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Defensa Heroica de Puebla. 1845

Author(s) -   Mendes, H. ; Rocha, Jose Severo

Date -   1845 - 1845

Topic- Mexican Political Turmoil

Publication Information -   Jose Severo Rocha, Mexico City, 1845

Format -   Images

Call Number -   E404 .B3 SpCo Oversize

Description -   "The print graphically portrays Mexicans fighting each other in the streets of Mexico’s second largest city the year before the U.S. invasion of 1846. The composition, by H. Mendes (“H. Mendes inbtr.” i.e., inventar) and drawn on stone by Ortega (“Ortega dibu.” or dibujar) pertains to a siege between January 1 and 10, 1845 when the Puebla garrison and citizen militia successfully resisted forces loyal to Mexican General and President Antonio López de Santa Anna, who was sporadically in and out of office for much of the mid-19th century. At this time, a government headed by General José Joaquin Herrera, supported by a civilian militia, deposed and replaced the well-known dictator. During this particular fall from power, angry Mexican citizens actually dug up Santa Anna’s severed leg, which had been ceremonially buried after his heroic defense of Veracruz against the French in 1838. While the “heroic defense” probably refers here to the efforts of the Puebla garrison and citizen militia to resist Santa Anna’s supporters, this interpretation is not altogether clear without an accompanying text. On a number of occasions during the siege the fighting spread into the city and Santa Anna’s supporters took a convent and a number of houses. Artists at the time often depicted Santa Anna himself in the cockade and frock coat of a Mexican general, similar to the figure in the center of the print, so it is perhaps possible, though unlikely, that the “defense” here actually refers to Santa Anna’s “heroic attempt to defend the city from traitorous usurpers”--as he might well have styled it himself. It would be helpful to know the political inclinations of the Rocha lithography firm in order to know for sure. Note that the print is similar to images of Mexican citizens suffering during the bombardment of Veracruz in 1847 or defending the garitas or fortified gates of Mexico City during the final assault of the U.S. Army under General Scott later that year. Ben W. Huseman, “Hecho en Mexico: Special Collections Acquires Rare Lithographs,” Compass Rose 21:2 (Fall 2007): 1-5; Michael Mathes, Mexico on Stone: Lithography in Mexico, 1826-1900 (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1984), p. 17; Pedro Santoni, “A Fear of the People: The Civic Militia of Mexico in 1845” in Hispanic American Historical Review 68:2 (May, 1988), pp. 269-288; See also Will Fowler, Santa Anna of Mexico (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2007), pp. 7, 240; and Wilfrid H. Callcott, Santa Anna: The Story of an Enigma Who Once Was Mexico (Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1964), pp. 210-211."

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