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Title: Mexico, Aztec, Spanish and Republican Vol. 1 of 2 - A Historical, Geographical, Political, Statistical and - Social Account of That Country From the Period of the - Invasion by the Spaniards to the Present Time; With a View - of the Ancient Aztec Empire and Civilization; A Historical - Sketch of the Late War; And Notices of New Mexico and - California
Author: Mayer, Brantz, 1809-1879
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mexico, Aztec, Spanish and Republican Vol. 1 of 2 - A Historical, Geographical, Political, Statistical and - Social Account of That Country From the Period of the - Invasion by the Spaniards to the Present Time; With a View - of the Ancient Aztec Empire and Civilization; A Historical - Sketch of the Late War; And Notices of New Mexico and - California" ***

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[Illustration: HERNANDO CORTÉZ.






  ENTERED according to Act of Congress, in the year 1850, by
  In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Connecticut.

  29 Gold-st., N. Y.



I take the liberty to inscribe these volumes to you as a testimonial
of personal gratitude. In the midst of engrossing cares you have often
been pleased to turn aside for a while to foster those who were
following the humbler and quieter walks of literature; and it is,
naturally, their delight to offer for your acceptance, upon every
suitable occasion, an acknowledgment of cordial thankfulness.

Allow me, then, as the only tribute I can tender, to present a work
designed to illustrate the history and resources of one of those
American States which were summoned into the brotherhood of nations by
your sympathy and eloquence.

  I am, with the greatest respect,
  Your friend and servant,



The people of the United States have always felt a deep interest in
the history and destiny of Mexico. It was not only the commercial
spirit of our citizens that awakened this sentiment. In former times,
when the exclusive policy of Spain closed the door of intercourse with
her American colonies, the ancient history of Peru and Mexico
attracted the curiosity of our students. They were eager to solve the
enigma of a strange civilization which had originated in the central
portions of our continent in isolated independence of all the world.
They desired, moreover, to know something of those enchanted regions,
which, like the fabled garden of the Hesperides, were watched and
warded with such jealous vigilance; and they craved to behold those
marvelous mines whose boundless wealth was poured into the lap of
Spain. The valuable work of Baron Humboldt, published in the early
part of this century, stimulated this natural curiosity; and, when the
revolutionary spirit of Europe penetrated our continent, and the
masses rose to cast off colonial bondage, we hailed with joy every
effort of the patriots who fought so bravely in the war of liberation.
Bound to Mexico by geographical ties, though without a common language
or lineage, we were the first to welcome her and the new American
Sovereignties into the brotherhood of nations, and to fortify our
continental alliance by embassies and treaties.

After more than twenty years of peaceful intercourse, the war of 1846
broke out between Mexico and our Union. Thousands, of all classes,
professions and occupations,--educated and uneducated--observers and
idlers,--poured into the territory of the invaded republic. In the
course of the conflict these sturdy adventurers traversed the central
and northern regions of Mexico, scoured her coasts, possessed
themselves for many months of her beautiful Capital, and although they
returned to their homes worn with the toils of war, none have ceased
to remember the delicious land, amid whose sunny valleys and majestic
mountains they had learned, at least, to admire the sublimity of
nature. The returned warriors did not fail to report around their
firesides the marvels they witnessed during their campaigns, and
numerous works have been written to sketch the story of individual
adventure, or to portray the most interesting physical features of
various sections of the republic. Thus by war and literature, by
ancient curiosity and political sympathy, by geographical position and
commercial interest, Mexico has become perhaps the most interesting
portion of the world to our countrymen at the present moment. And I
have been led to believe that the American people would not receive
unfavorably a work designed to describe the entire country, to develop
its resources and condition, and to sketch impartially its history
from the conquest to the present day.

It has been no ordinary task to chronicle the career of a nation for
more than three centuries, to unveil the colonial government of
sixty-two Viceroys, to follow the thread of war and politics through
the mazes of revolution, and to track the rebellious spirit of
intrigue amid the numerous civil outbreaks which have occurred since
the downfall of Iturbide. The complete Viceroyal history of Mexico is
now for the first time presented to the world in the English language,
while, in Spanish, no single author has ever attempted it
continuously. Free from the bias of Mexican partizanship, I have
endeavored to narrate events fairly, and to paint character without
regard to individual men. In describing the country, its resources,
geography, finances, church, agriculture, army, industrial condition,
and social as well as political prospects, I have taken care to
provide myself with the most recent and respectable authorities. My
residence in the country, and intimacy with many of its educated and
intelligent patriots, enabled me to gather information in which I
confided, and I have endeavored to fuse the whole mass of knowledge
thus laboriously procured, with my personal, and, I hope,
unprejudiced, observation.

I have not deemed it proper to encumber the margin of my pages with
continual references to authorities that are rarely consulted by
general readers, and could only be desired by critics who would often
be tantalized by the citation of works, which, in all likelihood, are
not to be found except in private collections in the United States,
and some of which, I am quite sure, exist only in my own library or in
the Mexican Legation, at Washington. Such references, whilst they
occupied an undue portion of the book, would be ostentatiously and
tediously pedantic in a work of so little pretension as mine. I may
state, however, that no important fact has been asserted without
authority, and, in order to indicate the greater portion of my
published sources of reliance, I have subjoined a list of the
principal materials consulted and carefully verified in the
composition of these volumes. Nevertheless, I have perhaps failed
sometimes to procure the standard works that are accessible to native
or permanent residents of the country, and thus, may have fallen
accidental into error, whilst honestly seeking to shun misstatement.
If those whose information enables them to detect important mistakes
will be kind enough to point them out candidly and clearly, I will
gladly correct such serious faults if another edition should ever be
required by an indulgent public.





    Cartas de Cortéz ed. Lorenzana.

    Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España--Bernal Diaz.

    Peter Martyr.

    Conquista de Mejico, by De Solis.

    Veytia. Herrera.

    Robertson's History of America.

    Clavigero--Historia Antigua de Mejico.

    Prescott's History of the Conquest of Mexico.

    Cavo y Bustamante--Tres Siglos de Mejico.

    Alaman--Disertaciones sobre la Historia de Mejico.

    Father Gage's America.

    Ternaux-Compans's History of the Conquest.

    Recopilacion de las leyes de las Indias.

    Mendez--Observaciones sobre las leyes, &c., &c.

    N. American Review, vol. XIX.

    Transactions of the American Ethnological Society, in the Articles
    on Mexico, by Mr. Gallatin.

    Researches, Philosophical and Antiquarian, concerning the
    Aboriginal History of America, by J. H. McCulloh.

    Pesquisia contra Pedro de Alvarado y Nuño de Guzman.

    Lives of the Viceroys in the Liceo Mejicano.

    Notas y esclarecimientos à la historia de la Conquista de Mejico,
    por José F. Ramirez.--2d vol. of Mexican translation of Prescott.

    Zavala--Revoluciones de Mejico desde 1808, hasta 1830.

    Don Vicente Pazo's Letters on the United Provinces of South America.

    Robinson's Memoirs of the Mexican Revolution.

    Ward's Mexico in 1827, &c.

    Foote's History of Texas.

    Tejas in 1836.

    Memorias para la Historia de la Guerra de Tejas, por General
    Vicente Filisola.

    Forbes's California.

    Greenhow's Oregon and California.

    American State Papers.

    Ranke--Fursten und Volker.

    Dr. Dunham's History of Spain and Portugal.

    General Waddy Thompson's Recollections of Mexico.

    Apuntes para la historia de la guerra entre Mejico y los Estados

    Lectures on Mexican history, by José Maria Lacunza, Professor in
    the College of San Juan de Letran.

    Constituciones de Mejico y de los Estados Mejicanos.

    _Thirteen_ octavo volumes of documents published by the Congress
    of the United States, relative to our intercourse and war with
    Mexico, collected by myself.

    Tributo à la Verdad,--Vera Cruz 1847.


    Humboldt, Essai Politique sur la Nouvelle Espagne.

    Poinsett's Notes on Mexico.

    Bullock's Mexico.

    Lieut. Hardy's Journey in Mexico.

    Ward's Mexico in 1827.

    Folsom's Mexico in 1842.

    Mühlenpfordt--Die Republik Mejico.

    Mejico en 1842, por Luis Manuel de Rivero.

    Mexico as it Was and as it Is, 1844.

    Ensayo sobre el verdadero estado de la cuestion social y politica
    que se agita en la Republica Mejicana, por Otero, 1842.

    Madame Calderon de la Barca's Life in Mexico.

    Kennedy's Texas.

    Emory, Abert, Cooke and Johnston--Journals in New Mexico and

    Frémont's Expeditions, 1842-'3-'4.

    Frémont's California, 1848.

    T. Butler King's Report on California, 1850.

    W. Carey Jones's   do.         do.     1850.

    Executive documents in relation to California, 1850.

    Forbes's California.

    Bryant's     do.

    Kendall's Santa Fé Expedition.

    Wilkes's Exploring Expedition.

    Wise--Los Gringos.

    Ruxton's Travels in Mexico, &c.

    Norman's Rambles in Yucatan.

       "       "     in Mexico.

    Gregg's Commerce of the Prairies.

    Dr. Wislizenius's Memoir on New Mexico.

    Stephens's Central America.

        "      Yucatan.

    Gama--Piedras Antiguas de Mejico.

    El Museo Mejicano.

    Isidro R. Gondra's Notes on Mexican Antiquities, in the 3rd vol.
    (with plates) of the Mexican translation of Prescott.

    Nebel--Voyage Arquéologique et Pittoresque en Mexique.

    Memoir of the Mexican Minister of Foreign and Domestic Affairs on
    the condition of the country in 1846.

    Idem in 1849.

    Memoir of the Mexican Minister of War, 1844.

    Idem in 1846.

    Idem in 1849.

    Memoir of the Mexican Minister of Finance on the condition of the
    Treasury, 1841.

    Idem in 1846.

    Idem in 1848.

    Idem in 1849.

    Memoir on the Agriculture and Manufactures of Mexico, by Don Lucas
    Alaman, 1843.

    Memoir on the Liquidation of the National Debt, by Alaman, 1845.

    Noticias Estadisticas del Estado de Chihuahua, 1834.

    Noticias Estadisticas sobre el Departamento de Querétaro, 1845.

    Nos. 1, 2, 3, Boletin del Instituto Nacional de Geografia y
    Estadistica, 1839-1849.

    Collecion de documentos relativos al departamento de Californias,

    El Observador Judicial de Mejico.

    Semanario de la Industria Mejicana.

    El Mosaico Mejicano.

    Journal des Economistes.

    Lyell's Geology.

    Lerdo--Consideraciones sobre la condicion social y politica de la
    Republica Mejicana en 1847.



  CHAPTER I.--Discoveries of Cordova and Grijalva--Cortéz appointed
  by Velasquez--Biographical notice of Cortéz--Cortéz Captain
  General of the Armada--Equipment of the Expedition--Quarrel of
  Velasquez--Firmness of Cortéz--Expedition departs under Cortéz,     13

  CHAPTER II.--Olmeda preaches to the Indians--Aguilar and
  Mariana--interpreters--Cortéz lands--interview with the
  Aztecs--Diplomacy--Montezuma's presents--Montezuma refuses to
  receive Cortéz,                                                     22

  CHAPTER III.--Cortéz founds La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz--Fleet
  destroyed--March to Mexico--Conquest of Tlascala--Cholula--
  Slaughter in Cholula--Valley of Mexico--Cortéz enters the
  Valley--Gigantic Causeway--Lake of Tezcoco--Reception by
  Montezuma--Spaniards enter the capital,                             28

  CHAPTER IV.--Description of the City of Tenochtitlan--Montezuma's
  way of life--Market-place--Cortéz at the Great Temple--Description
  of it--Place of Sacrifice--Sanctuaries--Huitzilopotchtli--
  Tezcatlipoca--Danger of Cortéz--Montezuma seized--Montezuma a
  prisoner--his submissiveness--Arrival of Narvaez--Cortéz's
  diplomacy--Cortéz overcomes Narvaez, and recruits his forces,       35

  CHAPTER V.--Cortéz returns to the Capital--Causes of the revolt
  against the Spaniards--Cortéz condemns Alvarado--his conduct to
  Montezuma--Battle in the city--Montezuma mediates--Fight on the
  Great Temple or Teocalli--Retreat of the Spaniards--Noche
  Triste--Flight of the Spaniards to Tacuba,                          44

  CHAPTER VI.--Retreat to Otumba--Cortéz is encountered by a new
  army of Aztecs and auxiliaries--Victory of the Spaniards at
  Otumba--Proposed re-alliance of Aztecs and Tlascalans--Forays of
  Cortéz--reduction of the eastern regions--Cortéz proposes the
  reconquest--sends off the disaffected--Cortéz settles the
  Tlascalan succession,                                               50

  CHAPTER VII.--Death of Cuitlahua--he is succeeded by
  Guatemozin--Aztecs learn the proposed reconquest--Cortéz's forces
  for this enterprise--Cortéz at Tezcoco--his plans and
  acts--Military expeditions of Cortéz in the Valley--Operations
  at Chalco and Cuernavaca--Xochimilco--return to Tacuba--Cortéz
  returns to Tezcoco and is reinforced,                               56

  CHAPTER VIII.--Cortéz returns--conspiracy among his men
  detected--Execution of Villafaña--Brigantines launched--
  Xicotencatl's treason and execution--Disposition of forces to
  attack the city--Siege and assaults on the city--Fight and
  reverses of the Spaniards--Sacrifice of captives--Flight of
  allies--Contest renewed--Starvation,                                62

  CHAPTER IX.--Aztec prediction--it is not verified--Cortéz
  reinforced by fresh arrivals--Famine in the city--Cortéz levels
  the city to its foundation--Condition of the capital--Attack
  renewed--Capture of Guatemozin--Surrender of the city--Frightful
  condition of the city,                                              70

  CHAPTER X.--Duty of a historian--Motives of the Conquest--
  Character and deeds of Cortéz--Materials of the Conquest--
  Adventurers--Priests--Indian allies--Historical aspects of the
  Conquest,                                                           75

  CHAPTER XI.--Discontent at not finding gold--Torture of
  Guatemozin--Results of the fall of the capital--Mission from
  Michoacan--Rebuilding of the capital--Letters to the
  King--Intrigues against Cortéz--Fonseca--Narvaez--Tapia--Charles
  V. protects Cortéz and confirms his acts,                           80

  CHAPTER XII.--Cortéz commissioned by the Emperor--Velasquez--his
  death--Mexico rebuilt--Immigration--Repartimientos of
  Indians--Honduras--Guatemozin--Mariana--Cortéz accused--ordered
  to Spain for trial--his reception, honors and titles--he
  marries--his return to Mexico--resides at Tezcoco--Expeditions
  of Cortéz--California--Quivara--returns to Spain--death--Where
  are his bones?                                                      84

  CHAPTER XIII.--Archbishop Zumarraga's destruction of Mexican
  monuments, writings, documents--Mr. Gallatin's opinion of
  them--Traditions--two sources of accurate knowledge--Speculations
  on antiquity--Aztecs--Toltecs--Nahuatlacs--Acolhuans, &c.--Aztecs
  emigrate from Aztlan--settle in Anahuac--Tables of emigration of
  the original tribes--Other tribes in the empire,                    92

  CHAPTER XIV.--Difficulty of estimating the civilization of the
  Aztecs--Nations in Yucatan--Value of contemporary history--The
  Aztec monarchy--elective--Royal style in Tenochtitlan--
  Montezuma's way of life--Despotic power of the Emperor over life
  and law--Theft--intemperance--marriage--slavery--war--Military
  system and hospitals--Coin--Revenues--Aztec mythology--Image of
  Teoyaomiqui--Teocalli--Two kinds of sacrifice--Why the Aztecs
  sacrificed their prisoners--Common Sacrifice--Gladitorial
  Sacrifice--Sacrificial Stone--Aztec Calendar--week, month, year,
  cycle--Procession of the New Fire--Astronomical Science--Aztec
  Calendar--Tables,                                                   99


  CHAPTER I.--Colonial system--Early grants of power to rulers
  in Mexico by the Emperor Charles V.--Abuse of it--Council of the
  Indies--Laws--Royal audiences--Cabildos--Fueros--Relative
  positions of Spaniards and Creoles--Scheme of Spanish colonial
  trade--Restrictions on trade--Alcabala--Taxes--Papal Bulls--Bulls
  de Cruzada--de Defuntos--of Composition--Power of the Church--its
  property--Inquisition--The acts of the Inquisition--
  for maladministration,                                             127

  CHAPTER II.--Founding of the Viceroyalty of New Spain--New
  Audiencia--Fuenleal--Mendoza--Early acts of the first Viceroy--
  Coinage--Rebellion in Jalisco--Viceroy suppresses it--Council of
  the Indies on Repartimientos--Indian Servitude--Quivara--
  Expeditions of Coronado and Alarcon--Pest in 1546--Revolution--
  Council of Bishops--Mines--Zapotecs revolt--Mendoza removed to
  Peru,                                                              139

  CHAPTER III.--Velasco endeavors to ameliorate the condition of
  the Indians--University of Mexico established--Inundation--
  Military colonization--Philip II.--Florida--Intrigues against
  Velasco--Philipine Isles--Death of Velasco--Marques de
  Falces--Baptism of the grand-children of Cortéz--Conspiracy
  against the Marques del Valle--his arrest--execution of his
  friends--Marques de Falces--charges against him--his fall--
  Errors of Philip II.--Fall of Muñoz and his return--Vindication
  of the Viceroy,                                                    148

  CHAPTER IV.--Almanza Viceroy--Chichimecas revolt--Jesuits--
  Inquisition--Pestilence--No Indian tribute exacted--Almanza
  departs--Xuares Viceroy--Weak Administration--Increase of
  commerce--Pedro Moya de Contreras Viceroy--Reforms under a new
  Viceroy--His power as Viceroy and Inquisitor--Zuñiga
  Viceroy--Treasure--Piracy--Cavendish--Drake captures a
  galeon--Zuñiga and the Audiencia of Guadalajara--His deposition
  from power,                                                        160

  CHAPTER V.--Luis de Velasco II. becomes Viceroy--Delight of the
  Mexicans--Factories reopened--Chichimecas--Colonization--
  Alameda--Indians taxed for European wars--Composition--Fowls--
  Acebedo Viceroy--Expedition to New Mexico--Indian
  ameliorations--Death of Philip II.--New scheme of hiring
  Indians--California--Montesclaros Viceroy--Inundation--Albarrada,  170

  CHAPTER VI.--Second administration of Don Luis Velasco--His
  great work for the Drainage of the Valley--Lakes in the
  Valley--Danger of Inundation--History of the Desague of
  Huehuetoca--Operations of the engineers Martinez and Boot--The
  Franciscans--Completion of the Desague--La Obra del Consulado--
  Negro revolt--Extension of Oriental trade--Guerra Viceroy--De
  Cordova Viceroy--Indian revolt--Cordova founded,                   178

  CHAPTER VII.--Marques de Gelves Viceroy--his reforms--Narrative
  of Father Gage--Gelves forestalls the market--The Archbishop
  excommunicates Mexia, his agent--Quarrel between Gelves and the
  Archbishop--Viceroy excommunicated--Archbishop at Guadalupe--he
  is arrested at the altar--sent to Spain--Mexia threatened--Mob
  attacks the Palace--it is sacked--Viceroy escapes--Retribution,    187

  CHAPTER VIII.--The Audiencia rules in the interregnum--Carillo
  Visitador--Inquisitorial examination--Acapulco taken--Attacks
  by the Dutch--Removal of the Capital proposed--Armendariz
  Viceroy--Escalona Viceroy--Palafox's conduct to the Viceroy--
  Palafox Viceroy--His good and evil,                                195

  CHAPTER IX.--Sotomayor Viceroy--Escalona vindicated--Monastic
  property--Bigotry of Palafox--Guzman Viceroy--Indian
  insurrection--Revolt of the Tarahumares--Success of the
  Indians--Indian wars--Duke de Alburquerque Viceroy--Attempt
  to assassinate him--Count de Baños Viceroy--Attempt to
  colonize--Escobar y Llamas and De Toledo Viceroys--Depredations
  of British cruisers--Nuño de Portugal Viceroy,                     201

  CHAPTER X.--Rivera Viceroy--La Cerda Viceroy--Revolt in New
  Mexico--Success of the Indians--Colony destroyed--Efforts of
  the Spaniards to reconquer--Vera Cruz sacked--Count Monclova
  Viceroy--Count Galve Viceroy--Tarrahumaric revolt--Indians
  pacified--Texas--Hispaniola attacked--Insurrection--Burning of
  the Palace--Famine--Earthquake,                                    212

  CHAPTER XI.--Montañez Viceroy--Spiritual Conquest of
  California--Valladares Viceroy--Fair at Acapulco--Spanish
  monarchy--Austria--Bourbon--Montañez Viceroy--Jesuits in
  California--La Cueva Viceroy--Duke de Linares Viceroy--British
  slavery treaty--Colonization--Nuevo Leon--Texas--Operations in
  Texas--Alarcon--Aguayo--Casa-Fuerte's virtuous administration--
  Louis I.--Oriental trade--Spanish jealousy--The King's opinion
  of Casa-Fuerte--his acts,                                          221

  CHAPTER XII.--Vizarron and Eguiarreta Viceroy--Eventless
  government--Salazar Viceroy--Colonial fears--Fuen-Clara
  Viceroy--Galeon lost--Mexico under Revilla-Gigedo I.--Ferdinand
  VI.--Indians--Taxes--Colonies in the north--Famine--Mines at
  Bolaños--Horcasitas--Character of Revilla-Gigedo--Villalon
  Viceroy--Charles III.--Cagigal Viceroy,                            232

  CHAPTER XIII.--Marques de Cruillas Viceroy--Charles III.
  proclaimed--Havana taken by the British--Military preparations--
  Peace--Pestilence--Galvez Visitador--Reforms--Tobacco
  monopoly--De Croix Viceroy--The Jesuits--their expulsion from
  Spanish dominions--their arrival in Europe--banished--Causes of
  this conduct to the order--Origin of the military character of
  Mexico,                                                            240

  CHAPTER XIV.--Bucareli y Ursua Viceroy--Progress of New Spain--
  Gold placers in Sonora--Mineral wealth at that period--
  Intellectual condition of the country--Line of Presidios--Mayorga
  Viceroy--Policy of Spain to England and her colonies--Operations
  on the Spanish Main, &c.--Matias Galvez Viceroy--his acts,         248

  CHAPTER XV.--Bernardo de Galvez Viceroy--Chapultepec--Galvez
  dies--his daughter--Haro Viceroy--Corruption of Alcaldes--Flores
  Viceroy--his system of ruling the northern frontier--Mining
  interests--II. Revilla-Gigedo Viceroy--Charles IV.--
  Revilla-Gigedo's colonial improvements--his advice as to
  California Anecdotes of his police regulations--The street of
  Revilla-Gigedo--Arrest of fugitive lovers--Punishes the culprits,  255

  CHAPTER XVI.--Branciforte Viceroy--his grasping and avaricious
  character--Corruption tolerated--Persecution of Frenchmen--
  Encampments--Branciforte's character--Azanza Viceroy--Effect of
  European wars on colonial trade and manufactures--Threatened
  revolt--Marquina Viceroy--Revolt in Jalisco--Iturrigaray
  Viceroy--Godoy's corruption--War--Defences against the United
  taxed for European wars--Ferdinand VII.--Napoleon in Spain--King
  Joseph Bonaparte--Iturrigaray arrested--Garibay Viceroy,           267


  CHAPTER I.--Lianza Viceroy--Audiencia--Venegas Viceroy--True
  sources of the Revolution--Creoles loyal to Ferdinand--Spaniards
  in favor of King Joseph--Mexican subscriptions for Spain--Secret
  union in Mexico against Spaniards--Hidalgo--Allende--First
  outbreak--Guanajuato sacked--Las Cruces--Mexico menaced--Indian
  bravery at Aculco--Marfil--Massacre at Guanajuato--Calleja--
  Insurgents defeated--Execution of Hidalgo,                         279

  CHAPTER II.--Venegas Viceroy--Rayon--Junta in 1811--its
  willingness to receive Ferdinand VII.--Proclamation by the
  Junta--Morelos--Acapulco taken--Successes of the insurgents--
  Siege of Cuautla--Izucar--Orizaba--Oaxaca--Chilpanzingo--Calleja
  Viceroy--Iturbide--Reverses of insurgents--Morelos shot,           287

  CHAPTER III.--Apodaca Viceroy--Spanish constitution of 1812
  proclaimed in Mexico--Condition of the revolutionary party--
  Victoria--Mina lands at Soto la Marina--his efforts--Los
  Remedios--Guerrillas--he is shot--Padre Torres--Iturbide--
  Apodaca selects him to establish absolutism--Iturbide
  promulgates the Plan of Iguala--Army of the Three Guaranties,      293

  CHAPTER IV.--O'Donoju Viceroy--Conduct of Iturbide--Novella--
  Revolt--Treaty of Cordova--First Mexican Cortes--Iturbide
  Emperor--his career--exiled to Italy--Iturbide returns--
  arrest--execution--his character and services,                     301

  CHAPTER V.--Review of the condition of Mexico and the formation
  of parties--Viceroyal government--The people--The army--The
  church--Constitution of 1824--Echavari revolts--Victoria
  President--Escocesses--Yorkinos--Revolts continued--Montayno--
  Guerrero--Gomez Pedraza President--is overthrown--Federalists--
  Centralists--Guerrero President--Abolition of Slavery in Mexico,   307

  CHAPTER VI.--Conspiracy against Guerrero by Bustamante--Guerrero
  betrayed and shot--Anecdote--Revolt under Santa Anna--he
  restores Pedraza and becomes President--Gomez Farias deposed--
  Church--Central Constitution of 1836--Santa Anna--his Texan
  disgrace--Mexia--Bustamante President--French at Vera Cruz Revolts
  in the north and in the capital--Bustamante deposed--Santa Anna
  President,                                                         316

  CHAPTER VII.--Reconquest of Texas proposed--Canalizo President
  ad interim--Revolution under Paredes in 1844--Santa Anna falls--
  Herrera President--Texan revolt--Origin of war with the United
  States--Texan war for the Constitution of 1824--Nationality
  recognized--Annexation to the United States--Proposition to
  Mexico--Herrera overthrown--Paredes President--Our minister
  rejected--Character of General Paredes,                            326

  CHAPTER VIII.--General Taylor ordered to the Rio Grande--History
  of Texan boundaries--Origin of the war--Military preparations--
  Commencement of hostilities--Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca--
  Matamoros--Taylor's advance--Fall of Monterey,                     334

  CHAPTER IX.--General Wool inspects and musters the western
  troops--Army of the Centre--New Mexico--Kearney--Macnamara--
  California--Frémont--Sonoma--Californian independence--
  Possession taken--Sloat--Stockton--A revolt--Pico--Treaty of
  Couenga--Kearney at San Pascual--is relieved--Disputes--San
  Gabrielle--Mesa--Los Angeles--Frémont's character, services,
  trial,                                                             342

  CHAPTER X.--Valley of the Rio Grande--Santa Anna at San
  Luis--Scott commander-in-chief--Plan of attack on the east
  coast--General Scott's plan--Doniphan's expedition--Bracito--
  Sacramento--Revolt in New Mexico--Murder of Richie--Selection
  of battle ground--Description of it--Battle of Angostura or
  Buena Vista--Mexican retreat--Tabasco--Tampico,                    350

  CHAPTER XI.--Santa Anna's return--changes his principles--Salas
  executive--Constitution of 1824 restored--Paredes--Plans of
  Salas and Santa Anna--his letter to Almonte--his views of the
  war--refuses the Dictatorship--commands the army--State of
  parties in Mexico--Puros--Moderados--Santa Anna at San
  Luis--Peace propositions--Internal troubles--Farias's
  controversy with the church--Polko revolution in the capital--
  Vice Presidency suppressed--Important decree,                      358

  CHAPTER XII.--General Scott at Lobos--Landing at and siege of
  Vera Cruz--Capitulation and condition of Vera Cruz--Condition
  of Mexico--Alvarado, etc., captured--Scott's advance--
  Description of Cerra Gordo--Mexican defences and military
  disposal there--Battle of Cerro Gordo--Peroté and Puebla
  yield--Santa Anna returns--Constitution of 1824 readopted--
  Mexican politics of the day--War spirit--Guerillas--Peace
  negotiations--Santa Anna's secret negotiations,                    370

  CHAPTER XIII.--Scott at Puebla--Tampico and Orizaba taken--
  Scott's advance--Topography of the Valley of Mexico--Routes to
  the capital--El Peñon--Mexicalzingo--Tezcoco--Chalco--Outer and
  inner lines around the city--Scott's advance by Chalco--The
  American army at San Augustin,                                     381

  CHAPTER XIV.--Difficulties of the advance--The Pedregal--San
  Antonio--Hacienda--Relative position of American and Mexican
  armies--Path over the Pedregal to Contreras--Valencia
  disconcerts Santa Anna's plan of battle--American advance and
  victory at Contreras--San Antonio turned by Worth--Battle of
  Churubusco--Battle at the Convent and Tete de Pont--Their
  capture,                                                           391

  CHAPTER XV.--Why the city was not entered on the 20th--Condition
  of the city--Deliberation of the Mexican cabinet and
  proposals--Reasons why General Scott proposed and granted the
  armistice--Deliberations of commissioners--Parties against
  Santa Anna--Failure of the negotiation--Mexican desire to
  destroy Santa Anna,                                                400

  CHAPTER XVI.--Military position of the Americans at the end of
  the armistice--Mexican defences--Plan of attack--Reconnoissances
  of Scott and Mason--Importance of Mexican position at Molino del
  Rey--Scott's scheme of capturing the city--Battle of Molino del
  Rey--Reflections and criticism on this battle--Preparations to
  attack Chapultepec--Storming of Chapultepec and of the city Gates
  of San Cosmé and Belen--Retreat of the Mexican army and
  government--American occupation of the city of Mexico,             408

  CHAPTER XVII.--Attack of the city mob on the army--Quitman
  Governor--Peña President--Congress ordered--Siege of Puebla--
  Lane's, Lally's, and Childs's victories--Guerrilleros broken
  up--Mexican politics--Anaya President--Peace negotiations--
  Scott's decree--Peña President--Santa Anna and Lane--Santa
  Anna leaves Mexico for Jamaica--Treaty entered into--Its
  character--Santa Cruz de Rosales--Court of Inquiry--Internal
  troubles--Ambassadors at Querétaro--Treaty ratified--
  Evacuation--Revolutionary attempts--Condition of Mexico since
  the war--Character of Santa Anna--Note on the military critics,    420





1511 TO 1519.


There is perhaps no page in modern history so full of dramatic
incidents and useful consequences, as that which records the
discovery, conquest and development of America by the Spanish and
Anglo Saxon races. The extraordinary achievements of Columbus, Cortéz,
Pizarro, and Washington, have resulted in the acquisition of broad
lands, immense wealth, and rational liberty; and the names of these
heroes are thus indissolubly connected with the physical and
intellectual progress of mankind.

In the following pages we propose to write the history, and depict the
manners, customs and condition of MEXICO. Our narrative begins with
the first movements that were made for the conquest of the country;
yet, we shall recount, fully and accurately, the story of those Indian
princes,--the splendor of whose courts, and the misery of whose tragic
doom, enhance the picturesque grandeur and solemn lessons that are
exhibited in the career of Hernando Cortéz.

Cuba was the second island discovered, in the West Indies; but it was
not until 1511, that Diego, son of the gallant admiral, who had
hitherto maintained the seat of government in Hispaniola, resolved to
occupy the adjacent isle of Fernandina,--as it was then called,--amid
whose virgin mountains and forests he hoped to find new mines to
repair the loss of those which were rapidly failing in Hispaniola.[1]

For the conquest of this imagined El Dorado, he prepared a small
armament, under the command of Diego Velasquez, an ambitious and
covetous leader, who, together with his lieutenant, Narvaez, soon
established the Spanish authority in the island, of which he was
appointed Governor.

       *       *       *       *       *

Columbus, after coasting the shores of Cuba for a great distance, had
always believed that it constituted a portion of the continent, but it
was soon discovered that the illustrious admiral had been in error, and
that Cuba, extensive as it appeared to be, was, in fact, only an island.

In February, 1517, a Spanish _hidalgo_, Hernandez de Cordova, set
sail, with three vessels, towards the adjacent Bahamas in search of
slaves. He was driven by a succession of severe storms on coasts which
had hitherto been unknown to the Spanish adventurers, and finally
landed on that part of the continent which forms the north-eastern end
of the peninsula of Yucatan, and is known as Cape Catoché. Here he
first discovered the evidence of a more liberal civilization than had
been hitherto known among his adventurous countrymen in the New World.
Large and solid buildings, formed of stone;--cultivated
fields;--delicate fabrics of cotton and precious metals,--indicated
the presence of a race that had long emerged from the semi-barbarism
of the Indian Isles. The bold but accidental explorer continued his
voyage along the coast of the peninsula until he reached the site of
Campeché; and then, after an absence of seven months and severe losses
among his men, returned to Cuba, with but half the number of his
reckless companions. He brought back with him, however, numerous
evidences of the wealth and progress of the people he had fortuitously
discovered on the American main; but he soon died, and left to others
the task of completing the enterprise he had so auspiciously begun.
The fruits of his discoveries remained to be gathered by Velasquez,
who at once equipped four vessels and entrusted them to the command
of his nephew, Juan de Grijalva, and on the 1st of May, 1518, this new
commander left the port of St. Jago de Cuba. The first land he touched
on his voyage of discovery, was the Island of Cozumel, whence he
passed to the continent, glancing at the spots that had been
previously visited by Cordova. So struck was he by the architecture,
the improved agriculture, the civilized tastes, the friendly character
and demeanor of the inhabitants, and, especially, by the sight of
"large stone crosses, evidently objects of worship," that, in the
enthusiasm of the moment, he gave to the land the name of Nueva
España-or New Spain,--a title which has since been extended from the
peninsula of Yucatan to even more than the entire empire of Montezuma
and the Aztecs.

Grijalva did not content himself with a mere casual visit to the
continent, but pursued his course along the coast, stopping at the Rio
de Tabasco. Whilst at Rio de Vanderas, he enjoyed the first
intercourse that ever took place between the Spaniards and Mexicans.
The _Cacique_ of the Province sought from the strangers a full account
of their distant country and the motives of their visit, in order that
he might convey the intelligence to his Aztec master. Presents were
interchanged, and Grijalva received, in return for his toys and
tinsel, a mass of jewels, together with ornaments and vessels of gold,
which satisfied the adventurers that they had reached a country whose
resources would repay them for the toil of further exploration.
Accordingly, he despatched to Cuba with the joyous news, Pedro de
Alvarado, one of his captains,--a man who was destined to play a
conspicuous part in the future conquest,--whilst he, with the
remainder of his companies, continued his coasting voyage to San Juan
de Ulua, the Island of Sacrificios, and the northern shores, until he
reached the Province of Panuco; whence, after an absence of six
months, he set sail for Cuba, having been the first Spanish adventurer
who trod the soil of Mexico.

But his return was not hailed even with gratitude. The florid reports
of Pedro de Alvarado had already inflamed the ambition and avarice of
Velasquez, who, impatient of the prolonged absence of Grijalva, had
despatched a vessel under the command of Olid in search of his tardy
officer. Nor was he content with this jealous exhibition of his
temper; for, anxious to secure to himself all the glory and treasure
to be derived from the boundless resources of a continent, he
solicited authority from the Spanish crown to prosecute the adventures
that had been so auspiciously begun; and, in the meanwhile, after
considerable deliberation, resolved to fit out another armament on a
scale, in some degree, commensurate with the military subjugation of
the country, should he find himself opposed by its sovereign and
people. After considerable doubt, difficulty and delay, he resolved to
entrust this expedition to the command of HERNANDO CORTÉZ; "the last
man," says Prescott, "to whom Velasquez,--could he have foreseen the
results,--would have confided the enterprise."

       *       *       *       *       *

It will not be foreign to our purpose to sketch, briefly, the previous
life of a man who subsequently became so eminent in the history of
both worlds. Seven years before Columbus planted the standard of
Castile and Arragon in the West Indies, HERNANDO CORTÉZ, was born, of
a noble lineage, in the town of Medellin, in the Province of
Estremadura, in Spain. His infancy was frail and delicate, but his
constitution strengthened as he grew, until, at the age of fourteen,
he was placed in the venerable university of Salamanca, where his
parents, who rejoiced in the extreme vivacity of his talents, designed
to prepare him for the profession of law, the emoluments of which
were, at that period, most tempting in Spain. But the restless spirit
of the future conqueror was not to be manacled by the musty ritual of
a tedious science whose pursuit would confine him to a quiet life. He
wasted two years at the college, and, like many men who subsequently
became renowned either for thought or action, was finally sent home in
disgrace. Nevertheless, in the midst of his recklessness, and by the
quickness of his genius, he had learned "a little store of Latin," and
acquired the habit of writing good prose, or of versifying agreeably.
His father,--Don Martin Cortéz de Monroy, and his mother, Doña
Catalina Pizarro Altamirano,--seem to have been accomplished people,
nor is it improbable, that the greater part of their son's information
was obtained under the influence of the domestic circle. At college he
was free from all restraint,--giving himself up to the spirit of
adventure, the pursuit of pleasure, and convivial intercourse,--so
that no hope was entertained of his further improvement from
scholastic studies. His worthy parents were, moreover, people of
limited fortune, and unable to prolong these agreeable but profitless
pursuits. Accordingly, when Cortéz attained the age of seventeen, they
yielded to his proposal to enlist under the banner of GONSALVO OF
CORDOVA, and to devote himself, heart and soul, to the military life
which seemed most suitable for one of his wild, adventurous and
resolute disposition. It was well for Spain and for himself, that the
chivalric wish of Cortéz was not thwarted,--and that one of the ablest
soldiers produced by Castile at that period, was not dwarfed by
parental control into a bad lawyer or pestilent pettifogger.

The attention of our hero was soon directed towards the New
World,--the stories of whose wealth had now for upwards of twenty
years been pouring into the greedy ear of Spain,--and he speedily
determined to embark in the armament which NICOLAS DE OVANDO, the
successor of Columbus, was fitting out for the West Indies. This
design was frustrated, however, for two years longer, by an accident
which occurred in one of his amours; nor did another opportunity
present itself, until, at the age of nineteen, in 1504, he bade adieu
to Spain in a small squadron bound to the Islands.

As soon as Cortéz reached Hispaniola, he visited the Governor, whom he
had formerly known at home. OVANDO was absent, but his secretary
received the emigrant kindly, and assured him "a liberal grant of
land." "I come for _gold_," replied Cortéz, sneeringly, "and not to
toil like a peasant!" Ovando, however, was more fortunate than the
secretary, in prevailing upon the future conqueror to forego the
lottery of adventure, for no sooner had he returned to his post, than
Cortéz was persuaded to accept a grant of land, a _repartimiento_ of
Indians, and the office of notary in the village of Açua. Here he
seems to have dwelt until 1511, varying the routine of notarial and
agricultural pursuits by an occasional adventure, of an amorous
character, which involved him in duels. Sometimes he took part in the
military expeditions under Diego Velasquez for the suppression of
Indian insurrections in the interior. This was the school in which he
learned his tactics, and here did he study the native character until
he joined Velasquez for the conquest of Cuba.

As soon as this famous Island was reduced to Spanish authority, Cortéz
became high in favor with Velasquez, who had received the commission of
Governor. But love, intrigues, jealousy and ambition, quickly began to
chequer the wayward life of our hero, and estranged him from Velasquez,
for the new Governor found it difficult to satisfy the cravings of those
rapacious adventurers who flocked in crowds to the New World, and, in
all probability, clustered around Cortéz as the nucleus of discontent.
It was soon resolved by these men to submit their complaints against
Velasquez to the higher authorities in Hispaniola, and the daring Cortéz
was fixed on as the bearer of the message in an open boat, across the
eighteen intervening leagues. But the conspiracy was detected,--the rash
ambassador confined in chains,--and only saved from hanging by the
interposition of powerful friends.

Cortéz speedily contrived to relieve himself of the fetters with which
he was bound, and, forcing a window, escaped from his prison to the
sanctuary of a neighboring church. A few days after, however, he was
seized whilst standing carelessly in front of the sacred edifice, and
conveyed on board a vessel bound for Hispaniola, where he was to be
tried. But his intrepidity and skill did not forsake him even in this
strait. Ascending cautiously from the vessel's hold to the deck, he
dropped into a boat and pulled near ashore, when dreading to risk the
frail bark in the breakers, he abandoned his skiff,--plunged boldly
into the surf,--and landing on the sands, sought again the sanctuary,
whence he had been rudely snatched by the myrmidons of the Governor.

One of the causes of his quarrel with Velasquez had been an intrigue
with a beautiful woman, in whose family the Governor was, perhaps,
personally interested. The fickle Cortéz cruelly abandoned the fair
Catalina Xuares at a most inauspicious moment of her fate, and was
condemned for his conduct by all the best people in the Island; but
now, under the influence of penitence or policy, his feelings suddenly
experienced a strange revulsion. He expressed a contrite desire to do
justice to the injured woman by marriage, and thus, at once obtained
the favor of her family and the pardon of the Governor, who becoming
permanently reconciled to Cortéz, presented him a liberal
_repartimiento_ of Indians together with broad lands in the
neighborhood of St. Jago, of which he was soon made _alcalde_.

The future conqueror devoted himself henceforth to his duties with
remarkable assiduity. Agriculture,--the introduction of cattle of the
best breeds,--and the revenues of a share of the mines which he
wrought,--soon began to enrich the restless adventurer who had settled
down for a while into the quiet life of a married man. His beautiful
wife fulfilled her share of the cares of life with remarkable
fidelity, and seems to have contented the heart even of her liege
lord, who declared himself as happy with his bride as if she had been
the daughter of a duchess.

       *       *       *       *       *

At this juncture ALVARADO returned with the account of the
discoveries, the wealth, and the golden prospects of continental
adventure which we have already narrated. Cortéz and Velasquez were
alike fired by the alluring story. The old flame of enterprise was
rekindled in the breast of the wild boy of Medellin, and when the
Governor looked around for one who could command the projected
expedition, he found none, among the hosts who pressed for service,
better fitted for the enterprise by personal qualities and fortune,
than Hernando Cortéz, whom he named CAPTAIN GENERAL OF HIS ARMADA.

The high office and the important task imposed on him seem to have
sobered the excitable, and heretofore fickle, mind of our hero. His
ardent animal spirits, under the influence of a bold and lofty
purpose, became the servants rather than the masters of his
indomitable will, and he at once proceeded to arrange all the details
of the expedition which he was to lead to Mexico. The means that he
did not already possess in his own coffers, he raised by mortgage, and
he applied the funds, thus obtained, to the purchase of vessels,
rations, and military stores, or to the furnishing of adequate
equipments for adventurers who were too poor to provide their own
outfit. It is somewhat questionable whether Velasquez, the Governor,
was very liberal in his personal and pecuniary contributions to this
expedition, the cost of which amounted to about twenty thousand gold
ducats. It has been alleged that Cortéz was the chief support of the
adventure, and it is certain, that in later years, this question
resulted in bitter litigation between the parties.

       *       *       *       *       *

Six ships and three hundred followers were soon prepared for the
enterprise under Cortéz, and the Governor proceeded to give
instructions to the leader, all of which are couched in language of
unquestionable liberality.

The captain of the Armada was first to seek the missing Grijalva,
after which the two commanders were to unite in their quest of gold
and adventure. Six Christians, supposed to be lingering in captivity
in Yucatan, were to be sought and released. Barter and traffic,
generally, with the natives were to be encouraged and carried on, so
as to avoid all offence against humanity or kindness. The Indians were
to be christianized;--for the conversion of heathens was one of the
dearest objects of the Spanish king. The aborigines, in turn, were to
manifest their good will by ample gifts of jewels and treasure. The
coasts and adjacent streams were to be surveyed,--and the productions
of the country, its races, civilization, and institutions, were to be
noted with minute accuracy, so that a faithful report might be
returned to the crown, to whose honor and the service of God, it was
hoped the enterprise would certainly redound.

Such was the state of things in the port of St. Jago, when jealous
fears began to interrupt the confidence between Velasquez and Cortéz.
The counsel of friends who were companions of the Governor, and his
own notice of that personage's altered conduct, soon put the new
Captain General of the Armada on his guard. Neither his equipment nor
his crew was yet complete; nevertheless, he supplied his fleet with
all the provisions he could hastily obtain at midnight; and, paying
the provider with a massive chain which he had worn about his
neck,--the last available remnant, perhaps, of his fortune,--he
hastened with his officers on board the vessels.

On the 18th of November, 1518, he made sail for the port of Macaca,
about fifteen leagues distant, and thence he proceeded to Trinidad, on
the southern coast of Cuba. Here he obtained stores from the royal
farms, whilst he recruited his forces from all classes, but especially
from the returned troops and sailors of Grijalva's expedition. Pedro de
Alvarado and his brothers; Cristoval de Olid, Alonzo de Avila, Juan
Velasquez de Leon, Hernandez de Puerto Carrero, and Gonzalo de Sandoval,
united their fortunes to his, and thus identified themselves forever
with the conquest of Mexico. He added considerably to his stock by the
seizure of several vessels and cargoes; and prudently got rid of Diego
de Ordaz, whom he regarded as a spy of the estranged Velasquez.

At Trinidad, Cortéz was overtaken by orders for detention from his
former friend and patron. These commands, however, were not enforced
by the cautious official who received them; and Cortéz, forthwith,
despatched Alvarado, by land, to Havana, whilst he prepared to follow
with his fleet around the coast and western part of the island. At
Havana he again added to his forces,--prepared arms and quilted armor
as a defence against the Indian arrows,--and distributed his men into
eleven companies under the command of experienced officers. But,
before all his arrangements were completed, the commander of the
place, Don Pedro Barba, was ordered, by express from Velasquez, to
_arrest_ Cortéz, whilst the Captain General of the Armada himself
received a hypocritical letter from the same personage, "requesting
him to delay his voyage till the governor could communicate with him
in person!" Barba, however, knew that the attempt to seize the leader
of such an enterprise and of such a band, would be vain;--whilst
Cortéz, in reply to Velasquez, "implored his Excellency to rely on his
boundless devotion to the interests of his Governor, but assured him,
nevertheless, that he and his fleet, by divine permission, would sail
on the following day!"

Accordingly, on the 18th of February, 1519, the little squadron
weighed anchor, with one hundred and ten mariners, sixteen horses,
five hundred and fifty-three soldiers, including thirty-two
crossbowmen and thirteen arquebusiers, besides two hundred Indians of
the island and a few native women, for menial offices. The ordnance
consisted of ten heavy guns, four lighter pieces or falconets,
together with a good supply of ammunition.

With this insignificant command and paltry equipment, HERNANDO CORTÉZ,
at the age of thirty-three, set sail for the conquest of Mexico. He
invoked on his enterprise the blessing of his patron, Saint Peter;--he
addressed his followers in the language of encouragement and
resolution;--he unfurled a velvet banner on which was emblazoned the
figure of a crimson cross amid flames of blue and white, and he
pointed to the motto which was to be the presage of victory: "Friends,
let us follow the Cross: and under this sign, if we have faith, we
shall conquer!"

[Footnote 1: In 1525, the gold washings of Hispaniola were already
exhausted; and sugar and hides are alone mentioned as exports. Petri
Mart: Ep. 806, Kal. Mart. 1525.]




Soon after the adventurers departed from the coast of Cuba, the weather,
which had been hitherto fine, suddenly changed, and one of those violent
hurricanes which ravage the Indian Isles during the warm season,
scattered and dismantled the small squadron, sweeping it far to the
south of its original destination. Cortéz was the last to reach the
Island of Cozumel, having been forced to linger in order to watch for
the safety of one of his battered craft. But, immediately on landing, he
was pained to learn that the impetuous PEDRO DE ALVARADO had rashly
entered the temples, despoiled them of their ornaments, and terrified
the natives into promiscuous flight. He immediately devoted himself to
the task of obliterating this stain on Spanish humanity, by kindly
releasing two of the captives taken by Alvarado. Through an interpreter
he satisfied them of the pacific purpose of his voyage, and despatched
them to their homes with valuable gifts. This humane policy appears to
have succeeded with the natives, who speedily returned from the
interior, and commenced a brisk traffic of gold for trinkets.

The chief objection of Cortéz to the headlong destruction which
Alvarado had committed in the temples, seems rather to have been
against the robbery than the religious motive, if such existed in the
breast of his impetuous companion. We have already said that the
conversion of the heathen was one of the alleged primary objects of
this expedition, for the instructions of the Governor of Cuba were
full of zeal for the spread of Christianity; yet, in the diffusion of
this novel creed among the aborigines, it sometimes happened that its
military propagandists regarded the sword as more powerful than the
sermon. The idolatrous practices of the inhabitants of Cozumel shocked
the sensibility of the commander, and he set about the work of
christianization through the labors of the licentiate Juan Diaz and
Bartolomé de Olmedo, the latter of whom,--who remained with the army
during the whole expedition,--was, indeed, a mirror of zeal and
charity. The discourses of these worthy priests were, however,
unavailing;--the Indians, who of course could not comprehend their
eloquent exhortations or pious logic, refused to abandon their idols;
and our hero resolved at once to convince them, by palpable arguments,
of the inefficiency of those hideous emblems, either to save
themselves from destruction, or to bestow blessings on the blind
adorers. An order was, therefore, forthwith given for the immediate
destruction of the Indian images; and, in their place, the Virgin and
her Son were erected on a hastily constructed altar. Olmedo and his
companion were thus the first to offer the sacrifice of the mass in
New Spain, where they, finally, induced numbers of the aborigines to
renounce idolatry and embrace the Catholic faith.

In spite of this marauding crusade against their property and creed, the
Indians kindly furnished the fleet with provisions, which enabled the
squadron to sail in the ensuing March. But a leak in one of the vessels
compelled the adventurers to return to port,--a circumstance which was
regarded by many as providential,--inasmuch as it was the means of
restoring to his countryman, a Spaniard, named Aguilar, who had been
wrecked on the coast of Yucatan eight years before. The long residence
of this person in the country made him familiar with the language of the
inhabitants of that neighborhood, and thus a valuable interpreter,--one
of its most pressing wants,--was added to the expedition.

       *       *       *       *       *

After the vessels were refitted, Cortéz coasted the shores of Yucatan
until he reached the Rio de Tabasco or Grijalva, where he encountered
the first serious opposition to the Spanish arms. He had a severe
conflict, in the vicinity of his landing, with a large force of the
natives; but the valor of his men, the terror inspired by fire arms,
and the singular spectacle presented to the astonished Indians by the
extraordinary appearance of cavalry, soon turned the tide of victory
in his favor. The subdued tribes appeased his anger by valuable gifts,
and forthwith established friendly relations with their dreaded
conqueror. Among the presents offered upon this occasion by the
vanquished, were twenty female slaves;--and after one of the holy
fathers had attempted, as usual, to impress the truths of
christianity upon the natives, and had closed the ceremonies of the
day by a pompous procession, with all the impressive ceremonial of the
Roman church, the fleet again sailed towards the empire Cortéz was
destined to penetrate and subdue.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Passion week, of the year 1519, the squadron dropped anchor under
the lee of the Island or reef of St. Juan de Ulua. The natives
immediately boarded the vessel of the Captain General; but their
language was altogether different from that of the Mayan dialects
spoken in Yucatan and its immediate dependencies. In this emergency
Cortéz learned that, among the twenty female slaves who had been
recently presented him, there was one who knew the Mexican language,
and, in fact, that she was an Aztec by birth. This was the celebrated
MARINA or MARIANA, who accompanied the conqueror throughout his
subsequent adventures, and was so useful as a sagacious friend and
discreet interpreter. Acquainted with the languages of her native land
and of the Yucatecos, she found it easy to translate the idiom of the
Aztecs into the Mayan dialect which Aguilar, the Spaniard, had learned
during his captivity. Through this medium, Cortéz was apprised that
these Mexicans or Aztecs were the subjects of a powerful sovereign who
ruled an empire bounded by two seas, and that his name was MONTEZUMA.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 21st of April the Captain General landed on the sandy and
desolate beach whereon is now built the modern city of Vera Cruz.
Within a few days the native Governor of the province arrived to greet
him, and expressed great anxiety to learn whence the "fair and bearded
strangers" had come? Cortéz told him that he was the "subject of a
mighty monarch beyond the sea who ruled over an immense empire and had
kings and princes for his vassals;--that, acquainted with the
greatness of the Mexican emperor, his master desired to enter into
communication with so great a personage, and had sent him, as an
envoy, to wait on MONTEZUMA with a present in token of his good will,
and a friendly message which he must deliver in person." The Indian
Governor expressed surprise that there was another king as great as
his master, yet assured Cortéz that as soon as he learned Montezuma's
determination, he would again converse with him on the subject.
TEUHTLE then presented the Captain General ten loads of fine cottons;
mantles of curious feather work, beautifully dyed; and baskets filled
with golden ornaments. Cortéz, in turn, produced the gifts for the
emperor, which were comparatively insignificant; but, when the Aztec
Governor desired to receive the glittering helmet of one of the men,
it was readily given as an offering to the emperor, with the
significant request that it might be returned filled with gold, which
Cortéz told him was "a specific remedy for a disease of the heart with
which his countrymen, the Spaniards, were sorely afflicted!"

During this interview between the functionaries it was noticed by the
adventurers that men were eagerly employed among the Indians in
sketching every thing they beheld in the ranks of the strangers,--for,
by this picture-writing, the Mexican monarch was to be apprised in
accurate detail of the men, horses, ships, armor, force, and weapons
of this motley band of invaders.

These pictorial missives were swiftly borne by the Mexican couriers to
the Aztec capital among the mountains, and, together with the oral
account of the landing of Cortéz and his demand for an interview, were
laid before the Imperial Court. It may well be imagined that the
extraordinary advent of the Captain General and his squadron was
productive of no small degree of excitement and even tremor, among
this primitive people; for, not only were they unnerved by the dread
which all secluded races feel for innovation, but an ancient prophecy
had foretold the downfall of the empire through the instrumentality of
beings, who, like these adventurers, were to "come from the rising
sun." Montezuma, who was then on the throne, had been elected to that
dignity in 1502 in preference to his brothers, in consequence of his
superior qualifications as a soldier and a priest. His reign commenced
energetically; and whilst he, at first, administered the interior
affairs of his realm with justice, capacity, and moderation, his hand
fell heavily on all who dared to raise their arms against his people.
But, as he waxed older and firmer in power, and as his empire
extended, he began to exhibit those selfish traits which so often
characterize men who possess, for a length of time, supreme power
untrammelled by constitutional restraints. His court was sumptuous,
and his people were grievously taxed to support its unbounded
extravagance. This, in some degree, alienated the loyalty of his
subjects, while continued oppression finally led to frequent
insurrection. In addition to these internal discontents of the Aztec
empire, Montezuma had met in the nominal republic of Tlascala,--lying
midway between the valley of Mexico and the seacoast,--a brave and
stubborn foe, whose civilization, unimpaired resources, and martial
character, enabled it to resist the combined forces of the Aztecs for
upwards of two hundred years.

Such was the state of the empire when the news of Cortéz's arrival
became the subject of discussion in Mexico. Some were for open or wily
resistance. Others were oppressed with superstitious fears. But
Montezuma, adopting a medium but fatal course, resolved, without
delay, to send an embassy with such gifts as he imagined would impress
the strangers with the idea of his magnificence and power, whilst, at
the same time, he courteously commanded the adventurers to refrain
from approaching his capital.

Meanwhile the Spaniards restlessly endured the scorching heats and
manifold annoyances of the coast, and were amusing themselves by a
paltry traffic with the Indians, whose offerings were generally of but
trifling value. After the expiration of a week, however, the returned
couriers and the embassy approached the camp. The time is seemingly
short when we consider the difficulty of transportation through a
mountain country, and recollect that the Mexicans, who were without
horses, had been obliged to traverse the distance on foot. But it is
related on ample authority,--so perfectly were the posts arranged
among these semi-civilized people,--that tidings were borne in the
short period of twenty-four hours from the city to the sea, and,
consequently, that three or four days were ample for the journey of
the envoys of Montezuma, upon a matter of so much national importance.

The two Aztec nobles, accompanied by the Governor of the province,
Teuhtle, did not approach with empty hands the men whom they hoped to
bribe if they could not intimidate. Gold and native fabrics of the
most delicate character; shields, helmets, cuirasses, collars,
bracelets, sandals, fans, pearls, precious stones; loads of cotton
cloth, extraordinary manufactures of feathers, circular plates of gold
and silver as large as carriage wheels, and the Spanish helmet filled
with golden grains; were all spread out, as a free gift from the
Emperor to the Spaniards!

With these magnificent presents, Montezuma replied to the request of
Cortéz, that it would give him pleasure to communicate with so mighty
a monarch as the king of Spain, whom he respected highly, but that he
could not gratify himself by according the foreign envoy a personal
interview, inasmuch as the distance to his capital was great, and the
toilsome journey among the mountains was beset with dangers from
formidable enemies. He could do no more, therefore, than bid the
strangers farewell, and request them to return to their homes over
the sea with these proofs of his perfect friendship.

It may well be supposed that this naïve system of diplomacy could have
but little effect on men who were bent on improving their fortunes,
and whose rapacity was only stimulated by the evidences of unbounded
wealth which the simple-minded king had so lavishly bestowed on them.
Montezuma was the dupe of his own credulity, and only inflamed, by the
very means he imagined would assuage the avarice or ambition of his
Spanish visitors. Nor was Cortéz less resolved than his companions.
Accordingly he made another pacific effort, by means of additional
presents and a gentle message, to change the resolution of the Indian
emperor. Still the Aztec sovereign was obstinate in his refusal of a
personal interview, although he sent fresh gifts by the persons who
bore to the Spaniards his polite but firm and peremptory denial.

Cortéz could hardly conceal his disappointment at this second rebuff;
but, as the vesper bell tolled, whilst the ambassadors were in his
presence, he threw himself on his knees with his soldiers, and, after
a prayer, Father Olmedo expounded to the Aztec chiefs, by his
interpreters, the doctrines of Christianity, and putting into their
hands an image of the Virgin and Saviour, he exhorted them to abandon
their hideous idolatry, and to place these milder emblems of faith and
hope on the altars of their bloody gods. That very night the Indians
abandoned the Spanish camp and the neighborhood, leaving the
adventurers without the copious supplies of food that hitherto had
been bountifully furnished. Cortéz, nevertheless, was undismayed by
these menacing symptoms, and exclaimed to his hardy followers: "It
shall yet go hard, but we will one day pay this powerful prince a
visit in his gorgeous capital!"




It is impossible, in a work like the present, which is designed to
cover the history of a country during three hundred years, to present
the reader with as complete a narrative of events as we would desire.
Happily, the task of recording the story of the conquest, has fallen
into the hands of the classic historians of Spain, England and
America; and the astonishing particulars of that mighty enterprise may
be found, minutely recounted, in the works of De Solis, Robertson and
Prescott. We shall therefore content ourselves with as rapid a summary
as is consistent with the development of the modern Mexican character,
and shall refer those who are anxious for more explicit and perfect
details to the writings of the authors we have mentioned.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cortéz was not long idle after the withdrawal of the Aztec emissaries
and the surly departure of the Indians, who, as we have related in the
last chapter, quitted his camp and neighborhood on the same night with
the ambassadors of Montezuma. He forthwith proceeded to establish a
military and civil colony, of which he became Captain General and Chief
Justice; he founded the Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz in order to secure a
base on the coast for future military operation, by means of which he
might be independent of Velasquez; and he formed an alliance with the
Totonacos of Cempoalla, whose loyalty,--though they were subjects of
Montezuma,--was alienated from him by his merciless exactions. We shall
not dwell upon the skill with which he fomented a breach between the
Totonacos and the ambassadors of Montezuma, nor upon the valuable gifts,
and discreet despatches he forwarded to the Emperor Charles V., in
order to secure a confirmation of his proceedings. The most daring act
of this period was the destruction of the squadron which had wafted him
to Mexico. It was a deed of wise policy, which deliberately cut off all
hope of retreat,--pacified, in some degree, the querulous conspirators
who lurked in his camp,--and placed before all who were embarked in the
enterprise the alternative of conquest or destruction. But one vessel
remained. Nine out of the ten were dismantled and sunk. When his men
murmured for a moment, and imagined themselves betrayed, he addressed
them in that language of bland diplomacy which he was so well skilled to
use whenever the occasion required. "As for me," said he, "I will remain
_here_ whilst there is one to bear me company! Let the cravens shrink
from danger and go home in the single vessel that remains. Let them
hasten to Cuba, and relate how they deserted their commander and
comrades; and there let them wait in patience till we return laden with
the spoils of Mexico!"

This was an appeal that rekindled the combined enthusiasm and avarice
of the despondent murmurers; and the reply was a universal shout: "TO

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 16th of August, 1519, Cortéz set out with his small army of about
four hundred men, now swelled by the addition of thirteen hundred Indian
warriors and a thousand porters, and accompanied by forty of the chief
Totonacs as hostages and advisers. From the burning climate of the coast
the army gradually ascended to the cooler regions of the _tierra
templada_, and _tierra fria_, encountering all degrees of temperature on
the route. After a journey of three days, the forces arrived at a town
on one of the table lands of the interior, whose chief magistrate
confirmed the stories of the power of Montezuma. Here Cortéz tarried
three days for repose, and then proceeded towards the Republic of
Tlascala, which lay directly in his path, and with whose inhabitants he
hoped to form an alliance founded on the elements of discontent which he
knew existed among these inveterate foes of the central Aztec power. But
he was mistaken in his calculations. The Tlascalans were not so easily
won as his allies, the Totonacs, who, dwelling in a warmer climate, had
not the hardier virtues of these mountaineers. The Tlascalans
entertained no favorable feeling towards Montezuma, but they nourished
quite as little cordiality for men whose characters they did not know,
and whose purposes they had cause to dread. A deadly hostility to the
Spaniards was consequently soon manifested. Cortéz was attacked by them
on the borders of their Republic, and fought four sharp battles with
fifty thousand warriors who maintained, in all the conflicts, their
reputation for military skill and hardihood. At length the Tlascalans
were forced to acknowledge the superiority of the invaders, whom they
could not overcome either by stratagem or battle, and, after the
exchange of embassies and gifts, they honored our hero with a triumphal
entry into their capital.

       *       *       *       *       *

The news of these victories as well as of the fatal alliance which
ensued with the Tlascalans, was soon borne to the court of Montezuma,
who began to tremble for the fate of his empire when he saw the fall of
the indomitable foes who had held him so long at bay. Two embassies to
Cortéz succeeded each other, in vain. Presents were no longer of avail.
His offer of tribute to the Spanish king was not listened to. All
requests that the conqueror should not advance towards his capital were
unheeded. "The command of his own emperor," said Cortéz, "was the only
reason which could induce him to disregard the wishes of an Aztec
prince, for whom he cherished the profoundest respect!" Soon after,
another embassy came from Montezuma with magnificent gifts and an
invitation to his capital, yet with a request that he would break with
his new allies and approach Mexico through the friendly city of Cholula.
The policy of this request on the part of Montezuma, will be seen in the
sequel. Our hero, accompanied by six thousand volunteers from Tlascala,
advanced towards the sacred city,--the site of the most splendid temple
in the empire, whose foundations yet remain in the nineteenth century.
The six intervening leagues were soon crossed, and he entered Cholula
with his Spanish army, attended by no other Indians than those who
accompanied him from Cempoalla. At first, the General and his companions
were treated hospitably, and the suspicions which had been instilled
into his mind by the Tlascalans were lulled to sleep. However, he soon
had cause to become fearful of treachery. Messengers arrived from
Montezuma, and his entertainers were observed to be less gracious in
their demeanor. It was noticed that several important streets had been
barricaded or converted into pitfalls, whilst stones, missiles and
weapons were heaped on the flat roofs of houses. Besides this, Mariana
had become intimate with the wife of one of the Caciques, and cunningly
drew from her gossiping friend the whole conspiracy that was brewing
against the adventurers. Montezuma, she learned, had stationed twenty
thousand Mexicans near the city, who, together with the Cholulans, were
to assault the invaders in the narrow streets and avenues, as they
quitted the town; and, thus, he hoped, by successful treachery, to rid
the land of such dangerous visitors either by slaughter in conflict, or
to offer them, when made captive, upon the altars of the sacred temple
in Cholula and on the _teocallis_ of Mexico, as proper sacrifices to the
bloody gods of his country.

Cortéz, however, was not to be so easily outwitted and entrapped. He,
in turn, resorted to stratagem. Concentrating all his Spanish army,
and concerting a signal for co-operation with his Indian allies, he
suddenly fell upon the Cholulans at an unexpected moment. Three
thousand of the citizens perished in the frightful massacre that
ensued; and Cortéz pursued his uninterrupted way towards the fated
capital of the Aztecs, after this awful chastisement, which was
perhaps needful to relieve him from the danger of utter annihilation
in the heart of an enemy's country with so small a band of countrymen
in whom he could confide.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the plain of Cholula,--which is now known as the fruitful vale of
Puebla,--the conqueror ascended the last ridge of mountains that
separated him from the city of Mexico; and, as he turned the edge of
the _Cordillera_, the beautiful valley was at once revealed to him in
all its indescribable loveliness.[2] It lay at his feet, surrounded by
the placid waters of Tezcoco. The sight that burst upon the Spaniards
from this lofty eminence, in the language of Prescott, was that of the
vale of Tenochtitlan, as it was called by the natives, "which, with
its picturesque assemblage of water, woodland, and cultivated plains;
its shining cities and shadowy hills, was spread out like some gay and
gorgeous panorama before them. In the highly rarefied atmosphere of
these upper regions, even remote objects have a brilliancy of coloring
and a distinctness of outline which seems to annihilate distance.
Stretching far away at their feet, were seen noble forests of oak,
sycamore, and cedar; and beyond, yellow fields of maize and the
towering maguey, intermingled with orchards and blooming gardens; for
flowers, in such demand for their religious festivals, were even more
abundant in this populous valley, than in other parts of Anahuac. In
the centre of the great basin, were beheld the lakes, occupying then a
much larger portion of its surface than at present; their borders
thickly studded with towns and hamlets, and, in the midst,--like some
Indian empress with her coronal of pearls,--the fair city of Mexico,
with her white towers and pyramidal temples reposing, as it were, on
the bosom of the waters--the far-famed 'Venice of the Aztecs.' High
over all rose the royal hill of Chapultepec, the residence of the
Mexican monarchs, belted with the same grove of gigantic cypresses,
which at this day fling their broad shadows over the land. In the
distance, to the north, beyond the blue waters of the lake, and nearly
screened by intervening foliage, was seen a shining speck, the rival
capital of Tezcoco; and, still further on, the dark belt of porphyry,
girdling the valley around, like a rich setting which Nature had
devised for the fairest of her jewels."

       *       *       *       *       *

Cortéz easily descended with his troops by the mountain road towards
the plain of the valley; and as he passed along the levels, or through
the numerous villages and hamlets, he endeavored to foster and foment
the ill feeling which he found secretly existing against the
government of the Mexican Emperor. When he had advanced somewhat into
the heart of the valley he was met by an embassy of the chief lords of
the Aztec court, sent to him by Montezuma, with gifts of considerable
value; but he rejected a proffered bribe of "four loads of gold to the
General, and one to each of his captains, with a yearly tribute to
their sovereign," provided the Spanish troops would quit the country.
Heedless of all menaced opposition as well as appeals to his avarice,
he seems, at this period, to have cast aside the earlier and sordid
motives which might then have been easily satisfied had his pursuit
been gold alone. The most abundant wealth was cast at his feet; but
the higher qualities of his nature were now allowed the fullest play,
and strengthened him in his resolution to risk all in the daring and
glorious project of subjecting a splendid empire to his control.
Accordingly, he advanced though Amaquemecan, a town of several
thousand inhabitants, where he was met by a nephew of the Emperor, the
Lord of Tezcoco, who had been despatched by his vacillating uncle, at
the head of a large number of influential personages, to welcome the
invaders to the capital. The friendly summons was of course not
disregarded by Cortéz, who forthwith proceeded along the most splendid
and massive structure of the New World--a gigantic causeway, five
miles in length, constructed of huge stones, which passed along the
narrow strait of sand that separated the waters of Chalco from those
of Tezcoco. The lakes were covered with boats filled with natives.
Floating islands, made of reeds and wicker-work, covered with soil,
brimmed with luxuriant vegetation whose splendid fruits and odorous
petals rested on the waters. Several large towns were built on
artificial foundations in the lake. And, every where, around the
Spaniards, were beheld the evidences of a dense population, whose
edifices, agriculture, and labors denoted a high degree of
civilization and intelligence. As the foreign warriors proceeded
onwards towards the city, which rose before them with its temples,
palaces and shrines, covered with hard stucco that glistened in the
sun, they crossed a wooden drawbridge in the causeway; and, as they
passed it, they felt that now, indeed, if they faltered, they were
completely in the grasp of the Mexicans, and more effectually cut off
from all retreat than they had been when the fleet was destroyed at
Vera Cruz.

Near this spot they were encountered by Montezuma with his court, who
came forth in regal state to salute his future conqueror. Surrounded
by all the pageantry and splendor of an oriental monarch, he descended
from the litter in which he was borne from the city, and, leaning on
the shoulders of the Lords of Tezcoco and of Iztapalapan,--his nephew
and brother,--he advanced towards the Spaniards, under a canopy and
over a cotton carpet, whilst his prostrate subjects manifested, by
their abject demeanor, the fear or respect which the presence of their
sovereign inspired.

"Montezuma was at this time about forty years of age. His person was
tall and slender, but not ill-made. His hair, which was black and
straight, was not very long. His beard was thin; his complexion
somewhat paler than is often found in his dusky, or rather
copper-colored race. His features, though serious in their expression,
did not wear the look of melancholy, or dejection, which characterizes
his portrait, and which may well have settled on them at a later
period. He moved with dignity, and his whole demeanor, tempered by an
expression of benignity not to have been anticipated from the reports
circulated of his character, was worthy of a great prince. Such is the
picture left to us of the celebrated Indian Emperor in this his first
interview with the white men."[3]

       *       *       *       *       *

As this mighty prince approached, Cortéz halted his men, and,
advancing with a few of his principal retainers, was most courteously
welcomed by Montezuma, who, adroitly concealing his chagrin,
diplomatically expressed the uncommon delight he experienced at this
unexpected visit of the strangers to his capital. Our hero thanked
him for his friendly welcome and bounteous gifts,--and hung around his
neck a chain set with colored crystal. Montezuma then opened his gates
to the Spaniards and appointed his brother to conduct the General with
his troops, to the city.

Here he found a spacious edifice, surrounded by a wall, assigned for
his future residence; and, having stationed sentinels, and placed his
cannon on the battlements so as to command all the important avenues
to his palace, he proceeded to examine the city and to acquaint
himself with the character, occupations, and temper of the people.[4]

[Footnote 2: Between nine and ten thousand feet above the level of the
sea, at this point of the road.]

[Footnote 3: Prescott.]

[Footnote 4: "The province which constitutes the principal territory
of Montezuma," (says Cortéz in his letter to Charles the V.,) "is
circular, and entirely surrounded by lofty and rugged mountains, and
the circumference of it is full seventy leagues. In this plain there
are two lakes which nearly occupy the whole of it, as the people use
canoes for more than fifty leagues round. One of these lakes is of
fresh water, and the other, which is larger, is of salt water. They
are divided, on one side, by a small collection of high hills, which
stand in the centre of the plain, and they unite in a level strait
formed between these hills and the high mountains, which strait is a
gun-shot wide, and the people of the cities and other settlements
which are in these lakes, communicate together in their canoes by
water, without the necessity of going by land. And as this great salt
lake ebbs and flows with the tide, as the sea does, in every flood the
water flows from it into the other fresh lake as impetuously as if it
were a large river, and consequently at the ebb, the fresh lake flows
into the salt.

"This great city of Temixtitlan, (meaning Tenochtitlan, Mexico,) is
founded in this salt lake; and from terra firma to the body of the city,
the distance is two leagues on whichever side they please to enter it.

"It has four entrances, or causeways, made by the hand of man, as wide
as two horsemen's lances.

"The city is as large as Seville and Cordova. The streets (I mean the
principal ones,) are very wide, and others very narrow; and some of
the latter and all the others are one-half land and the other half
water, along which the inhabitants go in their canoes; and all the
streets, at given distances, are open, so that the water passes from
one to the other; and in all their openings, some of which are very
wide, there are very wide bridges, made of massive beams joined
together and well wrought; and so wide that ten horsemen may pass
abreast over many of them."--_Letters of Cortéz to Charles V._]




The city of Mexico, or Tenochtitlan, was, as we have already said,
encompassed by the lake of Tezcoco, over which three solid causeways
formed the only approaches. This inland sea was, indeed, "an
archipelago of wandering islands." The whole city was penetrated
throughout its entire length by a principal street, which was
intersected by numerous canals, crossed by drawbridges; and, wherever
the eye could reach, long vistas of low stone buildings rose on every
side among beautiful gardens or luxuriant foliage. The quadrangular
palaces of the nobles who Montezuma encouraged to reside at his court,
were spread over a wide extent of ground, embellished with beautiful
fountains which shot their spray amid porticoes and columns of
polished porphyry. The palace of Montezuma was so vast a pile, that
one of the conquerors alleges its terraced roof afforded ample room
for thirty knights to tilt in tournament. A royal armory was filled
with curious and dangerous weapons, and adorned with an ample store of
military dresses, equipments and armor. Huge granaries contained the
tributary supplies which were brought to the Prince by the provinces
for the maintenance of the royal family, and there was an aviary in
which three hundred attendants fed and reared birds of the sweetest
voice or rarest plumage; whilst, near it, rose a menagerie, filled
with specimens of all the native beasts, together with a museum, in
which, with an oddity of taste unparalleled in history, there had been
collected a vast number of human monsters, cripples, dwarfs, Albinos
and other freaks and caprices of nature. The royal gardens are
described by eye-witnesses as spots of unsurpassed elegance, adorned
with rare shrubs, medicinal plants, and ponds, supplied by aqueducts
and fountains, wherein, amid beautiful flowers, the finest fish and
aquatic birds were seen forever floating in undisturbed quiet. The
interior of the palace was equally attractive for its comfort and
elegance. Spacious halls were covered with ceilings of odoriferous
wood, while the lofty walls were hung with richly tinted fabrics of
cotton, the skins of animals, or feather work wrought in mosaic
imitation of birds, reptiles, insects and flowers. Nor was the Emperor
alone amid the splendid wastes of his palace. A thousand women
thronged these royal chambers, ministering to the tastes and passions
of the elegant voluptuary. The rarest viands, from far and near,
supplied his table, the service of which was performed by numerous
attendants on utensils and equipage of the choicest material and
shape. Four times, daily, the Emperor changed his apparel, and never
put on again the dress he once had worn, or defiled his lips twice
with the same vessels from which he fed.

Such was the sovereign's palace and way of life, nor can we suppose that
this refinement of luxury was to be found alone in the dwelling of
Montezuma and his nobles. It is to be regretted that we are not more
fully informed of the condition of property, wealth and labor among the
masses of this singular empire. The conquerors did not trouble
themselves with acquiring accurate statistical information, nor do they
seem to have counted numbers carefully, except when they had enemies to
conquer or spoil to divide. In all primitive nations, however, the best
idea of a people is to be attained from visiting the market-place,--or
rather the fair,--in which it is their custom to sell or barter the
products of their industry; and, to this rendezvous of the Aztecs,
Cortéz, with the astuteness that never forsook him during his perilous
enterprise, soon betook himself after his arrival in the city.

The market of Tenochtitlan was a scene of commercial activity as well as
of humble thrift. It was devoted to all kinds of native traffic. In the
centre of the city the conqueror found a magnificent square surrounded
by porticoes, in which, it is alleged, that sixty thousand traders were
engaged in buying and selling every species of merchandize produced in
the realm; jewels, goldware, toys, curious imitations of natural
objects, wrought with the utmost skill of deception; weapons of copper
alloyed with tin, pottery of all degrees of fineness, carved vases,
bales of richly dyed cotton; beautifully woven feather-work, wild and
tame animals, grain, fish, vegetables, all the necessaries of life and
all its luxuries, together with restaurateurs and shops for the sale of
medical drugs, confectionery, or stimulating drinks. It was, in fact, an
immense bazaar, which, at a glance, gave an insight into the tastes,
wants and productive industry of the nation.

Satisfied with this inspection of the people and their talents, the
next visit of the General was, doubtless, made with the double object
of becoming acquainted with that class of men, who in all countries so
powerfully influence public opinion, whilst, from the top of their
tall temple, situated on their lofty central Teocalli or pyramid, he
might, with a military eye, scan the general topography of the city.

This pyramidal structure, or Great Temple, as it is generally called,
was perhaps rather the base of a religious structure, than the
religious edifice itself. We possess no accurate drawing of it among
the contemporary or early relics of the conquest, that have descended
to us; but it is known to have been pyramidal in shape, over one
hundred and twenty feet in altitude, with a base of three hundred and
twenty. It stood in a large area, surrounded by a wall eight feet
high, sculptured with the figures of serpents in relief. From one end
of the base of this structure, a flight of steps rose to a terrace at
the base of the second story of the pyramid. Around this terrace, a
person, in ascending, was obliged to pass until he came to the corner
immediately above the first flight, where he encountered another set
of steps, up which he passed to the second terrace, and so on,
continuously, to the third and fourth terraces, until, by a fifth
flight, he attained the summit platform of the Teocalli. These spaces
or terraces, at each story, are represented to have been about six
feet in width, so that three or four persons could easily ascend
abreast. It will be perceived that in attaining the top of the edifice
it was necessary to pass round it entirely four times and to ascend
five stairways. Within the enclosure, built of stone and crowned with
battlements, a village of five hundred houses might have been built.
Its area was paved with smooth and polished stones, and the pyramid
that rose in its centre seems to have been constructed as well for
military as religious purposes, inasmuch as its architecture made it
fully capable of resistance as a citadel; and we may properly assume
this opinion as a fact, from the circumstance that the enclosing walls
were entered by four gates, facing the cardinal points, while over
each portal was erected a military arsenal filled with immense stores
of warlike equipments.


When Cortéz arrived in front of this truncated pyramid, two priests
and several caciques were in attendance, by order of Montezuma, to
bear him in their arms to its summit. But the hardy conqueror declined
this effeminate means of transportation, and marched up slowly at the
head of his soldiers. On the paved and level area at the top, they
found a large block of jasper, the peculiar shape of which showed it
was the stone on which the bodies of the unhappy victims were
stretched for sacrifice. Its convex surface, rising breast high,
enabled the priest to perform more easily his diabolical task of
removing the heart. Besides this, there were two sanctuaries erected
on the level surface of the _Teocalli_; two altars, glowing with a
fire that was never extinguished; and a large circular drum, which was
struck only on occasions of great public concern.

Such was the _Teocalli_ or _House of God_. There were other edifices,
having the name of _Teopan_, or _Places of God_. Some writers allege
that there were two towers erected on the great Teocalli of
Tenochtitlan; but it may be safely asserted that there was at least
one of these, which rose to the height of about fifty-six feet, and
was divided into three stories, the lower being of stone, while the
others were constructed of wrought and painted wood. In the basement
of these towers were the sanctuaries, where two splendid altars had
been erected to Huitzilopotchtli and Tezcatlipoca, over which the idol
representatives of these divinities were placed in state.

Within the enclosure of the Teocalli there were forty other temples
dedicated to various Aztec gods. Besides these, there were colleges or
residences and seminaries of the priests, together with a splendid
house of entertainment, devoted to the accommodation of eminent
strangers who visited the temple and the court. All these sumptuous
ecclesiastical establishments were grouped around the pyramid,
protected by the quadrangular wall, and built amid gardens and groves.

Cortéz asked leave of the Emperor, who accompanied him on his visit, to
enter the sanctuaries of the Aztec deities. In a spacious stuccoed
saloon, roofed with carved and gilt timber, stood the gigantic idol of
Huitzilopotchtli, the Mexican Mars. His countenance was harsh and
menacing. In his hands he grasped a bow and golden arrows. He was girt
with the folds of a serpent, formed of precious materials, whilst his
left foot was feathered with the plumage of the humming-bird, from which
he took his name. Around his throat hung suspended a massive necklace
of alternate gold and silver hearts; and on the altar before him, three
human hearts which had recently been torn from living breasts, were
still quivering and bleeding, fresh from the immolated victims.

In the other chamber, or sanctuary, were the milder emblems of
Tezcatlipoca, who "created the world and watched it with providential
care." The lineaments of this idol were those of a youth, whose image,
carved in black and polished stone, was adorned with discs of burnished
gold, and embellished with a brilliant shield. Nevertheless, the worship
of this more benign deity was stained with homicide, for on its altar,
in a plate of gold, the conqueror found five human hearts; and, in these
dens of inhumanity, Bernal Diaz tells us, that the "stench was more
intolerable than in the slaughter houses of Castile!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Such is a brief summary of the observations made by the Spaniards during
a week's residence in the city. They found themselves in the heart of a
rich and populous empire, whose civilization, however, was, by a strange
contradiction for which we shall hereafter endeavor to account, stained
with the most shocking barbarity under the name of religion. The
unscrupulous murder, which was dignified with the associations and
practice of national worship, was by no means consolatory to the minds
of men who were really in the power of semi-civilized rulers and bloody
priests. They discovered, from their own experience, that the sovereign
was both fickle and feeble, and that a caprice, a hope, or a fear, might
suffice to make him free his country from a handful of dangerous guests
by offering them as sacrifices to his gods. The Tlascalans were already
looked upon with no kind feelings by their hereditary foes. A spark
might kindle a fatal flame. It was a moment for bold and unscrupulous
action, and it was needful to obtain some signal advantage by which the
Spaniards could, at least, effect their retreat, if not ensure an
ultimate victory.

       *       *       *       *       *

News just then was brought to Cortéz that four of his countrymen, whom
he left behind at Cempoalla, had been treacherously slain by one of the
tributary caciques of Montezuma; and this at once gave him a motive, or
at least a pretext, for seizing the Emperor himself, as a hostage for
the good faith of his nation. Accordingly, he visited Montezuma with a
band of his most reliable followers, who charged the monarch with the
treachery of his subordinate, and demanded the apprehension of the
cacique to answer for the slaughter of their inoffensive countrymen.
Montezuma, of course, immediately disavowed the treason and ordered the
arrest of the Governor; but Cortéz would not receive an apology or
verbal reparation of the injury,--although he professed to believe the
exculpation of Montezuma himself,--unless that sovereign would restore
the Spaniard's confidence in his fidelity by quitting his palace and
changing his residence to the quarters of the invaders!

This was, indeed, an unexpected blow. It was one of those strokes of
unparalleled boldness which paralyzed their victim by sheer amazement.
After considerable discussion and useless appeals, the entrapped
Emperor tamely submitted to the surprising demand, for he saw, in the
resolved faces of his armed and steel-clad foes, that resistance was
useless, if he attempted to save his own life, with the small and
unprepared forces that were at hand.

For a while the most ceremonious respect was paid by the conqueror and
his men to their royal prisoner, who, under strict _surveillance_,
maintained his usual courtly pomp, and performed all the functions of
Emperor. But Cortéz soon became his master. The will of an effeminate
king was no match for the indomitable courage, effrontery and genius
of the Spanish knight. The offending cacique of Cempoalla was burned
alive, either to glut his vengeance or inspire dread; and when the
traitor endeavored to compromise Montezuma in his crime, fetters were
placed for an hour on the limbs of the imprisoned sovereign. Every day
the disgraced Emperor became, more and more, the mere minister of
Cortéz. He was forced to discountenance publicly those who murmured at
his confinement, or to arrest the leading conspirators for his
deliverance. He granted a province to the Castilian crown and swore
allegiance to it. He collected the tribute and revenue from dependant
cities or districts in the name of the Spanish king; and, at last,
struck a blow even at his hereditary and superstitious faith by
ordering the great Teocalli to be purged of its human gore and the
erection of an altar on its summit, on which, before the cross and the
images of the Virgin and her Son, the Christian mass might be
celebrated in the presence of the Aztec multitude.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was at this moment, when Cortéz tried the national nerve most
daringly by interfering with the religious superstitions of a
dissatisfied town, and when every symptom of a general rebellion was
visible, that the conqueror received the startling news of the arrival
on the coast of DON PAMPHILO DE NARVAEZ, with eighteen vessels and
nine hundred men, who had been sent, by the revengeful Velasquez, to
arrest the hero and send him in chains to St. Jago.

A more unfortunate train of circumstances can scarcely be conceived. In
the midst of an enemy's capital, with a handful of men,--menaced by a
numerous and outraged nation, on the one hand, and, with a Spanish force
sent, in the name of law by authorities to whom he owed loyal respect,
to arrest him, on the other,--it is indeed difficult to imagine a
situation better calculated to try the soul and task the genius of a
general. But it was one of those perilous emergencies which, throughout
his whole career, seem to have imparted additional energy, rather than
dismay, to the heart of Cortéz, and which prove him to have been, like
Nelson, a man who never knew the sensation of fear. Nor must it be
imagined that difficulty made him rash. Seldom has a hero appeared in
history more perfectly free from precipitancy after he undertook his
great enterprise;--and, in the period under consideration, this is fully
exhibited in the diplomacy with which he approached the hostile
Spaniards on the coast who had been despatched to dislodge and disgrace
him. He resolved, at once, not to abandon what he had already gained in
the capital; but, at the same time, he endeavored to tranquilize or foil
Narvaez if he could not win him over to his enterprise; for it was
evidently the policy of the newly arrived general to unite in a spoil
which was almost ready for division rather than to incur the perils and
uncertainty of another conquest.

Accordingly Cortéz addressed a letter to Narvaez requesting him not to
kindle a spirit of insubordination among the natives by proclaiming
his enmity. Yet this failed to affect his jealous countryman. He then
desired Narvaez to receive his band as brothers in arms, and to share
the treasure and fame of the conquest. But this, also, was rejected;
while the loyal tool of Velasquez diligently applied himself to
fomenting the Aztec discontent against his countrymen, and proclaimed
his design of marching to Mexico to release the Emperor from the grasp
of his Spanish oppressor.

There was now no other opening for diplomacy, nor was delay to be
longer suffered. Cortéz, therefore, leaving the mutinous capital in
the hands of Pedro de Alvarado, with a band of but one hundred and
fifty men to protect the treasure he had amassed,--departed for the
shores of the Gulf with only seventy soldiers, but was joined, on his
way, by one hundred and twenty men who had retreated from the garrison
at Vera Cruz. He was not long in traversing the plains and Cordilleras
towards the eastern sea; and falling suddenly on the camp of Narvaez,
in the dead of night, he turned the captured artillery against his
foe, seized the general, received the capitulation of the army of nine
hundred well equipped men, and soon healed the factions which of
course existed between the conquerors and the conquered. He had
acquired the _prestige_ which always attends extraordinary success or
capacity; and men preferred the chances of splendid results under such
a leader to the certainty of moderate gain under a general who did not
possess his matchless genius. Thus it was that the lordly spirit and
commanding talents of Cortéz enabled him to convert the very elements
of disaster into the means of present strength and future success!




Whilst Cortéz was beset with the difficulties recounted in our last
chapter, and engaged in overcoming Narvaez on the coast, the news
reached him of an insurrection in the capital, towards which he
immediately turned his steps. On approaching the city, intelligence
was brought that the active hostilities of the natives had been
changed, for the last fortnight, into a blockade, and that the
garrison had suffered dreadfully during his absence. Montezuma, too,
despatched an envoy who was instructed to impress the conqueror with
the Emperor's continued fidelity, and to exculpate him from all blame
in the movement against Alvarado.

On the 24th June, 1520, Cortéz reached the capital. On all sides he
saw the melancholy evidences of war. There were neither greeting
crowds on the causeways, nor boats on the lake; bridges were broken
down; the brigantines or boats he had constructed to secure a retreat
over the waters of these inland seas, were destroyed; the whole
population seemed to have vanished, and silence brooded over the
melancholy scene.

       *       *       *       *       *

The revolt against the lieutenant Alvarado was generally attributed to
his fiery impetuosity, and to the inhuman and motiveless slaughter
committed by the Spanish troops, under his authority, during the
celebration of a solemn Aztec festival, called the "incensing of
Huitzilopotchtli." Six hundred victims, were, on that occasion, slain
by the Spaniards, in cold blood, in the neighborhood of the Great
Temple; nor was a single native, engaged in the mysterious rites,
left alive to tell the tale of the sudden and brutal assault.

Alvarado, it is true, pretended that his spies had satisfactorily
proved the existence of a well founded conspiracy, which was designed
to explode upon this occasion; but the evidence is not sufficient to
justify the disgraceful and horrid deed that must forever tarnish his
fame. It is far more probable that rapacity was the true cause of the
onslaught, and that the reckless companion of the conqueror, who had
been entrusted with brief authority during his absence, miscalculated
the power of his Indian foe, and confounded the warlike Mexican of the
valley with the weaker soldiers, dwelling in more emasculating
climates, whom he had so rapidly confounded and overthrown in his
march to the capital.

It may well be supposed that this slaughter, combined with the other
causes of discontent already existing among the Aztecs, served to
kindle the outraged national feeling with intense hatred of the
invaders. The city rose in arms, and the Spaniards were hemmed within
their defences. Montezuma himself addressed the people from the
battlements, and stayed their active assault upon the works of
Alvarado; but they strictly blockaded the enemy in his castle, cut off
all supplies, and entrenched themselves in hastily constructed
barricades thrown up around the habitation of the Spaniards, resolved
to rest behind these works until despair and famine would finally and
surely throw the helpless victims into their power. Here the invaders,
with scant provisions and brackish water, awaited the approach of
Cortéz, who received the explanations of Alvarado with manifest
disgust:--"You have been false to your trust," said he, "you have done
badly, indeed, and your conduct has been that of a madman!"

Yet this was not a moment to break entirely with Alvarado, whose
qualities, and perhaps, even, whose conduct, rendered him popular with
a large class of the Spanish adventurers. The newly recruited forces
of Cortéz gave the conqueror additional strength, for he was now at
the head of no less than twelve hundred and fifty Spaniards, and eight
thousand auxiliaries, chiefly Tlascalans. Yet, under the untoward
circumstances, the increase of his forces augmented the difficulties
of their support. Montezuma hastened to greet him. But the Spaniard
was in no mood to trust the Emperor; and, as his Mexican subjects made
no sign of reconciliation or submission, he refused the proferred
interview:--"What have I," exclaimed he, haughtily, "to do with this
dog of a king who suffers us to starve before his eyes!" He would
receive no apology from his countrymen who sought to exculpate the
sovereign, or from the mediating nobles of the court:--"Go tell your
master," was his reply, "to open the markets, or we will do it for
him, at his cost!"

But the stern resistance of the natives was not intermitted. On the
contrary, active preparations were made to assault the irregular pile
of stone buildings which formed the Palace of Axayacatl, in which the
Spaniards were lodged. The furious populace rushed through every
avenue towards this edifice, and encountered with wonderful nerve and
endurance, the ceaseless storm of iron hail which its stout defenders
rained upon them from every quarter. Yet the onset of the Aztecs was
almost too fierce to be borne much longer by the besieged, when the
Spaniards resorted to the lingering authority of Montezuma to save
them from annihilation. The pliant Emperor, still their prisoner,
assumed his royal robes, and, with the symbol of sovereignty in his
hand, ascended the central turret of the palace. Immediately, at this
royal apparition, the tumult of the fight was hushed whilst the king
addressed his subjects in the language of conciliation and rebuke. Yet
the appeal was not satisfactory or effectual. "Base Aztec,"--shouted
the chiefs,--"the white men have made you a woman, fit only to weave
and spin!"--whilst a cloud of stones, spears and arrows fell upon the
monarch, who sank wounded to the ground, though the bucklers of the
Spaniards were promptly interposed to shield his person from violence.
He was borne to his apartments below; and, bowed to the earth by the
humiliation he had suffered alike from his subjects and his foes, he
would neither receive comfort nor permit his wounds to be treated by
those who were skilled in surgery. He reclined, in moody silence,
brooding over his ancient majesty and the deep disgrace which he felt
he had too long survived.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile the war without continued to rage. The great Teocalli or
Mound-Temple, already described, was situated at a short distance
opposite the Spanish defences; and, from this elevated position, which
commanded the invader's quarters, a body of five or six hundred
Mexicans, began to throw their missiles into the Spanish garrison,
whilst the natives, under the shelter of the sanctuaries, were
screened from the fire of the besieged. It was necessary to dislodge
this dangerous armament. An assault, under Escobar, was hastily
prepared, but the hundred men who composed it, were thrice repulsed,
and obliged finally to retreat with considerable loss. Cortéz had been
wounded and disabled in his left hand, in the previous fight, but he
bound his buckler to the crippled limb, and, at the head of three
hundred chosen men, accompanied by Alvarado, Sandoval, Ordaz and
others of his most gallant cavaliers, he sallied from the besieged
palace. It was soon found that horses were useless in charging the
Indians over the smooth and slippery pavements of the town and square,
and accordingly Cortéz sent them back to his quarters; yet he managed
to repulse the squadrons in the court-yard of the Teocalli, and to
hold them in check by a file of arquebusiers. The singular
architecture of this Mound-Temple will be recollected by the reader,
and the difficulty of its ascent, by means of five stairways and four
terraces, was now increased by the crowds that thronged these narrow
avenues. From stair to stair, from gallery to gallery, the Spaniards
fought onward and upward with resistless courage, incessantly flinging
their Indian foes, by main strength, over the narrow ledges. At length
they reached the level platform of the top, which was capable of
containing a thousand warriors. Here, at the shrine of the Aztec
war-god, was a site for the noblest contest in the empire. The area
was paved with broad and level stones. Free from all impediments, it
was unguarded at its edges by battlements, parapets, or, any defences
which could protect the assailants from falling if they approached the
sides too closely. Quarter was out of the question. The battle was
hand to hand, and body to body. Combatants grappled and wrestled in
deadly efforts to cast each other from the steep and sheer ledges.
Indian priests ran to and fro with streaming hair and sable garments,
urging their superstitious children to the contest. Men tumbled
headlong over the sides of the area, and even Cortéz himself, by
superior agility, alone, was saved from the grasp of two warriors who
dragged him to the brink of the lofty pyramid and were about to dash
him to the earth.

For three hours the battle raged until every Indian combatant was
either slain on the summit or hurled to the base. Forty-five of the
Spaniards were killed, and nearly all wounded. A few Aztec priests,
alone, of all the Indian band, survived to behold the destruction of
the sanctuaries, which had so often been desecrated by the hideous
rites and offerings of their bloody religion.

For a moment the natives were panic-struck by this masterly and
victorious manœuvre, whilst the Spaniards passed unmolested to
their quarters, from which, at night, they again sallied to burn three
hundred houses of the citizens.

Cortéz thought that these successes would naturally dismay the Mexicans,
and proposed, through Mariana,--his faithful interpreter, who had
continued throughout his adventures the chief reliance of the Spaniards
for intercourse with the Indians,--that this conflict should cease at
once, for the Aztecs must be convinced that a soldier who destroyed
their gods, laid a part of their capital in ruins, and was able to
inflict still more direful chastisement, was, indeed, invincible.

But the day of successful threats had passed. The force of the Aztecs
was still undiminished; the bridges were destroyed; the numbers of the
Spaniards were lessened; hunger and thirst were beginning to do their
deadly work on the invaders; "there will be only too few of you left,"
said they in reply,--"to satisfy the revenge of our gods."

       *       *       *       *       *

There was no longer time for diplomacy or delay, and, accordingly,
Cortéz resolved to quit the city as soon as practicable, and prepared
the means to accomplish this desirable retreat; but, on his first
attempt he was unable to reach the open country through the easily
defended highway of the capital or the enfilading canals and lanes.
From house tops and cross streets, innumerable Indians beset his path
wherever he turned. Yet it was essential for the salvation of the
Spaniards that they should evacuate the city. No other resource
remained, and, desperate as it was, the conqueror persevered,
unflinchingly, amid the more hazardous assaults of the Mexicans, and
all the internal discords of his own band, whom a common danger did
not perfectly unite. He packed the treasure, gathered during the days
of prosperous adventure, on his stoutest horses, and, with a portable
bridge, to be thrown hastily over the canals, he departed from his
stronghold on the dark and rainy evening which has become memorable in
American history, as the _noche triste_, or "melancholy night." The
Mexicans were not usually alert during the darkness, and Cortéz hoped
that he might steal off unperceived in this unwatchful period. But he
was mistaken in his calculations. The Aztecs had become acquainted
with Spanish tactics and were eager for the arrival of the moment, by
day or night, when the expected victims would fall into their hands.
As soon as the Spanish band had advanced a short distance along the
causeway of Tlacopan, the attack began by land and water; for the
Indians assaulted them from their boats, with spears and arrows, or
quitting their skiffs, grappled with the retreating soldiers in mortal
agony, and rolled them from the causeway into the waters of the lake.
The bridge was wedged inextricably between the sides of a dyke, whilst
ammunition wagons, heavy guns, bales of rich cloths, chests of gold,
artillery, and the bodies of men or horses, were piled in heaps on the
highway or rolled into the water. Forty-six of the cavalry were cut
off and four hundred and fifty of the Christians killed, whilst four
thousand of the Indian auxiliaries perished.[5] The General's baggage,
papers, and minute diary of his adventures, were swallowed in the
waters. The ammunition, the artillery, and every musket were lost.
Meanwhile Montezuma had perished from his wounds some days before the
sortie was attempted, and his body had been delivered to his subjects
with suitable honors. Alvarado,--Tonatiuh, the "child of the sun," as
the natives delighted to call him, escaped during the _noche triste_
by a miraculous leap with the aid of his lance-staff over a canal, to
whose edge he had been pursued by the foe. And when Cortéz, at length,
found himself with his thin and battered band, on the heights of
Tacuba, west of the city, beyond the borders of the lake, it may be
said, without exaggeration, that nothing was left to reassure him but
his indomitable heart and the faithful Indian girl whose lips, and
perhaps whose counsel, had been so useful in his service.

[Footnote 5: These numbers are variously stated by different
authorities.--See Prescott, vol. 2d, p. 377.]




After the disasters and fatigues of the _noche triste_, the melancholy
and broken band of Cortéz rested for a day at Tacuba, whilst the
Mexicans returned to their capital, probably to bury the dead and
purify their city. It is singular, yet it is certain, that they did
not follow up their successes by a death blow at the disarmed
Spaniards. But this momentary paralysis of their efforts was not to be
trusted, and accordingly Cortéz began to retreat eastwardly, under the
guidance of the Tlascalans, by a circuitous route around the northern
limits of lake Zumpango. The flying forces and their auxiliaries were
soon in a famishing condition, subsisting alone on corn or on wild
cherries gathered in the forest, with occasional refreshment and
support from the carcase of a horse that perished by the way. For six
days these wretched fragments of the Spanish army continued their
weary pilgrimage, and, on the seventh, reached Otumba on the way from
Mexico to Tlascala. Along the whole of this march the fainting and
dispirited band was, ever and anon, assailed by detached squadrons of
the enemy, who threw stones and rolled rocks on the men as they passed
beneath precipices, or assaulted them with arrows and spears. As
Cortéz advanced, the enemy gathered in his rear and bade him "Go on
whither he should meet the vengeance due to his robbery and his
crimes," for the main body of the Aztecs had meanwhile passed by an
eastern route across the country, and placed itself in a position to
intercept the Spaniards on the plains of Otumba. As the army of the
conqueror crossed the last dividing ridge that overlooked the vale of
Otompan, it beheld the levels below filled, as far as eye could
reach, with the spears and standards of the Aztec victors, whose
forces had been augmented by levies from the territory of the
neighboring Tezcoco. Cortéz presented a sorry array to be launched
from the cliffs upon this sea of lances. But he was not the man to
tremble or hesitate. He spread out his main body as widely as
possible, and guarded the flanks by the twenty horsemen who survived
the _noche triste_, and the disastrous march from Tacuba. He ordered
his cavalry not to cast away their lances, but to aim them constantly
at the faces of the Indians, whilst the infantry were to thrust and
not to strike with their swords;--the leaders of the enemy were
especially to be selected as marks; and he, finally, bade his men
trust in God, who would not permit them to perish by the hands of
infidels. The signal was given for the charge. Spaniard and Tlascalan
fought hand to hand with the foe. Long and doubtfully the battle raged
on both sides, until every Spaniard was wounded. Suddenly Cortéz
descried the ensignia of the enemy's commanding general, and knowing
that the fortunes of the day, in all probability, depended upon
securing or slaying that personage, he commanded Sandoval, Olid,
Alvarado, and Avila to follow and support him as he dashed towards the
Indian chief. The Aztecs fell back as he rushed on, leaving a lane for
the group of galloping cavaliers. Cortéz and his companions soon
reached the fatal spot, and the conqueror driving his lance through
the Aztec leader, left him to be dispatched by Juan de Salamanca. This
was the work of a moment. The death of the general struck a panic into
the combined forces of Tenochtitlan and Tezcoco, and a promiscuous
flight began on all sides. At sunset, on the 8th of July, 1520, the
Spaniards were victors on the field of Otumba, and gathering together
in an Indian temple, which they found on an eminence overlooking the
plain, they offered up a _Te Deum_ for their miraculous preservation
as well as for the hope with which their success reinspired them.[6]

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day the invaders quitted their encampment on the battle field
and hastened towards the territory of their friends, the Tlascalans.
The Spaniards now presented themselves to the rulers of their allies
in a different guise from that they wore when they first advanced
towards Mexico. Fully equipped, mounted, and furnished with
ammunition, they had then compelled the prompt submission of the
Tlascalans, and, assuring their alliance, had conquered the Cholulans,
and obtained the control even of the capital and person of the Aztec
Emperor himself. But now they returned defeated, plundered, unarmed,
poor, scarcely clad, and with the loss of a large part of those Indian
allies who had accompanied the expedition. There was reason for
disheartening fear in the breast of Cortéz, had it been susceptible of
such an emotion. But the Lord of Tlascala reassured him, when he
declared that their "cause was common against Mexico, and, come weal,
come woe, they would prove loyal to the death!"

