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Posted in Agenda, Numero 30 - Laboratorio, Numero 30 - Novembre 2012, Numero 30 - Rubriche

All for federalism. Fiscal demands in Guanajuato  during the first years of independence

All for federalism. Fiscal demands in Guanajuato during the first years of independence

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di Carlos Armando Preciado de Alba

Abstract english

The establishment of centralism in Mexico in 1835 provoked protests from the elite of different regions. This article will explain the growing demands of Guanajuato’s political class for the restoration of the National Constitution of 1824. The demands were mostly focused on the fiscal area, as in this way the financial model of the First Federal Republic (1824-1835) would return to operation. These demands were seen reflected in debates at various levels of government. In federalism, the people of Guanajuato saw an opportune way to liberate themselves from their fiscal obligations and to avoid the demands of the national government, as in this system national jurisdiction and the range of available sources of income to them was weakened in the fiscal sphere. As a result we find a fierce defense of Guanajuato’s territorial interests when facing the national authorities.


The establishment of a centralist regime in Mexico (1835-1846) unleashed diverse protests from the elite of different regions; this happened in spite of the fact that the project could count on the support of multiple political participants throughout the country. Within this framework there are two principle objectives to this presentation; the first is to explain the growing demands of Guanajuato’s political class (Mosca 2004) for the restoration of the Constitution of 1824. Although this petition was made practically from the time that centralism was first established, it intensified during the first half of the decade of the 1840s. The demands were largely concentrated in the fiscal area as this would bring about a return to the model of treasury operations of the first Federal Republic (1824-1835). These demands were seen reflected in the debates and discussions occurring in meetings, assemblies and local and national congresses as well as between legislators and different governors.

I here propose at least a few explanations for this catalyzing. Firstly, the numerous plans and pronouncements that impacted the structure of the national government during this period created a shifting scene immersed in political conflicts. Looking for a way to legitimize these movements, the protagonists called for multiple meetings, assemblies and congresses with the intention of strengthening the nation. These national, state and department-based bodies, as well as the legislation emitting from them, generated ample space for political and social mobility, which in addition created good conditions for new relationships to be forged between members of the economic elite and the consolidation of these relationships. These business ventures were to lay the foundations for many future important private business ventures.

Another reason that favored the growth of federalist intentions was also based on events of an economic nature: the beginnings of the prosperity of production in the mining area of La Luz. The almost immediate increase of production from the area and the suggested potential that it promised provoked not only interests of an economic nature. It was necessarily reflected in political activity, above all in the demands to implement a fiscal system which would be of benefit to the Treasury and the private investors. For these reasons, the flag for the restoration of the Constitution of 1824 was hoisted. Under the system of the First Federal Republic good economic dividends had been produced for the state and the similar hopes were raised from the time of the mineral strike at La Luz. This strengthened an immediate demand for fiscal autonomy and thus for federalism at whatever cost.

From the abovementioned issue derives the second objective of this article which consists of taking note and analyzing the circumstances of the constant difficult meetings related to taxation issues which occurred between Guanajuato’s political class and the national authorities. This includes incidents even after August 1846, which is to say after the re-establishment of the Constitution of 1824. In effect, even though the Plan de la Ciudadela stipulated that the previous Constitution should be revived, tensions and confrontations concerning the fiscal contributions and powers did not diminish.

Conflictive meetings in the final period of the centralist regime

In March of 1841 the Mexican government decreed the creation of a tax that established a monthly contribution of between one real and two pesos from all adult working males. The funds collected by these means were destined to rectify the budget deficit which existed in the General Treasury. A few weeks later various Guanajuato City Councils, including Celaya, León, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende and Chamacuero, protested against this new contribution, which could be compared to the pre-independence tribute to Spain. Municipal functionaries from Celaya expressed that “the poor now believe that the federal system had required less payment than the central republic is now doing” (Costeloe 2000, 213). Later, at the end of June, the Junta Departmental1 sent Governor Manuel Gómez Linares an initiative asking the National Congress for the repeal or reform of this law.

