Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Arce and the pursuit of central...
 The creation of the federal...
 The contest for the presidency
 Arce's presidency and the disruption...
 Biographical sketch

Title: Manuel José Arce and the formation of the Federal Republic of Centra America.
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00091565/00001
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Title: Manuel José Arce and the formation of the Federal Republic of Centra America.
Series Title: Manuel José Arce and the formation of the Federal Republic of Centra America.
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Flemion, Philip Frederick,
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Bibliographic ID: UF00091565
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
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    Arce and the pursuit of central american independence
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    The creation of the federal republic
        Page 87
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    The contest for the presidency
        Page 121
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    Arce's presidency and the disruption of the federation
        Page 145
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    Biographical sketch
        Page 203
        Page 204
Full Text






-Copyright by
Philip Frederick Flemion


In several respects, the following study may be viewed

as the product of paths not followed. Its objective is far

different from that which the author originally envisioned,

and the goal was not clearly determined until a number of

alternate courses had been charted and rejected. As is often

the case, attraction to a particular area arose from papers

prepared for seminars; and, in this instance, led to an

interest in the history of Central America during the early

nineteenth century. Casting about for a suitable dissertation

topic, the writer was attracted to the idea of examining the

role played by Francisco Morazan in the struggle to weld the

five states into a single nation. Yet, the desire to continue

with a study of Morazan ultimately declined. This loss of

interest was partially due to the fact that Latin American

writers have told the better part of what can be said about

the Central American hero. The real cause for the shift in

direction, however, was a growing curiosity about Morazan's

early opponent, Manuel Jose Arce.

In the development of Central American historiography,

Arce has been depicted as a far less attractive figure than

the tragic Morazan. Although he served as the first President

of the Central American federation, Arce has been assigned

the role of a minor character, and he is often dismissed as


a petty man whose accomplishments were inadequate for the

demands of his office. Despite the lack of heroic appeal,

certain enigmatic aspects of Arce's career could not be

ignored. With further study, it became clear that while the

standard accounts were critical, the nature of the criticism

varied. Some authors thought that Arce was ruthless and

vindictive; others found that he was indecisive and timid.

More importantly, none of these authorities offered a satis-

factory explanation for the fact that Arce appears to have

reversed his political position when he assumed the office

of President. Arce was identified in the pre-national period

as a liberal leader who was committed to Salvadoran autonomy.

After his inauguration, he was seen as a conservative

sycophant who caused a civil war in 1827 by his attempt to

establish a unitary state.

The present study constitutes an effort to resolve

the incongruities in Arce's career. Hopefully, the pursuit

of this objective will provide an explanation for whatever

shifts occurred in Arce's political position. The work is

not intended to serve as a complete biographical account.

Instead its scope is limited to an attempt to define the

nature of Central American political dynamics and Arce's

relationship to these forces during the period 1811 to 1827.

The author would like to thank his Chairman, Dr. Lyle

N. McAlister, for his guidance and assistance in the

preparation of this study.



I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . .


INDEPENDENCE . . . . . .




THE FEDERATION . . . . . .

VI. CONCLUSION . . . . . . .

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . .

*. . 29

S. . 87

* . 121

. . 145

. . 186

. . 191

* .



Of the various facets of Central American history,

none has engendered greater interest among scholars than the

division of the "Ancient Kingdom" of Guatemala into five

sovereign nations.1 Sustained by repeated attempts to re-

store the territorial integrity of the colonial era, this

interest arises from the fact that separatism appears to, fly

in the face of reason. As a political unit, the area as a

whole would constitute a nation of reasonable proportions,

though it would still be less than half the size of modern-

day Bolivia or Venezuela. Individually, the countries of

Central America are of barely adequate dimensions and, with

the exception of the insular states, are the smallest of the

Latin American republics. Furthermore, the political expe-

rience of Central America suggests a distinctly retrograde

movement with the fragmentation of one entity into several.

Given the apparent unity of the colonial period, it would

seem that the erection of separate Central American states

demanded active efforts on behalf of dismemberment; while the

much professed goal of union could have been attained by

simply maintaining the colonial status quo in republican form.

As a consequence of these incongruities, a number of writers



have sought to account for Central America's failure to

achieve political unification. While these efforts have

produced a variety of explanations of differing merit,

they have pointed to certain factors which ought to be

considered as impediments to successful union.

At the time they achieved their independence, the

provinces of Central America appeared as possibly better

prospects for federation than the colonies which formed the

United States of America. The suitability of this form of

government, however, may have been more apparent than real.

This is particularly true in respect to the supposed co-

hesiveness of the colonial regime. While the Captaincy

General was one of the smaller political subdivisions of the

empire, it was by no means thoroughly integrated. Geography

had dictated otherwise. The most attractive areas for

habitation are so located that the settlement process in

Central America led to the familiar pattern of population

clusters. Communities were generally established in temper-

ate upland valleys that were separated from one another by

difficult though not impassable terrain. During the colonial

period this physical isolation was further compounded by the

lack of an adequate system of transportation and communica-

tion. In terms of time, Guatemala was closer to Mexico City
than it was to Cartago. These conditions gave rise to a

high degree of localism not only between the provinces but

within them as well.

It has.also been pointed out that the Captaincy

General of Guatemala was little more than "an arbitrary unit

of the Spanish Empire."3 At various times in its early

history, Central America was subject to authority emanating

from Santo Domingo, New Spain and Panama. When the Central

American audiencia was established in 1542, its name,

Audiencia de los Confines, indicated a lack of precision con-

cerning the location of the council. Accordingly, the seat

of the audiencia was shifted three times before it was perma-

nently located in Santiago de los Caballeros.4

Again in respect to the relationship between the

colonial heritage and national experience, many authors take

the position that political separatism may be understood as

an antipathetic response to the centralized control of the

imperial regime. It is argued that by 1821, the creoles of

El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica had their

fill of political domination by Guatemala. This resentment

of the authority exercised in the capital of the Captaincy

General is thought to be demonstrated by those areas which, in

1821, opted for either absolute independence or annexation

to Mexico.5

A contrary proposition which the writer finds more

attractive holds that the attitudes of the provincianos

were shaped more by the prospect of domination imagined than

by memory of authority experienced. With the substantial

difficulties of inter-provincial communication, there must

have been ample opportunities for the practice of the

"Obedezco pero no cumplo" ritual. More importantly, there

is evidence that the provincial creoles experienced greater

control over local affairs than was normally afforded through

the cabildos. In 1799 Luis de Arquedos y Brugueiros was

appointed intendente of San Salvador. Because of illness

he failed to assume his office. From time to time the post

was filled by interim appointees, but the management of

provincial affairs was left largely in the hands of creole

leaders until the appointment of Antonio Gutierrez y Ulloa

as intendente in 1804. It would appear that the degree of

authority which Guatemala exercised over provincial affairs

was not so great as to stifle the provincianos' conviction

that, by right, they were the masters of their own destinies.

There can be little disagreement concerning the depth

of provincial dissatisfaction caused by the concentration of

economic power in Guatemala. Guatemala City served as the

entrepot for all legitimate trade between the provinces and

Spain, and it was also the chief market for domestic trade.

In part, the dominance of the Guatemalan merchants was based

on control of transportation. Both Guatemala and Honduras

possess natural harbor facilities, and during the sixteenth

century the Honduran port of Trujillo served as the principal

roadstead for ships of the flota destined for Central America.

Considerations of defense, however, caused the primary

shipping point to be relocated in 1605 at Santo Tomas de

Castilla, which is in the vicinity of present-day Puerto
Barrios. This advantage the value of which was later

demonstrated in the form of Guatemalan opposition to efforts

by the Crown to open additional ports was reinforced as

Guatemalan merchants established close commercial and, in

some cases, familial relationships with the trading houses

of Seville.

Between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries,

indigo provided the chief source of provincial income.

Throughout this period and in the face of royal attempts to

assist the producers through price fixing, the Guatemalan

merchant oligopoly was able to set the going price for

indigo.8 The indigo growers found all phases of their in-

dustry controlled by the merchant princes. The Guatemalan

trading houses were the chief, if not only, source of com-

mercial credit, and over the years, a kind of crop-lien

system evolved.9 This form of financing apparently extended

also to the production of goods for domestic consumption,

which were equally subject to mercantile price control. Thus,

provincial ranchers were legally restrained from seeking al-

ternatives to the Guatemalan cattle market.10 The resentment

engendered by this economic domination was clearly indicated

in the provincial complaint that Guatemalan merchants "dress

us at prices that keep us more nude than clothed."11 Such

antagonism unquestionably dimmed the prospects for post-

independence cooperation between Guatemala and the provinces.

It is generally agreed that religion served as a divi-

sive rather than unifying force in Central America. For the

period under consideration, this disruptive tendency arose

primarily from the episcopal pretensions of El Salvador. In


terms of wealth and population, the province was second only

to Guatemala; and of all the provinces, El Salvador most

envied and resented the prominence of the capital. The

demand for the erection of a bishopric in El Salvador was not,

however, solely a matter of prestige. In the eighteenth cen-

tury, Bishop Cortes y Larraz had informed Charles III that

El Salvador not only was capable of supporting a diocese,

but also that the pastoral needs of the province were inade-
quately served from Guatemala.2 As independence from Spain

approached, Salvadorenos grew increasingly convinced of the

validity of this claim and frustrated by the inaction of

religious authorities. The ambitions of Father Jose Matias

Delgado gave further impetus to the pressure for a new

bishopric, and in large part, the path pursued by El Salvador

before and after the establishment of the federation can be

explained by the failure to meet this demand.

