Birthday: August 10, 1782
Died At Age: 48
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Vicente Ramón Guerrero Saldaña
Born Country: Mexico
Born in: Tixtla, Mexico
Famous as: President
Spouse/Ex-: María de Guadalupe Hernández (m. 1813)
father: Pedro Guerrero
mother: María de Guadalupe Saldaña
children: María de los Dolores Guerrero Hernández
Died on: February 14, 1831
place of death: Cuilapan de Guerrero
Cause of Death: Execution
Who was Vicente Guerrero?
Vicente Ramón Guerrero Saldaña was a military leader and statesman who served as the general in the Mexican War of Independence and later as the second president of Mexico. He was involved in the war against the Spanish Empire in the early 19th century. Originally from the state of Puebla, Guerrero was of Afro-Mestizo ancestry. While many members of his family favoured Spanish rule, he developed contradictory views as he grew up. In 1810, he became part of the early insurgency against Spain. In November that year, he officially became part of the rebellion. In the ensuing few years, he rose through the ranks of the rebel forces to become a general and persuaded Agustín de Iturbide to switch sides. During Iturbide’s reign as the Mexican emperor, Guerrero rebelled against him. After the fall of Iturbide's imperial government in 1823, he emerged as one of the Constituent Congress' ruling triumvirate. Despite losing the 1828 presidential election, Guerrero became the president following a coup and held the office between April and December of 1829. During this short tenure, he advocated for the cause of Mexico's common people and outlawed slavery. He was ousted from power by Vice-president Anastasio Bustamante and spent the next two years fighting before he was captured and executed by the Conservative government in 1831.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on August 10, 1782, in Tixtla, Puebla, New Spain, Vicente Guerrero was the son of María de Guadalupe Saldaña and Pedro Guerrero. His mother was of African ancestry, while his father was a Mestizo. Tall and robust, and dark-complexioned, he was often referred to as El Negro. While growing up, he learned many indigenous languages alongside Spanish.
His father’s family was made up of wealthy landowners and traders. When he was young, he was employed in his father’s freight business. During this period, he travelled extensively to various parts of Mexico, where he came to know about the notions of independence.
Most of his family, including his father, preferred the Spanish rule. After he became an adult, Guerrero began criticizing the Spanish colonial government. When his father instructed him to give him his sword, which he wanted to offer to the viceroy of New Spain as a sign of respect, Guerrero declined, stating, “The will of my father is for me sacred, but my Fatherland is first."
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The Mexican War of Independence
When the War of Independence broke out, Vicente Guerrero was employed as a gunsmith in Tixtla in 1810. He became involved with the early insurgencies against Spain.
At first, he fought under the secular priest José María Morelos. In the next few years, he proved his worth in the battlefield and rapidly progressed through the ranks to become the commander-in-chief of the rebel troops after all other rebel leaders had either been killed in battle or executed.
In 1816, the royal government under Viceroy Apodaca decided to take aggressive steps to put an end to the rebellion. They extended an offer of amnesty. Guerrero’s father pleaded with his son to stop fighting, but he did not listen. At one point, he was the only active rebel leader.
His forces registered victories at Ajuchitán, Santa Fe, Tetela del Río, Huetamo, Tlalchapa and Cuautlotitlán, regions of southern Mexico that were well known to him.
In order to destroy the rebellion, the royal government dispatched an army under Agustín de Iturbide to deal with Guerrero and his men. Guerrero won the initial engagement, making Iturbide realize that the two forces were at a stalemate. Ultimately, Guerrero managed to convince Iturbide and the Conservatives in Mexico, including the powerful Catholic hierarchy, to join the rebellion.
Guerrero and Iturbide formally confirmed their alliance through the February 1821 proclamation Plan de Iguala. After the merging of their armies, they took control of Mexico City on September 27, 1821.
The Empire of Mexico
Iturbide was made the emperor of Mexico by the Congress. Guerrero and Nicolás Bravo found their careers had been restricted under the new regime. This probably led the two to rebel against Iturbide with the stated objective to bring back the Constituent Congress.
However, Iturbide won a decisive victory against them at Almolongo (now in the state of Guerrero) a few weeks later, ending the rebellion. After the fall of Iturbide's imperial government in 1823, Guerrero was made one of Constituent Congress' ruling triumvirate.
The Coup of 1828-29
In 1828, Mexico was ready to elect its second president. The first president, Guadalupe Victoria, was elected without much opposition and served a full four-year term. However, that was not the case with the 1828 Mexican Election, as it became extremely partisan.
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Vicente Guerrero, who was an ardent liberal, was backed by the likes of federalist liberals and members of the radical wing of the York Rite Freemasons.
General Gómez Pedraza emerged as the winner from the 1828 election, with Guerrero as the first runner-up. The election took place on 1 September, and two weeks after that, Antonio López de Santa Anna declared rebellion in Guerrero’s support and introduced a political plan demanding for the revocation of Pedraza’s election and the announcement of Guerrero as the president.
In November, Vicente Guerrero’s supporters captured Acordada, an erstwhile prison that was turned into an armoury. There were fights in the capital that lasted for days. President-elect Pedraza had not assumed office yet. He submitted his resignation and left Mexico for England.
The civil order subsequently collapsed, and there were riots in the streets. Supported by Santa Anna’s forces and influential politician Lorenzo de Zavala, Vicente Guerrero assumed the presidential office on April 1, 1829.
The President of Mexico
By the time Vicente Guerrero became the president, he had also attained the status of a folk hero. Conservative Anastasio Bustamante served as his vice president. According to many of his supporters, a clearly mixed-race man from Mexico's periphery getting appointed as the president was a sign that the country was on the correct path.
Guerrero faced multiple issues since the beginning. He attempted to form a cabinet of liberals and advocated for public schools, land title reforms, industry and trade development, and other programs of a liberal nature.
As the president, he was a patron of initiatives representing the racially persecuted and economically oppressed. He issued a motion on September 16, 1829, outlawing slavery.
Removal from Power & Execution
On December 17, 1829, Vicente Guerrero was overthrown in a rebellion orchestrated by Vice-President Anastasio Bustamante after he had left Mexico City to fight in southern Mexico.
After a fierce battle between his and the Conservative forces, he was captured through deception on January 14, 1831. His execution was carried out by a firing squad in Cuilapam on February 14, 1831. In 1842, his remains were brought to Mexico City for reinterment.
Family & Personal Life
Vicente Guerrero was married to María de Guadalupe Hernández. Contradictory information is available on the date of their wedding. While some sources state that it took place on July 9, 1804, others claim that it happened in 1813. The former date is likely the correct one, as their daughter, María de los Dolores Guerrero Hernández, was born in 1808.
María’s husband was Mariano Riva Palacio, who served as a defence lawyer for Maximilian I of Mexico in Querétaro. Through María, Guerrero was the grandfather of the liberal politician, military leader, and author Vicente Riva Palacio.
Guerrero has emerged as a national hero in Mexico. His famous line, "Mi patria es primero", was made the motto of the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, which was named after him.