Help Wanted: Seeking Emperor - Bonaparte Mexico

Chapter I: Sunshine Soldier and Summer Patriot / Interview
1820


Joseph Bonaparte by Charles Willson Peale, 1820


Joseph, though he has much talent and genius, is too good a man, and too fond of amusement and literature, to be a king” Napoleon Bonaparte, former Emperor of the French, to Dr. Barry O’Meara regarding Emperor Jose I, 1817​



The men had chosen a poor time to visit him; his house had just burnt down and he was still in the process of transforming his stables into a proper mansion worthy of a former king. Still, the young Count of Santiago de Calimaya had left a favorable impression on him, so he allowed the representatives a chance to meet with him. Their offer, the Mexican crown, was ridiculous. He said,

"Nothing can gratify me more than to see men who would not recognize my authority when I was at Madrid now come to seek me in exile, that I may be at their head."

Still, there was something that Joseph Bonaparte found interesting in the idea of leaving his retirement in Point Breeze. The normally unambitious man was stirred. For the sake of a thought experiment, he invited some people over.


1821


Point Breeze, Joseph Bonaparte’s estate in Bordentown, New Jersey

[The following is a transcript from the internationally-acclaimed and award-winning 1997

miniseries Bien Partes de los Bonapartes. Here, Joseph is depicted as being in the

company of his two daughters, Zénaïde and Charlotte, as well as former Bonapartist commanders Bertrand Clausel, Charles Lallemand, Joseph Lakanal, and Charles Lefebvre-Desnouettes meditating over the death of his younger brother in St. Helena. The party is presenting sitting together in Point Breeze’s salon.]

DON JOSE: He always pushed me to strive for greatness. I would have been content to stay as “King of Mortefontaine,” but he would never allow it. He needed me; Napoleon, the modern Caesar, needed me.

DON LEFEBVRE: You sell yourself short, my friend. If Napoleon was Caesar, then you were Marc Antony.

DONA ZENAIDA: Would you please not compare my father to a man who had to kill himself after a disaster?

D. JOSE: Perhaps I could compare myself to an Octavian?

D. LALLEMAND: What have you in mind?

D. JOSE: A delegation of Mexicans arrived to offer me the crown.

D. CARLOTA: The same Mexicans that rebelled against you in Spain?

D. LALLEMAND: Alliances and loyalties are strange things, mademoiselle.

[D. JOSE rises from his chair and walks over to a portrait of Napoleon. The camera

ZOOMS in from behind at a LOW ANGLE to show the portrait towering over D. JOSE}

D. JOSE My brother was a man of destiny, but where does that leave me? He led armies across Europe with almost divine ambition and exposed to the powers of Europe, those absolute monarchies, the greatness of revolutionary and modern ideals. He led that spirit, he mastered it. Perhaps some of that skill trickled down to me, perhaps by blood, perhaps by mere observation and my own skill. If I am a quarter of the man my brother was, then I am worth more as a leader than a Bourbon or Habsburg. How can I then content myself to sit in what was once a stable when there is glory to be won and a people who desire and need my leadership to reach greatness. From this moment, my thoughts need to be to the glory and service of a country under the yoke of Ancien Régimes.

D. LALLEMAND: Is there to be another Grand Armée?

D. JOSE: There shall be a new Bonaparte Empire, born under the principles and fires of a revolution.


Joseph and his small party did not reach Mexico in time for the revolution. In August, the Treaty of Córdoba was signed between General Agustin de Iturbide and Juan O’Donojú that effectively granted Mexican independence from Spain. By September, the victorious army entered Mexico City and declared independence, establishing the Three Guarantees of Mexican independence: There were would be a Mexican Empire that would preserve the privileges and positions of the Roman Catholic Church; that were would be equality between the various peoples of Mexico; and that the crown would be offered to Ferdinand VII of Spain, then other Bourbon princes, and then other conservative princes.


Joseph and his party arrived in Veracruz in October aboard a privately bought and furnished yacht, El Espiritu de Santa Helena. He lost no time in proclaiming his intention to “offer [his] services to the Mexican government in Mexico City to aid in the formation of the nation.” The Bonapartist party promptly entered Mexico City.


1822




“If your excellency be not the Emperor, then our Independence be damned. We do not wish to be free if your excellency will not be at the lead of our countrymen” José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi, Marquis de Lizardi, El Pensador, to Emperor José I in search of an invitation to the coronation​


King Ferdinand VII of Spain naturally refused to accept the throne of a country that he wanted to keep control over and claimed that Spain would prevent any other European prince from accepting the throne of Mexico.


