CW-1:

THE FIRST CIVIL WAR, 1830-1842


OUTCOMES, and VISION

 
Overview 
Real War 
    Grounded Networks 
   Control Networks 
A Note on Then and Now 
What They Called "Civil War"  
   Liberal Projects 
   Conservative Demagogues 
   Fight Scenes  
  Grounded Reaction 
Outcomes, and Vision 
 
Liberals and conservatives fought through to truce about how they would manage life.  It was much the same in 1835, as in 1873 or 1877.  Conservative techniques would be used to keep the lower orders in line.  At the same time, liberal scope would be given to enterprises that could "free up" and mobilize workers. 

It all worked on two levels: 

  • The surface outcome of the First Civil War was the victory of regional strong-men or caudillos, like Jackson or Santa Anna, who catalyzed regional coalitions under charismatic, supposedly national leadership.
  • The longer-range outcome was the enlisting of ranchero and white-worker support behind the "Landed-Industrial" Complex that was to emerge victorious, throughout the continent, during the 1870s and 1880s.
The great challenge to the whole system, early or late, came from the grounded networks of the continent.  These networks were not mere defensive reactions.  They did not confine their energies within the frame of the nation-state.  They therefore, even now, bring into question the nationalistic values that swept the continent during the century after 1820.  They challenge the unchallengeable. 

But these rivals, the grounded networks and the control system, were always involved in each other.  It was always possible that some individuals, growing up during the "First Civil War," and caught up in the energies of that conflict, would shift into the Real War.  The ordinary partisan, whether liberal or conservative, might stop, take stock, take sides in the conflict between people and system, and transform narrow words into inclusive vision.

 
 

The Surface Outcome:  Each Leader's Coalition of Regions

Jackson and Santa Anna prevailed, partly by force of personality.  They persuaded by the very contempt that they directed toward against opponents, and charisma glossed over historical changes in the bases of power on which any leadership could rest.  In neither country did any one region have enough power to dominate the whole nation.  In each, a rising leader had to pay close attention to his footing.
Santa Anna, up to 1832, kept making deals between Veracruz (his own base), the "South" of Juan Álvarez, and the silver-frontier north represented by Zacatecas.  It looked as if he was trying to defeat the more central interests of land and church.  After 1832, everyone saw that he was projecting himself into that central interest.  The resulting alignment, between Veracruz and the center, was also a social coalition, between coastal merchants and interior hacendados.  Santa Anna would protect the center against the pintos of Álvarez and the nouveaux riches of Zacatecas. The group he assembled was defensive, undynamic.

Jackson, during the 1820s, spoke for a loose coalition between his frontier West and the slave South.  In the process of winning the presidency, he shifted toward greater reliance on the commercial interests of New York, and against any leadership by the more conservative, older parts of the South.  In his conflict with that older South, he accepted tariff arrangements that were tolerable to the stronger economic interests of New York and New England.  By differentiating within the slavery interest, and within the industrial interest, he came to stand for an axis between aggressive Southwest and aggressive Northeast.  Strategically, this axis depended on ocean shipping, on the Mississippi Valley steamship network, and on the additional link that New York State canals forged between ocean and interior.

Santa Anna's emergent strategy, expressed in U.S. terms, would have meant a coalition between the most conservative slaveowners and the least dynamic elements of northeastern commerce.
Jackson's emergent strategy, expressed in Mexican terms, would have required an alliance between frontier land-grabbing liberals (who did exist in states like Sonora) and a kind of capitalist class that was only hinted at in the link between Zacatecas and Tampico.

The geographical difference between the two strategies was that there simply did not exist, in Mexico, anything like the waterway system that supported rapid, early market development in the United States.
The ethnic difference was that the most "dangerous" class in the United States consisted of  slaves, excluded from the political system.
The ideological difference was that the Church in Mexico embraced the "dangerous" poor of that country, exercising over them a partial discipline.

Jackson made his concessions to industrial development by keeping out of its way, rather than by adopting positive programs to tax imports or build railroads, even while he signaled conservative planters that he agreed with their need to control slaves.
Santa Anna retained parts of the liberal Gómez Farías program favorable to hacendados (exemption from church taxes, and the secularization of the California missions), while his new conservative constitution disfranchised much of the Indian and peasant population.

A coalition between civilized and paramilitary force -- that is, between bureaucratic armies and upwardly-mobile whites -- was ultimately the strategy of Jackson, later re-incarnate in Sherman, acting against South Carolina as enemy and then against Indians and African Americans as enemy.  A similar social strategy was acted out by Santa Anna, later re-incarnate in Porfirio Díaz, acting briefly against a conservative interest and then against both indigenous and liberal resistance. Jackson's warning to South Carolinians early in the century, that they would need his protection against slaves, was "the same" as the Díaz moves to suppress indigenous rebellion, later in the century.
 