In support of the most unprotected classes, the Junta complained about the constant contributions that the people repeatedly had to pay as well as about the conduct observed in the taxation branch in various national governments which had contributed to a great extent towards the existing state of disgrace and misadventure. They insisted that the fiscal laws had overburdened the contributors, above all those who had the least. Gómez Linares sent these messages of protest to the general government and issued a copy to the National Congress. However, the lack of stability in that moment caused by a military pronouncement from Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga impeded a response to the people of Guanajuato. In October of that year, when the Bases de Tacubaya2 were sworn in Guanajuato, the Junta Departmental took advantage of the occasion to tack on a proposal for the suspension the law of the 8th of March over which they had protested3.

In August 1844, the Guanajuato Asamblea Departamental4 submitted the budget to cover the necessary expenditure of the region for the year 1845 to the governor, Pedro Cortázar. In this budget no income was included as, according to the Asamblea, the department lacked the resources of the Treasury as the Treasury had not yet carried out the division of income provided for by the statutes in the Bases Orgánicas5. In article 199 of these Bases it is stipulated that the income assigned to the departments should be proportional to its expenditure. A short time after submitting this budget, the Asamblea members declared to Cortázar that the department was in a sorry state because expenditure withdrawals from the general income had been made. They warned him that the neglect of immediate economic needs would produce an inevitable breakdown6.

The beginning of 1845 saw the designation of General José Joaquin Herrera as President of the Republic. One of his first actions was to announce changes in the national legislative framework of the Bases. Without doubt, these reforms, Herrera considered, should be prudent and gradual and only be instigated after careful consideration, analysis and consultation with the various people involved and with political bodies throughout the country. One of the most burning themes in the national debate was weather to establish a federal system, and if so under what parameters. The president decided to convene the departmental assemblies to share their ideas about what might be the best way to reform the Bases. At this time it is important to mention that Herrera did not intend the assemblies to present projects to substitute the Bases with another legislative code, neither did he consider the possibility of returning to the Constitution of 1824, and much less to call for a new Constituent Congress. The responses of the departments were made known during the first months of that year of 1845. In them we can find various shades of federalism and even confederalism: certain assemblies proposed to re-establish the Constitution of 1824; some, like Zacatecas, suggested its restoration but with some modifications, and others stuck to the instructions of Herrera and presented suggested changes to the Bases (Costeloe 2000).

The Asamblea appointed a commission to elaborate a document in respect to the Bases. As a justification, the document refers with nostalgia to those days which, in its opinion, the federation had taken into consideration all the opinions, and interests of the various groups of Mexicans. The assembly members eulogized about the Constitution of 1824 within which:

That system was established and united all citizens around it, each of whom contributed with efficiency towards national growth and prosperity. Only in that time did the Republic enjoy an era of fortune, and the history of that time is one of its happiness and glory (Dictamen 1845, 4)7.

Through well-structured discourse, they sustained with vehemence that the only way to assure positive guarantees and a fit with their particular circumstances was through a federal system.

In the declaration it was considered necessary to suppress from the Bases all the dispositions based on the essentials of centralism, which implied that the local regions would return to their status as “States”, and would be regulated by local constitutions. The assembly members recognized that it would be much easier to redact a new, distinct Constitution rather than make multiple corrections to the existent Bases. The interest of the commission was to propose a representative, popular and federal form of government (Dictamen 1845).

Without a doubt, one of the points about which the members of the Asamblea had great hopes was taxation reform. More precisely this was related to the question of its division and assignation. The commission demanded that it should be left to the Departments to manage their own production, and it would be up to them to administer these efficiently, satisfying their internal needs and fulfilling their obligations towards the general government. By these means it was assured that the Treasury would not suffer bankruptcy as had often occurred previously.

The theme of fiscal powers and responsibilities in the Bases was limited to two concise articles: numbers 199 and 200. In these it was established that the Treasury be divided into general and departmental. The task of approving laws for the distribution of income was delegated to the General Congress, as were those those of indicating a way to reduce the public debt and with which funds this should be achieved. In addition to applying themselves to these tasks related to the Bases, the Guanajuato representatives made proposals which repeated their demands and those of the economic elite.

Firstly they suggested a division between the National Treasury and the domain of the Departments. Then, they specified the outlines by which the Treasury could be defined: 1) the earnings from customs charges in coastal and terrestrial crossings; 2) the income from the mail service, bonded paper and lottery earnings; 3) income from salt mines and production; 4) earnings from the real estate which at that moment was in the possession of the National Government, and 5) the contingente income8, which was that required of the different departments according to the amount stipulated by the General Congress. All other incomes mot mentioned in the previous classifications drawn up by the Departmental Treasury could be created, organized, collected and distributed exclusively by themselves (Dictamen 1845).

