January 7, 1797 - Unknown
Mariano Paredes Y Arrillaga
January 7, 1797 – September 1849
An arch-conservative and career army officer, Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga held the presidency when the U.S.-Mexico War began in 1846. He participated in multiple political intrigues and coup d'états through the course of his career, including the overthrow of President José Joaquín de Herrera, which secured him the executive office for seven months. An opportunist who often switched his allegiance when political power changed hands, Paredes nonetheless remained a consistent royalist at heart, and believed that Mexico would be best served by a monarchy based on a strong alliance between the military and the propertied classes.
Born in Mexico City on January 7, 1797, Paredes enlisted in an infantry regiment in 1812 at the age of fifteen. His father was an Inquisition official, giving Paredes the designation of "noble" on his service record. When the Mexican War of Independence broke out, he fought as a royalist against the insurgents. As the war drew to its conclusion, however, and Mexican independence appeared increasingly likely, Paredes abandoned the Spanish cause and followed Agustín de Iturbide's into the Ejército de las Tres Garantías of 1821 (a united force of Mexican insurgents and defecting Spanish troops).
In 1823, he went along with the ousting of Emperor Iturbide and subsequently assumed various military posts in Jalisco. He then supported Anastasio Bustamante's coup against President Vicente Guerrero in December 1829. Bustamante promoted him to colonel in 1831 and then to brigadier general the following year. However, when Antonio López de Santa Anna assumed the presidency in 1833, Paredes threw in his lot with a conservative rebellion led by Generals Gabriel Durán and Mariano Arista. Santa Anna defeated the revolt. After a brief imprisonment, Paredes went into exile.
He returned to Mexico in 1835 under an amnesty, and the central government allowed him to resume military service. While based in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Paredes married into a wealthy family with connections to Spanish nobility. He became well liked and respected by the clergymen and upper classes of Jalisco, serving as the state's commander general. Paredes and his social circle were avid centralists who missed the stricter social hierarchy of the colonial era. They held the lower classes in contempt and consequently distrusted both liberal democracy and federalism. When federalists rose up across Mexico in 1838 and 1839, Paredes successfully helped the central government suppress revolts in Jalisco and Michoacán. As his fame grew in those years, so too did his personal ambition.
In 1841, Bustamante was once again President, but he faced opposition from both Paredes and Santa Anna. The two generals deposed Bustamante that August under the pretense that the President had not fought to retake Texas, but it was Santa Anna who secured the presidency (his third) in the aftermath. Santa Anna appointed him to the governorship of Jalisco.
Even though Paredes and Santa Anna were competitors for power, Paredes largely supported Santa Anna's rule until 1844. By that year Santa Anna's rule became unstable. Already losing support from merchants and other groups over emergency taxes, Santa Anna found himself facing a moderate federalist majority in Congress. Furthermore, the proposed annexation of Texas by the United States prompted a renewed urgency to retake the former province. Paredes knew that Santa Anna was vulnerable so he started to mobilize his forces. He also knew that he had strong support in Jalisco from its upper classes, as well as other parts of the country where he nurtured some political relationships.
On November 2, 1844, Paredes publicly repudiated Santa Anna, joining with the federalists in accusing the President of corruption and mismanagement. The military, however, could not unite behind Paredes. Some still supported Santa Anna, while others opposed war with a U.S. Congress that effectively deposed Santa Anna, installing the moderate federalist José Joaquín de Herrera as President on January 7, 1845.
Herrera faced a tremendous diplomatic crisis almost immediately. While the President hoped that hostilities would not break out between the U.S. and Mexico, he had broken diplomatic relations with the U.S. and declared that the annexation of Texas would constitute an act of war. Meanwhile, Mexican nationalists continued their call to take back Texas. When it became public that Herrera might receive a U.S. diplomat and stomach annexation in exchange for compensation, centralists and federalists alike denounced him for appeasement.
Paredes made his move in December. He started to move his forces to Mexico City, agitating along the way against the "traitor" Herrera. Herrera tried to call up local militias as a defense against Paredes but they never materialized. The embattled President fled Mexico City and resigned the presidency on December 30, 1845. Four days later, on January 3, 1846, a pre-selected "junta of notables" appointed Paredes to the presidency.
Paredes had managed to consolidate broad support from clergymen, big landowners, merchants, and the military. He won that support by pledging to defend Mexico (which included Texas) against any U.S. aggression. Paredes believed that the war would be brief, and that Mexico would suffer little if any loss of territory.
Prior to seizing power, however, Paredes entered into negotiations with a monarchist conspiracy that wanted to install a Spaniard prince on a restored Mexican throne. While Paredes sympathized with the plot, the annexation of Texas essentially dashed any hopes of its success. The U.S.-Mexico War began in May, and Mexican defeats accumulated. Disappointing his monarchist supporters, Paredes refused to take dictatorial measures to establish a monarchist constitution without the legislature taking the initiative, but many in Congress would not advance such a measure without being certain that Mexico would receive military assistance from Europe.
As the military situation deteriorated, Paredes resorted to shoring up his rule by making republican appeals to the nation, essentially discarding his monarchist allies. Republicans and monarchists attacked him in the press, and revolts started to break out against his regime. On August 4, 1846, a rebellion orchestrated by a coalition of federalists overthrew Paredes and his regime. The new government exiled him to France.
Paredes returned to Mexico in 1848. To no avail, he had spent the previous years in Europe attempting to drum up support from any monarch to help him take back power in Mexico. Upon his return he rose up in arms against the central government with others who opposed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The rebellion was suppressed on July 18, 1848 by none other than Bustamante. Paredes went into exile once more. He returned to Mexico City in 1849 under an amnesty and that September, virtually destitute, he died in a convent.
Costeloe, Michael P. The Central Republic in Mexico, 1835-1846: "Hombres de Bien" in the Age of Santa Anna. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Heidler, David S., and Jeanne T. Heidler. The Mexican War. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2006.
Santoni, Pedro. Mexicans at Arms: Puro Federalists and the Politics of War, 1845-1848. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1996.
Vázquez, Josefina Zoraida. "In Search of Power: The Pronunciamientos of General Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga" translated by Andrea Boyd. Malcontents, Rebels, and Pronunciados: The Politics of Insurrection in Nineteenth-Century Mexico, edited by Will Fowler. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012.
Vázquez, Josefina Zoraida. "Political Plans and Collaboration Between Civilians and the Military, 1821-1846." Bulletin of Latin American Research. Vol. 15, no. 1: 1996.