La coalición pedracista : elecciones y rebeliones para una re-definición de la participación política en México (1826-1828)
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The pedracista electoral coalition that was formed in Mexico during the 1828 presidential elections was deliberately ignored by the traditional historiography of the early national period. Instead it concentrated on the leaders of the liberal struggle, deeming this alliance unworthy of study. There were essentially two key reasons why this happened. On the one hand, General Manuel Gómez Pedraza (1789-1851) was not an archetypal liberal patriot in the mould of those heroes that were exalted and written about by Mexico’s Porfirian and PRIísta historians. His politics were associated with a certain ideological indeterminateness as a result of his moderate stance, proving problematic to historians who were intent on developing a liberal and subsequently post-revolutionary historia patria. On the other hand, the official historiography accepted, unquestioningly, the critical version of his actions that his opponents circulated at the time. As a result of this, the yorkino version of the events is the one that prevailed, casting Pedraza in the role of staunch anti-yorkino in a simplistic bipartisan vision of Mexican politics that depicted the political tensions of the time as a clear-cut confrontation between the pedracista aristocrats and the democratic yorkino followers of mulatto hero of the War of Independence, General Vicente Guerrero (1783-1831). This two-dimensional dichotomy has only recently started to be nuanced by the revisionist historiography of the last thirty years. This has been due, in great measure, to the fact that the traditional interpretation of the pedracista coalition posed a number of significant problems when attempting to understand the political behaviour of the people involved. Above all, it was an interpretation that proved incapable of explaining how such a variety of political tendencies, represented by those individuals who joined the alliance that backed Pedraza’s presidential candidacy, could have come together; i.e., anti-masonic groups, the imparciales, certain yorkinos and former escoceses. This thesis aims to explain what brought these individuals, whose political ideas were ostensibly incompatible, together, in what resulted in a particularly resourceful and successful electoral force. The pedracista coalition represented the first political formation in Mexico that came together specifically to win a presidential election. It was one which set out to bring an end to the political interference of Masonic societies in Mexico, and in particular, that of the Rite of York lodges. It also challenged the yorkinos’ electoral campaign by criticising their leader, Guerrero, and, by highlighting the negative aspects of their Masonic faction. It pointed out, moreover, the dangers inherent in a central administration led by guerrerista yorkinos and, in so doing, made clear the problems that were to be found in the political ideas these individuals stood for, depicting them as partisan, ignorant, and representative of the popular classes. The pedracista coalition argued that the presidency needed to go to someone who did not belong to any particular party, who was virtuous, who was renowned for being hard-working and energetic in government, and who belonged to the exclusive circles frequented by the “hombres de bien”. Given that Pedraza won the elections, it is evident that his coalition benefited from a constitutional structure that favoured his candidacy, gaining, at the same time, the public validation of the governmental authorities in place at the time. However, Pedraza’s candidacy was defeated by the armed mobilizations that ensued in the pronunciamientos pro-yorkino followers launched from October to November 1828, and was consequently eliminated from the political scene until late 1832 given that the leaders of the imparciales as well as Pedraza himself chose not to fight back or support a counter-revolution. During the electoral campaign, the pedracista coalition displayed, with astounding clarity, what it thought were the essential qualities a president needed to possess and, likewise presented a distinctive appreciation of how it thought the Mexican political class should behave. In this sense, the coalition’s views, captured in its votes, networks and press articles, offer a fascinating snapshot of what were the fundamental themes of the Mexican republic during its formative years as a nation-state, and how this ignored political grouping interpreted them. Of particular interest is the manner in which the pedracista coalition explored the ways in which political legitimacy, participation and representation were to be understood, defended, and systematised. By studying the pedracista coalition this thesis offers, for the first time, a detailed analysis of the nature and dynamics of Mexican politics in the mid-late 1820s, as experienced, discussed, and represented by the short-lasting yet effective alliance that was forged around the candidacy of Manuel Gómez Pedraza.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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