The incomes that were not specifically assigned to the General Treasury should be the domain of the departments. These included those taxes generated from the mining industry and the leasing of the Mint. Although the well-known areas of tobacco and sales tax were also considered, the great hopes of the Guanajuato representatives lay in the first two points mentioned above. Without the need to be more explicit, these means were intended to establish a fiscal reform which would make it similar to that stipulated in the 1824 Constitution and in the law of August 4th of that same year, which had defined the division of national income. In accordance with this law, import duty, the monopoly on tobacco, gunpowder, salt mining and production, the mail service and lottery, national real estate and income from the territories of Tlaxcala and Baja California, would be left to the federal state. The remaining taxes would be passed over to the state coffers, which in turn should make the contingente payment.9

In spite of the enthusiastic response of the Asamblea towards the convening of these proposals for reforms to the Bases, both President Herrera and the National Congress took a long time to deal with the issue. In May 1845, at the end of the ordinary legislative sessions, no resolution had yet been announced. When the extraordinary sessional period began, the issue of constitutional reform continued to be stagnated (Costeloe 2000).

Mining, treasury and finance

Complaints about the condition of Guanajuato’s Treasury were a recurring theme from the beginning of the decade of the 1830s. There was no significant difference between the tone of the reproaches in regard to this theme between the times of centralism and that of later when the area was returned to statehood in 1846. In effect, throughout this period and up to the time of the restoration of the Constitution of 1824, the hopes of the political class and the economic elite to revitalize Guanajuato’s Treasury did not live up to expectations. This was to a great extent due to the fact that potential income being generated by the mining industry, and including the operations of the mint, could not be taken advantage of as these financial contributions continued to be part of the general government income.

Pressures from the regional elite from around the whole country caused the interim President Mariano Salas to emit a decree on September 17th, 1846 in which a division of income similar to that of the law of August 1824 was established, but it included some disadvantageous aspects for the states. The import and export levies of the customs office, tax on the consumption of foreign goods, the earnings made from the sale of land consigned to the federation, the 4% tax levied on the minting of coinage, earnings from the income from the sale of tobacco, the mail and the lottery, that of salt mining and production, bonded paper and the Mints were all classified as general income for the federation.

The remaining incomes, taxes and contributions allotted by general decree belonged to the states. These included alcabalas10, some taxation from mining and textile production and some direct contributions as well as that from extraordinary loans; these last two were particularly unpopular among the population (Serrano 1997). In addition, the obligation to comply with the contingente continued. The only exceptions to this were for those states which were invaded by North American troops: California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas. Guanajuato was required to pay 5,500 pesos per month to the federal government. This contribution represented a little more than 6.5% of the total assigned to all the federal units (Castañeda 2001; Decretos 1851a).

In August 1846 Manuel Doblado became Governor of Guanajuato. From the very beginning he recognized that the State could not count on the financial resources to cover even basic requirements and as such the task of reform of the Treasury could be delayed no longer. For this purpose he approached his political mentor, Valentín Gómez Farías, who at that time was part of the cabinet of Antonio López de Santa Anna, to consult with him about the appropriateness of communicating directly with the president in order to request an increase in the income assigned to the states, or even for a full restoration of the financial attributions contained in the 1824 Constitution11.

At the end of that year he received a communication from Santa Anna in which he was asked for all possible resources from the State of Guanajuato in support of the needs of the National Army. In reply, on December 24th, Doblado addressed the local legislature with an initiative to re organize the Treasury. In an extensive preamble, he recognized the obligation of all Mexicans to strengthen the National Army. However, he did not restrain from criticizing the division of income that had been made and the unhelpful measures coming out of Mexico City in search of hard cash. He also criticized the disadvantageous contracts made with speculators, which all taken together had lead the nation towards progressive ruin. To conclude, Doblado believed that if the income and will of the general government were not enough to assume the responsibilities of maintaining the National Army, then much less were the resources of the state of Guanajuato. Precisely because of central government’s division of income, decreed in the month of September, Guanajuato could scarcely cover its own most urgent expenditure.

