Print this pageHistorical Text Archive © 1990 - 2017
by Terri Dickinson
The long road to Mexican independence was aided by a simple plan, the Plan de Iguala. However, the Plan de Iguala was more of a marriage of convenience between the royalist conservatives led by Agustín de Iturbide and the liberals led by Vicente Guerrero. The two groups united in order to loosen the ties that bound Mexico to Spain.
By 1820, the liberals had been struggling for complete independence for some 12 years while the conservatives fought to preserve the status quo, which included a monarchy, state support of the Roman Catholic Church, and special privileges of fueros that were given to the clergy, the military, and the elite. The clash between the two groups took the turn toward compromise with the Plan de Iguala as a result of revolt in Spain that led to King Ferdinand VII being forced to adapt the liberal Constitution of 1812. This constitution provided for amnesty to certain political prisoners, political equality and liberty of opinion, and the sharing of theoretical sovereignty with the people which made the monarchy more limited and representative. The conservatives of New Spain were more inclined to embrace this constitution than the more liberal one offered by the radicals of Mexico which would abolish privileges and slavery, establish a representative and republican government, promote popular sovereignty, provide for equality of all races before the law, and although it would maintain Roman Catholic as the state religion the state would no longer support it.
Mexico was being torn apart over differences on these issues. Enter Iturbide and Guerrero who agreed on the Plan de Iguala on February 24, 1821, as a way to bring about independence as the conservatives, who detested the Constitution of 1812, were now more afraid of the effect of changes in Spain than they were of independence.
The Plan de Iguala is also known as the Plan of Three Guarantees as its main provisions were for independence, union with equality, and religion. The new nation of Mexico would be independent of Spain but maintain a constitutional monarchy that would be headed by King Ferdinand VII or another member of the royal family. The people of Mexico would be united through equality to all races. The national religion would be Roman Catholic and the Church would retain its privileged position.
The articles of the Plan de Iguala are:
1. The Mexican nation is independent of the Spanish nation, and of every other, even on its own Continent.
2. Its religion shall be the Catholic, which all its inhabitants profess.
3. They shall be all united, without any distinction between Americans and Europeans.
4. The government shall be a constitutional monarchy.
5. A junta shall be named, consisting of individuals who enjoy the highest reputation in the different parties which have shown themselves.
6. This junta shall be under the presidency of his Excellency the Count del Venadito, the present Viceroy of Mexico.
7. It shall govern in the name of the nation, according to the laws now in force, and its principal business will be to convoke, according to such rules as it shall deem expedient, a congress for the formation of a constitution more suitable to the country.
8. His Majesty Ferdinand VII shall be invited to the throne of the empire, and in case of his refusal, the Infantes Don Carlos and Don Francisco de Paula.
9. Should His Majesty Ferdinand VII and his august brothers decline the invitation, the nation is at liberty to invite to the imperial throne any member of reigning families whom it may select.
10. The formation of the constitution by the congress, and the oath of the emperor to observe it, must precede his entry into the country.
11. The distinction of castes is abolished, which was made by the Spanish law, excluding them from the rights of citizenship. All the inhabitants of the country are citizens, and equal, and the door of advancement is open to virtue and merit.
12. An army shall be formed for the support of religion, independence, and union, guaranteeing these three principles, and therefore it shall be called the army of the three guarantees.
13. It shall solemnly swear to defend the fundamental bases of this plan.
14. It shall strictly observe the military ordinances now in force.
15. There shall be no other promotions than those which are due to seniority, or which shall be necessary for the good of the service.
16. This army shall be considered as of the line.
17. The old partisans of independence who shall immediately adhere to this plan, shall be considered as individuals of this army.
18. The patriots and peasants who shall adhere to it hereafter, shall be considered as provincial militiamen.
19. The secular and regular priests shall be continued in the state in which they now are.
20. All the public functionaries, civil, ecclesiastical, political, and military, who adhere to the cause of independence, shall be continued in their offices, without and distinction between Americans and Europeans.
21. Those functionaries, of whatever degree and condition, who dissent from the cause of independence, shall be divested of their offices, and shall quit the territory of the empire, taking with them their families and their effects.
22. The military commandants shall regulate themselves according to the general instructions in conformity with this plan which shall be transmitted to them.
23. No accused person shall be condemned capitally by the military commandants. Those accused of treason against the nation, which is the next greatest crime after that of treason to the Divine Ruler, shall be conveyed to the fortress of Barrabas, where they shall remain until the congress shall resolve on the punishment which ought to be inflicted on them.
24. It being indispensable to the country that this plan should be carried into effect, in as much as the welfare of that country is its object, every individual of the army shall maintain it, to the shedding (if it be necessary) of the last drop of his blood.
Town of Iguala, 24th February, 1821. (Iturbide Circle 1998)
A representative of Spain, Don Juan O'Donojú, signed the Treaty of Córdoba with Iturbide on August 24, 1821, to signify Spain's acceptance of the Plan de Iguala and recognition of the independence of Mexico. However, King Ferdinand VII denied O'Donojú's authority to sign the treaty and declared it illegal through the Decree of the Cortes at Madrid on February 13, 1822, and reasserted Spain's claim to Mexico.
Nevertheless, Don Agustín de Iturbide was crowned as Emperor of Mexico July 21, 1822. His reign and the Plan de Iguala were to be short lived as although Iturbide had been instrumental in achieving independence for Mexico he had done too little to bring about true unity or equality to the people and especially to the rival political factions who were fighting for dominance. Political and financial instability that caused unrest in the new nation led Iturbide to offer his abdication of the throne by the spring of the next year and on March 19, 1823, his opponents accepted his abdication. Shortly thereafter, on April 8, 1823, the Plan de Iguala and the Treaty of Córdoba were annulled by a declaration of the Mexican congress. While the struggle for independence had been victorious, the struggle within Mexico was going to continue unabated for some time to come.
1. "Mexico: Stages of Independence, 1808-21," Historical Text Archive. Online. 13 January 2003
2. "The Emperor," The Imperial House of Mexico, The House of Iturbude. Online. 13 January 2003.
3. "Plan of Iguala," Plan of Iguala. Online. 21 January 2003.
4. "Iguala," Columbia Encyclopedia (6th Edition) Online. Columbia.com 21 January 2003.
5. "Iturbide, Agustin de," Columbia Encyclopedia (6th Edition) Online. Columbia.com 21 January 2003.
6. "Treaty of Cordova," Iturbide Circle. Online. 21 January 2003
7. "Decree of the Cortes at Madrid," Iturbide Circle. Online. 21 January 2003.
8. "Declaration of Mexican Congress," Iturbide Circle. Online. 21 January 2003.
9. Enrique Krauze. Mexico: Biography of Power. New York, NY: Harper-Collins, 1997
10. "Mexican Independence," Sons of Dewitt Colony Texas. Online. 06 March 2003.