Huzzah!!! At last I have finally completed my first Mexico update in like...over a year. Damn guys, sorry it took so long. In my quest to make it up and try to make this update as good as possible, it became a little unwieldy and it ended up becoming two updates. Y'all are getting the first one right now, covering the first few year of Liberal rule up to 1865. The next update will pick up where this one leaves off and continue into the 1870's. Anyway I hope this is at least a little bit worth the wait, and that y'all enjoy! La Gran Reforma The Early Liberal Period: 1857-1865 Mexican politics was characterized as the struggle between the Liberals and Conservatives. When Juan Álvarez was elevated to the presidency in April of 1857, México was in a state of flux. On the one hand, some things had changed very little in the forty years since independence. The vast majority of Mexicans were still by and large rural and agrarian, very much like the generation which preceded them. On the other hand, nearly a half century of independence had seen Mexico’s population nearly double, from roughly six million in 1817 to an estimated 11.2 million as of 1858. Much of that growth was natural, as even with the bouts of instability birth rates were at an all-time high. There was no denying however that a substantial part of that growth also came from the multitude of immigrants which had arrived to Mexico, for the most part in the previous decade. Thousands of migrants from central and southern Europe flooded into the ports of Veracruz and Gutierrez, the vast majority of which were Roman Catholic. Mexico proved to be the preferred destination for incoming Catholics (followed by British North America, Nueva Grenada, Argentina and Spanish Perú), in light of the nativist anti-Catholicism present in the United States. In the north, an estimated 30,000 Chinese immigrants had also settled permanently in Alta California and Sacramento (the latter admitted as a state in 1862 following the Sisquio Gold Rush of the previous year) and more continued to cross the Pacific and flow into Yerba Buena Bay as civil war and European intervention threatened and destabilized the Qing Dynasty. The Federal government in Mexico City reveled at the multitude of people entering the country, as the Liberals had always striven to attract people in order to fill the vast northern territories, but the rapid influx of people dissimilar from Mexico’s traditional demographic makeup had unforeseen consequences that would rock the very core of Mexican society. The Roman Catholic establishment in Mexico had always reneged at nearly every step the country took toward progress, and from the 1830’s onward allied with the Centralists as their best chance to retain their archaic privileges, very much to their own detriment. Following the Liberal victories of 1856, the movement to amend the constitution gained momentum. The Liberals were roughly divided amongst two camps. The moderados (Moderate Liberals) sought only to amend the 1817 Constitution and do nothing more, while the radical puros advocated scrapping the document all together and draft a new one in its stead. As the majority of the Revolution’s leaders, the president included, were also puros, it came as no surprise that a new constitutional convention was called not long after the 1856 elections. The new document itself was quite revolutionary, for it included a new Bill of Rights, which reaffirmed the abolition of slavery (undoubtedly a snub at the nascent Confederation of South America), as well as guaranteed the freedom of speech, freedom of thought, the right to assembly, the right to bear arms, and even the abolition of the death penalty. Of course the most contentious of the freedoms included was the freedom of religion, which for the Liberals was an indicator that Mexico had finally shed the last vestige of its ancient and monarchical past and entered the modern era. The Catholic establishment made no effort to hide their dissatisfaction, undoubtedly made worse by the abolition of the religious fueros (the ecclesiastic courts) which made the clergy accountable to civil courts only. Anti-clerical political cartoon of three priests trying to stop the Constitution while attacking Liberty. The Liberals were generally apathetic towards the whims of the Church, in light of their avowed support of the Centralists during the Revolution, which may explain the “overly anticlerical” nature of the new constitution, and despite the conservatives’ rather vocal protestations was ratified on November 5, 1858. The constitution’s ratification is considered the start of la Gran Reforma, or the Great Reform, a period exemplified by rapid growth and industrialization. Very much eager to dispute the new document’s legitimacy, at least in the eyes of “el dios poderoso,” the Archbishop of Mexico City, José Lázaro de la Garza y Ballesteros, issued a nationwide circular