The generality of Mexicans refused the constitution, and the commander of the Spanish army in Mexico, General Agustin de Iturbide united with General Vicente Guerrero, commander of the insurgents (what remained of revolutionary forces launched by Fr. Hidalgo in 1810), in declaring the independence of Mexico. Thus, unlike the rest of Latin America, where independence came as the result of direct assaults on altar and throne by men like Bolivar, it was brought about in Mexico to defend them. Iturbide and Guerrero produced on February 24, 1821 the Plan of Iguala (from the town where it was proclaimed). This plan had three guarantees: 1) Mexico was to be an independent monarchy—under a Spanish or some other European prince; 2) Native and foreign-born Spanish were to be equal; and 3) Catholicism was to be the religion of the state and no others were to be tolerated. The following August 24, the Viceroy, Don Juan O’Donoju surrendered, and Mexico became an independent empire. No European prince would accept the throne, however, and so Iturbide became Emperor Agustin I on May 19, 1822. But influences from the north opposed the idea of a Catholic Mexican Empire; these inspired certain elements to back Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana against Agustin, who was deposed on March 19, 1823, and went into exile. He returned a year later, attempted unsuccessfully to regain the throne, and was executed. The next year saw the appointment of Joel Poinsett as first American Consul in Mexico. In this country, Poinsett is remembered as the importer of Poinsettia, which is so much a part of our Christmas celebrations. But in Mexico he is recalled as the originator of “Poinsettismo,” as the interference of the United States in the internal affairs of Mexico is often called there. He introduced the Masonic lodges into Mexico, and helped organize and strengthen the anti-clerical Liberal Party. From that day to this, the Mexican Liberals have always looked to the United States for assistance in battling the pro-Catholic Conservatives.
Charles A. Coulombe (Puritan's Empire)