Apparently the note sent out by Santa Anna was destined exclusively for the government of Guanajuato and not for other states. Doblado brought up the fact that not only was the region being obliged to sustain the army, but also all those others which formed part of The Mexican Confederation. He demanded that all the integral parts of the nation, not just a few, should understand this difficulty. Following this he proposed that as the presidency of the Republic and the various ministries had been unable to safeguard the interests of the nation, general income, including those that had been central government monopolies, should be turned over to the states while war continued. In this plan the state authorities themselves should be made responsible for administering these funds without any general government interference and later these funds should be directed to satisfy the needs of the Army (Doblado 1847).

The discrepancies in ideas between the political class in Guanajuato and the National Treasury and War Ministries intensified as the war with the United States developed. Through this we can understand some of the ephemeral alliances between the State Executive and the local legislators, such as was the case of the approval of Doblado’s initiative. This took place within a larger framework which transcended his aggressive defense of regional interests. This implies that war provided a favorable context in which alliances within Guanajuato could be forged. Similar situations occurred in other states of the country (Vázquez 1997).

Between October and December of 1846, Doblado had managed to satisfy the taxation demands of the Treasury Ministry, but this was not achieved through an increase in precautionary activities, but rather through recurring to the public State coffers. Confronted with a situation which was becoming more difficult each day and backed by local Congress, Doblado attempted to impose extraordinary loans and direct contributions. The principle people affected by these actions were the executives in the mining industry and the commercial and the agricultural sectors. The economic elite immediately protested in the face of these measures and in general terms they refused to collaborate. In this context the governor levied a direct contribution on rural properties.

At the end of December he ordered a tax to be imposed a tax on leaseholders and sub-leaseholders as a function of their annual rent. In the regulation, which Doblado himself wrote, he established that as well as collecting these direct contributions, the collectors should watch, investigate, interrogate and impose fines for tax evasion. However, the local town councils argued that there were serious inconveniences in complying with these new fiscal requirements. The direct contributions were rejected with greater intensity than the extraordinary loans had been (Decretos 1851a; Serrano 1997).

Under the administration of Lorenzo Arellano, Doblado’s successor, Guanajuato’s Deputies confronted these failures and with military events pointing towards a probable defeat in the war with the United States they discussed the ways that the region might be able to contribute to the most immediate spending needs of the general government. In March 1847, without much complication, decree number 18 was approved. This facilitated the state government to provide 30,000 pesos to the national Army within a 20 day period. The legislators had had the idea that Santa Anna would not be long in demanding an extraordinary contingente from the federal areas and this being the case they could request that the quantity be taken as part of their contribution12.

While this was being discussed in Guanajuato, in Mexico City the emergency situation obliged the deputies in Congress to bestow extraordinary powers on Santa Anna. One of his first actions was to decree new fiscal charges on the mining industry. He sought to provide the National Treasury with all the possible resources to cover the expenditure brought about by the war. Taking a decree dating from November 1821 as an antecedent, Santa Anna declared the right to levy a tax of 3% on silver and gold ingots. He also established that instead of the current price of one real for each silver marco (a half-pound weight), two reales would be paid for the duration of one year. Of this amount, three quarters would be for the federal funds and the rest would be destined for the state coffers (Dublán 2006, rule 2979).

When news of these new taxes arrived to Guanajuato, Arellano obtained the backing of the local Congress to raise a protest to the general government. As a result the tariffs demanded would put serious difficulties onto the industry. Facing pressure from the governors of mining states, from incentive groups and from creditors, one month and a half after the decree had been issued; Santa Anna overturned the 3% tax (Dublán 2006, rule 2990). The increase of one real on each silver marco was continued and this situation provoked new protests on the part of the people of Guanajuato as a partial repeal of the new tax did not seem to be sufficient.

Conflict following the war with the United States

Once the war with the United States was over and the emergency financial situation sparked by it lessened, important conflictive situations related to the Treasury continued to occur between Guanajuato’s political class and the general government. In February of 1849 Deputy Jacinto Rubio announced that the Minister of the Treasury had sent a project to the National Congress which, if approved, would weaken the federal areas, especially those which depended to a great extent on the mining industry. The initiative called for a contribution to federal Treasury funds of two in a thousand (0.2%) on rural and urban landholdings.