The Spaniards were glad to find a friendly palace in Tlascala, in
which to shelter themselves after the dreadful storms that had
recently broken on their head. Yet, in the quiet of their retreat, and
in the excitement of their rallying blood, they began to reflect upon
the past and the disheartening aspect of the future. Murmurs, which
were at first confined to the barrack, at length assumed public
significance, and a large body of the men, chiefly the soldiers of
Narvaez, presented to Cortéz a petition which was headed by his own
secretary, demanding permission to retreat to La Villa Rica de la Vera
Cruz. Just at this moment, too, Cuitlahua, who mounted the throne of
Mexico on the death of Montezuma, despatched a mission to the
Tlascalans, proposing to bury the hatchet, and to unite in sweeping
the Spaniards from the realm. The hours which were consumed by the
Tlascalans in deliberating on this dread proposal were full of deep
anxiety to Cortéz; for, in the present feeble condition of his Spanish
force, his whole reliance consisted in adroitly playing off one part
of the Indian population against another. If he lost the aid,
alliance, or neutrality of the Tlascalans, his cause was lost, and all
hope of reconquest, or perhaps even of retreat, was gone forever.

The promised alliance of the Mexicans was warmly and sternly supported
in the debates of the Tlascalan council by some of the nobles; yet,
after full and even passionate discussion, which ended in personal
violence between two of the chiefs, it was unanimously resolved to
reject the proposal of their hereditary foes, who had never been able
to subdue them as a nation in battle, but hoped to entrap them into
alliance in the hour of common danger. These discussions, together
with the positive rejection by Cortéz of the Spanish petition, seem to
have allayed the anxiety of the invaders to return to Vera Cruz. With
the assured friendship of the Tlascalans they could rely upon some
good turn in fortune, and, at length, the vision of the conquest might
be realized under the commander who had led them through success and
defeat with equal skill.

Accordingly Cortéz did not allow his men to remain long in idle
garrisons, brooding over the past, or becoming moody and querulous. If
he could not conquer a nation by a blow, he might perhaps subdue a
tribe by a foray, while the military success, or golden plunder, would
serve to keep alive the fire of enterprise in the breasts of his
troopers. His first attack, after he had recruited the strength of his
men, was on the Tepeacans, whom he speedily overthrew, and in whose
chief town of Tepeaca, on the Mexican frontier, he established his
head quarters, in the midst of a flourishing and productive district,
whence his supplies were easily gathered. Here he received an
invitation from the cacique of Quauhquechollan,--a town of thirty
thousand inhabitants, whose chief was impatient of the Mexican
yoke,--to march to his relief. Olid was despatched on this expedition;
but getting entangled in disputes and frays with the Cholulans, whose
people he assaulted and took prisoners, Cortéz himself assumed command
of the expedition. In fact, the conqueror was singularly unfortunate
in the conduct of his subordinates, for all his disasters arose from
confidence in men whose judgment or temper was unequal to the task and
discipline of control. In the assault and capture of this town, Cortéz
and his men obtained a rich booty. They followed up the blow by taking
the strong city of Itzocan, which had also been held by a Mexican
garrison; and here, too, the captors seized upon rich spoils, while
the Indian auxiliaries were soon inflamed by the reports of booty, and
hastened in numbers to the chief who led them to victory and plunder.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cortéz returned to Tepeaca from these expeditions, which were not
alone predatory in their character, but were calculated to pave the
way for his military approach once more to the city of Mexico, as soon
as his schemes ripened for the conquest. The ruling idea of ultimate
success never for a moment left his mind. From Tepeaca he despatched
his officers on various expeditions, and marched Sandoval against a
large body of the enemy lying between his camp and Vera Cruz. These
detachments defeated the Mexicans in two battles; reduced the whole
country which is now known as lying between Orizaba and the western
skirts of the plain of Puebla, and thus secured the communication with
the seacoast. Those who are familiar with the geography of Mexico,
will see at a glance, with what masterly generalship the dispositions
of Cortéz were made to secure the success of his darling project. Nor
can we fail to recognize the power of a single indomitable will over
masses of Christians and Indians, in the wonderful as well as
successful control which the conqueror obtained in his dealings with
his countrymen as well as the natives at this period of extreme
danger. When Mexico was lost after the _noche triste_, the military
resources of Cortéz were really nothing, for his slender band was
deprived of its most effective weapons, was broken in moral courage
and placed on an equality, as to arms, with the Indians. The successes
he obtained at Otumba, Tlascala, Tepeaca, and elsewhere, not only
re-established the _prestige_ of his genius among his countrymen, but
affected even the Indians. The native cities and towns in the adjacent
country appealed to him to decide in their difficulties, and his
discretion and justice, as an arbitrator, assured him an ascendancy
which it is surprising that a stranger who was ignorant of their
language could acquire among men who were in the semi-civilized and
naturally jealous state in which he found the Aztec and Tlascalan
tribes. Thus it is that, under the influence of his will and genius,
"a new empire grew up, in the very heart of the land, forming a
counterpoise to the colossal power which had so long overshadowed it."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the judgment of Cortéz, the moment had now arrived when he was
strong enough, and when it was proper, that he should attempt the
reconquest of the capital. His alliance with the Tlascalans reposed
upon a firm basis, and consequently he could rely upon adequate
support from the Indians who would form the majority of his army. Nor
were his losses of military equipments and stores unrepaired. Fortune
favored him by the arrival of several vessels at Vera Cruz, from which
he obtained munitions of war and additional troops. One hundred and
fifty well provided men and twenty horses were joined to his forces by
these arrivals.

Before his departure, however, he despatched the few discontented men
from his camp and gave them a vessel with which they might regain
their homes. He wrote an account of his adventures, moreover, to his
government in Spain, and besought his sovereign to confirm his
authority in the lands and over the people he might add to the Spanish
crown. He addressed, also, the Royal Audiencia at St. Domingo to
interest its members in his cause, and when he despatched four vessels
from Vera Cruz for additional military supplies, he freighted them
with specimens of gold and Indian fabrics to inflame the cupidity of
new adventurers.

In Tlascala, he settled the question of succession in the government;
constructed new arms and caused old ones to be repaired; made powder
with sulphur obtained from the volcano of Popocatopetl; and, under the
direction of his builder, Lopez, prepared the timber for brigantines,
which he designed to carry, in pieces, and launch on the lake at the
town of Tezcoco. At that port, he resolved to prepare himself fully
for the final attack, and, this time, he determined to assault the
enemy's capital by water, as well as by land.

[Footnote 6: We have no accurate estimate of the numbers engaged in
this battle, or of the slain.]




After a short and brilliant reign of four months, Cuitlahua, the
successor of Montezuma, died of small pox, which, at that period,
raged throughout Mexico, and he was succeeded by Guauhtemotzin, or,
Guatemozin, the nephew of the two last Emperors. This sovereign
ascended the Aztec throne in his twenty-fifth year, yet he seems to
have been experienced as a soldier and firm as a patriot.

It is not to be imagined that the Aztec court was long ignorant of the
doings of Cortéz. It was evident that the bold and daring Spaniard had
not only been unconquered in heart and resolution, but that he even
meditated a speedy return to the scene of his former successful
exploits. The Mexicans felt sure that, upon this occasion, his advent
and purposes would be altogether undisguised, and that when he again
descended to the valley in which their capital nestled, he would, in all
probability, be prepared to sustain himself and his followers in any
position his good fortune and strong arm might secure to him. The news,
moreover, of his firm alliance with the Tlascalans and all the
discontented tributaries of the Aztec throne, as well as of the
reinforcements and munitions he received from Vera Cruz, was quickly
brought to the city of Mexico; and every suitable preparation was made,
by strengthening the defences, encouraging the vassals, and disciplining
the troops, to protect the menaced empire from impending ruin.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nor was Cortéz, in his turn, idle in exciting the combined forces of
the Spaniards and Indians for the last effort which it was probable he
could make for the success of his great enterprise. His Spanish force
consisted of nigh six hundred men, forty of whom were cavalry,
together with eighty arquebusiers and crossbowmen. Nine cannon of
small calibre, supplied with indifferent powder, constituted his train
of artillery. His army of Indian allies is estimated at the doubtless
exaggerated number of over one hundred thousand, armed with the
_maquahuatil_, pikes, bows, arrows, and divided into battalions, each
with its own banners, insignia and commanders. His appeal to all the
members of this motley array was couched in language likely to touch
the passions, the bigotry, the enthusiasm and avarice of various
classes; and, after once more crossing the mountains, and reaching the
margin of the lakes, he encamped on the 31st of December, 1520, within
the venerable precincts of Tezcoco, "the place of rest."

       *       *       *       *       *

At Tezcoco, Cortéz was firmly planted on the eastern edge of the
valley of Mexico, in full sight of the capital which lay across the
lake, near its western shore, at the distance of about twelve miles.
Behind him, towards the seacoast, he commanded the country, as we have
already related, while, by passes through lower spurs of the
mountains, he might easily communicate with the valleys of which the
Tlascalans and Cholulans were masters.

Fortifying himself strongly in his dwelling and in the quarters of his
men, in Tezcoco, he at once applied himself to the task of securing
such military positions in the valley and in the neighborhood of the
great causeway between the lakes as would command an outlet from the
capital by land, and enable him to advance across the waters of
Tezcoco without the annoyance of enemies who might sally forth from
strongholds on his left flank. On his right, the chain of lakes,
extending farther than the eye can reach, furnished the best
protection he could desire. Accordingly, he first of all reduced and
destroyed the ancient city of Iztapalapan,--a place of fifty thousand
inhabitants, distant about six leagues from the town of
Tezcoco,--which was built on the narrow isthmus dividing the lake of
that name from the waters of Chalco. He next directed his forces
against the city of Chalco, lying on the eastern extremity of the lake
that bore its name, where his army was received in triumph by the
peaceful citizens after the evacuation of the Mexican garrison. Such
were the chief of his military and precautionary expeditions, until
the arrival of the materials for the boats or brigantines which Martin
Lopez, and his four Spanish assistant carpenters, had already put
together and tried on the waters of Zahuapan; and which, after a
successful experiment, they had taken to pieces again and borne in
fragments to Tezcoco.

       *       *       *       *       *

Early in the spring of 1521, Cortéz entrusted his garrison at Tezcoco
to Sandoval, and, with three hundred and fifty Spaniards, and nearly
all his Indian allies, departed on an expedition designed to
reconnoitre the capital. He passed from his stronghold northwardly
around the head of the lakes north of Tezcoco,--one of which is now
called San Cristoval,--and took possession of the insular town of
Xaltocan. Passing thence along the western edge of the vale of Anahuac
or Mexico, he reached the city of Tacuba, west of the capital, with
which so many disastrous recollections were connected on his first sad
exit from the imperial city. During this expedition the troops of the
conqueror were almost daily engaged in skirmishes with the guerilla
forces of the Aztecs; yet, notwithstanding their constant annoyance
and stout resistance, the Spaniards were invariably successful and
even managed to secure some booty of trifling value. After a fortnight
of rapid marching, fighting and reconnoitering, Cortéz and his men
returned to Tezcoco. Here he was met by an embassy from the friendly
Chalcans and pressed for a sufficient force to sustain them against
the Mexicans, who despatched the warriors of certain neighboring and
loyal strongholds to annoy the inhabitants of a town which had
exhibited a desire to fraternize with the invading Spaniards. Indeed,
the Aztecs saw the importance of maintaining the control of a point
which commanded the most important avenue to their capital from the
Atlantic coast. The wearied troops of Cortéz were in no plight to
respond to the summons of the Chalcans at that moment, for their
hurried foray and incessant conflicts with the enemy had made them
anxious for the repose they might justly expect in Tezcoco.
Nevertheless, Cortéz did not choose to rely upon his naval enterprise
alone; but, conscious as he was of holding the main key of the land as
well as water, he despatched, without delay, his trusty Sandoval with
three hundred Spanish infantry and twenty horse to protect the town of
Chalco and reduce the hostile fortifications in its vicinity. This
duty he soon successfully performed. But the Aztecs renewed the
assault on Chalco with a fleet of boats, and were again beaten off
with the loss of a number of their nobles, who were delivered by the
victors to Sandoval whom Cortéz had sent back to support the contested
town as soon as the news of the fresh attack reached him.

By this time the brigantines were nearly completed, and the canal dug
by which they were to be carried to the waters of the lake, for, at
that time, the town of Tezcoco was distant from its margin. He dared
not trust these precious materials for his future success beyond the
shelter of his citadel in Tezcoco, since every effort had been already
made by hostile and marauding parties to destroy them; and he was
therefore obliged to undergo the trouble of digging this canal, about
half a league in length, in order to launch his vessels when the
moment for final action arrived.

Nor was his heart uncheered by fresh arrivals from the old world. Two
hundred men, well provided with arms and ammunition, and with upwards
of seventy horses,--coming most probably from Hispaniola,--found their
way from Vera Cruz to Tezcoco, and united themselves with the corps of

In the meantime the Emperor again directed his arms against his recreant
subjects of Chalco, which he seemed resolved to subdue and hold at all
hazards, so as effectually to cut off the most important land approach
to his capital. Envoys arrived in the Spanish camp with reports of the
danger that menaced them, and earnest appeals for efficient support.
This time, Cortéz resolved to lead the party destined for this service,
and, on the 5th of April, set out with thirty horsemen, three hundred
infantry and a large body of Tlascalans and Tezcocans, to succor a city
whose neutrality, at least, it was important, as we have already shown,
should eventually be secured. He seems to have effected, by his personal
influence in Chalco and its neighborhood, what his lieutenant Sandoval
had been unable to do by arms, so that, he not only rendered a large
number of loyal Aztecs passive, but even secured the co-operation of
additional auxiliaries from among the Chalcans and the tribes that dwelt
on the borders of their lake.

Cortéz was not, however, content with this demonstration against his
near neighbors, but, resolved, now that he was once more in the
saddle, to cross the _sierra_ that hemmed in the vale of Anahuac, on
the south, and to descend its southern slopes on a visit to the warmer
regions that basked at their feet. Accordingly he prosecuted his
southern march through large bodies of harrassing skirmishers, who
hung upon the rear and flanks of his troop, and annoyed it with arrows
and missiles, which they hurled from the crags as his men threaded the
narrow defiles of the mountains. Passing through Huaxtepec and
Jauhtepec, he arrived on the ninth day of his march, before the strong
town of Guauhnahuac, or Cuernavaca, as it is now known in the
geography of Mexico. It was the capital of the Tlahuicas, and an
important and wealthy tributary of the Aztecs. Here too he encountered
hostile resistance which he quickly overcame. His name as a successful
warrior had preceded him among these more effeminate races, and the
trembling lords of the territory soon submitted to his mercy.
Departing from Cuernavaca, Cortéz turned again northwards, and
ascending the _sierra_ in a new direction re-entered the valley of
Anahuac or Mexico, by the main route which now penetrates the southern
portion of its rim. From the summits of these mountains, where the
cool air of the temperate clime sings through the limbs and tassels of
hardy pines, Cortéz swooped down upon Xochimilco, or the "field of
flowers," where he was again encountered by guerillas and more
formidable squadrons from the Aztec capital which was but twelve miles
distant. Here, again, after several turns in the tide of fortune, the
Spaniards were triumphant and obtained a rich booty. From Xochimilco
the little band and the auxiliaries advanced, among continual dangers,
around the western margin of the lakes, and, skirting the feet of the
mountains, attained, once more, the town of Tacuba.

       *       *       *       *       *

The conqueror had thus circled the valley, and penetrated the adjacent
southern vale, in his two expeditions. Wherever he went, the strange
weapons of his Spaniards, the singular appearance of his mounted men,
and his uniform success, served to inspire the natives with a salutary
dread of his mysterious power. He now knew perfectly the topography of
the country,--for he was forced to be his own engineer as well as
general. He had become acquainted with the state of the Aztec defences,
as well as with the slender hold the central power of the empire
retained over the tributary tribes, towns, and districts which had been
so often vexed by taxation to support a voluptuous sovereign and
avaricious aristocracy. He found the sentiment of patriotic union and
loyalty but feeble among the various populations he visited. The ties of
international league had every where been adroitly loosened by the
conqueror, either through his eloquence or his weapons; and, from all
his careful investigations, both of character and country, he had reason
to believe that the realm of Mexico was at length almost within his
grasp. The capital was now encircled with a cordon of disloyal cities.
Every place of importance had been visited, conquered, subdued, or
destroyed in its moral courage or natural allegiance. But Tacuba was too
near the capital to justify him in trusting his jaded band within so
dangerous a neighborhood. Accordingly, he did not delay a day in that
city, but, gathering his soldiers as soon as they were refreshed, he
departed for Tezcoco by the northern journey around the lakes. His way
was again beset with difficulties. The season of rain and storm in those
lofty regions had just set in. The road was flooded, and the soldiers
were forced to plough through mud in drenched garments. But as they
approached their destination, Sandoval came forth to meet them, with
companions who had freshly arrived from the West Indies; and, besides,
he bore the cheering news that the brigantines were ready to be launched
for the last blow at the heart of the empire.




The return of Cortéz to his camp, after all the toils of his arduous
expedition, was not hailed with unanimous delight by those who had
hitherto shared his dangers and successes, since the loss of the
capital. There were persons in the small band of Spaniards,--especially
among those who had been added from the troops of Narvaez,--who still
brooded over the disaffection and mutinous feelings which had been
manifested at Tlascala before the march to Tezcoco. They were men who
eagerly flocked to the standard of the conqueror for plunder; whose
hearts were incapable of appreciating the true spirit of glorious
adventure in the subjugation of an empire, and who despised victories
that were productive of nothing but fame.

These discontented men conspired, about this period, under the lead of
Antonio Villafaña, a common soldier; and it was the design of the
recreant band to assassinate Sandoval, Olid and Alvarado, together
with Cortéz, and other important men who were known to be deepest in
the General's councils or interests. After the death of these
leaders,--with whose fall the enterprise would doubtless have
perished,--a brother-in-law of Velasquez, by name Francisco Verdugo,
who was altogether ignorant of the designs of the conspirators, was to
be placed in command of the panic-stricken troop, which, it was
supposed, would instantly unite under the new general.

It was the project of these wretched dastards to assault and despatch
the conqueror and his officers whilst engaged in opening despatches,
which were to be suddenly presented, as if just arrived from Castile.
But, a day before the consummation of the treachery, one of the party
threw himself at the feet of Cortéz and betrayed the project, together
with the fact, that, in the possession of Villafaña, would be found a
paper containing the names of his associates in infamy.

Cortéz immediately summoned the leaders whose lives were threatened,
and, after a brief consultation, the party hastened to the quarters of
Villafaña accompanied by four officers. The arch conspirator was
arrested, and the paper wrested from him as he attempted to swallow
it. He was instantaneously tried by a military court,--and, after
brief time for confession and shrift, was swung by the neck from the
casement of his quarters. The prompt and striking sentence was
executed before the army knew of the crime; and the scroll of names
being destroyed by Cortéz, the memory of the meditated treachery was
forever buried in oblivion. The commander, however, knew and marked
the men whose participation had been so unexpectedly revealed to him;
but he stifled all discontent by letting it be understood that the
only persons who suffered for the shameful crime had made no
confession! He could not spare men from his thin ranks even at the
demand of justice; for even the felons who sought his life were wanted
in the toils and battles of his great and final enterprise.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was on the 28th of April, 1521, amid the solemn services of
religion, and in the presence of the combined army of Spaniards and
Indians, that the long cherished project of launching the brigantines
was finally accomplished. They reached the lake safely through the
canal which had been dug for them from the town of Texcoco.

The Spanish forces, designed to operate in this last attack, consisted
of eighty-seven horse and eight hundred and eighteen infantry, of
which one hundred and eighteen were arquebusiers and crossbowmen.
Three large iron field pieces and fifteen brazen falconets formed the
ordnance. A plentiful supply of shot and balls, together with fifty
thousand copper-headed arrows, composed the ammunition. Three hundred
men were sent on board the twelve vessels which were used in the
enterprise, for unfortunately, one of the thirteen that were
originally ordered to be built, proved useless upon trial. The
navigation of these brigantines, each one of which carried a piece of
heavy cannon, was, of course, not difficult, for although the waters
of the lake have evidently shrunken since the days of the conquest, it
is not probable that it was more than three or four feet deeper than
at present.[7] The distance to be traversed from Tezcoco to the
capital was about twelve miles, and the subsequent service was to be
rendered in the neighborhood of the causeways, and under the
protection of the walls of the city.

The Indian allies from Tlascala came up in force at the appointed
time. These fifty thousand well equipped men were led by Xicotencatl,
who, as the expedition was about to set forth by land and water for
the final attack, seems to have been seized with a sudden panic, and
deserted his standard with a number of followers. There was no hope
for conquest without the alliance and loyal support of the Tlascalans.
The decision of Cortéz upon the occurrence of this dastardly act of a
man in whose faith he had religiously confided, although he knew he
was not very friendly to the Spaniards, was prompt and terribly
severe. A chosen band was directed to follow the fugitive even to the
walls of Tlascala. There, the deserter was arrested, brought back to
Tezcoco, and hanged on a lofty gallows in the great square of that
city. This man, says Prescott, "was the only Tlascalan who swerved
from his loyalty to the Spaniards."

       *       *       *       *       *

All being now prepared, Cortéz planned his attack. It will be
recollected that the city of Mexico rose, like Venice, from the bosom of
the placid waters, and that its communication with the main land was
kept up by the great causeways which were described in the earlier
portion of this narrative. The object of the conqueror, therefore, was
to shut up the capital, and cut off all access to the country by an
efficient blockade of the lake, with his brigantines, and of the land
with his infantry and cavalry. Accordingly he distributed his forces
into three bodies or separate camps. The first of these, under Pedro de
Alvarado, consisting of thirty horse, one hundred and sixty-eight
Spanish infantry, and twenty-five thousand Tlascalans, was to command
the causeway of Tacuba. The second division, of equal magnitude, under
Olid, was to be posted at Cojohuacan, so as to command the causeways
that led eastwardly into the city. The third equal corps of the Spanish
army was entrusted to Sandoval, but its Indian force was to be drawn
from native allies at Chalco. Alvarado and Olid were to proceed around
the northern head of the lake of Tezcoco, whilst Sandoval, supported by
Cortéz with the brigantines, passed around the southern portion of it,
to complete the destruction of the town of Iztapalapan, which was deemed
by the conqueror altogether too important a point to be left in the
rear. In the latter part of May, 1521, all these cavaliers got into
their assigned military positions, and it is from this period that the
commencement of the siege of Mexico is dated, although Alvarado had
previously had some conflicts with the people on the causeway that led
to his head quarters in Tacuba, and had already destroyed the pipes that
fed the water-tanks and fountains of the capital.

At length Cortéz set sail with his flotilla in order to sustain
Sandoval's march to Iztapalapan. As he passed across the lake and
under the shadow of the "rock of the Marquis," he descried from his
brigantines several hundred canoes of the Mexicans filled with
soldiers and advancing rapidly over the calm lake. There was no wind
to swell his sails or give him command of his vessels' motion, and the
conqueror was obliged to await the arrival of the canoes without
making such disposition for action as was needful in the emergency.
But as the Indian squadron approached, a breeze suddenly sprang up,
and Cortéz, widening his line of battle, bore down upon the frail
skiffs, overturning, crushing and sinking them by the first blow of
his formidable prows, whilst he fired to the right and left amid the
discomfitted flotilla. But few of these Indian boats returned to the
canals of the city, and this signal victory made Cortéz, forever
after, the undisputed master of the lake.

The conqueror took up his head quarters at Xoloc, where the causeway
of Cojohuacan met the great causeway of the south. The chief avenues
to Mexico had been occupied for some time, as has been already
related, but either through ignorance or singular neglect, there was
the third great causeway, of Tepejacac, on the north, which still
afforded the means of communication with the people of the surrounding
country. This had been altogether neglected. Alvarado was immediately
ordered to close this outlet, and Sandoval took up his position on the
dyke. Thus far the efforts of the Spaniards and auxiliaries had been
confined to precautionary movements rather than to decisive assaults
upon the capital. But it soon became evident that a city like Mexico
might hold out long against a blockade alone. Accordingly an attack
was ordered by Cortéz to be made by the two commanders at the other
military points nearest their quarters. The brigantines sailed along
the sides of the causeways, and aided by their enfilading fires, the
advance of the squadrons on land. The infantry and cavalry advanced
upon the great avenue that divided the town from north to south. Their
heavy guns were brought up and soon mowed a path for the musketeers
and crossbowmen. The flying enemy retreated towards the great square
in the centre of the city, and were followed by the impetuous
Spaniards and their Indian allies. The outer wall of the Great Temple,
itself, was soon passed by the hot-blooded cavaliers, some of whom
rushed up the stairs and circling corridors of the Teocalli, whence
they pushed the priests over the sides of the pyramid and tore off the
golden mask and jewels of the Aztec war-god. But the small band of
invaders had, for a moment only, appalled the Mexicans, who rallied in
numbers at this daring outrage, and sprang vindictively upon the
sacrilegious assailants. The Spaniards and their allies fled; but the
panic with which they were seized deprived their retreat of all order
or security. Cortéz, himself, was unable to restore discipline, when
suddenly, a troop of Spanish horsemen dashed into the thick of the
fight, and intimidating the Indians, by their superstitious fears of
cavalry, they soon managed to gather and form the broken files of
their Spanish and Indian army, so that, soon after the hour of
vespers, the combined forces drew off with their artillery and
ammunition to the barrack at Xoloc.

About this period, the inhabitants of Xochimilco and some tribes of
rude but valiant Otomies gave in their adhesion to the Spaniards. The
Prince of Tezcoco, too, despatched fifty thousand levies to the aid of
Cortéz. Thus strengthened, another attack was made upon the city. Most
of the injuries which had been done to the causeways in the first
onslaught had been repaired, so that the gates of the capital, and
finally the great square, were reached by the Spaniards with nearly as
great difficulty as upon their former attempt. But this time the
invaders advanced more cautiously into the heart of the city, where
they fired and destroyed their ancient quarters in the old palace of
Axayacatl and the edifices adjoining the royal palace on the other
side of the square. These incursions into the capital were frequently
repeated by Cortéz, nor were the Mexicans idle in their systematic
plans to defeat the Spaniards. All communication with the country, by
the causeways was permanently interrupted; yet the foe stealthily, and
in the night, managed to evade the vigilance of the twelve cruisers
whose numbers were indeed insufficient to maintain a stringent naval
blockade of so large a city as Mexico. But the success of Cortéz, in
all his engagements by land and water, his victorious incursions into
the very heart of the city, and the general odium which was cherished
against the central power of the empire by all the tributary tribes
and dependant provinces, combined, at this moment, to aid the efforts
of the conqueror in cutting off supplies from the famishing capital.
The great towns and small villages in the neighborhood threw off their
allegiance, and the camps of the Spanish leaders thronged with one
hundred and fifty thousand auxiliaries selected from among the
recreants. The Spaniards were amply supplied with food from these
friendly towns, and never experienced the sufferings from famine that
were soon to overtake the beleaguered capital.

       *       *       *       *       *

At length the day was fixed for a general assault upon the city by the
two divisions under Alvarado and Cortéz. As usual, the battle was
preceded by the celebration of mass, and the army then advanced in
three divisions up the most important streets. They entered the town,
cast down the barricades which had been erected to impede their
progress, and, with remarkable ease, penetrated even to the
neighborhood of the market-place. But the very facility of their
advance alarmed the cautious mind of Cortéz, and induced him to
believe that this slack resistance was but designed to seduce him
farther and farther within the city walls until he found himself
beyond the reach of succor or retreat. This made him pause. His men,
more eager for victory and plunder than anxious to secure themselves
by filling up the canals and clearing the streets of their
impediments, had rushed madly on without taking proper precaution to
protect their rear, if the enemy became too hot in front. Suddenly the
horn of Guatemozin was heard from a neighboring Teocalli, and the
flying Indians, at the sacred and warning sound, turned upon the
Spaniards with all the mingled feeling of reinspired revenge and
religion. For a while the utmost disorder prevailed in the ranks of
the invaders, Spaniards, Tlascalans, Tezcocans and Otomies, were mixed
in a common crowd of combatants. From the tops of houses; from
converging streets; from the edges of canals,--crowds of Aztecs
swarmed and poured their vollies of javelins, arrows and stones. Many
were driven into the lake. Cortéz himself had nigh fallen a victim in
the dreadful _melee_, and was rescued with difficulty. Meanwhile,
Alvarado and Sandoval had penetrated the city from the western
causeway, and aided in stemming the onslaught of the Aztecs. For a
while the combined forces served to check the boiling tide of battle
sufficiently to enable those who were most sorely pressed to be
gradually withdrawn, yet not until sixty-two Spaniards and a multitude
of allies, besides many killed and wounded, had fallen captives and
victims in the hands of their implacable enemies.

It was yet day when the broken band withdrew from the city, and
returned to the camps either on the first slopes of the hills, or at
the terminations of the causeways. But sad, indeed, was the spectacle
that presented itself to their eyes, as they gazed towards the city,
through the clear atmosphere of those elevated regions, when they
heard the drum sound from the top of the Great Teocalli. It was the
dread signal of sacrifice. The wretched Spaniards, who had been
captured in the fight, were, one after another, stretched on the stone
in front of the hideous idols, and their reeking hearts, torn from
their bosoms, thrown as propitiating morsels into the flames before
the deities. The mutilated remains of the captives were then flung
down the steep sides of the pyramid, to glut the crowds at its base
with a "cannibal repast."

       *       *       *       *       *

Whilst these repulses and dreadful misfortunes served to dispirit the
Spaniards and elate the Aztecs, they were not without their signally
bad effects upon the auxiliaries. Messages were sent to these
insurgent bodies by the Emperor. He conjured them to return to their
allegiance. He showed them how bravely their outraged gods had been
revenged. He spoke of the reverses that had befallen the white men in
both their invasions, and warned them that a parricidal war like this
could "come to no good for the people of Anahuac." Otomies, Cholulans,
Tepeacans, Tezcocans, and even the loyal Tlascalans, the hereditary
enemies of the Montezumas and Guatemozins, stole off secretly under
the cover of night. There were of course exceptions in this inglorious
desertion; but it seems that perhaps the majority of the tribes
departed for their homes with the belief that the tide had turned
against the Spanish conqueror and that it was best to escape before it
was too late, the scandal or danger of open treason against their
lawful Emperor. But, amid all these disasters, the noble heart of
Cortéz remained firm and true to his purpose. He placed his artillery
again in position upon the causeways, and, never wasting his
ammunition, contrived to husband it carefully until the assaulting
Aztecs swarmed in such numbers on the dykes that his discharges mowed
them down like grass as they advanced to attack him. It was a gloomy
time, requiring vigilance by day and by night--by land and by water.
The brigantines were still secure. They swept the lake continually and
cut off supplies designed for the capital. The Spaniards hermetically
sealed the causeways with their cannon, and thus, at length, was the
city that would not yield to storm given over to starvation.

[Footnote 7: The writer sounded the lake in the channel from Mexico to
Tezcoco in 1842, and did not find more than 2½ feet in the deepest
path. The Indians, at present, wade over all parts of the lake.]





The desertion of numerous allies, which we have noticed in the last
chapter, was not alone prompted by the judgment of the flying Indians,
but was stimulated in a great degree by the prophecy of the Aztec
priests, that, within eight days from the period of prediction, the
beleaguered city would be delivered from the Spaniards. But the sun
rose on the ninth over the inexorable foes still in position on the
causeways and on the lake. The news was soon sent by the allies who
had remained faithful, to those who had fled, and the deficient ranks
were quickly restored by the numbers who flocked back to the Spanish
standard as soon as they were relieved from superstitious fear.

About this time, moreover, a vessel that had been destined for Ponce de
Leon, in his romantic quest of Florida, put into Vera Cruz with
ammunition and military stores, which were soon forwarded to the valley.
Thus strengthened by his renerved Indian auxiliaries, and reinforced
with Spanish powder and guns, Cortéz was speedily again in train to
assail the capital; for he was not content to be idle except when the
most serious disasters forced him to endure the slow and murderous
process of subduing the city by famine. There may, perhaps, be something
noble and chivalrous in this feeling of the Castilian hero. His heart
revolted at the sight of misery inflicted without a chance of escape,
and it delighted in those conflicts which matched man with man, and gave
the ultimate victory to valor and not to stratagem.

Accordingly the conqueror resolved again to commence active
hostilities. But, this time, he designed to permit no hazards of the
moment, and no personal carelessness of his officers to obstruct his
entry or egress from the city. As he advanced the town was to be
demolished; the canals filled up; the breaches in the dykes perfectly
repaired; and, as he moved onwards to the north and west, he
determined that his path should be over a level and solid surface on
which he might encounter none of the dangers that had hitherto proved
so disastrous. The necessity of this course will be evident when it is
recollected that all the houses were terraced with flat roofs and
protecting parapets, which sheltered the assailants, whilst the
innumerable canals bisecting the streets served as so many pitfalls
for cavalry, footmen and Indians, when they became confused in the
hurry of a promiscuous onset or retreat.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile the Aztecs within the city suffered the pangs of famine. The
stores that had been gathered for the siege were gone. Human bodies,
roots, rats, reptiles, served for a season, to assuage the famished
stomachs of the starving crowds;--when suddenly, Cortéz despatched
three Aztec nobles to Guatemozin, who were instructed to praise his
defence, to assure him he had saved the honor of himself and soldiery,
and to point out the utter uselessness of longer delay in submitting
to inevitable fate. The message of the conqueror was weighed by the
court with more favor than by the proud and spirited Emperor, whose
patriotic bosom burned at the disgraceful proposal of surrender. The
priests turned the tide against the white men; and, after two days,
the answer to the summons came in a warlike sortie from the city which
well nigh swept the Spanish defenders from the dykes. But cannon and
musketry were too strong for mere numbers. The vessels poured in their
volumes of iron hail on the flanks, and the last dread effort of
defensive despair expired before the unflinching firmness of the
Castilian squadrons. At length, Cortéz believed that the moment for
final action had arrived. He gave orders for the advance of the
several corps of the army simultaneously by their several causeways;
and although it pained him greatly to destroy a capital which he
deemed "the gem of the world," yet he put into execution his resolve
to raze the city to its foundation unless it surrendered at
discretion. The number of laborers was increased daily by the hosts
that flocked like vultures to the carcase of an expiring victim. The
palaces, temples and dwellings were plundered, thrown down, and cast
into the canals The water was entirely excluded from the city. On all
sides there was fast and level land. But the Mexicans were not mere
idle, contemptible spectators of their imperial city's ruin. Day after
day squadrons sallied from the remains of the capital, and engaged the
harrassed invaders. Yet the indomitable constancy of the Spaniards was
not to be resisted. Cortéz and Alvarado had toiled onward towards each
other, from opposite sides, till they met. The palace of Guatemozin
fell and was burned. The district of Tlatelolco, in the north of the
city, was reached, and the great market-place secured. One of the
great Teocallis, in this quarter, was stormed, its sanctuaries burned,
and the standard of Castile placed on its summit. Havoc, death, ruin,
starvation, despair, hatred, were every where manifest. Every hour
added to the misery of the numerous and retreating Aztecs who were
pent up, as the besieging circle narrowed and narrowed by its
advances. Women remained three days and nights up to their necks in
water among the reeds. Hundreds died daily. Others became insane from
famine and thirst.

The conqueror hoped, for several days, that this disastrous condition
of the people would have induced the Emperor to come to terms; but,
failing in this, he resolved upon a general assault. Before he
resorted to this dreadful alternative, which his chivalrous heart
taught him could result only in the slaughter of men so famished,
dispirited and broken, he once more sought an interview with the
Emperor. This was granted; but, at the appointed time, Guatemozin did
not appear. Again the appeal was renewed, and, again, was Cortéz
disappointed in the arrival of the sovereign. Nothing, then, remained
for him but an assault, and, as may readily be imagined, the carnage
in this combined attack of Spaniards and confederate Indians was
indescribably horrible. The long endurance of the Aztecs; their
prolonged resistance and cruelty to the Spaniards; the dreadful
sacrifice of the captives during the entire period of the siege; the
memory of the first expulsion, and the speedy hope of golden rewards,
nerved the arms and hearts of these ferocious men, and led them on, in
the work of revenge and conquest, until the sun sunk and night
descended on the tragic scene.

On the 13th of August, 1521, the last appeal was made by Cortéz to the
Emperor for a surrender of his capital. After the bloody scenes of the
preceding day, and the increased misery of the last night, it was not
to be imagined that even insane patriotism or savage madness could
induce the sovereign to refrain from saving, at least, the
unfortunate non-combatants who still were loyal to his throne and
person. But the judgment of the conqueror was wrong. "Guatemozin would
die where he was!" was the reply of the royal stoic.

       *       *       *       *       *

Again the infuriate troops were let loose, and again were the scenes
of the day before re-enacted on the bloody theatre. Many escaped in
boats by the lake; but the brave or reckless Guatemozin, who seems, at
the last moment, to have changed his mind as to perishing, was taken
prisoner and brought, with his family, into the presence of Cortéz. As
soon as his noble figure and dignified face were seen on the _azotéa_
or terraced roof, beside the conqueror, the battle ceased. The Indians
beheld their monarch captive! And she who had witnessed the beginning
of these adventures,--who had followed the fortunes of the General
through all their vicissitudes--the gentle but brave Indian
girl--Mariana--stood by the intrepid Cortéz to act as his interpreter
in this last scene of the splendid and eventful drama.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was on the following day that the Mexicans who still survived the
slaughter and famine, evacuated the city. It was a desert--but a
desert covered with dead. The men who rushed in to plunder,--plundered
as if robbing graves. Between one and two hundred thousand people
perished during the three months' siege, and their festering bodies
tainted the air. The booty, though considerable, was far beneath the
expectations of the conquerors; yet there was doubtless enough to
reward amply the stout men at arms who had achieved a victory
unparalleled in the annals of modern warfare.

"What I am going to say is truth, and I swear, and say Amen to
it!"--exclaims Bernal Diaz del Castillo, in his quaint style--"I have
read of the destruction of Jerusalem, but I cannot conceive that the
mortality there exceeded that of Mexico; for all the people from the
distant provinces, which belonged to this empire, had concentrated
themselves here, where they mostly died. The streets, and squares, and
houses, and the courts of the Tlatelolco were covered with dead
bodies; we could not step without treading on them; the lake and
canals were filled with them, and the stench was intolerable.

"When all those who had been able, quitted the city, we went to
examine it, which was as I have described; and some poor creatures
were crawling about in different stages of the most offensive
disorders, the consequences of famine and improper food. There was no
water; the ground had been torn up and the roots gnawed. The very
trees were stripped of their bark; yet, notwithstanding they usually
devoured their prisoners, no instance occurred when, amidst all the
famine and starvation of this siege, they preyed upon each other.[8]
The remnant of the population went, at the request of the conquered
Guatemozin, to the neighboring villages, until the town could be
purified and the dead removed."

[Footnote 8: This fact, as stated by Bernal Diaz, is doubted by some
other writers, and seems, unfortunately, not fully sustained by




It is perhaps one of the most difficult duties of a historian, who
desires to present a faithful picture of a remote age, to place
himself in such a position as to draw the moral from his story with
justice to the people and the deeds he has described. He is obliged to
forget, not only his individuality and all the associations or
prejudices with which he has grown up surrounded, but he must, in
fact, endeavor to make himself a man and an actor in the age of which
he writes. He must sympathize justly, but impartially, with the past,
and estimate the motives of his fellow beings in the epoch he
describes. He must measure his heroes, not by the standard of advanced
Christian civilization under which he has been educated, but by the
scale of enlightened opinion which was then acknowledged by the most
respectable and intellectual classes of society.

When we approach the Conquest of Mexico with these impartial feelings,
we are induced to pass lighter judgments on the prominent men of that
wonderful enterprise. The love of adventure or glory, the passion of
avarice, and the zeal of religion,--all of which mingled their threads
with the meshes of this Indian web, were, unquestionably, the
predominant motives that led the conquerors to Mexico. In some of
them, a single one of these impulses was sufficient to set the bold
adventurer in motion;--in others, perhaps, they were all combined. The
necessary rapidity of our narrative has confined us more to the detail
of prominent incidents than we would have desired had it been our task
to disclose the wondrous tale of the conquest alone; but it would be
wrong, even in the briefest summary of the enterprise, to pass from
the topic without awarding to the moving spirit of the romantic drama
the fair estimate which his character and deeds demand.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have ever regarded Hernando Cortéz as the great controlling spirit
and embodiment of the conquest, regardless of the brilliant and able
men who were grouped around him, all of whom, tempered and regulated
by his genius, moved the military machine, step by step, and act by
act, until the capital fell before the united armies of discontented
Indians and invading Spaniards. It was in the mind of this remarkable
personage that every scheme appears to have originated and ripened.
This is the report of the most authentic contemporaries. He took
counsel, it is true, of his captains, and heard the reports of
Sandoval, Olid, and Alvarado; but whenever a great enterprise, in all
the wonderful and varied combinations of this adventure, was to be
carried into successful execution, it was Cortéz himself who planned
it, placed himself at its head, and fought in its midst. The rash
youth whom we saw either idling over his tasks at school, or a
reckless stripling as he advanced in life, seems to have mellowed
suddenly into greatness under the glow of Indian suns which would have
emasculated a character of less rude or nervous strength. As soon as a
project, worthy of the real power of his genius, presented itself to
his mind and opened to his grasp, he became a sobered, steadfast,
serious, discreet man. He was at once isolated by his superiority, and
contrived to retain, by his wisdom in command, the superiority which
was so perfectly manifested by this isolation. This alone, was no
trifling task. His natural adroitness not only taught him quickly the
value of every man in his command, but also rendered keener the tact
by which he strove to use those men when their talents, for good or
evil, were once completely ascertained. There were jealousies of
Cortéz, but no rivalries. _Men from the ranks_ conspired to displace
him, but no _leader_ ever ventured, or perhaps even conceived the
idea, whilst under his orders, of superceding the hero of the Mexican
conquest. The skill with which he won the loyal heart of that clever
Indian girl--his mistress and companion through all the
warfare,--discloses to us his power of attaching a sex which is always
quickest to detect merit and readiest to discard conceit. We speak now
of Cortéz during that period of his career when he was essentially the
soul of the conquest, and in which the stern demands of war upon his
intellect and heart, did not allow him to sleep for a moment on his
post, or to tamper with the elements upon which he relied for success.
In all this time he made but few mistakes. The loss of the capital
during the first visit is not to be attributed to him. The stain of
that calamity must rest forever upon the escutcheon of Alvarado, for
the irreparable harm was already done when Cortéz returned from the
subjugation of Narvaez.

Nor is it alone as a soldier, at this time, that we are called on to
appreciate the talents of our hero. Whilst he planned, fought,
travelled, retreated, and diplomatised, he kept an accurate account of
the adventures of his troop; and, in his celebrated letters to the
Emperor, he has presented us a series of military memoirs, which,
after three hundred years, furnish, in reality, the best, but least
pretending, narrative of the conquest. Other contemporaries, looking
upon the scenes from a variety of points, may serve to add interesting
details and more copious illustration to the story; but they support
without diminishing the value and truth of the despatches of Cortéz.

The conqueror, in truth, was one of those men whose minds seem to
reach results intuitively. Education often ripens genius, as the
genial sun and air mature the fruits of the earth which would languish
without them. But we sometimes find individuals whose dealings on
earth are to be chiefly in energetic and constant action with their
fellow creatures, and who are gifted with a finer tact which enables
them to penetrate the hearts of all they approach, and by this skilful
detection of character are empowered to mould them to their purposes.
There are, it is true, many subordinate qualities, besides the mere
perceptive faculties, that are needful in such a person. He must
possess self-control and discrimination in a remarkable degree. His
courage and self-reliance must be unquestionable. He must be able to
win by gentleness as well as to control by command or to rule by
stratagem; for there are persons whom neither kindness, reason nor
authority can lead, but who are nevertheless too important to be
disregarded in such an enterprise as that of the conquest of Mexico.

Nor is our admiration of the characteristics we have endeavored to
sketch, diminished when we examine the elements of the original army
that flocked to the standard of Cortéz. The Spanish court and
camps,--the Spanish towns and sea-ports,--had sent forth a motley band
to the islands. The sedate and worthier portions of Castilian society
were not wooed abroad by the alluring accounts of the New World and its
prolific wealth. They did not choose to leave hereditary homes and
comfortable emoluments which made those homes the permanent abodes of
contentment if not of luxury. But there were others in the dense crowds
of Spain whose habits, disposition and education, fostered in them all
the love of ease and elegance, without bestowing the means of gratifying
their desires. These men regarded the New World as a short and easy road
to opulence and distinction. There were others too, whose reckless or
dissipated habits had wasted their fortunes and blasted their names in
their native towns, and who could not bear to look upon the scenes of
their youth, or the companions of their more fortunate days, whilst
poverty and disgrace deprived them of the rights of free and equal
social intercourse. These were the poor and proud;--the noisy and the
riotous;--the soldier, half bandit, half warrior;--the sailor, half
mutineer, half pirate;--the zealot whose bigotry magnified the dangers
of Indian life into the glory of martyrdom; and the avaricious man who
dreamed that the very sands of the Indian Isles were strewn with gems
and gold. Among all this mass of wayward lust and ambition, there were
some lofty spirits whose love of glory, whose passionate devotion to
adventure, and whose genuine anxiety to spread the true word of God
among the infidels, sanctified and adorned the enterprise, whilst their
personal efforts and influence were continually directed towards the
noble purpose of redeeming it from cruelty. These men recollected that
posterity would set its seal upon their deeds, whilst many of them acted
from a higher and purer Christian motive, devoid of all that narrow
selfishness with which others kept their eyes fixed on the present and
the future for the popular opinion that was to disgrace or dignify them
on the pages of history.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such were the Spanish materials of the armies with which Cortéz
invaded Mexico; and yet, even with all the masterly genius he
possessed to mould and lead such discordant elements, what could he
have substantially effected, against the Aztec Empire, with his
handful of men,--armed, mounted and equipped as they were,--without
his _Indian allies_? These he had to conquer, to win, to control, to
bind to him, forever, with the chains of an indestructible loyalty. He
did not even know their language, but relied on the double
interpretation of an Indian girl and a Spanish soldier. Nor is it less
remarkable that he not only gained these allies, but preserved their
fealty, not in success alone, but under the most disheartening
disaster, when it was really their interest to destroy rather than to
sustain him, and when not only their allegiance but their religion
invoked a dreadful vengeance on the sacreligious hands that despoiled
their temples, overthrew their Gods, and made a jest of their most
sacred rites. It was, indeed, not only a victory over the judgments,
but over the superstitions, of an excitable, ardent and perhaps
unreflective nation; and, in whatever aspect we regard the man who
effected it solely by the omnipotence of his will, we are more and
more forced to admire the majesty of his genius and the fortune or
providence that made him a chosen and conspicuous instrument in the
development of our continent.

       *       *       *       *       *

The conquest of Mexico,--in its relation to the rest of the world,--has
a double aspect, worthy of examination. The subsequent history and
condition of the country, which we design to treat in the following
pages, will develope one of these topics;--the condition of the country,
at the period of the conquest, will disclose another, whilst it
palliates, if it does not altogether apologize for the cruelties and
apparent rapine by which the subjugation of the empire was effected.




The capital had no sooner fallen and the ruins been searched in vain
for the abundant treasures which the conquerors imagined were hoarded
by the Aztecs, than murmurs of discontent broke forth in the Spanish
camp against Cortéz for his supposed concealment of the plunder. There
was a mingled sentiment of distrust both of the conqueror and
Guatemozin; and, at last, the querulousness and taunts rose to such an
offensive height, that it was resolved to apply the torture to the
dethroned prince in order to wrest from him the secret hiding place of
his ancestral wealth. We blush to record that Cortéz consented to this
iniquity, but it was probably owing to an avaricious and mutinous
spirit in his ranks which he was unable at the moment to control. The
same Indian stoicism that characterised the unfortunate prince during
the war, still nerved him in his hours of abject disaster. He bore the
pangs without quivering or complaint and without revealing any thing
that could gratify the Spanish lust of gold, save that vast quantities
of the precious metal had been thrown into the lake,--from which but
little was ultimately recovered even by the most expert divers.

       *       *       *       *       *

The news of the fall of Mexico was soon spread from sea to sea, and
couriers were despatched by distant tribes and princes to ascertain
the truth of the prodigious disaster. The independent kingdom of
Michoacan, lying between the vale of Anahuac or Mexico and the
Pacific, was one of the first to send its envoys, and finally even
its king, to the capital;--and two small detachments of Spaniards
returned with the new visitors, penetrating their country and passing
with them even to the waters of the western ocean itself, on whose
shores they planted the cross in token of rightful possession. They
returned by the northern districts, and brought with them the first
specimens of gold and pearls from the region now known as California.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was not long, however, before Cortéz resolved to make his conquest
available by the reconstruction of the capital that he had been forced
reluctantly to mutilate and partly level during the siege. The ancient
city was nearly in ruins. The massive relics of idolatry, and the huge
stones of which the chief palaces had been constructed, were cast into
the canals. The desolation was complete on the site of the ancient
imperial residence. And the Indians, who had served in the work of
dilapidation, were even compelled by their Spanish leader and his task
masters to be the principal laborers in the toil of building up a city
which should surpass in splendor the ancient pride of Anahuac.

Meanwhile the sagacious mind of Cortéz was not only busy with the
present duties and occupations of his men in Mexico, but began to
dwell,--now that the intense excitement of active war was over,--upon
the condition of his relations with the Spanish Court and the
government in the islands. He despatched to Castile, letters,
presents, and the "royal fifth," together with an enormous emerald
whose base was as broad as the palm of his hand. With the General's
missives, went a letter from his army, commending the heroic leader,
and beseeching its royal master to confirm Cortéz in his authority and
to ratify all his proceedings. Quinoñes and Avila, the two envoys,
sailed for home; but one of them, lucklessly, perished in a brawl at
the Azores, whilst Avila, who resumed the voyage to Spain, after the
loss of his companion, was taken by a French privateer, who bore the
spoils of the Mexicans to the Court of Francis the First. The letters
and despatches of Cortéz and his army, however, were saved, and Avila,
privately and safely forwarded them to the Spanish sovereign.

At the Court of Charles the Fifth there were, of course, numerous
intrigues against the successful conqueror. The hatred of Velasquez
had not been suffered to slumber in the breast of that disappointed
governor, and Fonseca, Bishop of Burgos, who was chief of the colonial
department, and doubtless adroitly plied and stimulated by Velasquez,
managed to obtain from the churchman, Adrian, who was Regent whilst
the Emperor resided in Germany, an order for the seizure of Cortéz and
the sequestration of his property until the will of the court should
be finally made known.

But, the avaricious Velasquez, the vindictive Fonseca, and the
_Veedor_ Cristoval de Tapia, whom they employed to execute so delicate
and dangerous a commission against a man who at that moment, was
surrounded by faithful soldiers and whose troops had been augmented by
recent arrivals at Vera Cruz,--reasoned with but little judgment when
they planned their unjust and ungrateful measures against Cortéz. The
commissioner, himself, seems to have soon arrived at the same
conclusion, for, scarcely had he landed, before the danger of the
enterprise and the gold of the conqueror, persuaded him prudently to
decline penetrating into the heart of the country as the bearer of so
ungrateful a reply to the wishes of a hero whose genius and sword had
given an empire, and almost a world, to Spain.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus, at last, was Cortéz, for a time, freed from the active hostility
of the Spanish Court, whilst he retained his authority over his
conquest merely by military right and power of forcible occupation.
But he did not remain idly contented with what he had already done.
His restless heart craved to compass the whole continent, and to
discover, visit, explore, whatever lay within the reach of his small
forces and of all who chose to swell them. He continually pressed his
Indian visitors for information concerning the empire of the
Montezumas and the adjacent territories of independent kings or
tributaries. Wherever discontent lifted its head, or rebellious
manifestations were made, he despatched sufficient forces to whip the
mutineers into contrite submission. The new capital progressed apace,
and stately edifices rose on the solid land which his soldiers had
formed out of the fragments of ancient Mexico.

Whilst thus engaged in his newly-acquired domain, Narvaez, his old
enemy, and Tapia, his more recent foe, had reached the Spanish Court,
where, aided by Fonseca, they once more bestirred themselves in the
foul labor of blasting the fame of Cortéz, and wresting from his grasp
the splendid fruits of his valor. Luckily, however, the Emperor
returned, about this period, from eastern Europe, and, from this
moment the tide of intrigue seems to have been stayed if not
altogether turned. Reviled as he had hitherto been in the purlieus of
the court, Cortéz was not without staunch kinsmen and warm friends who
stood up valiantly in his behalf, both before councils and king. His
father, Don Martin, and his friend, the Duke of Bejar, had been
prominent among many in espousing the cause of the absent hero, even
before the sovereign's return;--and now, the monarch, whose heart was
not indeed ungrateful for the effectual service rendered his throne by
the conqueror, and whose mind probably saw not only the justice but
the policy of preserving, unalienated, the fidelity and services of so
remarkable a personage,--soon determined to look leniently upon all
that was really censurable in the early deeds of Cortéz. Whilst
Charles confirmed his acts in their full extent, he moreover
constituted him "Governor, Captain General and Chief Justice of New
Spain, with power to appoint to all offices, civil and military, and
to order any person to leave the country whose residence there might
be deemed prejudicial to the crown."

On the 15th of October, 1522, this righteous commission was signed by
Charles V., at Valladolid. A liberal salary was assigned the Captain
General; his leading officers were crowned with honors and emoluments,
and the troops were promised liberal grants of land. Thus, the wisdom
of the king, and of the most respectable Spanish nobility, finally
crushed the mean, jealous, or avaricious spirits who had striven to
leave their slimy traces on the fame of the conqueror; whilst the
Emperor, himself, with his own hand, acknowledged the services of the
troops and their leader, in a letter to the Spanish army in Mexico.

Among the men who felt severely the censure implied by this just and
wise conduct of Charles V., was the ascetic Bishop of Burgos, Fonseca,
whose baleful influence had fallen alike upon the discoveries of
Columbus, and the conquests of Cortéz. His bigoted and narrow
soul,--schooled in forms, and trained by early discipline, into a
querulousness which could neither tolerate anything that did not
accord with his rules or originate under his orders,--was unable to
comprehend the splendid glory of the enterprises of these two heroic
chieftains. Had it been his generous policy to foster them, history
would have selected this son of the church as the guardian angel over
the cradle of the New World; but he chose to be the shadow rather than
the shining light of his era, and, whether from age or chagrin, he
died in the year after this kingly rebuff from a prince whose councils
he had long and unwisely served.




The royal commission, of which we have spoken in the last chapter, was
speedily borne to New Spain, where it was joyfully received by all who
had participated in the conquest or joined the original forces since
that event. Men not only recognized the justice of the act, but they
felt that if the harvest was rightfully due to him who had planted the
seed, it was also most probable that no one could be found in Spain or
the Islands more capable than Cortéz of consolidating the new empire.
Velasquez, the darling object of whose latter years had been to
circumvent, entrap or foil the conqueror, was sadly stricken by the
defeat of his machinations. The reckless but capable soldier, whom he
designed to mould into the pliant tool of his avarice and glory, had
suddenly become his master. Wealth, renown, and even royal gratitude,
crowned his labors; and the disobedience, the errors, and the flagrant
wrongs he was charged with whilst subject to gubernatorial authority,
were passed by in silence or forgotten in the acclamation that sounded
his praise throughout Spain and Europe. Even Fonseca,--the chief of
the council,--had been unable to thwart this darling of genius and
good fortune. Velasquez, himself, was nothing. The great error of his
life had been in breaking with Cortéz before he sailed for Mexico. He
was straitened in fortune, foiled in ambition, mocked by the men whose
career of dangerous adventure he had personally failed to share; and,
at last, disgusted with the time and its men, he retired to brood over
his melancholy reverses until death soon relieved him of his earthly
jealousies and annoyances.

Four years had not entirely elapsed since the fall of Mexico, when a
new and splendid city rose from its ruins and attracted the eager
Spaniards, of all classes, from the old world and the islands. Cortéz
designed this to be the continental nucleus of population. Situated on
the central plateau of the realm, midway between the two seas, in a
genial climate whose heat never scorched and whose cold never froze,
it was, indeed, an alluring region to which men of all temperaments
might resort with safety. Strongholds, churches, palaces, were erected
on the sites of the royal residences of the Aztecs and their
blood-stained Teocallis. Strangers were next invited to the new
capital, and, in a few years, the Spanish quarter contained two
thousand families, while the Indian district of Tlatelolco, numbered
not less than thirty thousand inhabitants. The city soon assumed the
air and bustle of a great mart. Tradesmen, craftsmen and merchants,
thronged its streets and remaining canals.

Cortéz was not less anxious to establish, in the interior of the old
Aztec empire, towns or points of rendezvous, which in the course of
time, would grow up into important cities. These were placed with a
view to the future wants of travel and trade in New Spain. Liberal
grants of land were made to settlers who were compelled to provide
themselves with wives under penalty of forfeiture within eighteen
months. Celibacy was too great a luxury for a young country.[9] The
Indians were divided among the Spaniards by the system of
_repartimientos_, which will be more fully discussed in a subsequent
part of this work. The necessities and cupidity of the early settlers
in so vast a region rendered this necessary perhaps, though it was
promptly discountenanced but never successfully suppressed by the
Spanish crown. The scene of action was too remote, the subjects too
selfish, and the ministers too venal or interested to carry out, with
fidelity, the benign ordinances of the government at home. From this
apportionment of Indians, which subjected them, in fact, to a species
of slavery, it is but just to the conquerors to state that the
Tlascalans, upon whom the burden of the fighting had fallen, were
entirely exempted at the recommendation of Cortéz.

Among all the tribes the work of conversion prospered, for the
ceremonious ritual of the Aztec religion easily introduced the native
worshippers to the splendid forms of the Roman Catholic. Agriculture
and the mines were not neglected in the policy of Cortéz, and, in
fact he speedily set in motion all the machinery of civilization,
which was gradually to operate upon the native population whilst it
attracted the overflowing, industrious or adventurous masses of his
native land. Various expeditions, too, for the purpose of exploration
and extension, were fitted out by the Captain General of New Spain; so
that, within three years after the conquest, Cortéz had reduced to the
Spanish sway, a territory of over four hundred leagues, or twelve
hundred miles on the Atlantic coast, and of more than five hundred
leagues or fifteen hundred miles on the Pacific.[10]

This sketch of a brief period after the subjugation of Mexico
developes the _constructive_ genius of Cortéz, as the preceding
chapters had very fully exhibited his _destructive_ abilities. It
shows, however, that he was not liable justly to the censure which has
so often been cast upon him,--of being, only, a piratical plunderer
who was seduced into the conquest by the spirit of rapine alone.

       *       *       *       *       *

In a historical narrative which is designed to treat exclusively of
Mexico, it might perhaps be considered inappropriate to relate that
portion of the biography of Cortéz which is covered by his expedition
to Honduras, whither he marched after he learned the defection of his
lieutenant Olid whom he had sent to that distant region with a body of
Spanish soldiers to found a dependant colony. It was whilst on this
disastrous march that the report of a conspiracy to slay the
Spaniards, in which Guatemozin was implicated, reached his ears, and
that the dethroned monarch, together with several princes and inferior
nobles, was hanged, by his orders, on the branches of a tree. There is
a difference of opinion among contemporary writers as to the guilt of
Guatemozin and the Aztec nobles; but it is probable that the
unfortunate prince had become a dangerous and formidable captive and
that the grave was a safer prison for such a personage, than the tents
and bivouacs of a menaced army.

Another renowned character in this drama--the serviceable and gentle
Indian girl Doña Mariana,--was no longer needed and was disposed of
during this expedition, by marriage with Don Martin Xamarillo, to whom
she brought a noble dowry of estates, which were assigned her by the
conqueror in her native province, where, in all likelihood she ended
her romantic career. Her son by Cortéz, named after his grand-father
Don Martin, became distinguished in the annals of the colony and of
Spain, but in 1568, he was cruelly treated in the capital which had
been won by the valor and fidelity of his parents.

       *       *       *       *       *

From this digression in his Mexican career, Cortéz was suddenly
recalled by the news of disturbances in the capital, which he reached
after a tempestuous and dangerous voyage. His journey from the coast
to the valley was a continued scene of triumphs; and, from Tezcoco, in
June, 1526, he made his stately entrance into the city of Mexico amid
brilliant cavalcades, decorated streets, and lakes and canals covered
with the fanciful skiffs of Indians.

A month later, the joy of his rapturous reception was disturbed by the
announcement that the Spanish Court had sent a commissioner to
supercede him temporarily in the government. The work of sapping his
power and influence had long been carried on at home; and false
reports, involving Cortéz in extreme dishonesty not only to the
subjects but to the crown of Spain itself, at length infused
suspicions into the sovereign's mind. The Emperor resolved to search
the matter fairly to its core, and, accordingly, despatched Don Luis
Ponce de Leon, a young, but able nobleman to perform this delicate
task, at the same time that he wrote with his own hand to the
conqueror, assuring him that his sole design was not to distrust or
deprive him of his honors, but to afford him the opportunity of
placing his integrity in a clear light before the world.

De Leon, and the delegate chosen on his death bed, died within a few
months, and were succeeded by Estrada, the royal treasurer, who was
hostile to Cortéz, and whose malicious mismanagement of the
investigation soon convinced even the Spanish court that it was unjust
to leave so delicate and tangled a question in his hands. Accordingly
the affair was transferred from Estrada to a commission styled the
Audiencia Real de España, and Cortéz was commanded to hasten across
the Atlantic in order to vindicate himself from the aspersions before
this august body, which sat in the midst of his countrymen.

Cortéz resolved to go at once; and, loyal to the last, rejected all
the offers that were made him to reassume the reins of power,
_independently of Spain_. He carried with him a number of natives,
together with specimens of all the natural and artificial products of
his viceroyalty; nor did he forget a plentiful supply of gold, silver,
and jewels, with which he might maintain, in the eyes of his luxurious
countrymen, the state that was appropriate for one whose conquests
and acquisitions were so extensive. Sandoval and Tapia, too, departed
with their beloved companion in arms, the former of whom, only, lived
to land once more on his native land.

       *       *       *       *       *

As he journeyed from the sea-port towards Toledo, the curious crowds
poured out on the way side to behold and welcome the hero of the New
World; and from the gates of the city a gallant crowd of cavaliers
poured forth, with the Duke de Bejar and the Count de Aguilar, to
attend him to his dwelling.

The Emperor received him with marked respect on the following day, and
from the bountiful gifts and splendid titles which were showered upon
Cortéz before the close of 1529, it seems that his sovereign was soon
personally satisfied in his frequent and frank interviews with the
conqueror, that the tales he had heard from across the sea were mere
calumnies unworthy his notice. The title of "Marquis of the Valley of
Oaxaca" was bestowed on him. Lands in the rich province of Oaxaca, and
estates in the city of Mexico and other places, were also ceded to
him. "The princely domain thus granted him," says Prescott,
"comprehended more than twenty towns and villages and twenty-three
thousand vassals." The court and sovereign vied with each other in
honoring and appreciating his services, and every privilege was no
sooner demanded than granted, save that of again assuming the
government of New Spain!

It was the policy of the Spanish court not to entrust the rule of
conquered countries to the men who had subdued them. There was
fancied, and perhaps real danger in confiding such dearly acquired
jewels to ambitious and daring adventurers who might ripen into
disloyal usurpers.

Cortéz bowed submissively to the will of the Emperor. He was grateful
for what had been graciously conceded to his merits and services; nor
was he unwilling to enjoy the luxury of careless repose after so many
years of toil. His first wife,--wedded as we have related in the
Islands,--died a short time after she joined him in the capital after
the conquest. Cortéz was yet young, nor was he ill favored or
indisposed to slight the charms of the sex. A fair relative of the
Aguilars and Bejars, Doña Juana Zuñiga, at this moment attracted his
attention and was soon won. Her dower of jewels, wrested from the
Aztecs, and carved by their most skilful workmen, was indescribably
magnificent, and, after her splendid nuptials, she embarked, in 1530,
with the conqueror and his aged mother to return to the Indian
Islands, and finally to New Spain.

At Hispaniola he met an Audiencia Real, which was still to have
jurisdiction of his case, if it ever came to trial, and at whose head
was an avowed enemy of the conqueror, Nuño de Guzman. The evidence was
taken upon eight scandalous charges against Cortéz, and is of so
suspicious a character that it not only disgusts the general reader,
but also failed in its effect upon the Spanish court by which no
action was finally taken in regard to it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Cortéz remained two months in the island before he set sail for Vera
Cruz, in July 1530; and, in the meantime, the Bishop of San Domingo
was selected to preside over a new Audiencia, inasmuch as the conduct
of the late Audiencia, and of Guzman especially, in relation to the
Indians, had become so odiously oppressive that fears were entertained
of an outbreak. The bishop and his coadjutors were men of a different
stamp, who inspired the conqueror with better hopes for the future
prosperity of the Indian colonies.

So jealous was the home government of the dangerous influence of
Cortéz,--a man so capable of establishing for himself an independent
empire in the New World,--that he had been inhibited from approaching
the capital nearer than thirty leagues. But this did not prevent the
people from approaching him. He returned to the scene of his conquest,
with all the personal resentments and annoyances that had been felt by
individuals of old, softened by the lapse of time during his prolonged
absence in Spain. He came back, too, with all the prestige of his
Emperor's favor; and, thus, both by the new honors he had won at
court, and the memory of his deeds, the masses felt disposed to
acknowledge, at the moment of joyous meeting, that it was alone to him
they owed their possessions, their wealth, their comfort, and their
importance in New Spain.

Accordingly, Mexico was deserted by the courtiers, and Tezcoco, where
he established his headquarters was thronged by eager crowds who came
not only to visit but to consult the man whose wit and wisdom were as
keen as his sword, and who revisited Mexico, ripened into an astute

Nevertheless, the seeming cordiality between the magistrates of the
capital and the partly exiled Captain General, did not long continue.
Occasions arose for difference of opinion and for disputes of even a
more bitter character, until, at length, he turned his back on the
glorious valley,--the scene of his noblest exploits,--forever, and took
up his abode in his town of Cuernavaca, which, it will be recollected,
he captured from the Aztecs before the capital fell into his hands. This
was a place lying in the lap of a beautiful valley, sheltered from the
north winds and fronting the genial sun of the south, and here he once
more returned to the cares of agriculture,--introducing the sugar cane
from Cuba, encouraging the cultivation of flax and hemp, and teaching
the people the value of lands, cattle and husbandry which they had never
known or fully appreciated. Gold and silver he drew from Zacatecas and
Tehuantepec; but he seems to have wisely thought that the permanent
wealth and revenue of himself and his heirs would best be found in

Our limits will not permit us to dwell upon the agricultural, mineral
and commercial speculations of Cortéz, nor upon his various adventures
in Mexico. It is sufficient to say that he planned several
expeditions, the most important of which, was unsuccessful in
consequence of his necessary absence in Spain, whither he had been
driven, as we have seen, to defend himself against the attacks of his
enemies. Immediately, however, upon his return to Mexico, he not only
sent forth various navigators, to make further discoveries, but
departed himself for the coast of Jalisco, which he visited in 1534
and 1535. He recovered a ship, which had been seized by Nuño de
Guzman; and having assembled the vessels he had commanded to be built
in Tehuantepec, he embarked every thing needful to found a colony. The
sufferings he experienced in this expedition were extraordinarily
great; his little fleet was assailed by famine and tempests, and, so
long was he unheard of, in Mexico, that, at the earnest instance of
his wife, the viceroy Mendoza sent two vessels to search for him. He
returned, at length, to Acapulco; but not content with his luckless
efforts, he made arrangements for a new examination of the coasts, by
Francisco de Ulloa, which resulted in the discovery of California, as
far as the Isle de Cedros, and of all that gulf, to which geographers
have given the name of the "Sea of Cortéz."

His expenses in these expeditions exceeded three hundred thousand
castellanos of gold, which were never returned to him by the
government of Spain. Subsequently, a Franciscan missionary, Fray
Marcos de Niza, reported the discovery, north of Sonoma, of a rich and
powerful nation called Quivara, whose capital he represented as
enjoying an almost European civilization. Cortéz claimed his right to
take part in or command an expedition which the viceroy Mendoza was
fitting out for its conquest. But he was baulked in his wishes, and
was obliged to confine his future efforts for Mexico to works of
beneficence in the capital.

That portion of the conqueror's life which impressed its powerful
characteristics upon New Spain was now over. The rest of his story
belongs rather to biography and the Old World than to a compressed
narrative of Mexican history, for although he remained long in the
country, and afterwards fought successfully under the Emperor's banner
in other lands, it appears that he was unable to win the Spanish crown
to grant him authority over the empire he had subdued. He died at
Castilleja de la Cuesta, near Seville, on the 2d of December, 1547.

Cortéz provided in his will that his body should be interred in the
place where he died, if that event occurred in Spain, and that, within
ten years, his bones should be removed to New Spain and deposited in a
convent of Franciscan nuns, which, under the name of La Concepcion, he
ordered to be founded in Cuyoacan. Accordingly, his corpse was first
of all laid in the convent of San Isidro, outside the walls of
Seville, whence it was carried to Mexico and deposited in the church
of San Francisco, at Tezcoco, inasmuch as the convent of Cuyoacan was
not yet built. Thence the ashes of the hero were carried, in 1629, to
the principal chapel of the church of San Francis, in the capital;
and, at last, were translated, on the 8th of November, 1794, to the
church of the Hospital of Jesus, which Cortéz had founded. When the
revolution broke out, a vindictive feeling prevailed not only against
the living Spaniards, but against the dead, and men were found, who
invoked the people to tear these honored relics from their grave, and
after burning them at San Lazaro, to scatter the hated ashes to the
winds. But, in the government and among the principal citizens, there
were many individuals who eagerly sought an opportunity to save Mexico
from this disgraceful act. These persons secretly removed the
monument, tablet, and remains of the conqueror from their resting
place in the Church of Jesus, and there is reason to believe, that at
length they repose in peaceful concealment in the vaults of the family
in Italy. Past generations deprived him, whilst living, of the right
to rule the country he had won by his valor. Modern Mexico has denied
his corpse even the refuge of a grave.[11]

[Footnote 9: Prescott 3d, 261.]

[Footnote 10: Prescott, vol. 3, 274.]

[Footnote 11: See Alaman, Disertaciones sobre la historia de la
Republica Mexicana, vol. 2, p. 93 Appendix.]




One of the most disgraceful destructions of property, recorded in
history, is that which was accomplished in Mexico by the first
Archbishop of New Spain, Juan de Zumarraga. He collected from all
quarters, but especially from Tezcoco, where the national archives were
deposited, all the Indian manuscripts he could discover, and causing
them to be piled in a great heap in the market place of Tlatelolco, he
burned all these precious records, which under the skilful
interpretation of competent natives, _might_ have relieved the early
history of the Aztecs from the obscurity with which it is now clouded.
The superstitious soldiery eagerly imitated the pious example of this
prelate, and emulated each other in destroying all the books, charts,
and papers, which bore hieroglyphic signs, whose import, they had been
taught to believe was as sacrilegiously symbolic and pernicious as that
of the idols they had already hurled from the Indian temples.

And yet, it may be questioned, whether these documents, had they been
spared even as the curious relics of the literature or art of a
semi-civilized people, would have enlightened the path of the
historical student. "It has been shown," says Mr. Gallatin, "that
those which have been preserved contain but a meagre account of the
Mexican history for the one hundred years preceding the conquest, and
hardly anything that relates to prior events. The question naturally
arises--from what source those writers derived their information, who
have attempted to write not only the modern history of Mexico, but
that of ancient times? It may, without hesitation, be answered, that
their information was traditional. The memory of important events is
generally preserved and transmitted by songs and ballads, in those
nations which have attained a certain degree of civilization, and had
not the use of letters. Unfortunately, if we except the hymns of the
great monarch of Tezcoco, which are of recent date, and allude to no
historical fact of an earlier epoch than his own times, no such
Mexican remnants have been transmitted to us, or published. On the
other hand the recollection and oral transmission of events may have
been aided by the hieroglyphics imperfect as they were; thus, those of
the significant names of a king and of a city, together with the
symbol of the year, would remind the Mexicans of the history of the
war of that king against that city which had been early taught him
whilst a student in the temple."[12]

It is thus, perhaps, that the virtuoso rather than the historical
student has been the sufferer by the superstitious conflagrations of
Zumarraga and the Spanish soldiers. We have unquestionably lost most
of the minute events of early Aztec history. We have remained ignorant
of much of the internal policy of the realm, and have been obliged to
play the antiquarian in the discussion of dates and epochs, whose
perfect solution, even, would not cast a solitary ray of light upon
the grand problem of this continent's development or population. But
amid all this obscurity, ignorance, and diffuseness, we have the
satisfaction to know that some valuable facts escaped the grasp of
these destroyers, and that the grand historical traditions of the
empire were eagerly listened to and recorded by some of the most
enlightened Europeans who hastened after the conquest to New Spain.
The song, the story, and the anecdote, handed down from sire to son in
a nation which possessed no books, no system of writing, no letters,
no alphabet,--formed in reality the great chain connecting age with
age, king with king, family with family;--and, as the gigantic bond
lengthened with time, some of its links were adorned with the
embellishments of fancy, whilst others, in the dim and distant past,
became almost imperceptible. Nor were the conquerors and their
successors men devoted to the antiquities of the Mexicans with the
generous love of enthusiasts who delight in disclosing the means by
which a people emerged from the obscurity of a tribe into the grandeur
of a civilized nation. In most cases the only object they had in
magnifying, or even in manifesting the real character, genius and
works of the Mexicans, is to be found in their desire to satisfy their
country and the world that they had indeed conquered an empire, and
not waged exterminating war against naked but wealthy savages. It was,
in fact, a species of self laudation; and it has, therefore, not been
without at least a slight degree of incredulity that we read the
glowing early accounts of the palaces, the state and the power of the
Mexican emperors. The graphic works of Mr. Stephens on Yucatan and
Central America, seem, however, to open new authorities upon this vast
problem of civilization. Architecture never lies. It is one of those
massive records which require too much labor in order to record a
falsehood. The men who could build the edifices of Uxmal, Palenque,
Copan and Chichen-Itza, were far removed from the aboriginal condition
of Nomadic tribes. Taste and luxury had been long grafted on the mere
_wants_ of the natives. They had learned not only to build for
protection against weather, but for permanent homes whose internal
arrangements should afford them comfort, and whose external appearance
should gratify the public taste. Order, symmetry, elegance, beauty of
ornament, gracefulness of symbolic imagery, had all combined to
exhibit the external manifestations which are always seen among people
who are not only anxious to gratify others as well as themselves, but
to vie with each other in the exhibition of individual tastes. Here,
however, as in Egypt, the architectural remains are chiefly of
temples, tombs and palaces. The worship of God,--the safety of the
body after death,--and the permanent idea of loyal obedience to
authority,--are symbolized by the temple,--tomb,--and the rock-built
palace. The masses, who felt they had no constant abiding place on
earth, did not in all probability, build for themselves those
substantial and beautifully embellished _homes_, under whose influence
modern civilization has so far exceeded the barren _humanism_ of the
valley of the Nile. It was useless, they deemed, to enshrine in marble
whilst living, the miserable spirit that, after death, might crawl in
a crocodile or burrow in a hog. Christianity, alone, has made the
_Dwelling_ paramount to the Tomb and the Palace.

We cannot leave the early history of Spanish occupation without
naturally casting our eyes over the empire which it was the destiny of
Cortéz to conquer. Of its geographical boundaries we know but little.
The dominions of the original Aztecs covered but a small part of the
territory comprehended in modern Mexico; and although they were enlarged
during the empire, they did not even then extend beyond the eighteenth
degree and the twenty-first on the Atlantic or Gulf, and beyond the
fourteenth and nineteenth degree including a narrow slip on the Pacific.

The seat and centre of the Mexican empire was in the valley of Mexico,
in a temperate climate, whose genial mildness is gained by its
elevation of over seven thousand feet above the level of the sea. The
features of this region,--the same now as at the conquest,--will be
more fully described hereafter in those chapters which treat of the
geography and statistics of modern Mexico.

On the eastern or western borders of the lake of Tezcoco, facing each
other, stood the ancient cities of Tenochtitlan or Mexico, and of
Tezcoco. These were the capitals of the two most famous, flourishing
and civilized states of Anahuac, the sources of whose population and
progress are veiled in the general mystery that overhangs the early
history of our continent.

The general, and best received tradition that we possess upon the
subject, declares that the original inhabitants of this beautiful
valley came from the north; and that perhaps the earliest as well as
the most conspicuous in the legends, were the Toltecs, who moved to
the south before the end of the seventh century, and settled at Tollan
or Tula, north of the Mexican valley, where extensive architectural
remains were yet to be found at the period of the conquest. This spot
seems to have gradually become the parent hive of civilization and
advancement; but, after four centuries, during which they extended
their sway over the whole of Anahuac, the Toltecs are alleged to have
wasted away by famine, disease, and the slow desolation of
unsuccessful wars. This occurred about the year 1051, as the Indian
tradition relates,--and the few who escaped the ravages of death,
departed for those more southern regions now known as Yucatan and
Guatemala, in which we perhaps find the present remains of their
civilization displayed in the temples, edifices and tombs of Palenque
and Uxmal. During the next century these valleys and mountains were
nearly desolate and bare of population, until a rude and altogether
uncivilized tribe, known as the Chichimecas, came from Amaquemecan, in
the north, and settled in villages among the ruins of their Toltec
predecessors. After eight years, six other Indian tribes called
Nahuatlacs arrived, and announced the approach of another band from
the north, known as the Aztecs, who, soon afterwards, entered Anahuac.
About this period the Acolhuans, who are said to have emigrated from
Teoacolhucan, near the original territories of the Chichimecas,
advanced into the valley and speedily allied themselves with their
ancient neighbors. These tribes appear to have been the founders of
the Tezcocan government and nation which was once assailed
successfully by the Tepanecs, but was finally delivered from thraldom
by the signal bravery and talents of the prince Nezahualcoyotl, who
was heir of the crown, supported by his Mexican allies.

Our chief concern, however, in groping our way through the tangled
labyrinth of tradition, is to ascertain the story of the AZTECS, whose
advent has been already announced. It was about the year 1160, that
they departed from Aztlan, the original seat of their tribe, on their
journey of southern emigration. Their pilgrimage seems to have been
interrupted by numerous halts and delays, both on their route through
the northern regions now comprehended in the modern Republic of
Mexico, as well as in different parts of the Mexican valley which was
subsequently to become their home and capital. At length, in 1325,
they descried an eagle resting on a cactus which sprang from the
crevice of a rock in the lake of Tezcoco, and grasping in his talons a
writhing serpent. This had been designated by the Aztec oracles as the
site of the home in which the tribe should rest after its long and
weary migration; and, accordingly, the city of Tenochtitlan, was
founded upon the sacred spot, and like another Venice rose from the
bosom of the placid waters.

It was near a hundred years after the founding of the city, and in the
beginning of the fifteenth century, that the Tepanecs attacked the
Tezcocan monarchy, as has been related in the previous part of this
chapter. The Tezcocans and the Aztecs or Mexicans united to put down
the power of the spoiler, and as a recompense for the important
services of the allies, the supreme dominion of the territory of the
royal house of Tezcoco was transferred to the Aztecs. The Tezcocan
sovereigns thus became, in a measure, mediatized princes of the
Mexican throne; and the two states, together with the neighboring
small kingdom of Tlacopan, south of the lake of Chalco, formed an
offensive and defensive league which was sustained with unwavering
fidelity through all the wars and assaults which ensued during the
succeeding century. The bold leaguers united in that spirit of plunder
and conquest which characterizes a martial people, as soon as they are
surrounded by the necessaries, comforts, and elegances of life in
their own country, and whenever the increase of population begins to
require a vent through which it may expand those energies that would
destroy the state by rebellions or civil war, if pent up within the
narrow limits of so small a realm as the valley of Mexico. Accordingly
we find that the sway of this small tribe, which had but just nestled
among the reeds, rocks and marshes of the lake, was quickly spread
beyond the mountain barrier that hemmed in the valley. Like the
Hollanders, they became great by the very wretchedness of their site,
and the vigilant industry it enforced. The Aztec arms were triumphant
throughout all the plains that swept downward towards the Atlantic,
and, as we have seen, even maintained dominion on the shores of the
Pacific, or penetrated, under the bloody Ahuitzotl, the remotest
corners of Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Such was the extent of Aztec power at the beginning of the 16th
century, at the period of the Spanish incursion.

    NOTE.--The discrepancies in the dates assigned by several writers
    as to the periods of the emigration of various tribes and the
    reigns of their sovereigns, are carefully presented in the
    following table, given by Albert Gallatin, in his essay on the
    Mexican nations--1 vol. Ethnol. Soc. Transac. 162.

  Column Headings:
    A: _Alva._
    B: _Sahagun._
    C: _Veytia._
    D: _Clavigero._

                                                   A    B     C    D

  Arrived at Huehuetlalpallan                     387
  Departed from     do                                       596   544
  They found Tula                                 498        713   720
  Monarchy begins                                 510              667
  Monarchy ends                                   959       1116  1051

      CHICHIMECAS AND ACOLHUANS OR TEZCOCANS.                    {about
  Xolotl, 1st King occupies the valley of Mexico  963       1120 {1170
  Napoltzin, 2d King ascends the throne          1075       1232  13 cen
  Tlotzin} 3rd King, so called erroneously,
    ascends the throne                           1107       1263  14 cen
  Quinantzin, 4th King ascends the throne        1141       1298  14 cen
  Tlaltecatzin 1st King according to Sahagun
    ascends the throne                                1246
  Techotlalatzin 5th (2d, Sahagun) ascends the
    throne                                       1253 1271  1357  14 cen
  Ixtlilxochitl 6th (3d, Sahagun)   "   "   "    1357 1331  1409  1406
  Netzahual-Coyotzin 7th (4th, Sahagun) ascends
    the throne                                   1418 1392  1418  1426
  Netzahual-Pilzintli 8th (5th, Sahagun) ascends
    the throne                                   1462 1463        1470
  Netzahual-Pilzintli dies                       1515 1516        1516

  Acolhua arrives                                1011       1158
  Acolhua 2d son of Acolhua 1st arrives                     1239
  Tezozomac son according to D'Alva, grandson
    according to Veytia of the 1st Acolhua
    arrives                                      1299 1348  1343
  Maxtlan, son of Tezozomac arrives              1427       1427  1422

  Mexicans leave Aztlan                                     1064  1160
      "    arrive at Huelcolhuacan                                1168
      "      "    at Chicomotzoc                            1168
      "      "    at valley of Mexico            1141       1227  1216
      "      "    at Chapultepec                           {1248  1245

  Column Headings:
    A: _Mendoza's Collection._
    B: _Codex Tellurianus._
    C: _Acosta._
    D: _Siguenza._
    E: _D'Alva._
    F: _Sahagun._
    G: _Veytia._
    H: _Clavigero._

                               A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H
  Foundation of Mexico or
    Tenochtitlan             1324           1325 1220      1325 1325
  Acamapichtli, elected King 1375 1399 1384 1361 1141 1384 1361 1352
  Huitzilihuitl, accession   1396 1406 1424 1403 1353      1402 1389
  Chimalpopoca               1417 1414 1427 1414 1357      1414 1409
  Ytzcoatl                   1427 1426 1437 1427 1427      1427 1423
  Montezuma 1st              1440 1440 1449 1440 1440           1436
  Acayacatl                  1469 1469 1481 1468 1469           1464
  Tizoc                      1482 1483 1487 1481 1483           1477
  Ahuitzol                   1486 1486 1492 1486 1486           1482
  Montezuma 2d               1502 1502 1503 1502 1503           1502

  Acamapichtli                 21    7   40   42  150   21   41   37
  Huitzilihuitl                21    8    3   11   50   21   12   20
  Chimalpopoca                 10   12   10   13   70   10   13   14
  Ytzcoatl                     13   14   12   13   13   14        13
  Montezuma 1st                29   29   32   28   29   30        28
  Acayacatl                    13   14    6   13   14   14        13
  Tizoc                         4    3    5    5    3    4         5
  Ahuitzol                     16   16   11   16   17    8        16
  Montezuma 2d                 17   17   16   17   17   19        17

    The writers and documents cited in the preceding columns are
    esteemed the highest authority upon Mexican history and antiquities.

    This is perhaps the best comparative table of Mexican
    Chronology,--up to the period of the conquest,--that has ever been
    compiled; and the great discrepancy between the dates assigned by
    various authorities, exhibits the guess work upon which the
    earlier Mexican history is founded.

    In addition to the tribes or States enumerated in the preceding
    tables as constituting the nucleus of the Mexican empire under
    Montezuma, at the period of the Spanish conquest, it must be
    recollected that there were numerous other Indian States,--such as
    the Tlascalans, Cholulans, &c., whose origin is more obscure even
    than that of the Aztecs. Besides these, there were, on the
    territories now comprehended within the Mexican republic, the
    Tarascos who inhabited Michoacan, an independent sovereignty;--the
    barbarous Ottomies; the Olmecs; the Xicalancas; the Miztecas, and
    Zapotecas. The last named are supposed by Baron Humboldt to have
    been superior, in civilization, to the Mexicans, and probably
    preceded the Toltecs in the date of their emigration. Their
    architectural remains are found in Oaxaca. If we consider the
    comparatively small space in which the original tribes were
    gathered together in the valley of Mexico, which is not probably
    over two hundred and fifty miles in circumference, we cannot but
    be surprised that such remarkable results were achieved from such
    paltry beginnings and upon so narrow a theatre. The subjugation of
    so large a territory and such numerous tribes, by the Aztecs and
    Tezcocans is perhaps quite as wonderful an achievement, as the
    final subjugation of those victorious nations by the Spaniards.
    But in all our estimates of Spanish valor and generalship, in the
    splendid campaigns of Cortéz, we should never forget,--as we have
    remarked in the text,--the material assistance he received from
    his Indian allies--the Tlascalans.

[Footnote 12: 1 vol. Trans. Am. Ethnol. Soc., p. 145. Art. Mexican
Hist. Chron., &c. &c., by Albert Gallatin.]





It is perhaps altogether impossible to judge, at this remote day, of
the absolute degree of civilization, enjoyed at the period of the
conquest, by the inhabitants not only of the valley of Mexico and
Tezcoco, but also of Oaxaca, Tlascala, Michoacan, Yucatan, and their
various dependencies. In studying this subject carefully, even in the
classical pages of Mr. Prescott, and in the laborious criticisms of
Mr. Gallatin, we find ourselves frequently bewildered in the labyrinth
of historical details and picturesque legends, which have been
carefully gathered and grouped to form a romantic picture of the Aztec
nation. Yet facts enough have survived, not only the wreck of the
conquest, but also the comparative stagnation of the viceroyalty, to
satisfy us that there was a large class of people, at least in the
capitals and their vicinity, whose tastes, habits, and social
principles, were nearly equal to the civilization of the Old World at
that time. There were strange inconsistences in the principles and
conduct of the Mexicans, and strange blendings of softness and
brutality, for the savage was as yet but rudely grafted on the citizen
and the wandering or predatory habits of a tribe were scarcely tamed
by the needful restraints of municipal law.

It is probable that the Aztec refinement existed chiefly in the city
of Tenochtitlan or Mexico; or, that the capital of the empire, like
the capital of France, absorbed the greater share of the genius and
cultivation of the whole country. Our knowledge of Yucatan, and of the
wonderful cities which have been revealed in its forests by the
industry of Mr. Stephens, is altogether too limited to allow any
conjectures, at this period, in regard to their inhabitants. It is
likely that they were offshoots from the same race as the Aztecs, and
that they all owed the first germs of their separate civilizations to
the Toltecs, who, according to the legends, were the great
traditionary ancestors of all the _progressive_ races that succeeded
each other in emigrating from the north, and finally nestled in the
lovely vale of Anahuac.

It is in the examination of such a period that we feel sensibly the
want of careful contemporary history, and learn to value those
narratives which present us the living picture of an age, even though
they are sometimes tainted with the intolerance of religious
sectarianism and bigotry, or by the merciless rancor of party malice.
They give us, at least, certain material facts, which are independent
of the spirit or context of the story. Posterity, which is now eager
for details, infinitely prefers a sketch like this, warm and breathing
with the vitality of the beings in whose presence and from whose
persons it is drawn, to the cold mosaics, made up by skilful artizans,
from the disjointed chips which they are forced to discover,
harmonize, and polish, amid the discordant materials left by a hundred
writers. Such labors, when undertaken by patient men, may sometimes
reanimate the past and bring back its scenes, systems and people, with
wonderful freshness; yet, after all, they are but mere restorations,
and often depend essentially on the vivid imagination which supplies
the missing fragments and fills them, for a moment, with an electrical
instead of a natural life.

After a careful review of nearly all the historians and writers upon
the ancient history of Mexico, we have never encountered a
satisfactory view of the Aztec empire, except in the history of the
conquest, by our countryman Prescott. His chapters upon the Mexican
civilization, are the best specimens in our literature, since the days
of Gibbon, of that laborious, truthful, antiquarian temper, which
should always characterize a historian who ventures upon the difficult
task of portraying the distant past.

       *       *       *       *       *

In our rapid sketch of the conquest, we have been compelled to
present, occasionally, a few descriptive glimpses of the Aztec
architecture, manners, customs and institutions, which have already
acquainted the reader with some of the leading features of national
character. But it will not be improper, in a work like this, to
combine in a separate chapter such views of the whole structure of
Mexican society, under the original empire, as may not only afford an
idea of the advancement of the nation which Cortéz conquered, but,
perhaps, will present the student with some national characteristics
of a race that still inhabits Mexico jointly with the Spanish
emigrants, and which is the lawful descendant of the wandering tribes
who founded the city of Tenochtitlan.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Aztec government was a monarchy, but the right to the throne did
not fall by the accident of descent upon a lineal relative of the last
king, whose age would have entitled him, by European rule, to the
royal succession. The brothers of the deceased prince, or his nephews,
if he had no nearer kin, were the individuals from whom the new
sovereign was chosen by four nobles who had been selected as electors
by their own aristocratic body during the preceding reign. These
electors, together with the two royal allies of Tezcoco and Tlacopan,
who were united in the college as merely honorary personages, decided
the question as to the candidate, whose warlike and intellectual
qualities were always closely scanned by these severe judges.

The elevation of the new monarch to the throne was pompous: yet,
republican and just as was the rite of _selection_, the ceremony of
_coronation_ was not performed until the new king had procured, by
conquest in war, a crowd of victims to grace his assumption of the
crown with their sacrifice at the altar. The palaces of these princes
and their nobles were of the most sumptuous character, according to
the description that has been left us by the conquerors themselves.

The royal state and style of these people may be best described in the
artless language of Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a soldier of the
conquest, whose simple narrative, though sometimes colored with the
superstitions of his age, is one of the most valuable and veritable
relics of that great event that has been handed down to posterity.

In describing the entrance of the Spaniards into the city--Diaz
declares, with characteristic energy, that the whole of what he saw on
that occasion appeared to him as if he had beheld it but
yesterday;--and he fervently exclaims: "Glory be to our Lord Jesus
Christ, who gave us courage to venture on such dangers and brought us
safely through them!"

The Spaniards, as we have already said in a preceding chapter, were
lodged and entertained at the expense of Montezuma, who welcomed them
as his guests, and unwisely attempted to convince them of his power by
exhibiting his wealth and state. Two hundred of his nobility stood as
guards in his ante-chamber.

"Of these," says Diaz, "only certain persons could speak to him, and
when they entered, they took off their rich mantles and put on others
of less ornament, but clean. They approached his apartment barefooted,
their eyes fixed on the ground and making three inclinations of the
body as they approached him. In addressing the king they said,
"Lord--my lord--great lord!" When they had finished, he dismissed them
with a few words, and they retired with their faces toward him and
their eyes fixed on the ground. I also observed, that when great men
came from a distance about business, they entered his palace
barefooted, and in plain habit; and also, that they did not come in by
the gate directly, but took a circuit in going toward it.

"His cooks had upward of thirty different ways of dressing meats, and
they had earthen vessels so contrived as to keep them constantly hot.
For the table of Montezuma himself, above three hundred dishes were
dressed, and for his guards above a thousand. Before dinner, Montezuma
would sometimes go out and inspect the preparations, and his officers
would point out to him which were the best, and explain of what birds
and flesh they were composed; and of those he would eat. But this was
more for amusement than anything else.

"It is said, that at times the flesh of young children was dressed for
him; but the ordinary meats were domestic fowls, pheasants, geese,
partridges, quails, venison, Indian hogs, pigeons, hares and rabbits,
with many other animals and birds peculiar to the country. This is
certain--that after Cortéz had spoken to him relative to the dressing
of human flesh, it was not practised in his palace. At his meals, in
the cold weather, a number of torches of the bark of a wood which
makes no smoke, and has an aromatic smell, were lighted; and, that
they should not throw too much heat, screens, ornamented with gold and
painted with figures of idols, were placed before them.

"Montezuma was seated on a low throne or chair, at a table
proportioned to the height of his seat. The table was covered with
white cloths and napkins, and four beautiful women presented him with
water for his hands, in vessels which they call xicales, with other
vessels under them, like plates, to catch the water. They also
presented him with towels.

"Then two other women brought small cakes of bread, and, when the king
began to eat, a large screen of gilded wood was placed before him, so
that during that period people should not behold him. The women having
retired to a little distance, four ancient lords stood by the throne,
to whom Montezuma, from time to time, spoke or addressed questions,
and as a mark of particular favor, gave to each of them a plate of
that which he was eating. I was told that these old lords, who were
his near relations, were also counsellors and judges. The plates which
Montezuma presented to them they received with high respect, eating
what was on them without taking their eyes off the ground. He was
served in earthenware of Cholula, red and black. While the king was at
the table, no one of his guards in the vicinity of his apartment
dared, for their lives, make any noise. Fruit of all kinds produced in
the country, was laid before him; he ate very little; but, from time
to time, a liquor prepared from cocoa, and of a stimulative quality,
as we were told, was presented to him in golden cups. We could not, at
that time, see whether he drank it or not; but I observed a number of
jars, above fifty, brought in, filled with foaming chocolate, of which
he took some that the women presented him.

"At different intervals during the time of dinner, there entered
certain Indians, humpbacked, very deformed, and ugly, who played
tricks of buffoonery; and others who, they said, were jesters. There
was also a company of singers and dancers, who afforded Montezuma much
entertainment. To these he ordered the vases of chocolate to be
distributed. The four female attendants then took away the cloths, and
again, with much respect, presented him with water to wash his hands,
during which time Montezuma conferred with the four old noblemen
formerly mentioned, after which they took their leave with many

"One thing I forgot (and no wonder,) to mention in its place, and that
is, during the time that Montezuma was at dinner, two very beautiful
women were busily employed making small cakes,[13] with eggs and other
things mixed therein. These were delicately white, and, when made,
they presented them to him on plates covered with napkins. Also
another kind of bread was brought to him in long leaves, and plates of
cakes resembling wafers.

"After he had dined, they presented to him three little canes, highly
ornamented, containing liquid-amber, mixed with an herb they call
tobacco; and when he had sufficiently viewed and heard the singers,
dancers, and buffoons, he took a little of the smoke of one of these
canes, and then laid himself down to sleep.

"The meal of the monarch ended, all his guards and domestics sat down
to dinner; and, as near as I could judge, above a thousand plates of
those eatables that I have mentioned, were laid before them, with
vessels of foaming chocolate and fruit in immense quantity. For his
women, and various inferior servants, his establishment was of a
prodigious expense; and we were astonished, amid such a profusion, at
the vast regularity that prevailed.

"His major domo kept the accounts of Montezuma's rents in books which
occupied an entire house.

"Montezuma had two buildings filled with every kind of arms, richly
ornamented with gold and jewels; such as shields, large and small
clubs like two-handed swords, and lances much larger than ours, with
blades six feet in length, so strong that if they fix in a shield they
do not break; and sharp enough to use as razors.

"There was also an immense quantity of bows and arrows, and darts,
together with slings, and shields which roll up into a small compass
and in action are let fall, and thereby cover the whole body. He had
also much defensive armor of quilted cotton, ornamented with feathers
in different devices, and casques for the head, made of wood and bone,
with plumes of feathers, and many other articles too tedious to

Besides this sumptuous residence in the city, the Emperor is supposed
to have had others at Chapultepec, Tezcoco and elsewhere, which will
be spoken of when we describe the ancient remains of Mexico in the
valley of Mexico.

If the sovereign lived, thus, in state befitting the ruler of such an
empire, it may be supposed that his courtiers were not less sumptuous
in their style of domestic arrangements. The great body of the nobles
and caciques, possessed extensive estates, the tenures of which were
chiefly of a military character;--and, upon these large possessions,
surrounded by warlike natives and numerous slaves, they lived,
doubtless, like many of the independent, powerful chieftains in
Europe, who, in the middle ages, maintained their feudal splendor,
both in private life and in active service whenever summoned by their
sovereigns to give aid in war.

The power of the Emperor over the laws of the country as well as over
the lives of the people, was perfectly despotic. There were supreme
judges in the chief towns, appointed by the Emperor who possessed
final jurisdiction in civil and criminal causes; and there were,
besides, minor courts in each province, as well as subordinate
officers, who performed the duty of police officers or spies over the
families that were assigned to their vigilance. Records were kept in
these courts of the decisions of the judges; and the laws of the realm
were likewise perpetuated and made certain, in the same hieroglyphic
or picture writing. "The great crimes against society," says Prescott,
"were all made capital;--even the murder of a slave was punished with
death. Adulterers, as among the Jews, were stoned to death. Thieving,
according to the degree of the offence, was punished with slavery or
death. It was a capital offence to remove the boundaries of another's
lands; to alter the established measures; and for a guardian not to be
able to give a good account of his ward's property. Prodigals who
squandered their patrimony were punished in like manner. Intemperance
was visited with the severest penalties, as if they had foreseen in it
the consuming canker of their own as well as of the other Indian races
in later times. It was punished in the young with death, and in older
persons with loss of rank and confiscation of property.

"The rites of marriage were celebrated with as much formality as in
any Christian country; and the institution was held in such reverence,
that a tribunal was established for the sole purpose of determining
questions in regard to it. Divorces could not be obtained, until
authorized by a sentence of this court after a patient hearing of the

Slavery seems to have always prevailed in Mexico. The captives taken
in war were devoted to the gods under the sacrificial knife; but
criminals, public debtors, extreme paupers, persons who willingly
resigned their freedom, and children who were sold by their
parents,--were allowed to be held in bondage and to be transferred
from hand to hand, but only in cases in which their masters were
compelled by poverty to part with them.

A nation over which the god of war presided and whose king was
selected, mainly, for his abilities as a chieftain, naturally guarded
and surrounded itself with a well devised military system. Religion
and war were blended in the imperial ritual. Montezuma, himself had
been a priest before he ascended the throne. This dogma of the Aztec
policy, originated, perhaps, in the necessity of keeping up a constant
military spirit among a people whose instincts were probably
civilized, but whose geographical position exposed them, in the
beginning, to the attacks of unquiet and annoying tribes. The captives
were sacrificed to the bloody deity in all likelihood, because it was
necessary to free the country from dangerous Indians, who could
neither be imprisoned, for they were too numerous, nor allowed to
return to their tribes, because they would speedily renew the attack
on their Aztec liberators.