The dissentions brought into being by Liberal attacks

on the position of the Church should also be noted. Keeping

step with their compatriots throughout Latin America, Central

American Liberals sought to reduce clerical economic and

political power. While they met with considerable success

over the short run, their efforts seriously alienated large

sectors of Central American society. Insofar as liberal and

conservative ideologies had geographic loci, anticlericalism

drove another wedge between the federal government and the


A portion of the blame for Central America's unhappy

experience with federalism is often attributed to the Con-

stitution promulgated in 1824. Criticism of the Constitution

takes several forms. On the one hand, it is claimed that the

authority granted to the states was so generous as to encour-

age the development of their centrifugal tendencies. Arce,

himself, lamented that the division of power between the

states and the national government was so poorly balanced

that it made him the "victim of a Constitution which instead

of establishing a political system of liberty and order, had

systematized anarchy. .. ."13 Looking back from the present,

it would appear that a more centralized regime might have been

more durable, but the erection of such a government would have

totally ignored the realities of contemporary Central American


The 1824 Constitution also has been charged with a fault

often cited in Latin American constitutions: that of being

too sophisticated or idealistic. With some foresight, a mem-

ber of the Central American constituent assembly raised this

issue prior to the adoption of the organic law. It was argued

that the inhabitants of the infant nation had not attained

the level of culture requisite for the burdens of responsible

citizenship and that the reservoir of competent individuals

was inadequate for the number of public officials required

by a federal form of government.14 Inasmuch as all of the

natural born inhabitants over the age of eighteen were granted

the rights and duties of citizenship, the first charge is

certainly valid. A contemporary observer reported that less


than thirty per cent of the population possessed any political

opinions.5 Given the large proportion of indigenous peoples,
this estimate must be considered overly optimistic. The

worth of the second criticism is difficult to assess. In any

case, it appears that a primary consequence of the federal

experiment was the proliferation of local empire builders.

Of the major obstacles to successful federation, there

remain to be noted Central America's chronic fiscal diffi-

culties. The area had been incapable of producing adequate

public revenue during the colonial era, and the Captaincy

General received an annual subsidy from New Spain in amounts

ranging Jetween 100,000 and 200,000 pesos.17 This support

was drastically curtailed after 1810, and when the nation

declared its independence, the public debt amounted to

3,138,451 pesos. This deficit increased over the next three

years as the flush of freedom led the Central Americans to

either suppress or substantially reduce the taxes which

Spain had imposed.8 When the federal government began oper-

ation in 1825, it was faced with a debt that had grown to

3,583,575 pesos.19

Responsibility for the federation's money problems

cannot be placed on the Constitution which gave the central

government adequate power to raise revenue. The Congress was

authorized to raise funds by means of duties on foreign trade,

internal taxes, and foreign and domestic loans. The federal

government also retained the exercise of certain monopolies,

the most important of which was the production and sale of

tobacco. If these sources of income proved inadequate,

Congress was empowered to meet deficits through levies on

the states.20

In practice, these grants of power were meaningless.

Widespread smuggling reduced not only customs receipts, but

the profits of the government monopolies as well. Gradually,

the states assumed the actual collection of taxes, and with

their own treasuries in disorder, they were ill disposed to

remit to the national government its share of the revenue.

The federal administration, operating on a hand to mouth

basis, repeatedly had to resort to loans (often collected by

force) as its chief means of support. By 1831, the public

debt had increased to 4,748,965 pesos.21 With the continuous

shortage of funds, effective operation of the government was

a difficult, if not impossible, task.

The development of this paper will entail repeated

references to political groupings, and in the first decades

of the nineteenth century, there is a bewildering succession

of parties or factions. The structuring of these groups was

extremely fluid. With certain exceptions, there does not

appear to have been any consistent evolution along ideologi-

cal lines. In response to emerging issues, expediency was

the prime factor in determining the formation of bodies whose

membership cut across the standard lines of class and inter-

est. As the nature of these associations makes them subject

to considerable confusion, an attempt to define their char-

acter and development appears advisable.


To begin with, Central America exhibited the conflict

typically found between creole and peninsular. This divi-

sion is readily comprehended, in the familiar root of creole

envy of the peninsular's social prominence and monopolization

of the better government positions. It may be, however, that

the split between creole and peninsular Spaniard did not run

so deeply in Central America as there was not a particularly

heavy concentration of peninsulars in the region, and offices

were available to the aspiring creole. In 1812 the Captain

General Jose de Bustamante y Guerra reported that there were

six hundred and seventy-one creoles on the government pay-

roll.22 Also, the experiences of Jose Cecilio del Valle indi-

cate that a talented Central American could rise to a position

of considerable importance.23 If the conflict between

creole and peninsular was of a comparatively benign nature,

this might in part explain the lassitude which Central America

demonstrated in regard to independence from Spain.

Prior to independence, a division of more lasting

significance had developed within the creole community itself.

A rather clearly defined aristocracy composed of wealthy

merchants had emerged in Guatemala by the end of the eighteenth

century. Membership in this group appears to have been based

primarily on kinship with the Aycinena family. Led by Juan

Fermin Aycinena, who had purchased the colony's only title of

nobility in 1780, this family proved quite prolific and

through intermarriage came to include the Asturias,

Arrivillaga, Barrutia, Batres, Beltranena, Larrave, Montufar,

Munoz, Najera, Palomo, Pavon, Piiol, Saravia, and Urruela

families.24 The economic power of this elite led to such a

degree of social prestige and political preference that by

the 1800's its members were referred to simply as "the

family." In 1820 Jose del Valle published in his Amigo de

la patria a list of fifty-nine members of the family who

held public offices that yielded 89,000 pesos in annual

salaries.25 As Captain General Bustamante had reported in

his Informe of 1812 that the total salaries paid to creoles

amounted to 162,430 pesos, it appears that the family had

cornered most of the positions worth having.26

To be sure, those creoles not incorporated in this

extended family resented its social prominence, and its

political power did not go unopposed.27 In fact, the ap-

pearance of the first political parties was partly a product

of the family's existence. To a degree, the political

polarization aroused by the Guatemalan aristocracy was causedd

by its social pretentions, but economics provided a mort

substantial foundation for conflict between the family and

its opponents.

Due to increasing competition and natural disasters,

the decade before 1800 marked the beginning of a steady

decline in the indigo trade. Faced with a concomitant drop

in income, the merchants of the Aycinena family became favor-

ably disposed towards further modifications in Spain's mer-

cantile policies which would provide expanded opportunities

for overseas trade.28 Although the Aycinenas dominated the

Guatemalan consulado for a brief period following its

establishment in 1793, control of the institution had gradu-

ally shifted to the hands of smaller merchants. Thereafter

the family employed the ayuntamiento as the vehicle for

giving official expression of its views, and the desire for

increased liberalization of trade was amply reflected in the

instructions which the ayuntamiento gave its delegate to the

Cortes of Cadiz in 1810.29 This position regarding free

trade provided a basis for conflict as it was not accepted

by the merchants of the consulado who preferred to maintain

the security of close association with the Spanish trading

houses.30 The breach between these two groups was deepened

after the arrival of Captain General Bustamante in 1811. He

was little impressed by the prestige of the aristocracy and

sought to bring the family down to size. By 1821 the scars

left by Bustamante's whittling, together with unrelieved

economic decline, had the Guatemalan aristocracy seriously

pondering the worth of continued association with Spain. As

will be seen, the question was answered in a marriage of the

sheerest convenience.

There is no evidence that the tensions created in

Guatemala by the family either moderated or exacerbated the

conflict between the provincianos and the capital during the

colonial era. Membership in the Aycinena family was largely

restricted to residents of Guatemala. Similar kinship elites

existed in the provinces, but identity of social standing did

not provide a basis for cooperation. The presence of the


Guatemalan aristocracy did assist in the later formation of

political associations. The early liberalism came to be

revealed as an expedient of self-interest, and the family pro-

vided the nucleus for the organization of a conservative

alliance after the establishment of independence.31

The restoration of the Constitution of 1812 following

the Riego rebellion provided an environment in which creole

attitudes could be more clearly expressed. In the spring of

1820, the accumulation of their discontent was given substance

in the formation of a tertulia which met in the home of Jose

Maria Castilla. The composition of this tertulia, whose mem-

bers included Jose Francisco Barrundia, Manuel Montufar, Juan

Montufar, Pedro Molina, Marcial Zebadua, Jose Beteta, and

Vicente Garcia Granados, announced the formation of an alli-

ance between the Guatemalan aristocracy and that stratum of

society (largely middle class professionals) which had become

imbued with ideals of nineteenth century liberalism.32

Emotionally, the members of the tertulia were united by their

resentment of the repressive measures adopted by Captain

General Bustamante after the return of Ferdinand VII in 1814.

Ideologically, they were on common ground in their attachment

to the principle of free trade.

In order to advance their views, the members of the

tertulia undertook the publication of a newspaper which was

titled El editor constitutional. Edited by Pedro Molina, the

paper appeared on the streets of Guatemala on July 24, 1820.

Molina not only reported foreign and domestic news, but also


attempted to catechize the citizenry in its rights under the

restored constitution. The concern with liberalization of

trade became evident in the seventh number of the paper which

introduced a dialogue on the subject conducted by "the true
patriot" and "the liberal Spaniard."

The immediate political objective of El editor centered

on the elections being held for seats on the ayuntamientos

and the diputacion provincial. The adherents of the tertulia,

popularly known as Cacos (thieves), presented a slate of can-

didates which was opposed by a conservatively oriented faction
which Molina tagged with names Bacos (drunks) and Serviles.

(Of the two, the latter name proved more durable as it was

applied to conservatives after the formation of the federation.

The genuine liberals among the Cacos came to be known as

Fiebres.) The Bacos were led by Jose Cecilio del Valle, and

their views were carried in the newspaper El amigo de la

patria. Apart from attacks on the aristocracy, El amigo pur-

sued a moderate course advocating adherence to the Constitu-

tion of 1812, respect for property rights and cautious reforms

which would contribute to the development of the colony.

Support for the Bacos came from the peninsulares, creoles

excluded from the family, and artisans and merchants who,

having suffered from the contraband trade carried on with the

British at Walis, opposed free trade.35

The elections of 1820, conducted throughout the fall,

were subject to charges and counter-charges, intrigues and

coercion.36 Despite Molina's editorial campaign and the


attempts of the aristocracy to influence its inferiors, the

position of the Bacos was approved by the electorate as the

party won a majority of ayuntamiento seats. But the efforts

of the Cacos did not go entirely unrewarded. Control of the

diputacion fell to sympathetic provincianos, foremost of whom

was Jose Matias Delgado.37 Whatever the degree of failure

suffered at the polls, Caco ardor went undimmed, and the pages

of El editor grew progressively more forthright in advocating

separation from Spain. Molina raised a considerable furor in

early June when he published an account of an imaginary jour-

ney to a land ruled by a tyrant named Odnanref le Otargni.38

Though they may have been guilty of lese majesty, the Cacos

had both time and Agustin de Iturbide on their side.

