Like a story, human history is a tale of change over time. Empire raise and fall, lands changes hands, and new countries are built. Mexico is no different in this regard. Mexico's struggle to create a functioning government allowed the United States to acquire its northern frontier.
How did this happen?
During the 1800's, tired of being considered inferior to Spanish-born elites, and seeing the success of the American Revolution, Mexico engaged into a bloody revolution. Yet it was a long and costly process that although ended in Mexico's favor, was at a high price. An estimated two million Mexican were dead [Online Web page], and hundreds were wounded. Still, this was not the only problem--with the absence of Spanish officials, most of whom led the government, Mexico was left with a fragile government, a terrible economy and a huge debt. Weber describes this problem in his book.
Profound change in Mexico's political, economic, and religious, and social institutions had begun prior to independence and the process was far from complete. As the nation struggled to overcome the effects of a ruinous civil war that had given it life, it had continue to stagger under repeated economic crises, quarrels between Church and State, the machinations of predatory and often illiterate army officials, the defiance of local leaders whose regional interests ran deeper than their allegiance to the nation, and the threats of foreign invasion.i
Thus, Mexico had many problems to content with after it revolution, and many more problems to come.
The New Governments
The first government of Mexico was little more than a dictatorship, before it too was over
thrown in 1823. In the end, Mexico had no less then twelve changes in government, its policies changing just as often as the government did if not more. Described as “constantly teetered between
simple chaos and unmitigated anarchy...”ii many citizens felt that the government could topple at any time—and they were right to be worried. “Between May 1833 and August1855 the presidency changed hands thirty-six times, the average term being seven and half-months”iii before someone else came to power and the whole process stated again. In a letter to a friend, Stephen F. Austin described the quick changes in Mexican politics he had observed. “The political character of this country seems to partake of its geological features--all is volcanic.”iv He could not have been more right as even with the control of the liberals for a decade, they faced a daunting problem that was made worse with the lack of literate people let alone people who knew a lawbook. A primary account from an American Merchant portrayers this,”little or rather no attention is paid to any code of laws; in fact, there is scarely one alcalde in a dozen who knows what a law is, or who ever saw a law book.”v Suffice to say, until 1876, there would no stable government and no motion to help correct the problem of literacy.
The Problem with...