Meanwhile, a European prince was working with the Mexican Congress on establishing the Mexican Empire and accepting the throne. Joseph’s chief rival for the throne was General Agustin de Iturbide and one of the strangest friendships in world history formed as General de Iturbide supported Joseph’s ambitions to become Emperor.


A significant amount of historians (and the popular belief) argue that de Iturbide never intended to become Emperor and point to the fact that it was O’Donojú who suggested that the Mexican Congress should give itself the power to appoint an Emperor if Spain refused, a condition that de Iturbide himself didn’t consider in his Plan de Iguala. They also point to the fact that de Iturbide contented himself during the transition period by living lavishly at the Palace of Iturbide as one of the most popular men in Mexico and enjoying his power as head of the army.


It is, however, clear that de Iturbide used his personal standing with the army and people to lobby for ”Don José.”


For his own part, Don José’s ascent to prominence can perhaps be explained by a description of him given by historians Edwards Charles and Edwin Williams who researched his time in the United States for their 1856 work, The History of the Bonaparte Family:

His manners were full of grace, elegance, and blandness; his heart was full of humane feelings; his mind was well balanced, and all his views of life were moderate and cheerful. Wherever he was known, he was respected; and those who loved him once, loved him always.

Conservatives accepted him because of his support for a strong monarch, his eagerness to win favor with and unwillingness to displace the local elites, and support for Roman Catholicism as the state religion. Liberals supported him because of his commitment to ruling with the support of the Council of State in Naples and his reformist liberal credentials in Naples and Spain. The commoners loved him because of the three spectacles he gave them the second half of the year.


The first was a June double wedding in Mexico City presided over by Archbishop of Mexico Pedro José de Fonte y Hernández Miravete. The two brides were the legitimate daughters of Don José: the elder, Doña Zenaida, married her cousin, the recently arrived Charles Lucien Bonaparte (to insure that her descendants would still be of House Bonaparte), and the younger, Doña Carlota, married the eldest son of General de Iturbide, Don Agustin Jerónimo de Iturbide (for several, more ambiguous reasons)


The second was his coronation on 21 July 1822. Amongst a crowd of bishops, congressmen, and citizens of Mexico, President of the Congress Rafael Mangino y Mendivil crowned him as “Emperor José I of Mexico.” The President was behind him, clearly visible as the symbol of the Congress selecting the Emperor. To his left were the Archbishop of Mexico and General de Iturbide, representing the Church and the Army (conservatives) and to his right were authors José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi and Carlos María de Bustamante, representing the people (liberals).


As he completed his third spectacle, a tour of the Mexican provinces in the core of his empire with his daughters (including his now heir to the throne Princess Zenaida, Princesa de la Unión), to solidify his base and endear himself to the people, news of his appointment flew across the Atlantic and reached the ears of concerned Bourbons in France and Spain.
 
Oh, Joseph becoming Emperor of Mexico? Can't say I've seen that one before. Sounds like an interesting ride.

Perhaps its a bit too soon to say Mexico is already doing better than OTL... well, considering what happened between Iturbide and Congress, and the stuff Iturbide did...

No, I was right; the country is already doing better than OTL.
 
Oh, Joseph becoming Emperor of Mexico? Can't say I've seen that one before. Sounds like an interesting ride.

Perhaps its a bit too soon to say Mexico is already doing better than OTL... well, considering what happened between Iturbide and Congress, and the stuff Iturbide did...

No, I was right; the country is already doing better than OTL.

If a French general can become King of Sweden because a random noble thought it was a good idea, then a former king and brother of the most famous man in Western civilization at the time should be a no-brainer :winkytongue:

Plus, despite being Napoleon's designated puppet, he had a good head on his shoulders (for instance, he knew Spain was a bad idea and would have rathered stayed in Naples).

Out of all the candidates I considered Joseph was the most pausible: He was geographically close to Mexico, he had nothing (besides a life as a leisurely country gentleman) to lose, and there were rumors that he was actually offered the throne of Mexico (couldn't find anything concrete though).

Then there's the main selling point on his resumé, his willingness to work with the Council of State in Naples, despite being an absolute monarch. Almost an anti-Iturbide there.
 
Let's see if he will do a good job with Mexico. If he gets rid of slavery like Mexico did before the US, then things should start out okay.
 
Out of all the candidates I considered Joseph was the most pausible: He was geographically close to Mexico, he had nothing (besides a life as a leisurely country gentleman) to lose, and there were rumors that he was actually offered the throne of Mexico (couldn't find anything concrete though).

