Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/308

This page needs to be proofread.


MEXICO


2G6


MEXICO


residences of the city, seeing that their owners would profit most directly by the improvement. The In- dians engaged upon this work were paiil 5 reales ((13 cents) and an almud (7 iiuarts) of corn per week, and a daily ration of I pound of meat, peppers, wood, and other provisions. A hospital was founded at Huehue- toca for the Ix-nefit of disabled v. orkmen, ground being liroken on 2S November, U>07, by the \iceroy I). Luis de Valasco, who dug the first sod, after Mass had been said in the village of Nochistongo. Father Juan Sdnchez, S. J., and the eosmographer, Enrique Mar- tin (Martinez), were placed in cliarge of the work. I.ater Father Sdnchez retired, leaving Martin in full charge. This vast work employed the labour of 471,154 men. Tlie Nochistongo tunnel measured over fourmiles long, wit h a sect ion measuring 1 1 feet ti inches by 13 feet 7 inches. The work was finished on 7 May, 160S, and in a report made by order of the Viceroy Velasco it is stated that only 50 of the workmen had died, and of these 10 were accidentally killed. It is true that this great work diii not give the expected results, but it nevertheless remains to the credit of the Government that undertook it for the welfare of the people. Finally, it may be noted that in examining the list of the viceroys who governed Mexico, the desire of the Spanish monarchs that the persons en- trusted with this charge should be persons of impor- tance, is very evident, and if there were some who proved unworthy of the duty entrusted to them, op- pressing the people and furthering their own private interests, there were many others, like Mendoza, Velasco, Payo de Rivera, Juan de Acrnia, Bucareli, the second Conde de Revillagigedo, and others who proved themselves upright and prudent governors, and mer- ited the gratitutle of the colony.

Independent Mexico. — The revolt of the English colonies in America, the principles of the French Rev- olution, the proclamation of Joseph Bonaparte as King of tipain, the uprising of the Spaniards against Napoleon, and old racial antipathies, are the causes to which the independence of Mexico is usually attributed. This was doubtless precipitated by the fact that Miguel HidalgoyCostilla, parish priest of Dolores, dis- covered that his plot was on the point of being be- trayed, and on 10 .Septeml^er, ISIO, raised the stand- ard of revolt against Spain. From the little city of Dolores he marched with an ill-assorted, badly armed company of Indians to the very capital itself, but, not daring to attack it, retraced his steps to Guadalajara. At the bridge of C'alden Jn he was defeated, and pursued as he fled through Acatita de Bajan; he was captured and executed at Chihuahua, 30 July, 1811. His work was taken up and continued by Jos6 Maria Morelos, parisli priest of C'ariicuaro, and upon his death by the Spaniard Mina. When Mina was captured and put to death, almost all hope of gaining independence seemed lost. D.Vicente Guerrero, entrenched in the mountains, kept up a desultory warfare until negotiations were opened with the royalist general, D. Agusttn de Itur- bide, who had been sent to subdue the insurgents. These negotiations issued in the plan of Iguala, by which Mexico was to be independent, its government a constitutional monarchy, and the Roman Catholic religion the only one recognized and tolerated. Fer- dinand VII was cho.sen as sovereign or, in his default, one of his brothers or some member of the reigning house who should be cho.sen by the Congress. The secular and regular clergy were to be maintained in all their former privileges and pre-eminence.

Gradually both royalists and insurgents began to support this plan, an<l on 24 August, 1821, by the Treaty of Cordoba, even the Viceroy D. Juan O'Don- oju, who had just lan<led at VeraCruz, signified his con- currence. On 27 iSeptember of the same year the army of las tres garaniias (three guarantees), as it was called, entered the City of Mexico. At the be- ginning of 1822 it became known that the Spanish


Government refused to ratify the treaty, and the par- tisans of Iturbide, tiiking advantageof this, in-nclaimed him emperor. Owing, however, to the dillicullics and the o|)position he encountered, he resigned the follow- ing year, anil withdrew to Leghorn, Italy. In 1.S24, hojiing once more to be of service to his country, and without knowing that he was under sentence of <leath by the Government, he returned to Mexico. He was arrested on his arrival, condemned, and put to death on 19 July, 1824. Freemasonry, so act ively promoted in Mexico by the first minister from the I'nited States, Joel R. Poinsset, liegan gradually to lessen the loyalty which, in accordance with the plan of Iguala, both the rulers and the gov- erned had manifested towards the Church. Little by little laws were enacted against the Church, curtail- ing her rights, as, for example, in 1833, the exclusion of the clergy from the public schools, notwithstanding the fact that at the time the president, I). \'alentfn Gomez Farias, claimed for the Republican Govern- ment all the privileges of the royal patronage, with the power of filling vacant sees and other ecclesiastical benefices.

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna dominated the scene for almost fifty years, but he was a man with- out principle, and his policy was weak and vacillating. Whatever services he rendered his country were more than outweighed by the many evils of his administra- tion. From 1824 to 1846 the nation was embroiled in an interminable series of revolutions, having to face at the same time some serious national issues. Guate- mala, which had cast in her lot with Mexico, separated from lier forever; the French invaded the country; Yucatan separated from the central government for several years, and the independence of Texas brought on the war with the United States. The North American troops were in possession of the capital, and to establish peace it was necessary to cede to the conquerors all the territory situated north of the Rio Grande, besides California, Arizona, and New Mexico. And then, when peace was most necessary for the healing of the nation's wounds, there came, instead, civil wars and bloodshed. In 1851, Pius IX sent Monsignor Luis Clementi to settle some religious questions. He was oflicially received by the presi- dent, Sefior Arista, but was finally obliged to withdraw and return to Rome without having accomplished any- thing. Dissensions continued, and in 1857 the famous Constitution, which is still in force in the republic, was promulgated by the president, IgnacioComonfort. His successor, Benito Juarez, issued a series of laws against the Catholic religion. At this time an attempt was made to carry a schismatieal movement into effect. Plans were made by the secret societies, as well as other anti-Catholic associations of reformers, to induce President Juiirez to declare that the Mexican nation separated herself from communion with Rome, and establish a national religion whose first pontiff, named by the Government, should be Sr. Pardio, formerly parish priest of Zotuta in Yucatan, who had fraudu- lently obtained a Bull from Gregory XVI consecrating him titular Bishop of Germanicopolis and auxiliary to D. Jose Maria Guerra, Bishop of Yucatan. The sud- den death of Sr. Pardio, in May, 1861, ended this absurd attempt.

This was followed by the French intervention, the em- pire, and the tragedy of Cerrode Las Campanas in June, 1867. In 1864, while Maximilian was emperor, the papal nuncio, Monsignor Meglia, visited Mexico, but he did not obtain anything from the emperor, as Maxi- milian declared that the " Reform Laws ", with regard to laicization of church property, would be upheld. Judrez died in 1872, and was succeeded by D. Sebas- tian Lerdo de Tejada. The latter was overthrown by Porfirio Diaz, who became president. He has filled this office until the present time (1910), with the ex- ception of one term from 1880 to 1884. His concilia-