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LAST DAYS OF SPANISH RULE.
POPULAR FEELING IN CENTRAL AMERICA-EFFECT OF EVENTS IN SPAINRECOGNITION OF AMERICAN EQUALITY-REPRESENTATION IN THE SPANISH CORTES-DELUSIVE REFORMS-END OF SARAVIA'S RULE-PRESIDENT JOSÉ BUSTAMANTE-HIS DESPOTIC COURSE-DEMANDS IN THE CÓRTES— CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES-OFFICIAL HOSTILITY-CAMPAIGN IN OAJACA-REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENTS IN SALVADOR-WAR IN NICARAGUA -CONSPIRACY IN GUATEMALA-TREATMENT OF THE INSURGENTS-DISRESPECT TO THE DIPUTACION - THE CONSTITUTION REVOKED-ROYAL DECREES.
THE opening century was pregnant with important events both in Europe and America. By 1808 affairs in Spain culminated in the French emperor's detention of the king and other members of the royal family at Bayonne, where he forced them finally to resign in his favor their rights to the Spanish crown. The circle surrounding the captain-general, audiencia, and archbishop of Guatemala was made up, not only of European Spaniards, but of Guatemalans belonging to the so-called noble families. Popular displeasure was manifested both against the Spaniards and against the provincial aristocracy. The
1 See History of Mexico, this series. The masses of the people were kept HIST. CENT. AM., VOL. III. 1
oligarchy was hated throughout the province of Guatemala proper, and still more in the other provinces of the presidency.
However, when the news of Napoleon's usurpation reached America, it caused a strong revulsion of feeling in Central America, as well as elsewhere in the Spanish dominions, even among the large class which had hitherto secretly fostered a warm desire for independent national existence. Creoles of pure Spanish descent, though yearning to be free from the old thraldom, could not bring themselves to discard the country which gave them blood, religion, and civilization. As to the educated Indians, who were also among the wishers for independence, like all of their race, they looked up to the ruling power with reverence and fear. Thus arose a struggle between the old veneration and the love of freedom; a struggle which was to last in Central America a few years longer, though the people were becoming more and more impatient, while leaning to the side of independent nationality. Circumstances seemed to demand that the old connection should not be ruptured till 1821, when decisive results in New Spain brought on the final crisis here. When the news of Napoleon's acts of violence and usurpations reached Guatemala, popular loyalty was aroused, and showed itself in various ways. Manifestations by the authorities, expressive of fealty to the mother country and the royal family, met with an apparently hearty response from the people.
Advices came on the 30th of June, 1808, of the occurrences at Aranjuez of March 19th.2 July passed amid much anxiety about affairs in Spain, and the public mind became depressed by unfavorable news received on the 13th of August. Next day, at a
in utter ignorance, to be used, if necessary, as the blind tools of the ruling oligarchy. Montúfar, Reseña Hist., i. 6.
I have told in my History of Mexico how Cárlos IV. was forced to abdicate, and his son Fernando raised to the throne.
SARAVIA AND FERNANDO VII.
meeting of the authorities, the state of affairs was anxiously discussed. The mariscal de campo, Antonio Gonzalez Mollinedo y Saravia, had succeeded Dolmas on the 28th of July, 1801, in the offices of governor, captain-general, and president of the audiencia. He had seen forty years of service in the royal armies, and had with him his wife, Micaela Colarte, and offspring.5
President Saravia read to the meeting a despatch from the viceroy of Mexico, and a copy of the Gaceta giving an account of the abdication of Fernando VII., and of the surrender by other members of the royal family of their rights to the Spanish crown. After due consideration, the meeting declared these acts to have resulted from violence, being therefore illegal and unjust, and not entitled to recognition. It was further resolved that the authorities and people should renew their allegiance to the legitimate sovereign, continue upholding the laws hitherto in force, and maintain unity of action, for the sake of religion, peace, and good order. Instructions were received to raise the standard of Fernando VII., and swear allegiance to him, which were duly carried out."
The opportunity has now arrived for a radical change in the political status of Spanish America. The colonies have hitherto had no government, save
There were the governor, archbishop, oidores of the real audiencia, Marqués de Aycinena, high officials of the treasury, dean and chapter of the archdiocese, alcaldes and regidores of the 'muy noble ayuntamiento,' officers of the university, prelates of the religious orders, prior and consuls of the real consulado, intendente of Comayagua, temporarily sojourning in the city, secretary of the audiencia, commandant of the artillery, and colonels of the militia regiments. Diario Méx., ix. 316-18; Guat. por Fern. VII., 2-6, 83–94; Saravia, Manif.
'His last position in Europe had been that of teniente de rey of Palma, in the island of Majorca. Juarros, Guat., i. 273.
Guat. por Fern. VII., 50. In 1866 their descendants were living in Guatemala.
Dec. 13, 1808.
'The acts were performed with great solemnity and magnificence, the people manifesting much joy. This evidence of loyalty was warmly acknowledged, May 27, 1809, by the Junta Suprema Gubernativa of Spain, sitting at Seville and acting for the imprisoned king. Most glowing descriptions of the ceremonies appear in Diario Méx., xi. 279–80; Guat. por Fern. VII., 7–82, 94-101, 158-9.
that of rulers set over them by a monarch whose will was absolute, whose edicts constituted their code of laws; the subject being allowed no voice in public affairs, save occasionally as a timid_petitioner. But troubles beset Spain at this time. Her king is powerless; the friends of constitutional government have now the control, and proceed to establish the desired liberal régime. In order to be consistent, and to some extent satisfy the aspirations of their fellow-subjects in America, the provisional government decrees, and the córtes upon assembling confirm, all the rights claimed for Spaniards dwelling in Spain, together with representation in the córtes and other national councils.
The Junta Suprema Central Gubernativa in the king's name declares on the 22d of January, 1809, the Spanish possessions in America to be, in fact, integral parts of the monarchy, and, approving the report of the council of the Indies of November 21, 1808, in favor of granting to the American dominions representation near the sovereign, and the privilege of forming by deputies a part of the aforesaid junta, issues to the president of Guatemala an order to invite the people of the provinces to choose their deputy to reside at court as a member of the governing junta.
8'No son propiamente colonias, ó factorías, como los de otras naciones, sino una parte esencial é integrante de la Monarquía Española.' Guat. por Fern. VII., 163-6; Dublan and Lozano, Leg. Mex., i. 326–7.
Ayuntamientos of head towns were to choose three honorable and competent men, from among whom each ayuntamiento had to draw by lot one elector, whose name, country, age, profession, and political and moral qualifications must be at once made known to the president of the audiencia. After the names of all the nominees were in his possession, he, jointly with the electors, had to select by secret ballot three candidates of the highest recognized character and ability, out of which three the audiencia, presided over by the governor-general, was to choose the deputy, to whom all the ayuntamientos must forthwith send their powers and instructions. The deputy, duly provided with means to journey decorously, was required to embark for Spain, his yearly pay being fixed at $6,000. Alaman, Hist. Méj., i. 291-2. A later order of Oct. 6, 1809, required the deputy to be a native of Spanish America and a resident of the province choosing him; he was not to be the holder of any of the chief offices therein, such as governor, intendente, oidor, etc., nor a debtor to the royal treasury. The right of election was also given to minor ayuntamientos; and for the choice by plurality from among the candidates of cities a board was constituted, with two members of the audiencia, two