CHAPTER ONE
Fragments Averse to Integration

In researching and writing this book about the rise and fall of federalism in the first Mexican republic, I kept returning in my own mind to several fundamental dilemmas, not only about the nature of federalism and the meaning of nationhood, but also about the historical record. Late in the process I ran across an insight of Thomas C. Cochran, which, though drawn from the history of the United States, exactly summarizes my perception of the situation that faces Mexican historiography:

By taking the written record that was easiest to use and most stirring from a sentimental or romantic standpoint, that is, the record of the federal government, the American historian prepared the way for one of the major misconceptions in American synthesis: the primary role of the central government in our historical development. While political scientists carefully pointed out that up to World War I, at least, most of the normal governmental contacts of the citizen were with his state,...historians, influenced perhaps by nineteenth century European training, persisted in writing a national history.... The realistic history of nineteenth and even early twentieth century politics, therefore, whether viewed from the standpoint of political parties or of the community, should be built around the states. This, of course, imposes an enormous burden on the historian. The situations in from 13 to 48 states cannot be adequately described in a unified narrative; to have meaning they need to be seen in an analytical structure.1

Because these are significant concerns, I start with a discussion of issues that have been clarified for me in undertaking this study.

Federalism is a form of government in which separate, self-governing, territorial entities join together to create a greater whole and in which

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Forging Mexico: 1821-1835
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