Mexico will change its name to just plain “Mexico” from the “United States of Mexico,” the official name of North America’s second most populous republic since 1824, if legislation proposed by President Felipe Calderón’s National Action Party is enacted into law. This year, Mexico is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the revolt against colonial ruler Spain. The first Mexican revolution lasted for 11 years, when it finally won its independence from Spain, which ruled Mexico as “New Spain” for 300 years.
A bill proposing dropping “The United States” from Mexico’s official name has been introduced in the Senate. The last bill proposing a change to Mexico’s name was introduced in 2003 but never came up for a vote.
The Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla declared the independence of New Spain on September 16, 1810. Father Hidalgo then launched an insurgency against the colonial ruler. The rebel priest was caught along with some of his fellow rebels and executed by Spanish troops in Chihuahua on July 31, 1811. Another priest, José María Morelos, took over leadership of the first Mexican revolution. (The second Mexican revolution, which lasted seven years, started 100 years ago in 1910.)
Father Morelos was executed in 1815, two years after the Congress of Chilpancingo issued the “Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America.” Morelos was captured and executed on December 22, 1815.
In the ensuing years, the first Mexican revolution almost collapsed until General Agustín de Iturbide, the new leader of the Spanish forces, joined with rebel troops under the command of Vicente Guerrero. The combined rebel armies forced the Spanish Crown to capitulate in 1821, when the “Treaty of Córdoba” and the “Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire” formally granted Mexican independence.
Iturbide declared himself emperor of the First Mexican Empire, but his regime was ended by a revolt and the United Mexican States were established in 1823. A year later, a republican constitution was adopted and Guadalupe Victoria became the first president of the United States of Mexico.
The language of the bill explains that because “nobody, not even us, uses the name ‘The United States of Mexico’, conserving it appears to be little more than an imitation of our neighbor.”
The name “United States of Mexico” reflected the aim of the founders of the new Mexican republic to have a federal system, just like the United States of America, with which it has had a troubled relationship for over a century and a half. The United States of America and the United States of Mexico went to war in 1846 over the annexation of the former Mexican province of Texas (then a Republic) by Washington, D.C. The United States of Mexico was forced to cede half of its territory by losing what is known in the United States of America as the Mexican American War.
The 1845-48 War, which resulted in the loss of territories that make up the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming is known by Mexicans as The American Invasion of Mexico, The First American Intervention in Mexico, and The War of ’47. Many Mexicans see the influx of Mexicans into the United States as a reverse reclaiming of lands lost during an unjust war of conquest.
Associated Press, US out of ‘United States of Mexico’
Christian Science Monitor, “Mexican Independence Day: Across Latin America, bicentennial parties abound”