Mexico was a constitutional monarchy immediately after securing independence from Spain in 1821, a federal republic after 1824, and a country without durable peace until after 1867. Home to the Olmec and Mayan civilizations until the ninth century, present-day Mexico was largely conquered by the Aztec Empire in the fourteenth century. The next wave of conquest, from Spain, had destroyed Aztec power by the mid-1520s, but full Spanish control was not accomplished until 1600. Spanish rule in Mexico was oppressive and occasioned many rebellions, but all were easily defeated until Spain itself became the object of Napoleonic conquest in the Peninsular War. A series of revolts - starting with the peasant and Indian rising led by Hidalgo y Costilla, 1810–1811, and succeeded by that of Jose Maria Morelos y Pavón, 1811–1815 - prompted limited reforms from Spain; but the critical breakthrough to independence came from a rival of Morelos, Augustín de Iturbide, who, in 1822, proposed a Mexican monarchy separate from the Spanish throne. Iturbide and the throne were then replaced in 1824 by the proclamation of a republic with Guadalupe Victoria as its first president.
   After General Antonio López de Santa Anna championed the defeat of Spanish forces attempting to reconquer Mexico in 1825, he was able to translate popular appeal into the capture of the presidency in 1833. He also revoked the federal constitution and in 1836 faced a rebellion in Texas, which led to that territory’s independence from Mexico and his loss of the presidency after Santa Anna’s army lost the Battle of San Jacinto River on April 21. Santa Anna returned to the presidency again in 1841 and 1846, on the latter occasion seizing control of the army and leading it and his country to a humiliating defeat in the Mexican-American War. Even then Santa Anna was able to return to power in 1853 before the liberal revolution of 1855 finally rid Mexico of him for good. Unable to fade away entirely, Santa Anna was involved in the ensuing civil war and the French intervention that led to the farcical empire of Maximilian in 1863.
   With the restoration of the republic in 1867, Mexico embarked on a period of comparative peace and economic progress, most notably under the de facto dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz between 1876 and 1911. The period following Díaz’s ouster took Mexico into a new phase of revolution combined with punitive expeditions by the United States into its territory in retaliation for incidents along the border.
   See also <>; <>.
    Bazant, Jan. A Concise History of Mexico, from Hidalgo to Cárdenas, 1805–1940. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977;
    Callcott, Wilfrid Hardy. Santa Anna: The Story of an Enigma Who Was Once Mexico. Hamden, CT: Archon, 1964;
    Cheetham, Nicolas. History of Mexico. New York: Crowell, 1971.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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