to all Mexican bishops ordering them to not pledge allegiance to the new constitution, lest they risk excommunication. Notable exceptions within the clergy’s ranks, particularly priests in Nuevo León, Tamaulipas and Jalisco led the way for their constituents to pledge allegiance to the new constitution in light of these threats, and the Bishop of Oaxaca even ordered a Te Deum sung in its honor, something which De la Garza flatly refused and forbade doing in the capital. Events finally came to a head on February 3, 1859, when the Bishop of Puebla, Pelagio Antonio Labastida y Dávalos, abetted by De la Garza and deserters from the army staged a revolt to the battle cry of “¡Religion y fueros!” The insurrectionists, led by Luis Gonzaga Osollo, marched down from the Sierra de Zacapoaxtla and sieged the city of Puebla. New of the revolt in Puebla sent waves of shock, anger and fear across the capital, as President Álvarez hastily ordered the mobilization of two infantry regiments to move east and prevent the capitulation of the republic’s second largest city. Furthermore, the rebels had taken control of the rail line which connected the capital with Veracruz, forcing traffic in both directions to a halt and threatening a direct link between the Valley of México and the sea. The two Federal regiments arrived at Soltepec, just north of Tlaxcala and engaged the rebels at Apizaco in central Tlaxcala, whose small numbers and inadequate arms ensured a Federal victory. From there the Federals engaged the rebels north of Puebla and routed Osollo and his men. After Puebla’s fall, the conservative reaction eventually coalesced to the north of Mexico City, in the Sierra Gorda of northern Querétaro, this time led by its native son Tomás Mejía, a former cavalry general and ex-Centralist who saw the Liberals as the doom of the republic. Mejía proved very adept at sustaining a guerrilla campaign in the mountains until he was finally subdued by General Ignacio Zaragoza in September 1861, signaling the end to the Catholic Church’s anti-Liberal reaction. Seventh President of México, Juan Álvarez Despite being aligned ideologically with the puros, President Álvarez and his cabinet had tried to reach a compromise with the Church over secularization and the new constitution, but any good will evaporated over the course of the revolt. In early 1861, with the aid of his Treasury Secretary Miguel Lerdo de Tejada, Álvarez signed into effect the Law of Confiscation of the Rustic and Urban Estates of the Civil and Religious Corporations of México, which as its name suggested expropriated all of the Catholic Church’s land not linked to any day to day worship or any other activity, which automatically transferred approximately one million square miles (three million square kilometers) of the nation’s total land area to Federal control. Those priests and bishops responsible for inciting rebellion, the Archbishop and Bishop of Puebla key among them, were apprehended before being permanently exiled to Europe. The Law, which became popularly known as the Ley Lerdo, followed in the ideological footsteps of Jovellanos and Abad y Queipo and set México on the path of meaningful agrarian reform. However, the law did have some negative consequences by dissolving ejidos and other communal Indian land holdings, which had dire consequences for Mexico’s indigenous population. It was believed that the new law would encourage indios to adopt sedentary agriculture as individualistic yeoman farmers, but that hardly ever was the case, as more often than not wealthy hacendados (usually white) and other entrepreneurs (usually mestizo) bought many of the communal lands of the indios and in many cases coerced them to live in an even more severe feudal system than they were more than likely accustomed to prior to 1861. Those indios whom managed to escape had few alternatives, and as a result many wound up as vagrants on the streets of México City and other major cities. The vagrancy problem only worsened into the new decade, as the Federal government did very little to ease the plight of the indios. In spite of his relative success as the executive power, Álvarez truly despised being President, so it was not too much of a shock when he declined to run for a second term, which left the 1860 elections as a contest between Treasury Secretary and leading Liberal Miguel Lerdo de Tejada and perennial federalista candidate Santiago Vidaurri. The Governor of Nuevo León had accumulated considerable power in the aftermath of the Liberal Revolution, his influence held sway over much of the Sierra Madre, as the states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Durango and Chihuahua essentially answered to him. Tejas for its part maintained some sense of neutrality, with no love lost between the Tejanos and Vidaurri, as the latter had grown keen to build up trade with the despised Confederation of South America. Lerdo