THE PHRASE that gave the title to this volume, “We are now the true Spaniards,” appeared on December 20, 1810, in the first issue of the first insurgent newspaper, El Despertador Americano, published in Guadalajara when the insurgent leader Father Miguel Hidalgo occupied that city. Many will no doubt wonder why insurgents, ostensibly seeking independence, would issue such a declaration. The answer is that they did not seek independence. They remained loyal to King Fernando VII and were determined to maintain independence from the French who had invaded Spain. They sought self-government—autonomy— not separation from the Spanish Monarchy. The first issue of El Despertador Americano was devoted to criticizing the failure of peninsulares (Spaniards from the Iberian Peninsula) to defend the nation from the French, accusing them of cowardice and treason. The insurgents declared that they were “now the true Spaniards, the sworn enemies of Napoleon and his lackeys, the legitimate successors of all the rights of the subjugated [Spaniards] who neither won [the war] nor died for Fernando [VII].”1
Mexico’s experience was unique among the nations of the Hispanic world. Not because of its great insurgencies, but because, alone among all the kingdoms of the Spanish Monarchy, including Spain itself, it remained true to Hispanic juridical and political culture.2 Indeed, the charter of the Mexican Federal Republic, the Constitution of 1824, constitutes the culmination of the great Hispanic Revolution that erupted in 1808.
This book examines the complex process that led to Mexican independence and the formation of the Estados Unidos Mexicanos (United States of Mexico). It departs from the existing scholarly literature that considers the Hidalgo Revolt, which erupted in 1810, and the subsequent insurgencies as the revolution that achieved independence in 1821. This work challenges that view. It demonstrates that the political transformation within the composite (composed of many lands) Spanish Monarchy—which accelerated after the French invasion of Spain in 1808 and culminated in the Hispanic Constitution of 1812 enacted by the Cortes of Cádiz and the institutions of self-government it established—was the fundamental revolution. This book shows that the insurgencies