First Independent Governments In Mexico

The first independent governments in Mexico were characterized by their lack of stability and the short duration of the majority. In just 24 years, the country had 21 rulers, including an Emperor.

After the War of Independence, from the Grito de Dolores in 1810 until the rebels entered the capital in 1821, the country was politically very divided.

Although they had united to fight against the Spanish, the independence leaders defended very different ideas: monarchy or republic, centralism or federation, conservatives or liberals, etc …

Tensions, rebellions, and coups were constant during the first years of independent Mexico. The period began with the coronation as Emperor of Agustín de Iturbide, overthrown after a few months by the supporters of the republic.

Iturbide was followed as top leaders of the nation, in addition to some transitional governments, Guadalupe Victoria , Vicente Guerrero and Anastasio Bustamante . Except for Victoria, none managed to finish their tenure, something that remained the norm in subsequent years.

First Governments of independent Mexico

The independence of Mexico was consummated on September 27, 1821. After eleven years of war, the Spanish were defeated and the Mexicans began to decide their own destiny. However, the organization of the new country was not easy.

There were many ideological differences between the independence leaders, with different visions of how the government and the country should be structured. In principle, the equalization plan and the Córdoba treaties indicated that Mexico should become a constitutional monarchy, but many were betting on the republic and federalism.

The instability of the first governments of independent Mexico is explained, in good part, by these differences of conception about the organization of the new nation.

The tensions between conservatives and liberals marked that first stage in the country’s history and it would continue to be fundamental for decades to come.

First Empire (1821 – 1823)

Iturbide and his thought were key in the riot

After the Trigarante Army entered Mexico City, ending the War of Independence, it was time to form a government and decide how to run the country.

The main protagonist of that period was Agustín de Iturbide , a military man born in Valladolid who had, curiously, fought against the first independence movements, such as the one headed by Miguel Hidalgo .

However, Iturbide totally changed his position after being assigned to fight against Vicente Guerrero’s troops. The military under the viceroyalty and the independence leader reached an agreement to join forces in pursuit of self-government, despite their obvious ideological differences.

At first, Iturbide’s claim was to create his own government, but remaining faithful to the Spanish king, Fernando VII. The refusal of the Spanish made that solution impossible.

After a few months as provisional leader, Agustín de Iturbide himself proclaimed himself emperor on July 21, 1822. The First Mexican Empire did not last long, since immediately liberals and republicans began to fight it.

The uprising, led by Santa Anna, was embodied in the so-called Plan of Veracruz. Finally, in March 1823, Iturbide abdicated and went into exile.

Pedro Celestino Negrete (1823 – 1824)

Pedro Celestino Negrete was one of those in charge of heading the transitional government between the Empire and the republic. Military in the Viceroyalty , he maintained a close relationship with Iturbide until his republican ideals collided with the coronation as Emperor of his former friend.

This caused him to join the plans to overthrow him and, thus, change the system of government. Once the Empire was repealed, he was part of the Supreme Executive Branch elected to lead the country for a few months.

Having presided over that position a couple of times, he is considered one of the historic presidents of Mexico.

Government of Guadalupe Victoria (1824 – 1828)

The first president of Mexico, already with a republican system, was Guadalupe Victoria. His real name was Miguel Antonio Fernández Félix and is considered by historians as one of the heroes of Independence.

During his tenure, he strove to achieve international recognition for the new country. He managed to establish diplomatic relations with England, the United States and Greater Colombia, among other nations.

On the other hand, there was a small redoubt dominated by Spanish troops. These had become strong in the Castle of San Juan de Ulúa. The government of Guadalupe Victoria managed to conquer the fortress, causing those entrenched there to surrender.

On the positive side, they also highlight the creation of the Public Treasury, as well as the reconstruction of the part of Mexico City that had been damaged during the war.

On the negative side, the government failed to revitalize the country’s ailing economy. Years of conflict had left the coffers ruined and the economic problems were very serious. This was one of the reasons cited by opponents who tried to overthrow his government by force.

Victoria suffered several coup attempts, highlighting the one led by Nicolás Bravo. However, she managed to finish her term.

Government of Vicente Guerrero (1829-1830)

The government of Vicente Guerrero, ephemeral but intense

Despite the short duration of his government, from April 1 to December 17, 1829, the presidency of Vicente Guerrero had great importance within the political struggles of the time.

The vice president of that government was Anastasio Bustamante, who would play an important role in subsequent events.

Guerrero had to face an attempt to reconquer by Spain. The Mexican army managed to defeat the invading troops, who had seized Tampico.

His presidency was very focused on social aspects. Thus, among the enacted laws, was the abolition of slavery, recovering the regulations drawn up years before by Miguel Hidalgo. Likewise, she promoted the construction of public schools and legislated so that education was free.

Despite this legislative work, Guerrero was very limited by the bankruptcy he encountered when he came to power. He tried to develop the industry, but could not do so as he did not have the money for it.

Apart from these economic problems, the conservative opposition was very tough, starting with that of Vice President Bustamante himself, supported by the church and the wealthy class. They all wanted to end the Guerrero government.

José María Bocanegra (December 18-23, 1829) and Pedro Vélez (December 23-31, 1829)

Opponents of the Guerrero government ended up leading an armed uprising, led by Bustamante. On September 17, 1829, the insurrection began and the president asked Congress for permission to leave office temporarily and assume command of the army to fight the rebellion.

José María Bocanegra was then appointed substitute president, assuming office on December 16 of the same year. His presidential term was very short, only seven days. On the 22nd of that month, the Mexico City garrison joined the rebellion and took the National Palace. Bocanegra had no choice but to surrender.

After this, the Governing Council called Pedro Vélez, then president of the Supreme Court of Justice, to lead a triumvirate and take charge of leading the nation during that moment of tension.

Anastasio Bustamante (1830 -1832)

The triumph of the 1829 uprising brought its leader, Anastasio Bustamante, to the presidency. Thus, in 1830, he forced Congress to declare Guerrero disqualified and appoint him his replacement.

This first presidential term of Bustamante was characterized by the repression against the liberals. The press, which he harasses, including through violence, dubbed him Brutamante because of his way of treating opponents.

The new president exiled the most important members of the York Masonic lodge, expelled the American ambassador and founded the secret police. On the other hand, he got the support of the Church, as well as the rest of the conservative sectors.

When Guerrero is assassinated, by order of Bustamante, the Liberals took action. Protests and uprisings against the president followed. Finally, Bustamante was forced to sign an agreement with Gómez Pedraza and Santa Anna and leave power.


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