« AnteriorContinuar »
Vera Cruz without examination. This created the belief that he had brought a large quantity of valuable merchandise from Spain to dispose of in the colonies, and thus defraud the revenue.2
The marquis was invested with the order of the golden fleece by Cárlos IV. Vainglorious with this testimony of royal favor, he made haste to adorn his person with the badge, and lost no opportunity to display it before the public. This demonstration of vanity became offensive to the people, and gave occasion for much satire and ridicule. Caricatures of the viceroy began to circulate, with a dead cat suspended from his neck instead of the lamb insignia of the order. At a reception held in the palace he remained seated under a canopy during the usual ceremonies, though this pretension to royal homage had no precedent among the viceroys.5
The main object of the new viceroy was to enrich himself, by fair means or foul." Rivera says that he undid all the benefit wrought by Revilla Gigedo."
2 Alaman, Rivera, Mayer, Arroniz, and other authorities make the same assertion; and Bustamante, who knew Branciforte personally, says: 'Con mucha anticipacion se previno por la córte que no se la registrase su equipage, que llegó dentro de poco, y esto dió luego á conocer que traía una riquirima factura de géneros preciosos para venderlos por altos precios, y comenzar á hacer su fortuna, objecto principal con que se le enviaba.' Cavo, Tres Siglos, iii. 166. Zamacois, who, for some reason, seems anxious to screen the memory of this viceroy, here makes but a mild apology in saying, Hist. Mej., v. 692, No me atreveré yo á decir que las sospechas descansaban en un hecho positivo, ni quiero inclinar el ánimo del lector á un desfavorable concepto hácia el nuevo gobernante.'
3'Sin demora se lo puso, y con él se presentó á lucirlo aquella noche en el teatro.' Gomez, Diario, 414.
El pueblo explicaba su enojo, no solo con las hablillas, sino tambien con las caricaturas. Cuando le vino el toison de oro, pintaron á Branciforte con el collar puesto, pero en lugar del cordero con que termina este collar, le pusieron un gato.' Cavo, Tres Siglos, iii. 173.
These trifles,' says Zamacois, Hist. Mej., v. 697, 'which perhaps in another would have passed unnoticed, were considered censurable in Branciforte, as the people were already prejudiced against him because of his being a foreigner.'
Su principal objeto fué enriquecer, y el intermedio que se valió para ello fue D. Francisco Perez Soñanes, conde de Contramina, que era el canal por donde se conseguian todas las gracias á precio de dinero.' Alaman, Disert., iii. app. 83; Lacunza, Dicc. Hist., 530-1; Respuesta, in Pap. Var., 17-18.
7Fué corruptor de la severa y benéfica administracion de Revillagigedo, así como reemplazó en la Metrópoli D. Manuel Godoy á los ministros ilustra dos de Cárlos III.' Rivera, Gob., i. 488; see also Id., Hist. Jal., i. 177–8, 187.
His efforts at dissimulation were of no avail, and merely showed him in a baser light; for his character was but a blending of subtle astuteness and hypocrisy. Adoration of the royal family, and veneration for the virgin of Guadalupe, were ever on his lips. Every Saturday, and every twelfth day of the month, he would appear at the sanctuary; and a veiled image of the virgin was placed on the balcony of the palace.
HYPOCRISY AND PECULATION.
The war between France and Spain still continued, and one of the first acts of the viceroy was to confiscate the possessions of all Frenchmen living in Louisiana and New Spain. His pretext was that French settlers were spreading revolutionary doctrines throughout the country, and casting aspersions on the virtue of Queen Louisa in connection with his brother-in-law. The viceroy raised the force of militia to its former strength, though for what purpose save to fill his own pockets does not appear. At that time commissions were much sought after by the sons of the noble and wealthy. It was notorious, says Bustamante, that he appointed as his representative the count of Contramina, at whose house favors, offices, and commissions were dispensed to the highest bidder. There was not a stripling of means or family in the kingdom who did not long to wear an epaulette. Newly appointed officers were required to contribute sums of money, ostensibly for the purpose of procuring arms and accoutrements for the troops, though it is asserted that none were purchased from the proceeds of these contributions.10 It was also notorious
8 When he took occasion to speak of the king, 'se enternecia, hacia pucheritos, exhalaba suspiros, y parecia entrar en tiernos deliquios; sobre todo, cuando referia las piedades de sus benignas manos, y de sus católicos pechos.'
9 Zamacois, list. Mej., v. 705, who supposes' that after the treaty of Basil, July 22, 1795, those who were expelled from Mexico recovered their own, is in error. Persecution of French, in Respuesta, Pap. Var., 17–18.
10 No hemos visto llegar un fusil de Europa con esta contribucion, y úni camente consta en la correspondencia ministerial, que solo habia ocho mil fusiles útiles en Perote, y que los cuerpos levantados no tenian armamento.' Cavo, Tres Siglos, iii. 169. The muskets here mentioned were probably those
at the time that soon after his arrival Branciforte had sold the office of subdelegate of Villa Alta to one Francisco Ruiz de Conejares for the sum of forty thousand pesos.
Though during the administration of Revilla Gigedo, nearly one hundred and ten millions of pesos had been coined in the Mexican mint, the exorbitant demands of the crown had always kept the colonial treasury depleted. Moreover the duties on sugar and other commodities had been repealed. In order to replenish the royal coffers and his own, the viceroy now enforced an order which required all intendentes to deposit ten thousand pesos as security, this sum being retained until their residencia was taken.