Initially, the response of Central Americans to

Iturbide's Plan of Iguala was largely negative. On April 10,

1821 Gabino Gainza, the acting Captain General, issued a pro-

clamation denouncing the Mexican upstart, but Iturbide's

example proved to be increasingly attractive to Gainza's

followers.39 Over the summer, the distance between the Cacos

and the Bacos on the question of independence diminished con-

siderably as even a number of peninsulares became convinced

of the advantages of independence. Most authorities view the

shift in attitudes as an echo of the reaction of Mexican con-

servatives to the course of events in Spain. Of course, none

of the liberals were so enthralled by the vision of Spanish

liberalism that they were caused to oppose independence.

By September the path for Central America had been

clearly marked; but the Cacos took no chances, and on the

evening of September 14, the city of Guatemala was treated to

the sight of the aristocratic Mariano Aycinena and the ille-

gitimate Pedro Molina tramping the streets to round up

supporters to attend the meeting of the cabildo abierto which

would consider the question of independence on the following
day.40 The support appeared,and independence was declared,

though the convergence of Caco and Baco views probably

rendered the efforts of Aycinena and Molina unnecessary. The

degree of accord between these two factions was demonstrated
on November 17 when freedom of trade was declared.

The declaration of independence on September 15 was a

tentative step at best. The break with Spain was made, but

the Act of Independence stated that this was done in order

to evade the "frightening consequences" of a declaration of

independence by the masses. Though this hedging may have

been a device to win over uncommitted creoles and peninsulars,

a decision on absolute independence was referred to a general
congress which would meet in March, 1822. Just as the with-

drawal of allegiance from Ferdinand VII was not irrevocable,

there was little significant change in the government of the

new nation. Gainza continued to exercise executive authority,

and other public officials retained their positions.

The establishment of independence immediately led to

the restructuring of political alliances. The Act of Inde-

pendence provided for the addition of five members to the

disputacion provincial which would then assume legislative

responsibilities as the junta provisional consultiva. The

only Cacos granted seats on the junta were aristocrats, and

these individuals were undoubtedly dismayed by the fact that

the Caco liberals Jose' Francisco Barrundia, Pedro Molina and

Jose Francisco Cofrdova assumed the role of tribunes in the

public meetings of the junta. The liberals demanded that

Spanish officials be replaced by creole patriots, that the

direction of the government be in accord with the wishes of

the populace, and that positive action be taken on the ques-
tion of absolute independence.43 These requests were hardly

in accord with the aims of the aristocrats, and the gulf

between them and their former allies was demonstrated on

September 29 when the meetings of the junta were henceforth
closed to the public.44 Left to their own devices, the

liberals confirmed the political realignment with the forma-

tion of the Tertulia Patriotica on October 14.

The basis for the formation of new political ties was

provided by the issue of Central America's relationship with

Mexico. The inherent opportunism of the aristocracy's advo-

cacy of independence was clearly exposed by the ingratiating

letters sent to Iturbide by Mariano Aycinena. This corres-

pondence demonstrated that the members of the family were

more than willing to trade independence for appropriate honors
and monetary rewards.45 The aristocrats were joined in their

efforts on behalf of annexation to Mexico by former opponents

of independence such as Archbishop Ramon Casaus y Torres.

Convinced of the threat of liberal reforms, these individuals


believed that the established order of position and prestige

could be best preserved through union with Mexico. This is

not to say, however, that self-interest was the sole motiva-

tion of Iturbide's Central American friends. Many shared

the conviction of such liberals as Mariano Galvez and Cirilo

Flores who believed that Central America was totally unpre-

pared for independent existence.46

Opposition to annexation was centered in the Tertulia

Patriotica whose members regarded the aspirations of the

imperialistas as little better than treasonous. In an address

delivered before the Tertulia on November 10, 1821, Jose

Francisco Cordova acknowledged the perfidy of the aristocrats

and denounced the Plan of Iguala as a:

pretext of the ambitious and enemies of inde-
pendence for resisting our absolute liberty,
and has been the means which they have adopted
as the last recourse for managing, misleading
and corrupting the intentions of the people.47

The expression of such sentiments led to abuse and bloodshed,

but the Guatemalan liberals had some consolation in the fact

that they were not alone in their resistance to annexation.

Costa Rica remained aloof, and Granada and Tegucigalpa ac-

tively opposed union with Mexico. The bond with Salvadorans

born of the uprisings of 1811 and 1814, was reconfirmed by

the armed opposition to Iturbide offered by the Salvadoran

army. Yet the weight of public opinion supported the

imperialistas, as a canvass of provincial ayuntamientos

revealed that a sizeable majority favored annexation.48 The

Act of Union was proclaimed on January 5, 1822, and for the

following fourteen months, the political development of

Central America remained in a state of suspension.

Following the downfall of Iturbide, political maneu-

vering resumed when Iturbide's agent, Vicente Filisola con-

voked the congress originally ordered by the 1821 Act of

Independence. Except for the decision of the more ardent

supporters of the Empire to boycott the elections, the

political situation in Central America during the spring

months can only be described as a conglomerate of ill-defined

positions. According to Alejandro Marure, the earlier

patriots, espanolistas, Bacos, Cacos, imperialistas, and

opponents of annexation were not able to sort themselves

out properly until after the Asamblea Nacional Constituyente

convened on June 24, 1823.49 The question of independence

was the first concern of the assembly, and while this issue

was under consideration, the delegates were largely of the

same mind. Following the proclamation of absolute independ-

ence from Spain and Mexico, the members of the assembly began

to line up in Liberal and Conservative factions. The Liberals,

known to their enemies as fiebres or anarquistas, were, for

the most part, Salvadorans and former members of the Tertulia

Patriotica. The Conservatives, called services or aristocratas

by the Liberals, were generally members of the aristocracy or

Guatemalans who feared possible domination by the provinces.50

The precise degree of difference between Liberal and

Conservative thought is difficult to determine. In general

terms, the Liberals hoped to achieve social reform (aimed

primarily at leveling distinctions within the creole com-

munity), economic development and diversification, an

expansion of educational opportunities, a reduction in the

secular power of the Church, and the establishment of a

federal form of government. The Conservatives seem to have

had few specific concerns apart from the preference for a

unitary type of government and the general desire to preserve

established institutions insofar as possible. Of all the

issues raised by the Liberals, none appears to have had

greater divisive force than that of religious reform. For a

Conservative writing at the time of Morazan's triumph in

1829, the question of religion was the basic ingredient in

the conflict.

The best indication for distinguishing a fiebre
from a moderado comes in a quarter hour of conversa-
tion when you immediately begin to hear his detest
for the friars and nuns, talk against ecclesiastical
revenues and against the precepts of the Church,
denial of the efficacy of the sacraments, derision
of everything that pertains to religion, and
laughter about those who still attend mass or comply
with any other precepts of the Church. In a word,
a fiebre is one who, denying all that pertains to
the teaching of Christ and boasting of not being a
Roman Catholic, neither recognizes nor practices
religion or morality.

In all other areas, there was an absence of vigorous

Conservative opposition to Liberal programs which suggests

that the ideological differences between the two groups was

quite limited.

In the months of July, August and September, the

Liberals controlled the assembly and elected three of their

fellows to the Supremo Poder Ejecutivo. Anticipating the


spoils system, the party replaced all civil servants who held

office under the Spanish or Mexican governments. The Liberals

also passed laws which eliminated all titles of distinction

(including the ubiquitous "Don"), and removed all restrictions

on the importation of printed materials.52 Following the

first Central American barracks revolt on September 14, con-

trol of the provisional government shifted to the hands of

the Conservatives as their position in the assembly was

strengthened with the arrival of delegates from Nicaragua

and Honduras. Pablo Alvarado, a Liberal from Costa Rica,

later reported that the Conservatives outnumbered the

Liberals forty-six to eighteen.53 Yet, apart from the re-

placement of two of the Liberal triumvirs on the Supremo

Poder Ejecutivo, this numerical superiority did not give

rise to any clear-cut Conservative reaction.

The working draft of the constitution was prepared by

a committee composed of four Liberals, and a comparison of

this document with the finished product reveals no basic al-

terations in the structure of government proposed by the

Liberals. Despite Conservative control, the constituent

assembly enacted legislation which prohibited the sale of

bulas de cruzada, established a land grant program to en-

courage immigration, made the nation an asylum for foreign

exiles, conceded certain privileges and immunities to foreign

merchants, and abolished slavery.54 While there was a later,

definite repudiation of Liberal policy by the Guatemalan

government led by Mariano Aycinena, this reaction appears to


have been in the nature of a conditioned reflex to anything

associated with liberalism. The record of the constituent

assembly indicates that the Liberal-Conservative conflict,

which continued throughout the life of the federation was

based not so much on irreconcilable differences as it was on

personal enmities and simple struggles for power.

A final comment on the politics of the federation con-

cerns the geographic orientation of political alignments.

After the outbreak of civil war in 1827, Guatemala was domi-

nated by Conservatives who were opposed by Liberals residing

in the other states of the federation. Reality is often

blurred by the assumption that a similar distribution of

political views prevailed since independence. The tendency

toward this misconception undoubtedly has its roots in the

stance taken by political parties in respect to the issue of

federalism. It is generally understood that support for

federation was the hallmark of Liberals and provincianos.

Opposition to this form of government is seen as a character-

istic of Conservatives and Guatemalans. Understandably, there

is a strong inclination to merge the elements of these two

propositions. The ease with which this may be done encour-

ages such statements as: "there was a marked cleavage be-

tween Guatemalan conservatives who advocated centralism and

the liberal elements from the other provinces who favored a

While the sense of this observation is not improper,

it has the effect of reinforcing the idea that Guatemalans

were Conservatives and provincianos were Liberals. Such a

conclusion, however, is not warranted by the facts. Of the

four Liberals who drafted the basic structure of the govern-

ment, three, Jose Francisco Barrundia, Pedro Molina, and

Mariano Galvez, were Guatemalans and one, Jose Matias Delgado,

was a provinciano.56 It should also be noted that the Con-

servatives did not obtain a majority in the constituent

assembly until after the arrival of the delegates from the

outlying provinces. Undoubtedly, the political outlook of

the provincial Conservatives was moderated by the tradition-

al resentment of Guatemala's dominance. Thus, it appears

that support for federalism was restricted neither to Liberals

nor provincianos, and the decision to establish a federal

government was achieved as Guatemalan Conservatives were out-

voted by provincial Conservatives and Liberals from all areas.



