Plan de Iguala, The
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
de Iturbide and the liberals led by
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
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
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
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
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
13. It shall solemnly swear to defend the fundamental bases
of this plan.
14. It shall strictly observe the military ordinances now in
15. There shall be no other promotions than those which are
due to seniority, or which shall be necessary for the good of
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
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.