Puebla & Charleston
A Note on Then and Now
What They Called "Civil War"
V. Gómez Farías
Wm. Lyon Mackenzie
A. L. de Santa Anna
Puebla & Charleston
Guanajuato & Bravo
Loot & development
Texas & Florida
Guatemala & Carrera
The Huasteca, & North
The Costa Grande
Outcomes, and Vision
|While Bustamante and Santa Anna fought one bloody
battle after another, President Andrew Jackson was engaged in an equally
passionate conflict with the state of South Carolina, over the tariff.
At the height of the U.S. crisis, though, Jackson went out of his
way to avoid unnecessary armed conflict.
There had been some federal troops stationed at The Citadel, in Charleston, which was South Carolina state property. These he withdrew to federal property -- that is, to island or coast positions around the harbor which were physically secure. He was relying on a physical situation like that in Santa Anna's Veracruz, where Spanish forces had once clung to the harbor fortress of San Juan de Ulúa, for four years after all other Spanish forces withdrew from the newly-independent Mexico.In Washington and in Mexico City, votes were counted early in 1833. In each case, and as understood on all sides, the results had been arranged ahead of time, in conferences designed to head off the danger of deep conflict. The result, in both countries:
Conservatives, who feared popular unrest, backed off from their own political initiatives, accepting by default the leadership of a politician general who would exercise authority, even if he seemed open to liberal modernization.The two cases did have a different look --
This was a single, continental process of compromise, since the interests confronting each other were largely alike in the two countries, whatever the differences of language, religion, or legal system. Almost every feature of one society had its parallel in the other. The greatest imbalance was the lack of any aggressive new industry in Mexico.
For the time being, it actually looked as if that Civil War was over. It was not -- not even for that decade.
For the time, too, it looked as if both countries were open to liberal modernization. Mexico was not. The United States might not be.
What was required, after the defeats the rebels suffered at Tolomé and El Gallinero, was enough in the way of victories to force a bargain with Bustamante. These Santa Anna provided.
After Tolomé, he retired into Veracruz, where he proceeded to recruit an entirely new force -- acting on his personal popularity in his home country, and in any case by emptying the jails, mobilizing the dock-workers and the foreign adventurers of the port, and decreeing a draft out of all men between 18 and 70.
The line to Veracruz was vital to the revenues and survival of any government in Mexico City. But there were and are two main routes from Veracruz to the capital: one through Jalapa, which Facio held for Bustamante, and a more southern route through Orizaba. Both met near Puebla before heading toward the capital.
Santa Anna moved his new forces to Orizaba, where he had a further choice between two local passes that led up to the plateau and the main road to Puebla.
(Santa Anna's vigor here, doing exactly what he was not expected to do, demonstrates how he won in Mexico a reputation for military brilliance. He was not always the careless leader who would later lose to Texans at San Jacinto. And he learned from the experience of others, whether or not he gave credit: during the War of Independence, Morelos and Bravo had staged a similar campaign focussed on Palmar.)
[For the Orizaba-Palmar maneuvers, see also the detailed map at the end of the page.]
Santa Anna took Puebla, moved on toward Mexico City, and laid a loose siege around the forces that Bustamante had left there. Bustamante's only chance now was to repeat what he had accomplished at San Miguel Allende. He brought his forces back from the north, skirmished with Santa Anna's forces near Mexico City, then by-passed the capital and moved to attack the rebel guard units left in Puebla. He aimed to break Santa Anna's lines back to Veracruz.
Gómez Pedraza, back in the country from his exile in Pennsylvania, had charge of the rebel force in Puebla, but with too little strength to be sure of defending the position. The result was a race between Santa Anna's army and Bustamante's, to see which could get back to Puebla first. Santa Anna made it, barely, and a bloody battle developed. Bustamante, though he held his ground, suffered heavy casualties and was pinned on the outskirts of Puebla at a time when Moctezuma was bringing in new rebel troops from the north.
Bustamante had "lost," but both armies were still in being. This situation determined the political settlement, the Convention signed in December at the hacienda of Zavaleta, near Puebla:
While neither force could state all of its concerns in terms of any one government program, the immediate struggle was acted out in the language of tariff legislation.
With this exchange of moves, the crisis passed. The new tariff was carried
out in Charleston, as in all other ports, without force. South Carolina's
ordinance to nullify the Force Act did not come into play.
|Mexico||Social interest type||United States|
|Hacendados, at their core those of the central plateau||Landed interest||Planters, at their conservative core those of South Carolina|
|Indigenous & mulatto campesinos||Rural workers||Slaves; poorest whites without land|
|New rancheros; "rich Indians"; city intellectuals||Upwardly mobile||Farmers able to take up western land; new businesses & factories|
|Veracruz; western ports||Import interests||Older New York & Boston|
|Older textile workshops||Industry, vulnerable||Smaller & "family"-style mills|
|Industry, stronger||Expanding factories of New England & Middle States|
|Church & hacendados as credit source||Traditional credit interests||Planters & local merchants as credit source|
|Guanajuato & silver interests badly damaged in Wars of Independence||Establishment money||Bank of the United States; older state-chartered banks|
|Zacatecas & smaller silver mines, recovering from earlier damage||New money||Newer state banks; silver importers; "Wall Street"|
The crises in the two countries followed the same general timing because pressures from the world economy were subjecting conservatives everywhere to problems about control over trade and communications, as well as over labor.. Landholder forces, even when they enjoyed a seaport capital, as at Charleston, were everywhere pushed to demonstrate that they could break the liberal, commercial hold over communication lines to the outside world. South Carolina Nullifiers mounted an aggressive attack in the realm of intellectual, legal communication, just as Bustamante mounted aggressive military campaigns against physical lines of communication.
The crises were the "same," too, because pressures to compromise these problems were drawing military leaders everywhere to line up on the side of consensus & "order." Santa Anna simply took a little longer to clarify his shift from a liberal to a conservative position.
Both Jackson and Santa Anna found ways to signal conservative landowners their support for keeping control over non-whites. Jackson did it by saying publicly that South Carolina should not attack a national government whose help they might need in putting down slaves. Santa Anna had made the point in 1829, by backing down on his promise to defend Vicente Guerrero. Earlier, of course, each of them had fought against Indian resisters and "rebels." The neutralization of the Álvarez-Bravo tension in Mexico, after the War of the South, played the same role as Jackson's warning to South Carolinians: neither liberals nor conservatives, at this stage in their fight against each other, were eager to mobilize the "outsider" populations of their countries as participants in civil war.
Through all this civil war of 1832, the manner of the fighting -- whether
in tactics or in personal relations -- never contradicted the underlying
strategic structure of the conflict. The operational goals of the
landholder block depended on being able to circumvent and lop off, one
by one, the efforts that enemy expeditions made to penetrate from periphery
to interior. Because of the rashness, inexperience, and poor coordination
of the peripheral forces, the interior almost won. But Santa Anna
showed that he could learn, not only from the battles of the War of Independence,
and from his own failure at Tolomé, but also from Moctezuma's at
El Gallinero. After his victory at Palmar, his army became the strategically
central, even "conservative" force, leaving Bustamante's hapless units
to operate on exterior lines. Bustamante had dealt successfully with
Moctezuma's rather callow "middle-class" horde at El Gallinero. To
cut Santa Anna's communications, he would have needed to recruit village-based
guerrilla forces -- that is, achieve something of the conservative-indigenous
alliance that was one of the potential social groupings in the shifting
conflicts of the continent. For this Bustamante could not offer --
or at least did not -- the plausible paternalism that other forces were
to achieve over the next few years, in both Mexico and Guatemala.
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