Accordingly we find that the Mexican armies were properly officered,
divided, supported and garrisoned, throughout the empire;--that there
were military orders of merit;--that the dresses of the leaders, and
even of some of the regiments, were gaudily picturesque;--that their
arms were excellent;--and that the soldier who died in combat, was
considered by his superstitious countrymen, as passing at once to "the
region of ineffable bliss in the bright mansions of the sun." Nor were
these military establishments left to the caprice of petty officers for
their judicial system. They possessed a set of recorded laws which were
as sure and severe as the civil or criminal code of the empire;--and,
finally, when the Aztec soldier became too old to fight, or was disabled
in the national wars, he was provided for in admirable hospitals which
were established in all the principal cities of the realm.

But all this expensive machinery of state and royalty, was not
supported without ample revenues from the people. There was a currency
of different values regulated by trade, which consisted of quills
filled with gold dust; of pieces of tin cut in the form of a T; of
balls of cotton, and bags of cacao containing a specified number of
grains. The greater part of Aztec trade was, nevertheless, carried on
by barter; and, thus, we find that the large taxes which were derived
by Montezuma from the crown lands, agriculture, manufactures, and the
labors or occupations of the people generally, were paid in "cotton
dresses and mantles of feather-work; ornamented armor; vases of gold;
gold dust, bands and bracelets; crystal, gilt and varnished jars and
goblets; bells, arms and utensils of copper; reams of paper; grain;
fruits, copal, amber, cochineal, cacao, wild animals, birds, timber,
lime, mats," and a general medley in which the luxuries and
necessaries of life were strangely mixed. It is not a little singular
that silver, which since the conquest has become the leading staple
export of Mexico, is not mentioned in the royal inventories which
escaped destruction.[16]

The Mexican Mythology was a barbarous compound of spiritualism and
idolatry. The Aztecs believed in and relied on a supreme God whom they
called Teotl, "God," or Ipalnemoani--"he by whom we live," and Tloque
Nahuaque,--"he who has all in himself;" while their counter-spirit or
demon, who was ever the enemy and seducer of their race bore the
inauspicious title of Tlaleatecolototl, or the "Rational Owl." The
dark, nocturnal deeds of this ominous bird, probably indicated its
greater fitness for the typification of wickedness than of wisdom, of
which the Greeks had flatteringly made it the symbol, as the pet of
Minerva. These supreme spiritual essences were surrounded by a
numerous court of satellites or lesser deities, who were perhaps the
ministerial agents by which the behests of Teotl were performed. There
was Huitzilopotchtli, the god of war, and Teoyaomiqui, his spouse,
whose tender duties were confined to conducting the souls of warriors
who perished in defence of their homes and shrines, into the "house of
the sun," which was the Aztec heaven. The image in the plate,
presented in front and in profile, is alleged to represent this
graceful female, though it gives no idea of her holy offices.
Tetzcatlipoca was the shining mirror, the god of providence, the soul
of the world, creator of heaven and earth, and master of all things.
Ometcuctli and Omecihuatl, a god and goddess presided over new born
children, and, reigning in Paradise, benignantly granted the wishes of
mortals. Cihuacohuatl, or, woman-serpent, was regarded as the mother
of human beings. Tonatricli and Meztli were deifications of the sun
and moon. Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc were deities of the air and of
water, whilst Xiuhteuctli was the god of fire to whom the first morsel
and the first draught at table were always devoted by the Aztecs.
Mictlanteuctli and Joalteuctli were the gods of hell and night, while
the generous goddess of the earth and grain who was worshipped by the
Totonacos as an Indian Ceres, enjoyed the more euphonious title of
Centeotl. Huitzilopotchtli or Mexitli, the god of war, was an especial
favorite with the Aztecs, for it was this divinity according to their
legends who had led them from the north, and protected them during
their long journey until they settled in the valley of Mexico. Nor did
he desert them during the rise and progress of their nation. Addicted
as they were to war, this deity was always invoked before battle and
was recompensed for the victories he bestowed upon his favorite people
by bloody hecatombs of captives taken from the enemies of the empire.
We have already spoken of this personage in the portion of this work
which treats of the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

       *       *       *       *       *

If the Mexicans had their gods, so also had they their final abodes of
blessedness and misery. Soldiers who were slain in conflict for their
country or who perished in captivity, and the spirits of women who
died in child-birth, went at once to the "house of the sun" to enjoy a
life of eternal pleasure. At dawn they hailed the rising orb with song
and dances, and attended him to the meridian and his setting with
music and festivity. The Aztecs believed that, after some years spent
amid these pleasures, the beatified spirits of the departed were
changed into clouds or birds of beautiful plumage, though they had
power to ascend again whenever they pleased to the heaven they had
left. There was another place called Tlalocan the dwelling place of
Tlaloc, the deity of water, which was also an Aztec elysium. It was
the spirit-home of those who were drowned or struck by lightning,--of
children sacrificed in honor of Tlaloc,--and of those who died of
dropsy, tumors, or similar diseases. Last of all, was Mictlan, a
gloomy hell of perfect darkness, in which, incessant night,
unilluminated by the twinkling of a single ray, was the only
punishment, and the probable type of annihilation.

[Illustration: TEOYAOMIQUI. (FRONT.)]

[Illustration: TEOYAOMIQUI. (PROFILE.)]

       *       *       *       *       *

The figure which is delineated in the plate representing Teoyaomiqui,
is cut from a single block of basalt, and is nine feet high and five
and a half broad. It is a horrid assemblage of hideous emblems. Claws,
fangs, tusks, skulls and serpents, writhe and hang in garlands around
the shapeless mass. Four open hands rest, apparently without any
purpose, upon the bared breasts of a female. In profile, it is not
unlike a squatting toad, whose glistening eyes and broad mouth expand
above the cincture of skulls and serpents. Seen in this direction it
appears to have more shape and meaning than in front. On the top of
the statue there is a hollow, which was probably used as the
receptacle of offerings or incense during sacrifice. The bottom of
this mass is also sculptured in relief, and as it will be observed in
the plate, that there are projections of the body near the waist, it
is supposed that this frightful idol was suspended by them aloft on
pillars, so that its worshippers might pass beneath the massive stone.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1790, this idol was found buried in the great square of Mexico,
whence it was removed to the court of the university; but as the
priests feared that it might again tempt the Indians to their ancient
worship, it was interred until the year 1821, since which time it has
been exhibited to the public.


The reader who has accompanied us from the beginning of this volume
and perused the history of the Spanish conquest, has doubtless become
somewhat familiar with the great square of ancient Tenochtitlan, its
_Teocalli_, or pyramidal temple, and the bloody rites that were
celebrated upon it, by the Aztec priests and princes. It served as a
place of sacrifice, not only for the Indian victims of war, but
streamed with the blood of the unfortunate Spaniards who fell into the
power of the Mexicans when Cortéz was driven from the city.

This _Teocalli_ is said to have been completed in the year 1486,
during the reign of the eighth sovereign of Tenochtitlan or Mexico,
and occupied that portion of the present city upon which the cathedral
stands and which is occupied by some of the adjacent streets and
buildings. Its massive proportions and great extent may be estimated
from the restoration of this edifice, which we have attempted to form
from the best authorities, and have presented in a plate in the
preceding portion of this work.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Mexican theology indulged in two kinds of sacrifice, one of which
was an ordinary offering of a common victim, while the other, or
gladiatorial sacrifice, was only used for captives of extraordinary
courage and bravery.

When we recollect the fact that the Aztec tribe was an intruder into
the valley of Anahuac, and that it laid the foundations of its capital
in the midst of enemies, we are not surprised that so hardy a race,
from the northern hive, was both warlike in its habits and sanguinary
in its religion. With a beautiful land around it on all sides,--level,
fruitful, but incapable of easy defence,--it was forced to quit the
solid earth and to build its stronghold in the waters of the lake. We
can conceive no other reason for the selection of such a site. The
eagle may have been seen on a rock amid the water devouring the
serpent; but we do not believe that this emblem of the will of heaven,
in guiding the wanderers to their refuge in the lake of Tezcoco, was
known to more than the leaders of the tribe until it became necessary
to control the band by the interposition of a miracle. Something more
was needed than mere argument, to plant a capital in the water, and,
thus, we doubt not, that the singular omen, in which the modern arms
of Mexico have originated, was contrived or invented by the priests or
chiefs of the unsettled Aztecs.

Surrounded by enemies, with nothing that they could strictly call
their own, save the frail retreat among the reeds and rushes of their
mimic Venice, it undoubtedly became necessary for the Aztecs to keep
no captives taken in war. Their gardens, like their town, were
constructed upon the _Chinampas_, or floating beds of earth and wicker
work, which were anchored in the lake. They could not venture, at any
distance from its margin, to cultivate the fields. When they sallied
from their city, they usually left it for the battle field; and, when
they returned, it is probable that it seemed to them not only a
propitiation of their gods, but a mercy to the victims, to sacrifice
their numerous captives, who if retained in idleness as prisoners
would exact too large a body for their custody, or, if allowed to go
at large, might rise against their victors, and, in either case, would
soon consume the slender stores they were enabled to raise by their
scant horticulture. In examining the history of the Aztecs, and
noticing the mixture of civilization which adorned their public and
private life, and the barbarism which characterized their merciless
religion, we have been convinced that the Aztec rite of sacrifice
originated, in the infancy of the state in a national necessity, and,
at length, under the influence of superstition and policy, grew into
an ordinance of faith and worship.

The COMMON SACRIFICE, offered in the Aztec temples was performed by a
chief priest, and six assistants. The principal flamen, habited in a
red scapulary fringed with cotton, and crowned with a circlet of green
and yellow plumes, assumed, for the occasion, the name of the deity to
whom the offering was made. His acolytes,--clad in white robes
embroidered with black; their hands covered with leathern thongs;
their foreheads filleted with parti-colored papers; and their bodies
dyed perfectly black,--prepared the victim for the altar, and having
dressed him in the insignia of the deity to whom he was to be
sacrificed, bore him through the town begging alms for the temple. He
was then carried to the summit of the _Teocalli_, where four priests
extended him across the curving surface of an arched stone placed on
the sacrificial stone, while another held his head firmly beneath the
yoke which is represented elsewhere. The chief priest,--the
_topiltzin_ or sacrificer, then stretched the breast of the victim
tightly by bending his body back as far as possible, and, seizing the
obsidian knife of sacrifice, cut a deep gash across the region of the
captive's heart. The extreme tension of the flesh and muscles, at once
yielded beneath the blade, and the heart of the victim lay palpitating
in the bloody gap. The sacrificer immediately thrust his hand into the
wound, and, tearing out the quivering vital, threw it at the feet of
the idol,--inserted it with a golden spoon into its mouth,--or, after
offering it to the deity, consumed it in fire and preserved the sacred
ashes with the greatest reverence. When these horrid rites were
finished in the temple, the victim's body was thrown from the top of
the _Teocalli_, whence it was borne to the dwelling of the individual
who offered the sacrifice, where it was eaten by himself and his
friends, or, was devoted to feed the beasts in the royal menagerie.

Numerous cruel sacrifices were practised by the Indians of Mexico, and
especially among the Quauhtitlans, who, every four years, slew eight
slaves or captives, in a manner almost too brutal for description.
Sometimes the Aztecs contented themselves with other and more
significant oblations; and flowers, fruits, bread, meat, copal, gums,
quails, and rabbits, were offered on the altars of their gods. The
priests, no doubt, approved these gifts far more than the tough flesh
of captives or slaves!

The GLADIATORIAL SACRIFICE was reserved, as we have already said for
noble and courageous captives. According to Clavigero, a circular
mass, three feet high, resembling a mill stone, was placed within the
area of the great temple upon a raised terrace about eight feet from
the wall. The captive was bound to this stone by one foot, and was
armed with a sword or _maquahuitl_ and shield. In this position, and
thus accoutred, he was attacked by a Mexican soldier or officer, who
was better prepared with weapons for the deadly encounter. If the
prisoner was conquered he was immediately borne to the altar of common
sacrifice. If he overcame six assailants he was rewarded with life and
liberty, and permitted once more to return to his native land with the
spoils that had been taken from him in war. Clavigero supposes that
for many years, twenty thousand victims were offered on the Mexican
teocallis, in the "common sacrifice;" and in the consecration of the
great temple, sixty thousand persons were slain in order to baptise
the pyramid with their blood.

[Illustration: SACRIFICIAL STONE.]

An excellent idea of the sacrificial stone, will be obtained from the
plates which are annexed. Neat and graceful ornaments, are raised in
relief on the surface, and in the centre is a deep bowl, whence a canal
or gutter leads to the edge of the cylinder. It is a mass of basaltic
rock nine feet in diameter and three in height, and was found in the
great square in 1790, near the site of the large teocalli or pyramid. On
its sides are repeated, all round the stone, the same two figures
which are drawn in the second plate. They evidently represent a victor
and a prisoner. The conqueror is in the act of tearing the plumes from
the crest of the vanquished, who bows beneath the blow and lowers his
weapons. The similarity of these figures to some that are delineated in
the first volume of Stephens' Yucatan is remarkable.


THE AZTEC CALENDAR STONE, another monument of Mexican antiquity, was
found in December, 1790, buried under ground in the great square of
the capital. Like the idol image of Teoyaomiqui, and the sacrificial
stone, it is carved from a mass of basalt, and is eleven feet eight
inches in diameter, the depth of its circular edge being about seven
and a half inches from the fractured square of rock out of which it
was originally cut. It is supposed, from the fact that it was found
beneath the pavement of the present _plaza_, that it was part of the
fixtures of the great Teocalli of Tenochtitlan, or that it was placed
in some of the adjoining edifices on palaces surrounding the temple.
It is now walled into the west side of the cathedral, and is a
remarkable specimen of the talent of the Indians for sculpture, at the
same time that its huge mass, together with those of the sacrificial
stone and the idol Teoyaomiqui, denote the skill of their inventors in
the movement of immense weights, without the aid of horses.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Aztecs calculated their civil year by the solar; they divided it
into eighteen months of twenty days each, and added five complimentary
days, as in Egypt, to make up the complete number of three hundred and
sixty-five. After the last of these months the five _nemontemi_ or
"useless days" were intercalated, and, belonging to no particular
month, were regarded as unlucky, by the superstitious natives. Their
week consisted of five days, the last of which was the market day; and
a month was composed of four of these weeks. As the tropical year is
composed of about six hours more than three hundred and sixty-five
days, they lost a day every fourth year, which they supplied, not at
the termination of that period, but at the expiration of their cycle
of fifty-two years, when they intercalated the twelve days and a half
that were lost. Thus it was found, at the period of the Spanish
conquest, that their computation of time corresponded with the
European, as calculated by the most accurate astronomers.

At the end of the Aztec or Toltec cycle of fifty-two years,--for it is
not accurately ascertained to which of the tribes the astronomical
science of Tenochtitlan is to be attributed,--these primitive
children of the New World believed that the world was in danger of
instant destruction. Accordingly, its termination became one of their
most serious and awful epochs, and they anxiously awaited the moment
when the sun would be blotted out from the heavens, and the globe
itself once more resolved unto chaos. As the cycle ended in the
winter, the season of the year, with its drearier sky and colder air,
in the lofty regions of the valley, added to the gloom that fell upon
the hearts of the people. On the last day of the fifty-two years, all
the fires in temples and dwellings were extinguished, and the natives
devoted themselves to fasting and prayer. They destroyed alike their
valuable and worthless wares; rent their garments; put out their
lights, and hid themselves, for awhile in solitude. Pregnant women
seem to have been the objects of their especial dread at this moment.
They covered their faces with masks and imprisoned them securely, for
they imagined, that on the occurrence of the grand and final
catastrophe, these beings, who, elsewhere, are always the objects of
peculiar interest and tenderness, would be suddenly turned into beasts
of prey and would join the descending legions of demons, to revenge
the injustice or cruelty of man.

At dark, on the last dread evening,--as soon as the sun had set, as
they imagined, forever,--a sad and solemn procession of priests and
people marched forth from the city to a neighboring hill, to rekindle
the "New Fire." This mournful march was called the "procession of the
gods," and was supposed to be their final departure from their temples
and altars.

As soon as the melancholy array reached the summit of the hill, it
reposed in fearful anxiety until the Pleiades reached the zenith in
the sky, whereupon the priests immediately began the sacrifice of a
human victim, whose breast was covered with a wooden shield, which the
chief _flamen_ kindled by friction. When the sufferer received the
fatal stab from the sacrificial knife of _obsidian_, the machine was
set in motion on his bosom, until the blaze had kindled. The anxious
crowd stood round with fear and trembling. Silence reigned over nature
and man. Not a word was uttered among the countless multitude that
thronged the hill-sides and plains, whilst the priest performed his
direful duty to the gods. At length, as the first sparks gleamed
faintly from the whirling instrument, low sobs and ejaculations were
whispered among the eager masses. As the sparks kindled into a blaze,
and the blaze into a flame, and the flaming shield and victim were
cast together on a pile of combustibles which burst at once into the
brightness of a conflagration, the air was rent with the joyous
shouts of the relieved and panic stricken Indians. Far and wide over
the dusky crowds beamed the blaze like a star of promise. Myriads of
upturned faces greeted it from hills, mountains, temples, terraces,
teocallis, house tops and city walls; and the prostrate multitudes
hailed the emblem of light, life and fruition as a blessed omen of the
restored favor of their gods and the preservation of the race for
another cycle. At regular intervals, Indian couriers held aloft brands
of resinous wood, by which they transmitted the "New Fire" from hand
to hand, from village to village, and town to town, throughout the
Aztec empire. Light was radiated from the imperial or ecclesiastical
centre of the realm. In every temple and dwelling it was rekindled,
from the sacred source; and when the sun rose again on the following
morning, the solemn procession of priests, princes and subjects, which
had taken up its march from the capital on the preceding night, with
solemn steps, returned once more to the abandoned capital, and
restoring the gods to their altars, abandoned themselves to joy and
festivity in token of gratitude and relief from impending doom.


We have thought it proper and interesting to preface the description
of the calendar stone by the preceding account of the Aztec festival
of the New Fire, which illustrates the mingled elements of science and
superstition that so largely characterized the empire of Montezuma.
The stone itself has engaged the attention, for years, of numerous
antiquarians in Mexico, Europe and America, but it has received from
none so perfect a description, as from the late Albert Gallatin, who
devoted a large portion of his declining years to the study of the
ancient Mexican chronology and languages. In the first volume of the
Transactions of the American Ethnological Society he has contributed
an admirable summary of his investigations of the semi-civilized
nations of Mexico, Yucatan and Central America, and from this we shall
condense the portion which relates to this remarkable monument.

Around the principal central figure, representing the sun, are
delineated in a circular form the twenty days of the month; which are
marked from 1 to 20, with figures in the plates, and, in this order,
are the following:

   1 Cipactli.
   2 Xochitl.
   3 Quiahuitl.
   4 Tecpatl.
   5 Ollin.
   6 Cozcaquauhitli.
   7 Quauhtli.
   8 Ocelotl.
   9 Acatl.
  10 Malinalli.
  11 Ozomatli.
  12 Itzeuinitli.
  13 Atl.
  14 Tochtli.
  15 Mazatl.
  16 Miquiztli.
  17 Cohualt.
  18 Cuetzpalni.
  19 Calli.
  20 Ehecatl.

The triangular figure I, above the circle enclosing the emblem of the
sun, denotes the beginning of the year. Around the circumference which
bounds the symbols of the days and months are found the places of
fifty-two small squares, of which only forty are actually visible, the
other twelve being covered by the four _principal_ rays of the sun
marked R. These doubtless denote the cycle of 52 years; and each of
these squares contains five small oblongs, making in all 260 for the
52 squares. They are presumed to represent the 260 days or the period
of the twenty first series of thirteen days. All the portion, included
between the outer circumference of these 260 days and the external
zone, has not been decyphered accurately. The external zone consists,
except at the extremities, of a symbol twenty times repeated, and is
alleged by Gama, a Mexican who first described and attempted to
interpret the stone, to represent the milky way. The waving lines
connected with it are supposed by this writer to represent clouds,
while others imagine them to be the symbols of the mountains in which
clouds and storms originated. These fanciful interpretations, however,
are unavailable in all scientific descriptions, and Mr. Gallatin
supposes the figures to be altogether ornamental.

The whole circle is divided into eight equal parts by the eight
triangles R, which designate the rays of the sun. The intervals
between these are each divided into two equal parts by the small
circles indicated by the letter L. At the top of the vertical ray is
found the hieroglyphic 13 Acatl, which shows that this stone applies
to that year. It must be recollected that, although this Mexican
calendar is in its arrangement the same for every year in the cycle,
there was a variation at the rate of a day for every four years,
between the several years of the cycle and the corresponding solar
years. Gama presumes that this date of 13 Acatl was selected on
account of its being the twenty-sixth year of the cycle and equally
removed from its beginning and termination. Beneath this hieroglyphic,
in correct drawings of the stone--but not in that of Gama which has
been reproduced by Mr. Gallatin--will be found, between the letters Y
and G, the distinct sign of 2, Acatl, and the ray above it points to
the sign of the year 13 Acatl, which coincides with our 21st of
December, and is undoubtedly the hitherto undetermined date of the
winter solstice in the Mexican calendar.[17]

The smaller interior circle, we have already said, contains the image
of the sun, as usually painted by the Indians; and to it are united
the four parallelograms A, B, C, D, which are supposed by some writers
to denote the four weeks into which the twenty days of the month were
divided, but which contain the hieroglyphics, A, of 4 Ocelotl; B, of 4
Ehecatl; C, of 4 Quiahuitl; and D, of 4 Atl. The lateral figures E and
F, according to Gama denote claws, which are symbolical of two great
Indian astrologers who were man and wife, and were represented as
eagles or owls.

The representations in these parallelograms, are believed to have
originated in the Mexican fable of the SUNS, which will be hereafter
noticed. The Aztecs believed that this luminary had died four times,
and that the one which at present lights the earth, was the fifth, but
which nevertheless was doomed to destruction like the preceding orbs.
From the creation, the first age or sun, lasted 676 years, comprising
13 cycles, when the crops failed, men perished of famine and their
bodies were consumed by the beasts of the field. This occurred in the
year 1 Acatl, and on the day 4 Ocelotl, and the ruin lasted for
thirteen years. The next age and sun endured 364 years or 7 cycles,
and terminated in the year 1 Tecpatl on the day 4 Ehecatl, when
hurricanes and rain desolated the globe and men were metamorphosed
into monkeys. The third age continued for 312 years, or 6 cycles, when
fire or earthquakes rent the earth and human beings were converted
into owls in the year 1 Tecpatl, on the day 4 Quiahuitl;--while the
fourth age or sun lasted but for a single cycle of 52 years, and the
world was destroyed by a flood, which either drowned the people or
changed them into fishes, in the year 1 Calli, on the day 4 Atl. The
four epochs of destruction are precisely the days typified by the
hieroglyphics in the four parallelograms A, B, C and D.

It will be seen by adding the several periods together that the Aztecs
counted 1469 years from the creation of the world to the flood; yet
there is an incongruity in this imaginary antediluvian history. If the
fourth age had lasted only 52 years, it would have terminated in the
year 1 Tecpatl instead of 1 Calli. Bustamante, the publisher and
annotator of Gama, states that some authorities contend for only three
antecedent periods, and that the present age is expected to end by
fire. But Mr. Gallatin alleges that the four ages and five suns have
been generally adopted, and are sustained by the ancient Aztec
paintings contained in the Codex Vaticanus, plates 7 to 10. Like most
of the Mexican antiquities, this branch of the Chronology is admitted
to be exceedingly obscure, for it is asserted in the Appendix to Mr.
Gallatin's essay that the hieroglyphics annexed to these _paintings_,
may be interpreted as giving to the four ages respectively the
duration of either 682, 530, 576, and 582, or of 5206, 2010, 4404, and
4008 years.

"This would appear to be purely mythological, but the fact that all
these imaginary antediluvian periods consist of a certain number of
cycles, shows that this fable was invented subsequent to the time when
the Mexicans had attained a knowledge of cycles, years and of the
approximate _length_ of the solar year. It seems, therefore, probable
that the mythological representation is in some way connected with
celestial phenomena, and it is accordingly, found that the days
designated in the parallelograms A and C, as 4 Ocelotl, and 4
Quiahuitl, correspond respectively, (on the assumption that the first
year of the cycle corresponds with the 31st of December,) with the
13th of May and 17th of July, old style, or 22d of May and 26th of
July, new style. And these two days 22d of May and 26th of July, are
those, according to Gama, of the transit of the sun by the zenith of
the city of Mexico, which, by the observations of Humboldt, lies in
19° 25' and 57" north latitude and in 101° 25' 20" west longitude from
Paris. The two other days 4 Ehecatl, and 4 Atl, do not correspond
either in the first year of the cycle or in the year 13 Acatl, with
any station of the sun or any other celestial phenomena.

"There are three other hieroglyphics contained within the interior
circumference or representation of the sun, which indicate the dates
of some celebrated feasts of the Aztecs. The three following
indications or hieroglyphics are found immediately below the figure of
the sun. The first of these, designated by the letter H, is placed
between the parallelograms C and D, and consists of two squares of
five oblongs each, indicating the Aztec numeral 10. The symbol of the
day is not annexed, but the whole of the central figure is itself the
sign Olin Tonatiah, and the hieroglyphic of the day Olin, as
delineated on the stone among the other emblems of the days, is on a
small scale and abbreviated form of that central and principal figure
of the stone. The day designated here, is consequently, 10 Olin. Below
this, and on each side respectively of the great vertical ray of the
sun, are found the hieroglyphics of the days 1 Quiahuitl, and 2
Ozomatli. Of the last mentioned days,--10 Olin corresponds in the
first year of the cycle, with the 22d day of September, new style;--1
Quiahuitl with the 28th of March, and 2 Ozomatli with the 28th of
June, as will be seen by the table at the end of this description of
the calendar.

"We find, therefore, delineated on this stone all the dates of the
principal positions of the sun, and it thus appears that the Aztecs
had ascertained with considerable precision the respective days of the
two passages of the sun by the zenith of Mexico, of the two equinoxes,
and of the summer and winter solstices. They had therefore six
different means of ascertaining and verifying the length of the solar
year by counting the number of days elapsed till the sun returned to
each of these six points,--the two solstices, the two equinoxes, and
the two passages by the zenith."[18]



  Column Headings:
    A: Names of the months.
    B: Tititl.
    C: Itzcalli.
    D: Xilomanaliztli.
    E: Tlacaxipehnaliztli.
    F: Tozoztontli.
    G: Hueytozoztli.
    H: Toxcall.
    I: Etzalqualiztli.
    J: Tecuilhuitontli.
    K: Heuytecuilhuitl.
    L: Miccailhuitonili.
    M: Heuymiccailhuitl.
    N: Ochpaniztli.
    O: Pachtli.
    P: Heuypachtli.
    Q: Quecholli.
    R: Panquetzaliztli.
    S: Atenioztli.
    T: The five Nemontemi.

  ||                A              | B  | C  | D  | E  | F  | G  | H  |
  ||             Months.           |1st | 2d | 3d |4th |5th |6th |7th |
  ||                               |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
  ||Day of the Julian year, N. S.,}|Jan.|Jan.|Feb.|Mar.|Mar.|Apr.|May |
  ||on which each month begins.   }| 9  |29  |18  |10  |30  |19  | 9  |
  ||                               |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
  || 1| Sea Animal   |Cipactli     | 1 a| 8 c| 2 e| 9 g| 3 i|10 b| 4 d|
  || 2| Wind         |Ehecatl      | 2 b| 9 d| 3 f|10 h| 4 a|11 c| 5 e|
  || 3| House        |Calli        | 3 c|10 e| 4 g|11 i| 5 b|12 d| 6 f|
  || 4| Small Lizard |Cuetzpalin   | 4 d|11 f| 5 h|12 a| 6 c|13 e| 7 g|
  || 5| Serpent      |Cohuatl      | 5 e|12 g| 6 i|13 b| 7 d| 1 f| 8 h|
  || 6| Death        |Miquiztli    | 6 f|13 h| 7 a| 1 c| 8 e| 2 g| 9 i|
  || 7| Deer         |Mazatl       | 7 g| 1 i| 8 b| 2 d| 9 f| 3 h|10 a|
  || 8| Rabbit       |Tochtli      | 8 h| 2 a| 9 c| 3 e|10 g| 4 i|11 b|
  || 9| Water        |Atl          | 9 i| 3 b|10 d| 4 f|11 h| 5 a|12 c|
  ||10| Dog          |Itzcuintli   |10 a| 4 c|11 e| 5 g|12 i| 6 b|13 d|
  ||11| Ape          |Ozomatli     |11 b| 5 d| 2 f| 6 h|13 a| 7 c| 1 e|
  ||12| Twisted Grass|Malinalli    |12 c| 6 e|13 g| 7 i| 1 b| 8 d| 2 f|
  ||13| Reed         |Acatl        |13 d| 7 f| 1 h| 8 a| 2 c| 9 e| 3 g|
  ||14| Tiger        |Ocelotl      | 1 e| 8 g| 2 i| 9 b| 3 d|10 f| 4 h|
  ||15| Eagle        |Quauhtli     | 2 f| 9 h| 3 a|10 c| 4 e|11 g| 5 i|
  ||16| Bird (Aura)  |Cozcaquauhtli| 3 g|10 i| 4 b|11 d| 5 f|12 h| 6 a|
  ||17| Motion of Sun|Ollin        | 4 h|11 a| 5 c|12 e| 6 g|13 i| 7 b|
  ||18| Pedestal}    |Tecpatl      | 5 i|12 b| 6 d|13 f| 7 h| 1 a| 8 c|
  ||  | Silex   }    |             |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
  ||19| Rain         |Quiahuitl    | 6 a|13 c| 7 e| 1 g| 8 i| 2 b| 9 d|
  ||20| Flower       |Xochitl      | 7 b| 1 d| 8 f| 2 h| 9 a| 3 c|10 e|
  ||Day of the year corresponding }| 20 | 40 | 60 | 80 |100 |120 |140 |
  || with last day of each month. }|    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
  ||Day of the Julian year, N. S.,}|Jan.|Feb.|Mar.|Mar.|Apr.|May |May |
  || on which each month ends.    }| 28 | 17 |  9 | 29 | 18 |  8 | 28 |

MEXICAN ALMANAC, (Table Continued)


  Column Headings:
    A: Names of the months.
    B: Tititl.
    C: Itzcalli.
    D: Xilomanaliztli.
    E: Tlacaxipehnaliztli.
    F: Tozoztontli.
    G: Hueytozoztli.
    H: Toxcall.
    I: Etzalqualiztli.
    J: Tecuilhuitontli.
    K: Heuytecuilhuitl.
    L: Miccailhuitonili.
    M: Heuymiccailhuitl.
    N: Ochpaniztli.
    O: Pachtli.
    P: Heuypachtli.
    Q: Quecholli.
    R: Panquetzaliztli.
    S: Atenioztli.
    T: The five Nemontemi.
  ||                A              | I  | J  | K  | L  | M  | N  | O  |
  ||             Months.           |8th |9th |10th|11th|12th|13th|14th|
  ||                               |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
  ||Day of the Julian year, N. S.,}|May |June|July|July|Aug.|Sept|Sept|
  ||on which each month begins.   }|29  |18  | 8  |28  |17  | 6  |26  |
  ||                               |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
  || 1| Sea Animal   |Cipactli     |11 f| 5 h|12 a| 6 c|13 e| 7 g| 1 i|
  || 2| Wind         |Ehecatl      |12 g| 6 i|13 b| 7 d| 1 f| 8 h| 2 a|
  || 3| House        |Calli        |13 h| 7 a| 1 c| 8 e| 2 g| 9 i| 3 b|
  || 4| Small Lizard |Cuetzpalin   | 1 i| 8 b| 2 d| 9 f| 3 h|10 a| 4 c|
  || 5| Serpent      |Cohuatl      | 2 a| 9 c| 3 e|10 g| 4 i|11 b| 5 d|
  || 6| Death        |Miquiztli    | 3 b|10 d| 4 f|11 h| 5 a|12 c| 6 e|
  || 7| Deer         |Mazatl       | 4 c|11 e| 5 g|12 i| 6 b|13 d| 7 f|
  || 8| Rabbit       |Tochtli      | 5 d|12 f| 6 h|13 a| 7 c| 1 e| 8 g|
  || 9| Water        |Atl          | 6 e|13 g| 7 i| 1 b| 8 d| 2 f| 9 h|
  ||10| Dog          |Itzcuintli   | 7 f| 1 h| 8 a| 2 c| 9 e| 3 g|10 i|
  ||11| Ape          |Ozomatli     | 8 g| 2 i| 9 b| 3 d|10 f| 4 h|11 a|
  ||12| Twisted Grass|Malinalli    | 9 h| 3 a|10 c| 4 e|11 g| 5 i|12 b|
  ||13| Reed         |Acatl        |10 i| 4 b|11 d| 5 f|12 h| 6 a|13 c|
  ||14| Tiger        |Ocelotl      |11 a| 5 c|12 e| 6 g|13 i| 7 b| 1 d|
  ||15| Eagle        |Quauhtli     |12 b| 6 d|13 f| 7 h| 1 a| 8 c| 2 e|
  ||16| Bird (Aura)  |Cozcaquauhtli|13 c| 7 e| 1 g| 8 i| 2 b| 9 d| 3 f|
  ||17| Motion of Sun|Ollin        | 1 d| 8 f| 2 h| 9 a| 3 c|10 e| 4 g|
  ||18| Pedestal}    |Tecpatl      | 2 e| 9 g| 3 i|10 b| 4 d|11 f| 5 h|
  ||  | Silex   }    |             |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
  ||19| Rain         |Quiahuitl    | 3 f|10 h| 4 a|11 c| 5 e|12 g| 6 i|
  ||20| Flower       |Xochitl      | 4 g|11 i| 5 b|12 d| 6 f|13 h| 7 a|
  ||Day of the year corresponding }|160 |180 |200 |220 |240 |260 |280 |
  || with last day of each month. }|    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
  ||Day of the Julian year, N. S.,}|June|July|July|Aug.|Sept|Sept|Oct.|
  || on which each month ends.    }| 17 |  7 | 27 | 16 |  5 | 25 | 15 |

MEXICAN ALMANAC, (Table Continued)


  Column Headings:
    A: Names of the months.
    B: Tititl.
    C: Itzcalli.
    D: Xilomanaliztli.
    E: Tlacaxipehnaliztli.
    F: Tozoztontli.
    G: Hueytozoztli.
    H: Toxcall.
    I: Etzalqualiztli.
    J: Tecuilhuitontli.
    K: Heuytecuilhuitl.
    L: Miccailhuitonili.
    M: Heuymiccailhuitl.
    N: Ochpaniztli.
    O: Pachtli.
    P: Heuypachtli.
    Q: Quecholli.
    R: Panquetzaliztli.
    S: Atenioztli.
    T: The five Nemontemi.
  ||                A              | P  | Q  | R  | S    T  ||
  ||             Months.           |15th|16th|17th|18th|    ||
  ||                               |    |    |    |    |    ||
  ||Day of the Julian year, N. S.,}|Oct.|Nov.|Nov.|Dec.|Jan.||
  ||on which each month begins.   }|16  | 5  |25  |15  |  4 ||
  ||                               |    |    |    |    |    ||
  || 1| Sea Animal   |Cipactli     | 8 b| 2 d| 9 f| 3 h| 10 ||
  || 2| Wind         |Ehecatl      | 9 c| 3 e|10 g| 4 i| 11 ||
  || 3| House        |Calli        |10 d| 4 f|11 h| 5 a| 12 ||
  || 4| Small Lizard |Cuetzpalin   |11 e| 5 g|12 i| 6 b| 13 ||
  || 5| Serpent      |Cohuatl      |12 f| 6 h|13 a| 7 c|    ||
  || 6| Death        |Miquiztli    |13 g| 7 i| 1 b| 8 d|    ||
  || 7| Deer         |Mazatl       | 1 h| 8 a| 2 c| 9 e|    ||
  || 8| Rabbit       |Tochtli      | 2 i| 9 b| 3 d|10 f|    ||
  || 9| Water        |Atl          | 3 a|10 c| 4 e|11 g|    ||
  ||10| Dog          |Itzcuintli   | 4 b|11 d| 5 f|12 h|    ||
  ||11| Ape          |Ozomatli     | 5 c|12 e| 6 g|13 i|    ||
  ||12| Twisted Grass|Malinalli    | 6 d|13 f| 7 h| 1 a|    ||
  ||13| Reed         |Acatl        | 7 e| 1 g| 8 i| 2 b|    ||
  ||14| Tiger        |Ocelotl      | 8 f| 2 h| 9 a| 3 c|    ||
  ||15| Eagle        |Quauhtli     | 9 g| 3 i|10 b| 4 d|    ||
  ||16| Bird (Aura)  |Cozcaquauhtli|10 h| 4 a|11 c| 5 e|    ||
  ||17| Motion of Sun|Ollin        |11 i| 5 b|12 d| 6 f|    ||
  ||18| Pedestal}    |Tecpatl      |12 a| 6 c|13 e| 7 g|    ||
  ||  | Silex   }    |             |    |    |    |    |    ||
  ||19| Rain         |Quiahuitl    |13 b| 7 d| 1 f| 8 h|    ||
  ||20| Flower       |Xochitl      | 1 c| 8 e| 2 g| 9 i|    ||
  ||Day of the year corresponding }|300 |320 |340 |360 |365 ||
  || with last day of each month. }|    |    |    |    |    ||
  ||Day of the Julian year, N. S.,}|Nov.|Nov.|Dec.|Jan.|Jan.||
  || on which each month ends.    }|  4 | 24 | 14 |  3 |  8 ||

    In this perpetual almanac, each day in the year is designated by
    three characteristics derived from the combination of three
    series, viz.: That of the 20 days of the month, each of which has
    a distinct name and hieroglyphic, from Cipactli to Xochitl; and as
    these names are the same and in the same order in every month, the
    column in which they are set down answers for every month. The
    series of 13 days, designed by its proper numeral from 1 to 13.
    And the series of the 9 night companions, designated in this Table
    by the letters a, b, ... h, i, viz.:

  a. {Xiuhteuctli.
  b.  Tecpatl.
  c.  Xochitl.
  d.  Cinteotl.
  e.  Miquiztli.
  f.  Atl.
  g.  Tlazolteotl.
  h.  Tepeyolotli.
  i.  Quiahuitl.

    Thus every day in the year is so distinguished that it can never
    be confounded with any other. The day 4 Ollin is the 17th day of
    both the first and the fourteenth month; but in the first instance
    it is distinguished by the letter _h_, and in the second by the
    letter _g_. If the characteristics of the 9th day of the 10th
    month be required, the Table shows that it is 7 _Atl i_; and thus
    also the 13th day of the 16th month (Quecholli) is shown to be 1
    _Acatl g_, and the 313th of the year.

    But it is only for the first year of the cycle (1 Tochtli) that the
    Mexican year corresponds with ours in the manner stated in the
    Table. For, on account of our intercalation of one day every
    bissextile year, the Mexican year receded, as compared with ours,
    one day every four years. This correction must therefore be made,
    whenever a comparison of the dates is wanted for any other than the
    first year of the cycle. The Mexican intercalation of 13 days at the
    end of the cycle of 52 years made again the first year of every
    cycle correspond with our year, in the manner stated in the Table.

    Another correction is again necessary, when we have a Tescocan
    instead of a Mexican date. For the first year of the Mexican cycle
    was 1 Tochtli, and that of Tescoco was 1 Acatl; which caused a
    difference now of three, now of ten days in their calendars, which
    in every other respect were the same. Both corrections appear in
    the second Table.--Trans. Amer. Ethnol. Soc., vol. i, p. 114.
    Tables C^1, and C^2.

  Column Headings:
    A: Mexico.
    B: Tescoco.

  |                         |          |     |    Julian Year.   |
  |                         | Mexican  |A. D.|Old Style|New Style|
  |                         |  year.   |     |  A    B |  A    B |
  |                         |          |     |Dec.|Dec.|Jan.|Dec.|
  |1st year of Mexican Cycle| 1 Tochtli| 1454|  31|  21|   9|  30|
  |  Bissextile year        | 3 Tecpatl| 1456|  30|  20|   8|  29|
  |    do.                  | 7   do.  | 1460|  29|  19|   7|  28|
  |    do.                  |11   do.  | 1464|  28|  18|   6|  27|
  |Tescocan inter'n 13 days |          |     |    |    |    |Jan.|
  |1st year of Tesco'n Cycle| 1 Acatl  | 1467|  28|  31|   6|   9|
  |  Bissextile year        | 2 Tecpatl| 1468|  27|  30|   5|   8|
  |    do.                  | 6   do.  | 1472|  26|  29|   4|   7|
  |    do.                  |10   do.  | 1476|  25|  28|   3|   6|
  |    do.                  | 1   do.  | 1480|  24|  27|   2|   5|
  |    do.                  | 5   do.  | 1484|  23|  26|   1|   4|
  |                         |          |     |    |    |Dec.|    |
  |    do.                  | 9   do.  | 1488|  22|  25|  31|   3|
  |    do.                  |13   do.  | 1492|  21|  24|  30|   2|
  |    do.                  | 4   do.  | 1496|  20|  23|  29|   1|
  |                         |          |     |    |    |    |Dec.|
  |    do.                  | 8   do.  | 1500|  19|  22|  28|  31|
  |    do.                  |12   do.  | 1504|  18|  21|  27|  30|
  |Mexican intercal 13 days |          |     |    |    |Jan.|    |
  |1st year of Mexic'n Cycle| 1 Tochtli| 1506|  31|  21|   9|  30|
  |  Bissextile year        | 3 Tecpatl| 1508|  30|  20|   8|  29|
  |    do.                  | 7   do.  | 1512|  29|  19|   7|  28|
  |    do.                  |11   do.  | 1516|  28|  18|   6|  27|
  |Tescocan inter'n 13 days |          |     |    |    |    |    |
  |1st year Tesco'n Cycle } |          |     |    |    |    |Jan.|
  |Cortéz enters Mexico   } | 1 Acatl  | 1519|  28|  31|   6|   9|
  |  Bissextile year        | 2 Tecpatl| 1520|  27|  30|   5|   8|
  |  Capture of Mexico      | 3 Calli  | 1521|  27|  30|   5|   8|


   1st year.  | 14th year.  |  27th year. | 40th year.
              |             |             |
   1 Tochtli  |  1 Acatl    |  1 Tecpatl  |  1 Calli
   2 Acatl    |  2 Tecpatl  |  2 Calli    |  2 Tochtli
   3 Tecpatl  |  3 Calli    |  3 Tochtli  |  3 Acatl
   4 Calli    |  4 Tochtli  |  4 Acatl    |  4 Tecpatl
   5 Tochtli  |  5 Acatl    |  5 Tecpatl  |  5 Calli
   6 Acatl    |  6 Tecpatl  |  6 Calli    |  6 Tochtli
   7 Tecpatl  |  7 Calli    |  7 Tochtli  |  7 Acatl
   8 Calli    |  8 Tochtli  |  8 Acatl    |  8 Tecpatl
   9 Tochtli  |  9 Acatl    |  9 Tecpatl  |  9 Calli
  10 Acatl    | 10 Tecpatl  | 10 Calli    | 10 Tochtli
  11 Tecpatl  | 11 Calli    | 11 Tochtli  | 11 Acatl
  12 Calli    | 12 Tochtli  | 12 Acatl    | 12 Tecpatl
  13 Tochtli  | 13 Acatl    | 13 Tecpatl  | 13 Calli

  See 1st vol. Ethnol. Trans. ut antea page 63.

[Footnote 13: No doubt tortillias, or maize cakes--still the staff of
life with all the Indians and, indeed, a favorite and daily food of
all classes of Mexicans.]

[Footnote 14: Bernal Diaz Del Castillo's Hist. Conq. Mexico.]

[Footnote 15: Prescott, vol. 1, p. 35.]

[Footnote 16: Prescott, vol. 1, p. 39, and compare Lorenzana's edition
of Cortéz's letters.]

[Footnote 17: See Ethnological Trans. 1 vol., p. 96, and Am. Journal of
Science and Arts, second series, vol. vii., p. 155. March No. for 1849.]

[Footnote 18: See Trans. Amer. Ethnol. Soc'y., vol. 1, p. 94. We should
remark that the letters Q. Q., X. Z., P. P., S. Y., on the edge of the
stone, denote holes cut into it, in which it is asserted that gnomons
were placed whose shadows on the calendar converted it into a dial.]







Before we present the reader a brief sketch of the viceroyal government
of New Spain, it may, in no small degree, contribute to the elucidation
of this period if we review the Spanish colonial system that prevailed
from the conquest to the revolution which resulted in independence.

As soon as the Spaniards had plundered the wealth accumulated by the
Incas and the Aztecs in the semi-civilized empires of Mexico and Peru,
they turned their attention to the government of the colonies which
they saw springing up as if by enchantment. The allurements of gold
and the enticements of a prolific soil, under delicious skies, had not
yet ceased to inflame the ardent national fancy of Spain, so that an
eager immigration escaped by every route to America. An almost regal
and absolute power was vested by special grants from the king in the
persons who were despatched from his court to found the first
governments in the New World. But this authority was so abused by some
of the ministerial agents that Charles V. took an early occasion to
curb their power and diminish their original privileges. The Indians
who had been divided with the lands among the conquerors by the
slavish system of _repartimientos_, were declared to be the king's
subjects. In 1537 the Pope issued a decree declaring the aborigines to
be "really and truly men,"--"ipsos veros homines,"--who were capable
of receiving the Christian faith.

The sovereign was ever regarded from the first as the direct fountain
of all authority throughout Spanish America. All his provinces were
governed as colonies and his word was their supreme law. In 1511,
Ferdinand created a new governmental department for the control of his
American subjects, denominated the COUNCIL OF THE INDIES, but it was
not fully organized until the reign of Charles the Fifth in 1524. The
_Recopilacion de las leyes de las Indias_ declared that this council
should have supreme jurisdiction over all the Western Indies
pertaining to the Spanish crown, which had been discovered, at that
period, or which might thereafter be discovered;--that this
jurisdiction should extend over all their interests and affairs; and,
moreover, that the council, with the royal assent, should make all
laws and ordinances, necessary for the welfare of those provinces.[19]
This Council of the Indies consisted of a president, who was the king,
four secretaries, and twenty-two counsellors, and the members were
usually chosen from among those who had either been viceroys or held
high stations abroad. It appointed all the officers employed in
America in compliance with the nomination of the crown, and every one
was responsible to it for his conduct. As soon as this political and
legislative machine was created it began its scheme of law making for
the colonies, not, however, upon principles of national right, but
according to such dictates of expediency or profit as might accrue to
the Spaniards. From time to time they were apprised of the wants of
the colonists, but far separated as they were from the subject of
their legislation, they naturally committed many errors in regard to a
people with whom they had not the sympathy of a common country, and
common social or industrial interests. They legislated either for
abstractions or with the selfish view of working the colonies for the
advantage of the Spanish crown rather than for the gradual and
beautiful development of American capabilities. The mines of this
continent first attracted the attention of Spain, and the prevailing
principle of the scheme adopted in regard to them, was, that the
mother country should produce the necessaries or luxuries of life for
her colonial vassals, whilst they recompensed their parent with a
bountiful revenue of gold and silver.

The bungling, blind, and often corrupt legislation of the Council of
the Indies soon filled its records with masses of contradictory and
useless laws, so that although there were many beneficent acts,
designed especially for the comfort of the Indians, the administration
of so confused a system became almost incompatible with justice. If
the source of law was vicious its administration was not less impure.
The principal courts of justice were the AUDIENCIAS REALES, or Royal
Audiences. In addition to the president,--who was the Viceroy, or
Captain General,--the _audiencia_ or court was composed of a regent,
three judges, two _fiscales_ or attorneys, (one for civil and the
other for criminal cases) a reporter, and an _alguazil_, or constable.
The members of these courts were appointed by the king himself, and,
being almost without exception, natives of old Spain, they possessed
but few sympathies for the colonists.

After the Royal Audiences, came the CABILDOS whose members, consisting
of _regidores_ and other persons appointed by the king, and of two
_alcaldes_ annually elected by the _regidores_ from among the
people,--constituted a municipal body in almost every town or village of
importance. These _cabildos_ had no legislative jurisdiction, but
superintended the execution of the laws within their districts and
regulated all minor local matters. The office of _regidor_ was a regular
matter of bargain and sale; and, as the _regidores_ subsequently elected
the _alcaldes_, it will be seen that this admitted of great corruption,
and tended to augment the direct oppression of the masses subjected to
their jurisdiction. It was an instrument to increase the wealth and
strengthen the tyrannical power of the rulers.

These ill regulated _audiencias_ and _cabildos_, were, in themselves,
capable of destroying all principles of just harmony, and were
sufficient to corrupt the laws both in their enactment and
administration. But all men were not equal before these tribunals. A
system of _fueros_ or privileges, opposed innumerable obstacles. These
were the privileges of corporate bodies and of the professions; of the
clergy, called public or common; and of the monks, canons,
inquisitions, college, and universities; the privileges of persons
employed in the royal revenue service; the general privileges of the
military, which were extended also to the militia, and the especial
privileges of the marines, of engineers, and of the artillery. An
individual enjoying any of these privileges was elevated above the
civil authority, and, whether as plaintiff or defendant, was subject
only to the chief of the body to which he belonged, both in civil and
criminal cases. So great a number of jurisdictions created an
extricable labyrinth, which, by keeping up a ceaseless conflict
between the chiefs in regard to the extent of their powers, stimulated
each one to sustain his own authority at all hazards, and, with such
resoluteness as to employ even force to gain his purpose.[20] Bribery,
intrigue, delay, denial of justice, outrage, ruin, were the natural
results of such a system of complicated irresponsibility; and
consequently it is not singular to find even now in Mexico and South
America large masses of people who are utterly ignorant of the true
principles upon which justice should be administered or laws enacted
for its immaculate protection. The manifesto of independence issued by
the Buenos Ayrean Congress in 1816, declares that all public offices
belong exclusively to the Spaniards; and although the Americans were
equally entitled to them by the laws, they were appointed only in rare
instances, and even then, not without satiating the cupidity of the
court by enormous sums of money. Of one hundred and seventy viceroys
who governed on this continent but four were Americans; and of six
hundred and ten Captains General and Governors, all but fourteen were
natives of old Spain! Thus it is evident that not only were the
Spanish laws bad in their origin, but the administrative system under
which they operated denied natives of America in almost all cases the
possibility of self government.

The evil schemes of Spain did not stop, however, with the enactment of
laws, or their administration. The precious metals had originally
tempted her, as we have already seen, and she did not fail to build up
a commercial system which was at once to bind the colonists forever to
the mines, whilst it enriched and excited her industry at home in
arts, manufactures, agriculture, and navigation. As the Atlantic
rolled between the old world and the new, America was excluded from
all easy or direct means of intercourse with other states of Europe,
especially at a period when the naval power of Spain was important,
and frequent wars made the navigation of foreign merchantmen or
smugglers somewhat dangerous in the face of her cruisers. Spain
therefore interdicted all commercial intercourse between her colonies
and the rest of the world, thus maintaining a strict monopoly of
trade in her own hands. All imports and exports were conveyed in
Spanish bottoms, nor was any vessel permitted to sail for Vera Cruz or
Porto Bello, her only two authorized American ports, except from
Seville, until the year 1720, when the trade was removed to Cadiz as a
more convenient outlet. It was not until the War of the Succession
that the trade of Peru was opened, and, even then, only to the French.
By the peace of Utrecht, in 1713, Great Britain with the _asiento_, or
contract for the supply of slaves, obtained a direct participation in
the American trade, by virtue of a permission granted her to send a
vessel of five hundred tons annually to the fair at Porto Bello. This
privilege ceased with the partial hostilities in 1737, but Spain found
herself compelled, on the restoration of peace in 1739, to make some
provision for meeting the additional demand which the comparatively
free communication with Europe had created. Licenses were granted,
with this view, to vessels called register-ships, which were chartered
during the intervals between the usual periods for the departure of
the galeons. In 1764, a further improvement was made by the
establishment of monthly packets to Havana, Porto Rico and Buenos
Ayres, which were allowed to carry out half cargoes of goods. This was
followed in 1774, by the removal of the interdict upon the intercourse
of the colonies with each other; and, this again, in 1778, under what
is termed a decree of free trade, by which seven of the principal
ports of the peninsula were allowed to carry on a direct intercourse
with Buenos Ayres and the South Sea.[21] Up to the period when these
civilized modifications of the original interdict were made, the
colonists were forbidden to trade either with foreigners or with each
other's states, under any pretext whatever. The penalty of
disobedience and detection was death.

Having thus enacted that the sole vehicle of colonial commerce should
be Spanish, the next effort of the paternal government was to make the
things it conveyed Spanish also. As an adjunct in this system of
imposition, the laws of the Indies prohibited the manufacture or
cultivation in the colonies, of all those articles which could be
manufactured or produced in Spain. Factories were therefore inhibited,
and foreign articles were permitted to enter the viceroyalties, direct
from Spain alone, where they were, of course, subjected to duty
previous to re-exportation. But these foreign products were not
allowed to be imported in unstinted quantities. Spain fixed both the
amount and the price; so that by extorting, ultimately, from the
purchaser, the government was a gainer in charges, profits and duties;
whilst the merchants of Cadiz and Seville, who enjoyed the monopoly of
trade, were enabled to affix any valuation they pleased to their
commodities. The ingenuity of the Spaniards in contriving methods to
exact the utmost farthing from their submissive colonists, is not a
little remarkable. "They took advantage of the wants of the settlers,
and were, at one time, sparing in their supplies, so that the price
might be enhanced, whilst, at another, they sent goods of poor
quality, at a rate much above their value, because it was known they
must be purchased. It was a standing practice to despatch European
commodities in such small quantities as to quicken the competition of
purchasers and command an exorbitant profit. In the most flourishing
period of the trade of Seville, the whole amount of shipping employed
was less than twenty-eight thousand tons, and many of the vessels made
no more than annual voyages. The evident motive on the part of the
crown for limiting the supply was, that the same amount of revenue
could be more easily levied, and collected with more certainty as well
as despatch, on a small than on a large amount of goods."[22]

Whilst the commerce of Spain was thus burdened by enormous
impositions, the colonies were of course cramped in all their
energies. There could be no independent action of trade, manufacture,
or even agriculture, under such a system.

America,--under the tropics and in the temperate regions, abounding in
a prolific soil,--was not allowed to cultivate the grape or the olive,
whilst, even some kinds of provisions which could easily have been
produced on this continent were imported from Spain.

Such were some of the selfish and unnatural means by which the Council
of the Indies,--whose laws have been styled, by some writers,
beneficent--sought to drain America of her wealth, whilst they created
a market for Spain. This was the external code of oppression; but the
internal system of this continent, which was justified and enacted by
the same council, was not less odious. Taxation, without
representation or self government, was the foundation of our revolt;
yet, the patient colonies of Spain were forced to bear it from the
beginning of their career, so that the idea of freedom, either of
opinion or of impost, never entered the minds of an American creole.

Duties, taxes, and tithes were the vexatious instruments of royal
plunder. The _alcabala_, an impost upon all purchases and sales,
including even the smallest transactions, was perhaps the most
burthensome. "Every species of merchandise, whenever it passed from
one owner to another, was subject to a new tax; and merchants,
shopkeepers and small dealers, were obliged to report the amount of
their purchases and sales under oath." From the acquisition of an
estate, to the simple sale of butter, eggs, or vegetables in market,
all contracts and persons were subject to this tax, except travellers,
clergymen and paupers. Independently of the destruction of trade,
which must always ensue from such a system, the reader will at once
observe the temptations to vice opened by it. The natural spirit of
gain tempts a dealer to cheat an oppressive government by every means
in his power. It is therefore not wonderful to find the country filled
with contrabandists, and the towns with dishonest tradesmen. Men who
defraud in acts, will lie in words, nor will they hesitate to conceal
their infamy under the sanction of an oath. Thus was it that the
oppressive taxation of Spain became the direct instrument of popular
corruption, and, by extending imposts to the minutest ramifications of
society, it made the people smugglers, cheats, and perjurers. In
addition to the _alcabala_, there were transit duties through the
country, under which, it has been alleged, that European articles were
sometimes taxed thirty times before they reached their consumer. The
king had his royal fifth of all the gold and silver, and his
monopolies of tobacco, salt and gunpowder. He often openly vended the
colonial offices, both civil and ecclesiastical. He stamped paper, and
derived a revenue from its sale. He affixed a poll tax on every
Indian; and, finally, by the most infamous of all impositions, he
derived an extensive revenue from the religious superstition of the
people. It was not enough to tax the necessaries and luxuries of
life,--things actually in existence and tangible,--but, through a
refined alchemy of political invention, he managed to coin even the
superstitions of the people, and add to the royal income by the sale
of "_Bulls de cruzada_"--"_Bulls de defuntos_,"--"_Bulls for eating
milk and eggs during lent_,"--and "_Bulls of composition_." Bales upon
bales of these badly printed licenses were sent out from Spain and
sold by priests under the direction of a commissary. The villany of
this scheme may be more evident if we detain the reader a moment in
order to describe the character of these spiritual licenses. Whoever
possessed a "Bull de cruzada" might be absolved from all crimes except
heresy; nor, could he be suspected even of so deadly a sin, as long
as this talismanic paper was in his possession. Besides this, it
exempted him from many of the rigorous fasts of the church; while two
of them, of course, possessed double the virtue of one. The "Bull for
the dead" was a needful passport for a sinner's soul from purgatory.
There was no escape without it from the satanic police, and the poor
and ignorant classes suffered all the pains of their miserable friends
who had gone to the other world, until they were able to purchase the
inestimable ticket of release. But of all these wretched impostures,
the "Bull of composition" was, probably, the most shameful as well as
dangerous. It "released persons who had stolen goods from the
obligation to restore them to the owner, provided the thief had not
been moved to commit his crime in consequence of a belief that he
might escape from its sin by _subsequently_ purchasing the immaculate
'Bull.'" Nor were these all the virtues of this miraculous document.
It had the power to "correct the moral offence of false weights and
measures; tricks and frauds in trade; all the obliquities of principle
and conduct by which swindlers rob honest folks of their property;
and, finally, whilst it converted stolen articles into the lawful
property of the thief, it also assured to purchasers the absolute
ownership of whatever they obtained by modes that ought to have
brought them to the gallows. The price of these Bulls depended on the
amount of goods stolen; but it is just to add, that only fifty of them
could be taken by the same person in a year."[23]

These disgusting details might suffice to show the student how greatly
America was oppressed and corrupted by the Spanish government; yet we
regret that there are other important matters of misrule which we are
not authorised to pass by unnoticed. Thus far we have considered the
direct administration and taxing power of the king and Council of the
Indies; we must now turn to the despotism exercised over the mind as
well as the body of the creoles.

The holy church held all its appointments directly from the king,
though the pope enjoyed the privilege of nomination; consequently the
actual influence and power of the Hispano-American church, rested in
the sovereign. The Recopilacion de las leyes expressly prohibits the
erection of cathedrals, parish churches, monasteries, hospitals,
native chapels, or other pious or religious edifices, without the
express license of the monarch.[24] As all the ecclesiastical revenues
went to him, his power and patronage were immense. The religious
jurisdiction of the church tribunals extended to monasteries, priests,
donations, or legacies for sacred purposes, tithes, marriages, and all
_spiritual_ concerns. The _fueros_ of the clergy have been already
alluded to. "Instead of any restraint on the claims of the
ecclesiastics," says Dr. Robertson, "the inconsistent zeal of the
Spanish legislators admitted them into America to their full extent,
and, at once imposed on the Spanish colonies a burden which is in no
slight degree oppressive to society in its most improved state. As
early as 1501 the payment of _tithes_ as it was called, in the
colonies was enjoined, and the mode of it regulated by law. Every
article of primary necessity towards which the attention of settlers
must naturally be turned was submitted to that grievous exaction. Nor
were the demands of the clergy confined to articles of simple and easy
culture. Its more artificial and operose productions, such as sugar,
indigo, and cochineal, were declared to be titheable, and, in this
manner, the planter's industry was taxed in every stage of its
progress from its rudest essay to its highest improvement."[25] Thus
it is that even now, after all the desolating revolutions that have
occurred, we see the wealth of the Mexican church so exorbitantly
exceeding that of the richest lay proprietors. The clergy readily
became the royal agents in this scheme of aggrandizement; convent
after convent was built; estate after estate was added to their
possessions; dollar after dollar, and diamond after diamond were cast
into their gorged treasuries, until their present accumulations are
estimated at a sum not far beneath one hundred millions.[26] The
monasteries of the Dominicans and Carmelites possess immense riches,
chiefly in real estate both in town and country; whilst the convents
of nuns in the city of Mexico,--especially those of Concepcion,
Encarnacion and Santa Terasa,--are owners of three-fourths of the
private houses in the capital, and proportionably, of property in the
different states of the republic.[27]

Wherever the church of Rome obtained a foothold in the sixteenth
century the HOLY INQUISITION was not long in asserting and
establishing its power. Unfortunately for the zealots of this monastic
tribunal, the ignorance of the Indians did not permit them to wander
into the mazes of heresy, so that the Dominican monks found but
slender employment for their cruel skill. The poor aborigines were
hardly worth the trouble of persecution, for the conquerors had
already plundered them, and, unfortunately, the Jews did not emigrate
to the wilds of America. The inquisition, however, could not restrain
its natural love of labor, so, that, diverting its attention from the
bodies of its victims it devoted itself, with the occasional
recreation of an _auto da fe_, to the spiritual guardianship of
Spanish and Indian intellects. Education was of course modified and
repressed by such baneful influences. Men dared neither learn nor
read, except what was selected for them by the monks. At the end of
the eighteenth century there were but three presses in Spanish
America,--one in Mexico, one in Lima, and one which belonged to the
Jesuits at Cordova; but these presses were designed for the use of the
government alone in the dissemination of its decrees. The eye of the
inquisition was of course jealously directed to all publications.
Booksellers were bound to furnish the Holy Fathers annually with a
list of their merchandise, and the fraternity was empowered to enter
wheresoever it pleased, to seek and seize prohibited literature.
Luther, Calvin, Vattel, Montesquieu, Puffendorff, Robertson, Addison,
and even the Roman Catholic Fenelon, were all proscribed. The
inquisition was the great censor of the press, and nothing was
submitted to the people unless it had passed the fiery ordeal of the
holy office. It was quite enough for a book to be wise, classical, or
progressive, to subject it to condemnation. Even viceroys and
governors were forbidden to license the publication of a work unless
the inquisition sanctioned it; and we have seen volumes in Mexico,
still kept as curiosities in private libraries, out of which pages
were torn and passages obliterated by the Holy Fathers, before they
were permitted to be sold.[28]

Inasmuch as the Indians formed the great bulk of Hispano-American
population, the king, of course, soon after the discovery, directed
his attention to their capabilities for labor. We have seen in a
previous part of this chapter that by a system of _repartimientos_
they were divided among the conquerors and made vassals of the land
holders, although always kept distinct from the negroes who were
afterwards imported from Africa. Although the Emperor Charles V.,
enacted a number of mild laws for the amelioration of their fate,
their condition seems, nevertheless, to have been very little
improved,--according to our personal observation,--even to the
present day. We have noticed that a capitation tax was levied on every
Indian, and that it varied in different parts of Spanish America, from
four to fifteen dollars, according to the ability of the Indians. They
were likewise doomed to labor on the public works, as well as to
cultivate the soil for the general benefit of the country, whilst by
the imposition of the _mita_ they were forced to toil in the mines
under a rigorous and debasing system which the world believed
altogether unequalled in mineral districts until the British
parliamentary reports of a few years past disclosed the fact, that
even in England, men and women are sometimes degraded into beasts of
burden in the mines whose galleries traverse in every direction the
bowels of that proud kingdom.[29] Toils and suffering were the natural
conditions of the poor Indian in America after the conquest, and it
might have been supposed that the plain dictates of humanity would
make the Spaniards content with the labor of their serfs, without
attempting afterwards, to rob them of the wages of such ignominious
labor. But even in this, the Spanish ingenuity and avarice were not to
be foiled, for the _corregidores_ in the towns and villages, to whom
were granted the minor monopolies of almost all the necessaries of
life, made this a pretext of obliging the Indians to purchase what
they required at the prices they chose to affix to their goods.
Monopoly--was the order of the day in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. Its oppressions extended through all ranks, and its
grasping advantages were eagerly seized by every magistrate from the
_alguazil_ to the viceroy. The people groaned, but paid the
burthensome exaction, whilst the relentless officer, hardened by the
contemplation of misery, and the constant commission of legalized
robbery, only became more watchful, sagacious and grinding in
proportion as he discovered how much the down-trodden masses could
bear. Benevolent viceroys and liberal kings, frequently interposed to
prevent the continuance of these unjust acts, but they were unable to
cope with the numerous officials who performed all the minor
ministerial duties throughout the colony. These inferior agents, in a
new and partially unorganized country, had every advantage in their
favor over the central authorities in the capital. The poorer
Spaniards and the Indian serfs had no means of making their complaints
heard in the palace. There was no press or public opinion to give
voice to the sorrows of the masses, and personal fear often silenced
the few who might have reached the ear of merciful and just rulers. At
court, the rich, powerful and influential miners or land holders,
always discovered pliant tools who were ready by intrigue and
corruption to smother the cry of discontent, or to account plausibly
for the murmurs, which upon extraordinary occasions, burst through all
restraints until they reached either the Audiencia or the
representative of the sovereign. These slender excuses may, in some
degree, account for and palliate the maladministration of Spanish
America from the middle of the sixteenth to the beginning of the
nineteenth century.

       *       *       *       *       *

The ensuing chapters of this book contain the annals of New Spain from
the foundation of the viceroyal system to the beginning of the
revolution that grew out of its corruptions. The materials for this
portion of Mexican history are exceedingly scant. During the jealous
despotism and ecclesiastical vigilance of old Spanish rule, and the
anarchy of modern miscalled republicanism, few authors have ventured
to penetrate the gloom of this mysterious period. The Jesuit Father
Cavo, and Don Carlos Maria Bustamante have alone essayed to narrate,
consecutively, the events of the viceroyalty; and although no student
of the past is attracted by their crude and careless style, yet we may
confidently rely on the characteristic facts detailed in their tedious

[Footnote 19: Recop. de las leyes, lib. 2, title 2, ley 2.]

[Footnote 20: Mendez, Observaciones sobre les leyes de Indias y sobre
la independencia de America. London, 1823. p. 174.]

[Footnote 21: Ward's Mexico in 1827, vol. 1, p. 116.]

[Footnote 22: North American Review, vol. xix. p. 117.]

[Footnote 23: See Pazo's letters on South America, pages 88, 89, North
American Review, art. antec., pages 186 and 187, et Depons.]

[Footnote 24: Recopilacion, lib. i, Tit. vi, Ley 2, North American
Review, art. antec. p. 189.]

[Footnote 25: Robertson's Hist. of Amer.; Zavala Hist. Revo. of Mexico.]

[Footnote 26: Otero, Cuestion social, pages 38, 39, 43.]

[Footnote 27: Zavala Hist. Revo. de Mexico, pages 16, 17, vol. 1.]

[Footnote 28: See Zavala, vol. 1, p. 52.]

[Footnote 29: See British Parliamentary Report on the condition of the
miners and mining districts.]

[Footnote 30: "Los Tres Siglos de Mejico, durante el Gobierno
Español," 1521 to 1766, written by Father Andres Cavo, of the Society
of Jesus; 1767 to 1821, written by Don Carlos Maria Bustamante.]





In the year 1530, the accusations received in Spain against Nuño de
Guzman, and the _oidores_ Matinezo and Delgadillo, who at that period
ruled in Mexico under royal authority, were not only so frequent, but
of so terrible a character, that Charles V., resolved to adopt some
means of remedying the evils of his transatlantic subjects. He was
about to depart from Spain however, for Flanders, and charged the
Empress to adopt the necessary measures for this purpose during his
absence. This enlightened personage, perceiving the difficulty of
ruling so distant, extended and rich an appendage of the Spanish
crown, by inferior officials alone, wisely determined to establish a
VICEROYALTY in New Spain. It was a measure which seemed to place the
two worlds in more loyal affinity. The vice king, it was supposed,
would be the impersonation of sovereignty, the direct representative
of the national head, and would always form an independent and
truthful channel of information. His position set him, eminently,
above the crowd of adventurers who were tempted to the shores of
America; and, removable at the royal pleasure, as well as selected
from among those Spanish nobles whose fidelity to the crown was
unquestionable, there was but little danger that even the most
ambitious subject would ever be tempted to alienate from the Emperor
the affection and services either of emigrants or natives.

The Empress, in fulfilling the wishes of her august spouse, at first
fixed her eyes upon the Count de Oropesa and on the Marshal de
Fromesta, as persons well fitted to undertake the difficult charge of
founding the Mexican viceroyalty. But these individuals, upon various
pretexts, declined the mission, which was next tendered to Don Manuel
Benavides, whose exorbitant demands for money and authority, finally
induced the sovereign to withdraw her nomination. Finally, she
resolved to despatch Don Antonio de Mendoza, Count of Tendilla, one of
her chamberlains, who requested only sufficient time to regulate his
private affairs before he joyfully set forth for his viceroyalty of
New Spain. In the meantime, however, in order not to lose a moment in
remedying the disorders on the other side of the Atlantic, the Empress
created a new _Audiencia_, at the head of which was Don Sebastian
Ramirez de Fuenleal, bishop of St. Domingo, and whose members were the
_Licenciados_ Vasco de Quiroga, Alonso Maldonado, Francisco Cainos and
Juan de Salmeron. The appointment of the bishop was well justified by
his subsequent career of integrity, beneficence and wisdom; whilst
Vasco de Quiroga has left in Michoacan, and, indeed, in all Mexico, a
venerated name, whose renown is not forgotten, in private life and the
legends of the country to the present day.

In 1535, Mendoza arrived in Mexico with letters for the Audiencia, and
was received with all the pomp and splendor becoming the
representative of royalty. His instructions were couched in the most
liberal terms, for, after all, it was chiefly on the personal
integrity and discretion of a viceroy that the Spanish sovereigns were
obliged to rely for the sure foundation of their American empire. Of
the desire of the Emperor and Empress to act their parts justly and
honestly in the opening of this splendid drama in America there can be
no doubt. Their true policy was to develope, not to destroy; and they
at once perceived that, in the New World, they no longer dealt with
those organized classes of civilized society which, in Europe, yield
either instinctively to the feeling of loyalty, or are easily coerced
into obedience to the laws.

Mendoza was commanded, in the first place, to direct his attention to
the condition of public worship; to the punishment of clergymen who
scandalized their calling; to the conversion and good treatment of the
Indian population, and to the erection of a mint in which silver
should be coined according to laws made upon this subject by Ferdinand
and Isabella. All the wealth which was found in Indian tombs or
temples was to be sought out and devoted to the royal treasury. It was
forbidden, under heavy penalties, to sell arms to negroes or Indians,
and the latter were, moreover, denied the privilege of learning to
work in those more difficult or elegant branches of labor which might
interfere with the sale of Spanish imported productions.

During the following year Mendoza received despatches from the Emperor
in which, after bestowing encomiums for the manifestations of good
government which the viceroy had already given, he was directed to pay
particular attention to the Indians; and, together with these missives,
came a summary of the laws which the Council of the Indies had formed
for the welfare of the natives. These benevolent intentions, not only of
the sovereign but of the Spanish people also, were made known to the
Indians and their caciques, upon an occasion of festivity, by a
clergyman who was versed in their language, and, in a similar way, they
were disseminated throughout the whole viceroyalty. This year was,
moreover, memorable in Mexican annals as that in which the first book,
entitled _La Escala de San Juan Climaca_, was published in Mexico, in
the establishment of Juan Pablos, having been printed at a press brought
to the country by the viceroy Mendoza. Nor was 1536 alone signalized by
the first literary issue of the new kingdom; for the first money, as
well as the first book came at this time from the Mexican mint.
According to Torquemada two hundred thousand dollars were coined in
_copper_; but the emission of a circulating medium, in this base metal,
was so distasteful to the Mexicans, that it became necessary for the
viceroy to use stringent means in order to compel its reception for the
ordinary purposes of trade.

Between the years 1536 and 1540 the history of the Mexican viceroyalty
was uneventful, save in the gradual progressive efforts made not only
by Mendoza, but by the Emperor himself, in endeavoring to model and
consolidate the Spanish empire on our continent. Schools were
established; hospitals were erected; the protection of the Indians,
under the apostolic labors of Las Casas was honestly fostered, and
every effort appears to have been zealously made to give a permanent
and domestic character to the population which found its way rapidly
into New Spain. In 1541 the copper coin, of which we have already
spoken as being distasteful to the Mexicans, suddenly disappeared
altogether from circulation, and it was discovered that the natives
had either buried or thrown it into the lake as utterly worthless. The
viceroy endeavored to remedy the evil and dispel the popular prejudice
by coining _cuartillas_ of silver; but these, from their extreme
smallness and the constant risk of loss, were equally unacceptable to
the people, who either collected large quantities and melted them
into bars, or cast them contemptuously into the water as they had
before done with the despised copper.

It was not until about the year 1542, that we perceive in the
viceroyal history, any attempts upon the part of the Indians to make
formidable assaults against the Spaniards, whose oppressive and
grinding system of _repartimientos_ was undoubtedly beginning to be
felt. At this period the Indians of Jalisco rose in arms, and symptoms
of discontent were observed to prevail, also, among the Tarascos and
Tlascalans, who even manifested an intention of uniting with the
rebellious natives of the north. Mendoza was not an idle spectator of
these movements, but resolved to go forth, in person, at the head of
his troops to put down the insurgents. Accordingly he called on the
Tlascalans, Cholulans, Huexotzinques, Tezcocans, and other bands or
tribes for support, and permitted the caciques to use horses and the
same arms that were borne by the Spaniards. This concession seems to
have greatly pleased the natives of the country, though it was
unsatisfactory to some of their foreign masters.

In the meanwhile, the coasts of America on the west, and the shores of
California especially, were examined by the Portuguese Juan Rodriguez
Cabrillo, as far north as near the 41st° of latitude; whilst another
expedition was despatched to the Spice islands, under the charge of
Ruy Lopez de Villalobos.

The viceroy was moreover busy with the preparation of his army
designed to march upon Jalisco, and, on the 8th of October, 1542,
departed from Mexico with a force of fifty thousand Indians, three
hundred cavalry, and one hundred and fifty Spanish infantry. Passing
through Michoacan, where he was detained for some time, he, at length,
reached the scene of the insurrection in Jalisco; but before he
attacked the rebels he proclaimed through the ecclesiastics who
accompanied him, his earnest wish to accommodate difficulties, and,
even, to pardon, graciously, all who would lay down their arms and
return to their allegiance. He ordered that no prisoners should be
made except of such as were needed to transport the baggage and
equipments of his troops; and, in every possible way, he manifested a
humane desire to soften the asperities and disasters of the unequal
warfare. But the rebellious Indians were unwilling to listen to
terms:--"We are lords of all these lands," said they, heroically, in
reply, "and we wish to die in their defence!"

Various actions ensued between the Spaniards, their allies, and the
insurgents, until at length, Mendoza obtained such decided advantages
over his opponents that they gave up the contest, threw down their
arms, and enabled the viceroy to return to his capital with the
assurance that the revolted territory was entirely and permanently
pacified. His conduct to the Indians after his successes was
characterized by all the suavity of a noble soul. He took no revenge
for this assault upon the Spanish authority, and seems, to have
continually endeavored to win the natives to their allegiance by
kindness rather than compulsion.

These outbreaks among the Indians were of course not unknown in Spain,
where they occasioned no trifling fear for the integrity and ultimate
dominion of New Spain. The natural disposition of the Emperor towards
the aborigines, was, as we have said, kind and gentle; but he
perceived that the causes of these Indian discontents might be
attributed not so much, perhaps, to a patriotic desire to recover
their violated rights over the country, as to the cruelty they endured
at the hands of bold and reckless adventurers who had emigrated to New
Spain and converted the inoffensive children of the country into
slaves. Accordingly, the Emperor, convened a council composed of
eminent persons in Spain, to consider the condition of his American
subjects. This council undertook the commission in a proper spirit,
and adopted a liberal system towards the aborigines, as well as
towards the proprietors of estates in the islands and on the main,
which, in time, would have fostered the industry and secured the
ultimate prosperity of all classes. There were to be no slaves made in
the future wars of these countries; the system of _repartimientos_ was
to be abandoned; and the Indians were not, as a class, to be solely
devoted to ignoble tasks.[31] The widest publicity was given to these
humane intentions in Spain. The Visitador of Hispaniola, or San
Domingo, Miguel Diaz de Armendariz, was directed to see their strict
fulfilment in the islands; and Francisco Tello de Sandoval was
commissioned to cross the Atlantic to Mexico, with full powers and
instructions from the Emperor, to enforce their obedience in New Spain.

In February, 1544, this functionary disembarked at St. Juan de Ulua,
and, a month afterwards, arrived in the capital. No sooner did he
appear in Mexico than the object of his mission became gradually
noised about among the proprietors and planters whose wealth depended
chiefly upon the preservation of their estates and Indians in the
servile condition in which they were before the assemblage of the
Emperor's council in Spain during the previous year. Every effort was
therefore made by these persons and their sattelites to prevent the
execution of the royal will. Appeals were addressed to Sandoval
invoking him to remain silent. He was cautioned not to interfere with
a state of society upon which the property of the realm depended. The
ruin of many families, the general destruction of property, the
complete revolution of the American system, were painted in glowing
colors, by these men who pretended to regard the just decrees of the
Emperor as mere "innovations" upon the established laws of New Spain.
But Sandoval was firm, and he was stoutly sustained in his honorable
loyalty to his sovereign and christianity, by the countenance of the
viceroy Mendoza. Accordingly, the imperial decrees were promulgated
throughout New Spain, and resulted in seditious movements among the
disaffected proprietors which became so formidable that the peace of
the country was seriously endangered. In this dilemma,--feeling,
probably, that the great mass of the people was the only bulwark of
the government against the Indians, and that it was needful to
conciliate so powerful a body,--permission was granted by the
authorities, to appoint certain representatives as a commission to lay
the cause before the Emperor himself. Accordingly two delegates were
despatched to Spain together with the provincials of San Francisco,
Santo Domingo and San Agustin, and other Spaniards of wealth and
influence in the colony.

In the following year, Sandoval, who had somewhat relaxed his
authority, took upon himself the dangerous task of absolutely
enforcing the orders of the Emperor with some degree of strictness,
notwithstanding the visit of the representatives of the discontented
Mexicans to Spain. He displaced several _oidores_ and other officers
who disgraced their trusts, and deprived various proprietors of their
_repartimientos_ or portions of Indians who had been abused by the
cruel exercise of authority. But, in the meantime, the agents had not
ceased to labor at the court in Spain. Money, influence, falsehood and
intrigue were freely used to sustain the system of masked slavery
among the subjugated natives, and, at last, a royal _cedula_ was
procured commanding the revocation of the humane decrees and ordering
the division of the royal domain among the conquerors. The Indians, of
course, followed the fate of the soil; and thus, by chicanery and
influence, the gentle efforts of the better portion of Spanish society
were rendered entirely nugatory. The news of this decree spread joy
among the Mexican landed proprietors. The chains of slavery were
rivetted upon the natives. The principle of compulsory labor was
established forever; and, even to this day, the Indian of Mexico
remains the bondsman he was doomed to become in the sixteenth century.

Between the years 1540 and 1542, an expedition was undertaken for the
subjugation of an important nation which it was alleged existed far to
the north of Mexico. A Franciscan missionary, Marcos de Naza, reported
that he had discovered, north of Sonora, a rich and powerful people
inhabiting a realm known as Quivara, or the seven cities, whose
capital, Cibola, was quite as civilized as an European city. After the
report had reached and been considered in Spain, it was determined to
send an armed force to this region in order to explore, and if
possible to reduce the Quivarans to the Spanish yoke. Mendoza had
designed to entrust this expedition to Pedro de Alvarado, after having
refused Cortéz permission to lead the adventurers,--a task which he
had demanded as his right. But when all the troops were enlisted,
Alvarado had not yet reached Mexico from Guatemala, and, accordingly,
the viceroy despatched Vasquez de Coronado, at the head of the
enterprise. At the same time he fitted out another expedition, with
two ships, under the orders of Francisco Alarcon, who was to make a
reconnoisance of the coast as far as the thirty-sixth degree, and,
after having frequently visited the shores, he was, in that latitude
to meet the forces sent by land.

Coronado set forth from Culiacan, with three hundred and fifty
Spaniards and eight hundred Indians, and, after reaching the source of
the Gila, passed the mountains to the Rio del Norte. He wintered twice
in the region now called New Mexico, explored it thoroughly from north
to south, and then, striking off to the north east, crossed the
mountains and wandering eastwardly as far north as the fortieth degree
of latitude, he unfortunately found neither Quivara nor gold. A few
wretched ruins of Indian villages were all the discoveries made by
these hardy pioneers, and thus the enchanted kingdom eluded the grasp
of Spain forever. The troop of strangers and Indians soon became
disorganized and disbanded; nor was Alarcon more successful by sea
than Coronado by land. His vessels explored the shores of the Pacific
carefully, but they found no wealthy cities to plunder, nor could the
sailors hear of any from the Indians with whom they held intercourse.

In 1546, a desolating pestilence swept over the land, destroying,
according to some writers, eight hundred thousand Indians, and,
according to others, five-sixths of the whole population. It lasted
for about six months; and, at this period, a projected insurrection
among the black slaves and the Tenochan and Tlaltelolcan Indians, was
detected through a negro. This menaced outbreak was soon crushed by
Mendoza, who seized and promptly executed the ringleaders.

A portion of the Visitador Sandoval's orders related to the convocation
of the Mexican bishops with a view to the spiritual welfare of the
natives, and the prelates were accordingly all summoned to the capital,
with the exception of the virtuous Las Casas, whose humane efforts in
behalf of the Indians, and whose efforts to free them from the slavery
of the _repartimientos_ had subjected him to the mortal hatred of the
planters. The council of ecclesiastics met; but it is probable that
their efforts were quite as ineffectual as the humane decrees of the
Emperor, and that even in the church itself, there may have been persons
who were willing to tolerate the involuntary servitude of the natives
rather than forego the practical and beneficial enjoyment of estates
which were beginning to fall into the possession of convents and
monastaries on the death of pious penitents.

Meanwhile the population of New Spain increased considerably,
especially towards the westward. It was soon perceived by Mendoza that
a single Audiencia was no longer sufficient for so extended a country.
He, therefore, recommended the appointment of another, in Compostella
de la Nueva Gallacia, and in 1547, the Emperor ordered two _letrados_
for the administration of justice in that quarter. The ultimate
reduction of the province of Vera-Paz was likewise accomplished at
this period. The benignant name of "True Peace" was bestowed on this
territory from the fact that the inhabitants yielded gracefully and
speedily to the persuasive influence and spiritual conquest of the
Dominican monks, and that not a single soldier was needed to teach
them the religion of Christ at the point of the sword.

During the two or three following years there was but little to disturb
the quietness of the colony, save in brief and easily suppressed
outbreaks among the Indians. Royal lands were divided among poor and
meritorious Spaniards; property which was found to be valueless in the
neighborhood of cities was allowed to be exchanged for mountain tracts,
in which the eager adventurers supposed they might discover mineral
wealth; and the valuable mines of Tasco, Zultepec, and Temascaltepec,
together with others, probably well known to the ancient Mexicans, were
once more thrown open and diligently worked.

The wise administration of the Mexican viceroyalty by Mendoza had
been often acknowledged by the Emperor. He found in this distinguished
person a man qualified by nature to deal with the elements of a new
society when they were in their wildest moments of confusion, and
before they had become organized into the order and system of a
regular state. Mendoza, by nature firm, amiable, and just, seems
nevertheless to have been a person who knew when it was necessary in a
new country, to bend before the storm of popular opinion in order to
avoid the destruction, not only of his own influence, but perhaps of
society, civilization and the Spanish authorities themselves. In the
midst of all the fiery and unregulated spirit of a colony like Mexico,
he sustained the dignity of his office unimpaired, and by command,
diplomacy, management, and probably sometimes by intrigue, he appears
to have ensured obedience to the laws even when they were distasteful
to the masses. He was successful upon all occasions except in the
enforcement of the complete emancipation of the Indians; but it may be
questioned whether he did not deem it needful, in the infancy of the
viceroyalty at least, to subject the Indians to labors which his
countrymen were either too few in number or too little acclimated in
Mexico to perform successfully. History must at least do him the
justice to record the fact that his administration was tempered with
mercy, for even the Indians revered him as a man who was their signal
protector against wanton inhumanity.

Whilst these events occurred in Mexico, Pizarro had subjugated Peru,
and added it to the Spanish crown. But there, as in Mexico, an able
man was needed to organize the fragmentary society which was in the
utmost disorder after the conquest. No one appeared to the Emperor
better fitted for the task than the viceroy whose administration had
been so successful in Mexico. Accordingly, in 1550, the viceroyalty of
Peru was offered to him, and its acceptance urged by the Emperor at a
moment when a revolt against the Spaniards occurred among the
Zapotecas, instigated by their old men and chiefs, who, availing
themselves of an ancient prophecy relative to the return of
QUETZALCOATL, assured the youths and warriors of their tribe that the
predicted period had arrived and that, under the protection of their
restored deity, their chains would be broken. In this, as in all other
endeavors to preserve order, the efforts of Mendoza were successful.
He appeased the Indians, accepted the proffered task of governing
Peru; and, after meeting and conferring with his successor, Velasco,
in Cholula, departed from Mexico for the scene of his new labors on
the distant shores of the Pacific.

[Footnote 31: Herrera Decade vii., lib. vi., chap. v.]





The new viceroy, Don Luis de Velasco, arrived in Mexico without
especial orders changing the character of the government. He was
selected by the Emperor as a person deemed eminently fitted to sustain
the judicious policy of his predecessor; and it is probable that he
had secret commands from the court to attempt once more the
amelioration of the Indian population. There is no doubt that Charles
the Fifth was sincere in his wish to protect the natives; and, if he
yielded at all,--as we have seen in the narrative of the last
viceroyalty,--to the demands of the owners of _repartimientos_, it was
probably with the hope that a better opportunity of sustaining his
humane desires would occur as soon as the conquerors or their
followers, were glutted by the rich harvests they might reap during
the early years of the settlement.

Accordingly, we find, as soon as Velasco had been received in Mexico
with all suitable ceremony and honor, that, notwithstanding the
continued opposition of the proprietors and planters, he proclaimed
his determination to carry out the orders that had been given to
Mendoza, so far as they tended to relieve the Indians from the
personal labors, tributes, and severe service in the mines with which
they had been burdened by the conquerors. This, as was expected,
created extraordinary discontent. The cupidity of the sovereign and of
his representative were appealed to. It was alleged that not only
would the Spanish emigrants suffer for the want of laborers, but that
the royal treasury would soon be emptied of the taxes and income
which, thus far, had regularly flowed into it. But Don Luis was firm
in his resolution, and declared that "the liberty of the Indians was
of more importance than all the mines in the world, and that the
revenues they yielded to the Spanish crown were not of such a
character that all divine and human laws should be sacrificed, in
order to obtain them."

In 1553, the attention of the viceroy was specially directed to the
subject of education, for the population had so greatly increased in
the few years of stable government, that unless the best means of
instructing the growing generation were speedily adopted, it was
probable that New Spain would lose many of the descendants of those
families which it was the policy of the crown to establish permanently
in America. The University of Mexico was therefore consecrated and
opened in this year; and, in 1555, Paul IV., bestowed upon it the same
privileges and rights as were enjoyed by that of Salamanca in Spain.

But this was a sad year for the city of Mexico, in other respects. The
first inundation since the conquest, occurred in 1553, and for three
days the capital was under water and the communication kept up in
boats and canoes. Every effort was made by the viceroy to prevent the
recurrence of the evil, by the erection of a dyke to dam up the waters
of the lake; and it is related by contemporary historians, that he
even wrought with his own hands at the gigantic work, during the first
day, in order to show a good example to the citizens who were called
on to contribute their personal labor for their future protection from
such a disaster.

       *       *       *       *       *

There were few outbreaks among the Indians during this viceroyalty,
yet there were troublesome persons among the original tribes of the
Chichimecas,--some bands of whom were not yet entirely subjected to
the Spanish government,--who contrived to keep up a guerilla warfare,
which interrupted the free circulation of the Spaniards through the
plains and mountain passes of the Bajio. These were, in all
probability, mere predatory attacks; but as it was impossible for the
viceroy to spare sufficient numbers of faithful soldiers for the
purpose of scouring the hiding places and fastnesses of these robber
bands, he resolved to found a number of villages composed of natives
and foreigners, and to place in them, permanently, sufficient numbers
of troops to protect the adjacent country roads, and to form the
nucleus of towns, which, in the course of time, would grow to
importance. Such was the origin, by military colonization, of San
Felipe Yztlahuaca, and of San Miguel el Grande, now known as Allende,
from the hero of that name to whom it gave birth. It was the constant
policy of the Emperor to extend the avenues of industry for his
emigrant subjects by such a system of security and protection; and,
accordingly, Don Francisco Ibarra, was despatched to the interior with
orders to explore the northern and western regions, but, on no
account, to use arms against the natives except in case of the utmost
urgency. Ibarra traversed a wide and nearly unknown region, discovered
rich mines of gold and silver, and colonized many places of
considerable importance in the subsequent development of Mexico, and
among them, the city of Durango, which is now the capital of the state
of that name.

       *       *       *       *       *

The abdication of Charles V. was unofficially announced in Mexico in
1556; but it was not until the 6th of June of the following year that
his successor Philip II. was proclaimed in the capital of New Spain.
The policy of the old Emperor was not changed by the accession of the
new king; nor does the monarch appear to have influenced in any
particular manner the destiny of Mexico during the continuance of
Velasco's government, except by the fitting out, at his special
command, under the order of his viceroy, of an expedition for the
conquest of Florida, which proved disastrous to all concerned in it.
Crowds flocked in the year 1558 to the standard raised for this
adventure, which it was supposed would result in gratifying the
Spanish thirst for gold. In the following year the few who remained of
the untoward enterprise, returned with their commanders to Havana and
thence to New Spain.

Thus far Velasco's administration had been successful in preserving
the peace in Mexico,--in opening the resources of the country in
mines, agriculture and pastoral affairs,--and in alleviating the
condition of the Indians by gradual restraints on his countrymen. His
power was unlimited; but he had, in no instance abused it, or
countenanced its abuse in others. Anxious not to rely exclusively upon
his own resources, but to take council from the best authorities in
cases of difficulty or doubt, he invariably consulted the Audiencia in
all emergencies. But, just and loyal as had been his official conduct,
it had not saved him from creating enemies; and these, unfortunately,
were not only found among the rich oppressors whose shameless conduct
he strove to punish, but even among the members of the Audiencia
itself. These men combined secretly to undermine the influence of the
viceroy, and despatched commissioners to Spain, who represented to the
king that the health of his representative was in a failing state, and
that it was extremely needful he should be sustained by a council
whose duty it was to direct him upon all questions of public interest.
The intriguers were successful in their appeal, and a decree soon
arrived in New Spain announcing that the viceroy should thenceforth do
nothing without the previous sanction of the Audiencia. This order of
the king immediately put the power into the hands of individuals whose
object was rather to acquire sudden wealth than to govern a new and
semi-civilized nation justly, or to enact laws which would develope
the resources of the country. The viceroy had been impartial. He held
the balance between the Indian laborer and the Spanish extortioner.
His office and emoluments placed him, at that period, high above the
ordinary temptations of avarice. But the Audiencia, composed of
several persons, whose position was far inferior to the viceroy's, was
accessible to intrigue and corruption, and the unfortunate Indians
soon found to their cost, that the royal limitation on Velasco's power
had lost them a friend and staunch supporter. The Audiencia and the
viceroy were soon surrounded by parties who advocated their different
causes with zeal; but the loyal viceroy did not murmur in the
discharge of his duty and faithfully followed the order of the king to
submit his judgment to the council. Nevertheless all were not so
patient as Velasco. Counter statements were sent, by skilful
advocates, to Spain; and Velasco himself required an examination to be
made into his official conduct.

Accordingly, Philip II. appointed a certain _licenciado_ Valderrama,
as visitador of New Spain, who arrived in 1563, and immediately began
the discharge of his functions by a course of exaction, especially
from the Indians, which neither the appeals nor the arguments of the
viceroy could induce him to abandon. The arrival of this harsh and
cruel personage, was, indeed, sad for Mexico, and, in the country's
history, he still retains the name of "El Molestador de los Indios."

Fortunately for Velasco an escape from the double tyranny of the
Audiencia and of Valderrama was opened to him in an expedition to the
Philipine islands which the king had ordered him to colonize. But
whilst he was engaged in organizing his forces and preparing for the
voyage, his health suddenly gave way, and on the 31st of July, 1564,
he expired amid the general grief of all the worthier classes of
Mexico, and, especially, of the Indians, whom he had befriended. Death
silenced the murmurs of the intriguers. When the beneficent viceroy
could no longer interfere with the selfish interests of the multitude,
crowds flocked around his bier to honor his harmless remains.


On the death of Don Luis de Velasco the First, the reins of government
remained in the hands of the Royal Audiencia, in conformity with the
order of Philip II. Francisco de Zeinos, Pedro de Villalobos, and
Geronimo de Orozoco were then the oidores; while Valderrama, whose
visit occurred during the government of Don Luis de Velasco, as we
have already narrated, had departed for Spain. In 1564, the expedition
which was planned and prepared under the last viceroy, sailed for the
Philipine islands, and founded the celebrated city of Manilla, which
has since played so distinguished a part in the history of oriental

The year 1566 was an important one, at least in the social history of
Mexico, for it was fraught with danger to the son and representative
of the illustrious conqueror. The Marques del Valle, heir of Hernando
Cortéz, had been for sometime established in the capital, where he
formed the nucleus of a noble circle, and was admired by all classes
for the splendor with which he maintained the honor of his house. His
palace was constantly filled with the flower of Mexican aristocracy,
and among the knightly train of gallant men, few were more
distinguished for gentle bearing and personal accomplishment than
Alonso de Avila Alvarado, and his brother Gil Gonzalez. The Marques
del Valle, distinguished the former by his special attentions, and
this, together with the imprudent conduct or expressions of Alonso,
made him suspected by persons who simulated an extraordinary zeal for
the Spanish monarchy, whilst, in fact, their chief object was to
ingratiate themselves with men of power or influence in order to
further their private interests.

On the 30th of June, 1566, the Dean of the Cathedral, Don Juan Chico
de Molina, baptized in that sacred edifice, the twin daughters of the
Marques del Valle, whose sponsors were Don Lucas de Castilla and Doña
Juana de Sosa. The festivities of the gallant Marques upon this
occasion of family rejoicing, were, as usual among the rich in Spanish
countries, attended with the utmost magnificence; and in order to
present our readers a picture of the manners of the period, we shall
describe the scene as it is related by those who witnessed it.

It was a day of general rejoicing and festivity in the city of Mexico.
From the palace of the Marques to the door of the cathedral, a passage
was formed under lofty and splendid canopies composed of the richest
stuffs. A salute of artillery announced the entry of the twins into
the church, and it was repeated at their departure. At the moment when
the rites of religion were completed and the infants were borne back
to their home through the covered way, the spectators in the _plaza_
were amused by a chivalric tournament between twelve knights in
complete steel. Other rare and costly diversions succeeded in an
artificial grove, which the Marques had caused to be erected in the
_plazuela_, or lesser square, intervening between his palace and the
cathedral. Nor were these amusements designed alone for persons of his
own rank, for the masses of the people were also summoned to partake
his bountiful hospitality. At the doors of his princely dwelling
tables were sumptuously spread with roasted oxen, all kinds of wild
fowl and numberless delicacies, whilst two casks of white and red
wine,--then esteemed in Mexico the most luxurious rarities,--were set
flowing for the people.

At night, Alonso Gonzalez de Avila, the intimate companion of the
Marques, entertained the chief personages of Mexico with a splendid
ball, during which there was a performance, or symbolical masque
representing the reception of Hernando Cortéz by the Emperor Montezuma.
Alonso, splendidly attired, sustained the part of the Mexican sovereign.
During one of the evolutions of the spectacle, Avila threw around the
neck of the young Marques a collar of intermingled flowers and jewels,
similar to the one with which his father had been adorned by Montezuma;
and, at the conclusion of the scene, he placed on the heads of the
Marques and his wife a coronet of laurel, with the exclamation,--"How
well these crowns befit your noble brows!"

These simple diversions of a family festival were, doubtless,
altogether innocent, and, certainly, not designed to prefigure an
intention upon the part of the Marques and his friends to usurp the
government of the New World. But it is probable that he had unwisely
made enemies of men in power who were either ridiculously suspicious,
or eagerly sought for any pretext, no matter how silly, to lay violent
hands upon the son of Cortéz. It is probable, too, that the
prestige,--the moral power,--of the great conqueror's name had not yet
ceased to operate in Mexico; and, in those days when individuals were
not dainty in ridding themselves of dangerous intruders, it is not
unlikely that it was the policy of the Audiencia and its coadjutors to
drive the gallant Marques from scenes, which, in the course of time,
might tempt his ambition. The extreme popularity of such a man was not
to be tolerated.

However, the domestic festival, symbolical as it was deemed by some of
a desire to foreshadow the destiny of the son of Cortéz, was allowed
to pass over. The oidores and their spies, meditating in secret over
the crowning of Cortéz and his wife by Avila, and the remarkable words
by which the graceful act was accompanied, resolved to embrace the
first opportunity to detect what they declared was a conspiracy to
wrest the dominion of New Spain from Philip II.

When men are anxious to commit a crime, a pretext or an occasion is not
generally long wanting to accomplish the wicked design. Accordingly we
find that on the 13th of August, the anniversary of the capture of the
capital, the alleged conspiracy, was to break out. A national
procession, in honor of the day, was to pass along the street of San
Francisco and to return through that which now bears the name of Tacuba.
Certain armed bands, convened under the pretext of military display,
were to be stationed in the way, while, from a small turret in which he
had concealed himself, Don Martin Cortéz, the son of the conqueror by
the Indian girl Mariana, was to sally forth, and seize the royal
standard, and being immediately joined by the armed bands, was,
forthwith, to proclaim the Marques del Valle king of Mexico and to slay
the oidores as well as all who should offer the least resistance.

Such was the story which the authorities had heard or feigned to have
heard through their trusty spies. Nearly a month before the dreaded
day, however, the Audiencia assembled, and requested the presence of
the Marques del Valle, under the pretext that despatches had been
received from the king of Spain, which, by his special order, were
only to be opened in presence of the son of Cortéz. The Marques, who
imagined no evil, immediately responded to the call of the oidores,
and the moment he entered the hall the doors were guarded by armed
men. Cortéz was ordered to seat himself on a common stool, while one
of the functionaries announced to him that he was a prisoner, in the
name of the king. "For what?" eagerly demanded the Marques. "As a
traitor to his Majesty!" was the foul reply. "_You lie!_" exclaimed
Cortéz, springing from his seat, and grasping the hilt of his
dagger;--"I am no traitor to my king,--nor are there traitors among
any of my lineage!"

The natural excitement of the loyal nobleman subsided after a moment's
reflection. He had been entrapped into the hands of the Audiencia, and
finding himself completely, though unjustly, in their power, he at
once resolved to offer no childish opposition, when resistance would
be so utterly useless. With the manly dignity of a chivalrous
Spaniard, he immediately yielded up his weapons and was taken prisoner
to the apartments that had been prepared for him. His half brother,
Don Martin, was also apprehended, and orders were sent to the city of
Tezcoco for the seizure of Don Luis Cortéz who resided there as
justice or governor. In Mexico, Alonso Avila Alvarado, and his brother
Gil Gonzalez, with many other distinguished men were incarcerated, and
the papers of all the prisoners were, of course, seized and eagerly
scrutinized by the sattelites who hoped to find in them a confirmation
of the imaginary conspiracy.

Among the documents of Alonso de Avila a large number of love letters
were found; but neither in his papers nor in those of his brother, or
of the many victims of these foul suspicions, who languished in
prison, did they discover a single line to justify their arrest.
Nevertheless, Don Alonso and his brother Don Gil Gonzalez, were
singled out as victims and doomed to death. The authorities dared not,
probably, strike at a person so illustrious and so popular as the
Marques del Valle; but they resolved to justify, in the public eye,
their inquisitorial investigation, by the sacrifice of some one. The
public would believe that there was in reality a crime when the
scaffold reeked with blood; and, besides, the blow would fall heaviest
on the family of Cortéz when it struck the cherished companions of his
home and heart.