de Tejada for his part counted on the support of Álvarez’s Cabinet, as well as most Liberals from the Bajío and the South. The election proved to be very close, but it was Vidaurri’s link to the hated slavocracy that ultimately brought Lerdo de Tejada to victory. Eighth President of México, Miguel Lerdo de Tejada From the outset of his term, Lerdo de Tejada made his prime objective the preservation of the supremacy of the civil power, and to defend the principle that everyone was equal before the law. With the aid of his vice-President Benito Juárez, Lerdo de Tejada understood better than most that the key to the republic’s health was education, or more specifically an educated populace. As fate would have it, his very own Foreign Relations Secretary quickly offered a solution. José María Jesús Carbajal had previously overseen educational reforms in his native Tejas as governor, which had become home to a flourishing immigrant German community. The vast majority of these German immigrants had arrived to Mexico in the 1830’s and 40’s, and quickly diffused knowledge of the Prussian education model to Tejano reformers. The reforms centered on training a professional corps of teachers with a government salary which would allow the state to maintain at least one school for every town and village. The Prussian model had proven so successful in Tejas that Santiago Vidaurri even emulated Tejas’ method with the aid of Nuevo León’s very own German diaspora, and by the eve of the Revolution burgeoning movements had sprouted in Tamaulipas, Jalisco and Puebla. Conflict naturally arose with the Church, whom viewed the state’s intervention in education as too drastic. Carbajal for his part was familiar with the Mann reforms in the United States and was inclined to secularize education nationwide. Lerdo de Tejada agreed with this sentiment and in November 1861 he opened the Escuela Normal de Enseñanza Mutua de México (the Normal School of Mutual Learning of México), an institution designed to instill a uniform curriculum in all its graduates, one which stressed instruction in the arts and sciences, as well as inculcate a sense of pride and loyalty toward the Mexican Republic and its constitution. Certified instructors then were assigned to schools all across the Valley of Mexico and the adjacent states. The creation of a national school for teachers was not the first instance within Méxican borders, as similar schools had already been established in Guadalajara, Valladolid and Oaxaca during the late 40’s and early 50’s (even as early as 1822 in Oaxaca’s case). Lerdo de Tejada understood that an educated populace would be more inclined to respect the rule of law, and thus stymie any future possibility of revolt or civil war. As the President would soon learn however, that transition into modernity would not be as smooth as he would have hoped. For years rumors circulated of a “great northern conspiracy” which revolved around Governor Vidaurri and his supposed desire to carve out his own kingdom in and around Nuevo León, appropriately styled as the Republic of the Sierra Madre. Vidaurri never made any overt claims to secede from Mexico, but he had long forgone his Liberal sympathies and cultivated a large following amongst former Centralists and even some moderados, that the level of power and influence he exercised over the whole Sierra Madre region kept the federal government continuously on edge. All the restraint Vidaurri demonstrated in public proved to be of little aid however, as some of his more overzealous supporters had made a habit to brazenly terrorize those areas which refused to become vidaurrista tributaries, as was the case in Tejas. The violence emanating from the Río Bravo basin briefly paralyzed Congress itself, as heated tempers and impassioned speeches were often followed by brawls between congressmen and in one instance during a particularly hot afternoon in July 1861, riots in the streets of the capital. These events echoed the volatile environment in Tejas, made worse by a severe drought which plagued the region. In anticipation of the worst, President Lerdo de Tejada worked with Congress to transfer 4,500 troops north to the Río Bravo basin, officially in order to shore up their side the Colorado River against Confederate invasion but in reality to deter any possible attempt at secession. Governor and self-acknowledged King of Nuevo León, Santiago Vidaurri The chain of events which soon followed is collectively referred to as the Linares Incident. As the name would suggest, this particular event occurred in the town of Linares, Nuevo León, southeast of Monterrey, where a drunken tavern brawl ended with over a dozen Federal soldiers and vidaurrista militiamen dead. The result was immediate and unforgiving, as vidaurrista militias across the state became roused into a zealous frenzy and began to prepare for war. President Lerdo de Tejada faced the