« 이전계속 »
ish system, Mexico was governed by a viceroy, whose powers, equal to those of a sovereign, were checked only by the Court of Investigation; and he was liable to be called to account for his administration, on bis return, or by the Court of Final Appeal in Mexico. The object of the government was to keep the country in the hands of Spaniards. The natives were considered freemen, or vassals of the crown, but excluded from all offices of profit or trust. Native manufactures were discouraged or prohibited, to make the colonists dependent on Spain for their supplies. All ecclesiastical establishments were wholly dependent upon the king. The growth of flax, hemp, the vine, and olive, was prohibited under severe penalties; and tobacco was made a government monopoly; coffee, cocoa, and indigo, were tolerated only in such quantities as the mother country required; and Mexico was known to the world only as a source whence Spain drew supplies of the precious metals. The system, of which these are some of the features, was rigorously enforced for three centuries. In all that time, Mexico was a blank among nations. The Indian, or native population, were but the slaves of the Spaniards, whose business was to oppress the country. The natives were regarded as of an inferior race by the white population, whom they, in their turn, regarded as their natural enemies, and against whom they continue to cherish the vindictive feelings inherited from their ancestors. To this day the creole is as proud of his unmixed Castilian blood, as is the Indian hostile to the usurpers of his rights. The severe colonial policy of Spain, by keeping the country sealed against the trade of other nations, had prevented the people from arriving at a full knowledge of the extent to which they were oppressed. At length the insane government insisted on the search of all vessels sailing into western seas-a demand which brought upon them a declaration of war by England. The ocean immediately swarmed with English freebooters, who swept into her lap almost the whole produce of the Spanish colonies—both Mexico and Peru. Spain sued for peace; and, as a condition, Philip V. granted to England the right of supplying the colonies with negroes, and permitted an English vessel to trade to Porto Bello. By this means a new race of miserable beings was introduced into Mexico. At the same time the intercourse of the English began to enlighten the colonists on the subject of the oppression they had endured. In 1765, Charles relaxed his system still more, but not sufficiently to prevent a most extensive contraband trade, which continued for a length of time, and eminently aided in exciting dissatisfaction among the colonists at the Spanish government; and to conciliate the higher classes, all the ports of Spain were thrown open to the colonists, but did not check the growing spirit of revolt among the native Indians, who still continued the slaves of the nobility. And when the insurrection broke out, in 1778, the Spaniards—heads of the church-backed by the mother-country, easily quelled it, until it again gathered head, and, in 1810, the native population again revolted under two priests—Hidalgo and Morelos—the latter, the father of Gen. Almonte. The fierce hate of the natives to all Spaniards was very evident in this contest.
The most remarkable feature in the case of Mexico, however, and that which, while it was the main cause of the success of the revolution, has also been an insurmountable difficulty in the way of establishing any regular government since the independence of the country, and will continue to be the obstacle to any peace : we allude to the church establishment. This is probably the most powerful and wealthy hierarchy in the world, and is the only one which has retained its wealth untouched, since the days of Romish prosperity. It consists briefly, of the Archbishop of Mexico, and nine bishops, whose income is $540,000 per annum. There are ten cathedrals,
having 168 canons. The whole number of the clergy is about 7000, and the total annual income is given at $12,000,000. The property held by the church is now computed at $100,000,000, or about half what it was at the date of the revolution. This wealth of the church is the source of most of the evils of Mexico. When the country was conquered, there is no doubt but that the desire to extend the influence of the cross was as strong as that for plunder, and every means was taken to convert the natives, which was done in a very summary manner. The moment a Pagan temple fell into the hands of the conquerors, the golden ornaments were first taken for the use of the true church; its altars, and its gods were then overthrown, and the people compelled to bow down to the cross erected in their place. The Indians, ignorant of what was said, were forcibly baptised, and compelled to take the sacrament, while apostates were given promptly over to the tender mercies of the Inquisition. Peter of Ghent affirmed, that "his ordinary day's work was from 8 to 10,000 souls.” In this manner, by force of arms, the forms of religion were substituted for those of Paganism, and tithes exacted regularly, beyond which the holy fathers seemed to have troubled themselves but little. Paganism was, nevertheless, indulged in secretly, and to this day yet lingers among the natives. There is no doubt but the practice of certain forms of religion for centuries has eradicated the remembrance of Pagan rites from a large portion of the people; but it is very doubtful whether they have the most remote idea of the meaning of the new forms. It resulted, however, that most of the vast wealth of the new world came into the hands of the church, and the establishment