1Although the area was technically a Captaincy General,
it was commonly referred to as "el reino."

2George Alexander Thompson, Narrative of an Official
Visit to Guatemala from Mexico (London, 1829), p. 303.

3Thomas L. Karnes, The Failure of Union: Central
America, 1824-1960 (Chapel Hill, 1961), p. 11.

4Clarence H. Haring, The Spanish Empire in America
(New York, 1963), pp. 75-76.

5Alberto Herrarte, La Union de Centroamerica (Guate-
mala, 1955), p. 94; Mario Rodriguez, Central America
(Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1965), pp. 61-62.

6.odolfo Baron Castro, Jose Matlas Delgado y el
movimiento insurgente de 1811 (San Salvador, 1962), p. 61;
Hector Humberto Samayoa Guevara, Implantacion del regimen de
intendencias en el Reino de Guatemala (Guatemala, 1960), p. 194.
Samayoa Guevara believes that as they reduced central
authority and fused together older units of local government,
the establishment of intendencies contributed to the centrifugal
tendencies of the provinces.

7Troy S. Floyd, "The Guatemalan Merchants, the Govern-
ment and the Provincianos," Hispanic American Historical
Review, XLI (February, 1961), p. 93.
8Ibid., p. .102; Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr., "Economic
and Social Origins of the Guatemalan Political Parties,"
Hispanic American Historical Review, XLV (November, 1965),
pp. 547-548.

9Floyd, "The Guatemalan Merchants," p. 99.

10Ibid., p. 101; Alejandro D. Marroquin, Apreciacion
Sociologicade la Independencia Salvadorena (San Salvador,
1964), pp. 52-53.

llFloyd, "The Guatemalan Merchants," p. 92.
12Francisco Gavidia, Historia modern de El Salvador
(San Salvador, 1958), p. 235.

13Manuel Jose Arce, Memoria del General Manuel Jose
Arce (San Salvador, 1959), p. 17.

Alejandro Marure, Bosquejo historic de las revo-
luciones de Centro America desde 1811 hasta 1834, 2 vols.
(Guatemala, 1960), I, 201.

1Thompson, Narrative, p. 228.
16It is assumed that the Indian population was then no
less divorced from national life than it is today and that it
formerly constituted a much larger proportion of the popula-
tion. At the present time El Salvador is thought to be
entirely mestizo. Figures given by the intendent Antonio
Gutie'rrez y Ulloa in his Estado general de la provincia de
San Salvador indicate that in 1807 Indians constituted ap-
proximately forty per cent of the population.
17 ,
Marure, Bosquejo, I, 202; Manuel Montufar y Coronado,
Memorias para la historic de la revolution de Centro-America,
2 vols, (Guatemala, 1963), I, 57,
18 Memoria presented alp
1Federacion de Centroamerica, Memoria presentada al
Congress general de los estados federados de Centro Amyrica
por el secretario de estado, encagado de despacho universal,
al comen.ar las sesiones del ano de 1825. (Guatemala, 1825).
19 ,
1Montufar y Coronado, Memorias, I, 59.

20Article 69, Constitution of 1824; the text of the
Constitution is reproduced in Ricardo Gallardo, Las Constitu-
ciones de la Republica Federal de Centro-America, 2 vols.
(Madrid, 1958) II, 703-738.

21Montufar y Coronado, Memorias, I, 59.
22 ,
Leon Fernandez, Documentos relatives a los movi-
mientos de independencia en el reino de Guatemala (San
Salvador, 1929), p. 20. This document is titled, "Informe
del Capitan General de Guatemala al Secretaria de Gracia y
Justicia," and attempts to show that there was no basis for
creole discontent as there were only 69 peninsulares holding
official positions. The Captain General's case loses a good
bit of its strength as it includes salary figures which show
that the average income of the peninsulares was 1,208 pesos
while the creoles earned an average of 242 pesos.

23Louis E. Bumgartner's biography Jose del Valle of
Central America (Durham 1963) demonstrates that the Captain
General relied quite heavily on the Honduran savant.

24Susan Emily Strobeck, "The Political Activities of
Some Members of the Aristocratic Families of Guatemala,
1821-1839," M. A. thesis (Tulane University, 1958), p. 5;
Woodward, "Economic and Social Origins," p. 546.

25This list is reproduced in an appendix to Ramon A.
Salazar's Mariano de Aycinena (Guatemala, 1952).

26Fernandez, Documentos, p. 20.

27Bumgartner, Valle, pp. 97-120 provides an excellent
account of the conflict between the family and its antagonists.

28Woodward, "Economic and Social Origins," pp. 556-557.
29Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de Guatemala, Instrucciones
para la constitucion fundamental de la monarquia espanola y
su gobierno, de que ha de tratarse en las prdximas cortes
generals de la nacidn. (Guatemala, 1953).

30Ralph Lee Woodward, Jr., Class Privilege and
Economic Development: The Consulado de Comercio of Guatemala,
1793-1871 (Chapel Hill, 1966), p. 119.

31Strobeck, "The Political Activities," demonstrates
that aristocrats were to be found on both sides of every
issue, but after independence the majority of politically
active aristocrats came down on the side of conservatism.

32Ramon A. Salazar, Historia de veintidn a'os: la
independencia de Guatemala (Guatemala, 1928), p. 205.

33E1 editor constitutional, August 21, 1820; September
18, 1820. All issues of El editor constitutional and its suc-
cessor El genio de la libertad are reproduced in Pedro Molina,
Escritos del Doctor Pedro Molina, 3 vols. (Guatemala, 1954).

34Ibid., October 16, 1820; December 2, 1820.

35Ibid., August 21, 1820; Marure, Bosquejo, I, 59.

36Archivo Nacional de Guatemala (hereafter cited as
ANG), B1.13, leg. 494, exp. 8338; Bumgartner, Valle,
pp. 113-118.

37Marure, Bosquejo, I, 59; Montufar y Coronado,
Memorias, I, 65.
38El editor constitutional, June 4, 1821. In the next
issue of the paper Molina apologized for the satire and
ingenuously protested that he had not recognized the anagram
for Fernando el Ingrato.

39Marure, Bosquejo, I, 61.

40Ibid., p. 62.


41Alejandro Marure, Efemerides de los hechos notables
acaecidos en la republican desde el ao de 1821 hasta el de
1842 (Guatemala, 1844), p. 3; Valentin Soldrzano Fernndez,
Evolucion economic de Guatemala (Guatemala, 1963), p. 266.
"Acta de Independencia de 15 de Septiembre de 1821,"
reproduced in Gallardo, Las Constituciones, II, 661-665.
El genio de la libertad, October 1, 1821. El editor
constitutional was rechristened El genio de la libertad on
August 27, 1821.
Ibid., October 4, 1821.
45Copies of these letters are contained in Miguel
Angel Garcla, ed., El Doctor Jose Matias Delgado; homenaje
en el primer centenario de su muerte, 1832-1932; documents
para el studio de su vida y de su obra, 2 vols. (San
Salvador, 1933-1939), II, 490-516.

46Antonio Batres Jauregui, El Dr. Mariano Galvez'y su
epoca (G atemala, 1957), p. 54.
El genio de la libertad, November 19, 1821.
4Marure, Bosquejo, I, 82.
Ibid., p. 122. The decision by some imperialistas
to boycott the elections for the constituent assembly had
considerable significance as it meant that extreme conserva-
tives had little voice in the assembly.
Ibid. It should be noted that the composition of
these parties was not so clear-cut as is indicated here.
Representatives of the earlier factions were to be found in
both camps.
F. D. L., Apuntamientos para la historic de la
revolution en Centro Am6rica (San Cristobal de Chiapas,
1829), quoted in Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, Historia de la
federation de la America Central, 1823-1840 (Madrid, 1951),
p. 47.
Marure, Bosquejo, I, 1,35. Copies of these acts are
contained in Miguel Angel Garcia, ed., Manuel Jose Arce;
homenaje en el primer centenario de su fallecimiento; re-
copilacidn de documents para el studio de su vida y su
obra, 3 vols. (San Salvador, 1944-1945), I, 276-277,
Pablo Alvarado to Gobierno Superior de Costa Rica,
November 3, 1823 in Garcia, Arce, I, 291.


54Marure, Bosquejo, I, 168; Marure, Efemerides,
pp. 15-16; Montifar y Coronado, Memorias, I, 98.
Karnes, Failure of Union, p. 38. It should be
pointed out that, taken by itself, this statement carries
greater force than it does within the context of the work.
Professor Karnes makes it very clear that political align-
ments were extremely complex.

5Marure, Bosquejo, I, 200.



To the misfortune of his would-be biographers, Manuel

Jose Arce was not the sort of individual who bequeaths much

of his personal life to history. Private letters are few.

If he kept a diary (which seems unlikely), it has yet to be

found, and his memoirs deal only with his public life. There

is adequate material for the reconstruction of Arce's

political career, but apart from extrapolations, the man

himself remains hidden in the past.

The details of Arce's early life are particularly

scanty. It is known that he was born of a prominent San

Salvadoran family on January 1, 1787. In addition to their

first-born son, Arce's parents, Bernardo Jose and Manuela

Antonia, had six other children. Three of these offspring

died during childhood, and Tomas, a brother born eleven

months after Manuel Jose', lived the half-life of the mentally

retarded.1 As were most of the more substantial Salvadorans,

Bernardo Arce was an indigo grower, and the income from his

haciendas was sufficient to allow his eldest son to go to

Guatemala in 1801 to attend the Colegio de San Borja.2

His biographers assure us that Manuel Jose was an excellent

student. Whatever his scholastic abilities, Arce received

his bachillerato and possibly intended to pursue the study

of medicine. The illness of his father, however, obliged

Arce to return to El Salvador to assist with the operation

of the family estates.3 In December, 1808,he married his

cousin Felipa Aranzamendi, and in the ensuing years this

union produced six children.