specter of rebellion once again, and by this point he knew the only way to prevent an exchange of blows was to demonstrate the full power that the federal government was capable of. Lerdo de Tejada was also cognizant of the fact that while the United States was embroiled with its own Civil War, time only knew how long the yanquis would remain distracted and their attentive gaze turned southward, so a swift end to the whole debacle was of paramount import. The regiments in route to Nuevo León were still one week’s march away from reaching the border, as rail lines running north of the capital only went as far as San Luis Potosí, so Lerdo de Tejada issued a secret order for an additional 3,800 troops to travel by sea from Veracruz to Tejas, On August 1 the Federal army and vidaurrista forces met south of Linares, near the Nuevo León-Tamaulipas border but stopped short of engaging in combat. Perhaps there was a strong desire by Mexicans on both sides, with both the Liberal Revolution and the American invasion fresh in the collective memory, and aware of the risk war brings and weary of inviting it into their midst once more, that a fragile peace was all that kept either side from destroying one other. Without warning Federal reinforcements began to enter Nuevo León from the north with Monterrey in their direct line of sight. Panic engulfed the city as those with even the slightest trace of vidaurrista sympathies faced the real prospect of treason trials, as well as a general feeling of unease by the population at large due to Monterrey’s association as the “capital” of the whole enterprise. There was a faction of ardent followers who mustered a desperate defense of the city, and on the early morning of August 4 attacked the much larger Federal army. The Federals led by seasoned veteran General Santos Degollado obliterated the attacking vidaurristas with abundant ease, and immediately moved to occupy Monterrey and apprehended Santiago Vidaurri himself. Vidaurrista resistance soon dissolved away after Monterrey’s capitulation, and much like a house built of cards the Governor of Nuevo León’s conservative enablers fled in all directions. Despite having never officially sanctioned rebellion himself, Vidaurri remained under house arrest for the remainder of his life, until his death in 1864. The settlement of the Vidaurri Conspiracy came at a most opportune time for México, as Confederation belligerency increased along the border, in light of the “armisticio norteamericano” and the Confederation’s move to enforce its fugitive slave laws. Oddly enough, the spark for war between the CSA and Mexico did not come from Tejas, but instead from Cuba. By the 1860’s a significant Cuban diaspora existed in México and years of lobbying Congress finally bore fruit in the form of the burgeoning Cuban Republic’s recognition of independence in September 1862. The Confederation interpreted this as a clear act of war on behalf of México and sent an invasion force across the Colorado River, scoring several victories before being halted at the Battle of Hidalgo by General Zaragoza. Confederation forces were unable to advance further and eventually fell back to their side of the riverine border. The Mexicans were able to call upon large numbers of troops in a small span of time, and in short order neutralized any potential Confederate counter-offensives from ever materializing. Famed Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Meanwhile General Zaragoza was recalled to México City, where he received further instructions to travel to Veracruz and organize an amphibious assault on Cuba and support the budding insurgent movement there against the Confederation. Within a matter of months Zaragoza managed to assemble 1,200 infantry and 650 cavalry to accompany about 5,500 Marines in crossing the Gulf of México and invade western Cuba. This was an unprecedented act in the nation’s history, and a stark departure from the Marine Corps official policy of defensive action. This expeditionary force converged on Veracruz in the spring of 1863, and on May 24 it disembarked aboard thirty five warships, and engaged Confederate forces in the Yucatán Channel on May 27 before making two near simultaneous landfalls on Cuba proper and the Isle of Pines. The naval battle itself was brief but fairly intense, as the far smaller Confederate flotilla attempted in vain to halt the larger Mexican force. The Isle of Pines fell in short order, while General Zaragoza’s campaign through western Cuba dragged on for longer than it had initially been anticipated to last. Pressure began to mount in Congress and on President Lerdo de Tejada to end the intervention, but the recruitment and influx of several regiments composed of immigrant Cuban auxiliaries (as well as freedmen from the Confederation and the United States and even some Cherokee and Muskogee recruits from Tejas) allowed the intervention to continue. México