THE FIRST ATTEMPT ON INDEPENDENCE

New Spain received with surprise the crushing news that had arrived from France: The National Assembly with the firm decision of transforming the country in a republic, had ordered to cut off the head of the king Louis XVI, on January 21, 1793, monarchy had died. The young Novo Hispanic men taught by the Jesuits, who were expelled from the colony, secretly read the forbidden authors, and made up groups in which the possibility of instituting in Mexico a government without monarchy, was furtively discussed. Some Frenchmen that had arrived in 1789 as part of the viceroy Count of Revillagigedo’s court also joined those groups.

All this uneasiness was made concrete in the first conspiracy that set the real possibility of liberating from the Spanish colony; even though it was denounced to the Inquisition on October 4, 1793, at the time the process didn’t prosper perhaps because the viceroy had certain sympathies for the ideas of illustration or by the wrongfully considered firm political stability of the colony.

On July 12, 1794, the new viceroy, the Marquis of Branciforte, came decided to eliminate any revolutionary initiative, and his first step towards accomplishing his goal, was to reanimate the Holy Office. The feverish campaign against whoever was a sympathizer of French ideals brought to light the Conspiracy of 1793.

Juan Antonio Montenegro y Arias, born in Sayula, had graduated in theology in the Royal and Pontific University of Mexico. He was the head of a group that debated heretic matters, like the notion of popular sovereignty in opposition to the divine right to rule. Updated of the advances of the French revolutionaries, he came up with a plan to make New Spain independent, from the kings that possesed this land illegally, since they took it by force. The vassals are only forced to be loyal to their kings, when they consult the townspeople, but the Spanish vassals had been nothing but tyrants to America, requiring numerous contributions and extracting large amounts of crops.

Follower of the political ideas of Rousseau, Voltaire, and Montesquieu, Montenegro also assured that in any religion anyone can save themselves because religion is pure politics which was used to make everyone submit. Montenegro and its group members whose names he never revealed, in spite of the torments, they had also thought how the future republic shall be formed: it would be divided in twelve provinces. Each one represented in a congress of deputies whose location would have been the capital of the country; the positions would have been temporary and then the government’s election it would be in charge of increasing the acquisitive power of the citizens; factories would have been opened, science would have been supported and impelled, and the public treasury would pay teachers, Englishmen, Frenchmen that would help the recently liberated country to progress. The plan proposed a real radical revolution. The conspirators had a very clear idea of what they intended to do, making monarchy disappear to substitute it by a republic. But they had been conspiring for two months when they were discovered.

The firmness and lucidity that was displayed by Montenegro during the process, favorably impressed the tribunal; because of that, and in spite of the accusations against Him that were very serious, the sentence wasn’t very harsh. After of being one year in jail, he had to abjure all of the things he said and recruit himself for two years in the school of Santa Cruz in Queretaro, this way he would be, with the apostolic missionaries, and was send to exile out of Mexico City for ten years. In 1801, he requested a permission to become a priest and the authorities allowed it. The most relevant thing of the Conspiracy of 1793 is that it went from its first period of theoretical speculation and illustration to another more attractive aspect. The criticism to social and political regime of the colony that fought for a free participation of citizens in political aspects, and in them you could catch a glimpse of the coming of liberalism. The transcendence of this radical conspiracy in the ideological principals outlined by the conspirators is present in the struggle for independence in the XIX century.

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