This cursory review presents only a skeletal outline

of Arce's first twenty-one years, yet it contains nearly all

of the substantive statements that can be made in regard to'

his personal life during this formative period. This paucity

of information requires that any attempt to explain the

political behavior of the young Salvadoran be based on

circumstantial evidence. Nevertheless, it is not impossible

to account for Arce's involvement in Central America's first,

open confrontation with the colonial establishment. Basically,

there are three factors which explain his appearance at the

forefront of the uprising of 1811. These include Arce's

familial ties, his father's service in public office and the

financial situation of his family.

In the first decades of the nineteenth century, the

political leaders of El Salvador were largely drawn from a

kinship elite similar to the aristocracy of Guatemala.

Bound together through the marriages of the seven daughters

of Diego de Leon, this extended family included the surnames:

Aguilar, Aranzamendi, Arce, Delgado, Fagoaga, Lara, Morales,
S 4
and Rodriguez. In addition to exercising political leader-

ship, the family had a further resemblance to the Guatemalan

aristocracy in that its members adopted a position of

political liberalism prior to the coming of independence.

The similarity ends at that point, however, as the liberal

stance taken by the Salvadoran "family" proved to be much

more durable. This political commitment was doubtlessly

shaped by a predisposition towards change arising from the

years of conflict with Guatemalan merchants and to the

leadership of Jose'Matias Delgado.

Delgado was born in San Salvador in 1767, and he

received his training in Guatemala at the Tridentine Seminary

and the University of San Carlos where he obtained a doctorate

in canon law. After he completed his studies, Delgado served

as curate of San Salvador, and in 1797 he was appointed to

the office of provincial vicar. The origin of Delgado's

liberalism is unclear, but as Montufar suggests, it may have

simply been an outgrowth of his desire to establish a

bishopric in El Salvador.5 A man of considerable ability,

Delgado's manner was such that he enjoyed not only the

prestige of his offices but substantial popular support as

well, and it seems likely that his convictions became those

of his parishioners.

While there were a number of other individuals

involved, all of the above-named Salvadoran aristocratic

families had representatives who played leading roles in

the 1811 revolt. It is commonly held that the moving spirits

of the uprising were Jose Matias Delgado together with

Nicolas, Vicente, and Manuel Aguilar, and there were close

ties between these men and Manuel Jose Arce. Arce was a

second cousin to Delgado as the mother of the Salvadoran

vicar and Arce's paternal grandmother were sisters.6 The

Arces were also related by marriage to the Aguilars, and

this bond was strengthened in May, 1811 when Arce's sister

Manuela married Domingo Antonio de Lara, a nephew of the

Aguilar brothers. With connections such as these, Arce's

involvement in the movement was almost inevitable.

Though Arce's admission to the group of dissidents

was provided by kinship, this factor alone does not account

for the position of leadership assumed by the twenty-four

year old creole. To assert that Arce was a born leader begs

the question, but the assumption that he had leadership

capabilities is not unreasonable. A thoroughly retiring

young man would likely have remained on the sidelines.

Arce's actions in the 1811 uprising demonstrate that he

possessed a considerable amount of drive and spirit, so it

may be inferred that he expressed himself quite vigorously

in the conversations and meetings which ultimately led to

the open expression of creole discontent. Still, the fact

that Arce was able to assume the role of a key figure was

probably due not so much to his own energy as it was to the

position of his father within the creole community. In fact,

as member of the ayuntamiento, Bernardo Arce was one of the

leading citizens of San Salvador. In 1787, the year that

Manuel Jose was born, Bernardo Arce was chosen for the post

of alcalde segundo7. He was elected to this office again in

1793 and also served a term as alferez real.8 What might be

considered the culmination of Arce's political career

occurred in 1799 when he was selected to be alcalde primero.

In that year, Luis de Arquedos declined to accept his appoint-

ment as intendente of the province, and so the authority of

*that office devolved upon Bernardo Arce.9 Thus, the name

of Arce commanded a degree of respect which would accord

Manuel Jose a place of prominence in whatever endeavors he

elected to pursue.

Inasmuch as the Arce family can be considered a part

of the local establishment, the question of its motivation

for participating in the revolt of 1811 arises. The intendente

Antonio Guti'rrez y Ulloa, a peninsular appointed in 1804,

was noted for his deprecative behavior in dealing with the

creoles.10 It may be argued then, that the Arce's were

simply seeking to regain the authority they had once tasted.

It also may be supposed that Manuel and his father shared

the frustration of cousin Josd Matias Delgado concerning

the attempt to erect a bishopric in the province. To this

writer, it appears that their discontent may very well have

had economic origins, as El Salvador had experienced a

marked decline in its indigo-based economy by the end of

the first decade of the nineteenth century.

This deterioration was partly the product of natural

causes. In several years the size of the harvest was

severely reduced by locust plagues.1 The introduction of

indigo into Venezuela in 1777 prevented compensation for

crop shortages by means of price increases, as Venezuelan

indigo captured a growing share of the Spanish market.

Furthermore, the profit margin for Salvadoran producers was

reduced by increased local taxes and support for the montepio

of the Sociedad de Cosecheros de Anil, and these factors

ultimately destroyed the competitive position of Central

American indigo.12 The decay of the indigo industry is

dramatically demonstrated by the official production figures

given to Henry Dunn in 1827.13 The fact that the output of

indigo in 1811 was less than half of what it had been twenty

years earlier must have meant that serious financial

difficulties confronted the Arce family. This supposition

is supported by the fact that Bernardo Arce was forced to

contract sizeable debts. After his death in 1814, Arce

left an estate which owed the montepio a sum of 6,000 pesos

and Gregorio Castriciones, the wealthiest Spaniard in the

province, a total of 25,185 pesos.14 It is not suggested

that the Arces embraced insurrection merely as a means of

avoiding their obligations, but it seems more than plausible

that increasing financial pressures would have encouraged

their disaffection.

Whatever their personal motives, the creoles of San

Salvador were prepared by 1811 to take the steps most feared

by colonial authorities. In a sense, they were merely

keeping in step with their times. Though Central America

is generally considered to have been one of the backwaters

of the empire, its residents were by no means unaware of

the currents of political change flowing about them. This


was plainly demonstrated when the ayuntamiento of Guatemala

prefaced the instructions given to its representative to

the Cortes of Cadiz with the "Declaration of the Rights of

Man and of the Citizen." Clearly concerned with stemming

the spread of disloyalty, Captain General Antonio Gonzalez y

Saravia established a tribunal de fidelidad on May 27, 1810,

and offered a reward of five hundred pesos for information

leading to the apprehension of foreign agents. None of

Napoleon's representatives were uncovered, but seditious

material was found and promptly burned.15

On March 14, 1811, Gonzalez y Saravia was replaced by

Jose' Bustamante y Guerra who immediately issued a manifesto

which demanded nothing less than total obedience to Spain.

Bustamante was not long in deciding that the murmurings of

discontent issuing from San Salvador signaled the greatest

threat to tranquility, and he later reported:

when I took possession of command, I saw substantiated
the reports I had been given of the secret spirit of
unrest in this kingdom; I most feared its effects in
the province of San Salvador, where my predecessor
feared them; and in order to remove the means by
which it might be possible to instigate an insur-
rection, I gave orders for the removal to the capital
of the arms and funds that were in San Salvador.
And in its accomplishment, there were removed in
August of that year 11,700 rifles and 95,201 pesos
from the public treasury. .. 16

Undeterred by Bustamante's action (and possibly spurred by

it), the Salvadorans proceeded to emulate the example then

being set by creoles in other areas of the Spanish empire,

and in the words of Bustamante, "the fire which had burned

in secret manifested itself publicly," on November 5, 1811.17

The 1811 uprising had religious fervor as its chief

impetus and open expression of the creole-peninsular conflict

as its immediate consequence. The outbreak was precipitated

by the action which the government took against the Aguilar

brothers. These men were all members of the clergy and

apparently were held in considerable esteem by the Salvadoran

masses. The Aguilars' loyalty, however, had been suspect

since the beginning of the year when they had declined to

publish an edict condemning the Mexican revolutionaries,

and early in November, Manuel Aguilar was arrested in

Guatemala on the charge of having had correspondence with

Miguel Hidalgo.18 When the news of this event reached San

Salvador, the result was a storm of popular protest. Such a

response was not surprising as the seeds of unrest had

already been sewn among the people. In the latter part of

October, Bernardo Torres, an alclade of one of the city's

barrios, informed the residents of his district that

Bernardino Molina, a peninsular Spaniard, intended to

assassinate Jose Matias Delgado.19 Apparently, there was

little validity to the charge, but the fact that a rumor of

this sort was planted has considerable significance. It

indicates that certain individuals sought to marshal the

force of the masses, realized that this could best be done

by appealing to religious sentiments, and expected to employ

this force against the Spaniards resident in San Salvador.

The most likely authors of this plan were, of course, those

creoles who assumed leadership of the November revolt. In

the previous year, young Arce had exposed the antipathy

that existed between his group and the peninsulares. Testi-

mony offered in the subsequent investigation of the rebellion

revealed that in 1810 Arce had encouraged Manuel Paredes to

join a junta that met in the home of the Aguilar brothers

and which planned to throw off the yoke of peninsular

domination.20 In the resort to religion as a means for

achieving their purposes, the Salvadoran creoles uncovered a

political device that would later be employed with equal

facility by Central American conservatives.

On the evening of November 4, a crowd of townspeople

gathered before the home of the provincial vicar to inquire

about the fate of the Aguilars. Delgado confirmed the news

concerning the arrests and suggested that those present

might pay a call on Antonio Gutilrrez y Ulloa and demand

that the intendente secure the release of Manuel and extend

his protection to Nicolas Aguilar.21 Led by Manuel Jose',

his father, his uncle Juan Jose Arce and Manuel Delgado, a

brother of the vicar, the throng made its way to the home of

the intendente. In response to the uproar, Gutie'rrez y

Ulloa appeared at a second floor window and was informed of

the Salvadorans' wishes. The intendente responded that he

was powerless to take such action as they requested. This

hardly satisfied, but the besieged official was finally able

to convince the crowd to disperse. Manuel Jose left the

intendent's home swearing to even the score by taking

Bernardino Molina into custody. Failing in this, he spent

the night with his cousin Jose Matias Delgado "in order to

protect him."22

The turmoil continued the next day, and by noon it

was clear that a plan of action had been established.