Then there's the main selling point on his resumé, his willingness to work with the Council of State in Naples, despite being an absolute monarch. Almost an anti-Iturbide there.

As per the Treaty of Cordoba, if no Bourbon accepted, then others Catholics monarchs would be sought. It wouldn't surprise me if that was the case.

Yeah, willingness to work with Congress is a game changer here. People like Poinsett or Santa María would have a harder time convincing people to be against the Imperial Regime TTL.

Let's see if he will do a good job with Mexico. If he gets rid of slavery like Mexico did before the US, then things should start out okay.

Abolition of slavery was always an objective since the 1810 uprising. It's going to happen, like in OTL.
 
As per the Treaty of Cordoba, if no Bourbon accepted, then others Catholics monarchs would be sought. It wouldn't surprise me if that was the case.

Yeah, willingness to work with Congress is a game changer here. People like Poinsett or Santa María would have a harder time convincing people to be against the Imperial Regime TTL.

Abolition of slavery was always an objective since the 1810 uprising. It's going to happen, like in OTL.

Well that's good and it'll be interesting if Napoleon can help out Mexico with the problems and so on. Wonder if he will be able to protect the north from Manifest Destiny?
 
Background Info I: First Constitution of the Mexican Empire
First Constitution of the Mexican Empire


“In the name of God Almighty: Emperor José I, by the Grace of God, Emperor of Mexico and the assembled deputies of the Constituent Congress in Mexico City, on behalf of the people, do decree this Constitution, so that it is kept as the fundamental law of our States and as the basis of the pact that unites our peoples with us, and us with our people.” Preamble to the First Constitution of the Mexican Empire​


The First Constitution of Mexico was heavily inspired by the Bayonne Statue that José issued in Spain during his time as King in 1808 and was itself ratified in June 1823. The following is a rough outline of pertinent facts


  • Legislature

    • Chamber of Deputies

      • Composed of 220 members distributed in the following format

        • 25 archbishops and bishops - appointed by the Emperor and Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs

        • 25 nobles - appointed by the Emperor from nobles who meet proper requirements

        • 30 deputies from the main cities and towns - appointed by local City Councils

        • 15 merchants - appointed by the Emperor from a list provided by Boards of Commerce in Chamber and Council of State (each allowed fifteen picks)

        • 15 University deputies - appointed by the Emperor from a list provided by official universities (each allowed seven picks)

        • 110 deputies from the states - popularly elected and distributed based on population (provinces allowed to chose between a porportional method or distributed by region)
      • Must approve changes in Civil Code, Penal Code, Tax Code, Currency System and can present changes to the aforementioned to the Emperor

      • Treasury must provide accurate accounts of revenues and expenditures to Chamber for review every year

      • 3 main committees/commissions

        • Justice Commission, Commission of the Interior, Finance Commission

        • Can establish others as necessary but must have these 3
      • Leadership comprised of

        • President - appointed by Emperor from list of 3 candidates provided from the Chamber (each Deputy gets 3 votes)

        • 2 Vice-Presidents - selected by the Chamber (each Deputy gets 2 votes) - succeed president in order of votes received (think heir and a spare)
      • Elections must be held every 2-7 years (at which point appointments must be renewed or replaced) and Chamber must meet at least once a year
    • Senate

      • Composed of

        • Royal princes at least 18-years-old

        • 24 imperial appointments from among ministers, leaders of the army and navy, ambassadors, state councilors, members of the Council of State (must be at least 40-years-old)
      • Can suspend constitution in national emergency at proposal of the Emperor and “take other extraordinary measures that the preservation of public safety require”

      • If person imprisoned and not tried or released within a month they can appeal to Senate Board of Individual Freedom (personally, through relatives, through chosen representative) and the Board will either order release or schedule a trial

      • 5 senators chosen by the Senate form the Senate Board of Freedom of the Press - if an author, printer, bookseller, etc believe that they are being unfairly censored (their material isn’t “harmful to the state”) they can appeal directly or by request to this board which has the authority to revoke the order

      • Has the ability to decide if elections or appointments (i.e. town deputies) are unconstitutional
    • Council of State - Imperial Council

      • Advisory board to the ministers

      • Between 30 and 60 individuals divided into

        • Justice and Ecclesiastical Section

        • Section of the Interior

        • Treasury Section

        • War Section

        • Navy Section
      • Crown prince allowed to attend meetings once age 18

      • Acts passed by the Chamber and decrees from the Emperor must be aired in the Council of State but Council ultimately only has a consultative vote (the Council recommends it or it doesn’t)

      • Allowed unspecified number of consultants, assistants, and lawyers (bureaucracy-think departments in the United States)
  • Emperor

    • Title: “[Insert name and number here], by the Grace of God and by the Constitution of the State, Emperor of Mexico.”