was not alone in aiding the Cuban insurgents either (Haiti holds the distinction as the first sovereign nation to aid and recognize the Cubans), as volunteers in both official and unofficial capacities from as far as Quisqueya and Gran Colombia converged on Cuba in order to fight the “imperialist yanquis,” which ultimately proved too much for the beleaguered Confederation to endure, and in January 1865 Habana fell to the Cuban insurgents and their allied forces. The success of the Cuban War reflected well upon the incumbent president, and Lerdo de Tejada had plenty of praise thrust upon him for his domestic policy as well. There was no doubt the fruits Lerdo de Tejada reaped were in large part thanks to work done under the previous administration, such as the rapid expansion of México’s rail lines. Construction was heavily encouraged at the beginning of Álvarez’s term and continued under Lerdo de Tejada, with rail mileage growing from a mere 300 miles in 1849 to over 10,000 miles at the end of 1865. Most of the growth was concentrated to the center of the country (a policy favored by the president) but investments in the northern states had begun to pay dividends, as the cities and villages located within the inland valleys of Sonora, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Alta California became integrated to other national markets and beyond. Growth in literacy was also record toppling, as school attendance for both children and adults soared high during the Liberal period. Literacy and education were regarded as the surest path toward upward social mobility, and while only a quarter of México’s population managed to be literate, it was still a marked improvement. Portrait of Vicente Guerrero by Ramon Sagredo ca. 1865 (left), and the ruins of Chichen Itza ca. 1862 (right). Despite this, there were still many problems, such as the disorganized method in which education was administered. While major cities such as México City, Guadalajara, Puebla and Querétaro scored record school attendance, public school was still spotty in the countryside. There both the Catholic Church and rival Protestant churches such as the Iglesia de Jesús vied for control of educating the young minds of the republic. It could not be denied however that the opportunity for secondary and collegiate education was lacking, and it was in these arenas that Liberals held considerable sway. It was in this atmosphere of increased learning that México experienced a cultural renaissance, as the period following the Invasion saw a large increase of artistic expression. The federal government even commissioned artists such as Ramón Sagredo to paint the heroes of the War for Independence in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the Insurgent capture of México City in 1815. It was not just the period of independence that garnered popular attention. Surveys and expeditions by both Mexican and European explorers in the early 1860’s produced detailed maps and vivid handwritten accounts of the ancient Maya civilization in the Yucatán Peninsula and elsewhere across southern México. The most significant archeological discovery however occurred in Veracruz, where a campesino working on a hacienda uncovered a colossal statue of a head, which was the first recorded discovery of ancient Olmec civilization. All this archeological activity spurred considerable interest in the country’s pre-Columbian past, which was reflected in the nation’s artistic output. It was as no surprise that President Miguel Lerdo de Tejada, with his successes in both his domestic and foreign policy, seemed poised to lead the Liberals to victory in the 1864 elections, which was assured the moment Santiago Vidaurri (the only significant opposition and still under house arrest) passed away in June 1864. Lerdo de Tejada pledged to further increase the country’s rail lines, with a long term goal to eventually connect the vast republic via a series of transcontinental railroads. In education Lerdo de Tejada had also made great strides, chiefly in the creation of the Sistema de Escuela Nacional Preparatoria (System of National Preparatory High School), a government funded system of secondary-educational schools, which had its beginnings in the historic San Ildefonso College and grew to encompass over a dozen campuses in the Valley of México. By 1865 the System had expanded to the states of México, Puebla, Allende, Querétaro, Tuxpan, Veracruz and Oaxaca, with other states in central México such as Guanajuato, Jalisco and Michoacan due to be integrated in the near future. True to his word, Lerdo de Tejada continued to make significant progress on all fronts following his victory in the October 1864 election. The instability which had plagued the country at the start of the decade had all but subsided. The economy was booming and thanks to the Liberal governments focus on railroad construction interstate trade