In compensation for the damages which giving up this taxable item would cause, central government offered to condone the contingente payment. On the other hand it advocated for the 3% charged on the silver and gold ingots to be declared as federal income. According to Rubio’s estimates, to deprive the state of these resources would imply a reduction of approximately 262,000 pesos annually in lost revenue13. Considering that at that time the contingente payment was fixed at 66,000 pesos annually, there was no way that talk of compensation could be comprehended as the quantitates in question were completely dissimilar and implication would have an irreversible impact on the economy of the state. A few days later a formal protest was sent to the National Congress against this initiative.

The demands of the mining states seemed to have an effect, as the measures proposed by the Minister of the Treasury did not go forward. However, on May 15th of that same year the National Congress decreed that silver ingots and gold in dust or ingot form with foreign origin would not generate import tax. In this way these metals would remain free of the 3% tax (Dublán 2006, rule 3251). This represented a serious blow to national mining enterprises as it allowed for the operation of unequal competition in which they themselves would be at a disadvantage.

In the face of repeated attempts on the part of the national government to extract new financial contributions from the mining industry, Guanajuato’s politicians disobeyed certain mandates. The presidency stipulated that the Governors of these states had the strict obligation to publish general government declarations within three days of their reception. In the case that this obligation should be denied or deliberately ignored, they would be incurring a legal infraction. This argument was used in February of 1851 by Mariano Arista, the new president of the Republic. Arista, who had assumed the charge on the previous January 15th, demanded that Guanajuato’s government should publish the law that had declared on April 30th of 1847. Specifically this was the law that referred to the imposition of an additional real for each silver marco which should be added to the National Treasury coffers.

Governor Arellano was responsible for failing to display the publication of this law, which provoked an accusation on the part of the Minister of the Treasury before the National Congress. When Arista sent out this recrimination, the change of Guanajuato State Executives had already taken place and from February 1st, 1851, this was headed by Octaviano Muñoz Ledo. The new Governor excused himself from having to publish the law. To gain time, on 10th March he indicated that while the legislative department had not emitted any resolution referring to the charge against Arellano, he preferred to not alter the status quo of the situation. The charge against Arellano never prospered and the Minister of the Treasury did not insist that Muñoz Ledo publish the law of 1847 (Muñoz 1852).

However, the true reason why the general government stopped insisting that the law be published had more to do with the fact that during those same days the Minister of the Treasury sent a new project to the National Congress. Its objective was yet again that a 3% tax on the production of silver should be levied and sent to the federal Treasury rather than the state Treasury. The response, one more time was that Guanajuato’s legislators sent a protest to President Arista asking that he persuade the National Congress to reject such a proposal.

In this document the deputies argued that Congress did not have the authority to carry out this constitutional reform that implied the re-organization of income. They asked for the fixing of fiscal obligations for all states in proportional terms. They indicated that the day that the National Legislature sanctioned principles that were against the interests of the states, would be the day that the federal pact would dissolve and that a system of anarchy would begin and, as a consequence the disintegration of government would take place (Exposición 1851). In this regard legislators spoke of the anti-constitutionalism of the initiative and that on its approval the independence of the states would disappear and their sovereignty in things related to their internal administration would be nullified. In an attempt to serve the regional interests, Guanajuato’s Deputies recurred to arguments which we could characterize as confederate14.

The Arellano regime was characterized by the special attention it paid to the issue of the Treasury. In 1849 he announced that ending the war with the United States would see the augmentation of State incomings, above all from those generated by the mining industry. The taxes gathered from the rights related to silver in 1849 increased by around 20% in relation to those of the previous year. The increase was also to be seen reflected in the remaining funds left in the Treasury at the end of each year. However, these figures need to be analyzed with care as the amount of incomings and outgoings sometimes differed significantly from one year to the next due to the circumstances created by war.

For Arellano, the branch of the public Treasury formed the life and soul of nations, and so the fact that this positive financial situation should exist was opportune as it allowed for a little relaxation from the financial pressures that had been present in previous years, as much caused by the war against the United States as by the conflict in the Sierra Gorda. In light of the above, Arellano asked legislators that instead of worrying about increasing the revenue entering into the State Treasury coffers, they should direct their attention towards making fiscal charges less burdensome for the ordinary people. He was convinced that such actions would help optimize tax collection and the spending that this implied.