    • Succession & Regency

      • Eldest son inherits; daughters can inherit if the current monarch has no sons but a younger daughter with a son takes priority over an older daughter without

      • Imperial oath (before the legislature and in public): “I swear on the holy Gospels to observe and enforce the Constitution, preserve the integrity and independence of Mexico and its possessions, respect and do respect individual freedom and property and govern only with the interest, happiness, and glory of the Mexican nation.”

      • Emperor can appoint immediate family of at least 25-years-old to be regent; if no regent selected, seven senior senators form a regency council

      • Emperor must select 5 senators to take charge of the education of the minor Emperor
  • Ministry

    • Must be at least a:

      • Minister of Foreign Affairs

      • Minister of War

      • Minister of the Navy

      • Minister of Internal Affairs

      • Minister of the Treasury

      • Minister of Justice

      • Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs

      • Minister of Indian Affairs

      • General Police
    • A minister must sign each law that falls into their field; if the field of a law is unclear, the Senate decides who has to sign

    • There will be a Secretary of State who has the authority and role of a minister and must approve of all decrees
  • General Provisions

    • Police must have a warrant to search people’s private property and a warrant for arrest

    • Jailers must submit reason for a person is imprisoned

      • See Senate for procedure for failure to comply
    • Detainee has the right to see family members or friends unless judge says no

    • Torture is abolished

    • Slavery is abolished

First Ministry of the Mexican Empire:


Secretary of State: Rafael Mangino y Mendivil↓ (Conservative)

Minister of Foreign Affairs: Andrés Quintana Roo (Liberal)

Minister of War: Agustin de Iturbide, Duque of Iturbide (Conservative)

Minister of the Navy: vacant

Minister of Internal Affairs: Nicolás Bravo (Centrist)

Minister of the Treasury: Miguel Dominguez (Centrist)

Minister of Justice: Joseph Lakanal (Liberal)

Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs: Archbishop of Mexico Pedro José de Fonte y Hernández

Miravete (Conservative)

Minister of Indian Affairs : vacant

General Police: Bertrand Clausel (Liberal)


↓Appointing Rafael Mangino y Mendivil was a masterstroke on the part of José, and here he established the tradition of having the President of the Chamber of Deputies serve as Secretary of State. Remember, the Secretary has to sign all laws and decrees for them to take effect so even if the Chamber doesn’t have a direct say in the law for whatever reason their chosen leader still has to approve the law. This was José’s way of showing his commitment to constitutional monarchy.
 
Well that's good and it'll be interesting if Napoleon can help out Mexico with the problems and so on. Wonder if he will be able to protect the north from Manifest Destiny?

That's a good question. At the moment, things aren't in route for the instability of OTL!Mexico, so the country can potentially strengthened enough. That said, there are still many variables.

First of all, since before independence, there were concerns that indeed the Americans would encroach on the area. The Spanish would actually not allow Americans to move into areas like Texas. They also paid tribute to many native tribes so their own settles wouldn't be harrased (for example, the Spanish had an alliance with the Comanche against the Apache). Moses Austin spent years failing to get a a land grant, before finally suceeding in 1820. At this moment, independence has made the grant void, so Stephen should likely be in Mexico at the time getting that grant reapplied. In addition, since the beginning of the 19th century, many natives from the American southeast were already moving west of the Mississippi, and some even moved to Texas. The Spanish welcomed them, since they could use them as a buffer. In fact, at November of 1822, Richard Fields would travel to Mexico City as representative of the Cherokee in Texas, with the intent to secure land grants for the area. The Cherokee had also made a deal with Texan governor Trespalacios to guard the Sabine River in exchange for settlement.

OTL, Mexico's inability to hold the north was due to the instability it faced after independence. Instability that is either not present or much reduced, thanks to Iturbide not being the one in charge here. Fields' journey can have success now without a Mexico occupied with the Casa Mata rebellion (though now it depends on what Bonaparte thinks on the matter). The Comanche and other tribes could still be paid/bribed to leave potential settlers alone (though Mexico's state post-independence might mean it goes as OTL where the payment ceased, at first at least).

The 1824 Colonization Law also played a hand. The government wanted for the north to be settled, but it mostly attracted only Americans. This law doesn't really have much of a chance to not happen TTL, but steps could be done so it's not just Americans coming (bringing back to Fields' mission).

At the end of the day, Bonaparte has the means. Will he take them, though? That's the true question. The potential is there, at the very least.
 