On the 7th of August, at seven in the evening, Alonso and Gil Gonzalez
were led forth to the place of execution in front of the Casa de
Cabildo. Their heads were struck off and stuck on spears on the roof
of the edifice; whence they were finally taken, at the earnest
remonstrance of the Ayuntamiento, and buried with the bodies of the
victims in the church of San Agustin. Every effort had been made to
save the lives of these truly innocent young men. But although the
principal persons in the viceroyalty, united in the appeal for mercy
if not for justice, the inexorable oidores carried out their
remorseless and bloody decree. It is even asserted that these cruel
men would not have hesitated to inflict capital punishment upon the
Marques himself had not the new viceroy, Don Gaston de Peralta,
Marques de Falces, arrived at San Juan de Ulua, on the 17th of
September, 1566.

As soon as this personage reached Mexico he began to enquire into the
outrage. He was quickly satisfied that the whole proceeding was
founded in malice. The oidores were removed, and others being placed
in their posts, the viceroy despatched a missive to the court of Spain
containing his views and comments upon the conduct of the late
officials. But the document was sent by a man who was secretly a warm
friend of the brutal oidores, and, to save them from the condign
punishment they deserved, he withheld it from the king.

Yet these functionaries, still fearing that their crime would be finally
punished, not only treacherously intercepted the despatch of the
viceroy, but also took the speediest opportunity to send to the king
accusations against Don Gaston himself, in which they charged him with
negligence in his examination of the conspiracy, with treasonable
alliance with the Marques del Valle, and with a design to usurp the
government of New Spain. They founded their allegations upon the false
oaths of several deponents, who alleged that the viceroy had already
prepared and held at his orders thirty thousand armed men. This base
imposture, as ridiculous as it was false, originated in an act of
Peralta which was altogether innocent. Being a man of fine taste, and
determining that the viceroyal residence should be worthy the abode of
his sovereign's representative, he caused the palace to be refitted,
and, among the adornments of the various saloons, he ordered a large
painting to be placed on the walls of one of the chambers in which a
battle was represented containing an immense number of combatants. This
was the army which the witnesses, upon their oaths, represented to the
king, as having been raised and commanded by the viceroy! It can
scarcely be supposed possible that the Audiencia of Mexico would have
resorted to such flimsy means to cover their infamy. It seems incredible
that such mingled cruelty and childishness could ever have proceeded
from men who were deputed to govern the greatest colony of Spain. Yet
such is the unquestionable fact, and it indicates, at once, the
character of the age and of the men who managed, through the intrigues
of court, to crawl to eminence and power which they only used to
gratify vindictive selfishness or to glut their inordinate avarice.

Philip the II. could not, at first, believe the accusations of the
oidores against the family of Cortéz and the distinguished nobleman
whom he had sent to represent him in Mexico. He resolved, therefore,
to wait the despatches of the viceroy. But the oidores had been too
watchful to allow those documents to reach the court of Spain; and
Philip, therefore, construing the silence of Don Gaston de Peralta,
into a tacit confession of his guilt, sent the _Licenciados_ Jaraba,
Muñoz, and Carillo to New Spain, as _Jueces Pesquisidores_, with
letters for the viceroy commanding him to yield up the government and
to return to Spain in order to account for his conduct.

These men immediately departed on their mission and arrived safely in
America without accident, save in the death of Jaraba one of their
colleagues. As soon as they reached Mexico, they presented their
despatches to the viceroy, and Muñoz took possession of the government
of New Spain. The worthy and noble Marques de Falces was naturally
stunned by so unprecedented and unexpected a proceeding; but,
satisfied of the justice of his cause as well as of the purity of his
conduct, he left the capital and retired to the castle of San Juan de
Ulua, leaving the reins of power in the hands of Muñoz whose
tyrannical conduct soon destroyed all the confidence which hitherto
had always existed, at least between the Audiencia and the people of
the metropolis.[32] It was probably before this time that the Marques
del Valle was released;--and deeming the new empire which his father
had given to Spain no safe resting place for his descendants, he
departed once more for the Spanish court. The viceroy himself had
fallen a victim to deception and intrigue.

       *       *       *       *       *

It seems to have been one of the weaknesses of Philip the Second's
character to have but little confidence in men. With such examples as
we have just seen, it may, nevertheless, have been an evidence of his
wisdom that he did not rely upon the courtiers who usually surround a
king. He had doubted, in reality, the actual guilt of the Marques de
Falces, and was, therefore, not surprised when he learned the truth
upon these weighty matters in the year 1568. The government of Muñoz,
his visitador, was, moreover, represented to him as cruel and bloody.
The conduct of the previous Audiencia had been humane when compared
with the acting governor's. The prisons, which already existed in
Mexico were not adequate to contain his victims, and he built others
whose dark, damp and narrow architecture rendered incarceration doubly
painful to the sufferers. Don Martin Cortéz, the half brother of the
Marques del Valle, who remained in the metropolis as the attorney and
representative of his kinsman, was seized and put to torture for no
crime save that the blood of the conqueror flowed in his veins, and
that he had enjoyed friendly relations with the suspected
conspirators. Torture, it was imagined would wring from him a
confession which might justify the oidores. The situation of New Spain
could not, indeed, be worse than it was, for no man felt safe in the
midst of such unrestrained power and relentless cruelty; and we may be
permitted to believe that outraged humanity would soon have risen to
vindicate itself against such brutes and to wrest the fruits of the
conquest from a government that sent forth such wicked sattelites.
Even the Audiencia itself,--the moving cause of this new and bad
government,--began to tremble when it experienced the humiliating
contempt with which it was invariably treated by the monster Muñoz.

But all these acts of maladministration were more safely reported to
the Spanish court by the nobles and oidores of Mexico, than the
despatches of the unfortunate Marques de Falces. Philip eagerly
responded to the demand for the removal of Muñoz. He despatched the
oidores Villanueva and Vasco de Puga, to Mexico, with orders to Muñoz
to give up the government in three hours after he received the royal
despatch, and to return immediately to Spain for judgment of his
conduct. The envoys lost no time in reaching their destination, where
they found that Muñoz had retired to the convent of Santo Domingo,
probably as a sanctuary, in order to pass Holy Week. But the impatient
emissaries, responding to the joyful impatience of the people,
immediately followed him to his retreat, and, after waiting a
considerable time in the anti-chamber, and being, at last, most
haughtily received by Muñoz, who scarcely saluted them with a nod,
Villanueva drew from his breast the royal _cedula_, and commanded his
secretary to read it in a loud voice.

For a while the foiled visitador sat silent, moody and thoughtful,
scarcely believing the reality of what he heard. After a pause, in
which all parties preserved silence, he rose and declared his
willingness to yield to the king's command; and thus, this brutal
chief, who but a few hours before believed himself a sovereign in
Mexico, was indebted to the charity of some citizens for a carriage in
which he travelled to Vera Cruz. Here a fleet was waiting to transport
him to Spain. The late viceroy, the Marques de Falces, departed in a
ship of the same squadron, and, upon his arrival at the court, soon
found means to justify himself entirely in the eyes of his sovereign.
But it went harder with Muñoz. He vainly tried his skill at
exculpation with the king. Philip seems to have despised him too much
to enter into discussion upon the merits of the accusations. The facts
were too flagrant. The king returned him his sword, declining to hear
any argument in his justification. "I sent you to the Indies to
govern, not to destroy!" said Philip, as he departed from his
presence; and that very night the visitador suddenly expired!

Whether he died of mortification or violence, is one of those state
secrets, which, like many others of a similar character, the
chronicles of Spain do not reveal!

Don Martin Cortéz and his family took refuge in Spain where his case
was fully examined; and whilst the investigation lasted, from 1567 to
1574, his estates in Mexico were confiscated. He was finally declared
innocent of all the charges, but his valuable property had been
seriously injured and wasted by the officers of the crown, to whom it
was intrusted during the long period of sequestration.

[Footnote 32: Liceo Mexicano vol. 1, p. 263, et seq.]





The salutary lesson received by the Audiencia in the events which
occurred in the metropolis during late years, induced its members to
conduct themselves with less arrogance during the short time they held
supreme power after the departure of the Visitadores. In October of
1568, a new viceroy, Don Martin Enriquez de Almanza, arrived at Vera
Cruz, whence he reached the capital on the 5th of the following
November after having routed the English whom he found in possession
of the Isle of Sacrificios.

Don Martin immediately perceived, upon assuming the reins of
government, that it was necessary to calm the public mind in the
metropolis which, from recent occurrences, now began to regard all men
in authority with jealousy and distrust. He let the people understand,
therefore, from the first, that he did not design to countenance any
proceedings similar to those which had lately almost disorganized and
revolutionized the colony. An occasion soon presented itself in which
his prudence and discretion were required to adjust a serious dispute
concerning the Franciscan monks and in which the people sympathized
with the brotherhood and their supposed rights. Any act of rigor or
harshness would have kindled the flame of sedition, but the mild
diplomacy of the viceroy sufficed to calm the litigants and to restore
perfect peace to the capital. A religious dispute, in such a community
as Mexico then was, seemed, indeed, an affair of no small moment,
especially when it arose in so tempestuous a period of the nation and
was the first occasion to try the temper and talents of a new viceroy.

But the attention of Don Martin was soon to be drawn from the capital
towards the frontiers of his government, where he found that the
troublesome bands of wandering Chichimecas, had been busy in their old
work of robbery and spoliation, whilst the Audiencia was engaged in
its intrigues and corruption in the city of Mexico. The impunity with
which these martial vagabonds had been allowed to proceed, increased
their daring, and the evils they inflicted on the country were
becoming continually greater. Not satisfied with having despatched the
chief alcalde of the hostile region with the militia to punish the
rebels, he joined the forces of that, officer, and succeeded after
great slaughter in compelling the Indians to quit the soil they had
hitherto ravaged. It should be recorded, in justice to the viceroy,
that he ordered the Indian children who fell into the hands of his
soldiery, to be spared, and, at the end of the campaign, brought them
all to the metropolis, where he distributed them among rich families
so that they might receive a christian education. In order to save the
region from further devastation he established therein a colony, to
which he gave the name of San Felipe, perhaps in honor of his king, as
he bestowed upon it the title of "city."

Such was the condition of things when Pedro Moya de Contreras arrived
in Mexico as Inquisitor, having been sent by Philip to establish the
dread tribunal of the faith in that capital. The Spanish king feared
that the doctrines of the reformation which were then rife in Europe
might find friends among his transatlantic subjects, and he mercifully
resolved to give them, as a guardian of their consciences, this sad
and dreadful present. In 1572, Doctor Pedro Sanchez, a Jesuit, with
various brethren of the same order, came to the city of Mexico, and
founded a college in certain edifices which were ceded to them for
that purpose by Alonso Villaseca. The brethren of the holy office, or
inquisition, meanwhile organized _their_ body, for future operations,
and settled under the wings of the church of Santo Domingo.

It was at this period, also, that Don Martin established the
_alcabala_; and, although the merchants opposed the measure, which was
entirely new to them, and alleged that it was a mortal blow to their
business, they were unable to force the viceroy to retract his
measure. His determination was founded on the fact that trade had now
become established on a firm and robust basis, and that it could well
bear without injury an impost of this character.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the years 1574 and 1575 there were serious discussions between the
temporal and spiritual powers of Mexico, growing out of a royal order
that no prelate should be admitted in the country unless he bore a
suitable license from the Council of the Indies. In 1576, Mexico was
again visited by a frightful pestilence, which spread rapidly, and
carried off large numbers of victims. The whole of New Spain was
ravaged by it, and neither care, nor medical science, seems to have
had the least effect either in curing or in alleviating the sufferers.
The symptoms of this malady were a violent pain in the head which was
succeeded by a burning fever, under which the patient sank. None
survived the seventh day, and it is reported that near two millions
perished under the dreadful scourge. The malady abated at the close of
the rainy season, and disappeared entirely at the beginning of 1577.

In the two succeeding years, Don Martin commanded that the usual
annual tribute should not be collected from the Indians. This measure
was designed to alleviate the lot of these suffering subjects of the
king and to testify the paternal regard which he cherished for a race
that served him and his subjects so beneficially in the mines. It was
in the mineral districts that the Indians were in reality the greatest
sufferers and laborers in New Spain. Their toil was incessant. Their
task masters gave them no respite in the bowels of the earth, for they
wrought as if they designed to scrape every vein and artery of the
colony's soil. Silver and labor were calculated with exactness, and no
limit to the Indian's industry was prescribed save that which was
imposed by his capacity for work and his power of endurance. The
viceroy, seeking to alleviate this, introduced a milder system, as far
as he was able, among the leading miners of the colony. He insisted
upon permitting the Indians regular repose, and he forbade their
entire confinement within the mines, but commanded that they should be
allowed time to breathe the fresh air on the surface of the earth, and
suffered to attend to their own domestic labors, or to toil on public
works for a competent recompense.

The government of Don Martin had thus far been unusually calm, but his
last moments in Mexico were to be disturbed by a quarrel with a
Franciscan monk, named Rivera, who had called at the palace to see
the viceroy on a matter of business for his convent, and had been
forced to wait a considerable time without being finally honored with
an audience. The petulant friar regarded this as a slight upon the
brotherhood, and, shortly afterwards, whilst preaching in the
cathedral, declared, with a sneering and offensive purpose against the
viceroy, that "in the palace all became equal, and that no difference
was made between ecclesiastics and secular folks!"

The viceroy could not permit so flagrant a breach of decorum and so
dangerous a taunt in a popular appeal, to rest unrebuked. He therefore
demanded the punishment of the pulpit critic, and the Audiencia
ordered Rivera to depart forthwith for Spain. But the haughty monk in
order to avoid the disgrace of expulsion, united the whole body of his
fraternity in the quarrel, and singing the psalm "In exitu Israel de
Ægipto," they departed from the city by the road leading to Vera Cruz.
The viceroy seems to have been moved by this act of the brotherhood,
and immediately wrote to Rivera in soothing terms requesting him to
return to Mexico where justice should be done him. The Franciscan
returned, but soon after received a royal order to depart for Spain.

In 1580, the abundant rain caused again an inundation of the capital,
and Don Martin Enriquez was about to engage in the construction of the
celebrated canal of Huehuetoca, when he was removed to the viceroyalty
of Peru.


Don Lorenzo Xuares, Conde de la Coruña, was appointed by the king,
successor of Almanza, and made his triumphal entry into the city of
Mexico on the evening of the 4th of October, 1580. The gay and affable
character of this personage at once attracted the people and the
colonial court; and in consequence of the rapidly increasing
population, wealth, and luxury of New Spain, as well as from the
unreserved demeanor of the viceroy, it was supposed that a golden age
had arrived in the history of Mexico, which would forever signalize
the administration of Xuares.

Perhaps the viceroy was too lenient and amiable for the task that had
been imposed on him in America. The epoch of speculation and adventure
had not yet passed by, and of course, the corruption which ever
follows in their train required still to be closely watched and
quickly checked. To this duty Xuares did not immediately address
himself, and the result was that the oidores, the alcaldes, and all
who administered justice, at once put themselves up to auction and
sold their services, their favors, or their decisions to the highest
bidder. Disorder reigned in every department, in the year following
the arrival of Xuares; and even the royal revenues, which hitherto had
generally remained sacred, were squandered or secreted by the persons
to whose care and fidelity their collection was intrusted. The
limitations which we have already seen were placed upon a viceroy's
power in the time of Velasco, now tied the hands of Xuares. He could
not dismiss or even suspend the defrauders of the revenue or the
public wretches who prostituted their official power for gold. Nor was
he, probably, unwilling to be deprived of a dangerous right which
would have placed him in direct hostility to the army of speculators
and jobbers. And yet it was necessary for the preservation of the
colony that these evils should be quickly abated. In this political
strait, concealing his intentions from the viceroyal court, he applied
to Philip to send a Visitador with ample powers to readjust the
disorganized realm.

The commerce of New Spain had augmented astonishingly within a few
years. Vera Cruz and Acapulco had become splendid emporiums of wealth
and trade. The east and the west poured their people into Mexico
through these cities; and, in the capital, some of the most
distinguished merchants of Europe, Asia, and Africa met every year,
midway between Spain and China, to transact business and exchange
opinions upon the growing facilities of an extended commerce. Peru and
Mexico furnished the precious metals which were always so greedily
demanded by the east. In 1581, Philip II., in view of this state of
things in his colony, issued a royal order for the establishment in
Mexico for a Tribunal de Consulado,[33] though, it was not, in fact,
actually put in effective operation until the year 1593, under the
administration of Velasco the Second. In the midsummer of 1582, the
viceroy expired, probably of mingled anxiety and old age; and it was
well for Mexico that he passed so rapidly from a stage in whose
delicate drama, his years and his abilities altogether unfitted him to
play so conspicuous a part.


Upon the death of Xuares, the Audiencia immediately assumed the
direction of the state; but the members of this august tribunal were
altogether ignorant of the demand made by the late viceroy for a
Visitador, until Don Pedro de Contreras, placed in their hands the
despatch from Philip, naming him for this important service.

The archbishop was a man well known in Mexico. Cold, austere, rigid in
his demeanor and principles, he was the very man to be chosen for the
dangerous duty of contending with a band of rich, proud and
unscrupulous officials. His sacred character as arch-prelate of
Mexico, was of no little use in such an exigency, for it gave him
spiritual as well as temporal power over masses which might sometimes
be swayed by their conscientious dread of the church, even when they
could not be controlled by the arm of law. Besides this, he was the
first _Inquisitor_ of Mexico, and in the dreaded mysteries of the holy
office, there was an overwhelming power before which the most daring
offenders would not venture to rebel or intrigue.

It may be well imagined that the unexpected appearance of so
formidable an ecclesiastic upon the state, armed with the sword as
well as the cross, was well calculated to awe the profligate
officials. The members of the Audiencia trembled when they read the
royal order, for the archbishop knew them well, and had been long
cognizant, not only of their own maladministration but of the
irregularities they countenanced in others.

Don Pedro immediately undertook the discharge of his office, and in a
few days, heard a great number of complaints against various
individuals, but as he did not design proceeding with revengeful
severity against even the most culpable, he resolved to report his
proceedings to the king, and, in the meanwhile, to retain in office
all persons who performed their duties faithfully whilst he put an end
to the most flagrant abuses.

As soon as Philip II. heard, in 1584, of the death of Mendoza, he
added the title and powers of viceroy to those already possessed by
the archbishop, and, with his commission as royal representative, he
sent him additional authority which had never been enjoyed by any of
his predecessors. He was, thus, empowered to remove, at will, all
persons from public employment, and even to expel ministers and
oidores, as well as to visit with severe punishments all who deserved
them. Under this ample discretion the viceroy removed some of the
oidores, suspended others, hanged certain royal officers who had
disgraced their trusts, and brought the tribunals of justice into
perfect order. The king had proposed to bring the _dispersed Indians_
into towns and villages so as to control them more effectually, but
the viceroy, after consulting the priests who were best acquainted
with that population, deemed it best to defer the execution of the
royal order until he laid the objections to it before Philip.[34] In
1585, a seminary for the Indians was established, in which they were
taught to read, write and comprehend the rudiments of the Catholic
faith. This institution was under the charge of the Jesuits, whose
zeal for education has been celebrated in the history of all countries
into which this powerful and enlightened order of the priesthood has
penetrated. A provincial council of American bishops, was, moreover,
convened this year in Mexico under the auspices of Contreras.

Nor was the viceroy eager only to correct the civil and religious
abuses of the country without attending to the fiscal advantages which
he knew the king was always eager to secure from his colonies. In
testimony of his zeal he despatched, at this period, a rich fleet for
Spain. It bore three millions three hundred thousand ducats in coined
silver, and one thousand one hundred marks in gold, together with a
variety of other valuable products, all of which arrived safely in port.

The power of this vigorous ruler, as viceroy, continued, however, but
for a single year. He was the scourge of officials in all classes,
while the good men of the colony prayed heartily for the continuance
of his authority; but it is probable that his rigor had excited
against him the talents for intrigue which we have heretofore seen
were sometimes so actively and successfully employed both in Mexico
and Spain. In October of 1585, his successor arrived in the capital.

OF MEXICO. 1585-1589.

The arrival of the Marques de Villa Manrique was not designed to
interfere with the functions of the archbishop and former viceroy
Contreras, as _Visitador_. He was solicited to continue his plenary
examination into the abuses of government in New Spain, and to clear
the country of all malefactors before he retired once more to the
cloisters. Accordingly, Don Pedro remained in Mexico some time
discharging his duties, and it is probably owing to his presence that
the first year of the new viceroy passed off in perfect peace. But in
the succeeding year, in which the archbishop departed for Spain, his
troubles began by a serious discussion with the Franciscans, Agustins
and Dominicans, in which the monks at last appealed from the viceroy
to the king. Before Contreras, the visitador, left Mexico he had
managed to change all the judges composing the tribunals of the
colony. The men he selected in their stead were all personally known
to him or were appointed upon the recommendation of persons whose
integrity and capacity for judgment were unquestionable.

This remarkable man died soon after his arrival in Madrid, where he
had been appointed president of the Council of the Indies. Like all
reformers he went to his grave poor; but when the king learned his
indigence he took upon himself the costs of sepulture, and laid his
colonial representative and bishop to the tomb in a manner befitting
one who had exercised so great and beneficial an influence in the
temporary reform of the New World. The sole stain upon the memory of
Contreras is perhaps the fact that he was an inquisitor.

In 1587, the viceroy Zuñiga despatched a large amount of treasure to
Spain. Enormous sums were drained annually from the colonies for the
royal metropolis; but, in this year the fleet from Vera Cruz sailed
with eleven hundred and fifty-six marks of gold, in addition to an
immense amount of coined silver and merchandise of great value. These
sums passed safely to the hands of the court; but such was not the
case with all the precious freights that left the American coasts,
for, at this period, the shores of our continent, on both oceans,
began to swarm with pirates. The subjects of various European nations,
but especially the English, were most active in enterprises which, in
those days, were probably regarded more as privateering than as the
bandit expeditions they have since been considered not only in morals
but in law. In the year before, Cavendish had taken in the Pacific, a
Spanish ship, which was bound from Manilla to Acapulco, with a rich
cargo of wares from China; and, in this year, it was known that Drake,
another noted adventurer, after making himself celebrated by the
capture of San Agustin, in Florida, had sailed for the Pacific ocean,
whose rich coasts, as well as the oriental traders, formed a tempting
booty for the bucanier.

As soon as the viceroy heard of this piratical sailor's approach to
the western boundary of his colony, he commanded the troops in
Guadalajara to embark at Acapulco, under the orders of Doctor
Palacios, in all the vessels which were then in port, and to scour the
shores of America until the British marauder was captured. But, upon
the commander's arrival at Acapulco, he was informed that the
freebooter had already abandoned the west coast after sacking several
towns, and that he had not been seen or heard of any where for a long
period. Drake, meanwhile, was in concealment among the distant and
unfrequented coves of California, in such a situation, however, that
he could easily intercept the galeon, which passed every year from the
Philipines to Mexico, laden with goods and metals of considerable
value. In due time he pounced upon his unsuspecting prey; and,
carrying her into a bay near the Cape of San Lucas, plundered her
valuable cargo, and set fire to the deserted hull. The news of this
mishap soon reached the ears of Palacios, who, of course, immediately
set sail after the corsair. But Drake was already far on his way to a
spot of safety in which he and his companions might enjoy the fruits
of their piratical adventure.

This successful attack upon a vessel of so much importance to the
colony,--for only _one_ was annually permitted to cross the
Pacific,--greatly troubled the people who depended upon its arrival
for their yearly supply of oriental wares. But as soon as the general
calm was gradually restored, an internal trouble arose which was well
nigh proving of serious import to the viceroyalty. Zuñiga does not
seem to have been contented with the jurisdiction which had hitherto
been conceded to the viceroy, but, being anxious to extend his
authority over certain towns and villages, under the control of the
Audiencia of Guadalajara, he demanded of that body the surrender of
their dominion. The Audiencia, however, was jealous of its rights, and
would not yield to the viceroy who was equally pertinacious. The
dispute ran high between the parties. Threats were used when
diplomacy failed, and at length, the disputants reached, but did not
pass, the verge of civil war, for, on both sides they seem to have
ordered out troops, who, fortunately never actually engaged in combat.

This ill judged act of the viceroy was fatal to his power. Letters and
petitions were forthwith despatched to Madrid requiring and begging
the removal of a man whose rashness was near producing a civil war.
This was a charge not to be disregarded by the king, and, accordingly,
we find that a successor to Zuñiga was immediately named, and that the
bishop of Tlascala was appointed visitador to examine the conduct of
the deposed viceroy.

On the 17th of January, 1590, this prelate, who seems to have been
originally inimical to Zuñiga, and who should therefore have disdained
the office of his judge, ordered him to depart from Mexico. All the
property of the late viceroy,--even the linen of his wife,--was
sequestrated; the most harassing annoyances were constantly inflicted
upon him; and, after six years, poor and worn down by unceasing
trials, he returned to Spain, where the influence of his friends at
court procured the restoration of his property.

[Footnote 33: This was a mercantile tribunal.]

[Footnote 34: The Indians alluded to in this passage were vaguely
designated as Chichimecas, Otomics, and Mexican. They probably
inhabited a tract of country lying north west of the kingdom of
Michoacan.--See 1st. vol. Trans. Amn. Ethnl. Soc. p. 2.]




NEW SPAIN. 1589-1595.

Luis de Velasco, Count de Santiago, was the son of the second viceroy of
New Spain, and during the administration of his father, as well as for
some years afterwards, had resided in Mexico where he filled several
offices, and especially that of corregidor of Zempoala. He was not on
friendly terms with the last viceroy, Zuñiga, for he had suddenly
quitted New Spain in the same vessel that brought his predecessor to
America. Upon his arrival at the Spanish court he was sent as ambassador
to Florence; and the exaggerated news of the supposed civil war in
Mexico having been received just as he returned from his mission, Philip
determined to send him back to New Spain. This decision was, no doubt,
founded upon Velasco's intimate acquaintance with Mexico and its people,
with whom his interests had been so long bound up that he might almost
be regarded as a native of the country.

On the 25th of January, 1590, Velasco entered the capital with more
pomp and rejoicing than had ever attended the advent of previous
viceroys, for the Mexicans looked upon him as a countryman. As soon as
he was seated in power his first acts demonstrated his good sense and
mature judgment. His wish was to develope the country; to make not
only its mineral and agricultural resources available to Spain, but to
open the channels through which _labor_ could obtain its best rewards.
He therefore ordered the manufactories of coarse stuffs and cloths
which had been established by Mendoza to be once more opened, after
the long period in which the Spanish mercantile influence had kept
them shut. This naturally produced an excitement among the interested
foreign traders, but the viceroy firmly maintained his determination
to punish severely any one who should oppose his decree.

In 1591, the troublesome Chichimecas, of whose disturbances we have
already spoken in other chapters, again manifested a desire to attack
the Spaniards. They were congregated in strongly armed bands in the
neighborhood of Zacatecas, and menaced the Spanish population living
in the neighborhood of the rich mines. Travellers could not pass
through the country without a military escort. Strong garrisons had
been placed by the government on the frontiers, and merciless war
declared against them, but all was unavailing to stop their marauding
expeditions among the whites. In this year, however, they sent
commissioners to treat with the Spaniards in Mexico, and after
confessing that they were tired of a war which they found useless,
they consented to abstain from further molestation of the district,
provided the viceroy would agree to furnish them with a sufficiency of
meat for their support. Velasco of course consented to this demand of
the cattle stealers, and, moreover, obtained their consent to the
admission among them of a body of Tlascalans who would instruct them
in a civil and christian mode of life. Four hundred families of these
faithful friends of the Mexicans were selected for this colony; and,
together with some Franciscan friars, they settled in four bodies so
as to form an equal number of colonies. One of these settlements was
made on the side of a rich mineral hill and took the name of San Luis
Potosi,--the second formed San Miguel Mesqitic,--the third San
Andres,--and the fourth Colotlan. Such was the origin of these towns,
in which the two tribes lived for many years in perfect harmony, but
without intermingling or losing their individuality.

Another attempt was also made, as had been done previously, to gather
the dispersed bands of Mexican and Otomi Indians into villages and
settlements, where they would gradually become accustomed to civilized
life. Velasco, like his predecessor Moya, consulted with the _curas_
and the people who were best acquainted with the temper of these
races, and learned that they still opposed humane efforts for
civilization, preferring the vagabond life they had so long led and
which had now become necessary and natural. Nevertheless he thought it
his duty to try the experiment. But the first Otomi who was reduced to
the necessity of abandoning his nomadic habits and building for
himself a regular habitation, not only destroyed his wife and
children, but terminated his own existence by hanging. The viceroy
then suspended his operations and reported the untoward result,
together with the opinion of his advisers, to the court of Spain.

Velasco, ever anxious not only for the amelioration of the condition
of the Indians, but for the embellishment of the capital which was now
growing into considerable importance, caused the ALAMEDA OF MEXICO to
be laid out and planted in 1593, for the recreation of the citizens.
This magnificent grove, with its beautifully shaded avenues and
walks,--embellished by fountains and filled with every thing that can
give repose or comfort to the fatigued people who are anxious to steal
off awhile from the toil and bustle of a large city,--still exists in
Mexico as an evidence of the taste and liberality of the viceroy, and
will be more particularly described, hereafter, in that portion of
this work which treats of the city of Mexico, and of the manners and
customs of its inhabitants.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1594, Philip the Second finding himself straitened for means to
carry on the European wars in which he was engaged, recurred to the
unfortunate and unjust system of forced loans to increase his revenue.
He did not confine himself in this odious compulsory tax to the old
world which was most concerned in the result of his wars, but
instructed Velasco to impose a tribute of _four reales_ or fifty cents
upon Indians, in addition to the sum they already paid his majesty.
Velasco reluctantly undertook the unwelcome task; but anxious to
lighten the burden upon the natives as much as possible, and, at the
same time, to foster the raising of poultry and cattle among these
people, he compounded the whole tax of a dollar which they were
obliged to pay, for seven _reales_, or eighty-seven and a half cents
_and one fowl_, which, at that time, was valued at a single real, or
twelve and a half cents. This, it will be perceived, was amiably
designed by the viceroy, but became immediately the subject of gross
abuse. The Indians are slowly moved either to new modes of cultivation
or to new objects of care, even of the most domestic and useful
character. Instead of devoting themselves to the raising of poultry
with the industrious thrift that would have saved one-eighth of their
taxation or twelve and a half per cent, they allowed the time to pass
without providing the required bird in their homesteads, so that when
the tax gatherer arrived they were forced to buy the fowl instead of
selling it. This of course raised the price, and the consequence was
that the Indian was obliged often to pay two or three _reales_ more
than the original amount of the whole taxation of one dollar! It is
related that one of the oidores who had taken eight hundred fowls,
reserved two hundred for the consumption of his house, and through an
agent sold the rest at three _reales_, or thirty-seven and a half
cents each, by which he contrived to make a profit of two hundred per
cent. Various efforts were made to remedy this shameful abuse or to
revoke the decree, but the system was found to be too profitable among
the officials, to be abandoned without a severe struggle. We are
unable to discover that the viceroy, in this instance, used his
authority to restore the Indians to their original rights.

In 1595, it was determined to colonize the supposed kingdom of
Quivara, which now received the name of New Mexico, but, before the
expedition could set forth under the command of Juan de Oñate, Velasco
received a despatch informing him that he had been named viceroy of
Peru, and that his successor Don Gaspar de Zuñiga Acebedo, Conde de
Monterey, would soon appear in the colonial metropolis.

SPAIN. 1595-1603.

The Count of Monterey arrived at San Juan de Ulua on the 18th of
September, 1595, and on the 5th of the following November, entered the
capital as viceroy. At first he exhibited a cold and apathetic temper,
and appeared to take but little interest in the affairs of the
government; but it is supposed, that being a prudent and cautious man,
he was in no haste to undertake the direction of affairs whilst he was
altogether unacquainted both with the temper of the people and the
nature of their institutions. An early measure, however, of his
administration deserves to be recorded and remembered. He found the
Indians still suffering and complaining under the odious fowl tax,
created by his predecessor for the protection of domestic industry,
but which had been perverted for the selfish and avaricious purposes
of the receivers. He immediately abolished this impost, and diminished
the whole amount of taxation upon the Indians.

In consequence of the loss of the galeon from the Philipines, which we
have related, the king ordered an expedition, under the command of
General Sebastian Viscaino, to examine and scour the coasts of the
Californias, where it was alleged the precious metals, and, especially,
the most valuable pearls would be found in abundance. Viscaino recruited
a large number of followers in Mexico for this enterprise, and set sail
with three vessels, in 1596, from Acapulco. The adventurers coasted the
territory for a considerable time without finding a suitable location in
which they might settle advantageously, until, at length, they
disembarked in the port of La Paz, whence, however, they soon departed
for want of provisions and supplies of every kind.

Meanwhile the Count of Monterey examined into the state of the
expedition to New Mexico, which he found had been projected and partly
prepared by his predecessor. He made some changes in the plan agreed
on between Velasco and Oñate, and, in order to exhibit his good will
to the latter personage, he joined with him, in the enterprise, his
relation Vicente Saldivar, who had gathered a number of emigrants for
these remote and northern regions. People were tempted to abandon
their homes by the reports of extraordinary mineral wealth which was
to be obtained in these unexplored portions of New Spain; and,
accordingly, when the standard of the expedition was raised in the
great square of the capital, crowds of men with their families flocked
around it to enlist for the hazardous and toilsome service.

The first news received from the emigrant colonists, when they reached
Caxco, two hundred leagues from the capital, was disastrous. Quarrels
had originated among the adventurers, who asserted that the terms of
the expedition had not been complied with faithfully. As soon as the
viceroy heard of the discontent, he despatched Don Lope de Ulloa as a
pacificator, to the inflamed band which was quickly reduced to harmony
and persuaded to continue its journey to the promised land. At length
the weary emigrants reached the boasted El Dorado; but finding the
reports of mineral wealth altogether exaggerated, and doubting the
advantage of residing with their families permanently in such distant
outposts, many of them retraced their way southward to regions that
were more densely populated.

In 1598, another effort was resolved on to gather the dispersed and
refractory vagabond Indians who wandered about the territory under the
name of Mexicans and Otomies. Whilst they maintained their perfectly
nomadic state it was evident that they were useless either as
productive laborers for the Spaniards, or as objects of taxation for
the sovereign. It was a wise policy, therefore, to attempt what was
philanthropically called--their civilization;--but upon this occasion,
as upon all the others that preceded it, the failure was signal.
Commissioners and notaries were selected and large salaries paid these
officials to ensure their faithful services in congregating the
dispersed natives. But the government agents, who well knew the
difficulty if not the absolute impossibility of achieving the desired
object, amused themselves by receiving and spending the liberal
salaries disbursed by the government, whilst the Indians still
continued as uncontrolled as ever. The Count of Monterey was
nevertheless obstinately bent on the prosecution of this favorite
policy of the king, and squandered, upon these vile ministerial
agents, upwards of two hundred thousand dollars, without producing the
least beneficial result. In the following viceroy's reign he was
sentenced to pay the government this large sum as having been unwisely
spent; but was finally absolved from its discharge by the court to
which he appealed from the decision of his successor.

In the beginning of 1599, the news was received in Mexico of the death
of Philip II. and of the accession of Philip III. This event was
perhaps the most remarkable in the annals of the colony, during the
last year of the sixteenth century, except that the town of Monterey
in New Leon was founded, and that a change was made by the viceroy of
the port of Vera Cruz from its former sickly site at la Antigua, to
one which has since become equally unhealthy.

The first three years of the seventeenth century were chiefly
characterized by renewed viceroyal efforts among the Indians. The
project of congregating the nomadic natives was abandoned, and various
attempts were made to break up the system of _repartimientos_, which
had been, as we have seen, the established policy of the colony if not
of the king, ever since the conquest. If the Indians were abandoned to
their own free will, it was supposed that their habits were naturally
so thriftless that they would become burthensome instead of beneficial
to the Spanish colonists, and, ultimately, might resolve themselves
into mere wanderers like the Otomies and their vagabond companions.
Yet, it was acknowledged that their involuntary servitude, and the
disastrous train of impositions it entailed, were unchristian and
unjust. There was a dilemma, in fact between idleness and tyranny; but
the viceroy conceived it his duty to endeavor once more, with an
honest zeal, to sustain the humane policy of freedom which was
recommended not only by the sovereign but by the religious orders who
were supposed to know the natives best. Various projects were adopted
to harmonize their freedom with a _necessary_ degree of labor, in
order to ensure them wages and support, whilst they were preserved
together in organized societies. After the _repartimientos_ were
abrogated, the Indians were compelled to assemble, on every Sabbath,
in the public squares of the villages and towns, where they made their
contracts of service by the day. The viceroy himself, anxious to
prevent fraud, assisted personally in the reunions at the plazas or
squares of San Juan and Santiago. But it was all in vain. The
proprietors, land owners, and agents, were opposed to the scheme.
Brokers interposed, and, after hiring the Indians at moderate rates in
contracts made with themselves, sub-let them to others on higher
terms. And, at last, it is alleged that the unfortunate natives,
seeing the bad operation of the viceroy's kind intentions in their
behalf, and finding their condition less happy when they had to take
care of themselves than when they were taken care of, appealed to the
Count of Monterey to restore the old system of _repartimientos_ under
which they were at least spared the trouble of seeking for
task-masters and support. Indolent by nature; creatures of habit; and
living in a country whose bosom afforded them spontaneously most of
the luxuries required by such a class, they submitted to what, in
fact, was the greatest evil of their lot, because it relieved them of
the trouble of individual _effort_!

In 1602, Philip III. commanded another expedition for the colonization
and exploration of the Californias. It departed in three ships and a
barque from Acapulco, on the fifth of May, under the command of
Viscaino. Torribio Gomez Corban was the admiral of the little fleet,
and Antonio Flores, pilot. From the day of its departure, it was
driven by severe gales, but, at length, the port of Monterey was
reached by the weary crews, who continued along the coast until they
arrived at Cape Blanco de San Sabastian, somewhat beyond Cape
Mendozino. There the voyagers were sorely attacked with scurvy which
thinned their numbers to such an extent, that, of the whole, only six
were able to do duty. With this scant equipment of men, the vessels
reached Mazatlan, where the crews recruited their health; and, passing
thence to Acapulco, the expedition once more landed in the midst of
civilization and hastened back to the capital to give a bad report of
the country which in our day and generation has become the El Dorado
of the world.

The Conde de Monterey, was transferred to the viceroyalty of Peru in
1603, and left the capital amid the general grief of a society whose
cordial esteem he seems to have won and retained during his whole

SPAIN. 1603-1607.

The advent of the Marques de Montesclaros to the viceroyalty of New
Spain was distinguished by an unusual degree of tranquillity
throughout the colony. During the preceding administrations most of
the subjects of internal discontent were set at rest, and the
aborigines who had been subjected to the yoke were now becoming
accustomed to bear it. In 1604, the abundant rains in the valley of
Mexico during the month of August, caused an inundation which greatly
alarmed the population. The city and adjacent country were laid under
water, and such was the general distress that the Marques solicited
the opinions of skilful persons in regard to the canal of Huehuetoca,
which had heretofore been spoken of as the only means of freeing the
capital from destruction by the swollen flood of the lakes. The
reports made to him, however, represented the enterprise as one of
immense labor and expense, as well as requiring a great length of time
for its completion. He therefore abandoned the project for the
present, and merely repaired the _albarrada_ or dyke which Velasco had
already constructed. In addition to this precautionary measure he
caused the _calzadas_, or raised turnpikes of Guadalupe and San
Cristoval to be constructed, which, whilst they led to the open
country beyond the city, served, also, as additional barriers against
the waters. After the completion of these highways, he next directed
his attention to those of San Antonio and Chapultepec, which were
quickly finished, and merited the name of "Roman works," for the
massive strength and durability of their construction. Various other
useful municipal works, such as aqueducts and sewers, engaged the
notice of the viceroy until, in 1607; and after the proclamation of
the Prince of Asturias (Philip IV.) by order of the king, he was
ordered to pass from Mexico to Peru where he was charged with the
duties of the viceroyalty.





Don Luis Velasco had been seven years viceroy of Peru since he left
the government of Mexico, when he was summoned once more to rule a
country of which he felt himself almost a native.[35] He was tired of
public life, and being advanced in years would gladly have devoted the
rest of his existence to the care of his family and the management of
his valuable estates in the colony. But he could not refuse the
nomination of the king, and at the age of seventy, once more found
himself at the head of affairs in New Spain.

The government of this excellent nobleman has been signalized in
history by the erection of the magnificent public work, designed for
the drainage of the valley, of which we spoke during the last
viceroyalty. The results of Velasco's labors were permanent, and as
his work, or at least a large portion of it remains to the present
day, and serves to secure the capital from the floods with which it is
constantly menaced, we shall describe the whole of this magnificent
enterprise at present, though our description will carry us,
chronologically, out of the period under consideration, and lead us
from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century.

The valley of Mexico is a great basin, which although seven thousand
five hundred feet above the level of the sea, and of course subject to
constant and rapid evaporation, is yet exceedingly humid for so elevated
a region. No stream, except the small _arroyo_, or rivulet of
Tequisquiac, issues from the valley, whilst the rivers Papalotla,
Tezcoco, Teotihuacan, Guadalupe, Pachuca and Guautitlan pour into it and
form the five lakes of Chalco, Xochimilco, Tezcoco, San Cristoval and
Zumpango. "These lakes rise by stages as they approach the northern
extremity of the valley; the waters of Tezcoco, being, in their ordinary
state, four Mexican varas and eight inches lower than the waters of the
lake of San Cristoval, which again, are six varas lower than the waters
of the lake Zumpango, which forms the northernmost link of this
dangerous chain. The level of Mexico in 1803 was exactly one vara, one
foot and one inch above that of the lake of Tezcoco,[36] and,
consequently, was nine varas and five inches lower than that of the lake
of Zumpango; a disproportion, the effects of which have been more
severely felt because the lake of Zumpango receives the tributary
streams of the river Guautitlan, whose volume is more considerable than
that of all the other rivers which enter the valley combined.

"In the inundations to which this peculiarity in the formation of the
valley of Mexico has given rise, a similar succession of events has
been always observed. The lake of Zumpango, swollen by the rapid
increase of the river Guautitlan during the rainy season, forms a
junction with that of San Cristoval, and the waters of the two
combined burst the dykes which separate them from the lake of Tezcoco.
The waters of this last again, raised suddenly more than a vara above
their usual level, and prevented from extending themselves to the east
and south-east, by the rapid rise of the ground in that direction,
rush back towards the capital and fill the streets which approach
nearest to their own level. This was the case in the years 1553, 1580,
1604 and 1607, in each of which years the capital was entirely under
water, and the dykes which had been constructed for its protection

Such is a topographical sketch of the country accurately given by a
careful writer; and to protect an important region so constantly
menaced with inundation, the viceroy now addressed himself.
Accordingly he commissioned the engineer Enrique Martinez, in 1607 to
attempt the drainage of the lake of Zumpango, by the stupendous canal
now known under the name of the DESAGUE DE HUEHUETOCA.

"The plan of Martinez appears to have embraced two distinct objects,
the first of which extended to the lakes of Tezcoco and San Cristoval,
while the second was confined to the lake of Zumpango whose
superfluous waters were to be carried into the valley of Tula by a
subterraneous canal into which the river Guautitlan was likewise
compelled to flow. The second of these projects only was approved by
the government; and the line of the canal having been traced by
Martinez between the Cerro or hill of Sincoque and the hill of
Nochistongo to the north-west of Huehuetoca, where the mountains that
surrounded the valley are less elevated than in any other spot,--the
great subterraneous gallery of Nochistongo was commenced on the 28th
of November, 1607. Fifteen thousand Indians were employed in this
work, and as a number of air shafts were sunk, in order to enable them
to work upon the different points at once, in eleven months a tunnel
of six thousand six hundred metres[38] in length, three metres five in
breadth and four metres two in height, was concluded.

"From the northern extremity of this tunnel called la boca de San
Gregorio, an open cut of eight thousand six hundred metres conducted
the waters to the _salto_ or fall of the river Tula, where, quitting
the valley of Mexico, they precipitate themselves into that of Tula,
from a natural terrace of twenty Mexican varas in height, and take
their course towards the bar of Tampico where they enter the gulf of
Mexico. An enterprise of such magnitude could hardly be free from
defects, and Martinez soon discovered that the unbaked bricks, of
which the interior of the tunnel was composed, were unable to resist
the action of water, which, being confined within narrow limits, was
at times impelled through the tunnel with irresistible violence. A
facing of wood proved equally ineffectual, and masonry was at last
resorted to; but even this, though successful for a time, did not
answer permanently, because the engineer, instead of an elliptical
arch, constructed nothing but a sort of vault, the sides of which
rested upon a foundation of no solidity. The consequence was that the
walls were gradually undermined by the water, and that the vault
itself in many parts fell in.

"This accident rendered the government indifferent to the fate of the
gallery which was neglected, and finally abandoned in the year 1623,
when a Dutch engineer, named Adrian Boot, induced the viceroy to
resume the old system of dyke and embankments, and to give orders for
closing the tunnel of Nochistongo. A sudden rise in the lake of
Tezcoco caused these orders to be revoked, and Martinez was again
allowed to proceed with his works which he continued until the 20th of
June, 1629, when an event took place, the real causes of which have
never been ascertained."

"The rainy season having set in with unusual violence, Martinez,
either desirous to convince the inhabitants of the capital of the
utility of his gallery, or fearful, as he himself stated, that the
fruits of his labor would be destroyed by the entrance of too great a
volume of water, closed the mouth of the tunnel, without communicating
to any one his intention to do so. The effect was instantaneous; and,
in one night, the whole town of Mexico was laid under water, with the
exception of the great square, and one of the suburbs. In all the
other streets the water rose upwards of three feet, and during five
years, from 1629 to 1634, canoes formed the only medium of
communication between them. The foundations of many of the principal
houses were destroyed; trade was paralyzed; the lower classes reduced
to the lowest state of misery; and orders were actually given by the
court of Madrid to abandon the town and build a new capital in the
elevated plains between Tacuba and Tacubaya, to which the waters of
the lakes, even before the conquest, had never been known to extend.

"The necessity of this measure was obviated by a succession of
earthquakes in the dry year of 1634, when the valley was cracked and
rent in various directions, and the waters gradually disappeared; a
miracle for which due credit should be given to the Virgin of Guadalupe,
by whose powerful intercession it is said to have been effected.

"Martinez, who had been thrown into confinement in 1629, was released
upon the termination of the evils which his imprudence was said to
have occasioned; and was again placed by a new viceroy,--the Marques
de Cerralvo,--at the head of the works by which similar visitations
were to be averted in future. Under his superintendence the great
dyke, or _Calzada_ of San Cristoval was put in order,[39] by which the
lake of that name is divided from that of Tezcoco. This gigantic work
which consists of two distinct masses, the first, one league, and the
second, one thousand five hundred varas in length, is ten varas in
width or thickness throughout, and from three and a half to four
varas in height. It is composed entirely of stone, with buttresses of
solid masonry on both sides, and three sluices, by which, in any
emergency, a communication between the lakes can be effected and
regulated at the same time. The whole was concluded, like the gallery
of Nochistongo, in eleven months, although as many years would now be
required for such an undertaking. But in those days the sacrifice of
life, and particularly of Indian life, in public works, was not
regarded. Many thousands of the natives perished before the _desague_
was completed; and to their loss, as well as to the hardships endured
by the survivors, may be ascribed the horror with which the name of
Huehuetoca is pronounced by their descendants.

"It is not our intention to follow the progress of the canal of
Huehuetoca through all the various changes which occurred in the plans
pursued with respect to it from 1637, when the direction of the work
was again taken from Martinez and confided to the Franciscan monks,
until 1767, when, under the viceroyalty of the Marques de Croix, the
Consulado or corporate body of Mexican merchants, engaged to complete
this great national undertaking. The necessity of converting the
tunnel of Martinez into an open cut, had long been acknowledged, it
having been found impossible to prevent the tunnel from being
continually choked up by the sand and rubbish deposited by the water
on its passage; but as the work was only prosecuted with vigor when
the danger of an inundation became imminent, and was almost suspended
in the dry years, two thousand three hundred and ten varas of the
northern gallery remained untouched, after the expiration of one
hundred and thirty years when the Consulado was intrusted with the
completion of the arduous task. As the old line of the gallery was to
be preserved, it became necessary to give the cut which was to be
sunk, perpendicularly upon it, an enormous width at the top, in order
to prevent the sides from falling in; and in the more elevated parts,
between the mountains of Sincoque and the hill of Nochistongo, for the
space of two thousand six hundred and twenty-four feet, the width,
across, varies from two hundred and seventy-eight to six hundred and
thirty feet, while the perpendicular depth is from one hundred and
forty-seven to one hundred and ninety-six feet. The whole length of
the cut from the sluice called the _vertideros_ to the _salto_ or fall
of the river Tula, is sixty-seven thousand five hundred and
thirty-seven feet or twenty-four thousand five hundred and thirty
Mexican varas. The highest point of the hill of Nochistongo is that
called Boveda Real, and it would be difficult when looking down from
it, upon the stream below, and, following with the eye the vast
opening through which it seeks an issue, to conceive that the whole
is, indeed, the work of man, did not the mounds on either side, as yet
but imperfectly covered with vegetation, and the regular outline of
the terraces, denote both the recentness of its completion, and the
impossibility of attributing it to any natural convulsion.

"The Obra del Consulado, as the opening cut is called, was concluded
in the year 1789. It cost nearly a million of dollars; and the whole
expense of the drainage from 1607 to the beginning of the present
century, including the various projects commenced and abandoned when
only partially executed,--the dykes connected with the _desague_,--and
the two canals which communicate with the lakes of San Cristoval and
Zumpango,--is estimated at six millions two hundred and forty-seven
thousand six hundred and seventy dollars, or one million two hundred
and forty-nine thousand five hundred and thirty-four pounds. It is
supposed that one-third of this sum would have proved sufficient to
cover all the expenses, had Martinez been furnished in the first
instance with the means of executing his project upon the scale which
he had judged necessary; for it is in the reduced dimensions of the
gallery of Nochistongo, which was never equal to the volume of water
to which at particular seasons it afforded an outlet, that all the
subsequent expenditure has originated."[40]

       *       *       *       *       *

We have judged it better to group together in this place all the facts
relative to this most important national work,--so as to afford the
reader a complete picture of the undertaking,--than to relate the slow
and tedious history of the work as it advanced to completion during the
reigns of many viceroys. The present condition of the _desague_ and its
advantages will be treated in another portion of this work; and we shall
therefore revert at once to the year 1609, in which a large number of
negroes rebelled against the Spaniards. It seems that the blacks in the
neighborhood of Cordova, who were in fact slaves on many of the
_hiciendas_ or plantations, having been treated, in an inhuman manner by
their owners, rose against them in great force, and gathering together
in the adjacent mountains menaced their tyrannical task-masters with
death, and their property with ruin. Velasco sent one hundred soldiers,
one hundred volunteers, one hundred Indian archers, together with two
hundred Spaniards and Mestizos, to attack them in their fastnesses.
Several skirmishes took place between the slaves and these forces, and
at length the negroes yielded to the Spaniards,--craving their pardon,
inasmuch as their "insurrection was not against the king,"--and
promising that they would no longer afford a refuge to the blacks who
absconded from the plantations. Velasco at once granted their request,
and permitted them to settle in the town of San Lorenzo.

In 1610 and 1611, there were but few important incidents in the
history of New Spain, which was now gradually forming itself into a
regularly organized state, free from all those violent internal
commotions, which nations, like men, are forced to undergo in their
infancy. The viceroy still endeavored to ameliorate the condition of
the Indians, and despatched a mission to Japan in order to extend the
oriental commerce of Spain. The true policy of Castile would have
been, instead of crushing Mexico by colonial restrictions, to have
raised her gradually into a gigantic state, which, situated in the
centre of America, on the narrowest part of the continent between the
two oceans, and holding in her veins the precious metals in
exhaustless quantities, would have surely grasped and held the
commerce of the east and of Europe. Such would seem the natural
destiny of Mexico if we examine her geographical features carefully;
nor do we venture too much in predicting that the time will come when
that destiny will be fulfilled.

Velasco was now well stricken in years and required repose. His
master, appreciating his faithful services and his unquestionable
loyalty, added to his already well earned titles that of Marques of
Salinas, and creating him president of the Council of the Indies
recalled him to Spain where he could pass in quiet the evening of his
days, whilst he was also enabled to impart the results of his vast
American experience to the king and court.


Velasco, as an especial mark of royal favor, was desired to retain his
power as viceroy until the moment of embarkation for Spain, and then
to depose it in favor of the monk Garcia Guerra, who had been the
worthy prior of a Dominican convent at Burgos in Spain, until he was
nominated to the Archepiscopal See of Mexico. His government was brief
and altogether eventless. He became viceroy on the 17th of June, 1611,
and died on the 22d of February in the following year, of a wound he
received in falling as he descended from his coach.

OF NEW SPAIN. 1612-1621.

Upon the death of the last viceroy, the Audiencia, of course, took
possession of the government during the interregnum;--and, as it seems
that this body of men was always doomed to celebrate its authority by
acts of folly or cruelty, we find that soon after its accession to
power the city was alarmed by the news of another outbreak among the
negroes. The people were panic struck. A terrible noise had been heard
in the streets of the metropolis during the night, and, although it
was proved that the disturbance was entirely caused by the entrance,
during the darkness, of a large drove of hogs, the Audiencia
determined, nevertheless, to appease public opinion by the execution
of twenty-nine male negroes and four negro women! Their withered and
fetid bodies were left to hang on the gallows, tainting the air and
shocking the eyes of every passer, until the neighborhood could no
longer bear the sickly stench and imperiously demanded their removal.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Marques de Guadalcazar took possession of the viceroyalty on the
28th of October, 1612, and his government passed in quiet engaged in the
mere ordinary discharge of executive duties during the first four years,
subsequent to which an Indian insurrection of a formidable character
broke out in one of the departments, under a chief who styled himself
"Son of the Sun and God of Heaven and Earth." This assault was fatal to
every Spaniard within reach of the infuriate natives, who broke into the
churches, murdered the whites seeking sanctuary at their altars, and
spared not even the ecclesiastics, who, in all times, have so zealously
proved themselves to be the defenders of their race. Don Gaspar Alvear,
Governor of Durango, assembled a large force as soon as the viceroy
informed him of the insurrection, and marched against the savages. After
three months of fighting, executions and diplomacy, this functionary
succeeded in suffocating the rebellion; but he was probably more
indebted, for the final reconciliation of the Indians, to the persuasive
talents of the Jesuits who accompanied the expedition, than to the arms
of his soldiers.

The remaining years of this viceroyalty are only signalized by the
founding of the city of Cordova,--whose neighborhood is renowned for
the excellent tobacco it produces,--and for the construction of the
beautiful aqueduct of San Cosmé which brings the sweet waters of Santa
Fé to the capital. This monument to the intelligence and memory of
Guadalcazar was completed in 1620; and, in March, 1621, the viceroy
was removed to the government of Peru.

[Footnote 35: Velasco had been sent to Peru eleven years before, and
after governing it seven, had returned to reside in Mexico, when he
was unexpectedly reappointed viceroy.]

[Footnote 36: The level of Tezcoco is now, according to Mühlenpfordt,
five feet seven inches (Spanish) below that of the city of Mexico.]

[Footnote 37: Ward's Mexico in 1827, vol. 2, p. 282 et seq.]

[Footnote 38: The metre is equal to thirty-nine thousand three hundred
and seventy-one English inches.]

[Footnote 39: The Calzada of San Cristoval was originally erected,
according to good authority, in the year 1605. See Liceo Mexicano,
vol. 2, p. 6.]

[Footnote 40: Ward, vol. 2, p. 283, et seq.]






Upon the removal of the Marques of Guadalcazar, and until the 21st of
September, 1621, the Audiencia again ruled in Mexico, without any
interruption however, upon this occasion, of the public peace. The six
months of the interregnum might, indeed, have been altogether
forgotten, in the history of the country, had not the Audiencia been
obliged to announce the reception of a royal _cedula_ from Philip IV.,
communicating the news of his father's death, and commanding a
national mourning for his memory. In September, the new viceroy
arrived in the capital, and immediately caused the royal order to be
carried into effect and allegiance to be sworn solemnly to Philip IV.
as king and lord of Old and New Spain.[41]

The Marques de Gelves was selected by the sovereign for the reputation
he bore in Spain as a lover of justice and order,--qualities which
would ensure his utility in a country whose quietness, during several
of the last viceroyal reigns, had indicated either a very good or a
very bad government, which it was impossible for the king to examine
personally. Accordingly Gelves took the reins with a firm hand. He
found many of the departments of government in a bad condition, and is
said to have reformed certain abuses which were gradually undermining
the political and social structure of the colony. In these duties the
two first years of his viceroyalty passed away quietly; but Gelves,
though an excellent magistrate so far as the internal police of the
country is concerned, was, nevertheless, a selfish and avaricious
person, and seems to have resolved that his fortune should prosper by
his government of New Spain.

The incidents which we are about to relate are stated on the authority
of Father Gage, an English friar who visited Mexico in 1625; and whose
pictures of the manners of the people correspond so well with our
personal knowledge of them, at present, that we are scarcely at
liberty to question his fidelity as a historian.[42]

In the year 1624, Mexico was, for a time, in a state of great
distraction, and well nigh revolted from the Spanish throne. The
passion for acquiring fortune, which had manifested itself somewhat in
other viceroys, seems in Gelves unbounded. He resolved to achieve his
end by a bold stroke; and, in 1623, having determined to monopolize
the staff of life among the Indians and creoles, he despatched one of
the wealthiest Mexicans, Don Pedro de Mexia, to buy up corn in all the
provinces at the rate of fourteen reales, the sum fixed by law at
which the corn was sold in times of famine. The farmers, who, of
course, knew nothing of Mexia's plan readily disposed of their corn,
with which the artful purveyor filled his store houses all over the
country. After the remnant of the crop was brought to market and sold,
men began to compare notes, and suddenly discovered that corn was no
where to be procured, save from the granaries of Mexia. "The poor
began to murmur, the rich began to complain; and the tariff of
fourteen reales was demanded from the viceroy." But he, the secret
accomplice of Mexia, decided, that as the crops had been plentiful
during the year, it could not be regarded as one of scarcity according
to the evident intention of the law, so that it would be unfair to
reduce the price of grain to that of famine. And thus the people,
balked in their effort to obtain justice from their ruler, though
suffering from extreme imposition, resolved to bear the oppression,
rather than resort to violence for redress.

After awhile, however, the intimacy between Gelves and Mexia became
more apparent as the confederates supposed they had less cause for
concealment; and the poor, again, besought the viceroy for justice and
the legal tariff. But the temptation was too great for the avaricious
representative of the king. He again denied their petition; and, then,
as a last hope, they resorted to a higher power, which, in such
conflicts with their rulers, had usually been successful.

In those days, Don Alonzo de la Serna, a man of lofty character and
intrepid spirit, was archbishop of Mexico, and perceiving the
avaricious trick of the viceroy and his pimp, threw himself on the
popular side and promptly excommunicated Mexia. But the sturdy
merchant, protected by viceroyal authority, was not to be conquered by
so immaterial a thing as a prelate's curse placarded on the door of a
cathedral. He remained quietly ensconced in his house, despatched
orders to his agents, and even _raised_ the price of his extravagant
bread stuffs. For a moment, perhaps, De la Serna was confounded by
this rebellious son of the church, yet the act convinced him, if
indeed, he entertained any doubt on the subject, that Mexia was backed
by the viceroy, and, consequently, that any further attempts would
bring him in direct conflict with the government. Nevertheless, a man
like him was not to be easily alarmed or forced to retreat so quickly.
The church, supreme in spiritual power, would never yield, especially
in a matter of popular and vital concern, and the archbishop,
therefore, determined to adopt the severest method at once, and by an
order of _cessatio divinis_, to stop, immediately, all religious
worship throughout the colony. This was a direful interdict, the
potency of which can only be imagined by those who have lived in
Catholic countries whose piety is not periodically regulated upon the
principle of a seven day clock, but where worship is celebrated from
hour to hour in the churches. The doors of chapels, cathedrals and
religious buildings were firmly closed. A death-like silence prevailed
over the land. No familiar bells sounded for matins or vespers. The
people, usually warned by them of their hours of labor or repose, had
now no means of measuring time. The priests went from house to house,
lamenting the grievous affliction with which the country was visited
and sympathizing cordially with the people. The church mourned for the
unnatural pains her rebellious son had brought upon her patient
children. But still the contumacious Mexia sold his corn and exacted
his price!

At length, however, popular discontent became so clamorous, that even
among this orderly and enduring people, the life of the viceroy's
agent was no longer safe. He retreated therefore from his own dwelling
to the palace, which was strongly guarded, and demanded protection
from Gelves. The viceroy admitted him and took issue with the
archbishop. He immediately sent orders to the priests and curates of
the several parishes, to cause the orders of interdict and
excommunication to be torn from the church walls, and all the chapels
to be thrown open for service. But the resolute clergy, firm in their
adherence to the prelate, would receive no command from the viceroy.
Finding the churches still closed, and the people still more clamorous
and angry, Gelves commanded De la Serna to revoke his censures; but
the archbishop answered, that "what he had done was but an act of
divine justice against a cruel oppressor of the poor, whose cries had
moved him to compassion, and that the offender's contempt for his
excommunication had deserved the rigor of both of his censures,
neither of which he would recall until Don Pedro de Mexia submitted
himself reverently to the church, received public absolution, and
threw up the unconscionable monopoly wherewith he had wronged the
commonwealth." "But," says the chronicle of the day, "the viceroy, not
brooking the saucy answer of a churchman, nor permitting him to
imitate the spirit of the holy Ambrose against the Emperor
Theodosius," forthwith sent orders to arrest De la Serna, and to carry
him to Vera Cruz, where he was to be confined in the castle of San
Juan de Ulua until he could be despatched to Spain. The archbishop,
however, followed by a long train of his prebends, priests, and
curates, immediately retired from the capital to the neighboring
village of Guadalupe, but left a sentence of excommunication on the
cathedral door against the viceroy himself! This was too much for the
haughty representative of the Spanish king to bear without resentment,
and left no means open for conciliation between church and state.
Gelves could as little yield now, as De la Serna could before, and of
course, nothing remained for him but to lay violent hands on the
prelate wherever he might be found. His well paid soldiers were still
faithfully devoted to the viceroy, and he forthwith committed the
archbishop's arrest to a reckless and unscrupulous officer named
Tirol. As soon as he had selected a band of armed men, upon whose
courage and obedience he could rely, this person hastened to the
village of Guadalupe. In the meantime the archbishop was apprised of
his coming and prepared to meet him. He summoned his faithful clergy
to attend in the sanctuary of the church, clad in their sacred
vestments. For the first time, after many a long and weary day, the
ears of the people were saluted by the sound of bells calling them to
the house of God. Abandoning their business, some of them immediately
filled the square, eagerly demanding by what blessed interposition
they had been relieved from the fearful interdict,--while others
thronged the doors and crowded the aisles of the long forsaken chapel.
The candles on the altar were lighted; the choir struck up a solemn
hymn for the church; and, then, advancing along the aisle in gorgeous
procession, De la Serna and his priestly train took up their position
in front of the tabernacle, where, crowned with his mitre, his crozier
in one hand, and the holy sacrament in the other, this brave prelate
awaited the forces which had been sent to seize him. It is difficult
to say, if De la Serna designed by so imposing a spectacle to strike
awe into the mind of the sacrilegious soldier, or whether he thought
it his duty to be arrested, if arrested he must be, at that altar he
had sworn to serve. It is probable, however, from his exalted
character and courage, that the latter was the true motive of his act,
and if so, he met his fate nobly in the cause of justice and religion.

Tirol was not long in traversing the distance between Mexico and
Guadalupe. As soon as he arrived, he entered the church accompanied by
his officers and seemed appalled by the gorgeous and dramatic display
round the shrine. Not a whisper was heard in the edifice as the crowd
slowly parted to make way for the soldiers, who advanced along the
aisle and humbly knelt, for a moment, at the altar in prayer. This
done, Tirol approached De la Serna, and with "fair and courteous
words" required him to lay down the sacrament, to quit the sanctuary,
and to listen to the orders issued in the royal name. The archbishop
abruptly refused to comply, and answered, that "As the viceroy was
excommunicated he regarded him as beyond the pale of the church and in
no way empowered to command in Mexico;" he, therefore, ordered the
soldiers, as they valued the peace of their souls, to desist from
infringing the privileges of the church by the exercise of secular
power within its limits, and, he finally declared "that he would, on
no account, depart from the altar unless torn from it with the
sacrament." Upon this Tirol arose, and read the order for his arrest,
describing him as a "traitor to the king, a disturber of the peace,
and a mover of sedition in the commonwealth."

De la Serna smiled contemptuously at the officer as he finished, and
taunted him with the viceroy's miserable attempt to cast upon the
church the odium of sedition, when his creature Mexia was, in fact,
the shameless offender. He conjured Tirol "not to violate the
sanctuary to which he had retreated, lest his hand should be withered
like that of Jeroboam, who stretched forth an arm against the prophet
of the Lord at the altar!"

Tirol seems to have been a man upon whose nerves such appeals had but
little effect. He was a blunt soldier, who received the orders of his
superiors and performed them to the letter. He had been ordered to
arrest the archbishop wherever he found him, and he left the
ecclesiastical scandal to be settled by those who sent him. Beckoning
to a recreant priest who had been tampered with and brought along for
the purpose, he commanded him in the king's name, to wrest the
sacrament from the prelate's hand. The clergyman, immediately mounting
the steps of the altar, obeyed the orders, and the desecrated bishop
at once threw off his pontifical robes and yielded to civil power. The
cowardly Mexicans made no attempt to protect their intrepid friend,
who, as he left the sanctuary, paused for a moment and stretched his
hands in benediction over the recreants. Then bidding an affectionate
farewell to his clergy, whom he called to witness how zealously he had
striven to preserve the church from outrage, as well as the poor from
plunder, he departed as a prisoner for Vera Cruz, whence he was
despatched for Spain in a vessel expressly equipped for his conveyance.

       *       *       *       *       *

For a while the people were panic struck at this high-handed movement
against the archbishop, but when the momentary effect had passed away
and they began to reflect on the disgrace of the church as well as the
loss of their protector, they vented their displeasure openly against
Mexia and the viceroy. The temper of the masses was at once noticed by
the clergy, who were still faithful to their persecuted bishop, nor
did they hesitate to fan the flame of discontent among the suffering
Indians, Mestizos and Creoles, who omitted no occasion to express
their hatred of the Spaniards, and especially of Tirol, who had been
the viceroy's tool in De la Serna's arrest. A fortnight elapsed after
the occurrences we have just detailed, and that daring officer had
already delivered his prisoner at Vera Cruz, and returned to Mexico.
Popular clamor at once became loud against him; whenever he appeared
in public he was assailed with curses and stones; until, at last, an
enraged mob attacked him in his carriage with such violence that it
was alone owing to the swiftness of the mules, lashed by the
affrighted postillion, that he escaped into the viceroyal palace,
whose gates were immediately barred against his pursuers. Meantime the
news had spread over town that this "Judas,"--"this excommunicated
dog,"--had taken refuge with Gelves, and the neighboring market place
became suddenly filled with an infuriated mob, numbering near seven
thousand Indians, negroes and mulattoes, who rushed towards the palace
with the evident intention of attacking it. Seeing this outbreak from
a window, the viceroy sent a message to the assailants desiring them
to retire, and declaring that Tirol had escaped by a postern. But the
blood of the people was up, and not to be calmed by excuses. At this
juncture several priests entered the crowd, and a certain Salazar was
especially zealous in exciting the multitude to summary revenge. The
pangs of hunger, were, for a moment, forgotten in the more bitter
excitement of religious outrage. By this time the mob obtained
whatever arms were nearest at hand. Poles, pikes, pistols, guns,
halberds, and stones were brought to the ground, and fierce onsets
were made on every accessible point of the palace. Neither the judges
nor the police came forward to aid in staying the riot and protecting
Gelves:--"Let the youngsters alone," exclaimed the observers, "they
will soon find out both Mexia and Tirol, as well as their patron, and
the wrongs of the people will be quickly redressed!" A portion of the
mob drew off to an adjacent prison, whose doors were soon forced and
the convicts released.

At length, things became alarming to the besieged inmates of the
palace, for they seemed to be entirely deserted by the respectable
citizens and police. Thereupon the viceroy ascended to the azotéa or
flat roof of the palace with his guard and retainers, and, displaying
the royal standard, caused a trumpet to be sounded calling the people
to uphold the king's authority. But the reply to his summons was still
in an unrelenting tone--"_Viva el Rey! Muera el mal gobierno; mueran
los dos comulgados!_" "Long live the king! but down with the wicked
government, and death to the excommunicated wretches!" These shouts,
yelled forth by the dense and surging mob, were followed by volleys,
discharged at the persons on the azotéa, who, for three hours,
returned the shots and skirmished with the insurgents. Stones, also,
were hurled from the parapet upon the crowd, but it is related in the
chronicles of the time, that not a single piece of ordnance was
discharged upon the people, "for the viceroy, in those days, had none
for the defence of his palace or person, neither had that great city
any for its strength and security."

So passed the noon and evening of that disastrous day; but, at night
fall, the baffled mob that had been unable to make any impression with
their feeble weapons upon the massive walls of the palace, brought pitch
and inflammable materials, with which they fired the gates of the
viceroyal palace. The bright flames of these combustibles sent up their
light in the still evening air, and, far and wide over the town spread
the news that the beautiful city was about to be destroyed. Frightened
from their retreats, the judges and chief citizens who had influence
with the people rushed to the _plaza_, and, by their urgent entreaties,
efforts were made to extinguish the fire. But the palace gates had
already fallen, and, over their smouldering ruins, the infuriated
assailants rushed into the edifice to commence the work of destruction.
The magistrates, however, who had never taken part against the people in
their quarrels, soon appeared upon the field, and, by loud entreaties,
stopped the _saqueo_. It was soon discovered that Mexia and Tirol had
escaped by a postern, whilst the conquered viceroy, disguised as a
friar, stole through the crowd to the Franciscan cloister, where, for
many a day, he lay concealed in the sanctuary which his rapacious spirit
had denied to the venerable De la Serna.

So ended this base attempt of a Spanish nobleman and representative of
royalty in America, to enrich himself by plundering the docile
Mexicans. The fate of Mexia and Tirol is unknown. But Spanish
injustice towards the colonies was strongly marked by the reception of
the viceroy and the archbishop on their return from Madrid. Gelves, it
is true, was recalled, but, after being graciously welcomed at court,
was made "master of the royal horse;" while the noble hearted De la
Serna was degraded from his Mexican arch-prelacy; and banished to the
petty bishopric of Zamora in Castile!

[Footnote 41: "Como Rey y Señor de las Españas," says the authority.]

[Footnote 42: "A new survey of the West Indies, or The English
American, his Travels by land and sea; by Thomas Gage, London, 1677,
see p. 176." It is due to impartial history and to the memory of the
Marques de Gelves to state that a different account of these
occurrences is given by Ramon J. Alcaraz, a modern Mexican writer in
the Liceo Mexicano, vol. 2, p. 120. Alcaraz fortifies his views by
some documents, and by a justificatory commentary of the Marques
himself. But he, like Gage, does not state his _authorities_. The
story as related by the English friar is very characteristic of the
age, and, _si non e vero e ben trovato_. Those who are anxious to
discover the innocence or guilt of the viceroy, with certainty, will
have a difficult task in exploring the Spanish manuscripts of the
period. The British traveller Gage, _was on the spot in the year after
the events occurred_, and his subsequent abandonment of the Catholic
church would not be likely to lead him into the espousal of the
archbishop de la Serna's cause against the viceroy.

CAVO in his work entitled--"Tres Siglos de Mexico,"--states that the
account he gives of this transaction is taken from _five_ different
narratives of it which were published at the time of its
occurrence--three in favor of the viceroy and two sustaining the cause
of the archbishop. In the last two, he alleges, that all the
imputations against the archbishop were disproved, and that all the
charges against the viceroy were sustained by solid argument.]




SPAIN. 1624-1635.

Upon the violent expulsion of the viceroy Gelves by the popular
outbreak, narrated in the last chapter, the government of New Spain
fell once more into the hands of the _Audiencia_ during the
interregnum. This body immediately adopted suitable measures to
terminate the disaffection. The people were calmed by the deposition
of one they deemed an unjust ruler; but for a long time it was found
necessary to keep on foot in the capital, large bands of armed men, in
order to restrain those troublesome persons who are always ready to
avail themselves of any pretext for tumultuary attacks either against
property or upon people who are disposed to maintain the supremacy of
law and order.

As soon as Philip IV. was apprised of the disturbances in his
transatlantic colony, he trembled for the security of Spanish power in
that distant realm, and immediately despatched Don Martin Carillo,
Inquisitor of Valladolid, with unlimited power to examine into the riots
of the capital and to punish the guilty participants in a signal and
summary manner. It is not our purpose, at present, to discuss the
propriety of sending from Spain special judges, in the character of
Visitadores or Inquisitors, whenever crimes were committed by eminent
individuals in the colony, or by large bodies of people, which required
the infliction of decided punishment. But it may be regarded as one of
the characteristic features of the age, and as demonstrative of the
peculiar temper of the king that an Inquisitor was selected upon this
occasion for so delicate and dangerous a duty. It is true that the
church, through the late archbishop, was concerned in this painful
affair; but it little accords with the ideas of our age to believe it
necessary that a subject of such public concern as the insurrection
against an unjust and odious viceroy should be confined to the walls of
an inquisition or conducted by one of its leading functionaries alone.
Had the investigation been intrusted exclusively to a civil and not an
ecclesiastical judge, it is very questionable whether he should have
been sent from Spain for this purpose alone. Being a foreigner, at least
so far as the colony was concerned, he could have scarcely any knowledge
of or sympathy with the colonists. Extreme impartiality may have been
ensured by this fact; yet as the Visitador or Inquisitor departed, as
soon as his special function ceased, he was never responsible for his
decrees to that wholesome public opinion which visits the conduct of a
judge with praise or condemnation during his life time when he
permanently resides in a country, and, is always the safest guardian of
the liberty of the citizen.

It seems, however, that the Inquisitor administered his office fairly
and even leniently in this case, for his judgments fell chiefly on the
thieves who stole the personal effects of the viceroy during the
sacking of the palace. The principal movers in the insurrection had
absented themselves from the capital, and prudently remained in
concealment until the Visitador terminated his examinations, inflicted
his punishments upon the culprits he convicted, and crossed the sea to
report his proceedings at court.

       *       *       *       *       *

Carillo had been accompanied to New Spain by a new viceroy, Don
Roderigo Pacheco Osorio, Marques of Cerralvo, who arrived in the
capital on the 3d of November, 1624, and assumed the government. He
left the examination of the insurrection entirely in the hands of the
Inquisitor and directed his attention to the public affairs of the
colony. These he found peaceful, except that a Dutch squadron, under
the command of the prince of Nassau attacked Acapulco, and the feeble
city and garrison readily surrendered without resistance. The fleet
held the city, however, only for a few days, and set sail for other
enterprises. This assault upon an important port alarmed the viceroy,
who, at once, sent orders to have the town immediately surrounded with
a wall, and suitable forts and bastions erected which would guard it
in all subsequent attacks. These fortifications were hardly commenced
when another Dutch fleet appeared before the town. But this time the
visit was not of a hostile nature;--it was an exhausted fleet,
demanding water and provisions, after recovering which it resumed its
track for the East Indies. Whilst the Spaniards were thus succoring
and sustaining their enemies the Dutch, a dreadful famine scourged
Sinaloa and neighboring provinces, carrying off upwards of eight
thousand Indians.

During the long reign of the present monarch, Philip IV., Spain was
frequently at war with England, Holland, and France; and the Dutch,
who inflicted dreadful ravages on the American coasts, secured immense
spoil from the Spaniards. In 1628, Pedro Hein, a Hollander of great
distinction, placed a squadron in the gulf on the coasts of Florida to
intercept the fleet of New Spain. The resistance made by the Spaniards
was feeble, and, their vessels being captured by the Dutch, the
commerce of Mexico experienced a severe blow from which it was long in

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1629, there were ecclesiastical troubles in the colony, growing out
of an attempt by the higher order of the Spanish clergy to prevent the
increase of the regular priesthood from among the natives of the
country. They feared that in the course of time the dominion of the
establishment would thus be wrested from their hands by the power of the
Mexicans. The king, himself was appealed to on this subject and caused
it to be examined into carefully. In 1631, in consequence of the
repeated danger of the capital from floods, the project of removing the
site from its present location, to the loftier levels between Tacuba and
Tacubaya, was seriously argued before the people. But the interest of
property holders, and inhabitants of the city would have been so
seriously affected by this act, that the idea was abandoned.

       *       *       *       *       *

The remaining years of this viceroyalty were consumed in matters of
mere local detail and domestic government, and in fact we know but
little of it, save that the severe inundations of 1629 caused the
authorities to use their utmost efforts in prosecuting the work of the
_desague_, as we have already seen in the general account given of
that gigantic enterprise. In 1635 this viceroy's reign terminated.

SPAIN. 1635-1640.

The five years of this personage's government were unmarked by any
events of consequence in the colony; except that in the last of
them,--1640,--he despatched an expedition to the north, where he
founded in New Leon, the town of Cadereita, which the emigrants named
in honor of their viceroy.

NEW SPAIN. 1640-1642.

The Duke of Escalona succeeded the Marques of Cadereita, and arrived
in Mexico on the 28th of June, 1640, together with the venerable
Palafox, who came, in the character of Visitador, to inquire into the
administration of the last viceroy whose reputation, like that of
other chief magistrates in New Spain, had suffered considerably in the
hands of his enemies. Whilst this functionary proceeded with his
disagreeable task against a man who was no longer in power, the duke,
in compliance with the king's command ordered the governor of Sinaloa,
Don Luis Cestinos, accompanied by two Jesuits, to visit the
Californias and examine their coasts and the neighboring isles in
search of the wealth in pearls and precious metals with which they
were reputed to be filled. The reports of the explorers were
altogether satisfactory both as to the character of the natives and of
the riches of the waters as well as of the mines, though they
represented the soil as extremely sterile. The gold of California was
reserved for another age.

Ever since the conquest the instruction of Indians in christian
doctrine had been confided exclusively to the _regular_ clergy of the
Roman Catholic church. The _secular_ priests were, thus, entirely
deprived of the privilege of mingling their cares with their monastic
brethren, who, in the course of time, began to regard this as an
absolute, indefeasible right, whose enjoyment they were unwilling to
forego, especially as the _obvenciones_ or tributes of the Indian
converts, formed no small item of corporate wealth in their respective
orders. The Indians were, in fact, lawful tributaries, not only of
the whole church, in the estimation of these friars, but of the
special sect or brotherhood which happened to obtain the first hold on
a tribe or nation by its missionary residence among its people.
Palafox requested the Duke of Escalona to deprive the monkish orders
of this monopoly; a desire to which the viceroy at once acceded,
inasmuch as he was anxious to serve the bishop in all matters
pertaining to his religious functions.

The kindly feeling of the viceroy does not appear to have been
appreciated, or sincerely responded to by Palafox. This personage was
removed in 1642, to the archiepiscopal see of Mexico, and under the
pretext of installation in his new office and opening his tribunals,
he visited the capital with the actual design of occupying the
viceroyal throne to which he had been appointed! This was a sudden and
altogether unexpected blow to the worthy duke, who was so
unceremoniously supplanted. No one seems to have whispered to him even
a suspicion of the approaching calamity, until the crafty Palafox
assembled the oidores at midnight on the eve of Pentecost, and read to
them the royal despatches containing his commission. His conduct to
the jovial hearted duke, who was no match, in all probability, for the
wily churchman, was not only insincere but unmannerly, for,
immediately after the assumption of his power at dead of night, he
commanded a strong guard to surround the palace at dawn, and required
the Oidor Lugo, to read the royal cedula to the duke even before he
left his bed. The deposed viceroy immediately departed for the convent
at Churubusco, outside the city walls on the road to San Agustin de
las Cuevas. All his property was sequestrated, and his money and
jewels were secured within the treasury.

The reader will naturally seek for an explanation of this political
enigma, or base intrigue, and its solution is again eminently
characteristic of the reign in which it occurred. It will be
remembered that the Duke of Braganza had been declared King of
Portugal, which kingdom had separated itself from the Spanish
domination, causing no small degree of animosity among the Castilians
against the Portuguese and all who favored them. The Duke of Escalona,
unfortunately, was related to the house of Braganza, and the credulous
Philip having heard that his viceroy exhibited some evidences of
attachment to the Portuguese, resolved to supercede him by Palafox.
Besides this, the Duke committed the impolitic act of appointing a
Portuguese, to the post of Castellan of St. Juan de Ulua; and, upon a
certain occasion, when two horses had been presented to him by Don
Pedro de Castilla, and Don Cristobal de _Portugal_, he unluckily,
remarked that he liked best the horse that was offered by _Portugal_!
It is difficult to believe that such trifles would affect the destiny
of empires, when they were discussed by grave statesmen and monarchs.
But such was the miserable reign of Philip IV.;--the most disastrous
indeed, in the annals of Spain, except that of Roderic the Goth. Folly
like this may justly be attributed to the imbecile king, who witnessed
the Catalan insurection, the loss of Rousillon, Conflans, a part of
Cordaña, Jamaica, and, above all, of Portugal; and who, moreover,
recognized the independence of the Seven United Provinces.


The administration of Palafox as viceroy was of but short duration. He
occupied the colonial throne but five months, yet, during that brief
space, he did something that signalized his name both honorably and
disgracefully. He seems to have been ridiculously bent upon the
sacrifice of all the interesting monuments which were still preserved
from the period of the conquest as memorials of the art and idolatry
of the Aztecs. These he collected from all quarters and destroyed. He
was evidently no friend of the friars, but sought to build up and
strengthen the secular clergy whose free circulation in the world
brought them directly under the eyes of society, and whose order made
them dependent upon that society, and not upon a corporation, for
maintenance. During his short reign he manifested kindness for the
Indians; caused justice to be promptly administered, and even
suspended certain worthy oidores who did not work as quickly and
decide as promptly as he thought they ought to; he regulated the
ordinances of the Audiencia; prepared the statutes of the university;
raised a large body of militia to be in readiness in case of an attack
from the Portuguese; visited the colleges under his secular
jurisdiction; and, finally, in proof of his disinterestedness, refused
the salary of viceroy and visitador.





Philip IV. seems to have been more anxious to use Palafox as an
instrument to remove the Duke of Escalona, than to empower him, for
any length of time, with viceroyal authority; for, no sooner did he
suppose that the duke was displaced quietly without leaving the
government in the hands of the Audiencia, than he appointed the Conde
de Salvatierra as his representative. This nobleman reached his
government on the 23d of November, 1642, and Palafox immediately
retired from his office, still preserving, however, the functions of
Visitador. At the conclusion of this year the duke departed from
Churubusco for San Martin, in order to prepare for his voyage home;
and in 1643, this ill used personage left New Spain having previously
fortified himself with numerous certificates of his loyalty to the
Spanish crown, all of which he used so skilfully in vindication before
the vacillating and imbecile king, that he was not only exculpated
entirely, but offered once more the viceroyalty from which he had been
so rudely thrust. The duke promptly rejected the proposed restoration,
but accepted the viceroyalty of Sicily. Before he departed for the
seat of government, he gave the king many wise councils as to his
American colonies, but, especially advised him to colonize the
Californias. Don Pedro Portal de Casañete was commissioned by Philip
for this purpose.

In 1644, there were already in Mexico twelve convents of nuns, and
nearly an equal number for males, which, either by the unwise but
pious zeal of wealthy persons, were becoming rich and aggregating to
themselves a large amount of urban and rural property. Besides this
the dependants upon these convents, both males and females, were
largely increasing;--all of which so greatly prejudiced not only
property but population, that the Ayuntamiento or City Council
solicited the king not to permit the establishment in future of
similar foundations, and to prohibit the acquisition of real estate by
monasteries, inasmuch as the time might come when these establishments
would be the only proprietors.

Meanwhile Casañete arrived in Mexico on his way to the shores of the
Pacific. Salvatierra received him kindly and made proper efforts to
equip him for the enterprise. The chiefs and governors of the interior
were ordered to aid him in every way; but just as he was about to
sail, two of his vessels were burned, whereupon his soldiers
dispersed, whilst the families of his colonists withdrew, in hope of
being again soon summoned to embark.

The civil government of Salvatierra passed in quietness; but the
domineering spirit of Palafox did not allow the church to remain at
peace with the state. In 1647, this lordly churchman engaged in warm
discussion with the Jesuits and other orders. Most scandalous scenes
occurred in the churches of Puebla. Anathemas, excommunications, and
all the artillery of the church were used against each other. Palafox
persevered in his rancorous controversy as long as he remained in
America, and even after his return to Europe, pursued his quarrel at
the court of Rome. At the close of this year Salvatierra was removed
to the viceroyalty of Peru.


The rule of Torres y Rueda was brief and eventless. It extended from
the 13th of March, 1648, to the 22d of April, 1649, when the
bishop-governor died, and was sumptuously interred in the church of
San Agustin in the city of Mexico.

SPAIN. 1649-1654.

The Audiencia ruled in New Spain until the 3d of July, 1650, the
period of the Conde de Alvadeliste's arrival in the capital. This
nobleman had been, in fact, appointed by the king immediately upon the
transfer of the Conde de Salvatierra to Peru; but inasmuch as he could
not immediately cross the Atlantic, the bishop of Yucatan had been
directed to assume his functions _ad interim_. Alvadeliste, a man of
amiable character and gentle manners, soon won the good opinion of the
Spanish colonists and creoles. But if he was to experience but little
trouble from his countrymen and their descendants, he was not to
escape a vexatious outbreak among the northern Indians, who had
remained quiet for so long that it was supposed they were finally and
successfully subjected to the Spanish yoke.

The viceroy had not been long installed when he received news of a
rebellion against the Spaniards by the Tarahumares, who inhabited
portions of Chihuahua and Sinaloa, and who hitherto yielded implicitly
to the gentle and persuasive voice of the evangelical teachers
dwelling among them. The portion of this tribe inhabiting Sinaloa,
commenced the assault, but the immediate cause of the rebellion is not
known. We are not aware whether they experienced a severe local
government at the hands of the Spaniards, whether they were tired of
the presence of the children of the Peninsula, or whether they feared
that the priestly rule was only another means of subjecting them more
easily to the crown of Castile. Perhaps all these causes influenced
the rebellion. Already in 1648, the chief of the nation had
compromised three other tribes in the meditated outbreak; but, lacking
the concerted action of the Tepehuanes and other bands, upon whose aid
they confidently counted, they resolved to attack, alone, the village
of San Francisco de Borja, whose garrison and village they slaughtered
and burned. San Francisco was the settlement which supplied the local
missions with provisions, and its loss was consequently irreparable to
that portion of the country.

As soon as the chief judge of Parral heard of this sanguinary
onslaught he hastily gathered the neighboring farmers, herdsmen, and
merchants, and hastened into the wilderness against the insurgents,
who fled when they had destroyed the great depot of the Spaniards.
The troops, hardy as they were on these distant frontiers, were not
calculated for the rough warfare of woodsmen, and after some
insignificant and unsuccessful skirmishes with the marauders, the new
levies retired hastily to their homes.

Fajardo, governor of Nueva Biscaya, soon heard of the rebellion and of
the ineffectual efforts to suppress it. He was satisfied that no time
was to be lost in crushing the rebellion, and, accordingly marched
with Juan Barraza, to the seat of war with an adequate force. The
Indians had meanwhile left their villages and betaken themselves to
the mountains, woods and fastnesses. Fajardo immediately burned their
abandoned habitations and desolated their cultivated fields; and when
the Indians, who were now satisfied of their impotence, demanded
peace, he granted it on condition that the four insurgent chiefs of
the rebellion should be surrendered for punishment. The natives, in
reply, brought him the head of one of their leaders, together with his
wife and child; soon after another head was delivered to him, and, in
a few days, the other two leaders surrendered.

This, for a while, calmed the country; but in order to confirm the
peace and friendship which seemed to be now tolerably well
established, a mission was founded in the valley of Papigochi, in
which the chief population of the Tarahumares resided. The reverend
Jesuit, Father Bendin, was charged with the duty of establishing this
benignant government of the church, and in a short time it appeared
that he had succeeded in civilizing the Indians and in converting them
to the Christian faith. There were, nevertheless, discontented men
among the tribes, whose incautious acts occasionally gave warning of
the animosity which still lingered in the breasts of the Indians. The
most prudent of the Spaniards warned the governor of Nueva Biscaya to
beware a sudden or personal attack. But this personage treated the
advice with contempt, and felt certain that the country was
substantially pacified. Nevertheless, whilst things wore this aspect
of seeming calm, three chiefs or caciques, who had embraced the
Catholic faith, prepared the elements for a new rebellion, and, on the
5th of June, 1649, at daybreak, they attacked the dwelling of the
missionaries, set fire to its combustible materials, and surrounding
the blazing house in numbers, awaited the moment when the unsuspecting
inmates attempted to escape. The venerable Bendin and his companions
were quickly aroused, but no sooner did they rush from the flames than
they were cruelly slain by the Indians. The church was then sacked.
The valuables were secured and carried off by the murderous robbers,
but all the images and religious emblems were sacrilegiously destroyed
before the Indians fled to the country.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fajardo once more despatched Juan Barraza, with three hundred Spanish
soldiers and some Indians against the rebel Tarahumares. But the tribe
had, in its intercourse with the foreigners, acquired some little
knowledge of the art of war and consequently did not await the
expected attack in the open or level fields, where the Spanish cavalry
could act powerfully against them. They retired, accordingly, to a
rocky pass, flanked by two streams, which they fortified, at all
points, with stone walls and other formidable impediments. Here they
rested in security until the Spanish forces approached them; nor did
they, even then abandon their defensive warfare. Barraza, finding the
Indians thus skilfully entrenched behind barriers and ready to repel
his attack, was unable, after numerous efforts, to dislodge them from
their position. Indeed, he appears to have suffered serious losses in
his vain assaults; so that, instead of routing the natives entirely,
he found it necessary to withdraw his troops who were greatly weakened
by losses, whilst the daring insurgents continually received auxiliary
reinforcements. In this untoward state of affairs, Barraza resolved to
make his escape, during the night, from such dangerous quarters, and,
ordering his Indian allies to light the usual watch-fires, and keep up
the ordinary bustle of a camp, he silently but gradually withdrew all
his Spanish and native forces, so that at daybreak the Tarahumares
found the country cleared of their foes.

As soon as Fajardo heard of the forced retreat of Barraza he
determined to take the management of the campaign in his own hands.
But his military efforts were as unsuccessful as those of his
unfortunate captain. The rainy season came on before he could make a
successful lodgement in the heart of the enemy's country, and his
march was impeded by floods which destroyed the roads and rendered the
streams impassable. Accordingly he retired to Parral, where he
received orders from the viceroy to establish a garrison in Papigochi.

The Spaniards found that their cruelty in the first campaign against
these untamed savages had inflamed their minds against the viceroyal
troops. They attempted, therefore, to use, once more, the language of
persuasion, and, offering the insurgents a perfect amnesty for the
past, prevailed upon the old inhabitants of the vale of Papigochi to
return to their former residences, where, however, they did not long
remain faithful to their promised allegiance. The new garrison was
established, as had been commanded by the viceroy; but, in 1652, the
relentless tribes, again seizing an unguarded moment, burned the
barracks, and destroyed in the flames a number of Spaniards, two
Franciscan monks, and a Jesuit priest. The soldiery of Barraza and the
governor retired from the doomed spot, amid showers of Indian arrows.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1653, the war was resumed. The whole country was aroused and armed
against these hitherto invincible bands. Other Indian tribes were
subdued by the Spanish forces, and their arms were then, once more,
turned upon the Tarahumares, at a moment when the Indian chiefs were
distant from the field. But the absence of the leaders neither
dismayed nor disconcerted these relentless warriors. The Spaniards
were again forced to retire; and the viceroy caused an extensive
enlistment to be undertaken, and large sums appropriated to crush or
pacify the audacious bands. Before the final issue and subjugation,
however, the Conde de Alvadeliste, received the king's command to pass
from Mexico to the government of Peru, and, awaiting only the arrival
of his successor, he sailed from Acapulco for his new viceroyalty.


The Duke of Alburquerque, who had married the Doña Juana, daughter of
the former viceroy, Don Lope Diaz de Armendariz, arrived in Mexico on
the 16th of August, 1654, as successor of Alvadeliste. His accession
was signalized by unusually splendid ceremonies in the capital, and
the new viceroy immediately devoted himself to the improvement of
Mexico, as well as to the internal administration of affairs. He
zealously promoted the public works of the country; labored diligently
to finish the cathedral; devoted himself, in hours of leisure, to the
promotion of literature and the fine arts; regulated the studies in
the university; and caused the country to be scoured for the
apprehension of robbers and vagabonds who infested and rendered
insecure all the highways of the colony. Great numbers of these
wretches were soon seized and hanged after summary trials.

In 1656, the British forces having been successful against Jamaica,
the Mexicans were apprehensive that their arms would next be turned
against New Spain; and accordingly Alburquerque fitted out an armada
to operate against the enemy among the islands before they could reach
the coast of his viceroyalty. This well designed expedition failed,
and most of the soldiers who engaged in it, perished. The duke,
unsuccessful in war, next turned his attention to the gradual and
peaceful extension, northward, of the colonial emigration; and,
distributing a large portion of the territory of New Mexico among a
hundred families, he founded the city of Alburquerque, and established
in it several Franciscan missions as the nucleus of future population.

       *       *       *       *       *

The year 1659 was signalized in Mexico by one of those horrid dramas
which occasionally took place in all countries into which the
monstrous institution of the Inquisition was unfortunately
naturalized, and fifty human victims were burned alive by order of the
_Audiencia_. For the credit of the country it must be remembered that
this was the first occurrence of the kind, but, either from curiosity
or from a superior sense of duty, the dreadful pageant was not only
witnessed by an immense crowd of eager spectators, but was even
presided over by the viceroy himself. In 1660 the duke narrowly
escaped death by the hands of an assassin. Whilst on his knees at
prayer in a chapel of the cathedral, the murderer,--a youthful soldier
seventeen years old,--stole behind him, and was in the act of striking
the fatal blow when he was arrested. In less than twelve hours he had
gone to account for the meditated crime.

Alburquerque appears to have been popular, useful and intelligent,
though, from his portrait which is preserved in the gallery of the
viceroys in Mexico, we would have imagined him to be a gross
sensualist, resembling more the usual pictorial representations of
Sancho Panza than one who was calculated to wield the destinies of an
empire. Nevertheless the expression of public sorrow was unfeigned and
loud among all classes when he departed for Spain in the year 1660.


The successor of the Duke of Alburquerque entered Mexico on the 16th
of September, 1660. Don Juan de Leyva y de la Cerda approached the
colony with the best wishes and resolutions to advance its prosperity
and glory. His earliest efforts were directed to the pacification of
the Tarahumares, whose insurrection was still entirely unquelled, and
whose successes were alarmingly disastrous in New Mexico, whither they
advanced in the course of their savage warfare. With the same liberal
spirit that characterized his predecessor, he continued to be the
zealous friend of those remote, frontier colonists, and, in a short
time, formed twenty-four villages. It was, doubtless, his plan to
subdue and pacify the north by an armed occupation.

In 1661 and 1662, the despotic conduct of the Spaniards to the Indians
stirred up sedition in the south as well as at the north. The natives
of Tehuantepec were, at this period, moved to rebellion, with the hope
of securing their personal liberty, even if they could not reconquer
their national independence. Spanish forces were immediately marched
to crush the insurrection; but the soft children of the south were not
as firmly pertinacious in resistance as their sturdier brothers of the
northern frontier. More accessible to the gentle voices of an
insinuating clergy, they yielded to the persuasive eloquence of the
bishop Ildefonzo Davalos, who, animated by honest and humane zeal for
the children of the forest, went among the incensed tribes, and, by
kindness, secured the submission which arms could not compel at the
north. For this voluntary and valuable service the sovereign conferred
on him the mitre of Mexico, which, in the year 1664, was renounced by
Osorio Escobar.

The only other event of note, during this viceroyalty, was an attempt
at colonization and pearl fishing on the coasts of California by
Bernal Piñaredo, who seems rather to have disturbed than to have
benefitted the sparse settlers on those distant shores. He was coldly
received on his return by the viceroy, who formally accused him to the
court for misconduct during the expedition.

Don Juan de Leyva sailed for Spain in 1664, and soon after died,
afflicted by severe family distresses, and, especially by the
misconduct of his son and heir.

NEW SPAIN. 1664.

The reign of this ecclesiastic was remarkable for nothing except its
extraordinarily brief duration. The bishop entered upon his duties on
the 29th of June, and resigned them in favor of his successor on the
15th of the next October.

SPAIN. 1664-1673.

New Spain enjoyed profound internal peace when Don Sebastian arrived
in the capital on the 15th of October, 1664. But the calm of the
political world does not seem to have extended to the terrestrial,
for, about this period, occurred one of the few eruptions of the
famous mountain of Popocatepetl,--the majestic volcano which lies on
the eastern edge of the valley, and is the most conspicuous object
from all parts of the upper table lands of Mexico. For four days it
poured forth showers of stones from its crater and then, suddenly,
subsided into quietness.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the beginning of 1666 a royal _cedula_ was received from the queen
apprising her faithful subjects of her husband's death, and that
during the minority of Charles II. the government would be carried on
by her. The loss of Jamaica, during the last reign was irreparable for
Spain. The possession of so important an island by the British,
enabled the enemies of Castile to find a lurking place in the
neighborhood of her richest colonies from which the pirates and
privateers could readily issue for the capture of Spanish commerce or
wealth. The armada of the Marques of Cadareita, was useless against
the small armed craft which not only possessed great advantages in
swiftness of sailing, but was able, also, to escape from the enemies'
pursuit or guns in the shallows along the coast into which the larger
vessels dared not follow them. But the general war in Europe which had
troubled the peace of the old world for so many years, had now drawn
to a close, and a peace was once more, for a while re-established. The
ambitious desires of the Europeans, were now, however, turned towards
America, and, with eager and envious glances at the possessions of
the Spaniards. The narrow, protective system of Spain, had, as we
have related in our introductory chapter, closed the colonial ports
against all vessels and cargoes that were not Spanish. This, of
course, was the origin of an extensive system of contraband, which had
doubtless done much to corrupt the character of the masses, whilst it
created a class of bold, daring and reckless men, whose
representatives may still be found, even at this day, in the ports of
Mexico and South America. This contraband trade not only affected the
personal character of the people, but naturally injured the commerce
and impaired the revenues of New Spain. Accordingly the ministers in
Madrid negotiated a treaty with Charles II. of England, by which the
sovereigns of the two nations pledged themselves not to permit their
subjects to trade in their colonies. Notwithstanding the treaty,
however, Governor Lynch, of Jamaica, still allowed the equipment of
privateers and smugglers, in his island, where they were furnished
with the necessary papers; but the king removed him as soon as he was
apprised of the fact, and replaced the conniving official by a more
discreet and conscientious governor. Nevertheless the privateers and
pirates still continued their voyages, believing that this act of the
British government was not intended in good faith to suppress their
adventures, but simply to show Spain that _in England_ treaties were
regarded as religiously binding upon the state and the people. They
did not imagine that the new governor would, finally, enforce the
stringent laws against them. But this personage permitted the outlaws
to finish their voyages without interference on the high seas, and the
moment some of them _landed_, they were hanged, as an example to all
who were still willing to set laws and treaties at defiance.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1670, the prolonged Tarahumaric war was brought to a close, by
Nicolas Barraza. An Indian girl pointed out the place in which the
majority of the warriors might be surprised; and, all the passes being
speedily seized and guarded, three hundred captives fell into the
victors' hands. In 1673, the viceroy departed for Spain, after an
unusually long and quiet reign of eight years.