On distinct occasions Arellano pronounced in favor that the authorities should concede greater liberties to the diverse sources of public wealth, as in his view, mining, commerce and agriculture did not need any particular protection, but rather they needed a reduction of the complications imposed on them by the administration of the fiscal system. According to his vision, the State was committed to providing the means to make fiscal demands less weighty. He also considered that the rights of established industries should be extended and that new industries seeking to install themselves in Guanajuato territory should receive concessions. (Arellano 1849; 1851).

Arellano was against the application of more indirect contributions. He considered this system to be defective and harmful for the population as well as for the government itself. For the communities it implied considerable losses, not only because of the financial burdens themselves, but also because of the diverse humiliations and frauds to which these people became subjected. For the governmental apparatus it was damaging due to the fact that scientifically it would never be possible to know for certain neither the amounts that needed to be collected and nor the amounts actually collected. In face of this he pronounced in favor of direct contributions as it seemed to him that it would be easier to systematize the information about the contributors and about their productive activity (Arellano 1849).

Muñoz Ledo also pronounced in favor of the suppression of indirect taxes in particular the alcabala. However, he recognized that such a measure could not be implemented if an adequate system of direct taxation had not been previously established. For him the most efficient way of procuring the establishment of a systematic collection of direct contributions would be the elaboration of a general land registry. This would aid knowledge about the value of the elements within the state, of its territory and that of the urban landholdings as well as providing a census of its population.

In this sense, during the two years that he headed the government, Muñoz Ledo directed measures that would complete, elaborate on, and modernize the patterns that would make the collection of the 0.3% tax on rural and urban smallholdings more efficient from 1846 and onwards. He proposed that by means of a law all legislative dispositions and circulars that had been decreed during the era of the centralist regime about direct contributions should be declared obligatory. The idea here was that these rules should operate at least while others had not yet been decreed and by these means the management of this area would be solved. This proposal did not survive the State legislature. Despite this, the branch of direct contributions experienced an increase of more than a third in respect to the previous year during 1852 according to information from a later date.15 Through these methods Muñoz Ledo could be confident that yields for the successive years would be increasing. This was a circumstance which he would not witness directly due to the abrupt end of his administration at the beginning of 1835 when once more there was a step made towards a more centralist regime.

Final reflections

Guanajuato’s political class and economic elite saw in federalism an opportunistic way to free themselves from their significant fiscal obligations and a way to avoid the national governments’ demands for financial resources, as this federal system was seen to weaken the spheres of fiscal jurisdiction of the national government and to reduce the sources from which national government would obtain its income. From this point of view they considered it fitting to reject the demands for supplementary loans and direct contributions and to keep control of the use of taxes obtained from the mining industry. This demonstrates their tenacious defense of territorial interests in relation to the national authorities, interests which were defended even by politicians with different affiliations.

Marcello Carmagnani has described what he has called “estate and territorial tension”, circumstance that possibly prevented the incipient Mexican estate from developing an autonomous financial structure during the first half of the nineteenth century (Carmagnani 1998). This was provoked basically by the constant conflict between the national government and the States. The author mentioned above concluded that the regional elite tried to maintain its autonomy, land and financial resources by any means available to it. This attitude can help us understand why the national government had to recur constantly to extra-ordinary financial resources such as loans provided by speculators and other opportunistic people.

Without losing sight of what has been said by Carmagnani, I have turned this approach around in order to emphasize that Guanajuato’s political class tended to wait for news about decisions made by the national government, especially the decisions made in relation to the creation of budgets, the imposition of new fiscal fees and the assignation of public resources. The attempts at financial reorganization applied by its members represented a drastic readjustment of the ordinary and supplementary financial resources. This implicated the planning and re-organizing of the different branches of Guanajuato´s economy as well as the creation of strategies that would make the collection of fees more efficient. Technically speaking this restructuration should have concentrated not only on financial matters, but also on the deeper question of the relationship and negotiations between the States and the national government in order to try to reconcile mutual interests as well as individual benefits.

The experience that was slowly acquired by the political class and revitalized by the participation of younger elements (many of who were educated in the so-called “liberal professions”), contributed to strengthening the arguments of their demands and to direct their efforts to the consolidation of governments integrated mostly with well-educated people, who had different conceptions about politics and different ways of acting on the political scene. Through paying attention to the evidence of restraint and commitment which these representatives of Guanajuato displayed in the discussions that took place, we can distinguish this period as a key point in time to observe the redefinition of a much stronger federalism and liberalism.

