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Mexican Government
Mexican Period Government

In 1821 Mexico won its independence from Spain. Santa Fe celebrated the change, but no records exist of Albuquerque’s reaction. The villa did rename its plaza the Plaza de la Constitución, and restored its ayuntamiento, or town council, so we can assume this was a welcome event.

One of the ayuntamiento’s first acts was to take a census, which showed a population of 2,302. It said agriculture was the primary occupation. The census counted 297 farmers, 15 merchants, 13 craftsmen, 121 day laborers, 3 teachers and one priest. There were 416 houses.

The major change was in less government support. Mexico was having a terrible time stabilizing its government, and this instability resulted in neglect of the frontier.

Military protection deteriorated. In 1826 New Mexico had only one company of 124 soldiers to protect the entire territory against Navajo and Apache raids on settlements and Indian pueblos.  The promised additional companies of soldiers didn’t arrive.  In 1827 Manuel Armijo was appointed governor of New Mexico, a two-year appointment. He worked to strengthen the citizens’ militia and also offered protection to merchants on the Santa Fe Trail. 

In 1835 Mexico reduced New Mexico to the status of a department. Albino Perez, an army officer, was appointed governor. He ordered a tax on all citizens, which was highly unpopular.  In 1837, when he jailed the Mayor of Santa Cruz de la Cañada over some disagreement, it started a rebellion. A group of Indians at that village released the mayor from jail, and the rebellion spread to the northern pueblos. Governor Perez called out the militia. All but 25 of the men deserted and joined the rebels. The governor and his friends fled south towards Mexico. Rebels pursued, caught them and put them to death.  Some of Armijo’s critics accused him of having stirred up all the discontent. 

The rebels chose José González, the governor of Taos Pueblo as the next governor. González was a popular but illiterate man and never actually held the governorship. Armijo went to Tomé and called a protest meeting. Residents of the lower valley decided to stage their own rebellion.  They marched on Santa Fe, and the Indians quickly fled. Armijo, who had taken over as acting governor, sent a report to Mexico. 

Early in 1838, dragoons arrived from Mexico. They combined with the militia and marched north, numbering about 600.  Near Santa Cruz, they met a group of Indians almost twice their number.  José González, the leader of the Indian rebellion, was their commander.  Some accounts state that González was shot and killed. The rest of the Indian leaders were taken captive. Armijo prevailed and served as governor until 1844.

In 1840 rumors circulated of an invasion from Texas. When three Texas spies were captured, they were taken to Santa Fe and then released on their honor not to return. When they reappeared, they were recaptured and put to death. 

In 1841 a heavily armed expedition of 270 Texans entered New Mexico. The main expedition of Texans got lost, and Indians took their horses. They started to run out of food and water. At Anton Chico, 94 men surrendered. Although they claimed to be on a trade mission, Armijo wasn’t persuaded and treated them as prisoners of war and invaders. The prisoners were marched 2,000 miles to Mexico City.

Armijo was in his third term as governor when the United State and Mexico, after years of boundary disputes, went to war. Initially Armijo prepared to fight. When U.S. troops under command of General Stephen Watts Kearny had taken Las Vegas, Armijo decided it was futile to fight and fled to Mexico.


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