there were similar incidents involving other individuals. Controlling the actions of foreigners regarding preColumbian artifacts was even more difficult because they were not citizens and tended to come and go. A Frenchman named Pedro Emilio (PierreEmile?) Perennes, for example, requested a license from Alamán in January 1831 to sketch pre-Columbian monuments already in the hands of the museum and to prospect for more of them throughout the country. Although the license was approved in fairly short order by Vice President Bustamante, the request led Icaza to draw up a list of grievances about the loose practices of foreigners, including an associate of Joel Poinsett’s, with regard to Mexican antiquities. Other complaints Icaza made included one against Waldeck, who had made drawings of many artifacts, free of charge, but refused to let the museum make copies of his drawings for its own collections.41 Waldeck was probably the most interesting and quirky of these foreigners. Often calling himself Baron Waldeck, he was essentially a talented adventurer of dubious origins. Aside from his work on Mexican antiquities, he is closely associated with the republication of a famous set of engraved pornographic images, I Modi, originally published in Italy in 1524 and accompanied by poetry composed by the Italian writer Pietro Aretino. Hired as a mining engineer by one of the numerous European businesses whose massive investments Lucas Alamán encouraged for many years, Waldeck came to Mexico in 1825. He quickly turned his attention to the study of pre-Columbian monumental architecture and sculpture, living at Palenque for a time in the early 1830s. He was commissioned by the Irish peer Edward King Viscount Kingsborough (1795–1837), a keen enthusiast of preconquest Mesoamerican antiquities, to visit and sketch the ruins of the Maya site at Uxmal. His renderings went into Lord Kingsborough’s famous, massive nine-volume work Antiquities of Mexico, mostly published in 1831, whose enormous production cost in part landed the Irishman in debtor’s prison in Dublin, where he died of typhus. In 1838 Waldeck published his own work, Voyage pittoresque e archéologique dans la province d’Yucatan pendant les années 1834 et 1836, whose illustrations, by his own hand, strongly echo his conception of Egyptian structures (to my eye they look a bit like the designs of monumental buildings done for Adolf Hitler by the architect Albert Speer). These images and ones of Palenque eventually

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made their way into the later publication of the French antiquarian Brasseur de Bourbourg and form an important link in the genealogy of arguments seeking to connect the ancient Mexicans to Egypt or Rome or Greece or even to the lost island civilization of Atlantis. Submitted directly to Vice President Bustamante by the “antiquarian draughtsman” and then routed to Alamán, Waldeck’s project must have developed during 1830–31. In the meantime, Waldeck warmed up by making fastidious measurements and detailed sketches of the Teotihuacán pyramids, submitting a brief report to the minister. He promised to include a more detailed description of the site in his work, begging permission to dedicate it to Alamán.42 Waldeck was given the green light on his Maya project in the late summer or fall of 1831, the published volumes to be sold by subscription.

Urban Crime and Banditry Observers of late colonial and early republican Mexico City almost universally remarked on the inundación de malhechores, the flood of criminals and delinquents plaguing the city. The thousands of beggars and homeless poor, the famous Mexico City léperos—some of them timid and harmless, others quite aggressive, even murderous—who made passage through the central city streets somewhat problematic for prosperous-looking citizens and foreigners also provoked much comment. The presence of thieves, robbers, individual bandits, and organized gangs of highwaymen was endemic to rural areas, increasing directly with the distance from centers of police power. Authorities at all levels lacked the resources to secure the vast under- or unpopulated spaces (despoblados) between the cities, towns, and villages. Many civil and military policing personnel worked in concert with highwaymen to prey on travelers, property-holders, and entire communities.43 The legislation promulgated by congress on 27 September 1823 at the urging of minister Alamán and signed into law by Vicente Guerrero—who would be executed under its provisions in 1831!—as president of the SPE, was intended to ameliorate this situation by allowing police authorities to suspend constitutional guarantees in carrying out summary trials and executions. The state’s capacity to suppress criminality declined concomitantly with the embroilment of military and civil forces in political conflict and as fiscal resources dried up or were turned from policing to other purposes. This was occurring as the Anastasio Bustamante regime came into power at the beginning of 1830, and there is little reason to suppose a reversal of the trend over the next fifteen months or

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so as Vicente Guerrero, his allies, and their forces violently disputed control of the country with government armies in the War of the South. Minister Alamán received daily arrest reports from Mexico City’s police authorities through the governor of the Federal District, typically aggregated into larger sets of data. The reports for the entire year 1830, for example, mostly bear the minister’s terse notation “nothing worth the attention of the vice president [i.e., Anastasio Bustamante].” Reported activities included robberies, burglaries, quarrels involving violence, the arrest of hombres sospechosos, and so forth. In some criminal activity minister Alamán took a greater, even a personal, interest. In late March 1830, for instance, he ordered the Federal District governor to redouble police efforts to control the group of thieves active in the plazuela del Volador, a property of the ex-Marquesado del Valle, immediately abutting the National Palace to the south. These criminals attacked and robbed servants from the affluent homes in the city center coming to shop at the market there, as had recently occurred with a servant of the minister of justice himself. The roads around Chapultepec, those between Tacubaya and Mexico City, and other routes