Per citare questo testo attenersi alle seguenti indicazioni: Carlos Armando Preciado de Alba, All for federalism. Fiscal demands in Guanajuato  during the first years of independence, in “Storia e Futuro”, Rubriche: Agenda, n. 30, novembre 2012.


Doctor in History from El Colegio de Michoacán, is a member of the National System of Researchers (SNI), Mexico. His principle lines of research are within the area of analysis of political culture, political representation and institutions. He has participated as a speaker and organizer in diverse national and international forums. Amongst his publications can be found the books, Guanajuato en tiempos de la Intervención Francesa y el Segundo Imperio, Clase Política, elecciones y estructuras legislativas. Guanajuato 1835-1853 and Guanajuato. Historia de las Instituciones Jurídicas.



Arellano L.

1849                Memoria que el gobernador del estado leyó el 24 de mayo de 1849 en el salón del Honorable Congreso, para dar cumplimiento al artículo 82 de la Constitución particular, y para que tuviese conocimiento de los diversos ramos de la administración pública, Guanajuato, Tipografía de Juan E. Oñate.

1851                Memoria que el gobernador Lorenzo Arellano del estado de Guanajuato leyó el día 1º de enero de 1851, en el salón del Honorable Congreso para dar cumplimiento en lo prevenido en las constituciones general y particular e informar sobre los diversos ramos de la administración pública, México, Imprenta de Cumplido.

Carmagnani M.

1998                Finanzas y Estado en México, 1820-1880, in Jáuregui, Serrano Ortega.

Castañeda Zavala J.

2001                El contingente fiscal en la nueva nación mexicana, 1824-1861, in Marichal, Marino.

Costeloe M.

2000                La República central en México, 1835-1846, México, Fondo de Cultura Económica.


1851a              Decretos expedidos por el Excelentísimo Señor Gobernador don Manuel Doblado, en los años de 1846 y 1847, Guanajuato, Imprenta de Félix Conejo.

1851b              Decretos expedidos por el Sexto Congreso Constitucional del Estado de Guanajuato, en los años de 1846, 1847 y 1849, Guanajuato, Imprenta de Félix Conejo.



1845                Dictamen que por vía de iniciativa ha dirigido la Asamblea Constitucional del Departamento de Guanajuato al Congreso Nacional, sobre las reformas de las Bases de Organización Política de la República, Guanajuato, Imprenta de Juan E. Oñate.

Doblado M.

1847                Memoria que contiene los principales actos del gobierno del Excmo. Sr. Lic. D. Manuel Doblado, presentada por el mismo a la Honorable Legislatura del Estado al hacer entrega del mando. Guanajuato, Imprenta de Juan E. Oñate.

Dublán M., Lozano J.M.

2006                Colección completa de las disposiciones legislativas expedidas desde la independencia de la República.


1851                Exposición que el Exmo. Sr. Gobernador de este Estado, ha dirigido al Excelentísimo señor Presidente de la República, contra la iniciativa de ley, que el Ministerio de Hacienda ha hecho a la Cámara de Diputados, con el objeto de que el impuesto del 3 por ciento, que pagan el oro y la plata, se declare renta de la federación, Guanajuato, Imprenta de Félix Conejo.


1841                Iniciativa que la Escma. Junta Departamental de Guanajuato, dirige al Congreso Nacional pidiéndole la revocación de la ley del 8 de marzo del presente año, que impuso una contribución personal en la República, México, Imprenta de Ignacio Cumplido.

Jáuregui L., Serrano Ortega J.A. (cur.)

1998                Las finanzas públicas en los siglos XVIII-XIX, México, Instituto Mora, El Colegio de Michoacán, El Colegio de México, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Marichal C., Marino D. (cur.)

2001                De colonia a nación. Impuestos y política en México, 1750-1860, México, El Colegio de México.

Mosca G.

2004                La clase política, México, Fondo de Cultura Económica.

Muñoz Ledo O.

1852                Memoria del gobierno del estado de Guanajuato presentada a su Honorable Legislatura en 1º de enero de 1852, México, Imprenta de Lara.