became the most splendid in the world. The Spanish king sought to keep its control in his own hands, and he appointed most of its dignitaries, while its wealth was cherished by the Spanish ministry, because it afforded the means of providing magnificently for the younger branches of families cut off from inheritance under the law of primogeniture. These laws have of late becn abolished, as well as the power to collect tithes by compulsion. The clergy were natives of Spain, and for the most part unlearned, indolent, luxurious and dissolute. The wealth of the country was exacted from the people by every means of oppression. They were compelled to purchase bulls of confession, indulgences and other ecclesiastical papers, or lose the right of burial and have their property confiscated. This appertained to the corrupt dignitaries of the church. There existed, however, a large class of curas or village priests, who exercised a vast influence over the people. They lived among the serfs in the country humbly on their small salary of $100 or $200 per annum; and as theirs were offices that presented no field for ambition, they were filled by natives, creoles or those of mixed blood. They were ignorant, and therefore could not instruct their people; but in the constant exercise of their duties, they came to be looked up to as a sort of protectors against the oppression of the petty civil officers, and they collectively exerted an influence over the people far superior to any other power in the state. It was from this class of persons that the originators of Mexican independence, Morelos, Matamoros and Hidalgo, emanated. These represent the democracy of the church, and as such, are iniinical to the oppressive splendor of the higher dignitaries.
This powerful and wealthy hierarchy seems to have held but one policy during the violent changes which have convulsed the world, and ruined governments as well as church establishments everywhere else. This has been to preserve their vast wealth. For this every other consideration has been sacrificed, and the destiny of Mexico has repeatedly turned upon it. Since the declaration of independence, there have been seventeen revolutions in the Mexican government. The wealth of the state has been ex
pended in the corrupt practices of the temporary governments, and in the civil strife of the chiefs. Without industry and but little commerce, the national wealth was wasted away through bad government, and became continually absorbed in the church, through the bequests of those dying possessed of property, until there is in fact no wealth or power in the state, except in the hands of the clergy, and these have steadfastly refused to part with a dollar for the service of the country. The church has in fact become the state. It makes and unmakes governinents at its pleasure; and from its course hitherto, it would seem bent upon bringing about such a state of things as will make a monarchy connected with itself indispensable. The war of independence would in all probability never have been successful, at least not for a number of years, but for the decree of the Spanish Cortez in 1820, ordering the sequestration of the Mexican church property. This immediately aroused the church in opposition to the Viceroy; and when Iturbide, who had been the bitter enemy of the patriots, deserted the royalist cause, he found himself supported by the clergy in the scheme to declare the country independent, and call Ferdinand VII. to the throne. Through the intrigues of the clergy the rural priesthood were set to work to rouse the passions of the people, and finally the Viceroy was deposed. It is probable that the lower orders of priests and the people had, like the Indians of Peru under similar circumstances, but a very vague idea of the nature of the struggle, and supposed that in throwing off the yoke of foreign masters that they were to recover their own liberty. From the course of events, Iturbide succeeded through intrigue to procure himself named and elected emperor in 1822; and although the clergy generally approved the choice, as Ferdinand could not be had, the Archbishop of Mexico refused to be present at the ceremonies. His tyranny soon produced a revolt began by Santa Anna, who surrendered the command to Victoria. In his distress for money, Iturbide called upon the church to contribute its share, by which he lost their support and his crown, and the republican forces under Victoria and Negrete entered the capital. The executive power was invested in Bravo, Victoria and Negrete. A meeting of congress was then held, and a constitution reported by committee, on the model of that of the United States. This constitution was strenuously opposed by the clergy and military, although the first article provides that “ the religion of the Mexican nation is, and will be perpetually, the Roman Catholic Apostolic,” and prohibits all others. A curious provision for a republican constitution! The clergy resorted to insurrection to prevent its adoption, and incited General Echavarri to revolt. He was, however, taken prisoner. Several states then arming themselves, threatened to secede from the confederacy unless the constitution was adopted, which was then done. At this juncture took place the great speculation in foreign stocks in the London markets; and the Mexican agents taking advantage of it, succeeded, in the year 1824, in getting two loans, amounting to $36,000,000. This made things go smooth; and in January, 1825, Victoria was declared president and Bravo vice-president. The government being strong as long as the money lasted, congress attempted to curb the power of the church something within democratic views, but without success.