That's a good question. At the moment, things aren't in route for the instability of OTL!Mexico, so the country can potentially strengthened enough. That said, there are still many variables.

First of all, since before independence, there were concerns that indeed the Americans would encroach on the area. The Spanish would actually not allow Americans to move into areas like Texas. They also paid tribute to many native tribes so their own settles wouldn't be harrased (for example, the Spanish had an alliance with the Comanche against the Apache). Moses Austin spent years failing to get a a land grant, before finally suceeding in 1820. At this moment, independence has made the grant void, so Stephen should likely be in Mexico at the time getting that grant reapplied. In addition, since the beginning of the 19th century, many natives from the American southeast were already moving west of the Mississippi, and some even moved to Texas. The Spanish welcomed them, since they could use them as a buffer. In fact, at November of 1822, Richard Fields would travel to Mexico City as representative of the Cherokee in Texas, with the intent to secure land grants for the area. The Cherokee had also made a deal with Texan governor Trespalacios to guard the Sabine River in exchange for settlement.

OTL, Mexico's inability to hold the north was due to the instability it faced after independence. Instability that is either not present or much reduced, thanks to Iturbide not being the one in charge here. Fields' journey can have success now without a Mexico occupied with the Casa Mata rebellion (though now it depends on what Bonaparte thinks on the matter). The Comanche and other tribes could still be paid/bribed to leave potential settlers alone (though Mexico's state post-independence might mean it goes as OTL where the payment ceased, at first at least).

The 1824 Colonization Law also played a hand. The government wanted for the north to be settled, but it mostly attracted only Americans. This law doesn't really have much of a chance to not happen TTL, but steps could be done so it's not just Americans coming (bringing back to Fields' mission).

At the end of the day, Bonaparte has the means. Will he take them, though? That's the true question. The potential is there, at the very least.

SPOILER WARNING:

General Charles Lallemand, a member of Joseph's party, actually tried to establish a colony in Texas OTL and TTL before the events of the timeline and only fled because of military intervention, so he knows about the strategic weakness that is the Texan frontier (especially to adventurers). As for the lack of money for payments, well, and I want your input on the probability of this working, they have the idea to pay tribes like the Apache in Texan land grants.

EDITS: clarity in regard to Charles Lallemand
 
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SPOILER WARNING:

General Charles Lallemand, a member of Joseph's party, actually tried to establish a colony in Texas OTL and TTL before the events of the timeline and only fled because of military intervention, so he knows about the strategic weakness that is the Texan frontier (especially to adventurers). As for the lack of money for payments, well, and I want your input on the probability of this working, they have the idea to pay tribes like the Apache in Texan land grants.

EDITS: clarity in regard to Charles Lallemand

I think at this point he could try again to stablish a colony there, now that the issues that made the OTL one fail are no longer there. That is, of course, if he were still interested. That said, since the idea to colonize the north would still be there, then it can go either way.

As far as money goes, one of the issues OTL had was that most of the income was for paying the army. Like, a very huge %. This was another of Iturbide's faults. He wanted to keep the army big, so he refused proposals to cut down the numbers, resulting in the continued high expenses. It didn't helped that Iturbide also made various tax reductions and cuts, further decreasing the amount of available money. If this was avoided, then that leaves more money the government can use, and also reduce the need to rely on burrowing money from abroad, which was something that happened, specially in the 1820's, and mostly to pay the army.
 
Chapter II: Nation Building / You're Hired, Start Work Immediately
1823


Mexico



Vicente Guerrero, Governor of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna General Guadalupe Victoria
Texas




Under Spanish colonialism, unity in New Spain was achieved through a focus on two pillars of society: crown and church. On his tour throughout Mexico, José attempted to sell Mexican unity as a continuation of these two pillars with the addition on a third pillar: constitution. This created an uneasy peace, but there still remained the questions of the army and economy.


The Mexican Army was large and any attempts to defund it would likely result in insurrection from generals who could rely on soldiers more loyal to the caudillo than the emperor. Not helping matters was the fact that the army and wars left Mexico without operational mines or fields, so the relieved army veterans would, in all likelihood, be unemployed.


The idea, attributed to Lallemand, to get the army to work clearing and repairing mines; repairing roads; and mending ruined fields, was accepted as a way to keep parts of the army active and make the Chamber more willing to give money to a force helping the nation. Soldiers, especially the poorest, were also granted land grants, mostly in Texas and California but also some in Mexico proper from haciendas abandoned by their owners (through flight or death) during the course of the independence war. However, in order to get the land grants they had to accept a pay cut and give up any chance of a pension.


