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Malcontents, Rebels, and Pronunciados

The Politics of Insurrection in Nineteenth-Century Mexico

Will Fowler

Publication Year: 2012

Behind every pronunciamiento, a formal list of grievances designed to spark political change in nineteenth-century Mexico, was a disgruntled individual, rebel, or pronunciado. Initially a role undertaken by soldiers, a pronunciado rallied military communities to petition for local, regional, and even national interests. As the popularity of these petitions grew, however, they evolved from a military-led practice to one endorsed and engaged by civilians, priests, indigenous communities, and politicians.

The second in a series of books exploring the phenomenon of the pronunciamiento, this volume examines case studies of individual and collective pronunciados in regions across Mexico. Top scholars examine the motivations of individual pronunciados and the reasons they succeeded or failed; why garrisons, town councils, and communities adopted the pronunciamiento as a political tool and form of representation and used it to address local and national grievances; and whether institutions upheld corporate aims in endorsing, supporting, or launching pronunciamientos. The essays provide a better understanding of the rebel leaders behind these public acts of defiance and reveal how an insurrectionary repertoire became part of a national political culture.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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List of Maps

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pp. vii

List of Tables

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pp. viii

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pp. ix-xi

This book is about why people rebel, why they choose to break the law and take up arms for political reasons. It is concerned with individual and collective insurrectionary action, with the reasons that may explain why individuals and groups disobey the authorities, resorting to intimidation...

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pp. xiii-xv

In June 2007 I was the recipient of a major Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) research grant amounting to more than £610,000, which funded the three-year project on “The Pronunciamiento in Independent Mexico, 1821–1876” (2007–2010). It paid the salaries...

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Introduction: Understanding Individual and Collective Insurrectionary Action in Independent Mexico, 1821–1876

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pp. xvii-xxxvi

Why do people rebel? At what point do they realize that they need to disobey the government, break the law, take up arms, use violence if need be, to make a difference, bring about change, and improve their lot in life? When analyzing the reasons 1,284 insurgents gave for resorting to violence...

Chronology of Main Events and Pronunciamientos,1821–1876

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pp. xxxvii-lii

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1. The Compass Points of Unrest: Pronunciamientos from Within,Without, Above, and Below in Southeast Mexico, 1821–1876

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pp. 1-21

For southeast Mexico the nineteenth century managed to be the worst of times without simultaneously being the best of times. Political instability remained endemic and blood flowed like water. And one signpost of the chaos was the abundance...

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2. The Rise and Fall of a Regional Strongman: Felipe de laGarza’s Pronunciamiento of 1822

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pp. 22-41

Felipe de la Garza’s pronunciamiento in Nuevo Santander in September 1822 has the dubious honor of being among the first military rebellions in independent Mexico. Coming only twelve months after the triumphal entry of the Army of the Three Guarantees...

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3. Veracruz, the Determining Region: Military Pronunciamientosin Mexico, 1821–1843

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pp. 42-67

It is very difficult to separate the military uprisings of the early national period from the society that gave rise to them, with its particular institutions, economy, and political culture. The pronunciamientos of the first half of the nineteenth century in Veracruz cannot be explained...

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4. The Clergy and How It Responded to Calls for Rebellion before the Mid-Nineteenth Century

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pp. 68-90

A few years after independence a priest who was also a deputy to the national Congress proposed a plan for an indigenous monarchy, with a descendant of Moctezuma seated on the throne, accompanied by a white consort (or an Indian one, if the descendant turned out to be white), with whom he would procreate the...

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5. José Ramón García Ugarte: Patriot, Federalist, orMalcontent?

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pp. 91-110

The pronunciamiento became a main component in the political repertoire of the nineteenth-century Mexico protest cycle.1 That repertoire also included arming a sufficient number of men to pose a challenge to the state, building regional and national...

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6. Ponciano Arriaga and Mariano Ávila’s Intellectual Backing of the 14 April 1837 Pronunciamiento of San Luis Potosí

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pp. 111-128

A year after the Central Republic had come into existence and two months after the Siete Leyes were introduced, General Anastasio Bustamante’s recently elected government “was put to the test by the first federalist movement [to erupt] in San Luis Potosí.”1 This pro-federalist pronunciamiento, promoted by well-known radicals...

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7. Ayuntamientos and Pronunciamientos during the Nineteenth Century: Examples from Tlaxcala between Independence and the Reform War

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pp. 129-147

During the larger part of the nineteenth century Mexico was an archipelago of local societies, instead of the nation-state spelled out by its 1824 Constitution. The constitutional system did not work, the nation did not yet exist, and there were quite different political traditions and rituals, often going back to the Hispanic...

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8. The End of the “Catholic Nation”: Reform and Reaction in Puebla, 1854–1856

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pp. 148-170

Independence from Spain and the patriotic expression of early Mexican nationhood owed as much to the church and the clergy as it did to secular leaders and military caudillos. Although church-state relations were often strained during the first thirty years of independence, they never broke down. Churchmen remained active in...

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9. In Search of Power: The Pronunciamientos of General Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga

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pp. 171-204

Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga was born in Mexico City in 1797 into the family of Francisco Javier Paredes y Rochel, an Inquisition official, and María Josefa Arrillaga, which meant that on his service record he was defined as being noble. Guillermo Prieto confirmed this when he mentioned that Paredes was...

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10. The Pronunciamientos of Antonio López de Santa Anna,1821–1867

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pp. 205-235

As described by U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary Waddy Thompson in the 1840s, “General Santa Anna has for the last quarter of a century played so conspicuous a part in the drama of Mexican politics and civil war, as to have attracted the attention of the world, and to have made his name in some degree historic. No history of his country for that period can be written without constant mention...

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11. Intervention and Empire: Politics as Usual?

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pp. 236-254

In 1863 French explorer Désiré Charnay condescendingly described Mexico’s pronunciamientos as a national pastime, the sport of the unruly, the disaffected, and the dissatisfied, who kept the country in a state of constant unrest. He was in fact describing a recurring phenomenon in Mexican politics after independence....

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12. A Socialist Pronunciamiento: Julio López Chávez’s Uprising of 1868

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pp. 255-276

On 14 July 1866 Francisco Zarco sent a letter from New York to Benito Juárez. Among other things, he wrote: “It looks like it’s time to start thinking about the country’s reorganization.”1 In fact, the republican forces were getting stronger every day in their


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pp. 277-294


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pp. 295-299

E-ISBN-13: 9780803240803
E-ISBN-10: 0803240805
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803225428

Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 3 maps, 3 tables, 1 chronology
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mexico -- Politics and government -- 1821-1861.
  • Mexico -- History -- 1821-1861.
  • Political culture -- Mexico -- History -- 19th century.
  • Political violence -- Mexico -- History -- 19th century.
  • Revolutions -- Mexico -- History -- 19th century.
  • Revolutionaries -- Mexico -- History -- 19th century.
  • Government, Resistance to -- Mexico -- History -- 19th century.
  • Legitimacy of governments -- Mexico -- History -- 19th century.
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