CHAPTER TWO
The Impulse to Provincehood

One of the least recognized aspects of Mexican independence is that it constitutes not only the moment of the creation of a self-governing country free from the political control of the former imperial mother country, it also represents a significant step in a long process by which the provinces achieved recognition of their existence as separate juridical entities with a primary claim to self-definition and self-government. Thus, when we speak of the achievement of home rule there is a double meaning. Mexico achieved home rule, which sparked a desire for the same among the constituent parts, the provinces. Though the process began well before the Spanish Conquest in some cases, its modern phase began in 1786 and was not completed until 1823 and 1824.

Outside of the overarching issue of whether or not to be independent, this was the other great issue of its day. To put it another way, it was the achievement of the full recognition of provincehood in 1823 and 1824, not the proclamation of a short-lived Mexican Empire in 1821, that brought the independence process to full closure. It was the first step in the creation of an authentic Mexican political culture. At the very least, it was a revolution equal to the revolution for independence.

Centrifugalism and economic localism were among the most marked features of colonial life.1 As the long struggle for independence drew to a close, Mexicans realized that the effort was not completed simply by gaining political separation from Spain. The object of the conflict changed, or became clear, and the aspiration for home rule quickly came to mean provincial home rule. Political aspirations came to reflect the emergence of the peripheries, which, as John Tutino sketches it, was a tendency underway since at least 1760 and was characterized by population growth, commercial development, and land acquisition by elites in areas outside the

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