 

Longer Range:  the Landed-Industrial Complex

The outcomes of the 1830s foreshadowed the settlements imposed on the continent after the Civil Wars of the 1860s.  That later settlement featured: All of the intra-elite features of the later settlement were in place by 1835.  Two critical events signaled this consolidation of a single, hierarchical control system over the continent: Concretely, this settlement worked through: The great new feature of the later settlement, the emancipation of slaves, had been stated in advance by Britain's emancipation of West Indian slaves, in 1834. Emancipation made all the poor into a labor pool for society as a whole, where one part of the poor had previously been the "property" of specific owners.



 

The Matter of Vision

The fact that someone lived through the First Civil War, and took part in its struggles, did not mean that the person had become subservient to the later Landed-Industrial Complex.  On the liberal side, the green young intellectuals of 1842 included men who were doing exactly the things that suggested an ideal, individualistic career.  They ranged from Ignacio Ramírez, starting out in Mexico City after his law studies, to his contemporary Walter Whitman, working up from printer's devil to journalist in Brooklyn.
Whitman was hardly radical at first.  Though rather inclined to dislike slavery, he was pointedly anti-abolitionist, and an enthusiast for U.S. expansion.  Not until the mid-1850s did he throw over convention in his poetry, to adopt a radical romanticism that made little compromise with community standards.

Ramírez began to break from any cold rationalism as he moved from the law into journalism.  Adopting the pen name Necromancer (El Nigromante), he moved into a committed, passionate appeal to indigenous interests, against the safe intellectual liberalism of Mexico City.  He was using his pen to defend a "doomed" people against oppression.

But competitive liberalism did not have to mean wordy careerism, and the progress away from selfish competition did not have to mean a literary romanticism.  Competition could mean belonging to a family that used any means at hand to fight for survival and profit.  The move into magic could be grounded in the earth, with no weak-kneed literacy about it at all.
Manuel García (1828-1873) was barely a child when Ramírez and Whitman were already learning the tools of the word trade, and only adolescent in 1842..  But it was as a child that he saw what competition could come down to.  His father was a rustler, in the Sierra de Álica of western Jalisco.  Whether any great success in that business, the father was enough of a person to secure the child's loyalty.  Than a partner killed him -- for whatever reason.  The boy reacted in two ways, one sensible and one magical.  Sensibly, he went to live with an uncle, and took the uncle's last name, Lozada.  From there the story goes into memory and myth.
He took his big question to a shaman:  "How can I avenge my father?"

"Wait until you are sixteen, and have your full strength.  Come back then."

He waited, and returned.

"Go to a small mesa that you will find in the upcountry.  Stay there for five days without eating or drinking, and the god will come to you and give you further instructions."

When he had recovered from the five days, he took a machete that the god gave him.  He sharpened one edge of the machete on a rock that the god indicated, then the other edge on a second rock.  In the road he found a five-year-old boy.  As instructed, he decapitated the child at one blow, and drank his blood.  This made him the bravest of men, immune to all sickness and injury.  He found his father's murderer, and killed him, then went off to his career as bandit..

When soldiers came into the mountains from the low country, and the Indians asked Lozada what to do, he consulted the god again.  The war god told him to enter a cave in the mountain, equipped with food and candles for two days.  Lozada did, and found a pool deep in the earth.  And beside the pool a great black horse.  With the horse, he traced his way back through five days of darkness, attacked by armies of vampires.

Outside, heading an army of Indians equipped with machetes and sticks, he defeated the soldiers from Guadalajara.

What Lozada really did, according to other stories, was quarrel with an employer, or with the family of a woman he courted (though that may have been a myth of another kind). He then set up as bandit, making his way between the two rival merchant houses of the area, and through the darkness of factions that were gelling into political parties.  He was "El Tigre de Álica."  Come the 1850s, he would side first with the liberals, in a new civil war, then for years with the conservatives, before accepting a truce of sorts with Benito Juárez.

If he fought at first as a mercenary for one merchant interest, he soon became more and more the champion of only two groups:  his own band of fighters, and the indigenous people of his area, whose land was threatened by pressures from the wealthy and the powerful.  He came to control much of the country up from Tepic. 

He accepted rank from conservative governments, and from the Emperor Maximilian. But he never trusted them. He never left his mountains to consult with them -- or to receive the further honors that would bind him to power.

Only at the end did he sally once from the region, leading an army of 6,000 to the outskirts of Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico. He was fighting in alliance with a dissident local liberal, against the liberal general Ramón Corona.  And only then did Lozada lose.


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