As soon as the independence was declared, free masonry began to spread in Mexico, and in accordance with the bull of the Pope, the church caused a bill to be presented to congress to suppress it. This bill was rejected. The lodges, however, soon took the character of political factions. On one side the Escoces were in favor of monarchy, and Bravo, with Pedraza and others were its leaders ; on the other, Victoria, Santa Anna, Zavala and Bustamente, headed the democratic lodges, called Yorkinos. Among these latter were the people, the rural clergy, subalterns of the army, and all opposed
to the high dignitaries of the church and aristocrats. This rivalry soon broke out into civil war; and Bravo raising a force, denounced Victoria, and, backed by the clergy, declared in favor of a consolidated government. The clergy, who had opposed the constitution, and whose property had been attacked by it, were particularly active for its overthrow. . This resulted in the defeat and banishment of Bravo. The government of Spain taking advantage of this state of things, attempted reconquest; but Mexico was saved by procuring the services of Commodore David Porter, who commanded her marine of nineteen vessels through 1826-7-8-9, and captured great numbers of Spanish vessels with immense booty. Having lost one son and one nephew in the service, and had others wounded, he was rewarded by being obliged to leave the country to escape assassination.
Victoria's term expired in 1828; and he is the only president who went in and out of office by constitutional means. This was owing to the fact of the loans procured in London, and the services of Com. Porter. Pedraza, of the church faction, through the means of the clergy, was elected to succeed bim. Santa Anna placed himself at the head of the garrison of Jalapa, seized the funds of the state, and pronounced against the new government. After some difficulties, his troops, headed by Guerreo, entered Mexico and deluged the city with blood. Congress then declared Guerreo president, and Bustamente vice-president, and quiet was preserved for some months. As, however, Com. Porter had retired in disgust, a Spanish army, under Barradas, taking advantage of the defenceless state of the coast, landed at Tampico, July, 1829, from Havana, for the purpose of putting a Bourbon on the throne, supported by the church. He, however, surrendered to Santa Anna. In December, Bustamente pronounced against Guerreo, who sent Santa Anna to oppose him. He, however, deserted to Bustamente, who, placed by him in power, immediately became a centralist. Guerreo in the meantime organized an army, and two years were spent in civil war, until he was caught and shot. Soon after, Santa Anna declared against Bustamente, but was defeated in a battle, and retiring to Vera Cruz, pronounced in favor of Pedraza, of the church faction. This resulted in placing himself in power, in 1833. Then took place the great event in Santa Anna's life. He had always been of the democratic faction and a federalist. Zavala, a member for Yucatan, brought in a bill to reduce the revenues of the church, and the clergy offered him a large bribe to withdraw it, which he indignantly refused. They then applied directly to Santa Anna, who suddenly changed his policy and became a devoted champion of the church-crushed Zavala's bill, and sent him to France as minister. The clergy iminediately began to intrigue with congress, and won, by the force of corruption, many over to centralism, As, however, a majority remained firm, Santa Anna dissolved congress by force; and in 1835 summoned another devoted to himself and the clergy. This congress demolished the Constitution of 1824, and passed a law disarming the people. Santa Anna became Dictator, and the Mexicans were reduced to slavery. A military chief at the head of the army, and supported by the clergy, bade defiance to the people. The state of Texas was the first to resist this usurpation, and was invaded by Santa Anna in person, who was defeated and taken prisoner. He was released by a treaty which recognized the independence of Texas. with the Rio Grande as its southern boundary. He did not get back to Mexico until 1837. Meantime, Bustamente had returned, placed himself in power, and repudiated the Texan treaty of Santa Anna. It was then that the French, having long demanded, in vain, the payment of a debt, appeared off Vera Cruz to enforce liquidation of their claims, but remained negotiating until 1839. Santa Anna being appointed to defend the coast, repaired to