Approximately four hundred men again appeared before the

home of Gutierrez y Ulloa. Manuel Jose Arce, with the title

of "deputy of the people" acted as spokesman for the group

and directed the intendente to sound the bell which would

summon a meeting of the ayuntamiento. Gutierrez y Ulloa

complied with this command and then was escorted to the

town hall where an even larger crowd was assembled. After

the meeting was brought to order, Gutierrez y Ulloa was

deposed and the arrest of all Spanish officials was ordered.23

A creole government was then established. Bernardo Arce

was named alcalde primero, but he declined to accept the

post which then went to Leandro Fagoaga. Josef Maria Villasefor

was chosen as alcalde segundo, and Jose Mariano Batres was

given the office of intendente. The ayuntamiento was also

reorganized with Bernardo Arce, Juan Delgado, Tomas Carillo,

Domingo Durdn, Manuel Morales, Miguel Rivera, Fernando Silva,

Francisco Vallosa as members and Juan Manuel Rodriguez as

secretary. Jose Aguilar replaced Jose Rossi as comandante

general de las armas.24

While the meeting was in session, Manuel Jose Arce,

in a burst of youthful exuberance, climbed on a chair by

the door of the building and proclaimed, "there is no King"'25

Arce told the assembled throng that it need no longer take


orders from Spanish officials and should only obey the newly

elected creole authorities. He also promised the people

that the alcabala would be abolished and that the monopolies

on tobacco and aguardiente would be suppressed.26 Though

some authors, following the account of Alejandro Marure,

assume that a condition bordering on anarchy prevailed for

the balance of the month, this does not seem to have been

the case. Apart from Arce's outburst, it appears that the

creoles conducted themselves with a considerable degree of

discretion. Following the establishment of the new govern-

ment, tranquility was restored and there were no outrages

committed against the Spaniards. Antonio Gutierrez y Ulloa,

who was confined to the premises of the Convent of Santo

Domingo, later testified that the Arces had treated him with

courtesy and had exercised a restraining influence on the

mobs that formed during the revolt.27

On November 6 the creole government, in an attempt to

establish its legitimacy (and possibly buy a little time),

informed the colonial officials in Guatemala that there had

been a disturbance in San Salvador, but order had since been

restored.28 To further protect themselves, the Salvadoran

officials swore loyalty to Ferdinand VII on the following

day. The creoles were not so naive as to believe that their

assumption of power would go unchallenged, and they realized

that by themselves they could not successfully withstand

the authority of the Captain General. In hopes of bolstering

their position, the rebels drafted a manifesto which gave a


brief account of the uprising and attempted to justify their

actions.29 This document along with an invitation to send a

delegate to a proposed provincial congress was sent to all

the towns in the province and possibly to other provinces as


Manuel Jose Arce had a hand in this propaganda

campaign as on November 8 he spent the day at his father's

house dictating letters to the scribes Bonifacio Paniagua

and Joaquin Chavez. The evidence indicates, however, that

Arce had no personal responsibility for the substantive

content of these letters. Bernardo Arce's house apparently

served as a kind of headquarters for the creoles as there

were others there on the same day dictating similar letters.31

In addition to assisting with such details, Arce, retaining

his title of "deputy of the people" served as a liason

officer between the people and the government. He also had

the responsibility of maintaining order in the city, and was

given one hundred pesos from the public treasury to cover

the costs of police patrols.32

The Salvadoran insurgents were not at all unique in

their dissatisfaction with peninsular dominance. In

Nicaragua the citizens of Leon deposed the intendente Jose

Salvador on December 13. Nine days later Spanish officials

in Granada were forced to resign their posts. While these

actions further disturbed the structure of colonial govern-

ment, they came too late to provide support for the Salvadoran

venture. Within the province of San Salvador, the revolt

was seconded by the communities of Metapan, Zacatecoluc,

Chalatenango, and Usulutan where the cry of, "death to the

chapetones," was heard in the streets.33 Of much greater

significance in determining the outcome of the Salvadoran

revolt was the reaction of San Miguel, Santa Ana and San

Vicente. If the creole government of San Salvador was to

have the least chance of coming to terms with the colonial

authorities, it had to have the solid support of the entire

province, but the above named towns refused to sanction the

transfer of power. San Miguel directed the town executioner

to burn the Salvadoran manifesto in the central plaza, while

the community of Santa Ana forwarded the correspondence it

received to the audiencia along with the declaration that it

considered the action of San Salvador to be "sacrilegious,

subversive and seditious,"34 Deciding to take more vigorous

action, Jose Santin del Castillo, the alcalde primero of

San Vicente, gathered a force of one hundred and fifty men

for the purpose of restoring the legitimate government.35

In response to this action, the ayuntamiento of San Salvador

commissioned Manuel Jose Arce to ascertain the intentions of
alcalde Santin del Castillo.36 The nature of the inquiry

made by Arce is not known, but it had the effect of eliminating

the threat posed by San Vicente. The ayuntamiento of San

Salvador was informed that the San Vicentians had never

thought of mounting an invasion and had marshaled its troops

in the belief that San Salvador might request assistance for

repressing a popular uprising.37

While the rebels were able to maintain their position

in the face of opposition within the province, this lack of

unity meant that they could not successfully resist the

authority of the Captain General. With the arrival of the

teniente letrado of Nicaragua, Captain General Bustamante

was apprised of the true character of the situation in San

Salvador, and on November 15, he appointed Juan Jose Aycinena

to the post of intendente and directed him to restore order

to the province.38 Aycinena was joined by Jose Maria Peinado

who was commissioned by the ayuntamiento of Guatemala to

assist in the pacification effort. Whatever may have been

the Captain General's thoughts on the proper method for

dealing with the insurgents, he acceded to the ayuntamiento's

wish to handle the Salvadorans gently. Although Aycinena

was provided with a sizeable militia force, the commissioners

were instructed to pursue a policy of suasion and grant

amnesty to those who had participated in the revolt.39

Faced with a choice between futile warfare and honorable

defeat, the creoles turned their backs on the dream of self-

government. At least they could claim a victory of sorts

as the Spanish intendente was replaced by a native son of

Central America. When Aycinena and Peinado entered San

Salvador on December 3, they found the streets lined with

citizens who greeted them as liberators rather than con-

querors. A Te Deum was sung, and two days later the

ayuntamiento wrote a letter to its sister body in Guatemala

expressing gratitude for the "swift measures" taken to

restore lawful authority.40

There has been some debate as to the status which

should be assigned to the 1811 revolt. A number of Central

American writers have taken the position that the uprising

marked the beginning of Central America's struggle for

independence. The product of a nationalistic desire to

share in the glory of the bygone battles for freedom, this

concept is held together by rather slender threads and seems

closer to myth than reality. As a coherent, vital movement,

a "struggle" for independence in Central America never took

place. Authors who have taken a more critical view of the

uprising regard it as little more than a manifestation of

the creoles' envy and resentment of the peninsulares.

Certainly the slogan, "down with bad government; long live

Ferdinand VII," expresses the character of the revolt, and

the ready acceptance of amnesty suggests that the creoles'

objective was simply that of cutting the peninsulares down

to size. Captain General Bustamante held this belief in

1813 when he wrote:

desire for office and commercial cupidity have been
in former times and will be in the future the only
cause of disturbances in America. They [the creoles]
exaggerate rigidities in the law, they extoll the
rights of the people, they speak with horror of
despotism, they affect tender sentiments for the
unfortunate, etc., but there are no causes other
than those indicated.41

Despite this evidence, there is reason to believe that

the 1811 revolt was a definite, albeit faltering step in

the direction of independence. The officials who directed

the treason hearings begun in 1814 did not share the earlier


cynicism of the Captain General concerning the causes of

unrest. They Sought and received confirmation of the charge

that independence had been the object of the uprising.42

It is unlikely that the corroborating witnesses, who were

members of the colonial militia, were privy to the thoughts

of the rebels, yet it appears that their testimony came

close to the truth. The oath of allegiance to Ferdinand

VII may be viewed as a step taken to gain time while allaying

the fears of the conservatives. There is no doubt that the

creoles coveted the positions held by the peninsulares, but

this ambition is indistinguishable from a genuine commitment

to self-Jovernment. The assertion that the desire for office

defined the limits of creole aspirations belongs to the

realm of speculation. Proof of this contention would demand

a demonstration that creoles were given the reins of

government and subsequently remained obedient to the dictates

of Spain. In the case of San Salvador, a creole was placed

in a position of authority, but it later became clear that

he was no more palatable to the Salvadorans than his Spanish


Moreover, it is evident that the Salvadorans had a

motivation superior to the acquisition of offices: the

desire for religious autonomy. While they took no action on

the matter during the brief period that they were in power,

it is certain that the creoles had this goal in mind. When

Jose Ignacio Avila was chosen in 1811 as the Salvadoran

representative to the Cortes of Cadiz, he was instructed to


press for the erection of a bishopric in the province, and he

addressed a petition on this subject to the Cortes on March

21, 1812.43 Had the creoles been able to maintain their

position for a fair amount of time after the November revolt,

it seems probable that the issue of the bishopric would have

provided the rationale justifying a declaration of indepen-


The thesis that the Salvadorans had embarked on a

course leading to independence is given greater substance

by certain actions taken by the creole government. In

attempting to convene a provincial congress, the Salvadorans

clearly exceeded the bounds of colonial law as such meetings

had long been forbidden by royal order.44 The downward flow

of policy was a part of the natural order of things which

the congress would have blatantly inverted as its announced

purpose included the formulation of local policy decisions.

In itself the summoning of a provincial assembly signaled

that the creoles were prepared to defy the authority of the

Captain General. The willingness to run counter to

established modes of behavior is further demonstrated by

the reaction to the hostile attitude of San Vicente. It is

difficult to believe that the Salvadorans had any illusions

concerning the reason behind the massing of troops in the

neighboring city, and they sought to preserve their integrity

in the face of this threat.45

Isolated in time, the 1811 rebellion was of little or

no political consequence. Having no real relationship to

the actual establishment of Central American independence,


it is easy to dismiss the revolt as being devoid of content.

Yet to this writer it appears that the uprising was the

beginning of a genuine independence movement that was aborted

after its leaders made a realistic appraisal of the uneven

odds they faced. If the resources of San Salvador had been

sufficient to have encouraged resistance to the colonial

authorities, Central Americans might have had the fight for

freedom they now long to remember.

