CHAPTER THREE
"Without Tears and without Lamentations": Unfinished Beginnings

América Septentrional, the northern part of the vast Spanish Empire in America, became independent from Spain in September 1821. The first ruler of the new country was Agustín de Iturbide, who led the final and successful phase of the struggle for independence and then founded and became emperor of its first state, the Mexican Empire.1 Only two years later, in September 1823, he was in exile in the Italian port city of Livorno where he wrote a short memoir defending his record as liberator- emperor. The Memoria de Livorno is a remarkably telling commentary not only on the brief eighteen months of lturbide's rule but also on the attitudes of Mexicans in general at the time of independence.

There are many important thoughts in Iturbide's memoir, but perhaps the most meaningful occurs when he reflects on why he opposed the revolutionary insurrections led by Miguel Hidalgo, José María Morelos, and others, and why between 1820 and 1821 he converted to the side of independence. In so doing, Iturbide was commenting not only on himself but on most of the other white elites, both Spaniards and creoles, who during the eleven years of warfare had chosen to oppose the mass insurrections. "Hidalgo, and those who came after him, and who followed his example, desolated the country,...sacrificed a great number of citizens, obstructed the sources of riches.... destroyed all kinds of industry, rendered the conditions of the Americans still more wretched...and far from obtaining independence increased the obstacles that opposed it." Reflecting the view that the mass insurrections threatened anarchy, Iturbide explained that as a consequence "I sallied out then to be useful to the Mexicans, to the King of Spain, and to the Spaniards."2 Elsewhere, in the letter in which Iturbide sent Viceroy Juan Ruiz de Apodaca the first announcement of the Plan of Iguala, he declared of the Hidalgo insurrec-

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Forging Mexico: 1821-1835
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