Moreover, the Imperial government and the Congress agreed on a gradual, yearly decrease in the military’s funding. Iturbide, in his position as Minister of War, was the most vocal opponent of reducing the budget, believing that the government still had too many potential internal and external threats to judge what the new army should be like. He only agreed to sign when Emperor José had the Minister of the Treasury, Miguel Dominguez, give him a (according to legend) ten hour lecture on the state of the economy.


Taxes were kept on the same level, with minor additions in items like tobacco and pulque, and the Imperial government was able to get the Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs and clergymen in the chamber to agree to a small tax on Church property for ten years with the promises of further concessions later.


A second idea, attributed to the newly elevated Agustin, Duque de Iturbide, to keep generals out of their native seats of power and vying for promotion, was also adapted. To this end, three military campaigns were planned out. The first was an expedition against the last remaining Spanish fort in Mexico at San Juan de Ulúa in Veracruz led by General Guadalupe Victoria, a native of Durango. The second was a planned marched against the Apache in Alta California and New Mexico under the command of General Antonio López de Santa Anna, a native of Veracruz, and Charles Lallemand. (Note that the Apache needed what amounted to tribute to keep from attacking settlements and the hope was that a definitive defeat could render them non threatening and make settling the frontier easier.) The third was to establish fortifications in Central America to prevent uprisings in that quarter led by General Vicente Guerrero, a native of Puebla.


By July, two out of three operations were successful. General Victoria launched a bloody but successful attack on the fortifications that forced the Spaniard commanders to retreat to Cuba and captured hundreds of Spanish soldiers and tons of equipment. General Guerrero managed to establish fortifications in the territory of Guatemala by the Motagua River and established Mexican control over Central America through negotiations with local elites and the occasional skirmish with separatist forces.


It was General Santa Anna who proved a failure. He ventured too far into New Mexico and was raided by a large force of roughly 4,000 Apache from various tribes who united, under the leadership of Juan José Compá of the Mimbreño Apache, out of fear of the lengths that the Mexican government would go to end the hostilities. During the daring night raid, General Santa Anna was captured and General Lallemand took command, turning what could have been a complete disaster into a failure as he organized the army into a retreat back to Durango.


Seeing that a military approach would be useless (or at least very costly), Emperor José, War Minister Iturbide, and Interior Minister Nicolás Bravo instead focused on a new plan to end Apache attacks on settlers: make the Apache settlers.




General Charles Lallemand,
architect of Texan settlement



General Charles Lallemand had already tried to establish a Bonapartist colony in Texas in 1818 and only had to give up because the then-governor sent an army. He convinced the Emperor and ministry that the settlement of Texas would be essential to the security of the nation against threat from the Atlantic and that the Apache and military veterans would be the perfect settlers. They recalled General Guerrero from El Eljército del Sur (Army of the South) and gave him orders to seek out the Apache to inform them of The Act of Texan Empresarios whereby any Apache or Native head of household who swore to “act and behave as a proper citizen of the Empire” could claim land in Texas (not already claimed by or set aside for members of the Mexican Army) for free. Who was to distribute the land and judge the worthiness of the claimants? Vicente Guerrero was named Governor-General of Texas and given authority to “complete the ambitions of the act” as he saw fit.


Governor-General Guerrero was a liberal, champion of the common man, and of Afro-Mestizo descent; in short, he was the perfect candidate for making peace with the Apache. He spent the next several months collecting detailed maps of land grants from established Texas settlers in San Antonio and El Bahia to give to the natives and finding the various bands of Apache to offer them. The image Guerrero pitched was one of self-sustainment by the Apache, that the government was offering them the chance to settle arable land and form communities where the old customs would blend with a stable, sedentary lifestyle. As governor, he even promised them that they could still form their own militias for self-defense and that “no government hostile to your customs will be accepted”, as long as they didn’t attack other legal settlers. Hundreds of families (not all of them Apache, Guerrero was flexible) accepted the offer and the first three hundred (given land in the Brazos River) arrived in mid-1824 amid much fanfare throughout Mexico. In total, eight empresarios were the direct result of the Act of Texan Empresarios and more where to come.


When he finally found Commander Compá, he was amused to find Santa Anna alive and working in a copper mine as a slave. According to popular legend, he was tempted to leave Santa Anna there but Commander Compá was desperate to get rid of a mad man raving about how he was going to become Emperor of Mexico. The facts, however, are that Santa Anna returned to Mexico City and was given command of the Army of the South and a seat in the senate in the hopes that Central America and bureaucracy would be a way of ending his career without upsetting him or his followers.


