The First Mexican Empire and Agustín de Iturbide

Primer Imperio Mexicano

 July 21, 1821 - March 19, 1823

Agustín de Iturbide


September 27,  1821 the Army of the Three Guarantees made its triumphal entry into Mexico City under General Don Agustin de Iturbide. It was also the general's birthday. The next day the independence of the First Mexican Empire was declared and General Iturbide later became Emperor Agustin I of Mexico, the first leader of the independent nation.

On September 27 1821 the Army of the Three Guarantees made its triumphal entry into Mexico City under General Don Agustin de Iturbide. It was also the general's birthday. The next day the independence of the First Mexican Empire was declared and General Iturbide later became Emperor Agustin I of Mexico, the first leader of the independent nation.


 Biography of Agustín de Iturbide, click cc to translate into English

As provided by the Plan de Iguala,  General Agustín de Iturbide, a Mexican-born criollo ( Creole )  who originally fought for the pro-Spanish royalists but switched his allegiance to the insurgents in the final phases of the war, named a provisional Junta to rule the country, which in turned named him as its presiding officer . The Congress was still independent and some members of it wanted to form a republic and decreed that no member of the military could hold political office in order to forestall Iturbide's attempt at becoming monarch . Iturbide knew he had to move quickly if he wanted to seize supreme power. After the declaration of independence on September 27, 1821, it was the intention of  Congress to establish a commonwealth whereby the king of Spain, Ferdinand VII, would also be Emperor of Mexico, but in which both countries were to be governed by separate laws and with their own legislative offices. However, as Spain was eyeing to retake Mexico, it did not accept the offer .

Coin of Emperor Agustin I

On May 18, 1821 , Iturbide had his own troops, the regiment of Celaya stage a demonstration on his behalf . They fired muskets and firing rockets in the air, the shouted ' Viva Agustin I, Emperor of Mexico !' and marched onto Iturbide's home with a mob which had followed them . There they demanded their general declare himself emperor at once . Iturbide feigned reluctance, then accepted . The following morning Iturbide appeared at Congress with many of his followers, which intimidated Congress into naming him the constitutional emperor of Mexico . In June Congress declared the position to be hereditary . The heir apparent was Senor Don August, Iturbide's eldest son  and his other brothers and sisters were made princesses and princes . Court etiquette was issued, outraging republican factions who found it undignified to be forced to kiss the emperor's hand on bended knee .


On July 21, 1822 Iturbide was crowned emperor , as Agustin I . Iturbide was now emperor of a huge empire, from California in the north to Panama . The old Captaincy General of Guatemala was also in the empire, which included Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Mexican state of Chiapas .


National Anthem of the First Mexican Empire

President Madison was initially eager to extend diplomatic recognition to Mexico, hoping to promote free republican governments . When Iturbide was declared emperor, Madison felt this ' empire ' couldn't last long , but recognized the Empire of Mexico in December 22, 1822 .

The economy of the Empire

The empire was on very shaky  foundations. The war for independence had caused much damage to Mexico, especially the important silver mines, dropping from $26,000,000 minted in 1809 to only $6,000,000 being minted in 1821 .Iturbide and his supporters thought replacing the peninsulares who ended up with most of the capital during the colonial days would rectify the ills of the economy .  They underestimated the amount of debt incurred during the war of independence, around 75,000,000 pesos and how it would strangle the economy . The extravagant regime expenses far exceeded its revenue and could only get loans at high rates . The government forced loans from the church and confiscated money from citizens .

More paper currency was printed with the consequent inflation .In order to get the Spanish to agree to leave Mexico, Iturbide agreed to let the Spaniards, who nearly all left, to take the value of their land holding in hard currency, which seriously depleted the currency reserves . As many as 20% of adult males were unemployed . Much of the revenue that was raised went to Iturbide's salary and his military cronies, almost nothing was invested in restarting the economy .

Veracruz with the fortress of San Juan de Ulúa

The economy began to stagnate and there were increasing criticism  against the regime .Some members of Congress conspired against the emperor , but they were betrayed and arrested . Despite this there were more and more protests against an imperial form of government for Mexico by members of Congress .On October 31, Iturbide dissolved Congress in the face of heated criticism .

Santa Anna

The self proclaimed leader of the antimonarchists was the commander of Vera Cruz Antonio Lopes de Santa Anna .Santa Anna was sent to Vera Cruz to drive out the last remaining Spanish troops in Mexico in the harbor fortress of San Juan de Ulloa. The Spanish did not leave the fortress till 1825 .On Dec 1, 1822 Santa Anna proclaimed a republic in Vera Cruz .Soon, the old revolutionaries Vicenta Guerrero, Guadalupe Victoria and Nicolas Bravo had joined the movement .

Iturbide appointed Jose Antonio Echaverri in charge of the imperial force to attack Santa Anna . Ironically, Echaverri  proved as loyal to Iturbida as Iturbide had been to the Spanish viceroy . Echaverri  joined Santa Annas' forces . On February 1, 1823, Santa Anna and the other members of his movement announced the Plan de Casa Mata.The key points of the plan were that Mexico would become a republic and Catholicism was to be the sole religion of Mexico. Iturbide would not be recognized as emperor . Realizing he no longer had support, Iturbide abdicated his throne in February 1823 and left first to Italy and then went to London .

 In 1824 he  heard rumors that the restored Spanish king, Ferdinand VII was about to undertake a reconquest of Mexico .Iturbide offered his services to the Mexican republic to fight the Spanish, but the national congress, mindful of the lessons of Napoleon's return refused this offer and passed a law that he would be guilty of treason and executed if he returned .

However, Iturbide, unfortunately, did not wait for a reply from Mexico and departed England on May11, 1824 with his family and retainers . He landed at Tampico and was recognized by the military commander there, Gen. Garza, who pretending friendship, but betrayed him .The Tamaulipas legislature met and decided it must enforce the order set by the national congress and he was executed by a firing squad . The sentence was carried out at Padilla, July 19th, 1824, less than a week from the time of his landing on the coast, and before an appeal could be made to the general Government at Mexico . Before his execution he declared ' Mexicans ! Even in this act of my death I recommend to you to love our fatherland and observe our holy religion..I die for coming to assist you, and I die happy because I die with you ." The empress .Madame Huarte de Iturbide died in Philadelphia in 1861 .



War for Independence

1810 -1821



Early Mexican Republic