The nomination of this distinguished nobleman and descendant of the
discoverer of America, was unquestionably designed merely as a
compliment to the memory of a man, whose genius had given a new world
to Castile.[43] He was so far advanced in life, that it was scarcely
presumed he would be able to withstand the hardships of the voyage or
reach the Mexican metropolis. And such, indeed, was the result of his
toilsome journey. His baton of office,--assumed on the 8th of
December, 1673,--fell from his decrepit hand on the 13th of the same
month. So sure was the Spanish court that the viceroy would not long
survive his arrival, that it had already appointed his successor, and
sent a sealed despatch with the commission, which was to be opened in
the event of Don Pedro's death. It thus happened that the funeral of
one viceroy, was presided over by his successor; and the august
ceremonial was doubtless more solemn from the fact that this successor
was Rivera, who, at that time, was the archbishop of Mexico.

The Duke of Veraguas of course neither originated any thing nor
completed any public work that had been already commenced; but the
companions of his voyage to America, long remembered and spoke of the
good will and wise measures which he constantly manifested in
conversation relative to the government of New Spain.

[Footnote 43:

      "A Castilla y a Leon,
      "Mundo nuebo dio Colon,"

is the motto attached to the arms of this house.]




NEW SPAIN. 1674-1680.

The Duke of Veraguas, as we have seen, enjoyed none of his viceroyal
honors save those which crowned his entrance into the capital; and as
soon as his remains were temporarily interred in the cathedral, Fray
Payo Enriquez de Rivera assumed the reins of government.

This excellent prelate had fulfilled the functions of his bishopric,
for nine years, in Guatemala, so satisfactorily to the masses, that
his elevation to supreme power in Mexico was hailed as a national
blessing. He devoted himself from the first, diligently, to the
adornment of the capital and the just and impartial administration of
public affairs. He improved the roads and entrances into the city;
and, by his moderation, justice and mildness, united with liberality
and economy, raised the reputation of his government to such a degree
of popular favor that, in the annals of New Spain, it is referred to
as a model public administration.

In 1677, by the orders of the queen regent, Rivera, despatched a
colony to California; and in the following year, Charles II., who had
attained his majority, signified his gratitude to the viceroy for his
paternal government of New Spain, as well as for the care he had
shown not only for the social, artistical and political improvement of
the nation committed to his charge, but for the honest collection of
the royal income, which, in those days, was a matter of no small
moment or interest to the Spanish kings. But in 1680, the viceroy's
health began to fail, and Charles the Second, who still desired to
preserve and secure the invaluable services of so excellent a
personage to his country, nominated him bishop of Cuenca, and created
him president of the Council of the Indies.


The archbishop Rivera, when he left the viceroyal chair handed to his
successor in 1680, on the 30th of November, the letter he had just
received from the north, imparting the sad news of a general rising of
the Indians in New Mexico against the Spaniards. The aborigines of
that region, who then amounted to about twenty-five thousand, residing
in twenty-four villages, had entered into combination with the wilder
tribes thronging the broad plains of the north and the recesses of the
neighboring mountains, and had suddenly descended, in great force,
upon the unfortunate Spaniards scattered through the country. The
secret of the conspiracy was well kept until the final moment of
rupture. The spirit of discontent, and the bond of Indian union were
fostered and strengthened, silently, steadily and gradually,
throughout a territory of one hundred and twenty-five leagues in
extent, without the revelation of the fact to any of the foreigners in
the region. Nor did the strangers dream of impending danger until the
10th of August, when, at the same moment, the various villages of
Indians, took arms against the Spaniards, and, slaughtering all who
were not under the immediate protection of garrisons, even wreaked
their vengeance upon twenty-one Franciscan monks who had labored for
the improvement of their social condition as well as for their
conversion to Christianity.

Having successfully assaulted all the outposts of this remote
government of New Spain, the Indians next directed their arms against
the capital, Santa Fé, which was the seat of government and the
residence of the wealthiest and most distinguished inhabitants of the
north. But the garrison was warned in time by a few natives who still
remained faithful to their foreign task-masters, and was thus enabled
to muster its forces and to put its arms in order, so as to receive
the meditated assault. The Spanish soldiers allowed the rebellious
conspirators to approach their defences, until they were sure of their
aim, and, then, discharging their pieces upon the impetuous masses,
covered the fields with dead and wounded. But the brave Indians were
too excited, resolved and numerous to be stayed or repulsed by the
feeble garrison. New auxiliaries took the places of the slaughtered
ranks. On all sides, the country was dark with crowds of dusky
warriors whose shouts and warwhoops continually rent the air. Clouds
of arrows, and showers of stones were discharged on the heads of the
beleagured townsmen. No man dared show himself beyond the covering of
houses and parapets; and thus, for ten days, the Indian siege was
unintermitted for a single moment around the walls of Santa Fé. At the
expiration of this period the provisions as well as the munitions of
the Spaniards were expended, and the wretched inhabitants, who could
no longer endure the stench from the carcasses of the slain which lay
in putrefying heaps around their town, resolved to evacuate the
untenable place. Accordingly, under cover of the night, they contrived
to elude the besiegers' vigilance, and quitting the town by secret and
lonely paths, they fled to Paso del Norte, whence they despatched
messengers to the viceroy with the news of their misfortune. The day
after this precipitate retreat, the Indians, who were altogether
unaware of the Spaniards' departure, expected a renewal of the combat.
But the town was silent. Advancing cautiously from house to house and
street to street, they saw that Santa Fé was, in reality deserted;
and, content with having driven their oppressors from the country,
they expended their wrath upon the town by destroying and burning the
buildings. The cause of this rising was the bad conduct of the
Spaniards to the Indians and the desire of these wilder northern
tribes to regain their natural rights.

In the commencement of 1681, the viceroy began to fear that this
rebellion, which seemed so deeply rooted and so well organized, would
spread throughout the neighboring provinces, and, accordingly,
despatched various squadrons of soldiers to New Mexico, and ordered
levies to join them as they marched to the north towards El Paso del
Norte, which was the present refuge of the expelled and flying
government. In this place all the requisite preparations for a
campaign were diligently prepared, and thence the troops departed in
quest of the headstrong rebels. But all their pains and efforts were
fruitless. The object of the Indians seems to have been accomplished
in driving off the Spaniards and destroying their settlements. The
wild children of the soil and of the forest neither desired the
possession of their goods, nor waged war in order to enjoy the estates
they had been forced to till. It was a simple effort to recover once
more the wild liberty of which they had been deprived, and to
overthrow the masked slavery to which the more ennervated races of the
south _submitted tamely_, under the controlling presence of ampler
forces. They contented themselves, therefore, with destroying towns,
plantations, farms, and villages, and, flying to the fastnesses of the
mountain forests, either kept out of reach of the military bands that
traversed the country or descended in force upon detached parties. The
Spaniards were thus denied all opportunity to make a successful
military demonstration against the Indians; and, after waiting a
season in fruitless efforts to subdue the natives, they retired to El
Paso, leaving the country still in the possession of their foes who
would neither fight nor come to terms, although an unconditional
pardon and a future security of rights were freely promised.

The unsuccessful expedition of the previous year, induced the viceroy,
in 1682, to adopt other means for the reduction of the refractory
Indians to obedience. That vast region was not to be lost, nor were
the few inhabitants who still continued to reside on its frontiers, to
be abandoned to the mercy of savages. The Marques de la Laguna,
therefore resolved to re-colonize Santa Fé, and, accordingly,
despatched three hundred families of Spaniards and mulattoes, among
whom he divided the land by _caballerias_. Besides this, he augmented
the garrison in all the forts and strongholds scattered throughout the
territory, so that agriculture and trade, grouped under the guns of
his soldiery, might once more lift up their heads in that remote
region in spite of Indian hostility. This measure was of great service
in controlling the natives elsewhere. The Indians in the neighboring
provinces had begun to exhibit a strong desire to imitate the example
of the New Mexican bands, and, in all probability, were only prevented
by this stringent measure of the viceroy from freeing themselves from
the Spanish yoke.

       *       *       *       *       *

The administration of the Marques de la Laguna was an unfortunate one
for his peace if not for his fame. The expedition which he despatched
in 1683 to California, under Don Isidro Otondo, and in which were
Jesuits among whom was the celebrated Father Kino, returned from that
country three years afterwards after a fruitless voyage and
exploration of the coasts. Nor was the eastern coast of New Spain more
grateful for the cares of the viceroy. Vera Cruz, the chief port of
the realm, was, at this time, warmly besieged and finally sacked by
the English pirate Nicholas Agramont, who was drawn thither by a
mulatto, Lorencellio, after taking refuge in Jamaica for a crime that
he had committed in New Spain. On the 17th of May, Vera Cruz,
surrendered to the robbers, who possessed themselves of property to
the amount of seven millions of dollars, which was awaiting the
arrival in the harbor of the fleet that was to carry it to Spain. The
chief portion of the inhabitants took sanctuary in the churches, where
they remained pent up for a length of time; but the pirates contrived
to seize a large number of clergymen, monks and women, whom they
forced to bear the spoils of the city to their vessels, and afterwards
treated with the greatest inhumanity.

The coasts of Mexico were, at this period, sorely harassed with the
piratical vessels of France and England. The wealth of the New World,
inadequately protected by Spanish cruisers, in its transit to Europe,
was a tempting prize to the bold nautical adventurers of the north of
Europe; and the advantages of the Spanish colonies were thus reaped by
nations who were freed from the expenses of colonial possessions.
There are perhaps still many families in these countries whose
fortunes were founded upon the robbery of Castilian galeons.


The Conde de Monclova, surnamed "Brazo de Plata" from the fact that he
supplied with a silver arm the member he had lost in battle, arrived
in Mexico on the 30th of November, 1686, and immediately devoted
himself to the improvement of the capital, the completion of the canal
which was to free the city from inundations, and the protection of the
northern provinces and the coasts of the gulf against the menaced
settlements of the French. He despatched several Spanish men of war
and launches to scour the harbors and inlets of the eastern shores,
as far as Florida, in order to dislodge the intruders; and, having
obtained control over the Indians of Coahuila he established a strong
garrison, and founded a colonial settlement, called the town of
Monclova, with a hundred and fifty families, in which there were two
hundred and seventy men capable of bearing arms against the French
whom he expected to encounter in that quarter.

The Conde de Monclova contemplated various plans for the consolidation
and advancement of New Spain, but before two years had expired he was
relieved from the government and transferred to the viceroyalty of Peru.


The Conde de Galve entered upon his government on the 17th of
September, 1688; and even before the departure of his predecessor for
Peru, he learned that the fears of that functionary had been realized
by the discovery of attempts by the French to found settlements in New
Spain. The governor of Coahuila in the course of his explorations in
the wilderness found a fort which had been commenced, and the remains
of a large number of dead Frenchmen, who had no doubt been engaged in
the erection of the stronghold when they fell under the blows and
arrows of the savages.

Besides this intrusion in the north, from which the Spaniards were,
nevertheless, somewhat protected by the Indians who hated the French
quite as much as they did the subjects of Spain,--the viceroy heard,
moreover, that the Tarrahumare and Tepehuane tribes had united with
other wild bands of the north-west, and were in open rebellion. Forces
were immediately despatched against the insurgents, but they fared no
better than the Spanish troops had done in previous years in New
Mexico. The love of liberty, or the desire of entire freedom from
labor, was in this case, as in the former, the sole cause of the
insurrection. When the blow was struck, the Indians fled to their
fastnesses, and when the regular soldiery arrived on the field to
fight them according to the regular laws of war, the children of the
forest were, as usual, no where to be found! Nor is it likely that the
rebellion would have been easily suppressed, or improbable that those
provinces would have been lost, had not the Jesuits, who enjoyed
considerable influence over the insurgent tribes, devoted themselves,
forthwith, to calming the excited bands. Among the foremost of these
clerical benefactors of Spain was the noble Milanese Jesuit,
Salvatierra, whose authority over the Indians was perhaps paramount to
all others, and whose successful zeal was acknowledged by a grateful
letter from the viceroy. This worthy priest had been one of the ablest
missionaries among these warlike tribes. He won their love and
confidence whilst endeavoring to diffuse christianity among them, and
the power he obtained through his humanity and unvarying goodness, was
now the means of once more subjecting the revolted Indians to the
Spaniards. The cross achieved a victory which they refused to the sword.

In 1690, another effort was made to populate California, in virtue of
new orders received from Charles; and, whilst the preparations were
making to carry the royal will into effect, the viceroy commanded the
governor of Coahuila to place a garrison at San Bernardo, where the
French attempted to build their fort. Orders were also sent about the
same time by Galve to extend the Spanish power northward, and, in
1691, the province of Asinais, or Texas, as it was called by the
Spaniards, was settled by some emigrants, and visited by fourteen
Franciscan monks, who were anxious to devote themselves to the
conversion of the Indians. A garrison and a mission were established,
at that time, in Texas; but in consequence, not only of an
extraordinary drought which occurred two or three years after,
destroying the crops and the cattle, but also of a sudden rebellion
among the natives against the Spaniards who desired to subject them to
the same ignoble toils that were patiently endured by the southern
tribes, nearly all the posts and missions were immediately abandoned.

The year 1690 was signalized in the annals of New Spain by an attack
and successful onslaught made by the orders of the viceroy with Creole
troops upon the island of Hispaniola, which was occupied by the
French. Six ships of the line and a frigate, with two thousand seven
hundred soldiers, sailed from the port of Vera Cruz, upon this warlike
mission; and after fighting a decisive battle and destroying the
settlements upon parts of the island, but without attacking the more
thickly peopled and better defended districts of the west, they
returned to New Spain with a multitude of prisoners and some booty.

But the rejoicings to which these victories gave rise were of short
duration. The early frosts of 1691 had injured the crops, and the
country was menaced with famine. On the 9th of June, in this year, the
rain fell in torrents, and, accompanied as it was by hail, destroyed
the grain that was cultivated not only around the capital, but also in
many of the best agricultural districts. The roads became impassable,
and many parts of the city of Mexico were inundated by floods from the
lake, which continued to lie in the low level streets until the end of
the year. Every effort was made by the authorities to supply the
people with corn,--the staff of life among the lower classes,--and
commissaries were even despatched to the provinces to purchase grain
which might be stored and sold to the masses at reasonable prices. But
the suspicious multitude did not justly regard this provident and
humane act. They imagined that the viceroy and his friends designed to
profit by the scarcity of food, and to enrich themselves by the misery
of the country. Accordingly, loud murmurs of discontent arose among
the lower classes in the capital, and on the 8th of June, 1692, the
excited mob rushed suddenly to the palace of the viceroy, and setting
fire not only to it but to the Casa de Cabildo and the adjacent
buildings, destroyed that splendid edifice together with most of the
archives, records and historical documents which had been preserved
since the settlement of the country. A diligent search was made for
the authors of this atrocious calamity, and eight persons were tried,
convicted and executed for the crime. The wretched incendiaries were
found among the dregs of the people. Many of their accomplices were
also found guilty and punished with stripes; and the viceroy took
measures to drive the hordes of skulking Indians who had been chiefly
active in the mob, from their haunts in the city, as well as to
deprive them of the intoxicating drinks, and especially their favorite
_pulque_, in which they were habituated to indulge. The crop of 1693,
in some degree, repaired the losses of previous years, and in the
ensuing calm the Conde de Galve commenced the rebuilding of the
viceroyal palace. The property destroyed in the conflagration in June,
1692, amounted in value to at least three millions of dollars.

       *       *       *       *       *

In this year, the viceroy, who was anxious for the protection of the
northern shores of the gulf, and desirous to guard the territory of
Florida, from the invasion or settlement of the northern nations of
Europe, fitted out an expedition of expert engineers to Pensacola, who
designed and laid the foundations of the fortifications of this
important port. Three years afterwards, before the termination of his
command in New Spain, Galve had the satisfaction to despatch from Vera
Cruz the colony and garrison which were to occupy and defend this

In 1694, the capital and the adjacent province were once more
afflicted with scarcity, and to this was added the scourge of an
epidemic that carried thousands to the grave. In the following year a
dreadful earthquake shook the city of Mexico, on the night of the 24th
of August, and at seven o'clock of the following morning. But amid all
these afflictions, which were regarded by multitudes as specially sent
by the hand of God to punish the people for their sins, the
authorities managed to preserve order throughout the country, and in
1695, sent large reinforcements for the expedition which the English
and Spaniards united in fitting out against the French who still
maintained their hold on the island of Hispaniola. This adventure was
perfectly successful. The combined forces assaulted the Gauls with
extraordinary energy, and bore off eighty-one cannons as trophies of
their victorious descent. The checquered administration of the Conde
de Galve was thus satisfactorily terminated, and he returned to Spain
after eight years of government, renowned for the equity and prudence
of his administration during a period of unusual peril.




SPAIN. 1696-1702.

Scarcely had Galve departed, and the new episcopal viceroy Montañez
assumed the reins of government, on the 27th of February, 1696, when
news reached Mexico that a French squadron was laying in wait near
Havana, to seize the galeons which were to leave Vera Cruz in the
spring for Spain. The fleet was accordingly ordered to delay its
departure until the summer, whilst masses were said and prayers
addressed to the miraculous image of the Virgin of Remedios to protect
the vessels and their treasure from disaster. The failure of the fleet
to sail at the appointed day seems to have caused the French squadron
to depart for Europe, after waiting a considerable time to effect
their piratical enterprise; and, in the end, all the galeons, save
one, reached the harbor of Cadiz, where the duties alone on their
precious freights amounted to four hundred and twelve thousand dollars!

At this period the settlement of the Californias, which was always a
favorite project among the Mexicans, began again to be agitated. The
coasts had been constantly visited by adventurers engaged in the pearl
fishery; but these persons, whose manners were not conciliatory, and
whose purposes were altogether selfish, did not contribute to
strengthen the ties between the Spaniards and the natives. Indeed, the
Indians continually complained of the fishermen's ill usage, and were
unwilling to enter either into trade or friendship with so wild a
class of unsettled visitors. The colonial efforts, previously made,
had failed in consequence of the scarcity of supplies, nor could
sufficient forces be spared to compel the submission of the large and
savage tribes that dwelt in those remote regions. Accordingly, when
the worthy Father Salvatierra, moved by the descriptions of Father
Kino, prayed the Audiencia to intrust the reduction of the Californias
to the care of the Jesuits, who would undertake it without supplies
from the royal treasury, that body and the episcopal viceroy,
consented to the proposed spiritual conquest, and imposed on the holy
father no other conditions except that the effort should be made
without cost to Spain, and that the territory subdued should be taken
possession of in the name of Charles II. Besides this concession to
the Jesuits, the viceroy and Audiencia granted to Salvatierra and Kino
the right to levy troops and name commanders for their protection in
the wilderness. A few days after the conclusion of this contract with
the zealous missionaries, the government of Montañez was terminated by
the arrival of his successor, the Conde de Montezuma.


The Conde de Montezuma arrived in Mexico on the 18th of December,
1696. Early in the ensuing January the annual galeon from the
Philipine islands reached the port of Acapulco, and this year the
advent of the vessel, laden with oriental products seems to have been
the motive for the assemblage of people not only from all parts of
Mexico, but even from Peru, at a fair, at which nearly two millions of
dollars were spent by inhabitants of the latter viceroyalty in
merchandise from China. Hardly had the festivities of this universal
concourse ended when a violent earthquake shook the soil of New Spain,
and extended from the west coast to the interior beyond the capital,
in which the inhabitants were suffering from scarcity, and beginning
already to exhibit symptoms of discontent, as they had done five years
before, against the supreme authorities, who they always accused of
criminally withholding grain or maintaining its exorbitant price
whenever the seasons were inauspicious. But the Conde de Montezuma was
on his guard, and immediately took means to control the Indians and
lower classes who inhabited the suburbs of the capital. In the
meanwhile he caused large quantities of corn to be sent to Mexico from
the provinces, and, as long as the scarcity continued and until it was
ascertained that the new crop would be abundant, he ordered grain to
be served out carefully to those who were really in want or unable to
supply themselves at the prices of the day.[44]

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1698 the joyful news of the peace concluded in the preceding year
between France, Spain, Holland and England, reached Mexico, and gave
rise to unusual rejoicings among the people. Commerce, which had
suffered greatly from the war, recovered its wonted activity. The two
following years passed over New Spain uneventfully; but the beginning
of the eighteenth century was signalized by a matter which not only
affected the politics of Europe, but might have interfered essentially
with the loyalty and prosperity of the New World.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1701, the monarchy of Spain passed from the house of Austria to
that of Bourbon. The history of this transition of the crown, and of
the conflicts to which it gave rise not only in Spain but throughout
Europe, is well known at the present day. Yet America does not appear
to have been shaken in its fidelity, amid all the convulsions of the
parent state. Patient, submissive and obedient to the authorities sent
them from across the sea, the people of Mexico were as willing to
receive a sovereign of a new race, as to hail the advent in their
capital of a new viceroy. Accordingly the inhabitants immediately
manifested their fealty to the successor named by Charles II., a fact
which afforded no small degree of consolation to Philip V. during all
the vicissitudes of his fortune. It is even related that this monarch
thought at one period of taking refuge among his American subjects,
and thus relieving himself of the quarrels and conflicts by which he
was surrounded and assailed in Europe.

       *       *       *       *       *

The public mourning and funeral obsequies for the late sovereign were
celebrated in Mexico with great pomp according to a precise ritual
which was sent from the Spanish court, and, whilst the people were
thinking of the festivities which were to signalize Philip's accession
to the throne, the Conde de Montezuma returned to Spain after four
years of uneventful rule.


The brief period during which the archiepiscopal viceroy exercised his
functions in Mexico for the second time, is chiefly, and perhaps,
only, memorable, for the additional efforts made by the worthy Jesuits
in California to subdue and settle that distant province. The
colonists and clergymen who had already gone thither complained
incessantly of their sufferings in consequence of the sterility of the
coasts. But Salvatierra remained firm in his resolution to spread the
power of Spain and of his church among the wild tribes at the feet of
the western sierra along the Pacific coast. His labors and those of
his diligent coadjutors were slow but incessant. Trusting confidently
in Providence, they maintained their post at the Presidio of Loreto,
and gathered around them, by their persuasive eloquence and gentle
demeanor, large numbers of natives, until the success of their
teachings threatened them with starvation in consequence of the
abundance of their converts, all of whom relied upon the fathers for
maintenance as soon as they abandoned their savage life. Yet there was
no other means of attaching the Indians to the Spanish government. The
authorities in Mexico had refused and continued obstinate in their
denial of men or money to conquer or hold the country; so that, after
various efforts to obtain the aid of the government, the pious
mendicants resolved to return again to their remote missions with no
other reliance than honest zeal and the support of God. At this
juncture Philip V., and a number of influential people in the capital,
volunteered to aid the cause of christianity _and_ Spain, by supplies
which would ensure the final success of the Jesuits.


As soon as the Duke of Alburquerque assumed the government of Mexico,
he perceived that more than ordinary care was necessary to consolidate
a loyal alliance between the throne and its American possessions,
during the dangerous period in which portions of Spain, in the old
world, were armed and aroused against the lawful authorities of the
land. Accordingly the new viceroy immediately strengthened the
military arm of the colony, and extended the government of provinces
and the custody of his strongholds and fastnesses to Spaniards upon
whose fidelity he could implicitly rely. Without these precautions,
he, perhaps, justly feared that notwithstanding the loyalty manifested
in New Spain upon the accession of Philip, the insubordination of
certain parts of the Spanish monarchy, at home, might serve as a bad
example to the American colonists, and, finally, result in a civil war
that would drench the land with blood. Besides this, the foreign
fleets and pirates were again beginning to swarm along the coasts,
lying in wait for the treasure which was annually despatched to Spain;
but to meet and control these adventurers, the careful duke increased
the squadron of Barlovento, who was instructed to watch the coast
incessantly, and to lose no opportunity to make prizes of the enemy's

Peace was thus preserved in New Spain both on land and water, whilst
the Jesuits of California still continued their efforts, unaided by
the government, whose resources were drained for the wars of the old
world. Thus, after eight years of a strong but pacific reign, during
which he saved New Spain from imitating the disgraceful dissensions of
the parent state, the Duke of Alburquerque resigned his government
into the hands of the Duke of Linares.


The Duke of Linares entered Mexico in 1710. The first years of his
administration were uneventful, nor was his whole government
distinguished, in fact, by any matter which will make it particularly
memorable in the history of New Spain.

In 1712, Philip V. found himself master of nearly the whole of Spain,
and being naturally anxious to end the war with honor, his emmissaries
improved every opportunity to withdraw members of the combined powers
from a contest which threatened to be interminable. Accordingly, he
approached the English with the temptations of trade, and through his
ambassadors who were assisting at the congress of Utrecht, he proposed
that the British Queen Anne should withdraw from the contest, if he
granted her subjects the right to establish trading houses in his
ports on the main and in the islands, for the purpose of supplying the
colonies with African slaves. A similar contract had been made ten
years before with the French, and was about to expire on the 1st of

Anne, who was wearied of the war and was glad to escape from its
expense and danger, was not loath to accept the proffered terms; and
the treaty, known by the name of _El Asiento_, which was put in force
in Vera Cruz and other Spanish ports, resulted most beneficially to
the English. They filled the markets with negroes, and, at the same
time, continued to reap profit from the goods they smuggled into the
colonies, notwithstanding the treaty forbade the introduction of
British merchandise to the detriment of Spanish manufactures. This
combined inhumane and illicit trade continued for a considerable time,
until the authorities were obliged to menace the officers of customs
with death if they connived any longer at the secret and scandalous
introduction of British wares.

In 1714, a brief famine and severe epidemic again ravaged the colony.
In this year, too, the Indians of Texas once more manifested a desire
to submit themselves to Spain and to embrace the christian faith.
Orders were, therefore, given to garrison that northern province, and
the Franciscan monks were again commanded to return to their missions
among the Ansinais. At the same time, a new colony was founded in
Nuevo Leon, forty leagues south-east from Monterey, which, in honor of
the viceroy received the name of San Felipe de Linares. At the close
of this year, 1715, the garrisons of Texas were already completed, and
the Franciscan friars busy in their mission of inducing the savages to
abandon their nomadic habits for the quieter life of villagers. This
was always the most successful effort of the Spaniards in controlling
the restless wanderers and hunters of the wilderness. It was the first
step in the modified civilization that usually ended in a mere
knowledge of the formula of prayers which was called christianity, and
in the more substantial labor of the Indians which was in reality
nothing but slavery.

    NOTE.--The year 1711, is remarkable in the annals of the valley of
    Mexico for a _snow storm_, which is only known to have occurred
    again on the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin in 1767. In
    August of 1711, there was an awful earthquake, which shattered the
    city and destroyed many of its strongest houses.

The year 1716 was the last of the reign of the Duke of Linares, who in
the month of August resigned his post to the Duke of Arion.


Scarcely had the Duke de Arion taken charge of the viceroyal
government, when he received an express from Texas, despatched by
Domingo Ramon, who was captain of the Spaniards in the province,
informing the authorities of the famine which prevailed throughout his
command, and demanding supplies, without which, he would be obliged to
abandon his post and take refuge with his soldiers in Coahuila. The
new viceroy saw at once the importance of preserving this province as
an outpost and frontier against the French who had already begun their
settlements in Louisiana, and accordingly he commanded the governor of
Coahuila to send provisions and troops to Texas, together with
mechanics who should teach the useful arts to the Indians.

While these occurrences took place in the north of Mexico, war was once
more declared between Spain and France without any apparent motive save
the hatred which the Duke of Orleans, the regent during the minority of
Louis XV., entertained for the Cardinal Alberoni who was prime minister
of Spain and had intrigued to dispossess him of his regency. The news of
this war reached New Spain, and on the 19th of May, 1719, the French
attacked Pensacola and received the capitulation of the governor, who
was unprepared, either with men or provisions to resist the invaders. In
the following month the garrison and missionaries of Texas returned
hastily to Coahuila, and apprised the viceroy of their flight for
safety. But that functionary saw at once the necessity of strengthening
the frontier. Levies were, therefore, immediately made. Munitions were
despatched to the north. And five hundred men, divided into eight
companies, marched forthwith to re-establish the garrisons and missions
under the command of the Marques San Miguel de Aguayo, the new governor
of Florida and Texas.[45]

Notwithstanding the hostilities between France and Spain, and the
eager watchfulness of the fleets and privateers of the former nations,
the galeons of New Spain, reached Cadiz in 1721, with a freight of
eleven millions of dollars! The years 1722 and 1723 were signalized by
some outbreaks among the Indians which were successfully quelled by
the colonial troops; and, in October, the Duke of Arion, who had
controlled New Spain for six years, was succeeded by the Marques of
Casa-Fuerte, a general of artillery. He entered Mexico amid the
applauses of the people not only because he was a _creole_ or native
of America, but for the love that was borne him by Philip the Fifth,
who well knew the services for which the crown was indebted to so
brave a warrior.

SPAIN. 1722-1734.

In recording these brief memorials of the viceroys of Mexico it has
been our purpose rather to mention the principal public events that
signalized their reigns, and developed or protected the nation
committed to their charge, than to trace the intrigues or exhibit the
misconduct of those functionaries and their courtiers. We have
abstained, therefore, from noticing many of the corrupt practices
which crept into the administration of Mexico, leaving such matters to
be studied in the summary view we have presented of the colonial
government of Spain. But, in sketching the viceroyalty of the Marques
de Casa-Fuerte, we cannot justly avoid observing the marked and moral
change he wrought in the government of the country, and the diligence
with which this brave and trusty soldier labored to purify the corrupt
court of New Spain. Other viceroys had endeavored zealously to aid the
progress of the colony. They had planted towns, villages, and
garrisons throughout the interior. They had sought to develope the
mining districts and to foster agricultural interests. But almost all
of them were more or less tainted with avarice, and willingly fell
into the habits of the age, which countenanced the traffic in office,
or permitted the reception of liberal "gratifications" whenever an
advantage was to be derived by an individual from his transactions
with the government.

In the time of Casa-Fuerte, there was no path to the palace but that
which was open to all. Merit was the test of employment and reward. He
forbade the members of his family to receive gifts or to become
intercessors for office seekers; and, in all branches of public
affairs, he introduced wholesome reforms which were carefully
maintained during the whole of his long and virtuous administration.

In 1724, Philip V. suddenly and unexpectedly for his American
subjects, resolved to abdicate the crown of Spain and raise his son
Louis I. to the throne. Scarcely had the news reached Mexico, and
while the inhabitants were about to celebrate the accession of the
prince, when they learned that he was already dead, and that his
father, fearing to seat the minor Ferdinand in the place of his lost
son, had again resumed the sceptre. The Marques de Casa-Fuerte,
instantly proclaimed the fact to the people, whose loyalty to the old
sovereign continued unabated; and during the unusually long and
successful government of this viceroy, the greatest cordiality and
confidence was maintained between himself and his royal master.

Casa-Fuerte despatched a colony of emigrants from the Canary Isles to
Texas, and establishing a town for their occupation, he modestly
refused the proffered honor of bestowing upon it his name, but caused
it to be called San Fernando, in honor of the heir of the Spanish
crown. Nor did he neglect commerce whilst he attended to a discreet
colonization in the north which might encounter and stay the southern
progress of the English and the French. In 1731, the oriental trade of
New Spain had become exceedingly important. The galeons that regularly
passed across the Pacific, from the East Indies, and arrived every
year in America about Christmas, had enjoyed almost a monopoly of the
Indian trade in consequence of the wars which continually existed
during that century and filled the northern and southern Atlantic with
pirates and vessels of war. The Pacific, however, was comparatively
free from these dangers, and the galeons were allowed to go and come
with but little interruption. The American creoles, in reality,
preferred the manufactures of China to those of Europe; for the
fabrics of silk and cotton, especially, which were sent to Mexico from
Asia, had been sold at half the price demanded for similar articles
produced in Spain. The galeon of 1731, which discharged its cargo in
Acapulco, bore a freight of unusual value, whence we may estimate the
Mexican commerce of that age. The duties collected upon this oriental
merchandise exceeded one hundred and seventy thousand dollars,
exhibiting an extraordinary increase of eastern trade with Mexico,
compared with thirty-five years before, when the impost collected on
similar commerce in 1697, amounted to but eighty thousand dollars. The
anxiety to preserve the mercantile importance of Cadiz and to prevent
the ruin of the old world's commerce, interposed many difficulties in
the trade between the East Indies and New Spain; but the influence of
Spanish houses in Manilla still secured the annual galeon, and the
thrifty merchants stowed the vessels with nearly double the freight
that was carried by similar ships on ordinary voyages. Acapulco thus
became the emporium of an important trade, and its streets were
crowded with merchants and strangers from all parts of Mexico in spite
of the dangerous diseases with which they were almost sure to be
attacked whilst visiting the western coast.

The year 1734 was a sad one for New Spain. The Marques de Casa-Fuerte,
who governed the country for twelve years most successfully, and had
served the crown for fifty-nine, departed this life, at the age of
seventy-seven. He was a native of Lima, and like a true creole seems
to have had the good of America constantly at heart. Philip V. fully
appreciated his meritorious services, and, had the viceroy lived,
would doubtless have continued him longer in the government of Mexico.
The counsellors of the king often hinted to their sovereign that it
was time to remove the Mexican viceroy; but the only reply they
received from Philip was "_Long live Casa-Fuerte!_" The courtiers
answered that they hoped he might, indeed, live long, but, that
oppressed with years and toils, he was no longer able to endure the
burdens of so arduous a government. "As long as Casa-Fuerte lives,"
answered the king, "his talents and virtues, will give him all the
vigor required for a good minister."

Impartial posterity has confirmed the sensibility and judgment of the
king. During the reign of Casa-Fuerte the capital of New Spain was
adorned with many of its most sumptuous and elegant edifices. The
royal mint and custom house were built under his orders. All the
garrisons throughout the viceroyalty were visited, examined, and
reported. He was liberal with alms for the poor, and even left a sum
to be distributed twice a year for food among the prisoners. He
endowed an asylum for orphans; expended a large part of his fortune in
charitable works, and is still known in the traditionary history of
the country as the "Great Governor of New Spain." His cherished
remains were interred with great pomp, and are still preserved in the
church of the Franciscans of San Cosmé and Damian.

[Footnote 44: In 1697 there was an eruption of the volcano of
Popocatepetl, on the 29th of October.]

[Footnote 45: It may not be uninteresting or unprofitable to state in
this place some of the efforts at positive settlement in Texas which
were made by the Spaniards during the first quarter of the eighteenth
century. Alarcon, the governor, early in 1718, crossed the Medina,
with a large number of soldiers, settlers and mechanics, and founded
the town of Bejar, with the fortress of San Antonio, and the mission
of San Antonio Valero. Thence he pushed on to the country of the Cenis
Indians, where, having strengthened the missionary force, he crossed
the river Adayes, which he called the Rio de San Francisco de Sabinas,
or the Sabine, and began the foundation of a fortress, within a short
distance of the French fort, at Natchitoches, named by him the Presido
de San Miguel Arcangel de Linares de Adayes. These establishments were
reinforced during the next year, and another stronghold was erected on
the Oreoquisas, probably the San Jacinto, emptying into Galveston bay,
west of the mouth of the Trinity.

The French, who were not unobservant of these Spanish acts of occupation
in a country they claimed by virtue of La Salle's discovery and
possession in 1684, immediately began to establish counter-settlements,
on the Mississippi, and in the valley of the Red river. When Alarcon was
removed from the government of Texas he was succeeded by the Marques de
Aguayo, who made expeditions through the country in 1721 and 1722,
during which he considerably increased the Spanish establishments, and,
after this period, no attempt was ever made by the French to occupy any
spot south-west of Natchitoches. See History of Florida, Louisiana and
Texas, by Robert Greenhow.]





This viceroy who governed New Spain from the year 1734 to 1740, passed
an uneventful reign, so far as the internal peace and order of the
colony were concerned. War was declared, during this period, between
France and Spain, but Mexico escaped from all its desolating
consequences, and nothing appears to have disturbed the quiet of
colonial life but a severe epidemic, which is said to have resembled
the yellow fever, and carried off many thousands of the inhabitants,
especially in the north-eastern section of the territory. The viceroy
was naturally solicitous to follow the example of his predecessors, in
preventing the encroachments of the French on the northern indefinite
boundaries of New Spain, and took measures to support the feeble
garrisons and colonies which were the only representatives of Spanish
rights and power in that remote quarter.


On the 17th of August the new viceroy reached the capital, and learned
from the governor of New Mexico that the French had actually visited
that region of the colonial possessions, yet, finding the soil and
country unsuited to their purposes, had returned again to their own
villages and settlements. At the same time the English, under the
command of Oglethrope, bombarded the town and fort of San Agustin in
Florida, but the brave defence made by the Spaniards, obliged them to
raise the siege and depart.

In 1741 the sky of New Spain was obscured by the approaching clouds of
war, for Admiral Vernon, who had inflicted great damages upon the
commerce of the Indies, captured Porto Bello, and occupied the forts
of Cartagena. New Spain, was thus in constant dread of the arrival of
a formidable enemy upon her own coasts; and the Duke de la Conquista,
anxious for the fate of Vera Cruz, hastily levied an adequate force
for the protection of the shore along the gulf, and resolved to visit
it personally in order to hasten the works which were requisite to
resist the English. He departed for the eastern districts of New Spain
upon the warlike mission, but, in the midst of his labors, was
suddenly seized by a severe illness which obliged him to return to the
capital, where he died on the 22d of August. His body was interred
with great pomp, amid the lamentations of the Mexicans, for in the
brief period of his government he had manifested talents of the
highest order, and exhibited the deepest interest in the welfare and
progress of the country committed to his charge. His noble title of
"Duke of Conquest," was bravely won on the battle field of Bitonto;
and although it is said that Philip slighted him during the year of
his viceroyalty, yet it is certain that he was repaid by the
admiration of the Mexican people for the lost favor of his king. Upon
his death the Audiencia took charge of the government, and continued
in power until the following November, without any serious disturbance
from the enemy. Anson, with his vessels, was in the Pacific, and
waited anxiously in the neighborhood of Acapulco to make a prize of
the galeon which was to sail for the East Indies, laden with a rich
cargo of silver to purchase oriental fabrics. But the inhabitants of
Acapulco and the Audiencia were on their guard, and the vessel and
treasure of New Spain escaped the grasp of the English adventurer.

SPAIN. 1742-1746.

The Count de Fuen-Clara assumed the viceroyal baton on the 3d of
November, 1742. His term of four years was passed without any events
of remarkable importance for New Spain save the capture, by Anson, of
one of the East Indian galeons with a freight of one million three
hundred and thirteen thousand dollars in coined silver, and four
thousand four hundred and seventy marks of the same precious metal,
besides a quantity of the most valuable products of Mexico. This
period of the viceroyalty must necessarily be uninteresting and
eventless. The wars of the old world were confined to the continent
and to the sea. Mexico, locked up amid her mountains, was not easily
assailed by enemies who could spare no large armies from the contests
at home for enterprises in so distant a country. Besides, it was
easier to grasp the harvest on the ocean that had been gathered on the
land. England contented herself, therefore, with harassing and
pilfering the commerce of Castile, while Mexico devoted all her
energies to the development of her internal resources of mineral and
agricultural wealth. Emigrants poured into the country. The waste
lands were filling up. North, south, east and west, the country was
occupied by industrious settlers and zealous curates, who were engaged
in the cultivation of the soil and the spiritual subjection of the
Indians. The spirit as well as the dangers of the conquest were past,
and Mexico, assumed, in the history of the age, the position of a
quiet, growing nation, equally distant from the romantic or
adventurous era of early settlement when danger and difficulty
surrounded the Spaniards, and from the lethean stagnation into which
she fell in future years under Spanish misrule.


The Conde de Revilla-Gigedo, the first of that name who was viceroy of
Mexico, reached the capital on the 9th of July, 1746, and on the 12th
of the same month, his master, Philip V. died, leaving Ferdinand VI.
as his successor. Under the reign of this enlightened nobleman the
colony prospered rapidly, and his services in increasing the royal
revenues were so signally successful that he was retained in power for
nine years. Mexico had become a large and beautiful city. The mining
districts were extraordinarily prolific, and no year of his government
yielded less than eleven millions of dollars;--the whole sum that
passed through the national mint during his term being one hundred and
fourteen millions, two hundred and thirty-one thousand dollars of the
precious metals! The population of the capital amounted to fifty
thousand families composed of Spaniards, Europeans and creoles,--forty
thousand mestizos, mulattoes, negroes,--and eight thousand Indians,
who inhabited the suburbs. This population annually consumed at least
two millions arobas of flour, about a hundred and sixty thousand
fanegas of corn, three hundred thousand sheep, fifteen thousand five
hundred beeves, and about twenty-five thousand swine. In this account,
the consumption of many religious establishments is not included, as
they were privately supplied from their estates, nor can we count the
numerous and valuable presents which were sent by residents of the
country to their friends in the capital.

       *       *       *       *       *

It has been already said that this viceroy augmented largely the
income of Spain. The taxes of the capital, accounted for by the
Consulado, were collected yearly, and amounted to three hundred and
thirty-three thousand, three hundred and thirty-three dollars, whilst
those of the whole viceroyalty reached seven hundred and eighteen
thousand, three hundred and seventy-five. The income from _pulque_
alone,--the favorite drink of the masses,--was one hundred and
seventy-two thousand dollars, while other imposts swelled the gross
income in proportion.

The collection of tributes was not effected invariably in the same
manner throughout the territory of New Spain. In Mexico the
_Administrador-General_ imposed this task on the justices whose duty it
was to watch over the Indians. The aborigines in the capital were
divided into two sections, one comprising the Tenochas of San Juan, and
the other the Tlaltelolcos of Santiago, both of which had their
governors and other police officers, according to Spanish custom. The
first of these bands, dwelling on the north and east of the capital,
was, in the olden time, the most powerful and noble, and at that period
numbered five thousand nine hundred families. The other division,
existing on the west and south, was reduced to two thousand five hundred
families. In the several provinces of the viceroyalty the Indian
tributes were collected through the intervention of one hundred and
forty-nine chief _alcaldes_ who governed them, and who, before they took
possession of their offices, were required to give security for the
tribute taxed within their jurisdiction. The frontier provinces of this
vast territory, inhabited only by garrisons, and a few scattered
colonists, were exempt from this odious charge. In all the various
sections of the nation, however, the Indians were accurately enumerated.
Two natives were taxed together, in order to facilitate the collection
by making both responsible, and, every four months, from this united
pair, six _reales_ were collected, making in all eighteen in the course
of the year. This gross tax of two dollars and twenty-five cents was
divided as follows: eight _reales_ were taxed as tribute;--four for the
royal service;--four and a half as commutation for a half _fanega_ of
corn which was due to the royal granary;--half a _real_ for the royal
hospital, in which the Indians were lodged when ill; another half _real_
for the costs of their law suits; and, finally, the remaining half
_real_ for the construction of cathedrals.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1748, the Count Revilla-Gigedo, in conformity to the orders of the
king, and after consultation in general meeting with the officers of
various tribunals, determined to lay the foundation of a grand colony
in the north, under the guidance of Colonel José Escandon, who was
forthwith appointed governor. This decree, together with an account of
the privileges and lands which would be granted to colonists, was
extensively published, and, in a few years, a multitude of families
and single emigrants founded eleven villages of Spaniards and
mulattoes between Alta-Mira and Camargo. The Indians who were gathered
in this neighborhood composed four missions; and, although it was
found impossible to clear the harbor of Santander, or to render it
capable of receiving vessels of deep draft, the government was
nevertheless enabled to found several flourishing villages which were
vigilant in the protection of the coast against pirates.

In 1749 the crops were lost in many of the provinces where the early
frost blighted the fields of corn and fruit. The crowded capital and
its neighborhood, fortunately, did not experience the want of food,
which in other regions of the _tierra adentro_ amounted to absolute
famine. The people believed that the frown of Heaven was upon the
land,--for, to this calamity, repeated earthquakes were added, and the
whole region, from the volcano of Colima to far beyond Gaudalajara,
was violently shaken and rent, causing the death of many persons and
the ruin of large and valuable villages.

In 1750, Mexico was still free from scarcity, and even able, not only to
support its own population, but to feed the numerous strangers who fled
to it from the unfruitful districts. Yet, in the cities and villages of
the north and west, where the crops had been again lost, want and famine
prevailed as in the previous year. From Guanajuato, a city rich in
mines, to Zacatecas, the scarcity of food was excessive, and the
enormous sum of twenty-five dollars was demanded and paid for a _fanega_
of corn. Neither man nor beast had wherewith to support life, and, for a
while, the labors in the mines of this rich region were suspended. The
unfortunate people left their towns in crowds to subsist on roots and
berries which they found in the forests. Many of them removed to other
parts of the country, and, as it was at this period that the rich veins
of silver at Bolaños were discovered, some of the poor emigrants found
work and food in a district whose sudden mineral importance induced the
merchants to supply it liberally with provisions. The end of the year,
however, was fortunately crowned with abundant crops.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1755,--after founding the Presidio of Horcasitas, in Sonora,
designed to restrain the incursions of the Apaches into that
province,--the Count Revilla-Gigedo, was recalled, at his own request,
from the Mexican viceroyalty in order that he might devote himself to
the management of his private property, which had increased
enormously, during his government. In the history of Mexican viceroys,
this nobleman is celebrated as a speculative and industrious trader.
There was no kind of commercial enterprise or profitable traffic in
which he did not personally engage. His palace degenerated into an
exchange, frequented by all kinds of adventurers, while gaming tables
were openly spread out to catch the doubloons of the viceroyal
courtiers. The speculations and profits of Revilla-Gigedo enabled him
to found _Mayorazgos_ for his sons in Spain, and he was regarded,
throughout Europe, as the richest vassal of Ferdinand the VI. His son,
who subsequently became a Mexican viceroy, and was the second bearing
the family title, labored to blot out the stain which the trading
propensities of his father had cast upon his name. He was a model of
propriety in every respect; but, whilst he made no open display of
anxiety to enrich himself corruptly through official influence or
position, he, nevertheless, exhibited the avaricious traits of his
father in requiring from his butler, each night an exact account of
every cent that was spent during the day, and every dish that was
prepared in his kitchen.

Notwithstanding the notorious and corrupting habits of the first
count, that personage contrived to exercise an extraordinary influence
or control over the masses in Mexico. The people feared and respected
him; and, upon a certain occasion, when they were roused in the
capital and gathered in menacing mobs, this resolute viceroy, whose
wild and savage aspect aided the authority of his determined address,
rode into the midst of the turbulent assemblage without a soldier in
attendance, and immediately dispersed the revolutionists by the mere
authority of his presence and command.


The government of the Marques de las Amarillas commenced on the 10th
of November, 1755; and he immediately devoted himself to the task of
reforming many of the abuses which had doubtless crept into the
administration of public affairs during the reign of his trafficing
predecessor. Valuable mineral deposits were discovered in New Leon,
whose veins were found so rich and tempting that crowds of miners from
Zacatecas and Guanajuato flocked to the prolific region. Great works
were commenced to facilitate the working of the drifts, but the wealth
which had so suddenly appeared on the scene as if by magic, vanished
amid the interminable quarrels and law suits of the parties. Many of
the foremost adventurers who imagined themselves masters of
incalculable riches were finally forced to quit their discoveries, on
foot, without a dollar to supply themselves with food.

In 1759 a general mourning was proclaimed in Mexico for the queen of
Spain, Maria Barbara of Portugal, who was speedily followed to the
tomb by her husband Ferdinand VI. His brother Charles III. ascended
the throne, and whilst the mingled ceremonies of sorrow and festivity
for the dead and living were being performed in Mexico, the worthy
viceroy was suddenly struck with apoplexy which his physicians thought
might be alleviated by his residence in the healthful and lower
regions of Cuernavaca. But neither the change of level nor temperature
improved the condition of the viceroy, who died of this malady on the
5th of January, 1760, in the beautiful city to which he had retreated.
He was a remarkable contrast to his predecessor in many respects, and
although he had been viceroy for five years, it is stated, as a
singular fact in the annals of Mexico, that he left his widow poor and
altogether unprovided for. But his virtuous conduct as an efficient
minister of the crown had won the confidence and respect of the
Mexicans who were anxious to succor those whom he left dependant upon
the favor of the crown. The liberality of the archbishop Rubio y
Salinas, however supplied all the wants of the gentle Marquesa, who
was thus enabled to maintain a suitable state until her return to the
court of Spain, where the merits of her husband, as a Spanish soldier
in the Italian wars, doubtless procured her a proper pension for life.

As the death of the Marques de las Amarillas was sudden and
unexpected, the king of Spain had not supplied the government with the
usual _pliego de mortaja_, or mortuary despatch, which was generally
sent from Madrid whenever the health of a viceroy was feeble, so as to
supply his place by an immediate successor in the event of death. The
AUDIENCIA, of course, became the depository of executive power during
the interregnum, and its dean Don Francisco Echavarri, directed public
affairs, under its sanction, until the arrival of the viceroy, _ad
interim_, from Havana.


The government of this personage was so brief, and his tenure so
completely nominal, that he employed himself merely in the adornment
of the capital and the general police of the colony. He was engaged in
some improvements in the great square of Mexico, when his successor
arrived; but he left the capital with the hearty regrets of the
townsmen, for his intelligence and affability had won their confidence
and induced them to expect the best results from his prolonged reign.




SPAIN. 1760-1766.

In 1761, soon after the entrance of the Marques de Cruillas into
Mexico, the ceremony of proclaiming the accession of Charles III. to
the throne, was performed with great pomp, by the viceroy, the nobles,
and the municipality. But the period of rejoicing was short, for news
soon reached Mexico, that war was again declared between Spain and
England; a fact which was previously concealed, in consequence of the
interception of despatches that had been sent to Havana. Don Juan de
Prado was the governor of that important point, and he, as well as the
viceroy of Mexico, had consequently been unable to make suitable
preparations for the attacks of the British on the West Indian and
American possessions of Spain.

In the meantime an English squadron, which had recruited its forces
and supplied itself with provisions in Jamaica, disembarked its troops
without resistance, on the 6th of June, two leagues east of the Moro
Castle. The Havanese fought bravely with various success against the
invaders until the 30th of July, when the Spaniards, satisfied that
all further defence was vain and rash, surrendered the Moro Castle to
the foe. On the 13th of August the town also capitulated; private
property and the rights of religion being preserved intact. By this
conquest the English obtained nine ships of the line, four frigates,
and all the smaller vessels belonging to the sovereign and his
subjects, which were in the port; while four millions, six hundred
thousand dollars, belonging to the king and found in the city, swelled
the booty of the fortunate invaders.

Whilst this was passing in Havana it was falsely reported in Mexico that
the British, being unsuccessful in their attacks on Cuba, had raised the
siege, and were about to leave the islands for the Spanish main. The
important port of Vera Cruz and its defences were of course not to be
neglected under such circumstances. This incorrect rumor was, however,
soon rectified by the authentic news of the capture of the Moro Castle
and of the city of Havana. The Marques de Cruillas immediately ordered
all the militia to be raised in the provinces, even six hundred miles
from the eastern coast, and to march forthwith to Vera Cruz. That city
and its castle were at once placed in the best possible condition of
defence; but the unacclimated troops from the high and healthy regions
of the interior who had been brought suddenly to the sickly sea shore of
the _tierra caliente_, suffered so much from malaria, that the viceroy
was obliged to withdraw them to Jalapa and Peroté.

Whilst Mexico was thus in a state of alarm in 1763, and whilst the
government was troubled in consequence of the arrest of a clergyman
who had been seized as a British spy, the joyful news arrived that
peace had again been negotiated between France and England.

Pestilence, as well as war, appears to have menaced Mexico at this
epoch. The small pox broke out in the capital and carried off ten
thousand persons. Besides this, another malady, which is described by
the writers of the period as similar to that which had ravaged the
country a hundred and seven years before, and which terminated by an
unceasing flow of blood from the nostrils, filled the hospitals of the
capital with its victims. From Mexico this frightful and contagious
malady passed to the interior, where immense numbers, unable to obtain
medical advice, medicine, or attendance, were carried to the grave.

The general administration of the viceroyalty by the Marques de Cruillas
was unsatisfactory both to the crown and the people of New Spain. The
best historians of the period are not definite in their charges of
misconduct against this nobleman, but his demeanor as an executive
officer required the appointment of a _visitador_, in order to examine
and remedy his abuse of power. The person charged with this important
task,--Don José Galvez,--was endowed with unlimited authority entirely
independent of the viceroy, and he executed his office with severity. He
arrested high officers of the government, and deprived them of their
employments. His extraordinary talents and remarkable industry enabled
him to comprehend at once, and search into, all the tribunals and
governmental posts of this vast kingdom. In Vera Cruz he removed the
royal accountants from their offices. In Puebla, and in Mexico, he
turned out the superintendents of customs, and throughout the country,
all who were employed in public civil stations, feared, from day to day,
that they would either be suspended or deposed. Whilst Galvez attended,
thus, to the faithful discharge of duty by the officers of the crown, he
labored, also, to increase the royal revenue. Until that period the
cultivation of tobacco had been free, but Galvez determined to control
it, as in Spain, and made its preparation and sale a monopoly for the
government. Gladly as his other alterations and reforms were received by
the people, this interference with one of their cherished luxuries was
well nigh the cause of serious difficulties. In the city of Cordova, and
in many neighboring places, some of the wealthiest and most influential
colonists depended for their fortunes and income upon the unrestrained
production and manufacture of this article. Thousands of the poorer
classes were engaged in its preparation for market, while in all the
cities, towns, and villages, there were multitudes who lived by selling
it to the people. Every man, and perhaps every woman, in Mexico, used
tobacco, and consequently this project of the _visitador_ gave
reasonable cause for dissatisfaction to the whole of New Spain.
Nevertheless, the firmness of Galvez, the good temper of the Mexicans,
and their habitual submission to authority, overcame all difficulties.
The inhabitants of Cordova were not deprived of all control over the
cultivation of tobacco, and were simply obliged to sell it to the
officers of the king at a definite price, whilst these personages were
ordered to continue supplying the families of the poor, with materials
for the manufacture of cigars; and by this device the public treasury
was enabled to derive an important revenue from an article of universal
consumption. Thus the _visitador_ appears to have employed his authority
in the reform of the colony and the augmentation of the royal revenue,
without much attention to the actual viceroy, who was displaced in 1766.
The _fiscal_ or attorney general of the Audiencia of Manilla, Don José
Aréché, was ordered officially to examine into the executive conduct of
the Marques de Cruillas who had retired from the city of Mexico to
Cholula, and although it had been universally the custom to permit other
viceroys to answer the charges made against them by attorney, this favor
was denied to the Marques, who was subjected to much inconvenience and
suffering during the long trial that ensued.

SPAIN. 1766-1771.

The Marques de Croix was a native of the city of Lille in Flanders,
and, born of an illustrious family, had obtained his military renown
by a service of fifty years in the command of Ceuta, Santa-Maria, and
the Captaincy General of Galicia. He entered Mexico as viceroy on the
25th of August, 1766.

For many years past, in the old world and in the new, there had been a
silent but increasing fear of the Jesuits. It was known that in
America their missionary zeal among the Indians in the remotest
provinces was unequalled. The winning manners of the cultivated
gentlemen who composed this powerful order in the Catholic church,
gave them a proper and natural influence with the children of the
forest, whom they had withdrawn from idolatry and partially civilized.
But the worthy Jesuits, did not confine their zealous labors to the
wilderness. Members of the order, all of whom were responsible and
implicitly obedient to their great central power, were spread
throughout the world, and were found in courts and camps as well as in
the lonely mission house of the frontier or in the wigwam of the
Indian. They had become rich as well as powerful, for, whilst they
taught christianity, they did not despise the wealth of the world.
Whatever may have been their personal humility, their love for the
progressive power and dignity of the order, was never permitted for a
moment to sleep. A body, stimulated by such a combined political and
ecclesiastical passion, all of whose movements, might be controlled by
a single, central, despotic will, may now be kept in subjection in the
old world, where the civil and military police is ever alert in
support of the national authorities. But, at that epoch of transition
in America whose vast regions were filled with credulous and ignorant
aborigines, and thinly sprinkled with intelligent, educated and loyal
Europeans, it was deemed dangerous to leave the superstitious Indians
to become the prey, rather than the flock,--the instruments, rather
than the acolytes of such insidious shepherds. These fears had seized
the mind of Charles III. who dreaded a divided dominion in America,
with the venerable fathers. We do not believe that there was just
cause for the royal alarm. We do not suppose that the Jesuits whose
members, it is true, were composed of the subjects of all the Catholic
powers of Europe, ever meditated political supremacy in Spanish
America, or designed to interfere with the rights of Charles or his
successors. But the various orders of the Roman church,--the various
congregations, and convents of priests and friars,--are unfortunately,
not free from that jealous rivalry which distinguishes the career of
laymen in all the other walks of life.

It may be that some of the pious brethren, whose education, manners,
position, wealth or power, was not equal to the influence, social rank
and control, of the Jesuits, had, perhaps, been anxious to drive this
respectable order from America. It may be, that the king and his
council were willing to embrace any pretext to rid his colonial
possessions of the Jesuits. But certain it is, that on the 25th of
June, before the dawn of day, at the same hour, throughout the whole
of New Spain the decree for their expulsion was promulgated by order
of Charles. The king was so anxious upon this subject, that he wrote,
with his own hand, to the viceroy of Mexico, soliciting his best
services in the fulfilment of the royal will. When the question was
discussed in the privy council of the sovereign, a chart of both
Americas was spread upon the table,--the distances between the
colleges of the Jesuits accurately calculated,--and the time required
for the passage of couriers, carefully estimated, so that the blow
might fall simultaneously upon the order. The invasion of Havana by
the English and its successful capture, induced the king to supply his
American possessions with better troops, and more skilful commanders
than had been, hitherto, sent to the colonies. Thus there were
various, veteran Spanish regiments in Mexico capable of restraining
any outbreaks of the people in favor of the outraged fathers who had
won their respect and loyal obedience.

At the appointed hour, the order of Charles, was enforced. The Jesuits
were shut up in their colleges, and all avenues to these retreats of
learning and piety were filled with troops. The fathers were
despatched from Mexico for Vera Cruz on the 28th of June, surrounded
by soldiers. They halted awhile in the town of Guadalupe, where the
_Visitador_ Galvez, who governed the expedition, permitted them to
enter, once more, into the national sanctuary, where amid the weeping
crowds of Mexicans, they poured forth their last, and fervent vows,
for the happiness of a people, who idolized them. Their entrance into
Jalapa was a triumph. Windows, balconies, streets, and house tops were
filled with people, whose demeanor manifested what was passing in
their hearts, but who were restrained by massive ranks of surrounding
soldiery from all demonstration in behalf of the banished priests. In
Vera Cruz some silent but respectful tokens of veneration were
bestowed upon the fathers, several of whom died in that pestilential
city before the vessels were ready to transport them beyond the sea.
Nor did their sufferings cease with their departure from New Spain.
Their voyage was long, tempestuous and disastrous, and after their
arrival in Spain, under strict guardianship, they were again embarked
for Italy, where they were finally settled with a slender support in
Rome, Bologna, Ferrara and other cities, in which they honored the
country whence they had been driven by literary labors and charitable
works. The names of Abade, Alegre, Clavigero, Landibares, Maneyro,
Cavo, Lacunza and Marques, sufficiently attest the historical merit of
these Mexican Jesuits, who were victims of the suspicious Charles. For
a long time the Mexican mind was sorely vexed by the oppressive act
against this favorite order. But the Visitador Galvez imposed absolute
silence upon the people,--telling them in insulting language that it
was their "sole duty to obey," and that they must "speak neither for
nor against the royal order, which had been passed for motives
reserved alone for the sovereign's conscience!"

Thus, all expression of public sentiment, as well as of amiable
feeling, at this daring act against the worthiest and most benevolent
clergymen of Mexico was effectually stifled. It had been well for New
Spain if Charles had banished the Friars, and spared the Jesuits. The
church of Mexico, in our age, would then have resembled the church of
the United States, whose foundation and renown are owing chiefly to
the labors of enlightened Sulpicians and Jesuits, as well as to the
exclusion of monks and of all the orders that dwell in the idle
seclusion of cloisters instead of passing useful lives amid secular
occupations and temporal interests. If the act of Henry VIII. in
England was unjust and cruel, it was matched both in boldness and
wickedness by the despotic decree of the unrelenting Charles of Spain.
Nor can the latter sovereign claim the merit of having substituted
virtue for vice as the British king pretended he had done in the
suppression of the monasteries. Henry swept priest and friar from his
kingdom with the same blow; but the trimming Charles banished the
intellectual Jesuit whilst he saved and screened the lazy monk.

The pretext of Charles III. for his outrageous conduct was found in an
insurrection which occurred on the evening of Palm Sunday, 1766, and
gave up the capital of Spain, for forty-eight hours, to a lawless mob.
It was doubtless the result of a preconcerted plan to get rid of an
obnoxious minister; and, as soon as it was known that this personage
had been exiled, the rioters instantly surrendered their arms, made
friends with the soldiers, and departed to their homes. In fact, it
was a political intrigue, which the king and his minister charged on
some of the Spanish grandees and on the Jesuits. But as the former
were too powerful to be assailed by the king, his wrath was vented on
the Fathers of the Order of Jesus, whose lives, at this time, were not
only innocent but meritorious.

"Some years preceding, on a charge as destitute of foundation, they
had been expelled from Portugal. In 1764, their inveterate foe, the
Duke de Choiseul, minister of Louis XV., had driven them from France;
and, in Spain, their possessions were regarded with an avaricious eye
by some of the needy courtiers. To effect their downfall, the French
minister eagerly joined with the advocates of plunder; and intrigues
were adopted which must cover their authors with everlasting infamy.
Not only was the public alarm carefully excited by a report of
pretended plots, and the public indignation, by slanderous
representations of their persons and principles; but, in the name of
the chiefs of the order, letters were forged, which involved the most
monstrous doctrines and the most criminal designs. A pretended
circular from the general of the order, at Rome, to the provincial,
calling on him to join with the insurgents; the deposition of perjured
witnesses to prove that the recent commotion was chiefly the work of
the body, deeply alarmed Charles, and drew him into the views of the
French cabinet."[46]

Spain was thus made a tool of France in an act of gross injustice, not
only to the reverend sufferers, but to the people over whose spiritual
and intellectual wants they had so beneficially watched.

From this digression to the mingled politics of Mexico and Europe we
shall now return to the appropriate scene of our brief annals. The
captain of so important a port as Havana, and the inadequate
protection of the coast along the main, obliged the government to
think seriously about the increase and discipline of domestic troops,
and especially, to improve the condition of the coast defence. These
fears were, surely, not groundless. The possessions of Great Britain,
north of Mexico, on the continent, were growing rapidly in size and
importance; and from the provinces which now form the United States,
the viceroy imagined England might easily despatch sufficient troops,
without being obliged to transport reinforcements from Europe.
Accordingly suitable preparations were made to receive the enemy
should he venture to descend suddenly on the Spanish main. The veteran
regiments of Savoy and Flanders were sent to the colony in June, 1768,
and the Marshal de Rubi was charged with the disposition of the army.
From that period, it may be said, that Mexico assumed the military
aspect, which it has continuously worn to the present time.

Besides the increase and improvement of the troops of the line, the
government's attention was directed towards the fortification of the
ports and interior passes. The Castle of San Juan de Ulua was repaired
at a cost of a million and a half of dollars. The small island of
Anton Lizardo was protected by military works at an expense of a
million two hundred thousand dollars. A splendid battery was sent from
Spain for the castle, and the inefficient guns of Acapulco were
despatched to the Fillipine islands to be recast and sent back to
America. In the interior of the country, in the midst of the plain of
Peroté, the Castle of San Carlos was built in the most substantial and
scientific manner; and although this fortress seems useless, placed as
it is in the centre of a broad and easily traversed prairie, yet, at
the time of its construction, it was designed as an _entre depot_
between the capital and the coast, in which the royal property might
always be safely kept until the moment of exportation, instead of
being exposed to the danger of a sudden seizure by the enemy in the
port of Vera Cruz. Many other points along the road from Vera Cruz are
better calculated to defend the interior passes of the country from
invasion; but as the attacks of the enemy were not expected to be made
beyond the coast upon which they naturally supposed they would find
the treasure they desired to plunder, it was deemed best to establish
and arm the fortress of San Carlos de Peroté.

Such were some of the leading acts and occurrences in New Spain during
the viceroyalty of the Marques de Croix. His general administration of
affairs is characterized by justice. He lived in harmony with the
rigid Visitador Galvez, and although the gossips of the day declared
he was too fond of wine, yet, on his return to Spain he was named
Captain General of the army, and treated most kindly by the king.

[Footnote 46: Dr. Dunham's History of Spain and Portugal, vol. 5, p.





Bucareli reached Vera Cruz from Havana on the 23d of August, 1771, and
took possession of the viceroyalty on the 2d of the following month.
During his administration the military character of the colony was
still carefully fostered, whilst the domestic interests of the people
were studied, and every effort made to establish the public works and
national institutions upon a firm basis. The new mint and the Monte de
Piadad are monuments of this epoch. Commerce flourished in those days
in Mexico. The fleet under the command of Don Luis de Cordova departed
for Cadiz on the 30th of November, 1773, with twenty-six millions two
hundred and fifty-five dollars, exclusive of a quantity of cacao,
cochineal and twenty-two marks of fine gold, and the fleet of 1774 was
freighted with twenty-six millions four hundred and fifty-seven
thousand dollars.

Nor was the accumulation of wealth derived at that time from the golden
_placeres_ of Cieneguilla in Sonora less remarkable. From the 1st of
January, 1773, to the 17th of November of the year following, there were
accounted for, in the royal office at Alamos, four thousand, eight
hundred and thirty-two marks of gold, the royal duties on which, of
tithe and _senorage_, amounted to seventy-two thousand, three hundred
and forty-eight dollars. The custom house of Mexico, according to the
accounts of the _consulado_, produced, in 1772, six hundred and
eighty-seven thousand and forty-one dollars, the duty on pulque alone,
being two hundred and forty-four thousand, five hundred and thirty.

In 1776, Bucareli endeavored to liberate trade from many of the odious
restrictions which had been cast around it by old commercial usages,
and by the restrictive policy of Spain. The _consulado_ of Mexico
complained to Bucareli of the suffering it endured by the monopoly
which had hitherto been enjoyed by the merchants of Cadiz, and through
the viceroy solicited the court to be permitted to remit its funds to
Spain, and to bring back the return freights in vessels on its own
account, Bucareli supported this demand with his influence, and may be
said to have given the first impulse to free-trade. Meanwhile, the
mineral resources of Mexico were not neglected. During the seven years
of Bucareli's reign, the yield of the mines had every year been
greater than at any period since the conquest. One hundred and
twenty-seven millions, three hundred and ninety-six thousand dollars,
in gold and silver, were coined during his viceroyalty. Laborde, in
Zacatecas, and Terreros in Pachuca, had undertaken extensive works at
the great and rich mine of Quebradilla and in the splendid vein of
Vizcayna. Other mines were most successfully wrought by their
proprietors. From 1770 to the end of 1778, Don Antonio Obregon
presented to the royal officers, in order to be taxed, four thousand
six hundred and ninety-nine bars of silver, the royal income from
which amounted to six hundred and forty-eight thousand nine hundred
and seventy-two dollars. The same individual had, moreover, presented
to the same personage, fifty-three thousand and eighty-eight
_castellanos_ of gold, which paid thirteen thousand eight hundred and
seventy-one dollars in duties. In order to work his metals, Obregon
had been furnished, to that date, one thousand eight hundred and
thirty-nine quintals of quicksilver, for which he paid a hundred and
fifty-nine thousand two hundred and forty-one dollars.

In June, 1778, the mineral deposits of Hostotipaquillo, in the
province of Guadalajara, now Jalisco, were discovered, and promised
the most extraordinary returns of wealth. In the following year, the
valuable mines of Catorce, were accidentally found by a soldier whilst
searching for a lost horse. All these discoveries and beneficial
labors induced Bucareli to recommend the mineral interests of New
Spain particularly to the sovereign, and various persons were charged
to explore the country, for the discovery of quicksilver mines, which
it was alleged existed in Mexico. The extraction of quicksilver from
American mines had hitherto been prohibited by Spain, but the fear of
wars, which might prevent its importation from abroad, and
consequently, destroy the increasing mineral industry of the nation,
induced the court to send Don Raphael Heling and Don Antonio Posada,
with several subordinates, who formerly wrought in the mines of
Almaden, to examine the deposits at Talchapa and others in the
neighborhood of Ajuchitlan, in October, 1778, under the direction of
_padre_ Alzate. But this reconnoisance proved unavailing at that time,
inasmuch as the explorers found no veins or deposits which repaid the
cost and labor of working.

At this epoch the Spanish government began to manifest a desire to
propagate information in its American possessions. There is a gleam of
intellectual dawn seen in a royal order of Charles, in 1776,
commanding educated ecclesiastics to devote themselves to the study of
Mexican antiquities, mineralogy, metallurgy, geology, and fossils.
This decree was directed to the clergy because his majesty, perhaps
justly supposed, that they were the only persons who possessed any
knowledge of natural sciences, whilst the rest of his American
subjects were in the most profound ignorance. Archbishop Lorenzano
published in Mexico in 1770 his annotated edition of the letters of
Cortéz, which is a well printed work, adorned with coarse engravings,
a few maps, and the curious fac-simile pictures of the tributes paid
to the Emperor Montezuma. But the jealous monks of the inquisition
kept a vigilant watch over the issues of the press, and we find that,
in those days, the commercial house of Prado and Freyre was forced to
crave a license from the court empowering them to ship two boxes of
types to be used in the printing of the calendar!

The administration of Bucareli was not disturbed by insurrections
among the creoles and Spaniards, for he was a just ruler and the
people respected his orders, even when they were apparently injurious
to their interests. The viceroy adorned their capital built aqueducts,
improved roads, and facilitated intercourse between the various parts
of the country; but the Indians of the north in the province of
Chihuahua harassed the colonists dwelling near the outposts during
nearly all the period of his government. These warlike, nomadic tribes
have been the scourge of the frontier provinces since the foundation
of the first outpost settlement. They are wild hunters, and appear to
have no feeling in common with those southern bands who were subdued
by the mingled influences of the sword and of the cross into tame
agriculturists. Bucareli attacked and conquered parties of these
wandering warriors, but every year fresh numbers descended upon the
scattered pioneers along the frontier, so that the labor of
recolonization and fighting was annually repeated. Towards the close
of his administration, De Croix, who succeeded Hugo Oconor in the
command along the northern line, established a chain of well appointed
_presidios_, which in some degree restrained the inroads of these

Bucareli died, after a short illness, on the 9th of April, 1779, and
his remains were deposited in the church of Guadalupe in front of the
sacred and protecting image of the virgin who watches according to the
legend, over the destinies of Mexico.


In consequence of the death of Bucareli the Audiencia assumed the
government of New Spain until the appointment of his successor, and in
the meanwhile, on the 18th of May, 1779, Charles III. solemnly declared
war against England. The misunderstanding which gave rise to the
revolutionary outbreak in the English colonies of North America was
beginning to attract the notice of Europe. France saw in the quarrel
between the Americans and the British an opportunity to humiliate her
dangerous foe; and although Spain had no interest in such a contest, the
minister of Charles, Florida Blanca, persuaded his master to unite with
France in behalf of the revolted colonies. Spain, in this instance, as
in the expulsion of the Jesuits, was, doubtless, submissive to the will
of the French court, and willingly embraced an occasion to humble the
pride or destroy the power of a haughty nation whose fleets and
piratical cruisers had so long preyed upon the wealthy commerce of her
American possessions. The Spanish minister did not probably dream of the
dangerous neighbor whose creation he was aiding, north of the Gulf of
Mexico. It is not likely that he imagined republicanism would be soon
and firmly established in the British united colonies of America, and
that the infectious love of freedom would spread beyond the wastes of
Texas and the deserts of California to the plateaus and plains of Mexico
and Peru. The policy was at once blind and revengeful. If it was
produced by the intrigue of France, the old hereditary foe and rival of
England, it was still less pardonable, for a fault or a crime when
perpetrated originally and boldly by a nation sometimes rises almost
into glory, if successful; but a second-hand iniquity, conceived in
jealousy and vindictiveness, is as mean as it is short sighted. England
had no friends at that epoch. Her previous conduct had been so selfishly
grasping, that all Europe rejoiced when her colonial power was broken by
the American revolution. Portugal, Holland, Russia, Morocco and Austria,
all, secretly favored the course of Spain and France, and the most
discreet politicians of Europe believed that the condition of Great
Britain was hopeless.

The declaration of this impolitic war was finally made in Mexico on
the 12th of August, 1779, before the arrival of Mayorga, the new
viceroy, who did not reach the capital till the 23d of the same month.
The Mexicans were not as well acquainted with the politics of the
world as the Spanish cabinet, and did not appreciate all the delicate
and diplomatic motives which actuated Charles III. They regarded a war
with England as a direct invitation to the British to ravage their
coasts and harass their trade; and, accordingly as soon as the direful
news was announced, prayers were solemnly uttered in all the churches
for the successful issue of the contest. Nor did war alone strike the
Mexicans with panic; for in this same period the small pox broke out
in the capital; and in the ensuing months in the space of sixty-seven
days, no less than eight thousand eight hundred and twenty-one persons
were hurried by it to the grave. It was a sad season of pestilence and
anxiety. The streets were filled with dead bodies, while the temples
were crowded with the diseased and the healthy who rushed
promiscuously to the holy images, in order to implore divine aid and
compassion. This indiscriminate mixture of all classes and
conditions,--this stupid reunion of the sound and the sick, whose
superstitions led them to the altar instead of the hospital, soon
spread the contagion far and wide, until all New Spain suffered from
its desolating ravages and scarcely a person was found unmarked by its
frightful ravages.

An expedition had been ordered during the viceroyalty of Bucareli to
explore portions of the Pacific adjacent to the Mexican coast, and in
February of 1799, it reached a point 55° 17 minutes north. It
continued its voyage, until on the 1st of July, when it took
possession of the land at 60° 13 minutes, in the name of Charles III.
It then proceeded onwards, in sight of the coast, and on the 1st of
August, arrived at a group of islands, at 59° 8' upon one of which the
explorers landed and named the spot, "Nuestra Señora de Regla."

The expected assaults of the English in the Atlantic were not long
withheld, for in this year, on the 20th of October, they seized Omoa
in Guatemala, for the recovery of which the president, Don Matias
Galvez, quitted the capital immediately and demanded succor from
Mexico. The Indians, it is related, aided the British in this attack,
but the assailants abandoned the captured port, after stripping it of
its cannon and munitions of war, in consequence of the insalubrity of
the climate. The British had established a post at a place then called
Wallis, the centre of a region rich in dye-woods, and aptly situated
so as to aid in the contraband trade which they carried on with
Yucatan, Guatemala and Chiapas; and, accordingly Don Roberto Rivas
Vetancourt attacked the settlement successfully, making prisoners of
all the inhabitants, more than three hundred slaves, and capturing a
number of small vessels. But just as hostilities ceased, two English
frigates and another armed vessel, arrived to succor the settlement,
and forced the Spanish governor to abandon his enterprise and depart
with his flotilla. Nevertheless Vetancourt, burned more than forty
different foreign establishments, and succeeded in capturing an
English brigantine of forty-four guns. The commander believed that
this signal devastation of the enemy's settlement and property would
result in freeing the land from such dangerous neighbors.

About this period the Spanish government detached General Solano and a
part of his squadron, with orders for America, to aid in the military
enterprises designed against Florida, in which Mexico was to take a
significant part. This commander was to co-operate with Don Bernardo de
Galvez, and both these personages, in the years 1779, 1780 and 1781,
making common cause with the French against the English, carried the war
actively up the Mississippi and into various portions of Florida. The
remaining period of Mayorga's viceroyalty was chiefly occupied with
preparations in the neighborhood of Vera Cruz against an assault from
the British, and in suppressing, by the aid of the alcalde Urizar, a
trifling revolt among the Indians of Izucar. An unfortunate disagreement
arose between Mayorga and the Spanish minister Galvez, and he was
finally, after many insults from the count, displaced, in order to make
room for Don Matias Galvez. The unfortunate viceroy departed for Spain
but never reached his native land. He died in sight of Cadiz, and his
wife was indemnified for the ill treatment of her husband by the
contemptible gift of twenty thousand dollars.

Mayorga was the victim apparently of an ill disposed minister, who
controlled the pliant mind of Charles. The viceroy in reality had
discharged his duties as lieutenant of the king, with singular
fidelity. All branches of art and industry in Mexico received his
fostering care; but he had enemies who sought his disgrace at court,
and they were finally successful in their shameful efforts.[47]


Don Matias Galvez, hastened rapidly from Guatemala to take possession
of the viceroyalty, and soon exhibited his generous character and his
ardent desire to improve and embellish the beautiful capital. The
academy of fine arts was one of his especial favorites, and he
insisted that Charles should not only endow it with nine thousand
dollars, but should render it an effective establishment, by the
introduction of the best models for the students. These evidences of
his munificence and taste, still exist in the fine but untenanted
halls of the neglected academy. Galvez directed his attention, also,
to the police of Mexico and its prisons;--he required the streets to
be leveled and paved; prohibited the raising of recruits for Manilla,
and solicited from the king authority to reconstruct the magnificent
palace of Chapultepec on the well known and beautiful hill of that
name which lies about two miles west of the capital, still girt with
its ancient cypresses.

It was during the brief reign of this personage that the political
Gazette of Mexico was established, and the exclusive privilege of its
publication granted to Manuel Valdez. On the 3d of November Don Matias
died, after a brief illness, unusually lamented by the people, from
amidst whose masses he had risen to supreme power in the most
important colony of Spain. Mexico had regarded his appointment as a
singular good fortune, and it was fondly but vainly hoped that his
reign might have been long, and that he would have been enabled to
carry out the beneficent projects he designed for the country.

As the death of this officer was sudden and unexpected, no _carta de
mortaja_, or mortuary despatch, had been sent from Spain announcing
his successor, and, accordingly the Audiencia assumed the reins of
government until the arrival of the new viceroy.

[Footnote 47: See Bustamante's continuation of Cavo, vol. 3, pp. 45, 46.]

[Illustration: CHAPULTEPEC.]





The Count Galvez, son of the last viceroy, Don Matias, took charge of
the government on the 17th of June, 1785, but enjoyed as brief a reign
as his respected father. Hardly had he attained power when a great
scarcity of food was experienced among the people of New Spain in
consequence of an extraordinarily unfavorable season. The excellent
disposition of the new officer was shown in his incessant and liberal
efforts to relieve the public distress in all parts of the country
afflicted by misery. Meetings were held and committees appointed under
his auspices, composed of the most distinguished Spanish and native
subjects to aid in this beneficent labor; and over four hundred
thousand dollars were given by the Archbishop of Mexico, and the
bishops of Puebla and Michoacan, to encourage agriculture, as well as
to relieve the most pressing wants of the people. In order to afford
employment to the indigent, at the same time that he permanently
improved and beautified the capital and the country generally, the
viceroy either commenced or continued a number of important public
works, among which were the national roads and the magnificent palace
of Chapultepec, the favorite retreat of his father. This splendid
architectural combination of fortress and palace, was a costly luxury
to the Spanish government, for the documents of the period declare
that, up to the month of January, 1787, one hundred and twenty-three
thousand and seventy-seven dollars had been expended in its
construction. Nor was the ministry well pleased with so lavish an
outlay upon this royal domain. Placed on a solitary hill, at a short
distance from the capital, and built evidently for the double purpose
of defence and dwelling, it created a fear, in the minds of some
sensitive persons, that its design might not be altogether so peaceful
as was pretended. An ambitious viceroy, surrounded by troops whose
attachment and firmness could be relied on, might easily convert the
palace into a citadel; and it was noted that Galvez, had upon various
occasions played the demagogue among the military men who surrounded
him in the capital. All these fears were, however, idle. If the count,
in reality, entertained any ambitious projects, or desired to put
himself at the head of an American kingdom independent of Spain, these
hopes were soon and sadly blighted by his early death. He expired on
the 30th of November, 1786, in the archiepiscopal palace of Tacubaya.

His funeral ceremonies were conducted by the archbishop, and his
honored remains interred in the church of San Fernando. At the period
of the viceroy's decease his wife was pregnant; and it is stated, in
the chronicles of the day,--and we mention it as a singular
illustration of Spanish habits,--that the daughter, of which she was
delivered in the following month of December, received the names of,
_Maria de Guadalupe Bernarda Isabel Felipa de Jesus Juana Nepomucena
Felicitas_, to which was joined at the period of the lady's
confirmation, the additional one of _Fernanda_! The Ayuntamiento of
Mexico, in order to show its appreciation of the viceroy's memory,
offered to become _god-father_ of the infant, and the ceremony of its
baptism was performed with all the splendor of the Catholic church, in
the presence of the court and of a portion of the army. The defunct
viceroy had become popular with the masses, and the people strove to
manifest their love for the dead by their affectionate courtesy to his
orphan, daughter and desolate widow.

The AUDIENCIA REAL assumed the government of Mexico, inasmuch as the
Spanish ministry had provided no successor in the event of the count's
death. Its power continued until the following February, during which
period no event of note occurred in New Spain, save the destruction by
fire of valuable mining property at Bolaños, and a violent hurricane
at Acapulco, accompanied by earthquakes, which swept the sea over the
coast, and caused great losses to the farmers and herdsmen who dwelt
on the neighboring lowlands.

SPAIN. 1787.

The appointment of this eminent prelate to the viceroyalty _ad
interim_ by a royal order of 25th February, 1787, was perhaps one of
those strokes of policy by which the Spanish ministry strove to
reconcile and connect the ecclesiastical and civil unity of the
American empire. The sway of the archbishop, complimentary as it was
to himself and to the church, was exceedingly brief, for he entered
upon the government on the 8th of May and was superceded by Flores on
the 17th of August of the same year. New Spain was undisturbed during
his government; and no event is worthy of historical record in these
brief annals of the country, save the effort that was made to prohibit
the _repartimiento_ or subdivision of the Indians among the
agriculturists and miners by the _sub-delegados_, who had succeeded
the _alcaldes mayores_, in the performance of this odious task. The
conduct of the latter personages had been extremely cruel to the
natives. They either used their power to oppress the Indians, or had
trafficked in the dispensation of justice by allowing the sufferers to
purchase exemption from punishment; and it is related that in certain
_alcaldias mayores_ in Oaxaca, the _alcaldes_ had enriched themselves
to the extent of more than two hundred thousand dollars by these
brutal exactions. Inhumanity like this, was severely denounced to the
king by the bishop Ortigoza,--who merited, according to
Revilla-Gigedo, the title of the Saint Paul of his day,--and the
eloquent prelate complained in behalf of his beloved Indians as
vehemently as Las Casas at an earlier period of this loathsome
oppression. But interest overcome the appeals of mercy in almost all
instances since the foundation of the American empire. The Spaniards
required laborers. The ignorant and unarmed Indians of the south and
of the table lands, were docile or unorganized, and, although the
Spanish court and Council of the Indies seconded the viceroy's zeal in
attempting to suppress the cruelty of the planters and miners, the
unfortunate aborigines only experienced occasional brief intervals of
respite in the system of forced labor to which they were devoted by
their legal task-masters.


Don Manuel Flores assumed the government of New Spain on the 16th of
May, 1787, but his power over the finances of the nation was taken
from him and given to Fernando Mangino, with the title of
_Superintendente sub-delegado de Hacienda_. Flores was thus left in
possession solely of the civil administration generally, and of the
military organization of the viceroyalty. Being satisfied that the
ordinary _militia_ system of New Spain was inadequate for national
protection during war, he immediately devoted himself to the forced
levy and equipment of three regiments of infantry, named "Puebla,"
"Mexico" and "New Spain." The command of these forces was given to the
most distinguished and noble young men of Mexico;--and as the minister
Galvez died, and Mangino was, about this period, transferred to the
Council of the Indies, the superintendence of the finances of Mexico,
was appropriately restored again to the viceroyal government.

The northern part of Mexico, in 1788 and for many previous years had
been constantly ravaged by the wild Indian tribes that ranged across the
whole frontier from the western limits of Sonora to the Gulf of Mexico.
Immense sums were squandered in the support of garrisons or the
maintenance of numerous officers, whose duty it was to hold these
barbarians in check. But their efforts had been vain. The fine
agricultural districts of Chihuahua, New Leon, New Mexico and even in
parts of Texas, had attracted large numbers of adventurous pioneers into
that remote region; yet no sooner did their fields begin to flourish and
their flocks or herds to increase, than these savages descended upon the
scattered settlers and carried off their produce and their families.
Whenever the arms of New Spain obtained a signal victory over one of
these marauding bands, the Indians would talk of peace and even consent
to bind themselves by treaties. But these compacts were immediately
broken, as soon as they found the country beginning to flourish again,
or the military power in the least degree relaxed.

Flores appears to have understood the condition of the northern
frontier and the temper of the Indians. He did not believe that
treaties, concessions or kindness would suffice to protect the Spanish
pioneers, and yet he was satisfied that it was necessary to sustain
the settlements, in that quarter, in order to prevent the southern
progress of European adventurers who were eager to seize the wild and
debatable lands lying on both sides of the Rio Grande. Accordingly he
proposed to the Spanish court to carry on a war of most inexorable
character against the Apaches, Lipans and Mesclaros. He characterized,
in his despatches, all the Indian tribes dwelling or wandering between
the Presidio of the Bay of Espiritu Santo, in the province of Texas,
to beyond Santa Gertrudis del Altar, in Sonora,--the two opposite
points of the dangerous frontier line,--as Apaches or their hostile
colleagues; and he resolved to fight them, without quarter, truce, or
mercy, until they surrendered unconditionally to the power of Spain.

The subsequent history of these provinces, and the experience of our
own government, have shown the wisdom of this advice in regard to a
band of savages whose habits are peculiarly warlike and whose robber
traits have made them equally dangerous to all classes of settlers in
the lonely districts of the Rio Grande or of the Gila and Colorado of
the west. His secretary, Bonilla,--who had fought bravely in the
northern provinces, and was practically acquainted with warfare among
these barbarians,--seconded the mature opinion of the viceroy. The
plan was successful for the time, and the frontier enjoyed a degree of
peace, whilst the military power was sustained throughout the line of
Presidios, which it has not known since the revolution in Mexico
attracted the attention of all towards the central parts of the nation
and left the north comparatively exposed. Flores enforced his system
rigidly, during his viceroyalty. He equipped the expeditions
liberally; promoted the officers who distinguished themselves;
rewarded the bravest soldiers; and despatched a choice regiment of
dragoons to Durango, whose officers, formed, in that city, the nucleus
of its future civilization.

Nor was this viceroy stinted in his efforts to improve the capital and
protect the growing arts and sciences of the colony. He labored to
establish a botanical garden, under the auspices of Don Martin Sesé;
but the perfect realization of this beneficial and useful project was
reserved for his successor the Count Revilla-Gigedo.

The mining interests, too, were prospering, and improvements on the
ancient Spanish system were sought to be introduced, through the
instrumentality of eleven German miners whose services had been
engaged by the home government in Dresden, through its envoy Don Luis
Orcis. These personages presented themselves in New Spain with the
pompous title of practical professors of mineralogy, but they were
altogether unskilled in the actual working of mines, and unable to
render those of Mexico more productive. The only benefit derived from
this mineralogical mission was the establishment of a course of
chemical lectures in the seminary of mines, under the direction of
Lewis Leinder, who set up the first laboratory in Mexico.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 23d of December, 1788, the minister of the Indies apprised the
viceroy of the death of Charles III., which had occurred in the middle
of that month. Funeral ceremonies were celebrated, with great pomp, in
Mexico, in honor of the defunct monarch; and, on the 22d of February,
1789, the resignation of the viceroyalty by Flores,--who desired
heartily to retire from public life--was graciously accepted by the
Spanish court, and his successor named, in the person of the second
Count Revilla-Gigedo.


This distinguished nobleman, whose name figures so favorably in the
annals of Mexico, reached Guadalupe on the 16th of October 1789, and
on the following day entered the capital with all the pompous
ceremonies usual in New Spain upon the advent of a new ruler. In the
following month--the new sovereign Charles IV. was proclaimed; and the
viceroy, at once set about the regulation of the municipal police of
his capital which seems to have been somewhat relaxed since the days
of his dreaded and avaricious father. Assassinations of the most
scandalous and daring character, had recently warned the viceroy of
the insecurity of life and property even in the midst of his guards.
But Revilla-Gigedo possessed some of the sterner qualities that
distinguished his parent, and never rested until the guilty parties
were discovered and brought to prompt and signal justice. The capital
soon exhibited a different aspect under his just and rigorous
government. He did not trust alone to the reports of his agents in
order to satisfy his mind in regard to the wants of Mexico; for he
visited every quarter of the city personally, and often descended
unexpectedly upon his officers when they least expected a visit from
such a personage. The poor as well as the rich received his paternal
notice. He enquired into their wants and studied their interests. One
of his most beneficent schemes was the erection of a Monte Pio, for
their relief, yet the sum he destined for this object was withheld by
the court and used for the payment of royal debts. Agriculture,
horticulture and botany were especially fostered by this enlightened
nobleman. He carried out the project of his predecessor by founding
the botanical garden, and liberally rewarded and encouraged the pupils
of this establishment, for he deemed the rich vegetable resources of
Mexico quite as worthy of national attention as the mines which had
hitherto absorbed the public interest. Literature, too, did not escape
his fostering care, as far as the jealous rules of the Inquisition and
of royal policy permitted its liberal encouragement by a viceroy. He
found the streets of the capital and its suburbs badly paved and kept,
and he rigidly enforced all the police regulations which were
necessary for their purity and safety. As he knew that one of the best
means of developing and binding together the provinces of the empire,
was the construction of substantial and secure roads,--he proposed
that the highways to Vera Cruz, Acapulco, Meztitlan de la Sierra, and
Toluca, should be reconstructed in the most enduring manner. But the
Junta Superior de Hacienda opposed the measure, and the count was
obliged to expend, from his own purse, the requisite sums for the most
important repairs. He established weekly posts between the capitals of
the Intendencies;--regulated and restricted the cutting of timber in
the adjacent mountains;--established a professorship of anatomy in the
Hospital de Naturales; destroyed the provincial militia system and
formed regular _corps_ out of the best veterans found in the ranks.
Knowing the difficulty with which the poor or uninfluential reached
the ear of their Mexican governors, he placed a locked case in one of
the halls of his palace into which all persons were at liberty to
throw their memorials designed for the viceroy's scrutiny. It was, in
reality, a secret mode of _espionage_, but it brought to the count's
knowledge many an important fact which he would never have learned
through the ordinary channels of the court. Without this secret chest,
whose key was never out of his possession, Revilla-Gigedo, with all
his personal industry, might never have comprehended the actual
condition of Mexico, or, have adopted the numerous measures for its
improvement which distinguished his reign.

Besides this provident measure for the internal safety and progressive
comfort of New Spain, the count directed his attention to the western
coast of America, upon which, he believed, the future interests of
Spain would materially rely. The settlement of the Californias had
engaged the attention of many preceding viceroys, as we have already
related, and their coasts had been explored and missionary settlements
made wherever the indentures of the sea shore indicated the utility of
such enterprises. But the count foresaw that the day would come when
the commercial enterprises of European nations, and, especially of the
English, would render this portion of the Mexican realm an invaluable
acquisition. Accordingly he despatched an expedition to the
Californias to secure the possessions of Spain in that quarter; and
has left, for posterity, an invaluable summary or _recopilacion_ of
all the enterprises of discovery made by the Spaniards in that portion
of the west coast of America. This document,--more useful to the
antiquarian than the politician, now that the boundaries between the
possessions of Mexico, England and the United States have been
definitely settled by treaties,--may be found in the third volume of
"Los Tres Siglos de Mejico," a work which was commenced by the Jesuit
Father Cavo, and continued to the year 1821, by Don Carlos Maria
Bustamante. Revilla-Gigedo recommended the Spanish court to avoid all
useless parade or expense, but resolutely to prevent the approach of
the English or of any other foreign power to their possessions in
California, and to occupy, promptly, the port of Bodega, and even the
shores of the Columbia river, if it was deemed necessary. He advised
the minister, moreover, to fortify these two points; to garrison
strongly San Francisco, Monterey, San Diego and Loreto; to change the
department of San Blas to Acapulco; and to guard the _fondos piadosos_
of the missions, as well as the salt works of Zapotillo, by which the
treasury would be partly relieved of the ecclesiastical expenses of
California, while the needful marine force was suitably supported.
These safeguards were believed by the viceroy sufficient to confine
the enterprising English to the regions in which they might traffic
for peltries without being tempted into the dominions of Spain, at the
same time that they served as safeguards against all illicit or
contraband commerce.[48]

       *       *       *       *       *

We have, thus endeavored to describe rather than to narrate
historically, the principal events that occurred in the reign of the
second Count Revilla-Gigedo, all of which have characterized him as a
just, liberal and far-seeing ruler. In the account of his father's
reign, we have already noticed some of this viceroy's meritorious
qualities; but we shall now break the ordinary tenor of these brief
annals by inserting a few anecdotes which are still traditionally
current in the country whose administration he so honestly conducted.

The Conde was accustomed to make nightly rounds in the city, in order
to assure himself that its regulations for quiet and security were
carried into effect. On one occasion, it is related, that in passing
through a street which he had ordered to be paved, he suddenly stopped
and despatched a messenger to the director of the work, requiring his
instant presence. The usual phrase with which he wound up such
commands was "lo espero aqui,"--"I await him here,"--which had the
effect of producing an extraordinary degree of celerity in those who
received the command. On this occasion the officer, who was enjoying
his midnight repose, sprang from his bed on receiving the startling
summons, and rushed, half dressed, to learn the purport of what he
presumed to be an important business. He found the viceroy standing
stiff and composed on the side walk. When the panting officer had paid
his obeisance to his master:--"I regret to have disturbed you, Señor,"
said the latter, "in order to call your attention to the state of your
pavement. You will observe that this flag stone is not perfectly
even," touching with his toe one which rose about half an inch above
the rest of the side walk, "I had the misfortune to strike my foot
against it this evening, and I fear that some others may be as unlucky
as myself, unless the fault be immediately remedied. You will attend
to it, sir, and report to me to-morrow morning!" With these words he
continued his round, leaving the officer in a state of stupefaction;
but it is asserted that the pavements of Mexico for the rest of his
excellency's government were unexceptionable.

Another anecdote, of this kind, places his peculiarity of temper in a
still stronger light. In perambulating the city one pleasant evening
about sunset, he found that the street in which he was walking
terminated abruptly against a mass of wretched tenements, apparently
the lurking places of vice and beggary. He inquired how it happened
that the highway was carried no farther, or why these hovels were
allowed to exist; but the only information he could gain was that such
had always been the case, and that none of the authorities considered
themselves bound to remedy the evil. Revilla-Gigedo sent immediately
to the _corregidor_:--"tell him that I await him here," he concluded,
in a tone that had the effect of bringing that functionary at once to
the spot, and he received orders to open, without delay, a broad and
straight avenue through the quarter as far as the barrier of the city.
It must be finished,--was the imperious command,--that very night, so
as to allow the viceroy to drive through it on his way to mass the
next morning. With this the count turned on his heel, and the
corregidor was left to reflect upon his disagreeable predicament.

The fear of losing his office, or perhaps worse consequences,
stimulated his energy. No time was to be wasted. All his subordinate
officers were instantly summoned, and laborers were collected from all
parts of the city. The very buildings that were to be removed sent
forth crowds of _leperos_ willing for a few _reales_ to aid in
destroying the walls which had once harbored them. A hundred torches
shed their radiance over the scene. All night long the shouts of the
workmen, the noise of pick-axe and crowbar, the crash of falling
roofs, and the rumbling of carts, kept the city in a fever of
excitement. Precisely at sunrise the state carriage, with the viceroy,
his family and suite, left the palace, and rattled over the pavements
in the direction from which the noise had proceeded. At length the new
street opened before them, a thousand workmen, in double file, fell
back on either side and made the air resound with _vivas_, as they
passed. Through clouds of dust and dirt,--over the unpaved earth,
strewn with fragments of stone and plaster,--the coach and train swept
onward, till at the junction of the new street with the road leading
to the suburbs, the _corregidor_, hat in hand, with a smile of
conscious desert, stepped forward to receive his excellency, and to
listen to the commendation bestowed on the prompt and skilful
execution of his commands!

Should any one doubt the truth of this story, let him be aware that the
Calle de Revilla-Gigedo still remains in Mexico to attest its verity.

These anecdotes impart some idea of the authority exercised by the
viceroys, which was certainly far more arbitrary and personal than
that of their sovereign in his Spanish dominions.

There is another adventure told to display the excellence of
Revilla-Gigedo's police, in which the count figures rather
melodramatically. It seems that among the _creole_ nobles, who, with
the high officers of government, made up the viceroy's court, there
was a certain marques, whom fortune had endowed with great estates and
two remarkably pretty daughters, and it was doubted by some whether
the care of his cash or his heiresses gave him most anxiety. The
eldest, who bore her father's title, was celebrated for beauty of an
uncommon kind in those regions. She had blue eyes, brilliant
complexion, and golden hair, and was every where known as the fair
haired marquesa. Her sister who, on the contrary, was very dark, with
eyes like the gazelle and raven hair, was called the pretty brunette.
But, different as they were in looks and perhaps in character, there
was one trait in which they perfectly agreed, for they were remarkable
coquettes! It is unknown how many offers of the wealthiest grandees
and most gallant cavaliers about court they had refused; and the poor
marques, who was by no means a domestic tyrant and desired to govern
his family only by kindness, was quite worn out in persuading them to
know there own minds. One night he was roused from his sleep by a
message from the viceroy, who awaited him in the palace. Not for his
best estate would the loyal marques have kept the representative of
his sovereign waiting a moment longer than necessary. Wondering what
reason of state could require his presence at that unusual hour, he
dressed himself hastily, and hurried to the palace. The viceroy was in
his cabinet, surrounded by several of his household, and all in a
state of painful curiosity. "Marques," said the viceroy, as soon as
the nobleman entered, "my lieutenant of police here, complains that
you did not take proper care to secure the doors of your mansion last
evening." "I assure your highness," replied the marques in great
surprise, "that my steward locked both the great gate and the outer
door, according to the invariable custom of my mansion, before
retiring for the night." "But have you not a postern opening into the
next street?" returned the count, "and are you equally heedful in
regard to it? But, in short," he continued, "you must know, that this
watchful lieutenant of mine has saved you to-night from robbery."
"Robbery! your excellency, is it possible?" ejaculated the marques,
startled for a moment out of his habitual composure. "Yes,--and of the
worst kind" replied the viceroy, "the felons were in the act of
carrying off your most exquisite treasures which are now restored to
you." At these words, a door at the side of the cabinet flew open, and
the astonished marques beheld his two daughters, dressed for
travelling, and locked in each other's arms. They seemed overwhelmed
with confusion; the fair hair all dishevelled and the black eyes
drowned in tears. "And these are the robbers," added the viceroy
pointing to a door on the opposite side, which also flew open. The
marques turned mechanically, and saw two of the gayest, handsomest,
and most dissipated youths of the court, whom he recollected as
occasional visitors at his house. They appeared no less confused, and,
with their embarrassment, there was an evident mixture of alarm. The
truth now began to break on the mind of the nobleman. "You see,
marques," said the count, "that but for the vigilance of my police,
you would have had the honor of being father-in-law to two of the
greatest scamps in my viceroyalty. See what a dilemma your
carelessness has brought me into, my dear sir! I am obliged to wound
the feelings of two of the most lovely ladies in my court, to save
them from the machinations of scoundrels unworthy of their charms, and
I fear they will never forgive me! Farewell, señor marques; take my
advice, and brick up your postern. Calderon[49] was a wise man, and he
tells us that a house with two doors is hard to keep. As for these
young scape-graces, they sail in the next galeon, for Manilla, where
they can exercise their fascinating powers on the _chinas_ and
_mulatas_ of the Philipines!"

[Footnote 48: During the administration of the second Count
Revilla-Gigedo the sum of one hundred and nine millions, seven hundred
and four thousand, four hundred and seventeen dollars, was coined in
gold and silver in Mexico.]

[Footnote 49: One of Calderon's comedies is named "_Casa con dos
puertas mala es de guardar_." See Lady's Magazine for 1844.]





The Marques Branciforte, who reached Mexico on the 11th of July, 1794,
contrasts unfavorably, in history, with his illustrious predecessor
Revilla-Gigedo. Partaking of the avaricious qualities of this
personage's father, he seems to have possessed but few of his virtues,
and probably accepted the viceroyalty of New Spain with no purpose but
that of plunder.

Scarcely had he begun to reign, when his rapacity was signally
exhibited. It is said that his first essay in extortion, was the sale
of the _sub-delegation_ of Villa-Alta to a certain Don Francisco Ruiz
de Conejares, for the sum of forty thousand dollars, and the bestowal
of the office of _apoderado_ on the Count de Contramina, the offices
of whose subordinates were bought and sold in the political market
like ordinary merchandise.