There were two more unintended consequence of the various campaigns. The first was the great press that the French commanders received. General Charles Lefebvre-Desnouettes served with distinction under the service of General Victoria, and General Lallemand, as mentioned before, was credited with saving the Army of the North. The successes of the French commanders reflected well on Emperor José.


The second was that giving land grants to the Apaches opened the door for petitions from Native groups in the United States to ask for good land in Mexico. For example, as Cherokee chief John Ross petitioned Congress to defend Cherokee land in April 1824, he also sent others to petition for land grants in Mexico in case the United States ruled against them. Likewise, the Quapaw, who ceded a large tract of land in Arkansas in 1824; were refused incorporation with the Caddo tribe; and starved as a result of floods in the Red River area, petitioned Governor-General Guerrero for permission to settle in Texas, and he obliged them instantly.


In June, the First Mexican Congress ratified the First Constitution of the Mexican Empire, a document heavily inspired by the Bayonne Statue that José issued during his rule of King of Spain. Of the most immediate concern is the article formally abolishing slavery in the Empire and the article calling for the first imperial congressional elections in 1825. The abolition of slavery won the admiration of abolitionists in the Northeastern United States and the United Kingdom, but, more important at home, addressed a cause that had caused the first revolution in 1810. As Carlos María de Bustamante, a deputy from Oaxaca and owner of the newly re-established newspaper El Diario de México, wrote in regards to both the constitution and the end of slavery, “Mexico [was] beginning a new age. Never again shall tyranny threaten us.”


United States & Great Britain



President James Monroe Secretary of State, John Joel Roberts Poinsett
Quincy Adams

President James Monroe of the United States of America had recognized the independence of Argentina, Perú, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico in March of 1822. He was initially reluctant to acknowledge the Mexican Empire but was concerned that Mexico would side with Great Britain economically and American businesses wouldn’t get the chance to compete in Mexico. To this end, he sent Joel Roberts Poinsett as a special envoy to Mexico City. Despite the borders between the United States and New Spain being established under the Adams-Onis Treaty there were still elements in the United States who wanted Texas, Alta California, Nuevo Mexico, and even parts of Baja California, Sonora, Coahuila, and Nuevo León. Poinsett’s intense belief in the superiority of republicanism and his offers to buy these territories resulted in him being sidelined in the Mexican court in favor of an expected envoy from the United Kingdom.


Emperor José sent a delegation to London in 1822 under the leadership of the Count of Santiago de Calimaya (“If he can convince me to come to Mexico, he can convince the English to stay away,” was José’s justification) and, although Great Britain didn’t appreciate a Bonaparte in power, they felt that José in Mexico was no threat (when José served as a diplomatic envoy to negotiate what would become the Treaty of Amiens, Lord Cornwallis, the British envoy, said that he had “the character of being a well-meaning, although not a very able, man[...]”) and saw Mexico as a potential trading partner.


Great Britain, seeing Latin America as a valuable market, offered the United States a chance to join them in guaranteeing the independence of the newly established countries. President Monroe and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams took the chance to issue the Monroe Doctrine in October 1823, proclaiming that the United States would not allow the recolonization of the Americas.


Of note is that the Count of Santiago received permission after the Act of Texan Empresarios to attempt to get poor Irish Catholics to settle Texas, and he managed to secure empresarios to finance two settlements (Refugio and San Patricio) and got them to leave by 1825. The British government under the leadership of Prime Minister Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, supported the count’s endeavors, believing that Mexico could work as a safety valve for dissatisfied Catholics in the United Kingdom (Catholic emancipation was gaining traction and Liverpool was not a fan).


France & Spain



British political cartoon mocking French intervention in Spain


Louis XVIII of France and Ferdinand VII of Spain were alarmed by a Bonaparte holding the throne of Mexico and began to plot to restore Spanish control over Mexico and more general Bourbon control over the rest of Latin America (there is strong evidence to suggest that France was expecting the reconquest of Haiti as a quick side project while they were in the area and more scarce evidence implying French control over former Spanish colonies at this time).


First, however, they needed to reestablish Bourbon control over Spain. Since 1820 Ferdinand was the prisoner of liberal revolutionaries under the command of Colonel Rafael del Riego, despite constant promises to enact liberal reforms. Following the Congress of Verona, Louis XVIII invaded Spain to restore Ferdinand’s rule. After a battle and the fall of the rebel stronghold in Cadiz, Ferdinand was freed and began to seek harsh reprisals on anyone associated with the mutiny. The French Count of Artois, himself an ardent royalist, was disgusted by Ferdinand and refused Spanish military honors.