Rumors of war between Spain and the United States were at this time afloat because of the hostile attitude of the latter country concerning the province of Louisiana. But the matter soon ended in a treaty of friendship signed at San Lorenzo in October 1795.11
After the conclusion of peace between Spain and France, Branciforte received orders from the crown to release the French prisoners, whereupon Branciforte delivered them over to the inquisition. Among those persecuted were Juan Lauset, and Estévan Morell; the latter a professor of medicine, licensed by the medical faculty of Mexico. He escaped torture by committing suicide; but sentence must be pronounced and executed nevertheless. On the 9th of August 1795 an auto de fé was celebrated, in which the dead physician was condemned as a confirmed heretic, deist, and materialist, "voluntary" suicide, and "apparent atheist." 12
which arrived during Revilla Gigedo's rule. Other authors agree as to the shameful sale of offices and commissions, while Zamacois, Hist. Mej., v. 697– 8, as usual, endeavors to create the impression that Branciforte's conduct was strictly honorable
"Boundaries and navigation were regulated; the treaty was signed by Thomas Pinckney on the part of the United States, and by the favorite Godoy for Spain. North Americans were prohibited from entering the territory of New Spain. See Guerra entre Mex. y los E. U., 3-5.
2 These facts are taken from the secret archives of the viceroys, where all the correspondence is found between Branciforte and the inquisition concern
PRECAUTIONS AGAINST THE ENGLISH.
On the declaration of war between England and Spain in 1796 all intercourse between the two nations ceased, and the English who resided in New Spain shared the fate of the French during the war which terminated the previous year. The colonial forces were increased, and Branciforte concentrated his army, eight thousand strong, between Orizaba, Córdoba, Jalapa, Perote, and Encero,13 with head-quarters at Orizaba. He strengthened the fortifications at San Juan de Ulúa, and provisioned that fortress for a six months' siege. All the batteries on the coast were put in a state of defence, and several gun-boats were constructed. The commander of the fortress at Acapulco was directed to complete the organization of the militia on that coast, to call to his aid the companies at Zacatula, to reënforce the infantry garrison and his artillery detachment, and to mount guns of the heaviest calibre. The naval commander at San Blas received orders to the same effect, and was instructed to cooperate with the commander-general of the provincias internas and the intendente of Guadalajara.1
In the midst of these warlike preparations Branciforte received notice that his successor had been appointed. The excitement during the preparations for war gave him an opportunity to leave the capital in 1797, under pretext of taking command of the
ing the persecution of foreigners. Though Zamacois profusely copies Alaman, he perhaps intentionally suppresses the statement of this author, Ilist. Mej., i. 127-8, que el virey marques de Branciforte excitase repetidamente el zelo, no muy tibio por cierto, de la inquisicion para no dejarlas (seditious doctrines) echar raiz, persiguiendo de acuerdo ambas autoridades á los franceses... muchos de los cuales fueron llevados á las cárceles de la inquisicion, otros á la de la corte, y todos con muy pocas excepciones obligados á salir del reino.' Why Zamacois should have omitted to notice these statements of his favorite author against Branciforte is not clear.
13 The army consisted of the militia regiments of Mexico, Tlascala, Toluca, Tres Villas, Celaya, Oajaca, and Valladolid, together with a cavalry force. Guia de Forasteros (1797), 156–83; Rivera, Hist. Jal., i. 179.
The particulars of these preparations may be found in Branciforte, Marques de, Instruccion, MS. (Mex. 1797), p. 47. This manuscript comprises a review of Branciforte's administration; progress in various branches of gov ernment, condition of treasury, revenue, army defenses, with suggestions for their continuation, and a brief account of the condition of the Californias.
troops at Orizaba. His stay at that town, where he was surrounded by his creatures, was marked by a series of disgraceful orgies, and when in May 1798, he embarked for Spain, he took with him nearly five millions of pesos in gold and silver, the greater portion of which belonged to him. Never had the people of New Spain complained so bitterly and with so good cause, as against this viceroy, who in after years deserted his sovereign in the hour of his sorest need.15
The new viceroy, Don Miguel José de Azanza, assumed office on the 31st of May 1798, and as he was known to be a man of ability and character, his public reception in the capital on the 10th of July following, was enthusiastic.16 He showed himself worthy of the good opinion of the people, and secured their confidence and respect by one of the earliest measures of his administration. Having determined that the exigencies of the war with England did not require a standing army of eight or ten thousand men, he at once dissolved the military encampments formed by Branciforte, which had been maintained at a monthly expense of over sixty thousand pesos." This heavy tax on the colonial treasury had long been a burden on the people, and the withdrawal of so large a number of men from industrial pursuits necessarily retarded the progress of the country. He took all needful precautions, however, to provide for the coast defences, and ordered gun-boats to be built, two of which were stationed in the River Alvarado.
The continuation of the war with England again necessitated heavy contributions from the Spanish
15 To serve Joseph Bonaparte, when king of Spain.
Azanza, the fifty-fourth viceroy of New Spain, was born in Navarre, in 1746, and came to Mexico for the first time at the age of seventeen, with an uncle, who filled several important government positions. In 1781 he was a captain at the siege of Gibraltar, and afterward filled various important diplomatic and military positions. He was appointed to the viceroyalty in 1796, but did not arrive until the time mentioned in the text. Gomez, Diario, 464, 468; Humboldt, Essai Pol., 311, 803; Rivera, Gob., 496; Cavo, Tres Siglos, iii. 176, 136-90; Alaman, Disert., iii. app. 84.
17 See Azanza, Instruc., MS., 158.