At this epoch the warlike hostility to France was excessive, and
orders had been received to exercise the strictest vigilance over the
subjects of that nation who resided in Mexico. Their number, however,
was small, for Spanish America was almost as closely sealed as China
against the entrance of strangers. Nevertheless Branciforte encouraged
a most disgraceful persecution against these unfortunate persons, by
arresting them on the slightest pretexts, throwing them into prison,
and seizing their possessions. He found, in his _assessor general_,
Don Pedro Jacinto Valenzuela, and in his criminal prosecutor,
Francisco Xavier de Borbon, fitting instruments to carry out his
inexorable determinations. Upon one occasion he even demanded of the
Sala de Audiencia that certain Frenchmen, after execution, should have
their tongues impaled upon iron spikes at the city gates, because they
had spoken slightingly of the virtue of the queen Maria Louisa!
Fortunately, however, for the wretched culprits, the _Sala_ was
composed of virtuous magistrates who refused to sanction the cruel
demand, and the victims were alone despoiled of their valuable
property. These acts, it may well be supposed, covered the name of
Branciforte with infamy even in Mexico.

In 1796, on the 7th of October, war was declared by Spain against
England, in consequence of which the viceroy immediately distributed
the colonial army, consisting of not less than eight thousand men, in
Orizaba, Cordova, Jalapa, and Peroté; and, in the beginning of the
following year, he left the capital to command the forces from his
headquarters near the eastern coast. This circumstance enabled him to
leave, with an air of triumph, a city in which he was profoundly
hated. The people manifested their contempt of so despicable an
extortioner and flatterer of royalty, not only by words, but by
caricatures. When the sovereign sent him the order of the golden
fleece, they depicted Branciforte with a collar of the noble order,
but in lieu of the lamb, which terminates the insignia, they placed
the figure of a cat! At his departure, the civil and financial
government of the capital was entrusted to the regency of the
_audiencia_, while its military affairs were conducted by the
Brigadier Davalos. In Orizaba the conduct of Branciforte was that of
an absolute monarch. All his troops were placed under the best
discipline, but none of them were permitted to descend to Vera Cruz;
yet, scarcely had he been established in this new military command,
when it was known that Don Miguel José de Azanza was named as his
viceroyal successor. Nevertheless Branciforte continued in control,
with the same domineering demeanor, as in the first days of his
government, relying for justification and defence in Spain upon the
support of his relative, the Prince of Peace. In Orizaba he was
surrounded by flatterers and his court was a scene of disgraceful
orgies; yet the day of his fall was at hand. The ship Monarch
anchored at Vera Cruz, on the 17th of May, 1798, and, on the 31st of
the same month, Azanza, the new viceroy who reached America in her,
received the viceroyal baton from Branciforte. This supercilious
peculator departed from New Spain with five millions of dollars, a
large portion of which was his private property, in the vessel that
had brought his successor, and arrived at Ferol, after a narrow escape
from the English in the waters of Cadiz. But he returned to Spain
loaded with wealth and curses, for never had the Mexicans complained
so bitterly against any Spaniard who was commissioned to rule them.
The respectable and wealthy inhabitants of the colony were loudest in
their denunciations of an "Italian adventurer," who enriched himself
at the expense of their unfortunate country, nor was his conduct less
hateful because he had been the immediate successor of so just and
upright a viceroy as Revilla-Gigedo.

The character of Branciforte was keen and hypocritical. He tried, at
times, but vainly, to conceal his avarice, while his pretended love
for the "Virgin of Guadalupe" and for the royal family, was
incessantly reiterated in familiar conversation. Every Saturday during
his government, and on the twelfth of every month, he made pious
pilgrimages to the sanctuary of the Mexican protectress. He placed a
large image of the virgin on the balcony of the palace, and ordered a
salute to be fired at daybreak in honor of the saint on the twelfth of
every December. With these cheap ceremonials, however, he satisfied
his hypocritical piety and absorbing avarice, but he never bestowed a
farthing upon the collegiate church of the Virgin. Whenever he spoke
in his court of the sovereign of Spain it was with an humble mien, a
reverential voice, and all the external manifestations of subserviency
for the royal personages who conferred such unmerited honors upon him.
Such is the picture which has been left by Mexican annalists of one of
their worst rulers.


Azanza, who, as we have related, assumed the viceroyalty in May, 1798,
was exceedingly well received in Mexico. His worthy character was
already known to the people, and almost any new viceroy would have been
hailed as a deliverer from the odious administration of Branciforte.
Azanza was urbane towards all classes, and his discreet conversation, at
once, secured the respect and confidence of the colonists. Besides
this, the early measures of his administration were exceedingly wise. He
dissolved the various military encampments, established and maintained
at enormous cost, by his predecessor in the neighborhood of the eastern
coasts. This heavy charge on the treasury was distasteful to the people,
while so large an assemblage of colonial troops necessarily withdrew
multitudes from agricultural and commercial pursuits, and greatly
interfered with the business of New Spain. Anxious, however, to protect
the important post of Vera Cruz, the viceroy formed a less numerous
encampment in its neighborhood; but the greater portion of its officers
and men perished in that unhealthy climate.

The war with England was not altogether disadvantageous to Mexico, for
although the royal order of the 18th of November, 1797, was repeated
on the 20th of April, 1799, by which a commerce in neutral vessels had
been permitted with the colony's ports, yet, as the seas were filled
with enemy's cruisers, the Spanish trade in national vessels was
narrowed chiefly to exports from the mother country. This course of
commerce resulted in retaining the specie of Mexico within her
territory, for the precious metals had hitherto been the principal
article of export to Spain in return for merchandise despatched from
Cadiz. The _internal_ trade of Mexico was, accordingly, fostered and
beneficially sustained by the continuance of its large annual metallic
products within the viceroyalty until peace permitted their safe
transmission abroad. The beneficial retention of silver and gold in
the country was not only manifested in the activity of domestic trade,
but in the improvement of its towns and cities, and in the
encouragement of manufactures of silk, cotton and wool. In Oaxaca,
Guadalaxara, Valladolid, Puebla, Cuautitlan, San Juan Teotihuacan,
Zempoala, Metepec, Ixtlahuaca, Tulancingo, the number of looms
increased rapidly between 1796 and 1800. In Oaxaca thirty were added;
in San Juan Teotihuacan thirty-three; in Querétaro, three thousand
four hundred persons were employed; while, in the town of Cadereita,
there existed more than two hundred looms, giving employment to more
than five hundred individuals.

In attending wisely and justly to the civil administration of New
Spain, and in fostering the internal trade and industry, Azanza
bestirred himself whilst the war continued. There were but few actions
between the combatants, but as the contest between the nations sealed
the ports in a great degree, Mexico was made chiefly dependent on
herself for the first time since her national existence. The politics
and intrigues of the old world thus acquainted the colony with her
resources and taught her the value of independence.

Azanza's administration was, for a while, disturbed by a threatened
outbreak among the lower classes, whose chief conspirators assembled
in an obscure house in the capital, and designed, at a suitable
moment, rising in great numbers and murdering, without discrimination,
all the wealthiest or most distinguished _Spaniards_. This treasonable
project was discovered to the viceroy, who went in person, with a
guard, to the quarters of the leaguers, and arrested them on the spot.
They were speedily brought to trial; but the cause hung in the courts
until after the departure of Azanza, when powerful and touching
intercessions were made with his successor to save the lives of the
culprits. The project of a pardon was maturely considered by the
proper authorities, and it was resolved not to execute the guilty
chiefs, inasmuch as it was believed that their appearance upon a
scaffold would be the signal for a general revolt of the people
against the dominion of the parent country. The sounds of the
approaching storm were already heard in the distance, and justice
yielded to policy.

Azanza, with all his excellent qualities as a Governor in America, did
not give satisfaction to the court at home. There is no doubt of the
value of his administration in Mexico, and it is, therefore, difficult
to account for his loss of favor, except upon the ground of intrigue and
corruption which were rife in Madrid. The reign of Charles IV. and the
administration of the Prince of Peace, are celebrated in history as the
least respectable in modern Spanish annals. Whilst the royal favorite
controlled the king's councils, favoritism and intrigue ruled the day.
Among other legends of the time, it is asserted by Bustamante, in his
continuation of Cavo's "_Tres Siglos de Mejico_," that the Mexican
viceroyalty was almost put up at auction in Madrid, and offered for
eighty thousand dollars to the secretary Bonilla. In consequence of this
personage's inability to procure the requisite sum, it was conferred,
through another bargain and sale, upon Don Felix Berenguer de Marquina,
an obscure officer, who was unknown to the king either personally or as
a meritorious servant of the crown and people.

The Mexican author to whom we have just referred, characterizes Azanza
as the wisest, most politic and amiable viceroy, ever sent by Spain to
rule over his beautiful country.[50]


Marquina took charge of the viceroyalty on the 30th of April 1800,
after a sudden and mysterious arrival in New Spain, having passed
through the enemy's squadron and been taken prisoner. It was
inconceivable to the Mexicans why the vice-admiral of Jamaica deemed
it proper to release a Spanish officer who came to America on a
warlike mission; yet it is now known that in November, of 1800, the
king ordered forty thousand dollars to be paid the viceroy to
reimburse the _extraordinary_ expenses of his voyage!

The government of this personage was not remarkable in the development
of the colony. The war with England still continued, but it was of a
mild character, and vessels constantly passed between the belligerants
with flags of truce, through whose intervention the Mexicans were
permitted to purchase in Jamaica the paper, quicksilver, and European
stuffs, which the British crusiers had captured from Spanish ships in
the Gulf.

In 1801, an Indian named Mariano, of Tepic in Jalisco, son of the
governor of the village of Tlascala in that department, attempted to
excite a revolution among the people of his class, by means of an
anonymous circular which proclaimed him king. Measures were immediately
taken to suppress this outbreak, and numbers of the natives were
apprehended and carried to Guadalajara. The fears of Marquina were
greatly excited by this paltry rebellion, which he imagined, or feigned
to believe, a wide spread conspiracy excited by the NORTH AMERICANS and
designed to overthrow the Spanish power. The viceroy, accordingly,
detailed his services in exaggerated terms to the home government, and
it is probably owing to the eulogium passed by him upon the conduct of
Abascal, president of Guadalaxara, that this personage was made viceroy
of Buenos Ayres, and afterwards honored with the government of Peru and
created Marques de la Concordia.

A definitive treaty of peace was concluded between the principal
European and American belligerants in 1802, and soon after, Marquina,
who was offended by some slights received from the Spanish ministry,
resigned an office for the performance of whose manifold duties and
intricate labors he manifested no ability save that of a good
disposition. He was probably better fitted to govern a village of
fifty inhabitants than the vast and important empire of New Spain.


On the morning of the 4th of January, 1803, Don José Iturrigaray
reached Guadalupe near Mexico, where he received the staff of office
from his predecessor and was welcomed by the Audiencia, tribunals, and
nobility of the capital.

The revolution in the British provinces of North America had been
successful, and they had consolidated themselves into nationality
under the title of United States. France followed in the footsteps of
liberty, and, overthrowing the rotten throne of the Bourbons, was the
first European state to give an impulse to freedom in the old world.
The whole western part of that continent was more or less agitated by
the throes of the moral and political volcano whose fiery eruption was
soon to cover Europe with destruction. In the midst of this epoch of
convulsive change, Spain alone exhibited the aspect of passive
insignificance, for the king, queen, and Prince of Peace, still
conducted the government of that great nation, and their corrupt rule
has become a proverb of imbecility and contempt. Godoy, the misnamed
"Prince of Peace," was the virtual ruler of the nation. His
administration was, at once, selfish, depraved and silly. The favorite
of the king, and the alleged paramour of the queen, he controlled both
whenever it was necessary, while the colonies, as well as the parent
state, naturally experienced all the evil consequences of his
debauched government. Bad as had been the management of affairs in
America during the reign of the long series of viceroys who commanded
on our continent, it became even worse whilst Godoy swayed Charles IV.
through the influence of his dissolute queen. Most of the serious and
exciting annoyances which afterwards festered and broke out in the
Mexican revolution, owe their origin to this epoch of Spanish misrule.

Iturrigaray was exceedingly well received in Mexico, where his
reputation as an eminent servant of the crown preceded him. Shortly
after his arrival he undertook a journey to the interior, in order to
examine personally into the condition of the mining districts; and,
after his return to the capital, he devoted himself to the ordinary
routine of colonial administration until it became necessary, in
consequence of the breaking out of the war, between Spain and England,
to adopt measures for the protection of his viceroyalty. In
consequence of this rupture Iturrigaray received orders from the
court to put the country in a state of complete defence, and
accordingly, he gathered, in haste the troops of Mexico, Puebla,
Peroté, Jalapa and Vera Cruz, and, descending several times to the
latter place, personally inspected all the encampments and garrisons
along the route. Besides this, he made a rapid military reconnoissance
of the country along the coast and the chief highways to the interior.
The road from Vera Cruz to Mexico was constructed in the best manner
under his orders, and the celebrated bridge called _El Puente del
rey_, now known as _El Puente Nacional_, was finally completed.

These preparations were designed not only to guard New Spain from the
invasions of the English, but also, from a dreaded attack by the
people of the United States. This fear seems to have been fostered by
the Marques de Casa Irujo who was Spanish envoy in Washington at this
epoch, and informed the government that the menaced expedition against
Mexico, would throw twenty thousand men upon her shores. Nor was the
attention of Iturrigaray diverted from the enterprise which was
projected by Don Francisco Miranda to secure the independence of
Caraccas; and although the scheme failed, it appears to have aroused
the whole of Spanish America to assert and maintain its rights.

It was during the government of this viceroy, that the celebrated
Baron Humboldt, visited Mexico,--by permission of the patriotic
minister D'Urquijo,--authorized, by the home government, to examine
its dominions and their archives, and to receive from the colonial
authorities all the information they possessed in regard to America.
He was the first writer who developed the resources or described the
condition of the Spanish portion of our continent, which, until that
time, had been studiously veiled from the examination of all strangers
who were likely to reveal their knowledge to the world.

In 1806, the news of the destruction of the combined fleets in the
waters of Cadiz became known in Mexico, and the resident Spaniards,
exhibiting a lively sympathy with the mother country in this sad
affliction, collected upwards of thirty thousand dollars for the
widows of their brave companions who had fallen in action. Meanwhile,
the war in Europe was not only destroying the subjects of the
desperate belligerants, but was rapidly consuming their national
substance. In this state of things America was called upon to
contribute for the maintenance of a bloody struggle in which she had
no interest save that of loyal dependence. Taxes, duties, and
exactions of all sorts were laid upon the Mexicans, and, under this
dread infliction, the domestic and foreign trade languished
notwithstanding the extraordinary yield of the mines, which, in 1805,
sent upwards of twenty millions into circulation. Of all the royal
interferences with Mexican interests and capital, none seems to have
been more vexatiously unpopular, than the decree for the consolidation
of the capitals of _obras pias_, or, charitable and pious revenues,
which was issued by the court; and Iturrigaray, as the executive
officer employed in this consolidation, drew upon himself the general
odium of all the best classes in the colony.

Charles IV. fell before the revolutionary storm in Europe, and signed
his abdication on the 9th of August, 1808, in favor of his son
Ferdinand VII. But the weak and irresolute monarch soon protested
against this abdication, alleging that the act had been extorted from
him by threats against his life; and, whilst the Supreme council of
Spain was examining into the validity of Charles's renunciation, and
Ferdinand was treating his father's protest with contempt, Napoleon,
who had steadily advanced to supreme power after the success of the
French revolution, took prompt advantage of the dissentions in the
peninsula, and, making himself master of it, seated his brother Joseph
on the Spanish throne. As soon as Joseph was firmly placed in power,
Ferdinand congratulated him upon his elevation, and ordered all his
Spanish and colonial subjects to recognize the upstart king. But the
servility of Ferdinand to the ascending star of European power did not
meet with obedience from the people of Mexico, who, resolving to
continue loyal to their legitimate sovereign, forthwith proclaimed
Ferdinand VII. throughout New Spain. The conduct of the colonists was
secretly approved by the dissembling monarch, although he ratified a
decree of the Council of the Indies, commanding the Mexicans to obey
Joseph. The natives of the Peninsula, dwelling in New Spain, were
nearly all opposed to the Bourbons and faithful to the French
propagandists, whilst the creoles, or American natives denounced the
adherents of Joseph and burned the proclamation which declared him to
be their king. The orders received at this period by Iturrigaray from
Ferdinand, Joseph, and the Council of the Indies, were, of course, all
in conflict with each other; and, in order to relieve himself from the
political dilemma in which he was placed by these mixed commands,
Iturrigaray determined to summon a _Junta_ of Notable Persons, similar
to that of Seville, which was to be composed of the viceroy, the
archbishop of Mexico and representatives from the army, the nobility,
the principal citizens and the ayuntamiento of the capital. But
inasmuch as this plan of concord leaned in favor of the people, by
proposing to place the _creoles of America_ upon an equality with the
_natives of Spain_, the old hatred or jealousy between the races was
at once aroused. The Europeans, who composed the partisans of France,
headed by Don Gabriel Yermo, a rich Spaniard and proprietor of some of
the finest sugar estates in the valley of Cuernavaca, at once resolved
to frustrate the viceroy's design. Arming themselves hastily, they
proceeded, on the night of the 15th of September, 1808, to his palace,
where they arrested Iturrigaray, and accusing him of heresy and
treason, sent him as prisoner to Spain. This revolutionary act was
openly countenanced by the Audiencia, the Oidores Aguirre and
Bataller, and the body of Spanish traders. For three years, until
released by an act of amnesty in 1811, Iturrigaray continued in close
confinement; and, although he was not regarded favorably by all
classes of Mexicans, this outrage against his person by the Spanish
emigrants seems to have produced a partial reaction in his favor among
the loyal natives.

The administration of Iturrigaray was not only defective, but corrupt
in many executive acts, for offices were scandalously sold at his
court,--a fact which was proved in the judicial inquiry subsequently
made into his conduct. The Council of the Indies, in 1819, sentenced
him to pay upwards of three hundred and eighty-four thousand dollars,
in consequence of the maladministration that was charged and
maintained against him.


This chief was more than eighty years of age when honored with the
viceroyalty of New Spain. He had passed the greater portion of his
life in Mexico, and rose from the humble grade of lieutenant of
provincial militia to the highest post in the colony. He was familiar
with the habits and feelings of the people; was generally esteemed for
the moderation with which he conducted himself in office, and was
altogether the most endurable viceroy who could have been imposed upon
the Mexicans at that revolutionary period.

During the government of the preceding viceroy the troubles which
began, as we have seen, in the old world, had extended to the new, and
we shall therefore group the history of the war that resulted in
Mexican independence, under the titles of the last viceroys who were
empowered by Peninsular authorities to stay, if they could not
entirely control, the progress of American liberty.

[Footnote 50: Cavo y Bustamante: Tres Siglos de Mejico, tomo 3^o, 190.]








The pictures presented in the introductory chapter to the viceroyal
history and in the subsequent detailed narrative of that epoch, will
suffice, we presume, to convince our readers that they need not
penetrate deeply for the true causes of misery and misrule in Spanish
America. The decadence of Spain as well as the present unhappiness of
nearly all her ancient colonies may be fairly attributed to the same
source of national ruin--bad, unnatural government. A distinguished
statesman of our country has remarked that "the European alliance of
emperors and kings assumed, as the foundation of human society, the
doctrine of unalienable allegiance, whilst our doctrine was founded on
the principle of unalienable right."[51] This mistaken European view,
or rather assumption of royal prerogative and correlative human
duties, was the baleful origin of colonial misrule. The house of
Austria did not govern Spain as wisely as its predecessors. The Spain
that Philip I. received and the Spain of those who followed him,
present a sad contrast. As the conquest of America had not been
conceived, although it was declared to be, in a beneficent spirit, the
sovereigns continued the system of plunder with which it was begun.
Its results are known. The Americans were their subjects, bound to
them by "unalienable allegiance;" vassals, serfs creatures, whose
human rights, in effect, were nothing when compared to the monarch's
will. This doctrine at once converted the southern portions of our
continent into a soulless machine, which the king had a right to use
as he pleased, and especially, as he deemed most beneficial for his
domestic realm. The consequence was, that, in concurrence with the
Council of the Indies, he established, as we have seen, an entirely
artificial system, which contradicted nature, and utterly thwarted
both physical and intellectual development.

The Indians and creoles of Mexico and Peru, ignorant and stupid as
they were believed to be by Spain, had, nevertheless, sense enough to
understand and feel the wretchedness of their condition. They
cherished in their hearts an intense hatred for their foreign masters.
There was no positive or merely natural enmity of races in this, but
rather a suppressed desire to avenge their wrongs.

When the French seized Spain, the colonies in America were, for a
period, forced to rely upon themselves for temporary government. They
did not, at once, desire to adopt republican institutions, but rather
adhered to monarchy, provided they could free themselves from bad
rulers and vicious laws. This especially was the case in Mexico. Her
war against the mother country originated in a loyal desire to be
completely independent of France. The news of the departure of
Ferdinand VII. for Bayonne, and the alleged perfidy of Napoleon in
that city, excited an enthusiasm among the Mexicans for the legitimate
king, and created a mortal hatred against the conqueror of Europe. All
classes of original Mexican society seem to have been united in these
sentiments. Subscriptions were freely opened and in a few months,
seven millions were collected to aid their Peninsular friends who were
fighting for religion, king, and nationality. The idea did not strike
any Mexican that it was a proper time to free his native land entirely
from colonial thraldom.[52] But after a short time, the people began
to reflect. The _prestige_ of Spanish power, to which we have alluded
heretofore, was destroyed. A French king sat upon the Spanish throne.
The wand of the enchanter, with which he had spell-bound America
across the wide Atlantic, was broken forever. The treasured memory of
oppression, conquest, bad government and misery, was suddenly
refreshed, and it is not surprising to find that when the popular
rising finally took place, it manifested its bitterness in an
universal outcry against the Spaniards.

After the occurrences at Bayonne, emissaries from king Joseph
Bonaparte spread themselves over the continent to prepare the people
for the ratification and permanence of the French government. These
political propagandists were charged, as we have stated with orders
from Ferdinand VII. and the Council of the Indies, to transfer the
allegiance of America to France.[53] It may be imagined that this
would have gratified the masses in America, who perhaps, had heard
that the French were the unquestionable patrons of "liberty and
equality." But, the exact reverse was the case among the creoles,
whilst the _Spaniards_ in America, received the emissaries with
welcome, and bowed down submissively to the orders they brought.
Blinded for centuries to all ideas of government save those of regal
character, the Mexicans had no notion of rule or ruler except their
traditionary Spanish king. They clung to him, therefore, with
confidence, for they felt the necessity of some paramount authority,
as political self control was, as yet, an utter impossibility.

A secret union among leading men was, therefore, formed in 1810, which
contemplated a general rising throughout the provinces, but the plot
was detected at the moment when it was ripe for development. This
conspiracy was based upon a desire to _overthrow the Spaniards_. "They
felt," says Mr. Ward, "that the question was not now one between
themselves as subjects, but between themselves and their fellow
subjects, the European Spaniards, as to which should possess the right
of representing the absent king," as guardians and preservers of the
rights of Ferdinand. The Europeans claimed this privilege exclusively,
with customary insolence. "The Ayuntamiento of Mexico was told by the
Audiencia that it possessed no authority except over the
_leperos_"--or mob of the capital; and it was a favorite maxim of the
oidor Battaller that "while a Manchego mule or a Castilian cobler
remained in the Peninsula, he had a right to govern."[54]

In those times, a certain country curate, by name Miguel Hidalgo y
Costilla, dwelt in the Indian village of Dolores, adjacent to the town
of San Miguel el Grande, lying in the province of Guanajuanto. One of
the conspirators being about to die, sent for his priest, and
confessing the plot, revealed also the names of his accomplices. The
curate Hidalgo was one of the chiefs of this revolutionary band, and
the viceroy Venegas hoping to crush the league in its bud, despatched
orders for his arrest and imprisonment, as soon as the confession of
the dead conspirator was disclosed to him. Hidalgo's colleagues were
also included in this order, but some of the secret friends of the
insurgents learned what was occurring at court and apprised the
patriot priest of his imminent danger. The news first reached Don
Ignacio Allende, who commanded a small body of the king's troops in
San Miguel, and who hastened with the disastrous tidings to his friend
at Dolores. Concealment and flight were now equally unavailing. The
troops of Allende were speedily won to the cause of their captain,
while the Indians of Dolores rushed to defend their beloved pastor. As
they marched from their village to San Miguel and thence to Zelaya,
the natives, armed with clubs, slings, staves and missiles, thronged
to their ranks from every mountain and valley. The wretched equipment
of the insurgents shows their degraded condition as well as the
passionate fervor with which they blindly rushed upon the enemies of
their race. Hidalgo put on his military coat over the cassock, and,
perhaps unwisely, threw himself at the head of a revolution, which
rallied at the cry of "_Death to the Gachupines_."[55]

The result of this onslaught was dreadful. Wherever the rebellious
army passed, Spaniards and uncomplying creoles they were
indiscriminately slaughtered, and though many of the latter were
originally combined with the conspirators and eagerly longed for the
emancipation of their country, they were dismayed by the atrocities of
the wild insurgents. As the rebel chief, armed with the sword and
cross, pressed onward, immense numbers of Indians flocked to his
banner, so that when he left Zelaya, a fierce and undisciplined mob of
twenty thousand hailed him as undisputed commander. At the head of
this predatory band he descended upon the noble city of Guanajuanto,
in the heart of the wealthiest mining district of Mexico. The
Spaniards and some of the creoles resolved upon a stout resistance,
shut themselves up in the city and refused the humane terms offered by
Hidalgo upon condition of surrender. This rash rejection led to an
immediate attack and victory. When the city fell, it was too late for
the insurgent priest to stay the savage fury of his troops. The
Spaniards and their adherents were promiscuously slaughtered by the
troops, and, for three days the sacking of the city continued, until
wearied with conquest, the rebels, at length, stopped the plunder of
the town. Immense treasures, hoarded in this place for many years,
were the fruits of this atrocious victory which terrified the Mexican
authorities and convinced them that the volcanic nature of the people
had been fully roused, and that safety existed alone in uncompromising

The original rebellion was thus thrown from the hands of the creoles
into those of the Indians. A war of _races_ was about to break out;
and although there were not among the insurgents more than a thousand
muskets, yet the mere numerical force of such an infuriate crowd, was
sufficient to dismay the staunchest. The viceroy Venegas, and the
church, therefore, speedily combined to hurl their weapons against the
rebels. Whilst the former issued proclamations or decrees, and
despatched troops under the command of Truxillo to check Hidalgo who
was advancing on the capital, the latter declared all the rebels to be
heretics, and excommunicated them in a body. Venegas ordered all the
higher clergy "to represent from the pulpit, and circulate the idea
privately, that the great object of the revolution was to destroy and
subvert the holy Catholic religion, while he directed the subaltern
ministers to sow discord in families by the confessional."[56] But the
arms of the Spanish chiefs and the anathemas of the Roman church, were
unequal to the task of resistance. Hidalgo was attacked by Truxillo at
Las Cruces, about eight leagues from the capital, where the Indian
army overwhelmed the Spanish general and drove him back to Mexico,
with the loss of his artillery. In this action we find it difficult to
apportion the ferocity, with justice, between the combatants, for
Truxillo boasted in his despatch that he had defended the defile with
the "obstinacy of Leonidas," and had even "fired upon the bearers of a
flag of truce which Hidalgo sent him."[57]

The insurgents followed up their success at Las Cruces by pursuing the
foe until they arrived at the _hacienda_ of Quaximalpa, within fifteen
miles of the city of Mexico. But here a fatal distrust of his powers
seems first to have seized the warrior priest. Venegas, it is said,
contrived to introduce secret emmissaries into his camp, who impressed
Hidalgo and his officers with the belief that the capital was
abundantly prepared for defence, and that an assault upon the
disciplined troops of Spain, by a disordered multitude without fire
arms, would only terminate in the rout and destruction of all his
forces. In fact, he seems to have been panic stricken, and to have
felt unable to control the revolutionary tempest he had raised.
Accordingly, in an evil moment for his cause, he commenced a retreat,
after having remained several days in sight of the beautiful city of
Mexico, upon which he might easily have swept down from the mountain
like an eagle to his prey.

It is related by the historians of these wars, that in spite of all
Venegas's boasted valor and assurance, he was not a little dismayed by
the approach of Hidalgo. The people shared his alarm, and would
probably have yielded at once to the insurgents, whose imposing forces
were crowding into the valley. But in this strait the viceroy had
recourse to the well known superstitions of the people, in order to
allay their fears. He caused the celebrated image of the Virgin of
Remedios to be brought from the mountain village, where it was
generally kept in a chapel, to the cathedral, with great pomp and
ceremony. Thither he proceeded, in full uniform, to pay his respects
to the figure, and after imploring the Virgin to take the government
into her own hands, he terminated his appeal by laying his baton of
command at her feet.[58]

It is now that we first encounter in Mexican history the name of Don
Felix Maria Calleja,--a name that is coupled with all that is
shameless, bloody, and atrocious, in modern warfare. Calleja was
placed at the head of a well appointed creole army of ten thousand men
and a train of artillery, and with these disciplined forces, which he
had been for some time concentrating, he was ordered to pursue
Hidalgo.[59] The armies met at Aculco, and the Indians, in their first
encounter with a body of regulars, exhibited an enthusiastic bravery
that nearly defies belief. They were almost as completely ignorant of
the use or power of fire arms as their Aztec ancestors three hundred
years before. They threw themselves upon the serried ranks of infantry
with clubs and staves. Rushing up to the mouths of the cannon they
drove their _sombreros_ or hats of straw, into the muzzles. Order,
command, or discipline, were entirely unknown to them. Their effort
was simply to overwhelm by superiority of numbers. But the cool
phalanx of creoles stood firm, until the Indian disorder became so
great, and their strength so exhausted by repeated yet fruitless
efforts, that the regulars commenced the work of slaughter with
impunity. Calleja boasts that Hidalgo lost "ten thousand men, of whom
five thousand were put to the sword." It seems, however, that he was
unable to capture or disband the remaining insurgents; for Hidalgo
retreated to Guanajuato, and then fell back on Guadalaxara, leaving in
the former city a guard under his friend Allende.

Calleja next attacked the rebel forces at the hacienda of Marfil, and
having defeated Allende, who defended himself bravely, rushed onward
towards the city of Guanajuato. This place he entered as conqueror.
"The sacrifice of the prisoners of Marfil," says Robinson, "was not
sufficient to satiate his vindictive spirit." He glutted his vengeance
on the defenceless population of Guanajuato. Men, women and children,
were driven by his orders, into the great square; and fourteen
thousand of these wretches, it is alleged, were butchered in a most
barbarous manner. Their throats were cut. The principal fountain of
the city literally overflowed with blood. But, far from concealing
these savage acts, Calleja, in his account of the conflict, exults in
the honor of communicating the intelligence that he had purged the
city of its rebellious population. The only apology offered for the
sacrifice was that it would have wasted too much powder to have shot
them, and therefore, on the principle of economy he cut their throats.
Thus was this unfortunate city, in a single campaign, made the victim
of both loyalists and insurgents.

Hidalgo and his division were soon joined by Allende, and although they
suffered all the disasters of a bad retreat as well as of Spanish
victories, he still numbered about eighty thousand under his banners. He
awaited Calleja at Guadalaxara, which he had surrounded with
fortifications and armed with cannon, dragged by the Indians, over
mountain districts from the port of San Blas, on the Pacific; but it is
painful to record the fact, that in this city Hidalgo was guilty of
great cruelties to all the Europeans. Ward relates that between seven
and eight hundred victims fell beneath the assassin's blade. A letter,
produced on Hidalgo's trial, written to one of his lieutenants, charges
the officer to seize as many Spaniards as he possibly can, and,
moreover, directs him, if he has any reason to suspect his prisoners of
entertaining seditious or restless ideas, to bury them at once in
oblivion by putting such persons to death in some secret and solitary
place, where their fate may remain forever unknown! As the cruelty of
Old Spain to the Mexicans had well nigh driven them to despair, such
savage assassinations, in turn, drove the Spaniards to revenge, or, at
least furnished them with an excuse for their horrible atrocities.

Calleja, intent on the pursuit of his Indian prey, was not long in
following Hidalgo. The insurgent chief endeavored to excite the ardor
of his troops, while he preserved some show of discipline in their
ranks; and, thus prepared, he gave battle to the Spaniards, at the
bridge of Calderon, on the 17th of January, 1811. At first Hidalgo,
was successful, but the rebels were no match for the royal troops kept
in reserve by Calleja. With these he made a fierce charge upon the
Indians, and sweeping through their broken masses he "pursued and
massacred them by thousands."

Calleja was not a person either to conciliate or to pause in victory. He
believed that rebellion could only be rooted out by utter destruction of
the insurgents and their seed. Accordingly orders were issued to
"exterminate the inhabitants of every town or village that showed
symptoms of adherence to the rebels," whilst, from the pulpit, new
denunciations were fulminated against all who opposed the royal
authority. The insurgent chiefs fled, and reached Saltillo with about
four thousand men. There it was resolved to leave Rayon in command,
while Hidalgo, Allende, Aldama and Absolo endeavored to reach the United
States with an escort for the purpose of purchasing munitions of war
with the treasure they had saved from the sacking of Guanajuato. But
these fierce and vindictive soldiers were destined to end their lives by
treachery. Hidalgo's associate rebel, Ignacio Elizondo, hoping to make
his peace with the government by betraying so rich a prize, delivered
them up to the authorities on the 21st of March, 1811, at Acatila de
Bajan. Hidalgo was taken to Chihuahua, and, after being degraded from
holy orders, was shot on the 27th of July, whilst Calleja was rewarded
for his victories with the title of Conde de Calderon, won by his
brilliant charge at the bridge near Guanajuato.

Such is an outline of the warfare between the Sylla and Marius of this
continent, and of some of the most prominent events in the origin of
that revolution which finally resulted in the Mexican independence.

[Footnote 51: John Quincy Adams's letter to Mr. Anderson, minister to
Columbia, May 27, 1823. See President's message on the Panama
Congress, March, 1823.]

[Footnote 52: Zavala, Historia, vol. 1, p. 38.]

[Footnote 53: Robinson's Hist. Mex. Rev. p. 10.]

[Footnote 54: Ward's Mexico, vol. 1, p. 127. Id. p. 157.]

[Footnote 55: This term has been variously interpreted; it is supposed
to be an ancient Indian word significant of contempt. It is applied by
the natives to the European Spaniards or their full blooded
descendants. See Robinson's His. Rey. Mex., 15.]

[Footnote 56: Robinson Memoir Mex. Rev. 19.]

[Footnote 57: Ib. p. 20.]

[Footnote 58: Wards' Mexico in 1827, vol. i. p. 169.]

[Footnote 59: The creoles although unfriendly to the Spaniards, and
ready to rebel against them, were nevertheless willing to aid them
against the Indians whom they more reasonably regarded, under the
circumstances as the more dangerous of the two classes.]




SPAIN. 1810-1813.

After Hidalgo's death the country was for a considerable time involved
in a _guerilla_ warfare which extended throughout the whole territory
of Mexico, to the _provincas internas_ of the north Rayon assumed
command of the fragments of Hidalgo's forces at Saltillo and retired
to Zacatecas, but he had no command, or indeed authority, except over
his own men. The whole country was in ferment. The valley of Mexico
was full of eager partisans, who _lazo'd_ the sentinels even at the
gates of the town; yet, in all the chief cities, the viceroy's
authority was still permanently acknowledged.

Men of reflection immediately saw that the cause of liberation would
be lost, if, amid all these elements of boiling discontent, there was
no unity of opinion and action. The materials of success were ample
throughout the nation; but they required organization under men in
whose judgment and bravery the insurgent masses could rely.

Such were the opinions of Rayon and his friends, who, in May, 1811,
occupied Zitacuaro, when on the 10th of the following September, they
assembled a Junta, or, central government, composed of five members
chosen by a large body of the most respectable landed proprietors in
the neighborhood, in conjunction with the Ayuntamiento and inhabitants
of the town.

The doctrines of this Junta were liberal, but they maintained a close
intimacy with Spain, and even admitted the people's willingness to
receive Ferdinand VII. as sovereign of Mexico provided he abandoned
his European possessions for New Spain. When Morelos, joined the Junta
he disapproved this last concession to the royalists, though it was
chiefly defended by Rayon as an expedient measure when dealing with
people over whom the name of king still exercised the greatest
influence. This Junta was finally merged in the congress of
Chilpanzingo. Its manifesto, directed to the viceroy in March, 1812,
is worthy of rememberance, as it contains the several doctrines of the
revolution admirably expressed by Dr. Cos, who was its author. He
paints in forcible language the misery created by the fifteen months
of civil war, and the small reliance that Spain could place on creole
troops, whose sympathies, at present, and whose efforts, in the end,
would all be thrown into the scale of their country. He assumes as
fundamental principles that America and Spain are naturally equal;
that America has as much right to her Cortes as Spain has to hers;
that the existing rulers in the Peninsula have no just authority over
Mexico as long as their sovereign is a captive, and, finally, he
proposes that if "the Europeans will consent to give up the offices
they hold, and allow the assemblage of a general congress, their
persons and property shall be religiously respected, their salaries
paid, and the same privileges granted them as to native Mexicans, who,
on their side, will acknowledge Ferdinand as the legitimate sovereign,
and assist the Peninsula with their treasure, whilst they will at all
times regard the Spaniards as fellow subjects of the same great empire."

The alternative of war was presented to the viceroy together with
these moderate demands, but he was only requested to abate the
personal cruelties that had hitherto been committed, and to save the
towns and villages from sacking or destruction by fire. Yet the insane
Venegas would listen to no terms with the rebels, and caused the
manifesto to be burned in the great square, by the common executioner.
The principles of the document, however, had been spread abroad among
the people, and the flames of the hangman could no longer destroy the
liberal doctrines which were deeply sown in the hearts of the people.

The distinguished revolutionary chief Morelos, a clergyman, now
appears prominently upon the stage. He had been commissioned by
Hidalgo as Captain General of the provinces on the south-west coast in
1810, and departed for his government with as sorry an army as the
troop of Falstaff. His escort consisted of a few servants from his
curacy, armed with six muskets and some old lances. But he gathered
forces as he advanced. The Galeanas joined him with their adherents
and swelled his numbers to near a thousand. They advanced to Acapulco,
and having captured it with abundant booty, the insurgents soon found
their ranks joined by numerous important persons, and, among them the
_Cura_ Matamoros and the Bravos, whose names have, ever since, been
prominently connected with the history and development of Mexico.

The year 1811 was passed in a series of petty engagements; but, in
January, 1812, the insurgents penetrated within twenty-five leagues of
the capital, where Galeana and Bravo took the town of Tasco.

Morelos was victorious in several other actions in the same and
succeeding months, and pushed his advanced guards into the valley of
Mexico, where he occupied Chalco and San Agustin de las Cuevas, about
twelve miles from the metropolis. Morelos finally resolved to make his
stand at Cuautla, in the _tierra caliente_, on the other side of the
mountain ranges which hem in the valley; and, to this place the
viceroy Venegas despatched Calleja, who was summoned from the north
and west, where, as may readily be imagined, so fiery a spirit had not
been idle or innocent since the defeat of Hidalgo.

On the 1st of January, 1812, Calleja reached Zitacuaro, whence the
alarmed Junta fled to Sultepec. The insatiate Spaniard took the town,
decimated the inhabitants, razed the walls to the ground, and burnt the
dwellings, sparing only the churches and convents. After this dreadful
revenge upon a settlement which had committed no crime but in harboring
the Junta, he made a triumphal entrance into Mexico, and, on the 14th of
February, after a quarrel with the viceroy, and a solemn Te Deum, he
departed towards Morelos, who was shut up in Cuautla de Amilpas.

On the 19th Calleja attacked the town, but was forced to retreat. He
then regularly besieged the place and its insurgent visitors for more
than two months and a half. In this period, the troops on both sides
were not unoccupied. Various skirmishes took place, but without signal
results of importance to either party. Morelos strove to prolong the
siege until the rainy season set in, when he felt confident that Calleja
would be forced to withdraw his troops, who could not endure the
combined heat and moisture of the _tierra caliente_ during the summer
months. Calleja, on the other hand, supposed that by sealing the town
hermetically, and cutting off all supplies, its inhabitants and troops
would soon be forced to surrender. Nor did he act unwisely for the
success of his master. Famine prevailed in the besieged garrison. Corn
was almost the only food. A cat sold for six dollars, a lizard for two,
and rats and other vermin for one. But Morelos still continued firm,
hoping by procrastination and endurance, to preserve the constancy of
his men until the month of June, when the country is generally deluged
with rain and rendered insalubrious to all who dwell habitually in
colder regions, or are unacclimated in the lower vallies and table lands
of Mexico. His hopes, however, were not destined to be realized, for,
upon consultation, it was found absolutely necessary to risk a general
engagement or to abandon the town. The general engagement was considered
injudicious in the present condition of his troops, so that no
alternative remained but that of retreat. This was safely effected on
the night of the 2d of May, 1812, notwithstanding the whole army of the
insurgents was obliged to pass between the enemy's batteries. After
quitting the town, the forces were ordered to disperse, so as to avoid
forming any concentrated point of attack for the pursuing Spaniards, and
to reunite as soon as possible at Izucar, which was held by Don Miguel
Bravo. Calleja entered the abandoned town cautiously after the departure
of the besieged, but the cruel revenge he took on the innocent
inhabitants and harmless edifices, is indelibly imprinted in Mexican
history as one of the darkest stains on the character of a soldier,
whose memory deserves the execration of civilized men.

From Izucar, Morelos entered Tehuacan triumphantly, whence he passed
to Orizaba where he captured artillery, vast quantities of tobacco,
and a large amount of treasure. But he was not allowed to rest long in
peace. The regular forces pursued his partizan warriors; and we next
hear of him at Oaxaca, where he took possession of the town after a
brief resistance. It was at this place that Guadalupe Victoria,
afterwards president of the republic, performed a feat which merits
special remembrance as an act of extraordinary heroism and daring in
the face of an enemy. The town was moated and the single drawbridge
suspended, so as to cut off the approach of the insurgents. There were
no boats to cross the stagnant water; and the insurgents, as they
approached, were dismayed by the difficulty of reaching a town which
seemed almost in their grasp. At this moment Guadalupe Victoria,
sprang into the moat, swam across the strait in sight of the soldiers
in the town who seem to have been panic struck by his signal courage,
and cut the ropes that suspended the drawbridge, which, immediately
falling over the moat, allowed the soldiers of Morelos a free entrance
into the city!

Here he rested for some time undisturbed by the Spaniards. He
conquered the whole of the province with the exception of Acapulco, to
which he laid siege in February, 1813, but it did not lower its flag
until the following August. The control of a whole province, and the
victories of Bravo and Matamoros, elsewhere in 1812 and 1813,
considerably increased the importance and influence of Morelos, who
now devoted himself to the assemblage of a national Congress at
Chilpanzingo composed of the original Junta of Zitacuaro, the deputies
elected by the province of Oaxaca, and others selected by them as
representatives of the provinces which were in the royalists' hands.
On the 13th of November, 1813, this body published a declaration of
the absolute independence of Mexico.[60]


This was the period at which the star of the great leader, Morelos,
culminated. Bravo was still occasionally successful, and the
commander-in-chief, concentrating his forces at Chilpanzingo, prepared
an expedition against the province of Valladolid. He departed on the
8th of November, 1813; and, marching across a hitherto untraversed
country of a hundred leagues, he reached this point about Christmas.
But here he found a large force under Llano and COLONEL ITURBIDE,--who
was still a loyalist--drawn up to encounter him. He attacked the enemy
rashly with his jaded troops, and on the following day, was routed,
with the loss of his best regiments and all his artillery.

At Puruaran, Iturbide again assailed Morelos successfully, and
Matamoros was taken prisoner. Efforts were made to save the life of
this eminent soldier, yet Calleja, who had succeeded Venegas as
viceroy was too cruelly ungenerous to spare so daring a rebel. He was
shot, and his death was avenged by the slaughter of all the prisoners
who were in the hands of the insurgents.

For a while Morelos struggled bravely against adversity, his
character and resources rising with every new danger, difficulty or
loss. But the die was cast. Oaxaca was recaptured by the royalists on
the 28th of March, 1814. Miguel Bravo died at Puebla on the scaffold;
Galeana fell in battle; and the Congress was driven from Chilpanzingo
to the forest of Apatzingo, where, on the 22d of October, 1814, it
enacted the constitution which bears the name of its wild birth-place.

From this temporary refuge the insurgents resolved to cross the
country by rapid marches to Tehuacan in the province of Puebla, where
Mier y Teran had gathered a considerable force, which Morelos imagined
would become the nucleus of an overwhelming army, as soon as he joined
them. But his hopes were not destined to be realized. He had advanced
as far as Tesmaluca, when the Indians of the village betrayed his
slender forces to General Concha, who fell upon them, on the 5th of
November, 1815, in the narrow gorge of a mountain road. The assault
was from the rear; so that Morelos, ordering Nocalas Bravo to hasten
his march with the main body of the army as an escort for the
ill-starred congress, resolved to fight the royalists until he placed
the national legislature out of danger. "My life"--said he--"is of
little consequence, provided congress be saved:--my race was run when
I saw an independent government established!"

The brave soldier-priest, with fifty men, maintained the pass against
Concha, until only one trooper was left beside him. So furious was his
personal bearing, during this mortal conflict, that the royalists
feared to advance until he was bereft of all support. When finally
captured, he was stripped, chained, treated with the most shameless
cruelty, and carried back to Tesmaluca. Concha, however, was less
cruel than his men. He received the rebel chief politely, and
despatched him to the capital for trial. Crowds of eager citizens
flocked to see the celebrated partizan warrior who had so long held
the Spanish forces at bay. But his doom was sealed; and, on the 22d of
December, 1815, Concha removed him to the hospital of San Cristoval.
After dining with the general, and thanking him for his kindness, he
walked to the rear of the building, where, kneeling down, he bound a
handkerchief over his eyes and uttering the simple ejaculation, "Lord,
if I have done well, thou knowest it;--if ill, to thy infinite mercy I
commend my soul,"--he gave the fatal signal to the soldiers who were
drawn up to shoot him.

[Footnote 60: We must mention an event, characteristic of Bravo, which
occurred during this period. Bravo took Palmar, by storm, after a
resistance of three days. Three hundred prisoners fell into his hands,
who were placed at his disposal by Morelos. Bravo immediately offered
them to the viceroy Venegas in exchange for _his father_, Don Leonardo
Bravo, who had been sentenced to death in the capital. The offer was
rejected, and Don Leonardo ordered to immediate execution. But the son
at once commanded the prisoners to be liberated,--saying that he
"wished to put it out of his power to avenge his parent's death, lest,
in the first moments of grief the temptation should prove
irresistible."--Ward, 1 vol. 204.]




SPAIN. 1816-1821.

With the death of Morelos the hopes of the insurgents were crushed and
their efforts paralyzed. This extraordinary man, so fertile in
resources, and blending in himself the mingled power of priest and
general, had secured the confidence of the masses, who found among his
officers, none upon whom they could rally with perfect reliance.
Besides this, the congress which had been conducted safely to Tehuacan
by Bravo, was summarily dissolved by General Teran, who considered it
an "inconvenient appendage of a camp." We cannot but regard this act
of the general as unwise at a moment, when the insurgents lost such a
commander as Morelos. By the dissolution of the congress the nation
abandoned another point of reunion; and from that moment, the cause
began to fail in all parts of the country.

The CONSTITUTION, sanctioned by the Cortes in 1812, had, meanwhile,
been proclaimed in Mexico, on the 29th of September of that year; and,
whilst the people felt somewhat freer under it, they were enabled, by
the liberty of the press, which lasted sixty-six days, to expend their
new-born patriotism on paper instead of in battles. These popular
excitements, served to sustain the spirits of the people,
notwithstanding the losses of the army; so that when Apodaca, assumed
the reins of the viceroyalty in 1816, the country was still republican
at heart, though all the insurgent generals were either captured or
hidden in the wilderness, whilst their disbanded forces, in most
instances, had accepted the _indulto_, or pardon, proffered for their
return to allegiance.

       *       *       *       *       *

The remaining officers of Morelos spread themselves over the country,
as there was no longer any centre of action; and each of them,
occupying a different district, managed, for a while, to support
revolutionary fervor throughout the neighborhood. "Guerrero occupied
the west coast, where he maintained himself until the year 1821, when
he joined Iturbide. Rayon commanded in the vicinity of Tlalpujahua,
where he successively maintained two fortified camps on the Cerro del
Gallo, and on Coporo. Teran held the district of Tehuacan, in Puebla.
Bravo was a wanderer throughout the country. The Bajio was tyrannized
over by the Padre Torres, while Guadalupe Victoria occupied the
important province of Vera Cruz."[61]

The chief spite of the royalists,--who hunted these republican heroes,
among the forests and mountain fastnesses of Mexico, as the
Covenanters had been hunted in Scotland,--seems to have fallen upon
the last named of these patriot generals. Victoria's haunt was chiefly
in the passes near the Puente del Rey, now the Puente Nacional, or
National bridge, on the road leading from the port of Vera Cruz to the
capital. He was prepared to act either with a large force of
_guerillas_, or, with a simple body guard; and, knowing the country
perfectly, he was enabled to descend from his fastnesses among the
rocks, and thus to cut off, almost entirely, all communication between
the coast and the metropolis. At length, superior forces were sent to
pursue him with relentless fury. His men gradually deserted when the
villages that formerly supplied them with food refused further
contributions. Efforts were made to seduce him from his principles and
to ensure his loyalty. But he refused the rank and rewards offered by
the viceroy as the price of his submission. At length he found himself
alone in his resistance, in the midst of countrymen, who, if they
would no longer fight under his banner, were too faithful to betray
him. Yet he would not abandon the cause, but, taking his sword and a
small stock of raiment, departed for the mountains, where he wandered
for thirty months, living on the fruits of the forest and gnawing the
bones of dead animals found in their recesses. Nor did he emerge from
this impenetrable concealment, until two faithful Indians, whom he had
known in prosperous days, sought him out with great difficulty, and,
communicating the joyous intelligence of the revolution of 1821,
brought him back once more to their villages where he was received
with enthusiastic reverence as a patriot raised from the dead. When
discovered by the Indians he was worn to a skeleton, covered with
hair, and clad in a tattered wrapper; but, amid all his distresses and
losses, he had preserved and treasured his loyalty to the cause of
liberty and his untarnished sword!

Meanwhile another actor in this revolutionary army had appeared upon
the stage. This was XAVIER MINA, a _guerilla_ chief of old Spain, who
fled from his country, in consequence of the unfortunate effort to
organize an outbreak in favor of the Cortes, at Pampeluna, after the
dissolution of that assembly by the king. He landed on the coast of
Mexico at Soto la Marina with a brave band of foreigners, chiefly
North Americans, on the 15th of April, 1817. His forces amounted to
only three hundred and fifty-nine men, including officers, of whom
fifty-one deserted before he marched into the interior. Leaving one
hundred of these soldiers at Soto la Marina under the command of Major
Sarda, he attempted with the remainder, to join the independents in
the heart of the country.

Mina pressed onwards successfully, defeating several royalist parties,
until he reached Sombrero, whence he sallied forth upon numerous
expeditions, one of which was against the fortified _hacienda_ or
plantation of the Marques of Jaral, a creole nobleman, from which the
inhabitants and the owner fled at his approach. His troops sacked this
wealthy establishment, and Mina transferred to the public chest one
hundred and forty thousand dollars, found concealed in the house. This
nobleman, it is true, had given in his adhesion to the royal cause and
fortified his dwelling against the insurgents who hitherto refrained
from attacking him. Nevertheless, the unprovoked blow of an
independent leader against a native of the country, and especially
against a man whose extensive farming operations concentrated the
interests of so large a laboring class, was not calculated to inspire
confidence in Mina among the masses of the people.

Whilst the guerilla chief was thus pursuing his way successfully in
the heart of the country, and receiving occasional reinforcements from
the natives, the garrison he left at Soto la Marina fell into the
hands of Spanish levies, two thousand of whom surrounded the slender
band. Notwithstanding the inequality of forces between the assailants
and the besieged, the royalists were unable to take the place by
storm; but, after repeated repulses, General Arredondo proposed terms
which were accepted by Major Sarda, the independent commander. It is
scarcely necessary to say that this condition was not fulfilled by the
Spaniards, who sent the capitulated garrison in irons, by a circuitous
journey, to the sickly Castle of San Juan de Ulua at Vera Cruz, whence
some of the unfortunate wretches were marched into the interior whilst
others were despatched across the sea to the dungeons of Cadiz,
Melilla and Ceuta. This was a severe blow to Mina, who nevertheless
was unparalyzed by it but continued active in the vicinity of Sombrero
to which he retreated after an illjudged attempt upon the town of
Leon, where the number of his troops was considerably diminished.
Sombrero was invested, soon after, by a force of three thousand five
hundred and forty soldiers, under Don Pascual Liñan, who had been
appointed Field Marshal, by Apodaca, and despatched to the Bajio. This
siege was ultimately successful on the part of the royalists. The
fresh supplies promised to Mina did not arrive. Colonel Young, his
second in command, died in repulsing an assault; and, upon the
garrison's attempting to evacuate the town, under Colonel Bradburn, on
the night of the 19th of August, the enemy fell upon the independents
with such vigor that but fifty of Mina's whole corps escaped. "No
quarter," says Ward, "was given in the field, and the unfortunate
wretches who had been left in the hospital wounded, were by Liñan's
orders, carried or dragged along the ground from their beds to the
square where they were stripped and shot!"

Mina, as a last resort, threw himself into the fort of Los Remedios, a
natural fortification on the lofty mountain chain rising out of the
plains of the Bajio between Silao and Penjamo, separated from the rest
by precipices, and deep ravines.

Liñan's army sat down before Remedios on the 27th of August. Mina left
the town so as to assail the army from without by his _guerillas_,
whilst the garrison kept the main body engaged with the fort. During
this period he formed the project of attacking the town of Guanajuato,
which, in fact, he accomplished; yet, after his troops had penetrated
the heart of the city, their courage failed and they retreated before
the loyalists who rallied after the panic created by the unexpected
assault at nightfall. On retreating from Guanajuato, our partizan
warrior took the road to the Rancho del Venadito where he designed
passing the night in order to consult upon his future plans with his
friend Mariano Herrera. Here he was detected by a friar, who apprised
Orrantia of the brave Mina's presence, and, on the morning of the 27th
of October, he was seized and conveyed to Irapuato. On the 11th of
November, 1817, in the 28th year of his age, he was shot by order of
Apodaca, on a rock, in sight of Los Remedios.

At the end of December the ammunition of the insurgents in this
stronghold was entirely exhausted, and its evacuation was resolved on.
This was attempted on the 1st of January, 1818, but, with the
exception of Padre Torres, the commander, and twelve of Mina's
division, few or none of the daring fugitives escaped. The wretched
inmates of the fort, the women, and garrison hospitals of wounded,
were cut down, bayoneted, and burned. On the 6th of March, the fort of
Jauxilla, the insurgents' last stronghold in the central parts of the
country, fell, while, towards the middle of the year, all the
revolutionary chiefs were dislodged and without commands, except
Guerrero, who still maintained himself on the right bank of the river
Zacatula, near Colima, on the Pacific. But even he was cut off from
communication with the interior, and was altogether without hope of
assistance from without. The heart of the nation, and the east
coast,--which was of most importance so far as the reception of
auxiliaries by the independents was concerned,--were, thus, in
complete possession of the royalists; so that a viceroy declared in
his despatches to Spain, "that he would be answerable for the safety
of Mexico without a single additional soldier being sent out to
reinforce the armies that were in the field."

But the viceroy Apodaca, confident as he was of the defeat of the
insurrection, did not know the people with whom he dealt as well as
his predecessor Calleja,[62] who, with all his cruelty, seems to have
enjoyed sagacious intervals in which he comprehended perfectly the
deep seated causes of revolutionary feeling in Mexico, even if he was
indisposed to sympathize with them or to permit their manifestation by
the people. In fact, the revolution was not quelled. It slept, for
want of a leader;--but, at last he appeared in the person of AGUSTIN
DE ITURBIDE, a native Mexican, whose military career, in the loyalist
cause had been not only brilliant but eminently useful, for it was in
consequence of the two severe blows inflicted by him upon the
insurgents in the actions of Valladolid and Puruaran that the great
army of Morelos was routed and destroyed.

In 1820, Apodaca, who was no friend of the constitution, and who
suffered a diminution of power by its operation, was well disposed to
put it down by force, and to proclaim once more the absolute authority
of the king. The elective privileges, which the constitution secured
to the people, together with the principles of freedom which those
elections were calculated to foster among the masses, were considered
by the viceroy as dangerous in a country so recently the theatre of
revolution. The insurrection was regarded by him as ended forever. He
despised, perhaps, the few distinguished persons who yet quietly
manifested their preference for liberalism; and, like all men of
despotic character and confident of power, he undervalued the popular
masses, among whom there is ever to be found common sense, true
appreciation of natural rights, and firmness to vindicate them
whenever they are confident of the leaders who are to control their
destiny when embarked upon the stormy sea of rebellion.

Apodaca, in pursuit of his project to restore absolutism on this
continent, fixed his eyes upon the gallant ITURBIDE, whose polished
manners, captivating address, elegant person, ambitious spirit, and
renowned military services, signalized him as a person likely to play
a distinguished part in the restoration of a supreme power whose first
favors would probably be showered upon the successful soldier of a
crusade against constitutional freedom.

Accordingly the viceroy offered Iturbide the command of a force upon
the west coast, at the head of which he was to proclaim the
re-establishment of the king's _absolute_ authority. The command was
accepted; but Iturbide, who had been for four years unemployed, had,
in this interval of repose, reflected well upon the condition of
Mexico, and was satisfied that if the creoles could be induced to
co-operate with the independents, the Spanish yoke might be cast off.
There were only eleven Spanish expeditionary regiments in the whole of
Mexico, and although there were upwards of seventy thousand old
Spaniards in the different provinces who supported these soldiers,
they could not oppose, effectually, the seven veteran and seventeen
provincial regiments of natives, aided by the masses of people who had
signified their attachment to liberalism.

Instead, therefore, of allying himself with the cause of a falling
monarchy, whose reliance must chiefly be confined to succors from
across the ocean, Iturbide resolved to abandon the viceroy and his
criminal project against the constitution, and to throw himself with
his forces upon the popular cause of the country. It was a bold but
successful move.

On the 24th of February, 1821, he was at the small town of Iguala, on
the road to Acapulco; and on that day, at his headquarters, he
proclaimed the celebrated PLAN OF IGUALA, the several principles of
which are:--"Independence, the maintenance of Roman Catholicity, and
Union;"--whence his forces obtained the name of the "Army of the three

As this is probably one of the most important state papers in the
history of Mexico, and is often referred to without being fully
understood, we shall present it to the reader entire:


ARTICLE 1.--The Mexican nation is independent of the Spanish nation,
and of every other, even on its own continent.

ART. 2.--Its religion shall be the Catholic, which all its inhabitants

ART. 3.--They shall all be united, without any distinction between
Americans and Europeans.

ART. 4.--The government shall be a constitutional monarchy.

ART. 5.--A Junta shall be named, consisting of individuals who enjoy
the highest reputation in different parties which have shown themselves.

ART. 6.--This Junta shall be under the presidency of his excellency
the Conde del Venadito, the present viceroy of Mexico.

ART. 7.--It shall govern in the name of the nation, according to the
laws now in force, and its principal business will be to convoke,
according to such rules as it shall deem expedient, a congress for the
formation of a constitution more suitable to the country.

ART. 8.--His Majesty Ferdinand VII. shall be invited to the throne of
the empire, and in case of his refusal, the Infantes Don Carlos and
Don Francisco De Paula.

ART. 9.--Should his Majesty Ferdinand VII. and his august brothers,
decline the invitation, the nation is at liberty to invite to the
imperial throne any member of reigning families whom it may choose to

ART. 10.--The formation of the constitution by the congress, and the
oath of the emperor to observe it, must precede his entry into the

ART. 11.--The distinction of castes is abolished, which was made by
the Spanish law, excluding them from the rights of citizenship. All
the inhabitants are citizens, and equal, and the door of advancement
is open to virtue and merit.

ART. 12.--An army shall be formed for the support of religion,
independence, and union, guaranteeing these three principles, and
therefore shall be called the army of the three guaranties.

ART. 13.--It shall solemnly swear to defend the fundamental basis of
this plan.

ART. 14.--It shall strictly observe the military ordinances now in

ART. 15.--There shall be no other promotions than those which are due
to seniority, or which are necessary for the good of the service.

ART. 16.--The army shall be considered as of the line.

ART. 17.--The old partizans of independence who shall adhere to this
plan, shall be considered as individuals of this army.

ART. 18.--The patriots and peasants who shall adhere to it hereafter,
shall be considered as provincial militiamen.

ART. 19.--The secular and regular priests shall be continued in the
state which they now are.

ART. 20.--All the public functionaries, civil, ecclesiastical,
political and military, who adhere to the cause of independence, shall
be continued in their offices, without any distinction between
Americans and Europeans.

ART. 21.--Those functionaries, of whatever degree and condition who
dissent from the cause of independence, shall be divested of their
offices, and shall quit the territory without taking with them their
families and effects.

ART. 22.--The military commandants shall regulate themselves according
to the general instructions in conformity with this plan, which shall
be transmitted to them.

ART. 23.--No accused person shall be condemned capitally by the
military commandants. Those accused of treason against the nation,
which is the next greatest crime after that of treason to the Divine
Ruler, shall be conveyed to the fortress of Barbaras, where they shall
remain until congress shall resolve on the punishment that ought to be
inflicted on them.

ART. 24.--It being indispensable to the country, that this plan should
be carried into effect, inasmuch as the welfare of that country is its
object, every individual of the army shall maintain it, to the
shedding (if it be necessary) of the last drop of his blood.

Town of Iguala, 24th February, 1821.

[Footnote 61: Ward vol. i, 221.]

[Footnote 62: See Calleja's confidential letter to the Spanish
minister of war, with a private report on the Mexican Revolution.
Ward, vol. i, p. 509--Appendix.]





It will be seen by the Plan of Iguala, that Mexico was designed to
become an independent sovereignty under Ferdinand VII. or, in the
event of his refusal, under the Infantes Don Carlos and Don Francisco
de Paula. Iturbide was still a royalist--not a republican; and it is
very doubtful whether he would ever have assented to popular
authority, even had his life been spared to witness the final
development of the revolution. It is probable that his penetrating
mind distinguished between popular hatred of unjust restraint, and the
genuine capacity of a nation for liberty, nor is it unlikely that he
found among his countrymen but few of those self-controlling,
self-sacrificing and progressive elements, which constitute the only
foundation upon which a republic can be securely founded. His ambition
had not yet been fully developed by success, and it cannot be imagined
that he had already fixed his heart upon the imperial throne.

When the Plan of Iguala was proclaimed, the entire army of the future
emperor, consisted of only eight hundred men, all of whom took the
oath of fidelity to the project, though many deserted when they found
the country was not immediately unanimous in its approval.

In the capital, the viceroy appears to have been paralyzed by the sudden
and unexpected movement of his officer. He paused, hesitated, failed to
act, and was deposed by the Europeans, who treated him as they had
Iturrigaray in 1808. Don Francisco de Novella, an artillery officer, was
installed temporarily in his stead, but the appointment created a
dissension among the people in the capital and the country, and this so
completely prostrated the action of the central authorities, who might
have crushed the revolution by a blow, that Iturbide was enabled to
prosecute his designs throughout the most important parts of the
interior of the country, without the slightest resistance.

He seized a million of dollars on their way to the west coast, and
joined Guerrero who still held out on the river Zacatula with the last
remnant of the old revolutionary forces. Guerrero gave in his adhesion
to Iturbide, as soon as he ascertained that it was the general's
design to make Mexico _independent_, though, in all likelihood, he
disapproved the other features of the plan. Guerrero's act was of the
greatest national importance. It rallied all the veteran fighters and
friends of Morelos and the Bravos. Almost all of the former leaders
and their dispersed bands, came forth, at the cry of "independence,"
under the banner of Iturbide. Victoria even, for a while, befriended
the rising hero; but he had fought for a liberal government, and did
not long continue on amicable terms with one who could not control his
truly independent spirit. The clergy, as well as the people, signified
their intention to support the gallant insurgent;--and, in fact, the
whole country, from Vera Cruz to Acapulco, with the exception of the
capital, was soon open in its adhesion to him and his army.


Iturbide was now in full authority, and whilst preparing to march on the
city of Mexico, in which the viceroy, _ad interim_, was shut up, he
learned that Don Juan O'Donoju had arrived at San Juan de Ulua to fill
the place of Apodaca as viceroy. Proposals were immediately sent by the
general to this new functionary, and in an interview with him at
Cordova, Iturbide proposed the adoption of the Plan of Iguala _by
treaty_, as the only project by which the Spaniards in Mexico could be
saved from the fury of the people, and the sovereignty of the colony
preserved for Ferdinand. We shall not pause to enquire whether the
viceroy was justified or even empowered, to compromise the rights of
Spain by such a compact. O'Donoju, though under the safeguard of a
truce, was in truth a helpless man as soon as he touched the soil of
Mexico, for no portions of it were actually under the Spanish authority
except the castle of San Juan de Ulua and the capital, whose garrisons
were chiefly composed of European levies. Humanity, perhaps, ultimately
controlled his decision, and in the name of his master, he recognised
the independence of Mexico and yielded the metropolis to the "army of
the three Guaranties," which entered it peacefully on the 27th of
September, 1821. A provisional Junta of thirty-six persons immediately
elected a regency of five, of which Iturbide was president, and, at the
same time, he was created Generalissimo, Lord High Admiral, and assigned
a yearly stipend of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars.

On the 24th of February, 1822, the first Mexican Congress or Cortes,
met; but it contained within it the germ of all the future
discontents, which since that day, have harassed and nearly ruined
Mexico. Scarcely had this body met when three parties manifested their
bitter animosities and personal ambitions. The Bourbonists adhered,
loyally, to the Plan of Iguala, a constitutional monarchy and the
sovereignty of Ferdinand. The Republicans, discarded the plan as a
device that had served its day, and insisted upon a central or federal
republic; and, last of all, the partisans of the successful soldier,
still clung to all of the plan save the clause which gave the throne
to a Bourbon prince, for, at heart, they desired to place Iturbide
himself upon it, and thus to cut off their country forever from all
connection with Europe.

As soon as O'Donoju's treaty of Cordova reached Spain, it was
nullified by the Cortes, and the Bourbon party in Mexico, of course
fell with it. The Republicans and Iturbidists, alone remained on the
field to contend for the prize, and after congress had disgraced
itself by incessant bickerings over the army and the public funds, a
certain Pio Marcha, first sergeant of the first regiment of infantry
gathered a band of _leperos_ before the palace of Iturbide on the
night of the 18th of May, 1822, and proclaimed him Emperor, with the
title of AGUSTIN THE FIRST. A show of resistance was made by Iturbide
against the proffered crown; but it is likely that it was in reality,
as faint as his joy was unbounded at the sudden elevation from a
barrack room to the imperial palace. Congress, of course, approved the
decision of the mob and army. The provinces sanctioned the acts of
their representatives, and Iturbide ascended the throne.

But his reign was brief. Rapid success, love of power, impatience of
restraint,--all of which are characteristic of the Spanish
soldier,--made him strain the bonds of constitutional right. His
struggles for control were incessant. "He demanded," says Ward, "a
veto upon all articles of the constitution then under discussion, and
the right of appointing and removing, at pleasure, the members of the
supreme tribunal of justice. He recommended also the establishment of
a military tribunal in the capital, with powers but little inferior to
those exercised by the Spanish commandants during the revolution; and
when these proposals were firmly rejected, he arrested, on the night
of the 26th August, 1822, fourteen of the deputies who had advocated,
during the discussion, principles but little in unison with the views
of the government."

This high handed measure, and the openly manifested displeasure of
congress, produced so complete a rupture between the emperor and the
popular representatives, that it was impossible to conduct public
affairs with any concert of action. Accordingly, Iturbide dissolved
the assembly, and on the 30th of October, 1822, created an Instituent
Junta of forty-five persons selected by himself from amongst the most
pliant members of the recent congress. This irregularly formed body
was intolerable to the people, while the expelled deputies, who
returned to their respective districts, soon spread the spirit of
discontent and proclaimed the American usurper to be as dangerous as
the European despot.

In November, General Garza headed a revolt in the northern provinces.
SANTA ANNA, then governor of Vera Cruz, declared against the emperor.
General Echavari, sent by Iturbide to crush the future president of
Mexico, resolved not to stem the torrent of public opinion, and joined
the general he had been commissioned to capture. Guadalupe
Victoria,--driven to his fastnesses by the emperor, who was unable to
win the incorruptible patriot, descended once more from the mountain
forests, where he had been concealed, and joined the battalions of
Santa Anna. And, on the 1st of February, 1823, a convention, called
the "Act of Casa-Mata," was signed, by which the re-establishment of
the National Representative Assembly was pledged.

The country was soon in arms. The Marques Vibanco, Generals Guerrero,
Bravo, and Negrete, in various sections of the nation, proclaimed
their adhesion to the popular movement; and on the 8th of March, 1823,
Iturbide, finding that the day was lost, offered his abdication to
such members of the old congress as he was able to assemble hastily in
the metropolis. The abdication was, however, twice refused on the
ground that congress, by accepting it, would necessarily sanction the
legality of his right to wear the crown; nevertheless, that body
permitted his departure from Mexico, after endowing him liberally with
an income of twenty-five thousand dollars a year, besides providing a
vessel to bear him and his family to Leghorn in Italy.

Victoria, Bravo, and Negrete entered the capital on the 27th of
March, and were chosen by the old congress which quickly reassembled,
as a triumvirate to exercise supreme executive powers until the new
congress assembled in the following August. In October, 1824, this
body finally sanctioned the federal constitution, which, after various
revolutions, overthrows, and reforms, was readopted in the year 1847.

On the 14th of July, 1824, a vessel under British colors was perceived
on the Mexican coast near the mouth of the Santander. On the next day,
a Polish gentlemen came on shore from the ship, and, announcing
himself as Charles de Beneski, visited General Felix la Garza,
commandant of the district of Soto la Marina. He professed to visit
that remote district, with a friend, for the purpose of purchasing
land from the government on which they designed establishing a colony.
Garza gave them leave to enter the country for this purpose; but
suspicions were soon aroused against the singular visitors and they
were arrested. As soon as the friend of the Pole was stripped of his
disguise, the Emperor Iturbide stood in front of Garza, whom he had
disgraced for his participation in the revolt during his brief reign.

La Garza immediately secured the prisoner, and sent him to Padilla,
where he delivered him to the authorities of Tamaulipas. The state
legislature being in session, promptly resolved, in the excess of
patriotic zeal, to execute a decree of the congress, passed in the
preceding April, by condemning the royal exile to death. Short time
was given Iturbide to arrange his affairs. He was allowed no appeal to
the general government. He confessed to a priest on the evening of the
19th of July, and was led to the place of execution, where he fell,
pierced with four balls, two of which took effect in his brain and two
in his heart!

Thus perished the hero who, suddenly, unexpectedly, and effectually,
crushed the power of Spain in North America. It is not fair to judge him
by the standards that are generally applied to the life of a
distinguished civilian, or even of a successful soldier, in countries
where the habits and education of the people fit them for duties
requiring forbearance, patience, or high intellectual culture. Iturbide
was, according to all reliable accounts, a refined gentleman, yet he was
tyrannical and sometimes cruel, for it is recorded in his own
handwriting, that on Good Friday, 1814, "in honor of the day, he had
just ordered three hundred excommunicated wretches to be shot!" His
early life was passed in the saddle and the barrack room; nor had he
much leisure to pursue the studies of a statesman, even if his mind had
been capable of resolving all their mysteries. His temper was not
calculated for the liberal debates of a free senate. He was better
fitted to discipline an army than to guide a nation. Educated in a
school in which subordination is a necessity, and where unquestioning
obedience is exacted, he was unable to appreciate the rights of
deliberative assemblies. He felt, perhaps, that, in the disorganized
condition of his country, it was needful to control the people by force
in order to save the remnant of civilization from complete anarchy. But
he wanted conciliatory manners to seduce the congress into obedience to
his behests,--and he therefore unfortunately and unwisely played the
military despot when he should have acted the part of a quiet
diplomatist. Finding himself, in two years, emperor of Mexico, after
being, at the commencement of that period, nothing more than commander
of a regiment, it may be pardoned if he was bewildered by the rapidity
of his rise, and if the air he breathed in his extraordinary ascent was
too etherial for a man of so excitable a temperament.

In every aspect of his character, we must regard him as one altogether
inadequate to shape the destiny of a nation emerging from the blood
and smoke of two revolutions,--a nation whose political tendencies
towards absolute freedom, were at that time, naturally, the positive
reverse of his own.

Death sealed the lips of men who might have clamored for him in the
course of a few years, when the insubordinate spirit that was soon
manifested needed as bold an arm as that of Iturbide, in his best
days, to check or guide it. Public opinion was decidedly opposed to
his sudden and cruel slaughter. Mexicans candidly acknowledged that
their country's independence was owing to him; and whilst they
admitted that Garza's zeal for the emperor's execution might have been
lawful, they believed that revenge for his former disgrace, rather
than patriotism, induced the rash and ruthless soldier to hasten the
death of the noble victim whom fortune had thrown in his lonely path.

[Illustration: (Signature--Augustine de Iturbide)]




We must pause a moment over the past history of Mexico, for the
portion we now approach has few of the elements either of union or
patriotism which characterized the early struggles for national
independence. The revolutionary war had merited and received the
commendation of freemen throughout the world. The prolonged struggle
exhibited powers of endurance, an unceasing resolution, and a
determination to throw off European thraldom, which won the respect of
those northern powers on this continent who were most concerned in
securing to themselves a republican neighborhood. But, as soon as the
dominion of Spain was crushed, the domestic quarrels of Mexico began,
and we have already shown that in the three parties formed in the
first congress, were to be found the germs of all the feuds that have
since vexed the republic or impeded its successful progress towards
national grandeur. After the country had been so long a battle field,
it was perhaps difficult immediately to accustom the people to civil
rule or to free them from the baleful influence which military glory
is apt to throw round individuals who render important services to
their country in war. Even in our own union, where the ballot box
instead of the bayonet has always controlled elections, and where
loyalty to the constitution would blast the effort of ambitious men to
place a conqueror in power by any other means than that of peaceful
election, we constantly find how difficult it is to screen the
people's eyes from the bewildering glare of military glory. What then
could we expect from a country in which the self-relying, self-ruling,
civil idea never existed at any period of its previous history? The
revolution of the North American colonies was not designed to obtain
liberty, for they were already free; but it was excited and
successfully pursued in order to prevent the burthensome and
aggressive impositions of England which would have curtailed that
freedom, and, reduced us to colonial dependence as well as royal or
ministerial dictation. Mexico, on the contrary, had never been free.
Spain regarded the country as a mine which was to be diligently
wrought, and the masses of the people as acclimated serfs whose
services were the legitimate perquisites of a court and aristocracy
beyond the sea. There had been, among the kings and viceroys who
controlled the destinies of New Spain, men who were swayed by just and
amiable views of colonial government; but the majority considered
Mexico as a speculation rather than an infant colony whose progressive
destiny it was their duty to foster with all the care and wisdom of
Christian magistrates. The minor officials misruled and peculated, as
we have related in our introductory sketch of the viceroyal
government. They were all men of the hour, and, even the viceroys
themselves, regarded their governments on the American continent as
rewards for services in Europe, enabling them to secure fortunes with
which they returned to the Castilian court, forgetful of the Indian
miner and agriculturist from whose sweat their wealth was coined. The
Spaniard never identified himself with Mexico. His _home_ was on the
other side of the Atlantic. Few of the best class formed permanent
establishments in the viceroyalty; and all of them were too much
interested in maintaining both the state of society and the _castes_
which had been created by the conquerors, to spend a thought upon the
amelioration of the people. We do not desire to blacken, by our
commentary, the fame of a great nation like that of Spain; yet this
dreary but true portrait of national selfishness has been so often
verified by all the colonial historians of America, and especially by
Pazo and Zavala, in their admirable historical sketches of Castilian
misrule, that we deem it fair to introduce these palliations of
Mexican misconduct since the revolution.[63]

       *       *       *       *       *

The people of New Spain were poor and uneducated,--the aristocracy was
rich, supercilious, and almost equally illiterate. It was a society
without a middle ground,--in which gold stood out in broad relief
against rags. Was such a state of barbaric semi-civilization entitled or
fitted to emerge at once into republicanism? Was it to be imagined that
men who had always been controlled, could learn immediately to control
themselves? Was it to be believed that the military personages, whose
ambition is as proverbial as it is natural, would voluntarily surrender
the power they possessed over the masses, and retire to the obscurity
and poverty of private life when they could enjoy the wealth and
influence of political control, so long as they maintained their rank in
the army? This would have been too much to expect from the self-denial
of creole chiefs; nor is it surprising to behold the people themselves
looking towards these very men as proper persons to consolidate or shape
the government they had established. It was the most natural thing
conceivable to find Iturbide, Guerrero, Bustamante, Negrete, Bravo,
Santa Anna, Paredes, and the whole host of revolutionary heroes
succeeding each other in power, either constitutionally or by violence.
The people knew no others. The military idea,--military success,--a name
won in action, and repeated from lip to lip until the traditionary sound
became a household word among the herdsmen, rancheros, vaqueros and
Indians,--these were the sources of Mexican renown or popularity, and
the appropriate objects of political reward and confidence. What
individual among the four or five millions of Indians knew anything of
the statesmen of their country who had never mixed in the revolutionary
war or in the domestic brawls constantly occurring. There were no
gazettes to spread their fame or merit, and even if there had been, the
people were unable to buy or peruse them. Among the mixed breeds, and
lower class of creoles, an equal degree of ignorance prevailed;--and
thus, from the first epoch of independence, the PEOPLE ceased to be a
true republican tribunal in Mexico, while the city was surrendered as
the battle field of all the political aspirants who had won reputations
in the camp which were to serve them for other purposes in the capital.
By this means the army rose to immediate significance and became the
general arbiter in all political controversies. Nor was the
church,--that other overshadowing influence in all countries in which
religion and the state are combined,--a silent spectator in the division
of national power. The Roman Hierarchy, a large landholder,--as will be
hereafter seen in our statistical view of the country,--had much at
stake in Mexico, besides the mere authority which so powerful a body is
always anxious to maintain over the consciences of the multitude. The
church was, thus, a political element of great strength; and, combined
with the army, created and sustained an important party, which has been
untiring in its efforts to support _centralism_, as the true political
principle of Mexican government.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 4th of October, 1824, a federal constitution, framed partly upon
the model of the constitution of the United States, with some grafts
from the Spanish constitution, was adopted by Congress; and, by it, the
territory comprehended in the old viceroyalty of New Spain, the
Captaincy General of Yucatan, the commandancies of the eastern and
western Internal Provinces, Upper and Lower California, with the lands
and isles adjacent in both seas, were placed under the protection of
this organic law. The religion of the Mexican nation was declared to be,
in perpetuity, the Catholic Apostolic Roman; and the nation pledged its
protection, at the same time prohibiting the exercise of any other!

Previous, however, to these constitutional enactments the country had
not been entirely quiet, for as early as January of this year, General
Echavari, who occupied the state of Puebla, raised the standard of
revolt against the Triumvirate. This seditious movement was soon
suppressed by the staunch old warrior, Guerrero, who seized and bore the
insurgent chief to the capital as a prisoner. Another insurrection,
occurred not long after in Cuernavaca, which was also quelled by
Guerrero. Both of these outbreaks were caused by the centralists, who
strove to put down by violence the popular desire for the federal
system. Instead of destroying the favorite charter, however, they only
served to cement the sections, who sustained liberal doctrines in the
different provinces or states of the nation, and finally, aided
materially in enforcing the adoption of the federal system.

Another insurrection occurred in the city of Mexico, growing out of
the old and national animosity between the creoles and the European
Spaniards. The expulsion of the latter from all public employments was
demanded by the creoles of the capital, backed by the garrison
commanded by Colonels Lobato and Staboli. The revolt was suppressed at
the moment; but it was deemed advisable to conciliate feeling in
regard to the unfortunate foreigners; and, accordingly, changes were
made in the departments, in which the offices were given to native
Mexicans, whilst the Spaniards were allowed a pension for life of
one-third of their pay. At this period, moreover, the supreme
executive power was altered, and Nicolas Bravo, Vicente Guerrero, and
Miguel Dominguez, were appointed to control public affairs until a
president was elected under the new constitution.

Early in 1825, the general congress assembled in the city of Mexico.
Guadalupe Victoria was declared president, and Nicolas Bravo vice
president. The national finances were recruited by a loan from England;
and a legislative effort was made to narrow the influence of the
priesthood, according to the just limits it should occupy in a republic.

All Spanish America had been in a ferment for several years, and the
power of Castile was forever broken on this continent. Peru, as well
as Mexico, had cast off the bonds of dependence, for the brilliant
battle of Ayacucho rescued the republican banner from the danger with
which for a while it was menaced. The European forces had never been
really formidable, except for their superior discipline and control
under royalist leaders,--but they were now driven out of the heart of
the continent,--whilst the few pertinacious troops and generals who
still remained, were confined to the coasts of Mexico, Peru, and
Chili, where they clung to the fortress of San Juan de Ulua, the
castle of Callao, and the strongholds of Chiloe.

Victoria was sworn into office on the 15th of April, 1825. Several
foreign nations had already recognized the independence of Mexico, or
soon hastened to do so; for all were eager to grasp a share of the
commerce and mines which they imagined had been so profitable to
Spain. The British, especially, who had become holders of Mexican
bonds, were particularly desirous to open commercial intercourse and
to guard it by international treaties.

In the winter of 1826, it was discovered, by the discussions in
congress of projects for their suppression, that the party leaders,
fearing an open attempt to conduct their unconstitutional
machinations, had sought the concealment of masonic institutions in
which they might foster their antagonistic schemes. The rival lodges
were designated as Escocesses and Yorkinos, the former numbering among
its members the vice president Nicolas Bravo, Gomez Pedraza, and José
Montayno, while the Yorkinos boasted of Generals Victoria, Santa Anna,
Guerrero, Lorenzo de Zavala, and Bustamante. The adherents of the
Escocesses were said to be in favor of a limited monarchy with a
Spanish prince at its head; but the Yorkinos maintained the supremacy
of the constitution and declared themselves hostile to all movements
of a central character. The latter party was, by far, the most
numerous. The intelligent liberals of all classes sustained it; yet
its leaders had to contend with the dignitaries of the church, the
opulent agriculturists, land holders and miners, and many of the
higher officers of the army whose names had been identified with the
early struggles of the independents against the Spaniards.

These party discussions, mainly excited by the personal ambitions of the
disputants, which were carried on not only openly in congress, but
secretly in the lodges, absorbed for a long time, the entire attention
of the selfish but intelligent persons who should have forgotten
themselves in the holy purpose of consolidating the free and republican
principles of the constitution of 1824. The result of this personal
warfare was soon exhibited in the total neglect of popular interests, so
far as they were to be fostered or advanced by the action of congress.
The states, however, were in some degree, free from these internecine
contests; for the boldest of the various leaders, and the most ambitious
aspirants for power, had left the provinces to settle their quarrels in
the capital. This was fortunate for the country, inasmuch as the states
were in some measure recompensed by their own care of the various
domestic industrial interests for the neglect they suffered at the hands
of national legislators.

At the close of 1827, Colonel José Montayno, a member of the
Escocesses, proclaimed, in Otumba, the plan which in the history of
Mexican _pronunciamientos_, or revolts, is known by the name of this
leader. Another attempt of a similar character had been previously
made, against the federative system and in favor of centralism, by
Padre Arénas; but both of these outbreaks were not considered
dangerous, until Bravo denounced president Victoria for his union with
the Yorkinos, and, taking arms against the government, joined the
rebels in Tulancingo, where he declared himself in favor of the
central plan of Montayno. The country was aroused. The insurgents
appeared in great strength. The army exhibited decided symptoms of
favor towards the revolted party; and the church strengthened the
elements of discontent by its secret influence with the people. Such
was the revolutionary state of Mexico, when the patriot Guerrero was
once more summoned by the executive to use his energetic efforts in
quelling the insurrection. Nor was he unsuccessful in his loyal
endeavors to support the constitution. As soon as he marched against
the insurgents, they dispersed throughout the country; so that,
without bloodshed, he was enabled to crush the revolt and save the
nation from the civil war. Thus, amid the embittered quarrels of
parties, who had actually designed to transfer their contests from
congress and lodges to the field of battle, terminated the
administration of Guadalupe Victoria, the first president of Mexico.
His successor, Gomez Pedraza, the candidate of the Escocesses, was
elected by a majority of but two votes over his competitor, Guerrero,
the representative of the liberal Yorkinos.

       *       *       *       *       *

These internal discontents of Mexico began to inspire the Spanish
court with hope that its estranged colony would be induced, or perhaps
easily compelled, after a short time, to return to its allegiance;
and, accordingly, it was soon understood in Mexico, even during
Victoria's administration, that active efforts were making in Cuba to
raise an adequate force for another attempt upon the republic. This,
for a moment, restrained the fraternal hands raised against each other
within the limits of Mexico, and forced all parties to unite against
the common danger from abroad. Suitable measures were taken to guard
the coasts where an attack was most imminent, and it was the good
fortune of the government to secure the services of Commodore Porter,
a distinguished officer of the United States Navy, who commanded the
Mexican squadron most effectively for the protection of the shores
along the gulf, and took a number of Spanish vessels, even in the
ports of Cuba, some of which were laden with large and costly cargoes.

The success of the centralist Pedraza over the federalist Guerrero, a
man whose name and reputation were scarcely less dear to the genuine
republicans than that of Guadalupe Victoria,--was not calculated to
heal the animosities of the two factions, especially, as the scant
majority of two votes had placed the _Escoces_ partizan in the
presidential chair. The defeated candidate and his incensed companions
of the liberal lodge, did not exhibit upon this occasion that loyal
obedience to constitutional law, which should have taught them that
the first duty of a republican is to conceal his mortification at a
political defeat and to bow reverentially to the lawful decision of a
majority. It is a subject of deep regret that the first bold and
successful attack upon the organic law of Mexico was made by the
federalists. They may have deemed it their duty to prevent their
unreliable competitors from controlling the destinies of Mexico even
for a moment under the sanction of the constitution; but there can be
no doubt that they should have waited until acts, instead of
suspicions or fears, entitled them to exercise their right of
impeachment under the constitution. In an unregulated, military
nation, such as Mexico was at that period, men do not pause for the
slow operations of law when there is a personal or a party quarrel in
question. The hot blood of the impetuous, tropical region, combines
with the active intellectual temperament of the people, and laws and
constitutions are equally disregarded under the impulse of passion or
interest. Such was the case in the present juncture. The Yorkinos had
been outvoted lawfully, according to the solemn record of congress,
yet they resolved not to submit; and, accordingly, Lorenzo de Zavala,
the Grand Master of their lodge, and Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who
was then a professed _federalist_, in conjunction with the defeated
candidate Guerrero and Generals Montezuma and Lobato, determined to
prevent Pedraza from occupying the chair of state. Santa Anna, who now
appeared prominently on the stage, was the chief agitator in the
scheme, and being in garrison at Jalapa, in the autumn of 1828,
pronounced against the chief magistrate elect, and denounced his
nomination as "illegal, fraudulent and unconstitutional." The movement
was popular, for the people were in fact friendly to Guerrero. The
prejudices of the native or creole party against the Spaniards and
their supposed defenders the Escocesses, were studiously fomented in
the capital; and, on the 4th of December, the pronunciamiento of the
Accordada, in the capital, seconded the sedition of Santa Anna in the
provinces. By this time the arch conspirator in this drama had reached
the metropolis and labored to control the elements of disorder which
were at hand to support his favorite Guerrero. The defenceless
Spaniards were relentlessly assailed by the infuriate mob which was
let loose upon them by the insurgent chiefs. Guerrero was in the field
in person at the head of the Yorkinos. The Parian in the capital, and
the dwellings of many of the noted Escocesses were attacked and
pillaged, and for some time the city was given up to anarchy and
bloodshed. Pedraza, who still fulfilled the functions of minister of
war previous to his inauguration, fled from the official post which he
abandoned to his rival Santa Anna; and on the 1st of January, 1829,
congress,--reversing its former act,--declared Guerrero to have been
duly elected president of the republic! General Bustamante was chosen
vice president, and the government again resumed its operation under
the federal system of 1824.

    NOTE.--Although a masked Indian slavery or _peonage_, is permitted
    and encouraged in Mexico, African slavery is prohibited by
    positive enactments as well as by the constitution itself. But as
    it may interest the reader to know the Mexican enactments relative
    to negroes, on this subject, the following documents are subjoined
    for  reference:--


    _The President of the Mexican United States to the Inhabitants of
    the Republic._

    BE IT KNOWN--That, being desirous to signalize the anniversary of
    independence, in the year 1829, by an act of national justice and
    beneficence, which may redound to the advantage and support of so
    inestimable a good; which may further insure the public
    tranquillity; which may tend to the aggrandisement of the
    republic, and may reinstate an unfortunate portion of its
    inhabitants in the sacred rights which nature gave to them, and
    the nation should protect by wise and just laws, conformably with
    the dispositions of the thirtieth article of the constituent act,
    employing the extrordinary faculties which have been conceded to
    me, I have resolved to decree--

    1. Slavery is and shall remain abolished in the republic.

    2. In consequence, those who have hitherto been regarded as
    slaves, are free.

    3. Whensoever the condition of the treasury shall permit, the
    owners of the slaves shall be indemnified according to the terms
    which the law may dispose.


  _Mexico, Sept. 15, 1829._


    ART. 1.--Slavery is abolished, without any exception, throughout
    the whole republic.

    2. The owners of the slaves manumitted by the present law, or by
    the decree of September 15, 1829, shall be indemnified for their
    interests in them, to be estimated according to the proofs which
    may be presented of their personal qualities; to which effect, one
    appraiser shall be appointed by the commissary general, or the
    person performing his duties, and another by the owner; and, in
    case of disagreement, a third, who shall be appointed by the
    respective constitutional alcalde; and from the decision thus
    made, there shall be no appeal. The indemnification mentioned in
    this article shall not be extended to the colonists of Texas, who
    may have taken part in the revolution in that department.

    3. The owners to whom the original documents drawn up with regard to
    the proofs mentioned in the preceding article, shall be delivered
    gratis--shall themselves present them to the supreme government,
    which will authorise the general treasury to issue to them the
    corresponding orders for the amount of their respective interests.

    4. The payment of the said orders shall be made in the manner
    which may seem most equitable to the government, with the view of
    reconciling the rights of individuals with the actual state of the
    public finances.

  _April 5, 1837._

    The Constitution of 1843, or _Bases organicas de la Republica
    Mejicana_, of that year, declares that: "_No one is a slave in the
    territory of the nation_, and that any slave who may be
    introduced, shall be considered free and remain under the
    protection of the laws."--_Title_ 2d.

    The Constitution of 1847--which, in fact, is the old Federal
    Constitution of 1824--does not rëenact this clause; but, in the
    _Acta de Reformas_ annexed to it in 1847, declares, "that _every
    Mexican_, either by birth or naturalization, who has attained the
    age of twenty years, who possesses the means of an honest
    livelihood, and who has not been condemned by legal process to any
    infamous punishment, _is a citizen_ of the United Mexican
    States."--_Acta de Reformas, Article 1._ "In order to secure the
    _rights of man_ which the Constitution recognizes, _a law_ shall
    fix the guaranties of _liberty_, security, property and
    _equality_, which _all the inhabitants of the republic enjoy_, and
    shall establish the means requisite to make them effective."--_1d.
    Article 5._ The third article provides that "the exercise of the
    rights of citizenship _are suspended_ by habitual intemperance; by
    professional gambling or vagabondage; by religious orders; by
    legal interdict in virtue of trial for those crimes which forfeit
    citizenship, and by refusal to fulfil public duties imposed by
    popular nomination" (_nombramiento popular_.)

[Footnote 63: Zavala's Hist. Rev. of Mex. 2 vols.;--and Pazo's letters
on the United Provinces of South America.]




Violent as was the conduct of the pretended liberals in overthrowing
their rivals the Escocesses, and firmly as it may be supposed such a
band was cemented in opposition to the machination of a bold
monarchical party, we, nevertheless, find that treason existed in the
hearts of the conspirators against the patriot hero whom they had used
in their usurpation of the presidency. Scarcely had Guerrero been
seated in the chair of state when it became known that there was a
conspiracy to displace him. He had been induced by the condition of
the country, and by the bad advice of his enemies to assume the
authority of dictator. This power, he alleged, was exercised only for
the suppression of the intriguing Escocesses; but its continued
exercise served as a pretext at least, for the vice president, General
Bustamante, to place himself at the head of a republican division and
pronounce against the president he had so recently contributed to
place in power. The executive commanded Santa Anna to advance against
the assailants; but this chief, at first, feebly opposed the
insurgents, and, finally, fraternizing with Bustamante, marched on the
capital whence they drove Guerrero and his partisans to Valladolid in
Michoacan. Here the dethroned dictator organized a government, whilst
the usurping vice president, Bustamante, assumed the reins in the
capital. In Michoacan, Guerrero, who was well known and loved for his
revolutionary enterprises in the west of Mexico, found no difficulty
in recruiting a force with which he hoped to regain his executive
post. Congress was divided in opinion between the rival factions of
the liberalists, and the republic was shaken by the continual strife,
until Bustamante despatched a powerful division against Guerrero,
which defeated, and dispersed his army. This was the conclusion of
that successful warrior's career. He was a good soldier but a
miserable statesman. His private character and natural disposition are
represented, by those who knew him best, to have been irreproachable;
yet he was fitted alone for the early struggles of Mexico in the
field, and was so ignorant of the administrative functions needed in
his country at such a period, that it is not surprising to find he had
been used as a tool, and cast aside when the service for which his
intriguing coadjutors required him was performed. His historical
popularity and character rendered him available for a reckless party
in overthrowing a constitutional election; and, even when beaten by
the new usurper, and with scarcely the shadow of a party in the
nation, it was still feared that his ancient usefulness in the wars of
independence, might render him again the nucleus of political
discontent. Accordingly, the pursuit of Guerrero was not abandoned
when his army fled. The west coast was watched by the myrmidons of the
usurpers, and the war-worn hero was finally betrayed on board a vessel
by a spy, where he was arrested for bearing arms against the
government of which he was the real head, according to the solemn
decision of congress! In February, 1831, a court martial, ordered by
General Montezuma tried him for this pretended crime. His sentence
was, of course, known as soon as his judges were named; and, thus,
another chief of the revolutionary war was rewarded by death for his
patriotic services. We cannot regard this act of Bustamante and Santa
Anna, except as a deliberate murder for which they richly deserve the
condemnation of impartial history, even if they had no other crimes to
answer at the bar of God and their country.

Whilst these internal contests were agitating the heart of Mexico, an
expedition had been fitted out at Havana composed of four thousand
troops commanded by Barradas, designed to invade the lost colony and
restore it to the Spanish crown. The accounts given of this force and
its condition when landed at Tampico, vary according to the partizans
by whom they are written; but there is reason to believe that the
Spanish troops were so weakened by disease and losses in the summer of
1830, that when Santa Anna and a French officer,--Colonel
Woll--attacked them in the month of September, they fell an easy prey
into the hands of the Mexicans. Santa Anna, however, with his usual
talent for such composition, magnified the defeat into a magnificent
conquest. He was hailed as the victor who broke the last link between
Spain and her viceroyalty. Pompous bulletins and despatches were
published in the papers; and the commander-in-chief returned to the
capital, covered with honors, as the saviour of the republic.

There is an anecdote connected with the final expulsion of the Spaniards
from Mexico, which deserves to be recorded as it exhibits a fact which
superstitious persons might conceive to be the avenging decree of
retributive providence. Doña Isabel Montezuma, the eldest daughter of
the unfortunate Emperor had been married to his successor on the Aztec
throne, and, after his wretched death, was united to various
distinguished Spaniards, the last of whom was Juan Andrade, ancestor of
the Andrade Montezumas and Counts of Miravalle. General Miguel Barragan,
who afterwards became president _ad interim_ of Mexico, and to whom the
castle of San Juan de Ulua was surrendered by the European forces--was
married to Manuela Trebuesta y Casasola, daughter of the _last_ Count of
Miravalle, and it is thus a singular coincidence that the husband of a
lady who was the legitimate descendant of Montezuma, should have been
destined to receive the keys of the _last_ stronghold on which the
Spanish banner floated on this continent![64]

       *       *       *       *       *

By intrigue and victories Santa Anna had acquired so much popular
renown throughout the country and with the army that he found the time
was arriving when he might safely avail himself of his old and recent
services against Iturbide and Barradas. Under the influence of his
machinations Bustamante began to fail in popular estimation. He was
spoken of as a tyrant; his administration was characterized as
inauspicious; and the public mind was gradually prepared for an
outbreak in 1832. Santa Anna, who had, in fact, placed and sustained
Bustamante in power, was, in reality, the instigator of this revolt.
The ambitious chief, first of all issued his _pronunciamiento_ against
the ministry of the president, and then, shortly after, against that
functionary himself. But Bustamante, a man of nerve and capacity, was
not to be destroyed as easily as his victim, Guerrero. He threw
himself at the head of his loyal troops and encountering the rebels at
Tolomi routed them completely. Santa Anna, therefore, retired to Vera
Cruz, and, strengthening his forces from some of the other states,
declared himself in favor of the restoration of the constitutional
president Pedraza, whom he had previously driven out of Mexico. As
Bustamante advanced towards the coast his army melted away. The
country was opposed to him. He was wise enough to perceive that his
usurped power was lost; and prudently entered into a pacific
convention with Santa Anna at Zavaleta in December, 1832. The
successful insurgent immediately despatched a vessel for the banished
Pedraza, and brought him back to the capital to serve out the
remaining three months of his unexpired administration!

The object of Santa Anna in restoring Pedraza was not to sustain any
one of the old parties which had now become strangely mingled and
confused by the factions or ambitions of all the leaders. His main
design was to secure the services and influence of the centralists, as
far as they were yet available, in controlling his election to the
presidency upon which he had fixed his heart. On the 16th of May,
1833, he reached the goal of his ambition.[65]

The congress of 1834 was unquestionably federal republican in its
character, and Santa Anna seemed to be perfectly in accord with his
vice presidential compeer, Gomez Farias. But the church,--warned by a
bill introduced into congress the previous year by Zavala, by which he
aimed a blow at the temporalities of the spiritual lords,--did not
remain contented spectators while the power reposed in the hands of
his federal partizans. The popular representatives were accordingly
approached by skilful emissaries, and it was soon found that the
centralists were strongly represented in a body hitherto regarded as
altogether republican. It is charged in Mexico, that bribery was
freely resorted to; and, when the solicitations became sufficiently
powerful, even the inflexible patriotism of Santa Anna yielded, though
the vice president Farias, remained incorruptible.

On the 13th of May, 1834, the president suddenly and unwarrantably
dissolved congress, and maintained his arbitrary decree and power by
the army, which was entirely at his service. In the following year,
Gomez Farias was deposed from the vice presidency by the venal
congress, and Barragan raised to the vacant post. The militia was
disarmed, the central forces strengthened, and the people placed
entirely at the mercy of the executive and his minions, who completed
the destruction of the constitution of 1824 by blotting it from the
statute book of Mexico.

Puebla, Jalisco, Oaxaca, parts of Mexico, Zacatecas and Texas revolted
against this assumption of the centralists, though they were finally not
able to maintain absolutely their free stand against the dictator.
Zacatecas and Texas, alone, presented a formidable aspect to Santa Anna,
who was, nevertheless, too strong and skilful for the ill regulated
forces of the former state. The victorious troops entered the rebellious
capital with savage fury; and, after committing the most disgusting acts
of brutality and violence against all classes and sexes, they disarmed
the citizens entirely and placed a military governor over the province.
In Coahuila and Texas, symptoms of discontent were far more important,
for the federalists met at Monclova, and, after electing Agustin Viesca
governor, defied the opposite faction by which a military officer had
been assigned to perform the execute the duties of the state. General
Cos, however, soon dispersed the legislature by violence and imprisoned
the governor and his companions whom he arrested as they were hastening
to cross the Rio Grande. These evil doings were regarded sorrowfully but
sternly by the North Americans who had flocked to Texas, under the
sanctions and assurances of the federal constitution, and they resolved
not to countenance the usurpation of their unquestionable rights.