Still, the French and Spanish leadership began to plan the reconquest of Mexico.


1824


United States



General Andrew Jackson Speaker of the House Henry Clay


Lafayette arrived in the United States in August of 1824 amid much fanfare from New York City and continued to travel amongst such fanfare. He was at Yorktown in October for the anniversary of Cornwallis’ surrender and stayed in Virginia to visit his friend Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. However, he decided to stay in Washington City for the winter and was there for the climax of the 1824 presidential election.


With the collapse of the Federalist Party following the War of 1812, President James Monroe had managed to run for the presidency unopposed, but now four different candidates were vying for the presidency: Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, General Andrew Jackson, Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford, and Speaker of the House Henry Clay. With four viable candidates none of them managed to get the majority of the Electoral College necessary for election (although General Jackson got a plurality of the popular and electoral vote). Due to the terms of the Twelfth Amendment, the House of Representatives had to choose from the three candidates with the highest electoral vote count (Jackson, Adams, and Crawford), but Secretary Crawford suffered from a debilitating stroke that ended his chances of being elected. This left Adams and Jackson as the two main choices, and it become clear that the selection process would be difficult and divisive

Mexico



Princess Zenaida


There was more to celebrate in the Mexican Empire as a son was born to Prince Carlos Luciano and Princess Zenaida in February 1824, promptly named José Luciano Carlos de Bonaparte y Bonaparte and made Duque de las Californias. This secured Princess Zenaida’s place as the heir to the throne and the continuation of the Peninsular Bonapartes, and it also had the effect of endearing the royal family to the masses. For the first time in hundreds of years, a child born on Mexican soil was expected to be the Emperor of Mexico. Emperor José, upon seeing pictures of the infant plastered throughout Mexico City with the caption “Hijo de la revolutión”, is reported to have said, “Do you think they’ll let me be his regent?”


1824 was largely the calm before the storm as the Imperial government continued to try to revitalize the economy by getting the mines operational and fields planted; acquire loans to be able to expand the scope of the public work projects and construct a proper navy; establish a long term system of taxation and revenue gathering; and work with the provinces to arrange the upcoming elections. The economy was in tatters and they were building a nation essentially from the ground up, and they were almost enjoying it.


Princess Zenaida was allowed to join the meetings of state in her role as heir to the throne and wrote to her mother (who was just arranging for transport to Mexico City from Florence), “These aged statesmen are at times like university students or café loungers, tossing around ideas, discussing the merits of their respective chapters of the Freemasons, debating at times for the sake of debating [...] My beloved father has a talent for keeping these men relaxed, and I myself am studying under Monsieur Lakanal [Minister of Justice] in matters of rhetoric and philosophy and under Monsieur Roo [Minister of Foreign Affairs] to master my Castilian, law, and Mexican history.”


The princess gained the tacit approval of the elite through her hosting, but there were instances where she made mistakes. The most embarrassing were caused because, while her Spanish was improving, she still mixed in French. She had a habit of referring to people in the French style such as “Señor el Diputado” or “Señor el Ministro,” and they often corrected her using her title as an example: “La Señorita Princesa.” The phrase gained traction as a nickname and she was often referred to as “La Señorita Princesa” in print or in conversation.


France & Spain


Louis-Philippe of France Infante Carlos of Spain


France and Spain approached the other members of the Quintuple Alliance from the 1822 Congress of Verona to gage their attitudes towards the Bonaparte regime in Mexico. The United Kingdom was, if anything, establishing normal relations with Mexico and was suspicious of Spanish and French interests in the Americas, but said nothing at this point; Austria made a lot of noise at the effrontery that was the Monroe Doctrine (Prince Metternich said that the US would grant “new strength to the apostles of sedition and reanimate the courage of every conspirator) and at the thought of a Bonaparte Mexico being a rallying symbol for “remnants of the French Revolution,” but they didn’t commit any troops to the endeavor; and both Prussia and Russia were suspicious of any increase in French and Spanish power so said and did nothing.


The Bourbon powers were committed to the reconquest of Mexico, and not even the death of Louis XVIII and the ascension of Charles X (the Count of Artois) could stop it. If anything, the ultra-royalist Charles wanted to expand the scope of the reconquests.


Over the course of the year, Bourbon forces were amassed in Cuba under the joint leadership of Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, of France and Infante Carlos of Spain. By December, they were confident enough in their forces to begin planning for a campaign in the next year.
 
So, it looks like the natives are slowly getting a better deal, which is good. Meanwhile, the Franco-Spanish vultures are circling while the Americans need to be kept a close eye on
 
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