and travel had become remarkably inexpensive. On the diplomatic front vice-President Benito Juárez had joined Foreign Secretary Juan Antonio de la Fuente in Paris, where representatives from The United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Confederation and Cuba negotiated a formal end to the Cuban war of Independence. The resulting Treaty of Paris was signed by all parties, sans the Confederation, on April 22, 1865. It established the United States’ recognition of Cuba and Oregon, as well as demarcated Mexican control of Isla de Pinos and Deseret, along with a formal end to hostilities between the United States and the United Kingdom. Primary rail lines of Central México, circa 1865. Note the completion of the México City-Monterrey Line. Later that summer the first official census under the 1858 Constitution took place, which counted 15,578,610 people, a 4 million person increase since the Liberal Revolution. Roughly 1.5 million alone were immigrants from Europe, Asia and even a small but notable influx of “norteamericanos.” One notable detail made evident by the census was the revelation that Filipinos constituted over 17% of Alta California’s population, and whom proved vital (along with the aid of immigrant Chinese) in the colonization of the San Joaquin Valley. The census also revealed significant populations of German and Italian immigrants living in Tejas, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas. Another significant detail found in the census was that the majority of freedmen who escaped the Confederation had opted to settle along the long stretch of Pacific Coast, as far away from the border as possible, with Veracruz, Tabasco and Yucatán being noteworthy exceptions. In late July 1865 a large fire destroyed most of the El Volador tianguis in the heart of México City, incinerating the city’s largest food supplier over the course of a single evening. This exacerbated the tense indio vagrancy problem in the capital, and it prompted a harsh reaction from the authorities in an attempt to ease social tensions. Riots erupted within the southern neighborhoods and quickly spread to the city center, which alarmed the government to the point that it forced President Lerdo de Tejada to evacuate to Querétaro for several days. Tensions only intensified upon the arrival of representatives from the various Comanche bands, whom sought immediate redress against attempts by Europeans and mesitzos to colonize Comanche territory. Undoubtedly eager to avoid such matters, and under the guise of darkness, President Lerdo de Tejada left the capital on a train bound north to San Luis Potosí. His stated purpose for traveling was to formally commemorate the completion of an uninterrupted rail line between México City and Tejas, in order to nail the final “honorary” spike just north of Matehuala. Several days later, on September 1, the president met with Governors José María Benítez y Pinillos and Andrés Viesco of Nuevo León and Coahuila respectively in Saltillo in order to construct a concrete plan to integrate the region with the rapidly industrializing center. Upon concluding the meeting all three men were confronted by Indalecio Vidaurri, son of the deceased former Governor of Nuevo León, who was accompanied by a retinue of men. After a tense exchange of words, the President and two governors motioned to leave before gunfire broke out. There was a stagecoach ready to whisk the President and his men to safety, and initially it seemed they had all managed to escape unscathed, until President Lerdo de Tejada began to clutch at his chest and bleed profusely. The President eventually arrived at the home of Leonardo González where doctors attempted to save his life, but to no avail. Miguel Lerdo de Tejada Corral y Bustillos would succumb to his wounds and died the following morning. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Notes:  TTL's Constitution is basically the same as OTL's Constitution of 1857, it just has the added benefit of being implemented by a country at relative peace.  The Catholic Church does try to team up in rebelling against the Federal government with the Centralists, but the Federal government's timely military response forestall's any further rebellion from materializing.  More or less same as OTL.  Very much like OTL, but again the Federal government is much more powerful TTL. This is reflected in TTL Vidaurri's unwillingness to annex Coahuila.  Besides a few isolated incidents, there did seem to exist an apprehension from the officer corp on both sides from engaging. There fears were warranted, many were veterans of the Revolution and Invasion.  Dies a few years early TTL, more than likely due to the house arrest.  Refer to this post.  Gran Colombia's formation is an amazing tale, which I'll get to one day...  Something similar was formed in the last years of Juárez's OTL presidency, but TTL's is sooo much better.