Such was the state of affairs in the Mexican Republic when the PLAN OF
TOLUCA was issued, by which the federal constitution was absolutely
abolished, and the principles of a consolidated central government
fully announced. Previous to this, however, a _pronunciamiento_ had
been made by a certain Escalada at Morelia, in favor of the _fueros_,
or especial privileges and rights of the church and army. This
outbreak was, of course, central in its character; whilst another
ferment in Cuautla had been productive of Santa Anna's nomination as
dictator, an office which he promptly refused to accept.

The Plan of Toluca was unquestionably favored by Santa Anna who had
gone over to the centralists. It was a scheme designed to test
national feeling and to prepare the people for the overthrow of state
governments. The supreme power was vested by it in the executive and
national congress; and the states were changed into departments under
the command of military governors, who were responsible for their
trust to the chief national authorities instead of the people. Such
was the Central Constitution of 1836.

It is quite probable that Santa Anna's prudent care of himself and his
popularity, as well as his military patriotism induced him to leave
the government in the hands of the vice president Barragan whilst the
new constitution was under discussion, and to lead the Mexican troops,
personally, against the revolted Texans, who had never desisted from
open hostility to the central usurpations. But as the history of that
luckless expedition is to be recounted elsewhere in this volume, we
shall content ourselves with simply recording the fact that on the
21st of April, 1836, the president and his army were completely routed
by General Houston and the Texans; and, that instead of returning to
the metropolis crowned with glory, as he had done from the capture of
Barradas, Santa Anna owed his life to the generosity of the Texan
insurgents whose companions in arms had recently been butchered by his
orders at Goliad and San Antonio de Bejar.[66]

During Santa Anna's absence, vice president Barragan filled the
executive office up to the time of his death, when he was succeeded by
Coro, until the return from France of Bustamante, who had been elected
president under the new central constitution of 1836. In the following
year Santa Anna was sent back to Mexico in a vessel of the United
States government. But he was a disgraced man in the nation's eyes. He
returned to his _hacienda_ of Manga de Clavo, and burying himself for
a while in obscurity, was screened from the open manifestation of
popular odium. Here he lurked until the brilliant attempt was made to
disenthral his country by Mexia, in 1838. Demanding, once more, the
privilege of leading the army, he was entrusted with its command, and,
encountering the defender of federation in the neighborhood of Puebla,
he gave him battle immediately. Mexia lost the day; and, with brief
time for shrift or communication with his family, he was condemned by
a drum-head court martial and shot upon the field of battle. This was
a severe doom; but the personal animosity between the commanders was
equally unrelenting, for when the sentence was announced to the brave
but rash Mexia, he promptly and firmly declared that Santa Anna was
right to execute him on the spot, inasmuch, as he would not have
granted the usurper half the time that elapsed since his capture, had
it been his destiny to prove victorious!

Soon after the accession of Bustamante there had been _gritos_ in
favor of federation and Gomez Farias, who was, at that period,
imprisoned; but these trifling outbreaks were merely local and easily
suppressed by Pedraza and Rodriguez.

In the winter of 1838, however, Mexico was more severely threatened
from abroad than she had recently been by her internal discords. It
was at this time that a French fleet appeared at Vera Cruz, under the
orders of Admiral Baudin, to demand satisfaction for injuries to
French subjects, and unsettled pecuniary claims which had been long
and unavailingly subjects of diplomacy. Distracted for years by
internal broils that paralyzed the industry of the country ever since
the outbreak of the revolution, Mexico was in no condition to respond
promptly to demands for money. But national pride forbade the idea of
surrendering without a blow. The military resources of the country and
of the Castle of San Juan de Ulua, were, accordingly, mustered with
due celerity, and the assailed department of Vera Cruz entrusted to
the defence of Santa Anna, whose fame had been somewhat refreshed by
his victory over Mexia. Meanwhile the French fleet kept up a stringent
blockade of Vera Cruz, and still more crippled the commercial revenues
of Mexico by cutting off the greater part of its most valuable trade.
Finding, however, that neither the blockade nor additional diplomacy
would induce the stubborn government to accede to terms which the
Mexicans knew would finally be forced on them, the French squadron
attacked the city with forces landed from the vessels, whilst they
assailed the redoubtable castle with three frigates, a corvette and
two bomb vessels, whence, during an action of six hours, they threw
three hundred and two shells, one hundred and seventy-seven paixhan,
and seven thousand seven hundred and seventy-one solid shot. The
assaults upon the town were not so successful as those on the castle,
where the explosion of a magazine forced the Mexicans to surrender.
The troops that had been landed were not numerous enough to hold the
advantages they gained; and it was in gallantly repulsing a storming
party at the gates of the city, that Santa Anna lost a leg by a
parting shot from a small piece of ordnance as the French retreated on
the quay to their boats.

The capture of the castle, however, placed the city at the mercy of the
French, and the Mexicans were soon induced to enter into satisfactory
stipulations for the adjustment of all debts and difficulties.

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1839, General Canales fomented a revolt in some of the
north-eastern departments. The proposal of this insurgent was to form
a republican confederation of Coahuila, Tamaulipas, and Durango, which
three states or departments, he designed should adopt for themselves
the federal constitution of 1824, and, assuming the title of the
independent "Republic of the Rio Grande," should pledge themselves to
co-operate with Texas against Bustamante and the centralists. An
alliance was entered into with Texas to that effect, and an expedition
of united Texans and Republicans of the Rio Grande, was set on foot to
occupy Coahuila; but at the appearance of General Arista in the field
early in 1840, and after an action in which the combined forces were
defeated, Canales left the discomfitted Texans to seek safety by
hastening back to their own territory.

The administration of Bustamante was sorely tried by foreign and
domestic broils, for, whilst Texas and the Republic of the Rio Grande
were assailing him in the north, the federalists attacked him in the
capital, and the Yucatecos revolted in the south. This last outbreak
was not quelled as easily as the rebellion in the north; nor was it,
in fact, until long afterwards during another administration, that the
people of the Peninsula were again induced to return to their
allegiance. Bustamante seems to have vexed the Yucatecos by unwise
interference in the commercial and industrial interests of the
country. The revolt was temporarily successful; On the 31st of March,
1841, a constitution was proclaimed in Yucatan, which erected it into
a free and sovereign state, and exempted the people from many burdens
as well as the odious intolerance of all other religions except the
Roman Catholic, that had been imposed by both the federal constitution
of 1824 and the central one of 1836.

       *       *       *       *       *

The discontent with Bustamante's administration, arising chiefly from
a consumption duty of 15 per cent. which had been imposed by congress,
was now well spread throughout the republic. The pronunciamiento of
Urrea on the 15th of July, 1840, at the palace of Mexico was mainly an
effort of the federalists to put down violently the constitution of
1836; and although the insurgents had possession, at one period, of
the person of the president, yet the revolt was easily suppressed by
Valencia and his faithful troops in the capital.

But, a year later, the revolutionary spirit had ripened into readiness
for successful action. We have reason to believe that the most
extensive combinations were made by active agents in all parts of
Mexico to ensure the downfall of Bustamante and the elevation of Santa
Anna. Accordingly, in August, 1841, a _pronunciamiento_ of General
Paredes, in Guadalajara, was speedily responded to by Valencia and
Lombardini in the capital, and by Santa Anna himself at Vera Cruz. But
the outbreak was not confined merely to proclamations or the adhesion
of military garrisons; for a large body of troops and citizens
continued loyal to the president and resolved to sustain the
government in the capital. This fierce fidelity to the constitution on
the one hand, and bitter hostility to the chief magistrate on the
other, resulted in one of the most sanguinary conflicts that had taken
place in Mexico since the early days of independence. For a whole
month the contest was carried on with balls and grape shot in the
streets of Mexico, whilst the rebels, who held the citadel outside the
city, finished the shameless drama, by throwing a shower of bombs into
the metropolis, shattering the houses, and involving innocent and
guilty, citizens, strangers, combatants and non-combatants, in a
common fate. This cowardly assault under the orders of Valencia, was
made solely with the view of forcing the citizens, who were
unconcerned in the quarrel between the factions, into insisting upon
the surrender of Mexico, in order to save their town and families from
destruction. There was a faint show of military manœuvres in the
fields adjoining the city; but the troops on both sides shrank from
battle when they were removed from the protecting shelter of walls and
houses. At length, the intervention of Mexican citizens who were most
interested in the cessation of hostilities, produced an arrangement
between the belligerants at Estanzuela near the capital, and, finally,
the PLAN OF TACUBAYA was agreed on by the chiefs--as a substitute for
the constitution of 1836. By the seventh article of this document,
Santa Anna was effectually invested with dictatorial powers until a
new constitution was formed.

The Plan of Tacubaya provided that a congress should be convened, in
1842, to form a new constitution, and in June, a body of patriotic
citizens, chosen by the people, assembled for that purpose in the
metropolis. Santa Anna opened the session with a speech in which he
announced his predilection for a strong central government, but he
professed perfect willingness to yield to whatever might be the
decision of congress. Nevertheless, in December of the same year,
after the assembly had made two efforts to form a constitution
suitable to the country and the cabinet, president Santa Anna,--in
spite of his professed submission to the national will expressed
through the representatives,--suddenly and unauthorizedly, dissolved
the congress. It was a daring act; but Santa Anna knew that he could
rely upon his troops, his officers, and the mercantile classes for
support. The capital wanted quietness for a while; and the interests
of trade as well as the army united in confidence in the strong will
of one who was disposed to maintain order by force.

After congress had been dissolved by Santa Anna, there was, of course,
no further necessity of an appeal to the people. The nation had
spoken, but its voice was disregarded. Nothing therefore remained,
save to allow the dictator, himself, to frame the organic laws; and
for this purpose he appointed a Junta of Notables, who proclaimed, on
the 13th of June, 1843, an instrument which never took the name of a
constitution, but bore the mongrel title of "Bases of the Political
Organization of the Mexican Republic." It is essentially _central_, in
its provisions; and whilst it is as intolerant upon the subject of
religion, as the two former fundamental systems, it is even less
popular in its general provisions than the constitution of 1836.

[Footnote 64: Alaman Disertaciones, vol. i, p. 219.]

[Footnote 65: The following letter from Santa Anna to a distinguished
foreigner, will afford the reader a specimen of his personal modesty
and political humility. The individual to whom it was written, was
afterwards expelled by Santa Anna from the republic during his
presidency, after having been invited by him to the country:

  "VERA CRUZ, October 11th, 1831.

"MY ESTEEMED FRIEND:--I have the pleasure to answer your favor of the
5th ultimo, by which I perceive that my letter of the 9th of April
last, came to hand. I have received the prospectus of the "Foreign
College" you contemplate to establish, which not only meets with my
entire approbation, but, considering your talents and uncommon
acquirements, I congratulate you on employing them in a manner so
generally useful, and personally honorable. I thank you cordially for
the news and observations you have had the kindness to communicate to
me, and both make me desire the continuation of your esteemed
epistles. _Retired as I am, on my farm, and there exclusively devoted
to the cultivation and improvement of my small estate, I cannot reply,
as I desire, to the news with which you have favored me._ But, even in
that retirement, and though separated from the arena of politics, I
could never view with indifference any discredit thrown on my country,
nor any thing which might, in the smallest degree, possess that
tendency. We enjoy at present peace and tranquillity, and I do not
know of any other question of public interest now in agitation, than
the approaching _elections of President_ and Vice President. When that
period shall arrive, should I obtain a majority of suffrages, I am
_ready to accept_ the honor, and to sacrifice, for the benefit of the
nation my repose and the charms of private life. _My fixed system is
to be called_ (ser llamado), resembling in this a _modest maid_
(modesta doncella), _who rather expects to be desired, than to show
herself to be desiring_. I think that my position justifies me in this
respect. Nevertheless, as what is written in a foreign country has
much influence at home, especially among us, in your city I think it
proper to _make a great step on this subject_; and by fixing the true
aspect, in which such or such services should be regarded, as respects
the various candidates, one could undoubtedly contribute _to fix here
public opinion, which is at present extremely wavering and uncertain_.
Of course, this is the peculiar province of the friends of Mexico; and
as well by this title, as on account of the acquirements and
instruction you possess, _I know of no one better qualified than
yourself to execute such a benevolent undertaking_.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I hope you will favor me from time to time with information, which
will always give satisfaction to your _true friend_ and servant, who
kisses your hands."


[Footnote 66: See Gen. Waddy Thompson's Recollections of Mexico, p.
69, for Santa Anna's wretched vindication of these sanguinary deeds.]




After the foundation of the new system in 1843, the country continued
quiet for a while, and when the Mexican Congress met, in January 1844,
propositions were made by the executive department to carry out Santa
Anna's favorite project of reconquering Texas. It is probable that
there was not much sincerity in the president's desire to march his
troops into a territory the recollection of which must have been, at
least, distasteful to him. There is more reason to believe that the
large sum which it was necessary to appropriate for the expenses of
the campaign--the management of which would belong to the
administration,--was the real object he had in view. Four millions
were granted for the reconquest, but when Santa Anna demanded ten
millions more while the first grant was still uncollected, the members
refused to sustain the president's demand. The congressmen were
convinced of that chieftain's rapacity, and resolved to afford him no
further opportunity to plunder the people under the guise of patriotism.

Santa Anna's sagacious knowledge of his countrymen immediately
apprised him of approaching danger, and having obtained permission
from congress to retire to his estate at Mango de Clavo, near Vera
Cruz, he departed from the capital, leaving his friend General
Canalizo as president _ad interim_. Hardly had he reached his
plantation in the midst of friends and faithful troops, when a revolt
burst out in Jalisco, Agnas Calientes, Zacatecas, Sinaloa and Sonora,
against his government, headed by General Paredes. Santa Anna rapidly
crossed the country to suppress the rebellion, but as he disobeyed
the constitutional compact by taking actual command of the army whilst
he was president, without the previous assent of congress, he became
amenable to law for this violation of his oath. He was soon at enmity
with the rebels and with the constitutional congress, and thus a three
fold contest was carried on, chiefly through correspondence, until the
4th of January, 1845, when Santa Anna finally fell. He fled from the
insurgents and constitutional authorities towards the eastern coast,
but being captured at the village of Jico, was conducted to Peroté,
where he remained imprisoned under a charge and examination for
treason, until an amnesty for the late political factionists permitted
him to depart on the 29th of May, 1845, with his family, for Havana.

Upon Santa Anna's ejection from the executive chair, the president of
the council of government, became under the laws of the country,
provisional president of the republic. This person was General José
Joaquim de Herrera, during whose administration the controversies rose
which resulted in the war between Mexico and the United States.

The thread of policy and action in both countries is so closely
interwoven during this pernicious contest, that the history of the war
becomes, in reality, the history of Mexico for the epoch. We are
therefore compelled to narrate, succinctly, the circumstances that led
to that lamentable issue.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first _empresario_, or contractor, for the colonization of Texas,
was Moses Austin, a native citizen of the United States, who, as soon
as the treaty of limits between Spain and our country was concluded in
1819, conceived the project of establishing a settlement in that
region. Accordingly, in 1821 he obtained from the Commandant General
of the Provincias Internas, permission to introduce three hundred
foreign families. In 1823, a national colonization law was approved by
the Mexican Emperor Iturbide during his brief reign, and on the 18th
of February, Stephen F. Austin, who had succeeded his father, after
his death, in carrying out the project, was authorized to proceed with
the founding of the colony. After the emperor's fall, this decree was
confirmed by the first executive council in conformity to the express
will of congress.

In 1824 the _federal_ constitution of Mexico was, as we have narrated,
adopted, by the republican representatives, upon principles analogous
to those of the constitution of the United States; and by a decree of
the 7th of May, Texas and Coahuila were united in a _state_. In this
year another _general_ colonization law was enacted by congress, and
foreigners were invited to the new domain by a special state
colonization law of Coahuila and Texas.

Under these local laws and constitutional guaranties, large numbers of
foreigners flocked to this portion of Mexico, opened farms, founded
towns and villages, re-occupied old Spanish settlements, introduced
improvements in agriculture and manufactures, drove off the Indians,
and formed, in fact, the nucleus of an enterprizing and progressive
population. But there were jealousies between the race that invited
the colonists, and the colonists who accepted the invitation. The
central power in the distant capital did not estimate, at their just
value, the independence of the remote pioneers, or the state-right
sovereignty to which they had been accustomed at their former home in
the United States. Mexico was convulsed by revolutions, but the lonely
residents of Texas paid no attention to the turmoils of the
factionists. At length, however, direct acts of interference upon the
part of the national government, not only by its ministerial agents,
but by its legislature, excited the mingled alarm and indignation of
the colonists, who imagined that in sheltering themselves under a
republic they were protected as amply as they would have been under
the constitution of the North American Union. In this they were
disappointed; for, in 1830, an arbitrary enactment--based no doubt
upon a jealous dread of the growing value and size of a colony which
formed a link between the United States and Mexico by resting against
Tamaulipas and Louisiana, on the north and south,--prohibited entirely
the future immigration of American settlers into Coahuila and Texas.
To enforce this decree and to watch the loyalty of the actual
inhabitants, military posts, composed of rude and ignorant Mexican
soldiers, were sprinkled over the country. And, at last, the people of
Texas found themselves entirely under military control.

This suited neither the principles nor tastes of the colonists, who,
in 1832, took arms against this warlike interference with their
municipal liberty, and after capturing the fort at Velasco, reduced to
submission the garrisons at Anahuac and Nacogdoches. The separate
state constitution which had been promised Texas in 1824, was never
sanctioned by the Mexican Congress, though the colonists prepared the
charter and were duly qualified for admission. But the crisis arrived
when the centralists of 1835, overthrew the federal constitution of
1824. Several Mexican states rose independently against the despotic
act. Zacatecas fought bravely for her rights, and saw her people
basely slain by the myrmidons of Santa Anna. The legislature of
Coahuila and Texas was dispersed by the military; and, at last, the
whole republic, save the pertinacious North Americans, yielded to the
armed power of the resolute oppressor.

The alarmed settlers gathered together as quickly as they could and
resolved to stand by their federative rights under the charter whose
guaranties allured them into Mexico. Meetings were held in all the
settlements, and a union was formed by means of correspondence. Arms
were next resorted to and the Texans were victorious at Gonzales,
Goliad, Bejar, Conception, Lepantitlan, San Patricio and San Antonio.
In November they met in consultation, and in an able, resolute and
dignified paper, declared that they had only taken up arms in defence
of the constitution of 1824; that their object was to continue loyal
to the confederacy if laws were made for the guardianship of their
political rights, and that they offered their lives and arms in aid of
other members of the republic who would rightfully rise against the
military despotism.

But the other states, in which there was no infusion of North Americans
or Europeans, refused to second this hardy handful of pioneers. Mexico
will not do justice, in any of her commentaries on the Texan war, to the
motives of the colonists. Charging them with an original and long
meditated design to rob the republic of one of its most valuable
provinces, she forgets entirely or glosses over, the military acts of
Santa Anna's invading army, in March, 1836, at the Alamo and Goliad,
which converted resistance into revenge. After those disgraceful scenes
of carnage peace was no longer possible. Santa Anna imagined, no doubt,
that he would terrify the settlers into submission if he could not drive
them from the soil. But he mistook both their fortitude and their force;
and, after the fierce encounter at San Jacinto, on the 21st of April,
1836, with Houston and his army, the power of Mexico over the insurgent
state was effectually and forever broken.

After Santa Anna had been taken prisoner by the Texans, in this fatal
encounter, and was released and sent home through the United States in
order to fulfil his promise to secure the recognition of Texan
independence, the colonists diligently began the work of creating for
themselves a distinct nationality, for they failed in all their early
attempts to incorporate themselves with the United States during the
administrations of Jackson and Van Buren. These presidents were
scrupulous and faithful guardians of national honor, while they
respected the Mexican right of reconquest. Their natural sympathies
were of course yielded to Texas, but their executive duties, the faith
of treaties, and the sanctions of international law forbade their
acceding to the proposed union. Texas, accordingly, established a
national government, elected her officers, regulated her trade, formed
her army and navy, maintained her frontier secure from assault, and
was recognized as, _de facto_, an independent sovereignty by the
United States, England, France and Belgium. But these efforts of the
infant republic did not end in mere preparations for a separate
political existence and future commercial wealth. The rich soil of the
lowlands along the numerous rivers that veined the whole region soon
attracted large accessions of immigrants, and the trade of Texas began
to assume significance in the markets of the world.

Meanwhile Mexico busied herself, at home, in revolutions, or in
gathering funds and creating armies, destined, as the authorities
professed, to reconquer the lost province. Yet all these military and
financial efforts were never rendered available in the field, and, in
reality, no adequate force ever marched towards the frontier. The men
and money raised through the services and contributions of credulous
citizens were actually designed to figure in the domestic drama of
political power in the capital. No hostilities, of any significance,
occurred between the revolutionists and the Mexicans after 1836, for
we cannot regard the Texan expedition to Santa Fé, or the Mexican
assault upon the town of Mier as belligerant acts deserving
consideration as grave efforts made to assert or secure national rights.

Such was the condition of things from 1836 until 1844, during the
whole of which period Texas exhibited to the world a far better aspect
of well regulated sovereignty than Mexico herself. On the 12th of
April of that year, more than seven years after Texas had established
her independence, a treaty was concluded by President Tyler with the
representatives of Texas for the annexation of that republic to the
United States. In March, 1845, Congress passed a joint resolution
annexing Texas to the union upon certain reasonable conditions, which
were acceded to by that nation, whose convention erected a suitable
state constitution, with which it became finally a member of our
confederacy. In the meantime, the envoys of France and England, had
opened negotiations for the recognition of Texan independence, which
terminated successfully; but when they announced their triumph, on the
20th of May, 1845, Texas was already annexed conditionally to the
United States by the act of congress.

The joint resolution of annexation, passed by our congress, was
protested against by General Almonte, the Mexican minister at that
period in Washington, as an act of aggression "the most unjust which can
be found in the annals of modern history" and designed to despoil a
friendly nation of a considerable portion of her territory. He
announced, in consequence, the termination of his mission, and demanded
his passports to leave the country. In Mexico, soon after, a bitter and
badly conducted correspondence took place between the minister of
foreign affairs and Mr. Shannon, our envoy. And thus, within a brief
period, these two nations found themselves unrepresented in each other's
capital and on the eve of a serious dispute.

But the government of the United States,--still sincerely anxious to
preserve peace, or at least, willing to try every effort to soothe the
irritated Mexicans and keep the discussion in the cabinet rather than
transfer it to the battle field,--determined to use the kindly efforts
of our consul, Mr. Black, who still remained in the capital, to seek an
opportunity for the renewal of friendly intercourse. This officer was
accordingly directed to visit the minister of foreign affairs and
ascertain from the Mexican government whether it would receive an envoy
from the United States, invested with full power to adjust all the
questions in dispute between the two governments. The invitation was
received with apparent good will, and in October, 1845, the Mexican
government agreed to receive one, commissioned with full powers to
settle the dispute in a peaceful, reasonable and honorable manner.

       *       *       *       *       *

As soon as this intelligence reached the United States, Mr. John
Slidell was dispatched as envoy extraordinary and minister
plenipotentiary on the supposed mission of peace; but when he reached
Vera Cruz in November, he found the aspect of affairs changed. The
government of Herrera, with which Mr. Black's arrangement had been
made, was tottering. General Paredes, a leader popular with the people
and the army, availing himself of the general animosity against Texas,
and the alleged desire of Herrera's cabinet to make peace with the
United States, had determined to overthrow the constitutional
government. There is scarcely a doubt that Herrera and his ministers
were originally sincere in their desire to settle the international
difficulty, and to maintain the spirit of the contract they had made.
But the internal danger, with which they were menaced by the army and
its daring demagogue, induced them to prevaricate as soon as Mr.
Slidell presented his credentials for reception. All their pretexts
were, in reality, frivolous, when we consider the serious results
which were to flow from their enunciation. The principal argument
against the reception of our minister was, that his commission
constituted him a regular envoy, and that, he was not confined to the
discussion of the Texan question alone. Such a mission, the
authorities alleged, placed the countries at once, diplomatically,
upon an equal and ordinary footing of peace, and their objection
therefore, if it had any force, at all, was to the fact, that we
exhibited through the credentials of our envoy, the strongest evidence
that one nation can give to another of perfect amity! We had, in
truth, no questions in dispute between us, except boundary and
indemnity;--for Texas, as a sovereignty acknowledged by the acts, not
only of the United States and of European powers, but in consequence
of her own maintenance of perfect nationality and independence, had a
right to annex herself to the United States. The consent of Mexico to
acknowledge her independence in 1845, under certain conditions,
effectually proved this fact beyond dispute.

Whilst the correspondence between Slidell and the Mexican ministry was
going on, Paredes continued his hostile demonstrations, and, on the
30th of December, 1845, president Herrera, who anxiously desired to
avoid bloodshed, resigned the executive chair to him without a
struggle. Feeble as was the hope of success with the new authorities,
our government, still anxious to close the contest peacefully,
directed Mr. Slidell to renew the proposal for his reception to
Paredes. These instructions he executed on the first of March, 1846,
but his request was refused by the Mexican minister of foreign
affairs, on the twelfth of that month, and our minister was forthwith
obliged to return from his unsuccessful mission.

All the public documents, and addresses of Paredes, made during the
early movements of his revolution and administration, breathe the
deadliest animosity to our union. He invokes the god of battles, and
calls the world to witness the valor of Mexican arms. The revolution
which raised him to power, was declared to be sanctioned by the
people, who were impatient for another war, in which they might avenge
the aggressions of a government that sought to prostrate them.
Preparations were made for a Texan campaign. Loans were raised, and
large bodies of troops were moved to the frontiers. General Arista,
suspected of kindness to our country, was superceded in the north by
General Ampudia, who arrived at Matamoros on the 11th of April, 1846,
with two hundred cavalry, followed by two thousand men to be united
with the large body of soldiery already in Matamoros.

These military demonstrations denoted the unquestionable design and
will of Paredes, who had acquired supreme power by a revolution
founded upon the solemn pledge of hostility against the United States
and reconquest of Texas. His military life in Mexico made him a
despot. He had no confidence in the ability of his fellow-citizens to
govern themselves. He believed republicanism an Utopian dream of his
visionary countrymen. Free discussion through the press was
prohibited, during his short rule, and his satellites advocated the
establishment of a throne to be occupied by an European prince. These
circumstances induced our government to believe, that any
counter-revolution in Mexico, which might destroy the ambitious and
unpatriotic projects of Paredes, would promote the cause of peace, and
accordingly, it saw with pleasure, the prospect of a new outbreak
which might result in the downfall, and total destruction of the
greatest enemy we possessed on the soil of our sister republic.

[Illustration: (Signature--Ant. Lopez de Santa Anna)]




Whilst Slidell was negotiating, and, in consequence of the anticipated
failure of his effort to be received,--as was clearly indicated by the
conduct of the Mexican government upon his arrival in the
capital,--General Taylor, who had been stationed at Corpus Christi, in
Texas, since the fall of 1845, with a body of regular troops, was
directed, on the 13th of January, 1846, to move his men to the mouth
of the Rio Grande. He, accordingly left his encampment on the 8th of
March, and, on the 25th, reached Point Isabel, having encountered no
serious opposition on the way. The march to the Rio Grande has been
made the subject of complaint by politicians in Mexico and the United
States, who believed that the territory lying between that river and
the Nueces, was not the property of Texas. But inasmuch as Mexico
still continued vehemently to assert her political right over _the
whole of Texas_, the occupation of any part of its soil, south of the
Sabine, by American troops, was in that aspect of the case, quite as
much an infringement of Mexican sovereignty, as the march of our
troops, from the Nueces to the Rio Grande.

As it is important that the reader should understand the original
title to Louisiana, under which the boundary of the Rio Grande, was
claimed, first of all for that state, and, subsequently, for Texas, we
shall relate its history in a summary manner.

Louisiana had been the property of France, and by a secret contract
between that country and Spain in 1762, as well as by treaties between
France, Spain, and England, in the following year, the French dominion
was extinguished on the continent of America. In consequence of the
treaty between this country and England in 1783, the Mississippi
became the western boundary of the United States, from its source to
the thirty-first degree of north latitude, and thence, on the same
parallel, to the St. Mary's. France, it will be remembered, had always
claimed dominion in Louisiana to the Rio Bravo del Norte, or Rio
Grande; by virtue:--

1st. Of the discovery of the Mississippi from near its source to the

2d. Of the possession taken, and establishment made by La Salle, at
the bay of Saint Bernard, west of the river Trinity and Colorado, by
authority of Louis XIV. in 1635--notwithstanding the subsequent
destruction of the colony.

3d. Of the charter of Louis XIV. to Crozat in 1712.

4th. Of the historical authority of Du Pratz, Champigny and the Count
de Vergennes.

5th. Of the authority of De Lisle's map, and of the map published in
1762, by Don Thomas Lopez, Geographer to the king of Spain, as well as
of various other maps, atlases, and geographical authorities.

By an article of the secret treaty of San Ildefonso in October, 1800,
Spain retroceded Louisiana to France, but this treaty was not
promulgated until the beginning of 1802. The paragraph of cession is
as follows: "His Catholic majesty engages to retrocede to the French
republic, six months after the full and entire execution of the
conditions and stipulations above recited, relative to his royal
highness the Duke of Parma, the colony and province of Louisiana, with
the same extent that it already has in the hands of Spain, _and that
it had when France possessed it_, and, such as it should be, after the
treaties passed subsequently between Spain and other powers." In 1803,
Bonaparte, the first consul of the French republic, ceded Louisiana to
the United States, as fully, and in the same manner, as it had been
retroceded to France by Spain, under the treaty of San Ildefonso; and,
by virtue of this grant, Messrs. Madison, Monroe, Adams, Clay, Van
Buren, Jackson, and Polk, contended that the original limit of the new
state had been the Rio Grande. However, by the third article of our
treaty with Spain, in 1819, all our pretensions to extend the
territory of Louisiana towards Mexico on the Rio Grande, were
abandoned by adopting the river Sabine as our boundary in that quarter.

The Mexican authorities upon this subject are either silent or
doubtful. No light is to be gathered from the geographical researches
of Humboldt, whose elucidations of New Spain are in many respects the
fullest and most satisfactory. In the year 1835, Stephen Austin
published a map of Texas, representing the Nueces as the western
confine,--and in 1836, General Almonte the former minister from
Mexico to the United States, published a memoir upon Texas in which,
whilst describing the Texan department of Bejar, he says--"That
notwithstanding it has been hitherto believed that the Rio de las
Nueces is the dividing line of Coahuila and Texas, inasmuch as it is
always thus represented on maps, I am informed by the government of
the state, that geographers have been in error upon this subject; and
that the true line should commence at the mouth of the river Aransaso,
and follow it to its source; thence, it should continue by a straight
line until it strikes the junction of the rivers Medina and San
Antonio, and then, pursuing the east bank of the Medina to its head
waters, it should terminate on the confines of Chihuahua."[67]

The true origin of the Mexican war was not this march of Taylor and
his troops from the Nueces to the Rio Grande, through the debatable
land. The American and Mexican troops were brought face to face by the
act, and _hostilities_ were the natural result after the exciting
annoyances upon the part of the Mexican government which followed the
union of Texas with our confederacy. Besides this, General Paredes,
the usurping president, had already declared in Mexico, on the _18th
of April, 1846_, in a letter addressed to the commanding officer on
the northern frontier, that he supposed him at the head of a valiant
army on the theatre of action;--and that it was indispensable to
commence hostilities, _the Mexicans themselves taking the initiative_!

We believe that our nation and its rulers earnestly desired honorable
peace, though they did not shun the alternative of war. It was
impossible to permit a conterminous neighbor who owed us large sums of
money, and was hostile to the newly adopted state, to select unopposed
her mode and moment of attack. Mexico would neither resign her
pretensions upon Texas, negotiate, receive our minister, nor remain at
peace. She would neither declare war, nor cultivate friendship, and
the result was, that when the armies approached each other, but little
time was lost in resorting to the cannon and the sword.

As soon as General Taylor reached the Rio Grande he left a command at
the mouth of the river, and taking post opposite Matamoros erected a
fort, the guns of which bore directly upon the city. The Mexicans,
whose artillery might have been brought to play upon the works, from
the opposite side of the river, made no hostile demonstration against
the left bank for some time, nor did they interrupt the construction
of the fort. Reinforcements, however, were constantly arriving in
the city. Ampudia and Arista were there. Interviews were held between
the Mexican authorities and our officers, in which the latter were
ordered to retire from the soil it was alleged they were usurping. But
as this was a diplomatic, and not a military question, General Taylor
resolved to continue in position, though his forces were perhaps
inadequate to contend with the augmenting numbers of the foe. He
examined the country thoroughly by his scouting parties and pushed his
reconnoissances, on the left bank, from Point Isabel to some distance
beyond his encampment opposite Matamoros. Whilst engaged in this
service, some of his officers and men were captured or killed by the
_ranchero_ cavalry of the enemy; and, on the 24th of April, Captain
Thornton who had been sent to observe the country above the encampment
with sixty-three dragoons, fell into an ambuscade, out of which they
endeavored to cut their way, but were forced to surrender with a loss
of sixteen killed and wounded. This was the first blood spilled in
actual conflict.

[Illustration: MATAMOROS.]

Meanwhile, in the United States, the news of Taylor's supposed danger,
greatly exaggerated by rumor, was spread far and wide. An actual war
had, perhaps, not been seriously apprehended. Taylor had been
expressly commanded to refrain from aggression. It was supposed that
the mere presence of our troops on the frontier would preserve Texas
from invasion, and that negotiations would ultimately terminate the
dispute. This is the only ground upon which we can reasonably account
for the apparent carelessness of our government in not placing a force
upon the Rio Grande, adequate to encounter all the opposing array.
Congress was in session when the news reached Washington. The
president immediately announced the fact, and, on the 13th of May,
1846, ten millions of dollars were appropriated to carry on the war,
and fifty thousand volunteers were ordered to be raised. An "ARMY OF
THE WEST" was directed to be formed under the command of Kearney, at
fort Leavenworth, on the Missouri, which was to cross the country to
the Pacific, after capturing New Mexico. An "ARMY OF THE CENTRE,"
under General Wool, was to assemble at San Antonio de Bejar whence it
was to march upon Coahuila and Chihuahua, and, whilst the heart and
the west of Mexico were penetrated by these officers, it was designed
that Taylor should make war on the northern and eastern states of the
Mexican republic. In addition to these orders to the army, the naval
forces, under Commodores Stockton and Sloat in the Pacific, and
Commodore Conner, in the Gulf of Mexico, were commanded to co-operate
with our land forces, to harass the enemy, and to aid, with all their
power, in the subjugation and capture of Mexican property and territory.

Immediately after Thornton's surrender, General Taylor, availing
himself of authority with which he had been invested to call upon the
governors of Louisiana and Texas for military aid, demanded four
regiments of volunteers from each state, for the country in the
neighborhood of the Rio Grande was alive with belligerant Mexicans. He
then visited the fortifications opposite Matamoros, and finding the
garrison but scantly supplied with provisions, hastened back to Point
Isabel with a formidable escort, and obtaining the requisite rations,
commenced his march back to Matamoros and the fort on the 7th of May.
But, in the interval, General Arista, had crossed the Rio Grande with
his forces, and on the 8th, our General encountered him, drawn up in
battle array at Palo Alto and ready to dispute his passage along the
road. A sharp engagement ensued between the two armies from two
o'clock in the afternoon until nearly dark, when the Mexicans withdrew
from the action for the night. Our total force in this affair,
according to official reports, was two thousand two hundred and
eighty-eight, while that of Mexico, according to the admission of the
officers, amounted to six thousand regulars with a large and probably
undisciplined force drawn, at random, from the country.

The night of the 8th was passed with some anxiety in the American camp,
for the fierce conflict of the day induced many prudent officers to
believe it best either to return to Point Isabel or await reinforcements
before again giving battle to the enemy. General Taylor heard and
weighed the opinions of his most reliable officers, but, after due
reflection, determined to advance. The condition of the fort opposite
Matamoros demanded his urgent aid. The moral effect of a retreat would
be great, at the commencement of a war, both on Mexico and our own
troops; and, moreover, he had perfect confidence in the disciplined
regulars who sustained so nobly the brunt of the first battle.

Accordingly the troops were advanced early on the 9th, for they found,
at day dawn, that the Mexicans had abandoned Palo Alto for a stronger
position nearer the centre of action and interest at Matamoros. After
advancing cautiously, in readiness for immediate battle, our men came
up with the Mexicans, in the Resaca de la Palma, or as it is properly
called La Resaca del Guerrero,--the "Ravine of the Warrior," which
afforded them a natural defence against our approach along the road.
The ravine, curved across the highway and was flanked by masses of
prickly plants aloes, and undergrowth, matted into impenetrable
thickets, known in Mexico as _chapparal_. The action was begun by the
infantry in skirmishes with the foe, and after the centre of the
position on the road had been severely harassed and damaged by our
flying artillery, a gallant charge of the dragoons broke the Mexican
lines and opened a pathway to Matamoros. The engagement lasted a short
time after this combined movement of artillery and cavalry, but,
before night fall the enemy was in full flight to the river and our
garrison at the fort joyously relieved. In the interval, this position
had been bombarded and cannonaded by the Mexicans from the opposite
side of the river, and its commanding officer slain. In memory of his
valiant defence, the place has been honored with the name of Fort Brown.

After General Taylor had occupied Matamoros on the 18th of May,--and
he was only prevented from capturing it and all the Mexican forces and
ammunition on the night of the 9th by the want of a ponton train,
which he had vainly demanded,--he established his base line for future
operations in the interior, along the Rio Grande, extending several
hundred miles near that stream. His task of organizing, accepting, or
rejecting the multitudes of recruits who flocked to his standard, was
not only oppressive but difficult, for he found it hard to disappoint
the patriotic fervor of hundreds who were anxious to engage in the
war. The Quatermaster's department, too, was one of incessant toil and
anxiety; because, called unexpectedly and for the first time into
active service in the field, it was comparatively unprepared to answer
the multitude of requisitions that were daily made upon it by the
government, the general officers, and the recruits. The whole material
of a campaign was to be rapidly created. Money was to be raised;
steamers bought; ships chartered; wagons built and transported; levies
brought to the field of action; munitions of war and provisions
distributed over the whole vast territory which it was designed to
occupy! Whilst these things were going on, the country, at home, was
ripe, and most eager for action.

Nor was our government inattentive to the internal politics of Mexico.
It perceived at once that there was no hope of effecting a peace with
the administration of Paredes, whose bitter hostility was of course,
not mitigated by the first successes of our arms. Santa Anna, it will
be recollected had left Mexico after the amnesty in 1845, and it was
known there was open hostility between him and Paredes who had
contributed so greatly to his downfall. Information was, moreover,
received from reliable sources in Washington, that a desire prevailed
in the republic to recall the banished chief and to seat him once more
in the presidential chair; and, at the same time, there was cause to
believe that if he again obtained supreme power he would not be averse
to accommodate matters upon a satisfactory basis between the
countries. Orders were, accordingly issued to Commodore Conner, who
commanded the home squadron in the gulf, to offer no impediment if
Santa Anna approached the coast with a design of entering Mexico. The
exiled president was duly apprised of these facts, and when the
revolution actually occurred in his favor in the following summer and
his rival fell from power, he availed himself of the order to pass the
lines of the blockading squadron at Vera Cruz.

After General Taylor had completely made his preparations to advance
into the interior along his base on the Rio Grande, he moved forward
gradually, capturing and garrisoning all the important posts along the
river. At length the main body of the army, under Worth and Taylor
reached the neighborhood of Monterey, the capital of the state of New
Leon, situated at the foot of the Sierra Madre on a plain, but in a
position which would enable it to make a stout resistance, especially
as it was understood that the Mexican army had gathered itself up in
this stronghold, which was the key of the northern provinces and on
the main highway to the interior, in order to strike a death blow at
the invaders. On the 5th of September, the divisions concentrated at
Marin, and on the 9th they advanced to the Walnut Springs, which
afterwards became, for so long a period, the headquarters of the

Reconnoissances of the adjacent country were immediately made and it
was resolved to attack the city by a bold movement towards its
southern side that would cut off its communications through the gap in
the mountains by which the road led to Saltillo. Accordingly General
Worth was detached on this difficult but honorable service with a
strong and reliable corps, and, after excessive toil, hard fighting
and wonderful endurance upon the part of our men, the desired object
was successfully gained. An unfinished and fortified edifice called
the Bishop's Palace, on the summit of a steep hill was stormed and
taken, and thus an important vantage ground, commanding the city by a
plunging shot, was secured.

Meanwhile, General Taylor seeking to withdraw or distract the enemy
from his designs on the southern and western sides of the city, made a
movement under General Butler, of Kentucky, upon its northern front.
What was probably designed only as a feint soon became a severe and
deadly conflict. Our men,--especially the volunteers,--eager to flesh
their swords in the first conflict with which the war indulged them,
rushed into the city, which seems to have been amply prepared, in that
quarter, with barricades, forts, loop-holes, and every means of
defence suitable for the narrow streets and flat roofed and parapeted
houses of a Spanish town. After the first deadly onset there was, of
course, no intention or desire to abandon the conflict, fatal as its
prosecution might ultimately become. On they fought from street to
street, and house to house, and yard to yard, until night closed over
the dying and the dead. On the second day a different system of
approach was adopted. Instead of risking life in the street which was
raked from end to end by artillery, or rendered untenable by the
hidden marksmen who shot our men from behind the walls of the house
tops, our forces were thrown into the dwellings, and breaking onward
through walls and enclosures, gradually mined their way towards the
plaza or great square of Monterey.

Thus, both divisions under the eyes of Worth, Butler and Taylor,
successfully performed their assigned tasks, until it became evident
to the Mexicans that their town must fall, and, that if finally taken
by the sword, it would be given up to utter destruction and pillage. A
capitulation was therefore proposed by Ampudia who stipulated for the
withdrawal of his forces and an armistice. Our force was in no
condition to seize, hold, and support a large body of prisoners of
war, nor was it prepared immediately to follow up the victory by
penetrating the interior. General Taylor, who was resolved not to shed
a single drop of needless blood in the campaign, granted the terms;
and, thus, this strong position, garrisoned by nearly ten thousand
troops, sustained by more than forty pieces of artillery, yielded to
our army of seven thousand, unsupported by a battering train and
winning the day by hard fighting alone. The attack began on the 21st
of September, continued during the two following days, and the
garrison capitulated on the 24th. This capitulation and armistice were
assented to by our commander after mature consultation and approval of
his principal officers. The Mexicans informed him, that Paredes had
been deposed,--that Santa Anna was in power, and that peace would soon
be made; but the authorities, at home, eager for fresh victories, or
pandering to public and political taste, did not approve and confirm
an act, for which General Taylor has, nevertheless received, as he
truly merits, the just applause of impartial history.

[Footnote 67: Memorias para la historia de la Guerra de Tejas, vol.
ii, p. 543.]




General Wool, who had been for a long period inspector general of the
United States army, was entrusted with the difficult task of examining
the recruits in the west, and set forth on his journey after receiving
his orders on the 29th of May, 1846. He traversed the states of Ohio,
Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi, and, in
somewhat less than two months, had journeyed three thousand miles and
mustered twelve thousand men into service. This expedition of a hardy
soldier exhibits, at once, the powers of a competent American officer,
and the facility with which an efficient _corps d'armée_, may at any
urgent moment, be raised in our country.

Nearly nine thousand of these recruits were sent to Taylor on the Rio
Grande, while those who were destined for the "Army of the Centre,"
rendezvoused at Bejar, in Texas. At this place their commander Wool
joined them, and commenced the rigid system of discipline, under
accomplished officers, which made his division a model in the army. He
marched from Bejar with five hundred regulars and two thousand four
hundred and fifty volunteers, on the 20th of September, and passed
onwards through Presidio, Nava, and across the Sierra of San José and
Santa Rosa, and the rivers Alamos, Sabine, and del Norte, until he
reached Monclova. He had been directed to advance to Chihuahua, but as
this place was in a great measure controlled by the states of New Leon
and Coahuila which were already in our possession, he desisted from
pursuing his march thither, and, after communicating with General
Taylor and learning the fall of Monterey, he pushed on to the fertile
region of Parras and thence to the headquarters of General Taylor, in
the month of December, as soon as he was apprised of the danger which
menaced him at that period.

We have already said that it was part of our government's original plan
to reduce New Mexico and California,--a task which was imposed upon
Colonel Kearney, a hardy frontier fighter, long used to Indian character
and Indian warfare--who, upon being honored with the command was raised
to the rank of Brigadier General. This officer moved from Fort
Leavenworth on the 30th of June, towards Santa Fé, the capital of New
Mexico, with an army of sixteen hundred men, and after an unresisted
march of eight hundred and seventy-three miles, he reached his
destination on the 18th of August. Possession of the place was given
without a blow, and it is probable that the discreet Armijo yielded to
the advice of American counsellors in his capital, in surrendering
without bloodshed to our forces. Kearney had been authorized to organize
and muster into service a battalion of emigrants to Oregon and
California, who eagerly availed themselves of this favorable military
opportunity to reach their distant abodes on the shores of the Pacific.
After organizing the new government of Santa Fé, forming a new code of
organic laws, and satisfying himself of the stability of affairs in that
quarter, Kearney departed on his mission to California. But he had not
gone far when he was met by an express with information of the fall of
that portion of Mexico, and immediately sent back the main body of his
men, continuing his route through the wilderness with the escort of one
hundred dragoons alone. In September of this year, a regiment of New
York volunteer infantry had been despatched thither also, by sea, under
the command of Colonel Stevenson.

There is evidence in existence that shortly before the commencement of
this war, it had been contemplated to place a large portion of the
most valuable districts of California, indirectly, under British
protection, by grants to an Irish Catholic clergyman named Macnamara,
who projected a colony of his countrymen in those regions. He excited
the Mexicans to accede to his proposal by appeals to their religious
prejudices against the Protestants of the north, who, he alleged,
would seize the jewel unless California was settled by his countrymen
whose creed would naturally unite them with the people and
institutions of Mexico. "Within a year, he declared, California would
become a part of the American nation; and, inundated by cruel
invaders, their Catholic institutions would be the prey of Methodist
wolves." The government of Mexico granted three thousand square
leagues in the rich valley of San Joaquin, embracing San Francisco,
Monterey, and Santa Barbara, to this behest of the foreign priest; but
his patent could not be perfected until the governor of California
sanctioned his permanent tenure of the land.

In November, 1845, Lieutenant Gillespie was despatched from Washington
with verbal instructions to Captain Frémont who had been pursuing his
scientific examinations of California, and had been inhospitably
ordered by the authorities to quit the country. Early in March of
1846, the bold explorer was within the boundaries of Oregon, where he
was found, in the following May, by Gillespie, who delivered him his
verbal orders and a letter of credence from the Secretary of State.

In consequence of this message, Frémont abandoned his camp in the
forest, surrounded by hostile Indians, and moved south to the valley
of the Sacramento, where he was at once hailed by the American
settlers, who, together with the foreigners generally, had received
orders from the Mexican General Castro, to leave California. Frémont's
small band immediately formed the nucleus of a revolutionary troop,
which gathered in numbers as it advanced south, and abstaining
guardedly from acts which might disgust the people, they injured no
individuals and violated no private property. On the 14th of June,
Sonoma was taken possession of, and was garrisoned by a small force,
under Mr. Ide, who issued a proclamation, inviting all to come to his
camp and aid in forming a republican government. Coure and Fowler, two
young Americans, were murdered about this period in the neighborhood,
and others were taken prisoners under Padilla. But the belligerants
were pursued to San Raphael by Captain Ford, where they were conquered
by the Americans; and, on the 25th of June, Frémont, who heard that
Castro was approaching with two hundred men, joined the camp at
Sonoma. Thus far, every thing had been conducted with justice and
liberality by our men. They studiously avoided disorderly conduct or
captures, and invariably promised payment for the supplies that were
taken for the support of the troopers. The Californians were in
reality gratified by the prospect of American success in their
territory, for they believed that it would secure a stable and
progressive government, under which, that beautiful region would be
gradually developed.

On the 5th of July, the Californian Americans declared their
independence, and organizing a battalion, of which Frémont was the
chief, they raised the standard of the Bear and Star.

[Illustration: MONTEREY.]

Frémont, at the head of his new battalion, moved his camp to Sutter's
Fort on the Sacramento and whilst he was preparing, in July, to follow
General Castro to Santa Clara, he received the joyful news that
Commodore Sloat had raised the American flag on the 7th of the month
at Monterey, and that war actually existed between Mexico and the
United States. The Californian Americans of course immediately
abandoned their revolution for the national war, and substituted the
American ensign for the grisly emblem under which they designed
conquering the territory.

On the 8th of July, Commander Montgomery took possession of San
Francisco, and soon after, Frémont joined Commodore Sloat at Monterey.
Sloat, who had in reality acted upon the faith of Frémont's operations
in the north, knowing that Gillespie had been sent to him as a special
messenger, and having heard, whilst at Mazatlan, of the warlike
movements on the Rio Grande, was rather fearful that he had been
precipitate in his conduct; but he resolved to maintain what he had
done; and accordingly, when admiral Sir George Seymour, arrived in the
Collingwood at Monterey, on the 6th of July, the grants to the Irish
clergyman were not completed, and the American flag was already
floating on every important post in the north of California. Seymour
took Macnamara on board his ship, and thus the hopes of the British
partizans were effectually blighted when the Admiral and his passenger
sailed from the coast.

Commodore Stockton arrived at Monterey during this summer and Sloat
returned to the United States, leaving the Commodore in command.
Frémont and Gillespie, who were at the head of forces on shore
determined to act under the orders of the naval commander, and
Stockton immediately prepared for a military movement against the city
of Los Angeles, where, he learned, that General Castro and the civil
governor Pico had assembled six hundred men. Frémont and the
Commodore, embarking their forces at Monterey, sailed for San Pedro
and San Diego, where, landing their troops, they united and took
possession of Los Angeles on the 13th of August. The public buildings,
archives and property fell into their possession without bloodshed,
for Castro, the commanding general, fled at their approach. Stockton
issued a proclamation announcing these facts to the people on the 17th
of August, and having instituted a government, directed elections, and
required an oath of allegiance from the military. He appointed
Frémont, military commandant and Gillespie, secretary. On the 28th of
August he reported these proceedings to the government at Washington,
by the messenger who was met by General Kearney, as we have already
related, on his way from Santa Fé to the Pacific. Carson, the courier,
apprised the General of the conquest of California, and was obliged
by him to return as his guide, whilst a new messenger was despatched
towards the east, with the missives, escorted by the residue of the
troop which was deemed useless for further military efforts on the
shores of the Pacific.

But before Kearney reached his destination, a change had come over
affairs in California. Castro returned to the charge in September with
a large Mexican force headed by General Flores, and the town of Los
Angeles and the surrounding country having revolted, expelled the
American garrison. Four hundred marines who landed from the Savannah
under Captain Mervine, were repulsed, while the garrison of Santa
Barbara, under Lieutenant Talbott had retired before a large body of
Californians and Mexicans. Frémont, immediately resolving to increase
his battalion, raised four hundred and twenty-eight men, chiefly from
the emigrants who moved this year to California. He mounted his
troopers on horses procured in the vicinity of San Francisco and
Sutter's Fort, and marched secretly but quickly to San Luis Obispo,
where he surprised and captured Don Jesus Pico, the commandant of that
military post. Pico having been found in arms had broken his parole,
given during the early pacification, and a court-martial sentenced him
to be shot; but Frémont, still steadily pursuing his humane policy
towards the Californians, pardoned the popular and influential
chieftain, who, from that hour, was his firm friend throughout the
subsequent troubles.

On Christmas day of 1846, amid storm and rain, in which a hundred
horses and mules perished, Frémont and his brave battalion passed the
mountain of Santa Barbara. Skirting the coast through the long
maritime pass at Punto Gordo,--protected on one flank by one of the
vessels of the navy, and assailed, on the other, by fierce bands of
mounted Californians,--they moved onward until they reached the plain
of Couenga where the enemy was drawn up with a force equal to their
own. Frémont summoned the hostile troops to surrender, and after their
consent to a parley, went to them with Don Jesus Pico and arranged the
terms of the capitulation, by which they bound themselves to deliver
their arms to our soldiers and to conform, at home, to the laws of the
United States, though no Californians should be compelled to take an
oath of allegiance to the United States, until the war was ended and
the treaty either exonerated them or changed their nationality.

Meanwhile General Kearney, on his westward march from Santa Fé, had
reached a place called Warner's _Rancho_, thirty-three miles from San
Diego, where a captured Californian mail for Sonoma apprised him that
the southern part of the territory was wrested from our troops. The
letters exulted over our discomfiture, but it was supposed that, as
usual in Mexico, they exaggerated the misfortune of the Americans.
Kearney's small troop was much enfeebled by the long and fatiguing
journey it had made from Santa Fé amid great privations. From Warner's
Rancho the commander communicated with Stockton by means of a neutral
Englishman, and, on the 5th of December, was joined by Gillespie, who
informed him, that a mounted Californian force, under Andres Pico, was
prepared to dispute his passage towards the coast. On the 6th the
Americans left the _rancho_, resolving to come suddenly upon the
enemy, and confident that the usual success of our troops would attend
the exploit;--but the fresh forces of this hardy and brave Californian
band, composed perhaps, of some of the most expert horsemen in that
region, were far more than a match for the toil-worn troopers of
Kearney. Eighteen of our men were killed in this action at San
Pascual, and thirteen wounded. For several days the camp of the
Americans was besieged by the fierce and hardy children of the soil.
The provisions of the beleagured band were scant, and it was almost
entirely deprived of water. Its position was, in every respect, most
disastrous, and, in all probability, it would have perished from
famine or fallen an easy prey to the Mexicans, had not the resolute
Carson, accompanied by Lieutenant Beale and an Indian, volunteered to
pass the dangerous lines of the enemy to seek assistance at San Diego.
These heroic men performed their perilous duty, and Lieutenant Grey,
with a hundred and eighty soldiers and marines, reached and relieved
his anxious countrymen on the 10th of December, bringing them, in two
days, to the American camp at San Diego.

As soon as the band had recruited its strength, Kearney naturally
became anxious to engage in active service. He had been sent to
California, according to the language of his instructions, to conquer
and govern it; but he found Commodore Stockton already in the position
of governor, with an ample naval force at his orders, whilst the
broken remnant of the dragoons who accompanied him from Santa Fé, was
altogether incompetent to subdue the revolted territory. By himself
therefore, he was altogether inadequate for any successful military
move. Stockton, quite as anxious as Kearney to engage in active
hostilities, was desirous to accompany the general as his aid; but
Kearney declined the service, and, in turn, volunteered to become the
aid of Stockton. The commodore, less accustomed, perhaps, to military
etiquette than to prompt and useful action at a moment of difficulty,
resolved at once to end the game of idle compliments, and accepted the
offer of General Kearney; but, before they departed, Stockton agreed
that he might command the expedition in a position subordinate to him
as commander-in-chief.

On the 29th of December, with sixty volunteers, four hundred marines,
six heavy pieces of artillery, eleven heavy wagons, and fifty-seven
dragoons composing the remains of General Kearney's troop, they
marched towards the north, and, on the 7th of January, found
themselves near the river San Gabrielle, the passage of which the
enemy, with superior numbers under General Flores, was prepared to
dispute. It was a contest between American sailors and soldiers, and
California horsemen, for the whole Mexican troop was mounted; yet the
Americans were successful and crossed the river. This action occurred
about nine miles from Los Angeles, and our men pushed on six miles
further, till they reached the Mesa, a level prairie, where Flores
again attacked them and was beaten off. Retreating thence to Couenga,
the Californians, refusing to submit to Stockton and Kearney,
capitulated, as we have already declared to Colonel Frémont, who had
been raised to this rank by our government. On the morning of the 10th
of January, 1847, the Americans took final possession of Los Angeles.
Soon after this a government was established for California, which was
to continue until the close of the war or until the government or the
population of the region changed it.

The disputes which arose between Stockton, Kearney, and Frémont, as to
the right to command in California, under the orders from their
respective departments, are matters rather of private and personal
interest than of such public concern as would entitle them to be
minutely recounted in this brief sketch of the Mexican war. It is
impossible to present a faithful idea of the controversy and its
merits without entering into a detail of all the circumstances, but
for this, we have no space, in the present history. Strict military
etiquette appears to have demanded of Kearney, immediately upon his
arrival, the assertion of his right to command as a general officer
operating in the interior of the country. This was a question solely
between Stockton and himself, in which Frémont, a subordinate officer,
recently transplanted from the Topographical corps into the regular
army as a Colonel, had of course, no interest save that of duty.
Nevertheless he became involved in the controversy between the
claimants, and although raised to the rank of Governor of California,
by Commodore Stockton, he was deprived of his authority when General
Kearney subsequently assumed that station. The disputes between the
Commodore and the General seem to have arisen under the somewhat
conflicting instructions of the War and Navy Departments, and were
calculated, as distinguished officers afterwards declared officially,
to "embarrass the mind, and to excite the doubts of officers of
greater experience" than the Colonel.

Although Frémont's services were lost for a while on the shores of the
Pacific, he was not forgotten either there, or at home. What he had
done for his country in that remote region by exploring its solitudes
with his hardy band; what he added to geographical and general
science; what regions he almost revealed to American pioneers; what
services he rendered in securing a happy issue to the war in
California--have all been recollected with gratitude and rewarded with
the virgin honors of the new born State. But, at that time, this
brilliant officer who combined the science of Humboldt with the energy
and more than the generosity of Cortéz, was doomed to suffer more than
the temporary deprivation of power. After the war was in reality over,
after Commodore Stockton had departed and General Kearney had assumed
the governorship which was subsequently given to Colonel
Mason--Frémont was refused permission to continue his scientific
pursuits in California or to join his regiment on the active fields of
Mexico. When General Kearney turned his face homewards, towards the
close of the spring of 1847, Frémont was ordered to follow in his
train across the mountains, and was finally arrested at Fort
Leavenworth, on the borders of civilization. During the next winter he
was tried by a Court Martial on charges of mutiny, disobedience, and
conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, and
being found guilty was sentenced to be dismissed the service. A
majority of the court, however, considering all the circumstances of
the case, recommended him to the lenient judgment of the President,
who not being satisfied that the facts proved the military crime of
mutiny--though he sustained the court's opinion otherwise--and
recognizing Frémont's previous meritorious and valuable services,
released him from arrest, restored his sword and ordered him to report
for duty. But Frémont, feeling unconscious, as he declared, of having
done any thing to merit the finding of the court, declined the offered
restoration to the service, as he could not, "by accepting the
clemency of the President, admit the justice of the decision against




We return from the theatre of these military operations on the shores
of the Pacific, to the valley of the Rio Grande and the headquarters
of General Taylor. The armistice at Monterey had ceased by the order
of our government, and the commander of our forces, leaving Generals
Worth and Butler at Monterey and Saltillo which had been seized,
hastened with a sufficient body of troops to the gulf for the purpose
of occupying Tampico, the capital of the state of Tamaulipas. But he
did not advance further than Victoria, when he found that Tampico had
surrendered to Commodore Conner on the 14th of November.

In the meanwhile the political aspect of Mexico was changed under the
rule of Santa Anna who had returned to power, though he had not
realized the hopes of our president by acceding to an honorable peace.
A secret movement that was made by an agent sent into the country
proved altogether unsuccessful, for the people were aroused against
this union, and would listen, willingly, to no advances for
accommodation. Santa Anna, cautiously noted the national feeling, and,
being altogether unable to control or modify it,--although he
studiously refrained from committing himself prior to his return to
the capital,--he resolved to place himself at the head of the popular
movement in defence of the northern frontier. Accordingly, in
December, 1846, he had already assembled a large force, amounting to
twenty thousand men, at San Luis Potosi, the capital of the state of
that name south of Monterey, on the direct road to the heart of the
internal provinces, and nearly midway between the gulf and the Pacific.

The news of this hostile gathering which was evidently designed to
assail our Army of Occupation, soon reached the officers who had been
left in command at our headquarters during Taylor's absence; and, in
consequence of a despatch sent by express to General Wool at Parras
for reinforcements, that officer immediately put his whole column in
motion, and, after marching one hundred and twenty miles in four days,
found himself at Agua Nueva, within twenty-one miles of Saltillo. Thus
sustained, the officers in command, awaited with anxiety, the
movements of the Mexican chief and the return of General Taylor.

But, in the meantime, the administration at home, seeing the inutility
of continuing the attacks upon the more northern outposts of
Mexico,--which it was, nevertheless, resolved to hold as indemnifying
hostages, inasmuch as they were contiguous to our own soil and
boundaries,--determined to strike a blow at the vitals of Mexico by
seizing her principal eastern port and proceeding thence to the
capital. For this purpose, General Scott, who had been set aside at
the commencement of the war in consequence of a rupture between
himself and the war department whilst arranging the details of the
campaign,--was once more summoned into the field and appointed
commander-in-chief of the American army in Mexico. Up to this period,
November, 1846, large recruits of regulars and volunteers had flocked
to the standard of Taylor and were stationed at various posts in the
valley of the Rio Grande, under the command of Generals Butler, Worth,
Patterson, Quitman and Pillow. But the project of a descent upon Vera
Cruz, which was warmly advocated by General Scott, made it necessary
to detach a considerable portion of these levies, and of their most
efficient and best drilled members. Taylor and his subordinate
commanders, were thus, placed in a mere defensive position, and that,
too, at a moment when they were threatened in front by the best army
that had been assembled for many a year in Mexico.

It is probable that the government of the United States, at the moment
it planned this expedition to Vera Cruz and the capital, was not fully
apprised of the able and efficient arrangements of Santa Anna, or
imagined that he would immediately quit San Luis Potosi in order to
defend the eastern access to the capital, inasmuch as it was not
probable that Taylor would venture to penetrate the country with
impaired forces, which, in a strictly military point of view, were not
more than adequate for garrison service along an extended base of
three hundred miles. But, as the sequel showed, they neither estimated
properly the time that would be consumed in concentrating the forces
and preparing the means for their transportation to Vera Cruz, nor
judged correctly of the military skill of Santa Anna, who naturally
preferred to crush the weak northern foe with his overwhelming force
than to encounter the strong battalions of veterans who were to be led
against him on the east by the most brilliant captain of our country.

The enterprise of General Scott was one of extraordinary magnitude and
responsibility. With his usual foresight he determined that he would
not advance until the expedition was perfectly complete in every
essential of certain success. Nothing was permitted to disturb his
equanimity or patient resolution in carrying out the scheme as he
thought best. He weighed all the dangers and all the difficulties of
the adventure, and placed no reliance upon the supposed weakness of
the enemy. This was the true, soldier-like view of the splendid
project; and if, at the time, men were found inconsiderate enough to
blame him for procrastinating dalliance, the glorious result of his
enterprise repaid him for all the petty sneers and misconceptions with
which his discretion was undervalued by the carpet knights at home.
There is but one point upon which we feel justified in disagreeing
with his plan of campaign. He should not have weakened the command of
General Taylor in the face of Santa Anna's army. It was almost an
invitation to that chief for an attack upon the valley of the Rio
Grande; and had the Army of Occupation been effectually destroyed at
Buena Vista, scarcely an American would have remained, throughout the
long line of Taylor's base, to tell the tale of cruelties perpetrated
by the flushed and revengeful victors.

       *       *       *       *       *

Whilst events were maturing and preparations making in the valley of
the Rio Grande and the island of Lobos, we shall direct our attention
again for a short time to the central regions of the north of Mexico
in the neighborhood of Santa Fé.

A considerable force of Missourians had been organized under the
command of Colonel Doniphan, and marched to New Mexico, whence it was
designed to despatch him towards Chihuahua. Soon after General
Kearney's departure from Santa Fé for California, Colonel Price, who
was subsequently raised to the rank of general, reached that post with
his western recruits and took command, whilst Doniphan was directed,
by orders from Kearney, dated near La Joya, to advance with his
regiment against the Navajo Indians, who had threatened with war the
New Mexicans, now under our protection. He performed this service
successfully; and, on the 22d of November, 1846, made a treaty with
the chiefs, binding them to live in amity with the Spaniards and
Americans. Reassembling all his troops at Val Verde, he commenced his
march to the south, in the middle of December, and, after incredible
difficulties and great sufferings from inadequate supplies and
equipments he reached Chihuahua, fighting, on the march, two
successful actions against the Mexicans at Bracito, and Sacramento.
Having completely routed the enemy in the latter contest, Chihuahua
fell into his power. Here he tarried, recruiting his toil-worn band,
for six weeks, and, as the spring opened, pushed onwards to the south
until he reached the headquarters of Taylor, whence he returned with
his regiment to the United States. His army marched five thousand
miles during the campaign, and its adventures form one of the most
romantic episodes in the war with Mexico.

Whilst Doniphan was advancing southward, the command of Price was well
nigh destroyed in New Mexico and the wild region intervening between
its borders and the frontiers of the United States. A conspiracy had
been secretly organized, among the Mexican and half-breed population,
to rise against the Americans. On the 19th of January, 1847, massacres
occurred, simultaneously, at Taos, Arroyo Hondo, Rio Colorado and
Mora. At Taos, Governor Charles Bent, one of the oldest and most
experienced residents in that region was cruelly slain, and a great
deal of valuable property destroyed by the merciless foe. Price
received intelligence of this onslaught on the 20th, and rapidly
calling in his outposts, marched with a hastily gathered band of about
three hundred and fifty men against the enemy, whom he met, attacked
and overawed on the 24th, at Cañada. Reinforced by Captain Burgwin
from Alburquerque, he again advanced against the insurgents; and on
the 28th, defeated a Mexican force estimated at fifteen hundred, at
the pass of El Embudo. Passing, thence, over the Taos mountain,
through deep snows, in midwinter, the resolute commander pursued his
way unmolested through the deserted settlement which had been recently
ravaged by the rebels, nor did he encounter another force until he
came upon the enemy at Pueblo, when he stormed the fortified position,
and gained the day but with the loss of the gallant Burgwin and other
valuable officers. Mora was reduced again to subjection, early in
February, by Captain Morin; and, in all these rapid but successful
actions, it is estimated that near three hundred Mexicans paid the
forfeit of their lives for the cruel conspiracy and its fatal results.

From this moment the tenure of our possessions in New Mexico was no
longer considered secure. The troops in that district were not the
best disciplined or most docile in the army, and, to the dangers of
another sudden outbreak among the treacherous Mexicans, was added the
fear of a sudden rising among the Indian tribes who were naturally
anxious to find any pretext or chance for ridding the country of a foe
whom they feared far more, as a permanent neighbor, than the
comparatively feeble half-breeds and Mexicans.

In December of 1846, Lieutenant Richie, who bore despatches to Taylor
apprising him of the meditated attack upon Vera Cruz, was seized and
slain by the Mexicans whilst on his way to the headquarters, and,
thus, Santa Anna became possessed of the plan of the proposed
campaign. The Army of Occupation had been sadly impaired by the
abstraction of its best material for future action on the southern
line under the commander-in-chief. But General Taylor resolved at once
to face the danger stoutly, and to manifest no symptom of
unsoldierlike querulousness under the injustice he experienced from
the government. Nevertheless,--prudent in all things, and foreseeing
the danger of his command, of the lower country, and of the _morale_
of the whole army, in the event of his defeat,--he exposed the error
of the war department in his despatches to the adjutant general and
secretary, so that history, if not arms, might eventually do justice
to his discretion and fortitude.

The note of preparation preceded, for some time, the actual advent of
Santa Anna from San Luis Potosi, and all was bustle in the American
encampments which were spread from Monterey to Agua Nueva beyond
Saltillo, in order to give him the best possible reception under the
circumstances. Wool was encamped with a force at Agua Nueva, in
advance on the road from Saltillo to San Luis, about thirteen miles
from the pass of Angostura, where the road lies through a mountain
gorge, defended, on one side, by a small table land near the
acclivities of the steep sierra and cut with the channels of rough
barrancas or ravines worn by the waters as they descend from the
summits, and, on the other by an extensive net work of deep and
impassable gullies which drained the slopes of the western spurs.

This spot was decided upon, as the battle ground in the event of an
attack, and the encampment at Agua Nueva, in front of it was kept up
as an extreme outpost, whence the scouts might be sent forth to watch
the approach of Santa Anna.

[Illustration: SIERRA MADRE PASS.]

On the 21st of February, the positive advance of that chief was
announced. The camp was immediately broken up, and all our forces
rapidly concentrated in the gorge of Angostura. Our troops did not
amount to more than four thousand six hundred and ninety efficient
men, while we had reason to believe that Santa Anna commanded nearly
five times that number and was greatly superior to us in cavalry, a
part of which, had been sent by secret paths through the mountains, to
the rear of our position, so as to cut off our retreat, in the event
of our failure in the battle.

The great object of Taylor in selecting his ground and forming his
plan of battle, was to make his small army equal, as near as possible,
to that of Santa Anna, by narrowing the front of attack, and thus
concentrating his force upon any point through which the Mexicans
might seek to break. In other words, it was his design to dam up the
strait of Angostura with a living mass, and to leave no portion of the
unbroken ground on the narrow table-land undefended by infantry and
artillery. The battle ground that had been selected was admirably
calculated for this purpose; and his foresight was justified by the
result. It was not necessary for Taylor to capture, or annihilate his
enemy, for he was victor, if with, but a single regiment, he kept the
valley closed against the Mexicans. The centre of the American line
was the main road, in which was placed a battery of eight pieces,
reduced, during the action to five, supported by bodies of infantry.
On the right of the stream, which swept along the edge of the western
mountains, was a single regiment and some cavalry, with two guns,
which it was supposed, would be sufficient, with the aid of the
tangled gulleys to arrest the Mexicans in that quarter. On the left of
the stream, where the ravines were fewer, and the plain between them
wider, stood two regiments of infantry, suitably furnished with
artillery, and extending from the central battery on the road, to the
base of the eastern mountains, on whose skirts an adequate force of
cavalry and riflemen was posted.

In order to break this array, Santa Anna divided his army into three
attacking columns, each of which nearly doubled the whole of Taylor's
force. One of these, was opposed to the battery of eight guns in order
to force the road, and the other two were designed to outflank our
position by penetrating or turning the squadrons stationed at the base
of the mountains.

On the afternoon of the 22d of February, the attack began by a
skirmishing attempt to pass to the rear of our left wing; but as the
Mexicans climbed the mountain, in their endeavor to outflank us in that
quarter, they were opposed by our infantry and riflemen, who disputed
successfully every inch of ground, until night closed and obliged the
Mexicans to retire. General Taylor, fearing an attack from the cavalry
upon Saltillo, immediately departed with a suitable escort to provide
for its safety, and left General Wool to command during his absence.

After day dawn, on the 23d, Santa Anna again commenced the battle, by
an attack upon the left wing, and, for a while, was withstood, until a
portion of our forces, after a brave defence, mistaking an order to
retire, for an order to retreat, became suddenly panic-struck, and
fled from the field. At this moment, Taylor returned from Saltillo,
and found the whole left of our position broken, whilst the enemy was
pouring his masses of infantry and cavalry along the base of the
eastern mountains towards our rear.

Meanwhile the battery in the road had repulsed the Mexican column sent
against it, and spared three of its guns for service on the upper
plain. The regiment, on the right of the stream, had been brought over
to the left bank with its cannons, and was now, in position with two
other regiments, facing the mountains, between which and this force,
was a gap, through whose opening, the Mexicans steadily advanced under
a dreadful fire. Nearly all the artillery had been concentrated at the
same place, while, in other parts of the field and nearer to the
_hacienda_ of Buena Vista, in the American rear, were bodies of our
cavalry, engaged in conflict with the advancing foe.

As Taylor approached this disastrous scene, he met the fugitives, and
speedily made his dispositions to stop the carnage. With a regiment
from Mississippi, he restrained a charge of Mexican cavalry, and
ordered all the artillery, save four guns, to the rear to drive back
the exulting Mexicans. This manœuvre was perfectly successful, and,
so dreadfully was the enemy cut up by the new attack, that Santa Anna,
availed himself of a _ruse_, by a flag of truce, in order to suspend
the action, whilst he withdrew his men.

The transfer of so large a portion of Taylor's most efficient troops to
the rear of his original line, had greatly weakened his front, in the
best positions, where the inequalities of ground sustained his feeble
numbers. Santa Anna was not unmindful of the advantage he had gained by
these untoward events, and prepared all his best reserves, which were
now brought for the first time into action, for another attack. Taylor
had with him three regiments and four pieces of artillery. His front was
rather towards the mountain than the open pass, while his back was
towards the road along the stream. On his right was the whole Mexican
army; on his left, far off in the rear, were the troops that had
repulsed and cut up the Mexican column; and the great effort, upon whose
success all depended, was to bring these dispersed squadrons again into
action, whilst he maintained the position against the assault of the
fresh reserves. As Santa Anna advanced with his inspirited columns, he
was met by regiments of infantry, which stood firm, until, overwhelmed
by numbers and driven into a ravine, they were cruelly slaughtered.
After the American infantry had been overcome, the last hope was in the
artillery, and, with this, the Mexican advance was effectually stopped
and the battle won.

The whole day had been spent in fighting, and when night came, the
field was covered with dead. It was an anxious season for our battered
troops, and whilst all were solicitous for the event of a contest,
which it was supposed would be renewed on the morrow, the greatest
efforts were not only made to inspirit the troops who had borne the
brunt of two days' battle, but to bring up reinforcements of artillery
and cavalry that had been stationed between Saltillo and Monterey. At
day dawn, however, on the 24th, the enemy was found to have retreated.

This wonderful battle saved the north of Mexico and the valley of the
Rio Grande; for Miñon and Urrea were already in our rear with regular
troops and bands of _rancheros_, ready to cut up our flying army, and
descend upon our slender garrisons. Urrea captured a valuable wagon
train at Ramos, in the neighborhood of Monterey. From the 22d to the
26th of February, he continually threatened our weakened outposts, and
from that period until the 7th of March inflicted severe injuries upon
our trains and convoys from the gulf. In the meantime Santa Anna
retreated to San Luis Potosi with the fragments of his fine army, and
not long after, General Taylor retired from a field of service, in
which he was no longer permitted to advance, or required except for
garrison duty.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the months of October and November, 1846, Tobasco and Tampico had
yielded to our navy; the former after a severe attack conducted by
Commodore Matthew C. Perry, and the latter without bloodshed.




When General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna landed from the steamer Arab,
after having been permitted to pass the line of our blockading fleet
at Vera Cruz he was received by only a few friends. His reception was
in fact not a public one, nor marked by enthusiasm.

By the revolution which overthrew Paredes, General Salas came into the
exercise of the chief executive authority, and as soon as Santa Anna
arrived he despatched three high officers to welcome him, among whom
was Valentin Gomez Farias, a renowned leader of the federalist party,
in former days a bitter foe of the exiled chief. Santa Anna, in his
communications with the revolutionists from Cuba, had confessed his
political mistake, in former years, in advocating the central system.
"The love of provincial liberty," said he, in a letter to a friend
dated in Havana on the 8th of March, 1846, "being firmly rooted in the
minds of all, and the democratic principle predominating every where,
nothing can be established in a solid manner in the country, which
does not conform to these tendencies, nor can we without them attain
either order, peace, prosperity or respectability among foreign nations.

[Illustration: FIELD OF BUENA VISTA.]

"To draw every thing to the _centre_, and thus to give unity of action
to the republic as I at one time deemed best, is no longer possible;
nay, more, I say it is dangerous; it is contrary to the object I
proposed to myself in the Unitarian system, because we thereby expose
ourselves to the separation of the northern departments which are most
clamorous for freedom of internal administration. * * * * I therefore
urge you to use all your influence to reconcile the liberals,
communicating with Señor Farias and his friends, in order to induce
them to come to an understanding with us. * * * * I will in future,
support the claims of the masses; leaving the people entirely at
liberty to organize their system of government and to regulate their
offices in a manner that may please them best."

These declarations, and the knowledge of Santa Anna's sagacity and
influence with the masses had probably induced Farias to adhere to the
project of his recall which was embraced in the movements of the
revolutionists. And, accordingly, we find that upon his landing, Santa
Anna published a long manifesto to the people which he concludes by
recommending that, until they proclaim a new constitution, the federal
constitution of 1824 be readopted for the internal administration of
the country.

Salas, who had previously ordered the governors of the departments to
be guided solely by the commands of Santa Anna, immediately issued a
_bando nacional_, or edict, countersigned by the acting secretary of
state, Monasterio, which embodied the views of the returned exile, and
proclaimed the constitution of 1824, in accordance with his

Paredes, meanwhile, who had been taken prisoner on the 5th of August,
1846, whilst attempting to fly the country, was held in close
confinement at the castle of Peroté. Some persons proposed to treat
him severely in consequence of his monarchical notions; but Salas
averted dexterously all the spiteful blows that were aimed at him, and
he was finally allowed to retire to Europe, where he remained until a
later period of the war, when he returned to yield no significant
services to his invaded country. Since the termination of the contest
he has paid the great debt of nature, on his native soil, and a
merciful pen will conceal the faults of a mixed nature which was not
unadorned by virtues, and, under other circumstances and with
different habits, might have made him a useful ruler in Mexico.

       *       *       *       *       *

General Salas, who exercised supreme command from the 7th to the 20th
of August, professed to have done as little as possible of his own
will, and only what was urgently demanded by the necessity of the
case. He boasted, however, that he had effected what he could "to aid
the brave men who, in Monterey, have determined to die rather than
succumb to the invasion and perfidiousness of the Americans." In his
communications to Santa Anna he urged him to hasten to Mexico as soon
as possible to assume his powers, and the Mexican gazettes commend him
for refusing to accept the pay of president while discharging the
functions of his office.

On the 15th of August, Salas issued a proclamation, in which he
announced to his countrymen that a new insult had been offered to
them, and that another act of baseness had been perpetrated by the
Americans. He alluded to the Californias, which, he said, "the
Americans have now seized by the strong hand, after having villanously
robbed us of Texas." He announced that the expedition which had been
so long preparing would set forth in two days for the recovery of the
country, and that measures would be taken to arrange the differences
existing between the people of the Californias and the various
preceding central administrations. In conclusion, he appealed
eloquently to the Californians to second with their best exertions the
attempt which would be made to drive out the Americans, and to unite
their rich and fertile territories forever to the Republic.

During the administration of this chief, various proclamations were
issued to arouse the people to take part in the war, by enlisting and
by contributing their means. Efforts were also made to organize the
local militia, but with little effect.

Santa Anna, in his reply to Salas on the 20th of August, accepts the
trust which is formally devolved upon him, and approves of the acts of
the latter, especially in sending forward all the troops to Monterey,
New Mexico, and California, and in summoning a Congress for the 6th of
December. These, he says, are the two first wants of the nation, the
formation of a constitution for the country, and the purification of
the soil of the country from foreign invaders. These ends gained, he
will gladly lay down his power. "My functions will cease," he says,
"when I have established the nation in its rights; when I see its
destinies controlled by its legitimate representatives, and when I may
be able, by the blessing of heaven, to lay at the feet of the national
representatives laurels plucked on the banks of the Sabine--all of
which must be due to the force and the will of the Mexican people."

Santa Anna at length quitted his hacienda, where he had doubtless been
waiting for the opportune moment to arrive when he could best exhibit
himself to the inhabitants of the capital, and profit by their highest
enthusiasm, pushed to an extreme by alternate hopes and fears. On the
14th of September he reached Ayotla, a small town distant twenty-five
miles from the city of Mexico. Here he received a communication from
Almonte, the secretary of war, _ad interim_, proposing to him the
supreme executive power, or dictatorship. This offer was made on the
part of the provisional government.

Santa Anna immediately replied in the following strain to the missive
of his partizan:

    General SANTA ANNA, commander-in-chief of the Liberating Army, to
    General ALMONTE, minister of war of the republic of Mexico.

  AYOTLA, 1 o'clock, A. M., Sept. 14, 1846.

    SIR: I have received your favor of this date, acknowledging a
    decree issued by the supreme government of the nation, embracing a
    programme of the proceedings adopted to regulate a due celebration
    of the re-establishment of the constitution of 1824, the
    assumption by myself of the supreme executive power, and the
    anniversary of the glorious _grito_ of Dolores.

    My satisfaction is extreme to observe the enthusiasm with which
    preparations are made to celebrate the two great blessings which
    have fallen upon this nation--her independence and her
    liberty--and I am penetrated with the deepest gratitude to find
    that my arrival at the capital will be made to contribute to the
    solemnities of so great an occasion. In furtherance of this object
    I shall make my entrée into that city to-morrow at midday, and
    desire, in contributing my share to the national jubilee, to
    observe such a course as may best accord with my duties to my
    country--beloved of my heart--and with the respect due to the will
    of the sovereign people.

    I have been called by the voice of my fellow-citizens to exercise
    the office of commander-in-chief of the army of the republic. I
    was far from my native land when intelligence of this renewed
    confidence, and of these new obligations imposed upon me by my
    country was brought to me, and I saw that the imminent dangers
    which surrounded her on all sides, formed the chief motive for
    calling me to the head of the army. I now see a terrible contest
    with a perfidious and daring enemy impending over her, in which
    the Mexican republic must reconquer the insignia of her glory and
    a fortunate issue, if victorious, or disappear from the face of
    the earth, if so unfortunate as to be defeated. I also see a
    treacherous faction raising its head from her bosom, which, in
    calling up a form of government detested by the united nation,
    provokes a preferable submission to foreign dominion; and I
    behold, at last, that after much vacillation, that nation is
    resolved to establish her right to act for herself, and to arrange
    such a form of government as best suits her wishes.

    All this I have observed, and turned a listening ear to the cry of
    my desolated country, satisfied that she really needed my weak
    services at so important a period. Hence I have come, without
    hesitation or delay, to place myself in subjection to her will;
    and, desirous to be perfectly understood, upon reaching my native
    soil, I gave a full and public expression of my sentiments and
    principles. The reception which they met convinced me that I had
    not deceived myself, and I am now the more confirmed in them, not
    from having given them more consideration, but because they have
    found a general echo in the hearts of my fellow-citizens.

    I come, then, to carry my views into operation, and in compliance
    with the mandate of my country. She calls me as commander-in-chief
    of the army, and in that capacity I stand ready to serve. The
    enemy occupies our harbors--he is despoiling us of the richest of
    our territories, and threatens us with his domination! I go, then,
    to the head of the Mexican army--an army the offspring of a free
    people--and joined with it, I will fulfil my utmost duty in
    opposing the enemies of my country. I will die fighting, or lead
    the valiant Mexicans to the enjoyment of a triumph to which they
    are alike entitled by justice, by their warlike character, and by
    the dignity and enthusiasm which they have preserved, of a free
    nation. The war is a necessity of immediate importance; every
    day's delay is, an age of infamy; I cannot recede from the
    position which the nation has assigned me; I must go forward,
    unless I would draw upon myself the censure due to ingratitude for
    the favors with which I have been overwhelmed by my
    fellow-citizens; or, unless I would behold her humbled and
    suffering under a perpetuation of her misfortunes.

    Your excellency will at once perceive how great an error I should
    commit in assuming the supreme magistracy, when my duty calls me
    to the field, to fight against the enemies of the republic. I
    should disgrace myself, if, when called to the point of danger, I
    should spring to that of power! Neither my loyalty nor my honor
    requires the abandonment of interests so dear to me. The single
    motive of my heart is to offer my compatriots the sacrifice of
    that blood which yet runs in my veins. I wish them to know that I
    consecrate myself entirely to their service, as a soldier ought to
    do, and am only desirous further to be permitted to point out the
    course by which Mexico may attain the rank to which her destinies
    call her.

    In marching against the enemy, and declining to accept power, I
    give a proof of the sincerity of my sentiments; leaving the nation
    her own mistress, at liberty to dispose of herself as she sees
    fit. The elections for members of a congress to form the
    constitution which the people wish to adopt, are proceeding. That
    congress will now soon convene, and while I shall be engaged in
    the conflict in armed defence of her independence, the nation will
    place such safeguards around her liberties as may best suit herself.

    If I should permit myself for a single moment, to take the reins
    of government, the sincerity of my promises would be rendered
    questionable, and no confidence could be placed in them.

    I am resolved that they shall not be falsified, for in their
    redemption I behold the general good, as well as my honor as a
    Mexican and a soldier. I cannot abandon this position. The
    existing government has pursued a course with which the nation has
    shown itself content, and I have no desire to subvert it by taking
    its place. I feel abundant pleasure in remaining where I am, and
    flatter myself that the nation will applaud my choice. I shall
    joyfully accept such tasks as she shall continue to impose upon
    me; and while she is engaged in promoting the objects of
    civilization, I will brave every danger in supporting its
    benefits, even at the cost of my existence.

    Will your excellency have the goodness to tender to the supreme
    government my sincere thanks for their kindness? I will personally
    repeat them to-morrow, for which purpose I propose to call at the
    palace. I shall there embrace my friends, and hastily pressing
    them to my heart, bid them a tender farewell, and set out to the
    scene of war, to lend my aid to serve my country, or to perish
    among its ruins.

    I beg to repeat to your excellency assurances of my continued and
    especial esteem.


On the 15th of September, Santa Anna arrived at the capital, amid
rejoicings more enthusiastic than had ever been witnessed before. The
people seemed to behold in him their saviour, and were almost frantic
with joy. The testimonies of attachment to his person were unbounded,
and the next day the most vigorous measures, so far as declarations
go, were adopted by the provisional government.

A levy of thirty thousand men to recruit the army was ordered.
Requisitions were forthwith transmitted to all the principal places in
the republic, for their respective quotas of men. Puebla, and the
whole of the towns within a circuit of fifty or sixty leagues of the
metropolis, are stated to have complied with the requisition for
troops, with the greatest alacrity. To facilitate the arming and
equipping of this large body, the government ordered that duties on
all munitions of war shall cease to be levied, until further notice.

Santa Anna was thus once more in the capital and effectually at the
head of power; but he remained only a short time to attend to
political matters, and dreading, doubtless, to assume openly the
management of the government or to trust himself away from the
protection of the military, he hastened to surround his person with
the army;--as commander-in-chief, he effectually controlled all the
departments of the government.

In order to perceive distinctly the perilous position of Santa Anna,
we must understand the state of parties in Mexico. The revolution
which placed him in power was brought about by a union of the
federalists with his partizans. Santa Anna, of course, retained an
influence over his adherents after arriving in Mexico; but the
federalists were divided into two parties--the _Puros_ and
_Moderados_, or, democrats and conservatives. The dissensions in these
sections enabled Santa Anna, in a degree, to hold the balance between
them. SALAS, the acting executive, was a conservative, and Gomez
Farias, president of the council of government, was a democrat.
Intrigue after intrigue occurred in the cabinet and elsewhere among
the _ultras_ to supplant Salas, and several resignations gave evidence
of the ill feeling and dissensions betwixt the ministers--Cortina and
Pacheco, both conservatives, resigned--and so did Rejon and Farias.
The National Guard intimated its discontent with the condition of
things very manifestly, and the new cabinet was filled with old
enemies of Santa Anna. Meanwhile Almonte, the ablest man in the
country, retained the ministry of war.

About this time the state of San Luis Potosi pronounced against the
presidency of General Salas, demanding that General Santa Anna should
assume the executive functions, or that some one should be named by
him. As a precaution against the apprehended attempts upon his life,
Salas retired on the 25th of October from the capital to Tacubaya. The
greater part of the permanent garrison of the capital took up its
quarters in the same place. Santa Anna was probably determined that
General Salas should not obtain too absolute an ascendancy. Report
said that Salas was honest enough to attempt to carry into effect all
the guaranties of the revolution of Jalisco and the citadel, and that
his policy did not suit the chief; but Santa Anna professed to act in
the utmost harmony with him.

This outbreak against the provisional government of General Salas was
soon suppressed, and Santa Anna remained in command of the army at San
Luis Potosi, but without making any attack upon our forces on the Rio
Grande after the defeat of Ampudia at Monterey, or endeavoring to
prevent our subsequent capture of Victoria and Tampico.

On the 23d of December congress voted, by states, for provisional
president and vice president. Each state had one vote in this
election, determined by the majority of its deputies. Twenty-two
states voted, including the federal district of Mexico, and two
territories. Santa Anna's opponent, Francisco Elorriega, was the
choice of nine states, and Gomez Farias was elected vice president.
The day before the election the members of the cabinet threw up their
portfolios; and, in the midst of his evident political unpopularity
with the politicians Santa Anna seems to have been left by the
authorities at San Luis Potosi with an army destitute of efficient
arms, of military knowledge, and of the means of support. Santa Anna
accepted the provisional presidency.

Meanwhile our army had been advancing steadily since the battles of
Resaca de la Palma and Palo Alto on the 8th and 9th of May, 1846.
California had fallen into our hands, and New Mexico had been
subjugated. Tampico was, also, ours, and Taylor had pushed his
victorious army to Saltillo. Santa Anna stood, at bay, in San Luis
Potosi; for he was not yet prepared to fight, and popular opinion
would not permit him to negotiate. In this forlorn condition he
resorted to the usual occupation of the Mexican government when in
distress, and issued, despatch after despatch to stimulate congress,
the cabinet and the people in the lingering war.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nor was the government of the United States, meanwhile, inattentive to
this position of affairs in Mexico, or indisposed to afford the
government an opportunity to reconcile our difficulties by negotiation.
Two distinct efforts were made by Mr. Buchanan, our secretary of state
in the summer of 1846, and in January, 1847; but both proved abortive,
and we were therefore obliged to continue hostilities.

At length, when Santa Anna perceived the enfeebled condition of
General Taylor, and believed that Scott would be for a long time
hindered from effecting his attack upon Vera Cruz, he marched to Buena
Vista and experienced the sad reverse which we have already recounted.
As soon as the battle was over the wily and discomfited chief
immediately began to repair the losses of his arms by the eloquence
and adroitness of his pen. In a long account of the battle he treats
the affair as almost a victory, and leaves the public mind of Mexico
in doubt as to whether he had been beaten or victorious. The few
trophies, taken in the saddest moments of the action, were sent in
triumph to the interior and paraded as the _spolia opima_ in San Luis
and the city of Mexico. The public men of the country knew that
Angostura had in reality been lost, and Miñón who was seriously
assailed in the press by Santa Anna for not co-operating at the
critical moment, published a reply in which he treated Santa Anna in
the plainest terms and denounced, as false, the general's statement
that his troops were famishing for food on the 24th of February, and
that his failure to destroy Taylor's army was only owing to this
important fact! This system of mutual denunciation and recrimination
was quite common in Mexico, whenever a defeat was to be accounted for
or thrown on the shoulders of an individual who was not in reality
answerable for it.

When Santa Anna returned to San Luis Potosi, he entered that city with
not one half the army that accompanied him on his departure to the
north. It was moreover worn out and disorganized by the long and
painful march over the bleak desert, and had entirely lost its habit
of discipline. Such was the condition of things at San Luis in the
month of March, when Santa Anna found himself compelled to organize
another force to resist the enemy on the east; but whilst his
attention was diligently directed to this subject the sad news reached
him, that Mexico was not only assailed from without, but that her
capital was torn by internal dissensions.

The peace between the president, and the vice president, Don Valentin
Gomez Farias, had been cemented by the good offices of mutual friends,
though it is not likely that any very ardent friendship could have
sprung up suddenly between men whose politics had always been so
widely variant. Nor was there less difference between the moral than
the political character of these personages. Santa Anna, the selfish,
arrogant military chieftain,--a man of unquestionable genius and
talent for command,--had passed his life in spreading his sails to
catch the popular breeze, and by his alliances with the two most
powerful elements of Mexican society,--the army and the church,--had
always contrived to sustain his eminent political position, or recover
it when it was temporarily lost. Such was the case in his return to
power after the invasion of the French, in the attack upon whom he
fortunately lost a limb which became a constant capital upon which to
trade in the corrupt but sentimental market of popular favor. Valentin
Gomez Farias, on the contrary was a pure, straightforward,
uncompromising patriot, always alive to the true progressive interests
of the Mexican nation, and satisfied that these could only be secured
by the successful imitation of our federal system, together with the
destruction of the large standing army, and the release of the large
church properties from the incubus of mortmain.

There was much discontent in Mexico with the election of these two
personages to the presidency and vice presidency. Reflecting men
thought the union unnatural, and although the desperate times required
desperate remedies, there was something so incongruous in the
political alliance between Farias and Santa Anna, that little good
could be expected to issue from it. The clergy were alarmed for its
wealth, and the moderate party was frightened by the habitual
despotism of Santa Anna. The latter personage was in fact, regarded
with more favor at the moment by all classes, than Farias, because the
country had reason to believe him a man of action, and familiar in
times of danger and distress, with all its resources of men and money;
and as he was entirely occupied with the organization and management
of the army at San Luis, the opposition party directed all its blows
against the administration of the vice presidency.

A few days after the installation of the new government, the agitation
of the mortmain question was commenced in congress. The Puro party
united with the executive, made every effort to destroy the power of
the clergy, by undermining the foundation of its wealth, while the
Moderados became the supporters of the ecclesiastics, under the lead
of Don Mariano Otero.

At length the law was passed, but it was not a frank and decided act,
destroying at once the privileges of the clergy and declaring their
possessions to be the property of the republic. In fact it was a mere
decree for the seizure of ecclesiastical incomes, which threatened the
non-complying with heavy fines if they did not pay over to the civil
authorities, the revenues which had formerly been collected by the
stewards of convents and monks.

This act, comparatively mild as it was, and temporary as it might have
been considered, did not satisfy the clergy, even in this moment of
national peril. They resorted to the spiritual weapons which they
reserved for extreme occasions. They fulminated excommunications; and
published dreadful threats of punishment hereafter for the crime that
had been committed by placing an impious hand upon wealth which they
asserted belonged to God alone. This conduct of the religious orders
had its desired effect not only among the people, but among the
officers of government; for the chief clerk of the finance department,
Hurci, refused to sign the law, and it was sometime before a suitable
person could be found to put the law in operation. Santa Anna adroitly
kept himself aloof from the controversy, and wrote from San Luis, that
he merely desired support for the army, and that in other questions,
especially those touching the clergy, he had no desire to enter, but
would limit himself to the recommendation, that neither the canons,
nor the collegiate establishment of Guadalupe, should be molested,
inasmuch as he entertained the greatest friendship for the one, and
the most reverential devotion for the other.

But the executive, fixed in its intention to liberate the property
held in mortmain, took every means to carry the law into effect, and
experienced the utmost resistance from the incumbents, especially when
the property happened to belong to the female sex, which is always
averse from intercourse or dealings with persons who are regarded as
inimical to the church.

This rigorous conduct of the executive, and the opposition it
encountered from the Moderados, fomented by that powerful, spiritual
class which has so long controlled the conscience of the masses, gave
rise, at this period, to the outbreak in the capital, which is known
as the revolution of the Polkos. It began on the 22d of February,
1847, in Mexico, whilst Santa Anna was firing the first guns at
Angostura; and its great object was to drive Farias from executive
power. The forces on both sides, amounted to six thousand men, and
were divided between the Polkos and the partizans of the government.
Funds were found to support both factions, and from that time to the
21st of March, the city of Mexico was converted into a battle field.
On the morning of that day Santa Anna, who had already despatched a
portion of his broken army towards the coast, and who had been
approached on his journey from the capital, by emissaries from both
factions, arrived at Guadalupe, and immediately the contest ceased.
The stewards of the convents refused to expend more money for the
support of their partizans, and the treasury of the government was
closed against its adherents. The personal influence of Santa Anna
thus put an end to a disgraceful rebellion which threatened the
nationality of Mexico, within, whilst a foreign enemy was preparing to
attack its most vital parts from the gulf.

The conflict of arms was over, but the partizans of the clergy did not
intermit their efforts to get rid of the obnoxious vice-president; and
at length, they effected pacifically, what they had been unable to do
by force.

They brought in a bill declaring that "the vice presidency of the
republic, created by the decree of the 21st December, 1846, should be
suppressed." The debate upon this was of the most animated nature, the
friends and enemies of Farias showing equal vehemence in sustaining
their views. On the 31st day of March the vote was taken, and the
proposition carried by a vote of thirty-eight to thirty-five.

The following day a decree was passed embodying the above proposition
and others:

1. Permission is granted to the actual president of the republic to
take command in person of the forces which the government may place
under his command, to resist the foreign enemy.

2. The vice presidency of the republic, established by the law of 21st
December last, is suppressed.

3. The place of the provisional president shall be filled by a
substitute, named by congress according to the terms of the law just

4. If in this election the vote of the deputations should be tied, in
place of determining the choice by lot, congress shall decide, voting
by person.

5. The functions of the substitute shall cease when the provisional
president shall return to the exercise of power.

6. On the 15th day of May next the legislatures of the states shall
proceed to the election of a president of the republic, according to
the form prescribed by the constitution of 1824, and with no other
difference save voting for one individual only.

7. The same legislatures shall at once transmit to the sovereign
congress the result of the election in a certified despatch.

This decree having been passed, it was at once signified to congress,
through a minister, that Santa Anna was desirous of assuming the
command of the army immediately and marching to the east to provide
for the national defence. Congress went at once into permanent
session, in order to choose a substitute for the president. The
election resulted in the choice of Señor D. Pedro Anaya. He received
sixty votes and General Almonte eleven, voting by persons, and
eighteen votes against three, counting by deputations. The result
being promulgated, permission was granted that Señor Anaya should at
once take the oath of office. This was on the 1st of April, and on the
2d, Anaya entered upon his duties. He dispensed with the usual visits
of congratulation and ceremony on account of the pressure of public
business, and Santa Anna left the capital for the army in the
afternoon of the same day.




The extraordinary genius of Santa Anna, and the influence he possessed
over his countrymen were perhaps never more powerfully manifested than
in the manner in which, amid all these disasters, he maintained his
reputation and popularity, and gathered a new army to defend the
eastern frontier of Mexico. But whilst he was engaged preparing in the
interior, we must return to the scene of General Scott's operations on
the coast. The small island of Lobos, about a hundred and twenty-five
miles from Vera Cruz, had been selected for the rendezvous of the
several corps which were to compose the American invading army; and
the magnitude of the enterprize may be estimated from the fact, that
one hundred and sixty-three vessels were employed as transports. On
the seventh of March, Scott embarked his troops in the squadron under
Commodore Connor, and on the ninth, landed the army upon the coast
below the island of Sacrificios without the loss of a man, and without
opposition from the neighboring city of Vera Cruz, which he summoned
in vain to surrender. Having planted his batteries, and placed them
under the command of Colonel Bankhead, as Chief of Artillery, he
commenced a vigorous bombardment of the city on the eighteenth, aided,
afloat and on shore, by the guns of the fleet which had been
transferred from Commodore Connor to the command of Commodore Perry.
The town was thus invested by land and water, and although the Mexican
castle, city walls and forts, were but poorly garrisoned and provided,
they held out bravely during the terrible siege, which nearly
converted Vera Cruz into a slaughter-house. On the morning of the
twenty-sixth, when no hope remained for the Mexicans, General
Landero, the commander, made overtures for a capitulation, which being
satisfactorily arranged, the principal commercial port, and the most
renowned fortress in Mexico were surrendered, together with four
hundred guns, five thousand stand of arms and as many prisoners who
were released on parole.

General Scott had endeavored to mitigate the dangers of this terrific
attack upon Vera Cruz by the employment of such a force as would
honorably satisfy the inefficient garrison of the town and castle that
it was in truth unable to cope with the American forces. He delayed
opening his batteries to allow the escape of non-combatants; he
refrained, moreover, from storming the town, a mode of assault in
which multitudes would have fallen on both sides in the indiscriminate
slaughter which always occurs when an enemy's town is invaded in hot
blood and with a reckless spirit of conquest and carnage. Yet, weak
and badly provided as was the garrison of both strongholds, the walls
of the city, its batteries and its guardian castle held out for
sixteen days, during which time it is estimated that our army and
navy, threw into the town about six thousand shot and shells, weighing
upwards of 463,000 pounds. On the side of the Mexicans the slaughter
was exceedingly great. Nearly a thousand fell victims during the
siege; and, among the slain, numerous unfortunate citizens, women and
children, were found to have perished by the bombs or paixhan shot
which destroyed the public and private edifices, and ruined many
important portions of the city.

When this new disaster was reported in the capital and among the
highlands of Mexico, it spread consternation among the more secluded
masses who now began to believe that the heart of the country was
seriously menaced. They had doubtless trusted to the traditionary,
proverbial strength of San Juan de Ulua, and believed that the danger
of disease and storm on the coast would serve to protect Vera Cruz
from the attack of unacclimated strangers, during a season of
hurricanes. Indeed, it was fortunate that our troops were landed from
the transports and men-of-war as early as they were in March, for
almost immediately afterwards, and during the siege, one of the most
violent _northers_ that ever ravaged these shores raged incessantly,
destroying many of the vessels whose warlike freight of men and
munitions had been so recently disembarked.

