The pronunciamiento in nineteenth-century Mexico : the case of Jalisco (1821-1852)
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The pronunciamiento was a political practice with its origins in early nineteenth-century Spain. It was a form of political petitioning usually undertaken by coalitions of military and civilian actors to make demands against regional and national governments and negotiate political change. The petitions were generally accompanied with the threat of the use of military force should the demands not be met. As such, pronunciamientos have been defined by Will Fowler as “forceful negotiations.” The pronunciamiento developed as a political practice in a context of institutional disarray and contested legitimacy as a response to the constitutional crisis in Spain (1812-1820), and it became a particularly popular political tool in early independent Mexico (1821-1876) in a context in which successive governments experimented with new political systems. The fact that the institutions these governments created needed to acquire a political legitimacy that was stable enough to replace that of the Ancien Regime would prove problematic. It would be this context of uncertain legitimacies that would allow the pronunciamiento to develop a legitimacy of its own. It was an extra-constitutional, subversive form of political participation. It was used as a last resort by political actors who believed that, in the particular circumstance of having constitutional routes closed to them or of the government having broken the social pact, they had a right to insurrection to protect the people from the abuses of unjust or tyrannical government. As it developed in early independent Mexico, the pronuciamiento became one of the most used practices for effecting political change. Pronunciamientos were used at one time or another by political actors of all social classes and political persuasions. They preceded most of the major political changes of the period on both a regional and national scale, be they changes in government, the introduction of new laws or a change of political system. Pronunciamientos have often been referred to in the historiography of early independent Mexico as military revolts or coups. The pronunciamiento has thus been seen as a cause of instability and evidence of praetorianism in the political life of nineteenth-century Spain and independent Mexico. However, recent and current research on the subject, including the project at the University of St Andrews “The Pronunciamiento in Independent Mexico 1821 – 1876” of which this PhD is a part, has resulted in a revision of this narrow view of pronunciamientos as revolts and coups. The project and its affiliated researchers have developed a picture of the pronunciamiento as a political practice which was much more intimately involved with the newly developing constitutional institutions than previously thought. This PhD is a contribution to that revision which uses regional history to analyse the nature and evolution of the pronunciamiento. It is a study of the dynamics of and political actors involved in pronunciamientos in the state of Jalisco in western Mexico between 1821 and 1852. Jalisco in the early national period was a geopolitically important state and a popular place from which to launch pronunciamientos. Many political actors from within and without the state chose to launch pronunciamientos from Jalisco some of which had a significant impact on regional and national politics. To date there has been no thoroughgoing study of the phenomenon of the pronunciamiento as it developed in Jalisco. This analysis of the pronunciamientos which took place in Jalisco shows that pronunciamientos were used by all political actors to effect political change and had a very real effect on the lives of those directly involved as well as those of the general public who witnessed pronunciamientos on the streets of their towns and cities. It shows how pronunciamientos became closely interconnected with the newly developing constitutional institutions and how, while most pronunciamientos were recognized by all political actors as potential bearers of instability, the pronunciamiento was also considered to be a legitimate form of political participation given the extraordinary circumstance of a lack of recognised or legitimate government. The research demonstrates that pronunciamientos launched in Jalisco had a central part to play in the development of the new political order in the “age of democratic revolutions” and during the transition Mexico underwent from having a traditional corporate society and polity to acquiring a modern liberal one. The findings of this study provide an insight into the way in which political culture developed in Jalisco in the early national period. Alongside regional studies into the pronunciamientos launched in the San Luis Potosí and Yucatán in a similar period carried out by Kerry McDonald and Shara Ali, this research helps to develop a picture of how Mexican pronunciamientos worked at a local level allowing for more accurate generalisations to be made regarding the pronunciamiento as a practice on a national scale. The study also contributes to an understanding of how politics worked in Mexico in periods of institutional disarray, uncertain legitimacy and political transition and how insurrectionary political forms became legitimised.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 15th May 2020
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