Civil war had destroyed both social stability and the economy. Also, few people had enough political experience to bind Mexico together. The first constitution, spread in 1824, giving state legislators the power to elect both the president and the vice president. A result of this constitution, caused a series of weak presidents struggled to form an effective government.
During this time, Mexico’s political elite began to divide into two opposing factions: conservatives and liberals. The conservatives favored a highly centralized government and wanted to maintain the Catholic Church’s power and control of educational facilities.
The liberals wanted a federation of states that was not strictly controlled by a central government. They also sought to limit the power of the Catholic Church, foster public education rather than church-controlled education, and institute social reforms.
Vicente Guerrero, became president in 1829, but was shot and killed in 1831 by forces led by conservative political and military leader Anastasio Bustamante. Revolt followed revolt until 1833, when Antonio López de Santa Anna was elected president.
In 1834 a political crisis resulted in the overthrow of the constitution of 1824. A new centralist constitution, which stripped the Mexican states of their autonomy, was enacted in 1836. Protests against centralization encouraged the Texans to rebel against Mexican authority in 1835, in what came to be known as the Texas Revolution.
Santa Anna was called back to the presidency to attempt to save the republic. Mexican forces were defeated in battle after battle, however, and U.S. troops occupied much of northern Mexico by the end of the year. Mexico City fell on September 14, 1847, and Mexican forces surrendered soon thereafter. The Río Grande was fixed as the southern boundary of Texas. Territory, which now forms the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming, became part of the United States.
Liberal rebel leader Juan Álvarez became the provisional president of Mexico. The 1855 takeover of the government by the liberals began a period known as La Reforma, in which liberal leaders sought to reduce the power of the church and the military in Mexican politics and society. Later that year Ignacio Comonfort, a liberal who sought a more gradual pace of reform, replaced President Álvarez. In 1857 the liberals enacted a new constitution, which reestablished a federal form of government. It provided for individual rights, universal male suffrage, freedom of speech, and other civil liberties. The constitution also abolished special courts for members of the military or clergy, and ordered the church and other institutions to auction off any land or buildings not absolutely necessary for their...