But if the people were ignorant of the true condition and strength of
Vera Cruz or its castle, such was not the case with the military men and
national authorities. They had made but little effort to guard it
against Scott, of whose designed attack they had been long apprised,
and they were probably prevented from doing so chiefly by the plans of
Santa Anna, who supposed that Taylor would fall an easy prey to the
large Mexican forces in the field at Buena Vista, especially as the
American army had been weakened by the abstraction of its regulars for
the operations at Vera Cruz. Victorious at Buena Vista, he could have
hastened, by forced marches, to attack the invaders on the eastern
coast, and under the dismay of his anticipated victory in the north, he
unquestionably imagined that they too would have fallen at once into his
grasp. Besides these military miscalculations, Mexico was so embarrassed
in its pecuniary affairs, and disorganized in its Central Civil
Government, that the proper directing power in the capital,--warned as
it was,--had neither men nor means at hand to dispose along the coast of
the Gulf, or to station at points in its neighborhood whence they might
quickly be thrown into positions which were menaced.

It was at this juncture that Santa Anna's voice was again heard in the
council and the field. At the conclusion of the last chapter we left
him hastening to the new scene of action; and when he announced the
capitulation of the vaunted castle and sea port of the Republic, he
declared in his proclamation, that although "chance might decree the
fall of the capital of the Aztec empire under the power of the proud
American host, yet the _Nation_ shall not perish." "I swear,"
continues he, "that if my wishes are seconded by a sincere and
unanimous effort, Mexico shall triumph! A thousand times fortunate for
the nation will the fall of Vera Cruz prove, if the disaster shall
awaken in Mexican bosoms, the dignified enthusiasm, and generous ardor
of true patriotism!" This was the tone of appeal and encouragement in
which he rallied the credulous and vain masses, the disheartened
country, the dispersed troops of the north, and reanimated the broken
fragments of the army which still continued in the field.

Meanwhile, General Scott placed Vera Cruz under the command of General
Worth; opened the port to the long abandoned commerce which had
languished during the blockade; established a moderate tariff, and
together with the forces of the navy took possession of the ports of
Alvarado and Tlacotlalpam on the south, and directed the future capture
of Tuspan on the north of Vera Cruz. All his arrangements being
completed, and these captures made and projected, he marched a large
portion of his twelve thousand victorious troops towards the capital.

[Illustration: VERA CRUZ.]

When the road to the interior leaves Vera Cruz, it runs for a mile or
two along the low, sandy, sea-beaten shore, and then strikes off,
nearly at a right angle, in a gap among the sand-hills towards the
west. For many miles it winds slowly and heavily through the deep and
shifting soil, until, as the traveller approaches the river Antigua,
the country begins to rise and fall by gentle elevations like the
first heavy swells of the ocean. Passing this river at Puente Nacional
over the noble and renowned bridge of that name, the aspect of the
territory becomes suddenly changed. The nearer elevations are steeper
and more frequent, the road firmer and more rocky, while, in the
western distance, the tall slopes of the Sierras rise rapidly in bold
and wooded masses. All the features of nature are still strictly
tropical, and wherever a scant and thriftless cultivation has
displaced the thick vines, the rich flowers, and the dense foliage of
the forest, indolent natives may be seen idling about their cane-built
huts, or lazily performing only the most necessary duties of life.
Further on, at Plan del Rio the geological features of the coast
assume another aspect. Here the road again crosses a small streamlet,
and then suddenly strikes boldly into the side of the mountain which
is to be ascended. About seven leagues from Jalapa the edge of one of
the table lands of the Cordillera sweeps down from the west abruptly
into this pass of the river Plan. On both sides of this precipitous
elevation the mountains tower majestically. The road winds slowly and
roughly along the scant sides which have been notched to receive it.
When the summit of the pass is attained one side of the road is found
to be overlooked by the Hill of the Telegraph, while on the other side
the streamlet runs in an immensely deep and rugged ravine, several
hundred feet below the level of the table land. Between the road and
the river many ridges of the neighboring hills unite and plunge
downwards into the impassable abyss. At the foot of the Hill of the
Telegraph, rises another eminence known as that of Atalaya, which is
hemmed in by other wooded heights rising from below, and forming, in
front of the position a boundary of rocks and forests beyond which the
sight cannot penetrate.

When Don Manuel Robles left Vera Cruz, after its fall, he was desired
by General Canalizo to examine the site of Cerro Gordo. After a full
reconnoissance it was his opinion that it afforded a favorable spot in
which the invaders might be at least injured or checked, but that was
not the proper point to dispute their passage to the capital by a
decisive victory. The most favorable position for resistance he
believed to be at Corral Falso.

These views, however, did not accord with the opinions of the
commander-in-chief, who when the ground was explored under his own
eye, resolved to fortify it for the reception of the Americans. The
brigades of General Pinzon and Ranjel; the companies of Jalapa and
Coatepec, commanded by Mata; and the veterans of the division of
Angostura arrived also about this period, and their last sections
reached the ground on the 12th. Meanwhile all was activity in the work
of hasty fortification. Robles constructed a parapet at the edge of
the three hills, but failing to obtain all requisite materials for
such a work, his erection merely served to mark the line of the
Mexican operations, and to form a breast-work whence the artillery and
infantry might command the ground over which, as the defenders
supposed, the Americans would be obliged to advance. Colonel Cano had
already cut off the access by the road at the point where it turned on
the right slope of the Telegraph, by placing a heavy battery. He also
formed a covered way leading to the positions on the right, while
General Alcorta constructed a circular work on the summit of the
eminence and established within it a battery of four guns. In the
centre of this the national flag was hoisted, and off to the left
nothing was seen but thick, thorny dells and barrancas, which were
regarded by Santa Anna as impassable.

Such was the Mexican line of defences extending on the brink of these
precipices for nearly a mile, and, throughout it, the commander-in-chief
hastened to distribute his forces. The extreme right was placed under
the command of General Pinzon, the next position under the naval
captain, Buenaventura Aranjo, the next under Colonel Badillo, the next
under General Jarero, the next post, at the road, under General La Vega,
and finally the extreme left, at the Telegraph, under Generals Vazquez,
Uraga and Colonel Palacios. The forces thus in position, according to
the Mexican account, amounted to three thousand three hundred and
seventy men with fifty-two pieces of ordnance of various calibre. The
remainder of the army, with the exception of the cavalry, which remained
at Corral Falso until the 15th, was encamped on the sides of the road at
the _rancheria_ of Cerro Gordo, situated in the rear of the position. In
this neighborhood was placed the reserve, composed of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd
and 4th light infantry, comprising 1,700 men; and the 1st and 11th
regiments of the line, with 780 men, together with their artillery. It
is said that the army was badly provided with food and suffered greatly
from the climate and the innumerable insects which infest the region.

As Scott advanced against this position the dangers of his enterprize
became manifest, and he caused a series of bold reconnoissances to be
made by Lieutenant Beaurgard and Captain Lee, of the engineers. He
found that the deep rocky ravine of the river protected the right
flank of the Mexican position, while abrupt and seemingly impassable
mountains and ridges covered the left. Between these points, for
nearly two miles, a succession of fortified summits bristled with
every kind of available defence, while the top of Cerro Gordo
commanded the road on a gentle slope, like a _glacis_, for nearly a
mile. An attack in front, therefore, would have been fatal to the
American army, and Scott resolved, accordingly, to cut a road to the
right of his position so as to turn the left flank of the Mexicans. To
cover his flank movements, on the 17th of April, he ordered General
Twiggs to advance against the fort on the steep ascent, in front, and
slightly to the left of the Cerro. Colonel Harney, with the rifles and
some detachments of infantry and artillery, carried this position
under a heavy fire, and, having secured it, elevated a large gun to
the summit of the eminence, and made a demonstration against a strong
fort in the rear. Early on the 18th, the columns moved to the general
attack. General Pillow's brigade assaulted the right of the Mexican
entrenchments, and although compelled to retire, produced a powerful
impression on that part of the enemy's line. General Twigg's division
stormed the vital part of Cerro Gordo, pierced the centre, gained
command of the fortifications and cut them off from support; while
Colonel Riley's brigade of infantry rushed on against the main body of
the foe, turned the guns of their own fort against them, and compelled
the panic stricken crowd to fly in utter confusion. Shields' brigade,
meanwhile, assaulted the left, and carrying the rear battery, aided
materially in completing the rout of the enemy. The whole American
force, in action and reserve, was 8,500. Three thousand prisoners,
four or five thousand stand of arms, and forty-three pieces of
artillery, fell into Scott's hands. In the two days of conflict our
loss amounted to 33 officers and 398 men, of whom 63 were killed. The
enemy's loss was computed at 1,000 at least, while among the prisoners
no less than two hundred and eighty officers and five generals were
included. Santa Anna, and General Ampudia who was in the action,
escaped with difficulty; and the commander-in-chief, accompanied by a
few friends and a small escort, finally reached Orizaba in safety,
after encountering numerous dangers amid the mountains and lonely
paths through which he was obliged to pass.

This very decisive victory opened the path for the American army to
the highlands of the upper _plateau_ of Mexico, and, accordingly, our
forces immediately pushed on to Jalapa and Peroté, both of which
places were abandoned by the Mexicans without firing a gun. General
Worth took possession of Peroté on the 22d of April, and received from
Colonel Velasquez, who had been left in charge of the fortress or
castle of San Carlos de Peroté by his retreating countrymen, 54 guns
and mortars of iron and bronze, 11,065 cannon balls, 14,300 bombs and
hand grenades, and 500 muskets. On capturing the post he learned that
the rout at Cerro Gordo had been complete. Three thousand cavalry
passed the strong hold of Peroté in deplorable plight, while not more
than two thousand disarmed and famishing infantry had returned towards
their homes in the central regions of Mexico. From Peroté Worth
advanced towards Puebla on the direct road to the capital.

Thus was Mexico again reduced to extreme distress by the loss of two
important battles, the destruction of her third army raised for this
war, and the capture of her most valuable artillery and munitions. But
the national spirit of resistance was not subdued. If the government
could no longer restrain the invaders by organized armies, it resolved
to imitate the example of the mother country during Napoleon's invasion,
and to rouse the people to the formation of guerilla bands under daring
and reckless officers. Bold as was this effort of patriotic despair, and
cruelly successful as it subsequently proved against individuals or
detached parties of the Americans, it could effect nothing material
against the great body of the consolidated army. Meanwhile the master
spirit of the nation--Santa Anna--had not been idle in the midst of his
disheartening reverses. In little more than two weeks, he gathered
nearly three thousand men from the fragments of his broken army, and
marched to Puebla, where he received notice of Worth's advance from
Peroté. Sallying forth immediately with his force, he attacked the
American general at Amozoque, but, finding himself unable to check his
career, returned with a loss of nearly ninety killed and wounded. On the
22d of May, Puebla yielded submissively to General Worth, and Santa Anna
retreated in the direction of the national capital, halting at San
Martin Tesmalucan, and again at Ayotla, about twenty miles from Mexico.
Here he learned that the city was in double fear of the immediate
assault of the victorious Americans and of his supposed intention to
defend it within its own walls, a project which the people believed
would only result, in the present disastrous condition of affairs, in
the slaughter of its citizens and ruin of their property. The
commander-in-chief halted therefore at Ayotla, and playing dexterously
on the hopes and fears of the people in a long despatch addressed to the
minister of war, he at length received the Presidential and popular
sanction of his return to Mexico.

In truth, the nation at large had no one but Santa Anna, at that
moment of utter despair, in whose prestige and talents--in spite of
all his misfortunes and defeats--it could rely for even the hope of
escape from destruction, if not of ultimate victory.

Whilst the Mexican nation had been thus sorely vexed by intestinal
commotions and foreign invasion an Extraordinary Constituent
Congress--_Congreso Extraordinario Constituyente_--had been summoned
and met in the capital, chiefly to revise the Constitution, or the
"Bases of Political Organization," of 1843, which had been superseded
by the temporary adoption of the Federal Constitution of 1824,
according to the edict issued by Salas, under the direction of Santa
Anna soon after that personage's return from exile. This Extraordinary
Congress readopted the old Federal Constitution of 1824 without
altering its terms, principles, or phraseology, and made such slight
changes as were deemed needful by an _Acta Constitutiva y de
Reformas_, containing thirty articles, which was sanctioned on the
18th, and proclaimed on the 21st of May by Santa Anna, who had
reassumed the Presidency. By this approval of the Federal System the
Executive entirely abandoned the Central policy for which he had so
long contended, but which, as we have seen in the 11th chapter, he no
longer believed, or feigned to believe, suitable for the nation.

Notwithstanding this submission to popular will, and apparent desire
to deprive the Central Government of its most despotic prerogatives,
the conduct of Santa Anna did not save him entirely from the
machinations of his rivals or of intriguers. Much discontent was
expressed publicly and privately, and the President, accordingly
tendered his resignation to Congress, intimating a desire to hasten
into private life! This stratagetic resignation was followed by the
retiracy of General Rincon and General Bravo, who commanded the troops
in the city. Acts of such vital significance upon the part of the
ablest men in the Republic, in an hour of exceeding danger, at once
recalled Congress and the people to their senses; and if they were
designed, as they probably were, merely to throw the anarchists on
their own resources and to show them their inefficiency at such an
epoch, they seem to have produced the desired effect, for they placed
Santa Anna and his partizans more firmly in power. Congress refused to
accept his resignation. Unfortunate as he had been, it perhaps saw in
him the only commander who was capable in the exigency of controlling
the Mexican elements of resistance to the invaders, and he was thus
enabled to form his plans, to collect men, means and munitions, and to
commence the system of fortifications around the capital. "War to the
knife," was still the rallying cry of the nation. The Congressional
resolutions which had been passed on the 20th of April, immediately
after the battle of Cerro Gordo, proclaimed "every individual a
traitor, let him be private person or public functionary, who should
enter into treaties with the United States!" Parties in the capital
were, nevertheless, not unanimous upon this subject. There were wise
men and patriots who foresaw the issue, and counselled the leaders to
come to honorable terms before the capital was assaulted. Others
craved the continuance of the war with the hope that its disasters
would destroy the individuals who conducted it to an unfortunate
issue; and, among these, they saw that Santa Anna was finally pledged
to abide that issue for weal or woe. Nor were politicians wanting in
the Republic who honestly looked to the prolongation of the conflict
as a blessing to Mexico, believing that it would result in the
complete subjugation of the whole country by American arms and its
final annexation to our Union.

In June a coalition was formed at Lagos by deputies from Jalisco, San
Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Mexico and Querétaro, in which these States
combined for mutual defence; but, while they opposed peace, they
resolved to act independently of the General Government. Many other
parts of the republic looked on the scene with apathy. There was no
longer a revenue from foreign commerce. The products of the mines were
smuggled from the west coast in British vessels. Disorder and
uncertainty prevailed every where in regard to the collection of the
national income from internal resources. Individuals, and not States,
corporations or municipalities, were now to be relied on for support;
and, as the most important parts of the nation on the north and east
were virtually in the enemy's hands, the whole effort of the frail
authorities was confined to the protection of the capital. In the
midst of all this complication of confusion Santa Anna found that the
election for President, which was held by the States on the 15th of
May, had resulted unfavorably to his pretensions, and, by an adroit
movement, he prevailed on Congress to postpone the counting of the
votes from the 15th of June until January of the following year! All
who opposed his schemes of defence or resistance, were disposed of by
banishment, persecution or imprisonment, nor did he fail to establish
so severe a censorship of the press, that, in July, it is believed,
but one paper was allowed to be issued in the capital, and that one,
of course, entirely under his control. Throwing himself, like a true
military demagogue, publicly, if not at heart, at the head of popular
feeling in regard to the war with the United States, he adopted every
measure and availed himself of every resource in his power to place
the city in a state of defence, and to fan the flame of resistance. In
the meanwhile the _guerilla_ forces, organized on the eastern coast,
chiefly under a recreant clergyman named Jarauta, harassed every
American train and detachment on their way to the interior, and
rendered the country insecure, until a fearful war of extermination
was adopted by our garrisons on the line.

The government of the United States had, during the whole of this
unfortunate contest, availed itself of every supposed suitable
occasion to sound Mexico in relation to peace. In July, 1846, and in
January 1847, overtures were made to the national authorities and
rejected; and again, early in the spring of 1847, as soon as the news
of the defeat at Cerro Gordo reached Washington, Mr. Nicholas P. Trist
was despatched by the President upon a mission which it was hoped
would result in the restoration of international amity. The
commissioner reached Vera Cruz while the American army was advancing
towards the interior, but it was not until the forces reached Puebla,
and General Scott had established his head quarters in that capital,
that he was enabled, through the intervention of the British Minister,
to communicate with the Mexican government. The stringent terms of the
decree to which we have already alluded, of course, prevented Santa
Anna, powerful as he was, from entertaining the proposals in the
existing state of the public mind, and, accordingly, he referred the
subject to Congress, a quorum of whose members was, with difficulty,
organized. On the 13th of July, seventy-four assembled, and voted to
strip themselves of the responsibility by a resolution that it was the
Executive's duty to receive ministers, and to make treaties of peace
and alliance, and that their functions were confined to the approval
or disapproval of those treaties or alliances when submitted in due
form under the constitution. But Santa Anna, still adhering to the
letter of the mandatory decree passed after the battle of Cerro Gordo
in April, alleged his legal incapacity to treat, and recommended the
repeal of the order, inasmuch as the American commissioner's letter
was courteous, and the dignity of Mexico required the return of a
suitable reply. Before the appeal could reach Congress, its members
had dispersed, foreseeing probably, the delicacy, if not danger, of
the dilemma in which they were about to be placed. Without a
constitution tribunal to relieve him from his position, the President
finally referred the matter to a council of general officers of the
army. This body, however, was quite as timorous as Congress, and
dismissed the project by declaring that "it was inexpedient to enter
into negotiations for peace, until another opportunity had been
afforded Mexico to retrieve her fortunes in the field."

These were the negotiations that met the public eye, and are reported
in the military and diplomatic despatches of the day; but there was a
secret correspondence, also, which denotes either the duplicity or
strategy of Santa Anna, and must be faithfully recorded. It seems that
the Mexican President, about the time that the public answer was
proclaimed, sent private communications to the American head quarters
at Puebla, intimating that if a million of dollars were placed at his
disposal, to be paid upon the conclusion of a treaty of peace, and ten
thousand dollars were paid forthwith, he would appoint commissioners
to negotiate! The proposal was received and discussed by General
Scott, Mr. Trist, and the leading officers, and being agreed to,
though not unanimously, the ten thousand dollars were disbursed from
the secret service money which Scott had at his disposal, and
communications were opened in cypher, the key of which had been sent
from Mexico. Intimations soon reached Puebla, from Santa Anna, that it
would be also necessary for the American army to advance and threaten
the Capital;--and, finally, another message was received, urging Scott
to penetrate the valley and carry one of the outworks of the Mexican
line of defences, in order to enable him to negotiate![68]

The sincerity of these proposals from the Mexican President, is very
questionable, and we are still in doubt whether he designed merely to
procrastinate and feel the temper of the Americans, or whether he was
in reality angling for the splendid bribe of a million which he might
appropriate privately, in the event of playing successfully upon the
feelings or fears of the masses. The attempt, however, proved
abortive; and although both General Scott and Mr. Trist deemed it
proper to entertain the proposal, the commander-in-chief never for a
moment delayed his military preparations for an advance with all the
force he could gather. Thus were the last efforts of the American
authorities in Mexico and Washington repulsed in the same demagogue
spirit that hastened the rupture between the nations in the spring of
1846, and nothing remained but to try again whether the sword was
mightier than the pen.

[Footnote 68: See Major Ripley's History of the War with Mexico, p.
148. et. seq.]





The American forces, as we have stated, had concentrated at Puebla on
the main road to the city of Mexico, but their numbers had been
thinned by desertion, disease and the return of many volunteers whose
term of service was over or nearly completed. Meanwhile the Mexican
army was increased by the arrival of General Valencia from San Luis
with five thousand troops and thirty-six pieces of artillery, and
General Alvarez with his Pinto Indians from the south and south-west,
all of which, added to the regiments in the city and its immediate
vicinity, swelled the numbers of the Mexican combatants to at least
twenty-five or thirty thousand. It was discovered that General Taylor
would not advance towards the south, and consequently the presence of
Valencia's men was of more importance at the point where the vital
blow would probably be struck.

Whilst the events we have related were occurring in the interior,
Commodore Perry had swept down the coast and captured Tobasco, which,
however, owing to its unhealthiness, was not long retained by the
Americans. But every other important port in the Gulf, from the Rio
Grande to Yucatan, was in our possession, while an active blockade was
maintained before those in the Pacific. Colonel Bankhead subsequently,
occupied Orizaba, and seized a large quantity of valuable public
property. It had been the desire of the American authorities, from the
earliest period of the war, to draw a large portion of the means for
its support from Mexico, but the commanding Generals finding the
system not only annoying to themselves but exasperating to the people
and difficult of accomplishment, refrained from the exercise of a
right which invaders have generally used in other countries. Our
officers, accordingly, paid for the supplies obtained from the
natives. Nor did they confine this principle of action to the
operations of the military authorities alone whilst acting for the
army at large, but, wherever it was possible, restrained that spirit
of private plunder and destruction which too commonly characterizes
the common soldier when flushed with victory over a weak but opulent
foe. When the ports of Mexico, however, had fallen into _our
possession_ and the blockade was raised, they were at once opened to
the trade of all nations upon the payment of duties more moderate than
those which had been collected by Mexico. The revenue, thus levied in
the form of a military contribution from Mexican citizens upon
articles they consumed, was devoted to the use of our army and navy.
It was, in effect, the seizure of Mexican commercial duties and their
application to our necessary purposes, and thus far, only, was the
nation compelled to contribute towards the expense of the war it had

       *       *       *       *       *

Early in August, General Scott had been reinforced by the arrival of
new regiments at Puebla, and on the 7th of that month, he resolved to
march upon the capital. Leaving a competent garrison in that city,
under the command of Colonel Childs, and a large number of sick and
enfeebled men in the hospitals, he departed with about ten thousand
eager soldiers towards the renowned Valley of Mexico.

In the same month, three hundred and twenty-eight years before,
Hernando Cortéz and his slender military train, departed from the
eastern coasts of Mexico, on the splendid errand of Indian conquest.
After fighting two battles, with the Tlascalans who then dwelt in the
neighborhood of Puebla, and with the Cholulans whose solitary
pyramid,--a grand and solemn monument of the past,--still rises
majestically from the beautiful plain, he slowly toiled across the
steeps of the grand volcanic sierra which divides the valleys and hems
in the plain of Mexico. Patiently winding up its wooded sides and
passing the forests of its summit, the same grand panoramic scene lay
spread out in sunshine at the feet of the American General that three
centuries before had greeted the eager and longing eyes of the
greatest Castilian soldier who ever trod the shores of America.

In order to comprehend the military movements which ended the drama of
the Mexican war, it will be necessary for us to describe the
topography of the valley with some minuteness, although it is not
designed to recount, in detail, all the events and personal heroism of
the battles that ensued. This would require infinitely more room than
we can afford, and we are, accordingly, spared the discussion of many
circumstances which concern the merits, the opinions, and the acts of
various commanders.

       *       *       *       *       *

Looking downward towards the west from the shoulders of the lofty
elevations which border the feet of the volcano of Popocatepetl, the
spectator beholds a remarkable and perfect basin, enclosed on every
side by mountains whose height varies from two hundred to ten thousand
feet from its bottom. The form of this basin may be considered nearly
circular, the diameter being about fifty miles. As the eye descends to
the levels below, it beholds every variety of scenery. Ten extinct
volcanoes rear their ancient cones and craters in the southern part of
the valley, multitudes of lesser hills and elevations break the
evenness of the plain, while, interspersed among its eight hundred and
thirty square miles of arable land and along the shores of its six
lakes of Chalco, Xochimilco, Tezcoco, San Cristoval, Xaltocan and
Zumpango, stretching across the valley from north to south, are seen
the white walls of ten populous cities and towns. In front of the
observer, about forty miles to the west, is the capital of the
Republic, while the main road thither descends rapidly from the last
mountain slopes, at the Venta de Cordova, until it is lost in the
plain on the margin of Lake Chalco near the Hacienda of Buena Vista.
From thence to the town of Ayotla it sweeps along the plain between a
moderate elevation on the north and the lake of Chalco on the south.

On the 11th of August, General Scott, after crossing the mountains,
concentrated his forces in the valley. General Twiggs encamped with
his division in advance, on the direct road, at Ayotla, near the
northern shore of Lake Chalco; General Quitman was stationed with his
troops a short distance in the rear; General Worth occupied the town
of Chalco on the western shore of its lake, while General Pillow
brought up the rear by an encampment near Worth.

This position of the army commanded four routes to the capital whose
capture was the coveted prize. The first of these, as well as the
shortest and most direct, was the main post road which reaches the
city by the gate or _garita_ of San Lazaro on the east. After passing
Ayotla this road winds round the foot of an extinct volcanic hill for
five miles when it approaches the sedgy shores and marshes of Lake
Tezcoco on the north, thence it passes over a causeway built across an
arm of Tezcoco for two miles, and, by another causeway of seven miles
finally strikes the city. The road is good, level, perfectly open and
comfortable for ordinary travelling, but the narrow land between the
lakes of Chalco and Tezcoco, compressed still more by broken hills and
rocks, admits the most perfect military defence. At the end of the
first causeway over the arm of Tezcoco which we have just described,
is the abrupt oblong volcanic hill styled El Peñon, four hundred and
fifty feet above the level of the lake, its top accessible in the
direction of Ayotla at only one point, and surrounded by water except
on the west towards Mexico. It is a natural fortress; yet Santa Anna
had not neglected to add to its original strength, and to seize it as
the eastern key of his defences. Three lines of works were thrown up,
at the base, at the brow, and on the summit of the eminence. The works
at the base, completely encircling El Peñon, consisted of a ditch
fifteen feet wide, four and a half feet deep, and a parapet fifteen
feet thick whose slope was raised eight and a half feet above the
bottom of the ditch. Ample breastworks formed the other two lines of
the bristling tiara. In addition to this, the causeway across the arm
of Tezcoco, immediately in front, had been cut and was defended by a
battery of two guns, while the fire from all the works, mounting about
sixty pieces, swept the whole length of the causeway.

The second road to the capital was by Mexicalzingo. After leaving
Ayotla the highway continues along the main post road for six or seven
miles and then deflects southwardly towards the village of Santa
Maria, whence it pursues its way westwardly towards Istapalapan, but,
just before reaching Mexicalzingo, it crosses a marsh formed by the
waters of Lake Xochimilco, on a causeway nearly a mile long. This
approach, dangerous as it was by its natural impediments, was also
protected by extensive field works which made it almost as perilous
for assault as the Peñon.

The third route lay through Tezcoco. Leaving Chalco and the Hacienda
of Buena Vista, it strikes off from the main route directly north, and
passing through the town of Tezcoco, it sweeps westwardly around the
shores of the lake of that name until it crosses the stone dyke of San
Cristoval, near the lake and town of that name; thence, by a road
leading almost directly south for fifteen miles, through the sacred
town of Guadalupe Hidalgo, it enters the capital. It is an agreeable
route through a beautiful country, yet extremely circuitous though
free from all natural or artificial obstacles, until it reaches
Santiago Zacualco within two miles of Guadalupe. But at the period of
Scott's invasion of the valley, General Valencia, with the troops that
were afterwards convened at Contreras, was stationed at Tezcoco,
either for the purpose of observation, or to induce an attack in that
quarter, and thus to draw our forces into a snare on the northern
route, or to fall on the rear of the American commander if he attacked
El Peñon, or advanced by the way of Mexicalzingo. At Santiago
Zacualco, west of the lake and on the route, formidable works were
thrown up to defend the entire space between the western shore of lake
Tezcoco and the mountains; while on the road to Querétaro, at the
mountain pass north of Tenepantla, other defences were erected, so as
to screen the country on all sides of the group of hills which lies
west of the lakes of Tezcoco and San Cristoval and north of the town
of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

The fourth and last advance to the city was that which turned to the
south from the Hacienda of Buena Vista, and passing by the town of
Chalco, led along the narrow land intervening between the shores of
lake Chalco and the first steeps of the mountains forming the southern
rim of the valley, until it fell at right angles, at Tlalpam or San
Agustin de las Cuevas, into the main road from the city of Mexico
towards the southern States of the Republic.

All these routes were boldly reconnoitred by the brave engineers
accompanying the American army, and, where they could not extend their
personal observations, the officers obtained from the people of the
country, information upon which subsequent events proved that they were
justified in relying. From the knowledge thus gained as to the route
south of the lake of Chalco, they were induced to believe, although it
was rough, untravelled, difficult, and narrowly hemmed in between the
lake and the mountains, yet that the long and narrow defile, which was
open to resistance at many points, was not sufficiently obstructed or
fortified to prevent our passage. All the routes on the lower lands, it
should also be remembered, were liable to increased difficulties from
the deluging rains prevailing at this season on the highlands of Mexico,
and which sometimes convert the highways and their borders, for many
leagues, into almost impassable lagunes.

Santa Anna and his engineers had probably supposed that this southern
route would not be adopted, but a reasonable explanation of his
conduct is given by one of the most competent commentators upon the
valley of Mexico and the march of the American army.[69] "When an
enemy is in front of El Peñon, the communication between it and troops
on the other routes _is only by way of the city of Mexico itself_; in
other words, the American troops being at Ayotla, General Santa Anna's
forces at El Peñon were one day's march distant from those at
Mexicalzingo, three from those under General Valencia, and would have
been about four days' march from troops thrown forward on the Chalco
route. Fords on these different routes were by no means within
supporting distances of each other. Holding the position that General
Scott then did, it would have required, of an equal enemy, four times
his own force, to have opposed successfully his further advance. The
Mexican forces were not numerically equal to this, and, accordingly,
they were concentrated at the threatened point. It is evident that as
long as the American troops were in front of El Peñon, the enemy
_necessarily_ held to their position. In moving off, the former could
gain one day the start. This brought the only difficult parts of the
Chalco route actually nearer General Scott than the Mexican chief. If
to this we add the delay necessary in moving heavy artillery and
breaking up from a fortified position, it would seem that, instead of
oversight, it was rather impossible for General Santa Anna to meet our
forces sooner than he did."

The description of the various routes to the capital has necessarily
acquainted the reader with the important Mexican defences on the
north, the east, and the north-east of the capital, both by military
works hastily thrown up after Santa Anna's retreat from Cerro Gordo,
and by the encampment of large bodies of soldiery. We thus, already
know a part of the external line of defences at El Peñon,
Mexicalzingo, Tezcoco, Santiago Zacualco, and the Pass north of
Tenepantla. But in addition to these, there are others that must be
noticed on the south and west of the capital, which it should always
be recollected is situated in the lap of the valley, but near the
western edge of the gigantic rim of mountains.

Along the Chalco route there were no more fortifications, but west of
lakes Chalco and Xochimilco, a line of entrenchments had been
commenced, connecting the fortified _hacienda_, or massive stone
plantation house of San Antonio, about six miles south of the city,
with the town of Mexicalzingo. West of this _hacienda_, the Pedregal,
a vast, broken field of lava, spread out along the edge of the main
road, and skirting it to San Agustin, extended high upon the mountain
slopes still further west near San Angel and Contreras, whose
neighboring fields were cut into deep ravines and barrancas by the
wash from the declivities. The Pedregal was a most formidable obstacle
in the march or manœuvres of an army. But few levels of arable land
were found among its rocky wastes. It admitted the passage of troops
at but few points, and was entirely impracticable for cavalry or
artillery, except by a single mule-path.[70] North of San Angel and
the edge of the Pedregal, at the distance of about four miles, rose
the solitary hill and castle of Chapultepec, which had been amply
prepared for defence; and still further north on the same line,
frowned the stern ridges of the _sierra_, cut by barrancas and
profound dells, until the ring of the outer series of military works
was thus finally united at the pass beyond Tenepantla. But inside of
this formidable barrier of outworks, nearer the city, another line of
fortifications had been prepared to dispute the American march. The
first, and perhaps the most important of these, was at Churubusco, a
scattered village lying midway between San Agustin and the city of
Mexico, directly on the road, at a spot where the stream or rivulet of
Churubusco runs eastwardly from a point on the road from San Angel to
the capital, towards the lake of Xochimilco. The sides of the water
course were planted with the prickly maguey, and one of the most
western buildings in the village was a strong massive stone convent,
whose walls had been cut for musketry, and whose parapets, azotéas or
flat roofs, and windows, all afforded suitable positions for soldiery.
Large quantities of ammunition were stored within the edifice. The
enclosure of the church and convent was defended by about two thousand
men, and mounted seven guns, while, towards the east was a beautiful,
solid and scientifically constructed tête de pont which covered the
bridge over the stream by which the road led to the capital. In this
work three heavy guns were mounted, while the neighborhood is said to
have swarmed with troops.

We have already mentioned the garita or gate of San Lazaro, which was
the entrance to the city by the main road from the east, passing the
hill and fortification of El Peñon. This garita was strengthened by
strong works on the road, with platforms and embrasures for heavy
cannon, which would have swept the path, while the marshes on the
south were protected by redoubts and lunettes extending to the garita
or entrance of La Candelaria on the canal from Xochimilco. North of
San Lazaro strong works hemmed in the city to the garita of
Peralvillo, and connected with defences and fortified houses reaching
to the garita of Santiago. Other advanced works were begun in that
quarter, while the ground in front of the main line was cut into
_troux de loups_.

On the west of the city are the garitas of San Cosmé and Belen. "Works
had been commenced to connect that of San Cosmé, the most northerly of
the two, with that of Santiago, and the nature of the country and of
the buildings, formed obstructions to any advance between San Cosmé
and Belen. Belen was defended principally by the citadel of Mexico, a
square bastioned work with wet ditches, immediately inside the garita.
Barricades had also been commenced; but the great obstacle to an
entrance by either garita, was presented in the rock and castle of
Chapultepec, two miles south-west of the city. From this hill two
aqueducts extend to the capital, the one, north-east, in a direct line
to Belen, and the other, north, to the suburb of San Cosmé, where,
turning at right angles, it continued onward and entered at the
garita. The roads from the west ran along the sides of the aqueducts.
Two roads enter the city from the south, between the garita of San
Antonio and Belen, one at Belen and the other at the garita of El niño
Perdido, neither of these roads have branches to the Acapulco road
south of the Pedregal and the Hacienda of San Antonio, and, therefore,
had been left comparatively unfortified."[71]

These defences, overlooked by the lofty sierras and the barrancas
which broke their feet, hemmed in the capital, and the Mexicans
readily imagined that they could not be turned by an army marching
from the east, so as to reach the city on the west, except by a
tedious circuit which would allow them time to complete their
protective works in that quarter. The east had claimed their chief and
most natural attention, and thus the south and the west became
unquestionably their weakest points.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such were the Mexican lines, natural and artificial, around the
capital in the valley in the middle of August, 1847, and such was the
position of the American troops in front of them. The Mexicans
numbered then, with all their levies, probably more than thirty
thousand fighting men, while the Americans did not count more than ten
thousand--under arms at all points. The invaders had prepared as well
as circumstances admitted, and their _materiel_ for assault or siege
had been gathered carefully, and transported slowly into the interior,
through the country intervening between Vera Cruz and Puebla, every
train being usually attacked by guerillas, and fighting its way boldly
through the most dangerous passes.

The equipments of the Mexicans, except the weapons saved from the
wreck of former battles, had been chiefly prepared at the cannon
foundries and powder factories of the country, and it is quite amazing
to notice how completely a great exigency brought forth the latent
energies of the people, teaching them what they might ordinarily
effect, if guided by a spirit of industry and progress. Under the most
disheartening depression, but fired by the stimulus of despair, by an
overpowering sense of patriotic duty, and by religious enthusiasm
which had been excited by the crusading address of the clergy of San
Luis Potosi, issued in the month of April, they manifested in their
last moments, a degree of zeal, calmness, and foresight that will
forever redound to their credit on the page of history.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Mexican preparations for defence were not, of course, as completely
known to the Americans as we now describe them. Through spies, scouts
and reconnoisances of our engineers, some of the exterior, and even of
the interior lines were ascertained with tolerable accuracy; but
sufficient was known to satisfy General Scott that of all the
approaching routes to the capital, that which led along the southern
shores of lake Chalco was the only one he ought to adopt.[72]

Accordingly, on the 15th of August, the movement was commenced in the
reverse order from that in which the army had entered the valley from
Puebla. Worth's division passing Pillow's, led the advance, Pillow and
Quitman followed, while Twiggs' brought up the rear. Scott took his
position with Pillow, so as to communicate easily with all parts of
the army. Water transportation, to some extent, had been obtained by
General Worth at Chalco, by the siezure of market boats which plied
between that place and the capital. When Twiggs moved he was assailed
by Alvarez and his Pintos, but soon drove them off, while the advance
columns, after passing San Gregorio, were frequently assailed by the
enemy's light troops in their front, and harassed and impeded by
ditches that had been hastily cut across the road, or by rocks rolled
down from the mountains. These obstacles necessarily consumed time,
but the simple-minded Indians of the neighborhood, who had just been
compelled by the Mexicans to throw the impediments in the Americans'
way, were perhaps more easily induced to aid in clearing the path for
the invaders, than their ancestors had been in the days of Cortéz. On
the afternoon of the 17th, Worth, with the advance, reached San
Agustin, at the foot of the mountains, and at the intersection of the
southern road from Mexico to Cuernavaca and Acapulco--a point whose
topography we have already described;--and, on the 18th, the rear
division entered the town.

As soon as Santa Anna discovered Scott's advance by the Chalco route,
and that the attack on Mexico would be made from the south instead of
the east, he at once perceived that it was useless to attack the
American rear, whilst passing the defiles between the lake and the
mountains even if he could possibly come up with it, and consequently,
that it was best for him to quit his head quarters at El Peñon, while
he also recalled General Valencia with the most of the troops at
Tezcoco and at Mexicalzingo, which were no longer menaced by the foe.
Santa Anna himself, established his quarters at the fortified hacienda
of San Antonio, and ordered Valencia to march his whole division,
cavalry, infantry and artillery, to the town of San Angel and
Coyoacan, so as to cover the whole west and centre of the valley in
front of Mexico.

[Footnote 69: See the admirable Map and Memoir of Lieutenant M. L.
Smith, and Brevet Captain E. L. F. Hardcastle, published in the Senate
Document, No. 11 of the first session of the 31st Congress: 1849 '50.]

[Footnote 70: Ripley's War with Mexico, vol. 2, 181.]

[Footnote 71: Ripley, 2d vol., 182.]

[Footnote 72: General Scott had set his heart, even at Puebla, on the
Chalco route, but he resolved not to be obstinate, if, on a closer
examination of the ground, a better route was presented. The last
information of his spies and officers, _in the valley_, satisfied him
as to the propriety of advancing by Chalco.]

[Illustration: PLAIN OF MEXICO. P LOOMIS, SC.]




In order to understand the ensuing military movements, it will be
proper for the reader to study the map of the valley, and acquaint
himself fully with the relative posture of both parties. The plans of
both generals in chief were well made; but the blunders and obstinacy
of the Mexican second in command disconcerted Santa Anna's desired
combination, and ultimately opened the ground to the American advance
with more ease than was anticipated.

We will sketch rapidly the military value of the arena upon which the
combatants stood on the 18th of August, 1847.

Let us imagine ourselves beside General Scott, standing on one of the
elevations above the town of San Agustin de las Cuevas, at the base of
the southern mountain barrier of the valley, and looking northward
towards the capital. Directly in front, leading to the city, is the
main road, the left or western side of which, even from the gate of
San Agustin to the Hacienda of San Antonio, and thence westwardly to
San Angel, forms, together with the bases of the southern and western
mountains about St. Geronimo and Contreras, a vast basin, ten or
twelve square miles in extent, covered with the Pedregal or the field
of broken lava which we have already mentioned. This mass of jagged
volcanic matter, we must remember, was at that time barely passable
with difficulty for infantry, and altogether impassable for cavalry or
artillery, save by a single mule path. North, beyond the fortified
_hacienda_ and headquarters of Santa Anna at San Antonio, the country
opened. A line of field works, the lake of Xochimilco, a few
cultivated farms, and vast flooded meadows, were on its right to the
east, but from the _hacienda_, a road branches off to the west,
leading around the northern edge of the _Pedregal_ or lava field
through Coyoacan and San Angel, whence it deflects southwardly to
Contreras. The main road, however, continues onward, northwardly, from
the hacienda of San Antonio, until it crosses the Churubusco river at
the strong fortification we have described. Beyond Churubusco the
highway leads straight to the gate of San Antonio Abad, whence a work
had been thrown north-westwardly towards the citadel. The city of
Mexico, built on the bed of an ancient lake, was on a perfect level,
nor were there any commanding or protecting elevations of importance
around it within two or three miles, and the first of these, beyond
this limit, were chiefly on the north and west.

Thus, General Santa Anna, in front, on the main road to the city, at
the massive fortified _hacienda_ of San Antonio, blocked up the
highway in that direction, protected on his right by the barrier of
the Pedregal; and by the lake of Xochimilco, the field works, and the
flooded country on his left. General Valencia had been placed by him
with his troops at San Angel, on the western edge of the valley, and
at the village of Coyoacan, a little further east in the lap of the
valley, on roads communicating easily with his position at San
Antonio, while they commanded the approaches to the city by the
circuitous path of the Pedregal around the edge of the valley from San
Agustin de las Cuevas, through Contreras or Padierna. Valencia and
Santa Anna were consequently within supporting distance of each other;
and in their rear, in front of the city, were the fortifications of
Churubusco. General Scott, with the whole American army was,
therefore, apparently hemmed in between the lakes and the Pedregal on
his flanks; the Mexican fortifications and army in front; and the
steep mountains towards Cuernavaca in his rear. He was obliged,
accordingly, either to retreat by the defiles through which he had
advanced from Chalco,--to climb the steeps behind him and pass them to
the _tierra caliente_,--to force the position in front at the hacienda
of San Antonio,--or to burst the barrier of the Pedregal on his left,
and, sweeping round the rim of the valley, to advance towards the
capital through the village of San Angel. Such were some of the
dangers and difficulties that menaced Scott on his arrival at San
Agustin. He was in the heart of the enemy's country, in front of a
capital aroused by pride, patriotism and despair, and possessing all
the advantages of an accurate knowledge of the ground on which it
stood, or by which it was surrounded. Scott, on the other hand, like
the mariner in storm on a lee shore, was obliged to feel his way along
the dangerous coast with the lead, and could not advance with that
perfect confidence which is ever the surest harbinger of success.

The reconnoissances of the American engineers which had been pushed
boldly, in front, on the main road, to the north, by the hacienda of
San Antonio, soon disclosed the difficulty in that direction. But
among the mass of information which the American General received at
Puebla, his engineers learned that _there was_ a pathway through this
Pedregal whose route had been indicated by the spies with sufficient
distinctness and certainty to justify a hope that he might be able to
render it practicable for his whole army, and, thus, enable him to
turn the right flank of the Mexicans' strongest positions. There is no
doubt, as subsequent events demonstrated, that the ground in the
neighborhood of Contreras, where the road descends from the mountains
and barrancas towards San Angel was of great importance to the
Mexicans in the defence of the various modes of access to the city,
and it is unquestionable that a strong post should have been placed in
that quarter to cripple the American advance. It is stated by Mexican
writers, that General Mendoza, with two members of his topographical
corps had reconnoitred this route and pass, and pronounced it
"absolutely indefensible." It is probable, therefore, that no general
action, involving the fortunes of a division, or of a large mass of
the Mexican army, should have been risked among the ravines between
the mountains and the Pedregal near Contreras; yet we do not believe
that it should have been left by Santa Anna without a force capable of
making a staunch resistance.

We are now acquainted with the ground, and with the positions of the two
armies. Scott's plan was to force a passage by either or both of the two
adits to the levels of the valley in front of the city, while Santa
Anna's, according to his manifesto dated _subsequently_ on the 23d of
August, was to have made a concerted retrograde movement with his
troops, and to have staked the fortunes of the capital on a great
battle, in which all his fresh, enthusiastic, and unharmed troops would
have been brought into a general action against the comparatively small
American army, upon an open ground where he would have had full
opportunity to use and manœuvre infantry, cavalry and artillery.

But this plan was disconcerted at first, and probably destroyed, both
in its _materiel_ and _morale_, by the gross disobedience of General
Valencia, who forgot as a soldier, that there can never be two
commanders in the field. Valencia, apparently resolving to seize the
first opportunity to attack the Americans, in spite of the reported
untenable character of the ground about Padierna or Contreras, left
his quarters at Coyoacan and San Angel, and advanced, without
consulting his commander, to Contreras, upon whose heights he threw up
an entrenched camp! As soon as Santa Anna learned this fact, he
ordered the vain and reckless officer to retire, but finding him
obstinately resolute in his insubordination, the commander-in-chief
suffered him, in direct opposition to his own opinion, to remain and
to charge himself with the whole responsibility of the consequences.
Thus, if Scott advanced upon the main road, he would meet only Santa
Anna in front, and the efficiency of Valencia's force, on his left
flank, would be comparatively destroyed. If he conquered Valencia,
however, at Contreras, after passing the Pedregal, he would rout a
whole division of the veterans of the north--the remnants of San Luis
and Angostura,--while the remainder of the army, composed of recent
levies and raw troops, disciplined for the occasion, would, in all
likelihood, fall an easy prey to the eager Americans.

The reconnoissances of the American army were now completed both towards
San Antonio over the main northern road, and towards Padierna or
Contreras over the southern and south-western edge of the Pedregal. That
brave and accomplished engineer, Captain--now Colonel Robert E. Lee--had
done the work on the American left across the fields of broken lava, and
being convinced that a road could be opened, if needed, for the whole
army and its trains, Scott resolved forthwith to advance.

On the 19th of August, General Pillow's division was commanded to open
the way, and advancing carefully, bravely and laboriously over the
worst portion of the pass,--cutting its road as it moved onward,--it
arrived about one o'clock in the afternoon at a point amid the ravines
and barrancas near Padierna or Contreras where the new road could only
be continued under the direct fire of twenty-two pieces of Mexican
artillery, most of which were of large calibre. These guns were in a
strong entrenched camp, surrounded by every advantage of ground and by
large bodies of infantry and cavalry, reinforced from the city, over
an excellent road beyond the volcanic field. Pillow's and Twiggs's
force, with all its officers on foot, picking a way along the Mexican
front and extending towards the road from the city and the enemy's
left, advanced to dislodge the foe. Captain Magruder's field battery
of twelve and six-pounders, and Lieut. Callender's battery of mountain
howitzers and rockets, were also pushed forward with great difficulty
within range of the Mexican fortifications, and, thus, a stationary
battle raged until night fell drearily on the combatants amid a cold
rain which descended in torrents. Wet, chilled, hungry and sleepless,
both armies passed a weary time of watching until early the next
morning, when a movement was made by the Americans which resulted in a
total rout of Valencia's forces. Firing at a long distance against an
entrenched camp was worse than useless on such a ground, and although
General Smith's and Colonel Riley's brigades, supported by Generals
Pierce's and Cadwallader's, had been under a heavy fire of artillery
and musketry for more than three hours along the almost impassable
ravine in front and to the left of the Mexican camp, yet so little had
been effected in destroying the position that the main reliance for
success was correctly judged to be in an assault at close quarters.
The plan had been arranged in the night by Brigadier General Persifer
F. Smith, and was sanctioned by General Scott, to whom it was
communicated through the indefatigable diligence of Captain Lee, of
the Engineers.

At 3 o'clock A. M. of the 20th August, the movement commenced on the
rear of the enemy's camp, led by Colonel Riley and followed
successively by Cadwallader's and Smith's brigades, the whole force
being commanded by General Smith.

The march was rendered tedious by rain, mud and darkness; but, about
sun rise, Riley reached an elevation behind the Mexicans, whence he
threw his men upon the works, and, storming the entrenchments, planted
his flag upon them in seventeen minutes. Meanwhile Cadwallader brought
on the general assault by crossing the deep ravine in front and
pouring into the work and upon the fugitives, frequent volleys of
destructive musketry. Smith's own brigade under the temporary command
of Major Dimick, discovered, opposite and outside the work, a long
line of Mexican cavalry drawn up in support, and by a charge against
the flank, routed the horse completely, while General Shields held
masses of cavalry, supported by artillery, in check below him, and
captured multitudes who fled from above.

It was a rapid and brilliant feat of arms. Scott,--the skilful and
experienced General of the field,--doubts in his despatch whether a
more brilliant or decisive victory is to be found on record, when the
disparity of numbers, the nature of the ground, the artificial
defences, and the fact that the Americans accomplished their end
without artillery or cavalry, are duly and honestly considered. All
our forces did not number more than 4,500 rank and file, while the
Mexicans maintained, at least, six thousand on the field, and double
that number in reserve under Santa Anna, who had advanced to support
but probably seeing that it was not a spot for his theory of a general
action, and that an American force intervened, declined aiding his
disobedient officer. The Mexicans lost about 700 killed, 813
prisoners, including 4 Generals among 88 officers. Twenty-two pieces
of brass ordnance, thousands of small arms and accoutrements, many
colors and standards, large stores of ammunition, 700 pack mules, and
numbers of horses fell into the hands of the victors.

The rage of Santa Anna against Valencia knew no bounds. He ordered him
to be shot wherever found; but the defeated chief fled precipitately
towards the west beyond the mountains, and for a long time lay in
concealment until the storm of private and public indignation had
passed. The effect of this battle, resulting in the loss of the
veterans of the north, was disastrous not only in the city, but to the
_morale_ of the remaining troops of the main division under Santa
Anna. It certainly demonstrated the importance of Padierna or
Contreras as a military point of defence; but it unquestionably proved
that the works designed to maintain it should have been differently
planned and placed at a much earlier day, after mature deliberation by
skilful engineers. The hasty decision and work of Valencia, made
without preconcert or sanction of the General-in-chief, and in total
violation of his order of battle, followed by the complete destruction
of the entire division of the northern army, could only result in
final disaster.

Whilst the battle of Contreras was raging early in the day, brigades
from Worth's and Quitman's divisions had been advanced to support the
combatants; but before they arrived on the field the post was
captured, and they were, accordingly, ordered to return to their late
positions. Worth, advanced from San Agustin, in front of San Antonio,
was now in better position, for a road to the rear of the _hacienda_
had been opened by forcing the pass of Contreras. Moving from
Contreras or Padierna through San Angel and Coyoacan, Pillow's and
Twiggs's divisions would speedily be able to attack it from the north,
while Worth, advancing from the south, might unquestionably force the
position. Accordingly while Pillow and Twiggs were advanced, General
Scott reached Coyoacan, about two miles, by a cross road, in the rear
of the hacienda of San Antonio. From Coyoacan he despatched Pillow to
attack the rear of San Antonio, while a reconnoissance was made of
Churubusco, on the main road, and an attack of the place ordered to be
effected by Twiggs with one of his brigades and Captain Taylor's field

General Pierce was next despatched, under the guidance of Captain Lee,
by a road to the left, to attack the enemy's right and rear in order
to favor the movement on the Convent of Churubusco and cut off retreat
to the capital. And, finally, Shields, with the New York and South
Carolina volunteers, was ordered to follow Pierce and to command the
left wing. The battle now raged from the right to the left of our
whole line. All the movements had been made with the greatest
rapidity and enthusiasm. Not a moment was lost in pressing the victory
after the fall of Contreras. Shouting Americans and rallying Mexicans
were spread over every field. Every one was employed; and, in truth,
there was ample work to do, for even the commander-in-chief of our
forces was left without a reserve or an escort, and had to advance for
safety close in Twiggs's rear.

Meanwhile, about an hour earlier, Worth, by a skilful and daring
movement upon the enemy's front and right at the hacienda of San
Antonio, had turned and forced that formidable point whose garrison no
doubt was panic struck by the victory of Contreras. The enterprise was
nobly achieved. Colonel Clarke's brigade, conducted by the engineers
Mason and Hardcastle, found a practicable path through the Pedregal
west of the road, and, by a wide sweep, came out upon the main
causeway to the capital. At this point the three thousand men of the
Mexican garrison at San Antonio, were met in retreat, and cut by
Clarke in their very centre;--one portion being driven off towards
Dolores on the right, and the other upon Churubusco in the direct line
of the active operations of the Americans. Whilst this brave feat of
out-flanking was performed, Colonel Garland, Major Galt, Colonel
Belton, and Lieutenant Colonel Duncan advanced to the front attack of
San Antonio, and rushing rapidly on the flying enemy, took one General
prisoner, and seized a large quantity of public property, ammunition
and the five deserted guns.

Thus fell the two main keys of the valley, and thus did all the
divisions of the American army at length reach the open and
comparatively unobstructed plains of the valley.

Worth soon reunited his division on the main straight road to the
capital, and was joined by General Pillow, who, advancing from Coyoacan
to attack the rear of San Antonio, as we have already related, soon
perceived that the hacienda had fallen, and immediately turned to the
left, through a broken country of swamps and ditches, in order to share
in the attack on CHURUBUSCO. And here, it was felt on all sides, that
the last stand must be made by Mexico in front of her capital.

The hamlet or scattered houses of Churubusco, formed a strong military
position on the borders of the stream which crosses the highway, and,
besides the fortified and massive convent of San Pablo, it was guarded
by a _tête de pont_ with regular bastions and curtains at the head of
a bridge over which the road passes from the _hacienda_ of San Antonio
to the city. The stream was a defence;--the nature of the adjacent
country was a defence;--and here the fragments of the Mexican
army,--cavalry, artillery and infantry, had been collected from every
quarter,--panic stricken, it is true,--yet apparently resolved to
contest the passage of the last outwork of importance in front of the
_garita_ of San Antonio Abad.

When Worth and Pillow reached this point, Twiggs had already been
sometime hotly engaged in attacking the embattled convent. The two
advancing Generals immediately began to manœuvre closely upon the
_tête de pont_, which was about four hundred and fifty yards east of
the convent, where Twiggs still earnestly plied the enemy. Various
brigades and regiments under Cadwallader, Lieutenant Colonel Smith,
Garland, Clark, Major White and Lieutenant Colonel Scott continued to
press onward towards the _tête de pont_, until by gradual
encroachments under a tremendous fire, they attained a position which
enabled them to assault and carry the formidable work by the bayonet.
But the convent still held out. Twenty minutes after the _tête de
pont_ had been taken, and after a desperate battle of two hours and a
half, that stronghold threw out the white flag. Yet it is probable
that even then the conflict would not have ended, had not the 3d
infantry under Captains Alexander, J. M. Smith, and Lieutenant O. L.
Shepherd, cleared the way by fire and the bayonet to enter the work.

Whilst this gallant task was being performed in front of the Mexican
defences, Generals Pierce and Shields had been engaged on our left, in
turning the enemy's works so as to prevent the escape of the
garrisons, and to oppose the extension of numerous corps from the
rear, upon and around our left. By a winding march of a mile around to
the right, this division under the command of Shields, found itself on
the edge of an open, wet meadow, near the main road to the capital, in
the presence of nearly four thousand of the enemy's infantry, a little
in the rear of Churubusco. Shields posted his right at a strong
edifice, and extended his left wing parallel to the road, to outflank
the enemy towards the capital. But the Mexicans extended their right
more rapidly, and were supported by several regiments of cavalry, on
better ground. Shields, accordingly, concentrated his division about a
hamlet, and attacked in front. The battle was long and bravely
sustained with varied success, but finally resulted in crowning with
victory the zeal and courage of the American commander and his gallant
troops. Shields took 380 prisoners, including officers; while at
Churubusco seven field pieces, some ammunition, one standard, three
Generals, and 1261 prisoners, including other officers, were the
fruits of the sharply contested victory.

This was the last conquest on that day of conquests. As soon as the
_tête de pont_ fell, Worth's and Pillow's divisions rushed onward by
the highway towards the city, which now rose in full sight before
them, at the distance of four miles. Bounding onward, flushed and
exultant, they encountered Shields' division, now also victorious, and
all combined in the headlong pursuit of the flying foe. At length the
columns parted, and a small part of Harney's cavalry, led by Captain
Kearney of the 1st dragoons, dashed to the front and charged the
retreating Mexicans up to the very gates of the city.

Thus terminated the first series of American victories in the valley
of Mexico.

    NOTE.--It is ungracious to criticize unfavorably the conduct of a
    conquered foe, but there are some things in Santa Anna's behavior
    at Contreras and Churubusco, which must not be passed silently. At
    Contreras, he came with aid, by a short and fine highway, to the
    field at a late period, when the Americans, moving slowly over an
    unknown and broken country, had already outflanked with a strong
    force, Valencia's left, and he then made no effort whatever, with
    his _large support_, to relieve the beleagured general. If he did
    not design doing any thing, why did he come at all; and, if as he
    says, he believed Valencia could, during the night, withdraw all
    his forces, after spiking his guns, by a secret path of which he
    apprised him, why did he not take the same path to aid him? Did he
    believe that it was best to lose Valencia and his division only,
    without risking the loss of the large support under his own
    command? In the _morning_ of the 20th it was certainly too late
    for action, but Santa Anna must have been convinced, when he
    _ordered the retreat_ from the Hacienda of San Antonio, and thus
    voluntarily opened a gate for Worth's advance, that now, if ever,
    had arrived the moment for a general action in front of the city,
    the key of which, on the main road, was the convent of Churubusco
    and the adjacent works. The loss of Valencia's army and _materiel_
    was undoubtedly disheartening, but, according to his own account,
    Santa Anna had been prepared for an event which he _foresaw_. This
    should not have destroyed his self-possession if he sincerely
    desired victory. When Contreras fell, he had, in reality, only
    lost a division consisting of five or six thousand men. The whole
    centre and left wing of his army were untouched, and these must
    have numbered at least 20,000. Yet, if we admit the brave
    resistance of the garrison, only hastily thrown into the convent
    and works at Churubusco, it may then be asked what masterly effort
    Santa Anna made (at the moment when he had actually drawn the
    American army into the valley) to bring on a _general action_ with
    all the fresh troops either under his own command or under that of
    obedient, brave, skilful, and patriotic officers? The Mexican
    accounts of these actions, and in fact, his own despatch from
    Tehuacan, dated 19th Nov. 1847, exhibit no able manœuvres on
    the last field with which he was perfectly and personally
    familiar. The Americans stormed a single point,--and the battle
    was over, though bravely fought by those who were under cover and
    by the traitor battalion of San Patricio, formed of renegades from
    our army. The despatches of Santa Anna, like most of the Mexican
    despatches after military or political disaster, seem rather
    designed to criminate others, and to throw the whole blame of
    _ultimate_ complete defeat on Valencia, than to point out the
    causes of conquest in spite of able generalship _after the fall of
    Contreras_. See Santa Anna's despatches, Mexico 23 Aug. 1847; and
    Tehuacan, 19 Nov. 1847, in Pillow's Court Martial, pp. 532 and
    540. See also _Apuntes para la historia de la guerra_, &c., &c.,
    chapters XVII-XVIII-XIX, and Ripley's History of the War, vol. 2,
    p. 256; "_No part of the Mexican force was ready for battle_,
    except Rincon's command," says this writer.




It was late in the day when the battles ended. One army was wearied
with fighting and victory; the other equally oppressed by labor and
defeat. The conquered Mexicans fled to their eastern defences or took
refuge within the gates of their city. There was, for the moment,
utter disorganization among the discomfited, while the jaded band of a
few thousand invaders had to be rallied and reformed in their ranks
and regiments after the desperate conflicts of the day over so wide a
field. It surely was not a proper moment for an unconcentrated army,
almost cut off from support, three hundred miles in the interior of an
enemy's country, and altogether ignorant of the localities of a great
capital containing nearly two hundred thousand inhabitants, to rush
madly, at night fall, into the midst of that city. Mexico, too, was
not an ordinary town with wide thoroughfares and houses like those in
which the invaders had been accustomed to dwell. Spanish houses are
almost castles in architectural strength and plan, while from their
level and embattled roofs, a mob, when aroused by the spirit of
revenge or despair, may do the service of a disciplined army. Nor was
it known whether the metropolis had been defended by works along its
streets,--by barricades, impediments and batteries,--among which the
entangled assailants might be butchered with impunity in the narrow
passages during the darkness and before they could concentrate upon
any central or commanding spot. Repose and daylight were required
before a prudent General would venture to risk the lives of his men
and the success of his whole mission upon such a die.

Accordingly the army was halted; the dispersed recalled, the wounded
succored, the dead prepared for burial, and the tired troops ordered
to bivouack on the ground they had wrested from the enemy.


Meanwhile the greatest consternation prevailed within the city. When
Santa Anna reached the Palace, he hastily assembled the Ministers of
State and other eminent citizens, and, after reviewing the disasters
of the day and their causes, he proclaimed the indispensable necessity
of recurring to a truce in order to take a long respite. There was a
difference of opinion upon this subject; but it was finally agreed
that a suspension of arms should be negotiated through the Spanish
Minister and the British Consul General. Señor Pacheco, the Minister
of Foreign Relations, accordingly addressed Messrs. Mackintosh and
Bermudez de Castro, entreating them to effect this desired result.
During the night the British Consul General visited the American camp,
and was naturally anxious to spare the effusion of blood and the
assault by an army on a city in which his country had so deep an
interest. On the morning of the 21st, when General Scott was about to
take up battering or assaulting positions, to authorize him to summon
the capital to surrender or to sign an armistice with a pledge to
enter at once into negotiations for peace, he was met by General Mora
y Villamil and Señor Arrangoiz, with proposals for an armistice in
order to bury the dead, but without reference to a treaty. Scott had
already determined to offer the alternative of assault or armistice
and treaty to the Mexican government, and this resolution had been
long cherished by him. Accordingly he at once rejected the Mexican
proposal, and, without summoning the city to surrender, despatched a
note to Santa Anna, expressing his willingness to sign, on reasonable
terms, a short armistice, in order that the American Commissioner and
the Mexican Government, might amicably and honorably settle the
international differences, and thus close an unnatural war in which
too much blood had already been shed. This frank proposal, coming
generously from the victorious chief, was promptly accepted.
Commissioners were appointed by the commanders of the two armies on
the 22d; the armistice was signed on the 23d, and ratifications
exchanged on the 24th; and thus, the dispute was for a while
transferred once more from the camp to the council chamber. On the
morning of the 21st, the American army was posted in the different
villages in the vicinity. Worth's division occupied Tacubaya. Pillow's
Mixcoac, Twiggs's San Angel, while Quitman's remained still at San
Agustin, where it had served during the battles of the 19th and 20th
in protecting the rear and the trains of the army. Tacubaya became the
residence of General Scott, and the headquarters of the
commander-in-chief were established in the Bishop's Palace.

There are critics and politicians who are never satisfied with
results, and, whilst their prophecies are usually dated after the
events which they claim to have foreseen, they unfortunately find too
much favor with the mass of readers who are not in the habit of
ascertaining precisely what was known and what was not known at the
period of the occurrences which they seek to condemn. General Scott
has fallen under the heavy censure of these writers for offering the
armistice and avoiding the immediate capture of the capital, the
practicability of which they _now_ consider as demonstrated. We
propose to examine this question, but we believe that the
practicability or impracticability of that event does not become one
of the primary or even early elements of the discussion.

If we understand the spirit of this age correctly, we must believe
that mankind, purified by the progressive blessings of Christianity
and modern civilization, desires the mitigation rather than the
increase of the evils of war. It does not seek merely to avert danger
or disaster from the forces of one party in the strife, but strives to
produce _peace_ with as little harm as possible to all who are engaged
in warfare. It is not the mission of a soldier to kill, because his
profession is that of arms. It is ever the imperative duty of a
commander to stop the flow of human blood as soon as he perceives the
slightest chance of peace; and if his honorable efforts fail entirely,
through the folly or obstinacy of the foe, he will be more fully
justified in the subsequent and stringent measures of coercion.

The Mexican masses, mistaking vanity for true national pride, had
hitherto persevered in resisting every effort to settle the
international difficulties. Diplomacy, with such a nation, is
extremely delicate. If we exhibited symptoms of leniency, she became
presumptuous;--if we pushed hostilities to the extreme, she grew
doggedly obstinate. On the 21st of August her capital was in Scott's
power. His victorious army was at her gates. Two terrible battles had
been fought, and the combatants on both sides had shown courage, skill
and endurance. The Mexican army was routed, but not entirely dispersed
or destroyed. At this moment it doubtless occurred to General Scott,
and to all who were calm spectators of the scene, that before the last
and fatal move was made, it was his duty to allow Mexico to save her
point of honor by negotiating, ere the city was entered, and while she
could yet proclaim to her citizens and the world, that her capital had
never been seized by the enemy. This assuaged national vanity, and
preserved the last vantage ground upon which the nation might stand
with pride if not with perfect confidence. It still left something to
the conquered people which was not necessary or valuable to us.

There are other matters, unquestionably, that weighed much in the very
responsible deliberations of General Scott. If our army entered the
city triumphantly, or took it by assault, the frail elements of
government still lingering at that period of disorganization, would
either fly or be utterly destroyed. All who were in power, in that
nation of jealous politicians and wily intriguers would be eager to
shun the last responsibility. If Santa Anna should be utterly beaten,
the disgrace would blot out the last traces of his remaining prestige.
If so fatal a disaster occurred, as subsequent events proved, the
Americans would be most unfortunately situated in relation to peace,
for there would be no government to negotiate with! Santa Anna's
government was the only _constitutional_ one that had existed in
Mexico for a long period, and with such a legalized national authority
peace must be concluded. It was not our duty to destroy a government
and then gather the fragments to reconstruct another with which we
might treat. If a revolutionary, or _provisional_ authority existed,
what prospect had we of enduring pacification? What guaranty did we
hold in a treaty celebrated with a military despot, a temporary chief,
or a sudden usurper, that such a treaty could be maintained before the
nation? What constitutional or legal right would an American general
or commissioner have, to enter into such a compact? Was it not,
therefore, Scott's duty to act with such tender caution as not to
endanger the fate of the only man who might still keep himself at the
head of his rallied people?

Besides these political considerations, there are others, of a
military character, that will commend themselves to the prudent and
the just. The unacclimated American army had marched from Puebla to
the valley of Mexico during the rainy season, in a tropical zone, when
the earth is saturated with water, and no one travels who can avoid
exposure. Our men were forced to undergo the hardships of such a
campaign, to make roads, to travel over broken ground, to wade
marshes, to bivouack on the damp soil with scarce a shelter from the
storm, to march day and night, and finally, without an interval of
repose, to fight two of the sharpest actions of the war. The seven or
eight thousand survivors of these actions,--many of whom were new
levies--demanded care and zealous husbanding for future events. They
were distant from the coast and cut off from support or immediate
succor. The enemy's present or prospective weakness was not to be
relied on. Wisdom required that what was in the rear should be thought
of as well as what was in advance.

May it not then be justly said that it was a proper moment for a heroic
general to pause in front of a national capital containing two hundred
thousand people, and to allow the civil arm to assume, for a moment of
trial, the place of the military? Like a truly brave man, he despised
the eclat of entering the capital as Cortéz had done on nearly the same
day of the same month, three hundred and twenty-six years before. Like a
wise man, he considered the history and condition of the enemy, instead
of his personal glory, and laid aside the false ambition of a soldier,
to exhibit the forbearance of a christian statesman.[73]

       *       *       *       *       *

The American Commissioner unquestionably entered upon the negotiations
in good faith, and it is probable that Santa Anna was personally quite
as well disposed for peace. He, however, had a delicate game to play
with the politicians of his own country, and was obliged to study
carefully the posture of parties as well as the momentary strength of
his friends and enemies. Well acquainted as he was with the value of
men and the intrigues of the time, he would have been mad not to guard
against the risk of ruin, and, accordingly, his first efforts were
directed rather towards obtaining the _ultimatum_ of the United
States, than to pledging his own government in any project which might
prove either presently unpopular or destroy his future influence. The
instructions, therefore, that were given to General José J. de
Herrera, Bernardo Couto, Ignacio Mora y Villamil and Miguel Atristain,
the Mexican commissioners, were couched in such extreme terms, that
much could be yielded before there was a likelihood of approaching the
American demands. In the meanwhile, as negotiations progressed, Mexico
obtained time to rally her soldiers, to appease those who were
discontented with the proposed peace, and to abjure the project if it
should be found either inadmissible or impossible of accomplishment
without loss of popularity.

For several days consultations took place between Mr. Trist and the
commissioners, but it was soon found that the American pretensions in
regard to the position of Texas, the boundary of the Rio Grande and
the cession of New Mexico and Upper California, were of such a
character that the Mexicans would not yield to them at the present
moment. The popular feeling, stimulated by the rivals of Santa Anna,
his enemies, and the demagogues, was entirely opposed to the surrender
of territory. Sensible as the President was, that the true national
interests demanded instantaneous peace, he was dissuaded by his
confidential advisers from presenting a counter projét, which would
have resulted in a treaty. Congress, moreover, had virtually dissolved
by the precipitate departure of most of its members after the battles
of the 20th.

All the party leaders labored diligently at this crisis, but none of
them with cordiality for Santa Anna, in whose negotiations of a
successful peace with the United States, they either foresaw or feared
the permanent consolidation of his power. The _puros_, or democrats,
still clung to their admiration of the constitution of our Union; to
their opposition to the standing army; to their desire for modifying
the power and position of the church and its ministers, and to their
united hostility against the President. They were loud in their
exhortations to continue the war, while Olaguibel, one of their ablest
men and most devoted lovers of American institutions, issued a strong
manifesto against the projected treaty. This was the party which, it
is asserted, in fact desired the prolongation of the war until the
destroyed nationality of Mexico took refuge from domestic intrigues,
misgovernment and anarchy, in annexation to the United States.

The _monarquistas_, who still adhered to the church and the army,
proclaimed their belief in the total failure of the republican system.
Revolutions and incessant turmoils, according to their opinions, could
only be suppressed by the strong arm of power, and in their ranks had
again appeared General Mariano Paredes y Arrellaga, who, returning
from exile, landed in disguise at Vera Cruz, and passing secretly
through the American lines, proceeded to Mexico to continue his
machinations against Santa Anna, whom he cordially hated.

The _moderados_ formed a middle party equally opposed to the ultraisms
of monarchy and democracy. They counted among their number, many of
the purest and wisest men in the republic, and although they were not
as inimical to the United States as the _monarquistas_, or as many of
the _puros_ pretended to be, yet they cordially desired or hoped to
preserve the nationality and progressive republicanism of Mexico. In
this junto Santa Anna found a few partizans who adhered to him more
from policy than principle, for all classes had learned to distrust a
person who played so many parts in the national drama of intrigue,
war, and government. As a party, they were doubtless unwilling to risk
their strength and prospects upon a peace which might be made under
his auspices.

In this crisis the President had no elements of strength still firmly
attached to him but the army, whose favor, amid all his reverses, he
generally contrived to retain or to win. But that army was now much
disorganized, and the national finances were so low that he was
scarcely able to maintain it from day to day. The mob, composed of the
lower classes, and the beastly _leperos_, knowing nothing of the
principles of the war, and heedless of its consequences,--plied
moreover by the demagogues of all the parties,--shouted loudly for its
continuance, and thus the president was finally forced to yield to the
external pressure, and to be governed by an impulse which he was
either too timid or too weak to control.

The armistice provided that the Americans should receive supplies from
the city, and that no additional fortifications should be undertaken
during its continuance; nevertheless the American trains were assailed
by the populace of the city, and, it is alleged, that Santa Anna
disregarded the provision forbidding fortifications. When it became
evident to the American commissioner and General Scott, that the
Mexicans were merely trifling and temporizing,--that the prolongation
of the armistice would be advantageous to the enemy, without affording
any correspondent benefits to us,--and when their supplies had been
increased so as to afford ample support for the army during the
anticipated attack on the city,--it was promptly resolved to renew the
appeal to arms. Accordingly, on the 6th of September, General Scott
addressed Santa Anna, calling his attention to the infractions of the
compact, and declaring that unless satisfaction was made for the
breaches of faith before noon of the following day, he would consider
the armistice terminated from that hour. Santa Anna returned an answer
of false recriminations, and threw off the mask. He asserted his
willingness to rely on arms;--he issued a bombastic appeal to the
people, in which he announced that the demands of the Americans would
have converted the nation into a colony of our Union. He improved upon
the pretended patriotic zeal of all the parties--puros, moderados,
monarquistas and mob--who had proclaimed themselves in favor of the
war. Instead of opposing or arguing the question, he caught the war
strain of the hour, and sent it forth to the multitude in trumpet
tones. He was determined not to be hedged or entrapped by those who
intrigued to destroy him, and resolved that if he must fall, his
opponents should share the political disaster. Nor was he alone in
his electioneering gasconade, for General Herrera--a man who had been
notoriously the advocate of peace, both before and since the
rupture,--addressed the clergy and the people, craving their aid by
prayer, money, fire and sword, to exterminate the invaders! All
classes were, thus, placed in a false and uncandid position.

This is a sad picture of political hypocrisy based upon the misnamed
popular will of a country which had for twenty years been demoralized
by the very chieftain who was about to reap the direful harvest he had
sown in the hearts of his people. Every man, every party,
acknowledged, privately, the impolicy of continued hostilities, yet
all men and all parties were resolved that _Santa Anna_ should not
make the peace whilst an American army remained in the country to
sustain it, or an American government dispensed millions to pay for
the ceded territory. Distrusting his honesty and patriotism, they
believed that the money would only be squandered among his parasites,
or used for the prolonged corruption and disorganization of their
country. With gold and an army they believed him omnipotent; but,
stripped of these elements of power in Mexico, the great magician
dwindled into a haggard and harmless witch.

Combinations arose readily and bravely against the man whose sway was
irresistible _as long as he dealt with his countrymen alone_ or
preserved a loyal army and dependant church, whose strength and wealth
were mutual supports. The sky was dark and lowering around him, and he
must have acknowledged secretly, that the political parties of his
country, if not his countrymen universally, were more anxious to
destroy him than the Americans. The army of the invaders, they hoped,
might perform a task in this drama, which the Mexicans themselves
could not achieve; and there are multitudes who would have been glad
to see its end become tragic by the death of one whom they feared in
prosperity, and despised in adversity.

[Footnote 73: It will be remembered that even Cortéz had paused in the
precincts of the ancient capital of the Aztecs, in order to give them
a chance of escape before striking the fatal blow. See Prescott, vol.
3, p. 199. It is a little remarkable also, that the dates of Scott's
and Cortéz's victories coincide so closely. Cortéz's victory was on
the 13th of August, 1521, Scott's on the 20th of August, 1847. The
date of Cortéz's achievement is given according to the Old Style, but
if we add ten days to bring it up to New Style, it will be corrected
to the 23d of August!]




At the termination of the armistice the position of the American
forces was greatly changed from what it had been on the morning of the
20th of August. The occupation of San Agustin had been followed by
that of Contreras, San Angel, Coyoacan and Churubusco in the course of
that day, and on the next, Mixcoac and Tacubaya were taken possession
of. Thus the whole southern and south-western portion of the valley,
in front of Mexico, were now held by the Americans; and this
disposition of their forces, commanding most of the principal
approaches to the capital, enabled them, for the first time to select
their point of attack.

In reconnoitering the chief outworks of the Mexicans by which he was
still opposed, General Scott found that there were several of great
importance. Directly north of his headquarters at Tacubaya, and
distant about a mile, arose the lofty, isolated hill of Chapultepec,
surrounded by its massive edifice, half castle, half palace, crowned
with cannon. This point, it was known, had been strongly fortified to
maintain the road leading from Tacubaya to the _garita_ of San Cosmé
on the west of the city. Westwardly, beyond the hill of Chapultepec,
whose southern side and feet are surrounded by a dense grove of
cypresses, and on a rising ground within the military works designed
to strengthen the castle, was the Molino del Rey, or King's Mill,
which was represented to be a cannon foundry to which large quantities
of church bells had been sent to be cast into guns. Still further
west, but near the Molino or Mill, was the fortified Casa Mata,
containing a large deposit of powder.

These,--together with the strong citadel, lying near the _garita_ of
Belen in the south-western corner of the city,--were the principal
external defences still remaining beyond the immediate limits of the
capital. The city itself stands on a slight swell between lake Tezcoco
and the western edge of the valley, and, throughout its greater
extent, is girdled by a ditch or navigable canal extremely difficult
to bridge in the face of an enemy, which serves the Mexicans not only
as a military defence but for drainage and protection of their
customs. Each of the eight strong city gates were protected by works
of various character and merit. Outside and within the cross fires of
these gates there were other obstacles scarcely less formidable
towards the _south_. The main approaches to the city across the flat
lands of the basin are raised on causeways flanked by wide and deep
ditches designed for their protection and drainage. These causeways,
as well as the minor cross roads which are similarly built, were cut
in many places and had their bridges destroyed so as to impede the
American's advance and to form an entangling net work; while the
adjacent meadows were in this rainy season either filled with water in
many places or liable to be immediately flooded by a tropical storm.

With these fields for his theatre of action, and these defences still
in front of him, it was an important and responsible question, whether
General Scott should attack Mexico on the west or on the south.

There can be hardly a doubt that the capture of the hill and castle of
Chapultepec, before assaulting the city, was imperatively demanded by
good generalship. If the capital were taken _first_, the Mexicans
instead of retreating towards Guadalupe and the north, when we
attacked and captured from the _south_, would of course retire to the
avoided stronghold of Chapultepec; and, if our slender forces were
subsequently obliged to leave the city in order to take the fortress,
our sick, wounded and thinned regiments would be left to the mercy of
the mob and the _leperos_. Chapultepec would thus become the nucleus
and garrison of the whole Mexican army, and we might be compelled to
fight two battles at the same time,--one _in_ the city, and the other
at the castle. But, by capturing the castle first, and seizing the
road northward beyond it, we possessed all the most important outworks
in the lap of the valley, and cut off the retreat of the Mexicans from
the city either to the west, to the castle, or towards our rear in the
valley. We obtained, moreover, absolute command of two of the most
important entrances to the capital, inasmuch as from the eastern foot
of the hill of Chapultepec two causeways, and aqueducts raised on
lofty arches, diverged northeastwardly and eastwardly towards the
city. The northernmost of these entered Mexico by the _garita_ of San
Cosmé, while the other reached it by that of Belen near the citadel.

In attacking Chapultepec, it was important to consider the value of
the Molino del Rey or King's Mill, and Casa Mata, both of which, as we
noticed, lie on rising ground within the works designed to protect
Chapultepec. Upon examination it will be found that the Molino del
Rey, or King's Mill, bears the relation of a very strong western
outwork both to the castle of Chapultepec and its approaches by the
inclined plain which serves to ascend its summit. As the Molino del
Rey is commanded and defended by the castle, so it reciprocally,
commands and defends the only good approach to the latter.[74] As long
as the Molino was held by the Mexicans, it would of course, form an
important stronghold easily reached from the city around the rear of
Chapultepec; so that if Scott attacked the castle and hill from the
south, where the road that ascends it commenced, he would be in danger
of an attack on his left flank from the Mexicans in the defences at
Molino and Casa Mata.

If the King's Mill fell, the result to the enemy would be that, in
addition to the loss of an important outwork and the consequent
weakening of the main work, its occupants or defenders would be driven
from a high position above the roads and fields into the low grounds
at the base of Chapultepec, which were completely commanded from the
Molino, and thus the Mexicans would be unable to prevent the American
siege pieces from taking up the most favorable position for battering
the castle. It was important, therefore, not only that the foundry
should be destroyed, but, in a stratagetic view, it was almost
indispensable in relation to future operations that the position
should be taken. It is undeniable, as following events showed, that
the Mexicans regarded it as one of their formidable military points.
The capture of Chapultepec and the destruction of the post at Molino
del Rey were, accordingly, determined on as preliminary to the final
assault upon the city.

       *       *       *       *       *

As soon as the armistice was terminated bold reconnoissances were made
by our engineers in the direction of Chapultepec and the Molino or
King's Mill and Casa Mata. On the 7th of September Santa Anna's answer
to Scott's despatch was received, and on the same day the
Commander-in-Chief and General Worth examined the enemy's formidable
dispositions near and around the castle-crowned hill. The Mexican
array was found to consist of an extended line of cavalry and
infantry, sustained by a field battery of four guns, either occupying
directly or supporting a system of defences collateral to the castle
and summit; _but as the lines were skilfully masked a very inadequate
idea of the extent of the forces was obtained_. Captain Mason's
reconnoissance on the morning of the same day, represented the enemy's
left as resting on and occupying the group of strong stone buildings
at the Molino adjacent to the grove at the foot of Chapultepec and
directly under the castle's guns. The right of his line rested on the
Casa Mata, at the foot of the ridge sloping gradually to the plain
below from the heights above Tacubaya; while, midway between these
buildings, were the field battery and infantry forces disposed on
either side to support it. This reconnoissance indicated that the
_centre_ was the weak point of the position, and that its left flank
was the strongest. In the Mill or Molino, on the left, was the brigade
of General Leon, reinforced by the brigade of General Rangel; in the
Casa Mata, on the right, was the brigade of General Perez; and on the
intermediate ground was the brigade of General Ramirez, with several
pieces of artillery. The Mexican reserve was composed of the 1st and
3d light, stationed in the groves of Chapultepec, while the cavalry
consisting of 4,000 men, rested at the hacienda of Morales, not very
far from the field. Such was the arrangement of the Mexican forces
made by Santa Anna in person on the 7th of September, though it has
been alleged by Mexican writers that it was somewhat changed during
the following night. The wily chief had not allowed the time to pass
during the negotiation between Trist and the Commissioners in
political discussion alone. Regarding the failure of the treaty as
most probable, he had striven to strengthen once more the military arm
of his nation, and the first result of this effort was demonstrated in
his disposition of troops at El Molino del Rey. The Americans' attack
upon Chapultepec, as commanding the nearest and most important access
to the city had been foreseen by him as soon as the armistice ended,
and as a military man, he well knew that the isolated hill and castle
could not be protected by the defenders within its walls alone or by
troops stationed either immediately at its base or on the sloping road
along its sides.

General Scott's plan of assault upon the city seems now to have been
matured, though it required several days for full development
according to the reconnoissances of his engineers. He designed to make
the main assault on the west and not on the south of the city.
Possessing himself suddenly of the Molino del Rey and the adjacent
grounds he was to _retire_ after the capture _without carrying
Chapultepec_, the key of the roads to the western _garitas_ of San
Cosmé and Belen. The immediate capture of Chapultepec would have been
a signal to Santa Anna to throw his whole force into the western
defence of the city; but by retiring, after the fall of the Molino or
King's Mill, and by playing off skilfully on the south of the city in
the direction of the garita of San Antonio Abad, Scott would
effectually divert the attention of the Mexicans to that quarter and
thus induce them to weaken the western defences and strengthen the
southern. At length, at the proper moment, by a rapid inversion of his
forces from the south to the west, he intended to storm the
castle-crowned hill, and rush along the causeways to the capital
before the enemy could recover his position.

       *       *       *       *       *

In pursuance of this plan, an attack upon El Molino del Rey and La
Casa Mata was the first great work to be accomplished, and as soon as
Santa Anna's reply closing the armistice was received on the 7th the
advance towards that place was ordered for the following morning. This
important work was entrusted to General Worth, whose division was
reinforced by three squadrons of dragoons; one command of 270 mounted
riflemen under Major Sumner; three field pieces under Captain Drum;
two twenty-four pounders under Captain Huger, and Cadwallader's
brigade 784 strong. The reconnoissances had been completed; at three
o'clock in the morning of the 8th of September the several columns
were put in motion on as many different routes, and when the gray dawn
enabled them to be seen they were as accurately posted as if in midday
for review. Colonel Duncan was charged with the general disposition of
the artillery, while the cavalry were under Major Sumner.

At the first glimmer of day Huger's powerful guns saluted the walls of
El Molino and continued to play in that quarter until this point of
the enemy's line became sensibly shaken. At that moment the assaulting
party, commanded by Wright of the 8th Infantry, dashed forward to
assault the centre. Musketry and cannister were showered upon them by
the aroused enemy, but on they rushed, driving infantry and
artillerists at the point of the bayonet, capturing the field pieces
and trailing them on the flying foe, until the Mexicans perceiving
that they had been assailed by a mere handful of men suddenly rallied
and reformed. In an instant the reassured and gallant foe opened upon
the Americans a terrific fire of musketry, striking down eleven out
of the fourteen officers who composed the command, and, for the time,
staggering the staunch assailants. But this paralysis continued for an
instant only. A light battalion which had been held to cover Huger's
battery, commanded by Captain E. Kirby Smith, rushed forward to
support, and executing its bloody task amid horrible carnage, finally
succeeded in carrying the line and occupying it with our troops. In
the meanwhile Garland's brigade, sustained by Drum's artillery
assaulted the enemy's left near the Molino, and after an obstinate
contest drove him from his position under the protecting guns of
Chapultepec. Drum's section and Huger's battering guns advanced to the
enemy's position, and his captured pieces were now opened on the
retreating force. While these efforts were successfully making on the
Mexican centre and left, Duncan's battery blazed on the right, and
Colonel Mackintosh was ordered to assault that point. The advance of
his brigade soon brought it between the enemy and Duncan's guns, and
their fire was of course discontinued. Onwards sternly and steadily
moved the troops towards the Casa Mata, which, as it was approached,
proved to be a massive stone work surrounded with bastioned
entrenchments and deep ditches, whence a deadly fire was delivered and
kept up without intermission upon our advancing troops until they
reached the very slope of the parapet surrounding the citadel. The
havoc was dreadful. A large proportion of the command was either
killed or wounded; but still the ceaseless fire from the Casa Mata
continued its deadly work, until the maimed and broken band of gallant
assailants was withdrawn to the left of Duncan's battery where its
remnants rallied. Duncan and Sumner had meanwhile been hotly engaged
in repelling a charge of Mexican cavalry on the left, and having just
completed the work, the brave Colonel found his countrymen retired
from before the Casa Mata and the field again open for his terrible
weapons. Directing them at once upon the fatal fort he battered the
Mexicans from its walls, and as they fled from its protecting
enclosure he continued to play upon the fugitives as relentlessly as
they had recently done upon Mackintosh and his doomed brigade.

The Mexicans were now driven from the field at every point. La Casa
Mata was blown up by the conquerors. Captured ammunition and cannon
moulds in El Molino were destroyed. And the Americans, according to
Scott's order previous to the battle, returned to Tacubaya, with three
of the enemy's guns, (a fourth being spiked and useless,) eight
hundred prisoners including fifty-two commissioned officers, and a
large quantity of small arms, with gun and musket ammunition. Three
thousand two hundred and fifty-one Americans, had on this day, driven
four times their number from a selected field; but they had paid a
large and noble tribute to death for the victory. Nine officers were
included in the one hundred and sixteen of our killed, and forty-nine
officers in the six hundred and sixty-five of our wounded. The
Mexicans suffered greatly in wounded and slain, while the gallant
General Leon and Colonel Balderas fell fighting bravely on the field
of battle.[75]

       *       *       *       *       *

The battle was over by nine o'clock in the morning. The Americans,
after collecting their dead and wounded, retired from the bloody
field, but they were not allowed to mourn over their painful losses.
They had suffered severely, yet the battle had been most disastrous to
the Mexicans. The fine commands of Generals Perez and Leon and of
Colonel Balderas, were broken up; the position once destroyed, could
not serve for a second defence, and the _morale_ of the soldiers had
suffered. The Mexicans were beginning to believe that mere formidable
masses, if not directed by skilful chiefs, were, in truth, but
harmless things, and not to be relied on very confidently for national
defence. The new levies, the old regular army, and the volunteers of
the city, had all been repeatedly beaten in the valley both before and
since the armistice. Nevertheless, Santa Anna, in spite of all these
defeats and disasters at the Molino and Casa Mata, caused the bells of
the city to be merrily rung for a victory, and sent forth
proclamations by extraordinary couriers, in every direction,
announcing the triumph of Mexican valor and arms!

On the morning of the 11th, Scott proceeded to carry out the remainder
of his projected capture of the capital. His troops had been already
for some time hovering around the southern gates, and he now surveyed
them closely covered by General Pillow's division and Riley's brigade
of Twigg's command, and then ordered Quitman from Coyoacan to join
Pillow by _daylight_, before the southern gates. _By night_ however,
the two Generals with their commands were to pass the two intervening
miles between their position and Tacubaya where they would unite with
Worth's division, while General Twiggs was left, with Riley, Captain
Taylor and Steptoe, in front of the gates to manœuvre, threaten, or
make false attacks so as to occupy and deceive the enemy. General
Smith's brigade was halted in supporting distance at San Angel, in the
rear, till the morning of the 13th, so as to support our general depot
at Mixcoac. This stratagem against the south was admirably executed
throughout the 12th and until the afternoon of the 13th, when it was
too late for Santa Anna to recover from his delusion.

In the meanwhile preparations had been duly made for the operations on
the west by the capture of Chapultepec. Heavy batteries were
established and the bombardment and cannonade under Captain Huger,
were commenced early on the morning of the 12th. Pillow and Quitman
had been in position, as ordered, since early on the night of the
11th, and Worth was now commanded to hold his division in reserve near
the foundry to support Pillow, while Smith was summoned to sustain
Quitman. Twiggs still continued to inform us with his guns that he
held the Mexicans on the defensive in that quarter and kept Santa Anna
in constant anxiety. Scott's positions and strategy perfectly
disconcerted him. One moment on the south--the next at Tacubaya--then
reconnoitering the south again--and, at last, concentrating his forces
so that they might be easily moved northward to Chapultepec or
southward to the gate of San Antonio Abad. These movements rendered
him constantly sensible of every hour's importance, yet he would not
agree with the veteran Bravo who commanded Chapultepec and was
convinced that the hill and castle would be the points assailed.
During the whole of the 12th the American pieces, strengthened by the
captured guns, poured an incessant shower of shot into the fortress
until nightfall, when the assailants slept upon their arms, to be in
position for an early renewal on the 13th.

At half-past five in the morning the American guns recommenced upon
Chapultepec; but still Santa Anna clung to the southern gates while
Scott was silently preparing for the final assault according to a
preconcerted signal. About 8 o'clock, judging that the missiles had
done the work, the heavy batteries suddenly ceased firing, and
instantaneously Pillow's division rushed forward from the conquered
Molino del Rey, and overbearing all obstacles, and rapidly clambering
up the steep acclivities, raised their scaling ladders and poured over
the walls.[76]

Quitman, supported by Generals Shields and Smith, was meanwhile
advancing rapidly towards the south-east of the works, over a causeway
with cuts and batteries defended by an army strongly posted outside
the works towards the east. But nothing could resist the impulse of
the storming division, though staunchly opposed and long held at bay,
and whilst it rushed to complete the work, the New York, South
Carolina, and Pennsylvania volunteers, under Shields, crossed the
meadows in front amid a heavy fire, and entered the outer enclosure of
Chapultepec in time to join the enterprise from the west. The castle
was now possessed at every point. The onslaught had been so rapid and
resistless, that the Mexicans stood appalled as the human tide foamed
and burst over their battlements. Men who had been stationed to fire
the mines either fled or were shot down. Officers fell at their posts,
and the brave old Bravo, fighting to the last, was taken prisoner with
a thousand combatants.

Santa Anna was at last undeceived. He detached at once the greater
portion of his troops from near the garita of San Antonio Abad; but it
was too late;--the key to the roads of San Cosmé and Belen had fallen;
the advance works were weak, and the routed troops of Chapultepec fled
rapidly along the causeways and over the meadows. Still as they
retreated they fought courageously, and as our men approached the
walls, the fresh troops in the neighborhood poured their volleys from
behind parapets, windows and steeples. Nevertheless, Santa Anna dared
not withdraw all his forces in the presence of Twigg's threatening
division on the south.

Meanwhile Worth had seized the causeway and aqueduct of San Cosmé,
while Quitman advanced by the other towards the garita of Belen. The
double roads on each side of these aqueducts which rested on open
arches spanning massive pillars, afforded fine points for attack and
defence. Both the American Generals were prompt in pursuing the
retreating foe, while Scott, who had ascended the battlements of
Chapultepec and beheld the field spread out beneath him like a map,
hastened onward all the stragglers and detachments to join the flushed
victors in the final assault.

Worth speedily reached the street of San Cosmé and became engaged in
desperate conflict with the enemy from the houses and defences.
Ordering forward Cadwallader's brigade with mountain howitzers,
preceded by skirmishers and pioneers with pick-axes and crow bars to
force windows and doors and to burrow through the walls, he rapidly
attained an equality of position with the enemy; and by 8 o'clock in
the evening, after carrying two batteries in this suburb, he planted a
heavy mortar and piece of artillery from which he might throw shot and
shells into the city during the night. Having posted guards and
sentinels and sheltered his weary men, he at length found himself with
no obstacle but the gate of San Cosmé between his gallant band and the
great square of Mexico.

The pursuit by Quitman on the road to the gate of Belen had been
equally hot and successful. Scott originally designed that this
General should only manœuvre and threaten the point so as to favor
Worth's more dangerous enterprise by San Cosmé. But the brave and
impetuous Quitman, seconded by the eager spirits of his division,
longing for the distinction of which they had been hitherto deprived,
heeded neither the external defences nor the more dangerous power of
the neighboring citadel. Onward he pressed his men under flank and
direct fires;--seized an intermediate battery of two guns;--carried
the gate of Belen,--and thus, before two o'clock, was the first to
enter the city and maintain his position with a loss proportionate to
the steady firmness of his desperate assault. After nightfall, he
added several new defences to the point he had won so gloriously, and
sheltering his men as well as he was able, awaited the return of
daylight under the guns of the formidable and unsubdued citadel.

So ended the battles of the 13th of September, 1847, and so, in fact,
ended the great contests of the war. Santa Anna had been again
"disconcerted" in his plan of battle, by Scott, as he had previously
been thwarted by Valencia's disobedience and wilfulness. Scott would
not attack the south of the city where he expected him, and
consequently the American chief conquered the point where he had not
expected him!

When darkness fell upon the city a council of disheartened officers
assembled in the Mexican citadel. After the customary crimination and
recrimination had been exhausted between Santa Anna and other
officers, it was acknowledged that the time had come to decide upon
future movements. Beaten in every battle, they now saw one American
General already within the city gate, while another was preparing to
enter on the following morning, and kept the city sleepless by the
loud discharges of his heavy cannon or bursting bombs as they fell in
the centre of the capital. General Carrera believed the demoralization
of his army complete. Lombardini, Alcorta and Perez coincided in his
opinion, and Santa Anna at length closed the panic stricken council by
declaring that Mexico must be evacuated during the night and by naming
Lombardini General-in-Chief, and General Perez second in command.
Between eight and nine o'clock Señor Trigueros called at the citadel
with his coach, and bore away the luckless military President to the
sacred town of Guadalupe Hidalgo, three miles north of the capital.

The retreat of the Mexican army began at midnight, and not long after,
a deputation from the Ayuntamiento, or City Council, waited upon
General Scott with the information that the federal government and
troops had fled from the capital. The haggard visitors demanded terms
of capitulation in favor of the church, the citizens and the municipal
authorities. Scott refused the ill-timed request, and promising no
terms that were not self imposed, sent word to Quitman and Worth to
advance as soon as possible on the following morning, and, guarding
carefully against treachery, to occupy the city's strongest and most
commanding points. Worth was halted at the Alameda, a few squares west
of the Plaza, but Quitman was allowed the honor of advancing to the
great square, and hoisting the American flag on the National Palace.
At 9 o'clock the Commander-in-Chief, attended by his brilliant staff,
rode into the vast area in front of the venerable Cathedral and
Palace, amid the shouts of the exulting army to whose triumphs his
prudence and genius had so greatly contributed. It was a proud moment
for Scott, and he might well have flushed with excitement as he
ascended the Palace stairs and sat down in the saloon which had been
occupied by so many Viceroys, Ministers, Presidents and Generals, to
write the brief order announcing his occupation of the capital of
Mexico. Yet the elation was but momentary. The cares of conquest were
now exchanged for those of preservation. He was allowed no interval of
repose from anxiety. His last victories had entirely disorganized the
Republic. There was no longer a national government, a competent
municipal authority, or even a police force which could be relied on
to regulate the fallen city. Having accomplished the work of
destruction, the responsibility of reconstruction was now imposed upon
him; and first among his duties was the task of providing for the
safety and subordination of that slender band which had been so
suddenly forced into a vast and turbulent capital.

    NOTE.--We shall record as very interesting historical facts, the
    numbers with which General Scott achieved his victories in the


  He left Puebla with                              10,738 rank and file.
  At Contreras and Churubusco, there were           8,497 engaged.
  At El Molino del Rey and La Casa Mata,            3,251    "
  On 12th and 13th September, at Chapultepec, &c.,  7,180    "
  Final attack on city, after deducting killed,   }
     wounded, garrison of Mixcoac and Chapultepec,} 6,000


  At Contreras and Churubusco,     137 killed.  877 wounded.  38 missing.
  At El Molino, &c.,               116  "       665   "       18   "
  September 12th, 13th, and 14th,  130  "       703   "       29   "
                    Grand total of losses, 2,703.

    "On the other hand," says Scott in his despatch of 18th September,
    1847, "this small force has beaten on the same occasions, in view
    of the capital, the whole Mexican army, composed, at the
    beginning, of thirty odd thousand men, posted always in chosen
    positions, behind entrenchments or more formidable defences of
    nature and art;--killed or wounded of that number more than 7,000
    officers and men,--taken 3,730 prisoners, one-seventh officers,
    including 13 generals, of whom 3 had been Presidents of this
    Republic;--captured more than 20 colors and standards, 75 pieces
    of ordnance, besides 57 wall pieces, 20,000 small arms, and an
    immense quantity of shot, shells and powder." See Ex. Doc. No. 1
    Senate, 30th Congress, 1st Session, p. 384.

[Footnote 74: See Lieut. Smith's Memoir, ut antea, p. 8.]

[Footnote 75: This was a great but a _rash_ victory. The American
infantry relying chiefly on the bayonet and expecting to effect its
object by surprise and even at an earlier hour of the morning,
advanced with portions of the three thousand two hundred and fifty-one
men to attack at least eleven or twelve thousand Mexicans upon a field
selected by themselves, protected by stone walls and ditches,
commanded by the fortress of Chapultepec and the ground swept by
artillery, while four thousand cavalry threatened an overwhelming
charge! We have no criticism to make as to inequality of numbers, but
although we believe that our officers did not anticipate so strong a
resistance, we are satisfied that it would have been better to rely at
_first_ upon the fatal work of mortars and _siege_ pieces, of which we
had abundance, and, _then_, to have permitted the bayonet to complete
the task the battering train had begun. If the difficulty of moving
rapidly to the scene of action in the night, prevented a _night_
attack and surprise, it would probably have been better to change the
plan of battle even at a late hour. In the end, Duncan's great guns,
effectually destroyed a post which had been the slaughter house of
many a noble American soldier. The Mexican cavalry behaved shamefully.
In Colonel Ramsey's notes on the translation of the Mexican _Apuntes
para la historia de la Guerra_, &c., p. 347, he says: "it is _now
known_ in Mexico that Santa Anna was in possession of General Scott's
order to attack the Molino del Rey in a few hours after it was
written, and during the whole of the 7th, troops were taking up their
positions on that ground. It is believed further that Santa Anna knew
the precise force that was to attack. When, therefore, Scott supposed
that Worth would surprise the Mills and Casa Mata, he was met by what?
Shall the veil be raised a little further? There was a traitor among
the list of high ranking officers in the Mexican army, and for gold he
told the Mexican force. Scott had been betrayed by one not an
American, not an officer or soldier, but Santa Anna was betrayed by
one of his own officers and a Mexican. Santa Anna believed the
information he received and acted on it. General Scott did _not_
believe what he learned at night, and--the victory was won!"]

[Footnote 76: The importance of the _previous_ capture of El Molino
del Rey was proved in this assault upon Chapultepec, for Pillow's
division started from this very Mill, from within the enemy's work,
and found itself on an equality with the foe up to the very moment of
scaling the walls at the crest of the mount, whereas the other
assaulting column under Quitman taking the only remaining road to the
castle, a causeway leading from Tacubaya, was successfully held at bay
by the outworks defending this road at the base of the hill, until
after the castle was taken, and the opposing force was taken in rear
by troops passing through and around Chapultepec. Had El Molino still
been held by the Mexicans, the siege pieces would not have been
allowed to play uninterruptedly, nor would the assaulting parties been
able to take position or attack with impunity. See Lieut. Smith's
Memoir, ut antea p. 8.]