his command. The French attacked and took the castle, when, in defending the town, Santa Anna lost a leg, and recovered his reputation. In 1839, Yucatan revolted against Bustamente and the clergy, in favor of the Constitution of 1824. They succeeded in throwing off the power of the central government, and establishing a constitution by which all religions should be tolerated.
In the meantime the national debt increasing rapidly, discontent spread, and Paredes pronounced against Bustamente in 1841. He was joined by Santa Anna, who again, in consequence, succeeded to power, which he retained as dictator, supported, for want of a government more to their views, by the clergy. It became evident, however, that some great convulsion was at hand, and a monarchial party was developed, patronized by the Archbishop of Mexico. The forced loans and great expenses of the government had disgusted the people, and in 1844 Paredes pronounced against the tyrant, overthrew and imprisoned him, in the castle of Perote, and Herrera was appointed president. His administration was mild; and but a few months elapsed before a coalition of monarchists was formed against him, under the archbishop, which resulted in placing Paredes in power. His tyranny soon became intolerable; one of his first acts being so to curtail the elective franchise, as to deprive the great body of the people of the right of sending deputies to the legislature. The national resources were now showing signs of utter exhaustion, and, driven by necessity, Paredes requested a loan of the clergy. He informed the archbishop that the government had formally suspended payment, had curtailed the pay of all officers, and that there was no alternative but to ask $2,400,000, in monthly instalments, from the church, to provide the means of resisting the invading army under Gen. Taylor. As this was a government
got up” by the church, the archbishop laid the request before the chapter, who, after the lapse of several days, replied, “ that it was in opposition to the decrees of the Council of Trent, to part with church property for secular purposes, and therefore refused. In the meantime the press, which had been loud in its denunciation of the government, was suppressed, and a journal advocating monarchy started. Amidst accumulating evils the archbishop died suddenly, and his death was followed by outbreaks in favor of Santa Anna; but on the 16th June, 1846, Paredes was chosen president and Bravo vicepresident. In August a revolt broke out in favor of Santa Anna, who was invited to return, and did so immediately, having a pass from the United States executive. The Mexican provisional executive, Gen. Salas, then issued a decree for the re-establishment of the Constitution of 1824, and Santa Anna was invited to the supreme power, to which he was subsequently elected by the congress, which met in Dec. under the old Constitution. Gomez Farias was elected vice-president.
The next great difficulty was to provide means for carrying on the war. It became evident that there was no available property in the country, except that held by the church; and through the exertions of Gomez Farias, Jan. 7, 1847, a bill was passed by congress to raise $15,000,000 by sale of church real property. Against this bill the archbishop and his chapter sent in a protest. PROTEST OF THE VENERABLE ARCHBISHOP's CHAPTER AGAINST THE TAKING
OF THE CHURCH PROPERTY.
This Chapter having been informed, from an undoubted source, that the sovereign congress has this morning approved of an Act for the taking possession of the church property, without losing a moment, for the preservation of those sacred rights charged upon them by the solenn Canons of the Church, have deter