Following the restoration of colonial authority, San

Salvador assumed an air of tranquility. In March, 1812

Aycinena left the province to accept an appointment to the

Council of the Indies, and the office of intendente was

transferred to Jose Maria Peinado who had authored the

Instrucciones given to the delegate to the Cortes of Cadiz.

Arce retired to the hacienda San Lucas and apparently spent

the better part of the year there.46 Following the

promulgation of the Constitution of 1812 in San Salvador on

November 8, 1812, Arce was selected to represent the province

in the Spanish Cortes. He declined this honor, however,and

was subsequently elected to the constitutional ayuntamiento

of San Salvador.47 Showing a similar disinterest in

journeying to Spain, Jose Matias Delgado accepted a post on

the newly created diputacion provincial in preference to a

seat in the Cortes.

Peinado, a creole and a liberal, attempted to govern

the province in a fair and understanding fashion, but buoyed

by the atmosphere of political change, the Salvadorans

proved to be more than he could handle. With the passing

months of 1813, the colonial regime was increasingly sub-

jected to verbal attacks, anonymous broadsides, and threatening

graffiti. Both political inclinations and festering enmities

were exposed in the little rhyme:

Cuidadanos del Tambor
Decid de muy buen gana
Que viva el padre Morelos
Y mueran los de Santa Ana.48

It is not clear whether the liberal reforms of 1812 incited

the Salvadoran liberals to move further to the left or

merely provided a favorable climate for the growth'of pre-

existent radicalism. In any case, the leading forces of

Salvadoran politics demonstrated the underlying sincerity of

the 1811 movement as they refused to be pacified by the

rights granted under the Constitution of 1812. Reconvening

the secret juntas formed in 1810, the creoles began to

discuss plans and ideas which the Captain General would have

considered extremely alarming. The direction of creole

ambitions was made clear by Miguel Delgado, Juan Manuel

Rodriguez, and Santiago Jose Celis, (all friends of Arce,

though probably ahead of him in their thinking) on March 1,

1813, when they wrote to Jose Maria Morelos:

For some time we, the undersigned residents of
this city, have been considering a means for
communicating with you, none being free of risk, we
are employing the most daring and sending this by
courier. We are begging for arrest, but as our
ideas are in close conformity with yours. . inform
us of the present state of your important activities
and of succeeding events as they occur. We await
this kindness protesting that our adherence to your
person is identical to that which we have for your
interesting and just cause, assuring you that we

work constantly to maintain the high opinion which
you enjoy in this kingdom. . We equally hope
that you will inform us of the plan for the
constitution adopted by your country. . .49

In the face of ominous rumors and obvious discontent,

Peinado repeatedly attempted to convince Captain General

Bustamante (and possibly himself as well) that all was well

in San Salvador. Having other sources of information in

San Salvador, Bustamante wrote to Peinado inquiring about

the nature of the public attacks on the government. Peinado

admitted that there had been some manifestations of disrespect,

but on April 22 he avowed that suspect behavior was a thing

of the past and that the people of the province were "good,

simple and religious."50 These qualities did not prevent

the citizens of San Salvador from taking to the streets on

September 5 in response to a rumor that Delgado had been

arrested in Guatemala. The intendente had some difficult

moments as he faced a situation that had the makings for a

re-enactment of the events of 1811. Order was restored,

however, with the arrival of mail from Guatemala which

proved the rumor groundless. Maintaining his convictions,

Peinado later wrote to the Captain General that the disturb-

ance was of little consequence as it was merely an expression

of the peoples' affection for Delgado and that the loyalty

of the province was unquestionable. Bustamante was uncon-

vinced as his own sources continued to send him troubling

reports. Fearing that the fact that Delgado was residing

with Peinado's family in Guatemala might have a lulling

effect, Bustamante advised the intendente to exercise

extreme vigilance. Undisturbed, Peinado blandly replied on

October 24 that the citizens of all classes were "submerged

in the grossest ignorance."51 It is not clear when he

changed his mind, but by December 3 Peinado had become

convinced of the things the Captain General had feared. On

that date he wrote to Bustamante that he could not find the

proper means of controlling the province, obedience was

lost, and the people resembled "cynical academicians"

disputing and discussing the constitution with enthusiasm.52

With this change in attitude, the intendente initiated a

policy of rigorous control which shortly led to the second

confrontation between the Salvadorans and the colonial


The first demonstration of Peinado's new approach to

government came with the December elections for the alcaldes

of the barrios. Believing the victors in the election to

be "vicious" and "suspect" persons, Peinado ordered that

new elections be held. The alcaldes chosen in the second

balloting were equally distasteful to the intendente, and

though he allowed them to take office, he refused to confirm

their election. On January 9, Peinado referred confirmation

of the election to the Captain General. At the same time

he ordered a secret distribution of arms and ammunition to

the royal garrison and corps of volunteers in response to

the request of the ayuntamiento that all weapons be placed

in the local armory where they would be at the disposal of

the people.53 Continuing with his pacification program,

Peinado summoned the members of the ayuntamiento to his home

on January 16, entertained them with a play, and then lectured

them on their behavior and responsibilities. It appears that

his guests may have been more impressed by the dramatic

presentation which bore the suggestive title Mas vale tarde

que nunca.54 Two days later the Captain General informed

the ayuntamiento that the disposition of armaments was none

of their concern, and more importantly, he directed Josd

Rossi, the comandante general, to increase the number of

night patrols and to keep all suspicious activities under

close surveillance. It was Rossi's compliance with this

order that led to the uprising of 1814.

On the twenty-second of January, Rossi reported to

the intendente that a group of men had been seen leaving the

home of Pablo Castillo, the alcalde segundo, at one o'clock

in the morning. Suggesting that a conspiracy was afoot,

Rossi urged the intendente to take strong countermeasures.

It was learned from informers that the alcaldes of the

Remedies and Candelaria barrios had attended the meeting at

Castillo's home, and Peinado had these men arrested on

January 23.55 This firm action only served to provoke the

very thing that Peinado was seeking to avoid. News of the

arrests spread quickly, and by ten o'clock on the morning

of the twenty-fourth, the situation in San Salvador was

such that Peinado doubled the guard at all public buildings

and ordered that each man be given all the cartridges he

could carry.56 Apart from agitated conversations in the

streets, the situation at first seemed under control. The

first confrontation did not come until two o'clock in the

afternoon when an alcalde from the barrio of San Jose

appeared before Peinado and urged that the prisoners be

released. The intendente flatly refused the request and

sent the alcalde packing. During this time a junta had

gathered at the home of Miguel Delgado to hold a series of

strategy sessions. The participants in these meetings

included the creoles Delgado, Arce, his brothers-in-law

Domingo Lara and Juan Aranzamendi, Jose Santiago Cells,

the alcalde primero Juan Manuel Rodriguez, the mestizo

alcalde segundo Pablo Castillo, Silvestre Anaya, a zambo,

and several other persons of mixed blood.57 There is no

record of the discussions that were held, but subsequent

events indicate that the creoles, with the possible exception

of Rodriguez, advocated a cautious approach in opposition to

more vigorous action proposed by the pardos.

In any case, an apparently moderate response followed

Peinado's first refusal to liberate the prisoners. At four

o'clock in the afternoon, Rodriguez approached the intendente

and requested the summoning of a cabildo abierto. Fearing

a trap, Peinado asked what would be the purpose of such a

meeting. He was informed that it would help to calm the

citizens who had been greatly disturbed by the arrest of the

alcaldes. Peinado replied that such matters were his

responsibility alone but offered to have the ayuntamiento

meet at his home at seven o'clock.58 Peinado's suspicion

that a cabildo abierto had been requested for a purpose

similar to that obtained in 1811 appears confirmed by the

fact that his proposal for a meeting of the ayuntamiento

failed to satisfy the junta assembled at Delgado's home.

Around six o'clock Arce entered a plea for the release of

the prisoners, but the intendente's only response was to

direct the young creole to disperse the crowd which was

gathering near the church of La Merced.59 Arce made a half-

hearted attempt to comply with this order and then rejoined

the junta which was now convened in the sacristy of the

church. At seven o'clock Rodriguez returned to Peinado's

home, and after informing the intendente that a meeting of

the ayuntamiento would not be necessary, demanded that the

prisoners be freed. The matter was debated for some time,

and finally Juan Miguel Bustamante, who was now serving

as the teniente letrado of San Salvador, counselled that the

demand be met in the interests of peace.60 A release order

was signed, and at nine o'clock Rodriguez led the alcaldes

back to the exuberant welcome awaiting them at La Merced.

Believing the crisis was resolved, Arce and a number

of other creoles returned to their homes; but under the

leadership of Pablo Castillo, those who were determined to

put an end to their troubles with the intendente remained

at the church. Shortly before midnight the conspirators

sounded the bells of La Merced. Armed with a brace of

pistols, Arce answered the summons and learned of a plan to


seal off the city and sieze the arms of Peinado's men. With

little chance for success, Arce assumed the task of putting

the mob assembled at the church in some semblance of fighting

order.61 He had hardly begun, however, when troops from

the local garrison appeared. In the ensuing skirmish the

insurgents were routed as two of the rebels were killed and

three men, one of whom was Domingo Lara, were wounded.62

This brief encounter put an end to the uprising. On the

following day Peinado had the city under his complete

command. Rodriguez, Delgado and Cells were arrested

immediately. Arce and Lara were able to make their way to

San Lucas, and Castillo also fled the city. In view of the

attitudes reflected in the letter to Morelos, there can be

little doubt that the creoles were anticipating separation

from Spain. Their hesitant behavior on the twenty-fourth

suggests that they were not yet ready to move. Castillo's

agitation, however, forced precipitate action which resulted

in the total emasculation of the independence movement.