1853                Informe leído por el Exmo. Sr. Gobernador el estado libre y soberano de Guanajuato, C. Lic. Octaviano Muñoz Ledo, en la solemne apertura de la Honorable Legislatura del mismo estado, verificada el día 1º de Enero de 1853, México, Imprenta de Lara.

Serrano Ortega J.A.

1997                Hacienda y guerra, élites políticas y el gobierno nacional. Guanajuato, 1835-1847, in Vázquez.

Vázquez J.Z. (cur.)

1997                México al tiempo de su guerra con Estados Unidos (1846-1848), México, Fondo de Cultura Económica.

  1. The centralist Constitution of 1836 eliminated the free and sovereign states as constitutive regions within the Mexican nation. A new form of territorial, departmental administration was established to replace them in the Departments. By these means the State Congresses were eliminated from the Constitution and these were substituted by Juntas Departamentales which were legislative bodies with much more limited powers. []
  2. In September of 1841, following a quick and successful armed uprising lead by Mariano Paredes, Gabriel Valencia y Antonio López de Santa Anna, whose principle objective was the overthrow of President Anastasio Bustamante, agreements were signed in the town of Tacubaya, near Mexico City. This document, known as the Bases de Tacubaya formalized the fall of Bustamante. []
  3. Archivo General del Estado de Guanajuato, Fondo Secretaría de Gobierno, Sección Secretaría de Gobierno (in future refered to as AGEG-SG), Serie Junta Departamental, box 169, folder 2; Iniciativa 1841. []
  4. The Bases Orgánicas, proclaimed in June of 1843, took into consideration the existence of less limited legislative bodies than the Juntas Departamentales in regard to their functions. These new organizations were named Asambleas Departamentales. []
  5. In 1842, in the middle of the centralist regime, a National Congress was chosen write a new Constitution. Due to the fact that this Constitution was headed towards the establishment of a new federal system, Antonio López de Santa Anna closed down Congress and in its place he designated men within his confidence to form a Junta National Instituyente. The function of this group was to draw up some “Bases” (code guideline) which would act like a Constitution. The result, in June of 1843 was published using the name Bases Orgánicas. []
  6. Letter from Rosas to Cortázar, Guanajuato, October 3, 1844. AGEG-SG, Serie Junta Departamental, box 185, folder 3. []
  7. Author’s own translation. []
  8. The contingente payment, established in 1824, was a monthly quota that each State had to pay to the national government. The amount varied for each State and was calculated upon the supposed wealth of each region. To know in general terms about the dynamic of how this worked and of how it was charged and about the expectations related to it and the resistance it caused (Castañeda 2001). []
  9. This distribution provoked the organization of a weak national government and stronger State governments in fiscal terms. This is to say that not a federalization of the fiscal system, but a strengthening of the autonomy of the States was achieved. This is evidence of not a federal State, but a confederate State. The description of the Law of August 4th can be found in Carmagnani 1998. []
  10. The alcabala was a tax on internal commerce which was applied for the first time in the XIVth century in the kingdom of Castille. This tax was extended to New Spain and even continued in use in independent Mexico until its abolition in 1896. []
  11. Letter from Doblado to Gómez Farías, Guanajuato, September 11, 1846. In Benson Latin American Collection, Archivo de Valentín Gómez Farías, document 1763.  []
  12. Archivo Histórico del Congreso del Estado de Guanajuato, Fondo Poder Legislativo, Sección Actas de Sesiones (in future refered to as AHCEG-AS), book November 28, 1846 – May 26, 1847, meeting of March 15, 1847; Decretos, 1851b. []
  13. AHCEG-AS, book 1849, meeting of February 28, 1849. []
  14. As well as the written protest, local Congress allowed Muñoz Ledo to name a commission which would travel to Mexico City to personally request to the President that he quash the initiative. It is not known with certainty if this commission fulfilled this mission. In any case pressure from State Governments, especially those regions whose economies were based to a large extent on the mining industry, managed to convince the national authorities to withdraw the initiative (AGEG-SG, Serie Congreso del Estado, box 240, folder 1; Exposición 1851; Muñoz 1852). []
  15. In 1851 close to 50,000 pesos was collected through this descriptive, while in 1852, the quantity increased to a little less than 69,000. (Muñoz 1852; 1853). []

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