As he remained unmolested on his hacienda for several

months, Arce may have thought that he was safe from prosecu-

tion, but the revelation of his participation in the uprising

was inescapable. Called in on April 4, 1814 to account for

his presence at the scene of the tumult, Arce testified that

he had gone out merely to learn why the church bells had

been rung.63 While this statement was true and Arce was

allowed to return to his home, the authorities were far

from accepting his declaration of innocence. On May 5, 1814,


Arce was placed under arrest, and for the next five years

the glacial movement of Spanish justice would be the dominant

factor in his life. Arce was not informed of the charges

against him nor was he allowed to contact his family through-

out the summer of 1814. During these months his wife directed

several petitions to the audiencia pleading that she be

allowed to contact her husband and that the cause of his

arrest be made known.64 Arce was permitted to communicate

with his family, but the request for an indictment was

futile. By October, while demanding that his case be brought

to a speedy conclusion, Arce was still complaining that

charges against him had not been filed. One wonders what

Arce's reaction would have been had he known that his trial

would drag on for nearly two more years. He filed protests

that Juan Miguel Bustamante, the judge assigned to his case,

was prejudiced against him, and in February, 1815 he admon-

ished his tormentors not to behave in such a manner that it

would be said in the future, "que los satrapes de las

provincias distant eran mas que Reyes."65 All that he

received for his troubles was further interrogation from


Arce was by no means a docile prisoner. In addition

to demands for his legal rights, he filed numerous complaints

concerning prison conditions. He believed that his cell was

too small and that he was denied adequate contact with his

family.66 He was harassed by the jailers and forced to

remain in his cell when the prison was shaken by an earthquake.

His food, often consisting of nothing more than moldy

tortillas, was abominable. Consequently his health declined,

and Arce suffered alternately from diarrhea and constipation

all the while he was held in confinement.67 It appears that

Arce's health in fact may have been permanently damaged by

his term in prison as he was plagued with illnesses through-

out the rest of his life.

Arce's most serious concern was the financial

difficulties that were caused by his arrest and the impounding

of his possessions. When Arce first petitioned to have his

case brought to a conclusion, he cited the need to attend

to his business affairs; after he had been held for a number

of months, he pled the cause of impending poverty.68

Arce's economic problems extended to other members of his

family as well. Following his death in November, 1814,

Bernardo Arce's property was included in the attachment of

his son's possessions. This action made it impossible to

settle the estate and caused considerable hardship for those

dependent upon its revenues.69 When Manuela Arce journeyed

to Guatemala to plead the cause of her brother and her

husband in 1816, she stated that, having already sold her

jewelry to maintain her family, she had been forced to sell

her silverware to pay for the trip.70 After Arce was finally

released, his property--less a portion sold to pay debts

incurred during his confinement--was restored to him, but it

appears that he never fully recovered from the economic

difficulties that arose from his imprisonment.

As the proceedings against Arce slowly crept forward,

he continued to maintain his innocence. He charged that the

testimony entered against him was made by either mortal

enemies or unqualified witnesses. He flatly denied most

of the charges, and what he was forced to admit, he attempted

to put in the very best light. In 1811 he had promised

abolition of the alcabala only as a means of quieting the

mob. He had armed himself on the night of January 24 as he

intended to assist the militia with the settlement of any

disturbance.71 Such testimony, however, had little effect

on his judges who continued to amass evidence of Arce's

guilt. In 1815 Bustamante was named interim intendente and

his place as judge in Arce's case was taken by Isidro Marin.

This change made little difference to the accused who soon

complained that Marin was as biased and unfair as his


By the end of the year, the investigation had been

completed, but it required six months to reach a decision in

the case and three more years to conclude all of the litiga-

tion that was involved. Franco Ruis, who had been appointed

as Arce's defensor, resigned from the case in March, 1816,

and Arce asked that his sister be named to represent him.

This request was denied, and Arce was saddled with Domingo

Baraona, a "mortal enemy" who was regarded by Mariano Fagoaga

as a "professional drunkard."73 Baraona went through the

motions of presenting a defense, but by this time it made

little difference who handled the defense or how it was

presented. On June 19, 1816,Arce was condemned to serve

eight years in the prison at Ceuta.74 This sentence was not

carried out as Arce's sister immediately appealed his case

to the audiencia. While this appeal was being considered,

Ferdinand VII, in celebration of his marriage to Maria

Isabella de Braganza, issued a general amnesty on January

25, 1817. The royal order was proclaimed in Guatemala in

June of that year, and Arce requested his freedom under the

terms of the amnesty. Achieving his release was, however,

no simple matter. By April, 1818 the court had yet to act

on his petition, and Arce addressed a complaint to Captain

General Carlos Urrutia that he was still being held in

confinement.75 In part, the exasperating delays which Arce

experienced were caused by bureaucratic sluggishness. Also,

the audiencia, possessing considerable latitude in the

application of amnesties, had to review all of the testimony

taken in Arce's case. Finally, on July 7, 1818, the court

recommended that Arce's sentence be suspended.76

Following his release from prison, Arce's energies

were totally absorbed by the needs of his family and the

effort of putting his financial affairs in order. As the

market for indigo was by this time almost nonexistent and

the production of cochineal had not yet taken hold, it is

likely that he was able to do little more than retrench.

Supported by a few rents and several small herds of cattle,

his family never again enjoyed the income of earlier days.

Possibly it was this economic hardship which caused Arce to

be little chastened by his years in prison, as not many

months passed before it became clear that Arce's attitudes

had not been influenced by his repeated protestations that

he had always been a "good vassal."

With the restoration of the Constitution of 1812 fol-

lowing the Riego revolt, Delgado was returned to his seat on

the diputacion provincial. Conservative interests were,

however, able to maintain control of the government of San

Salvador.77 The repression of the preceding years undoubtedly

had weakened the position of Arce and his liberal colleagues

to the extent that they were unable to exert much influence

in the elections of 1820. Still, Arce pursued the old

cause and established contact with those kindred spirits in

Guatemala, Pedro Molina and Jose'Francisco Barrundia. The

correspondence indicates that, despite their lack of an

official voice in local affairs, the Salvadoran liberals

were able to build a foundation of support for independence.

When the day of separation from Spain was close at hand,

Arce asked Molina to keep him well informed of events in the

capital inasmuch as San Salvador "only lacks the right hand

to direct opinion, or better said, lacks an example that

will expell the phantoms which bind us to the old government."78

In this same letter, Arce displayed a remarkable degree

of generosity for a man who had been made to pay so dearly

for his beliefs. Placing the interests of the future nation

ahead of the desire for personal revenge, Arce wrote:

The mongrel spirits which trampled over all with
indomitable pride, have fallen dead in the face of

the unity of sentiment that cries for liberty, and
we see them now as humble as they were proud during
the bloody era of Bustamante.
I am of the opinion that we should take them
back as prodigal sons; perhaps they will be insincere
in admitting to their errors, but that is not
important because the great secret of politics is
to make use of all men.79

Unfortunately for Arce, this disposition towards reconciliation

would later cost him more support than it would gain.

By the time that Molina received the letter of his

Salvadoran compatriot, The Bacos and Cacos had united to

proclaim the independence of Guatemala. Whatever their

personal attitudes, the officials of San Salvador ratified

this action with a proclamation of independence on September

21, 1821. Possibly they hoped that all would remain as it

had been, but the liberal creoles were determined to alter

the structure of the government in a way that would give

them a voice in its direction. In the letter written to

Molina just prior to independence, Arce mentioned the

circulation of a petition for the establishment in San

Salvador of a body similar to the diputacion provincial, and

on October 1 Pedro Barriere, the jefe politico, was present-

ed with a document which informed him that, "the people

have determined to erect a junta gobernativa subalterna in

this city according to the plan of the one in the capital."80

Apparently assuming that conservatives would control the

junta, Barriere accepted the petition and set October 4 as

the day for electing the members of the new body. In

attempting to round up conservative support for the elections,

Ignacio Saldana'and Jose'Viteri discovered that there was

little prospect for a conservative victory, and at eleven

o'clock on the morning of the fourth, Barriere announced

that he had changed his mind and the junta would not be

formed.81 Led by Rodriguez, Arce and Lara, the people

protested this decision with such vigor that Barriere sent

out troops to restore order. As a means of insuring against

further disturbances, the ringleaders were brought in; and

Arce was once again imprisoned for his political activities.82

In this instance the Salvadoran patriots were not

left totally unsupported as the ayuntamiento of San Vicente

immediately protested their arrest.83 This opposition had

little effect on the jefe politico, but fearing the nature

of local response to his action, he decided to have the

prisoners taken to Guatemala to be tried for their crimes.84

Barriere was probably greatly relieved on October 7 when

Rodriguez, Arce and Lara were sent on their way. It never

occurred to him that the protest of San Vicente would be

heard and that the central government would disapprove of

his behavior. Convinced that Barriere's repressive tactics

posed a greater threat to stability than did the aspirations

of the Salvadoran liberals, the junta provisional consultiva

and jefe politico superior Gabino Gainza directed Jose

Matias Delgado to return to San Salvador, assume Barriere's

office, release the prisoners, and replace all untrustworthy

officials.85 Armed with these broad powers, Delgado encoun-

tered the prisoners on the road to San Salvador and ordered

their release. There must have been a fair amount of

surprise when Delgado and his retinue arrived in the city.

Barriere was ordered to leave the province and all of the

members of the ayuntamiento were removed from office. The

administration of provincial affairs was entrusted to a

diputacion which had Delgado as president and Arce, Rodri-

guez, Leandro Fagoaga, Basilio Zecena, and Miguel Jose Castro

as members.86

Their goal of self-government was finally attained,

but the creole liberals had little time for the leisurely

enjoyment of the fruit of their labors as their newly won

independence was immediately challenged by the ambitions of

Agustin Iturbide and his followers. In Leon, Nicaragua

intendente Miguel Gonzalez Saravia and bishop Nicolas Garcia

Jerez had responded to the Guatemalan declaration of inde-

pendence by securing the independence of their province

with a statement of support for the Plan of Iguala. Jose

Tinoco pursued a similar course in Comayagua, Honduras,

announcing separation from Guatemala and adhesion to Mexico.

On November 11, Gabino Gainza informed the two provinces

that no official or corporate body possessed the authority

to make such decisions which were reserved for the consid-

eration of the congress ordained by the act of September

15.87 At about the same time it was decided to move the

opening of the congress up to February 1, 1822, but this

action was not adequate to contain the growing pressures for

union with Mexico. While he had possibly hoped to preserve

Central America as his own domain, Gainza's resistance to

the dissident provinces and fickle Guatemalan aristocrats

weakened considerably after Jose Onate arrived on November

27 bearing a note from the Mexican Liberator. Iturbide's

letter pointed out the political and economic advantages

that would arise from the union of the two areas and sug-

gested that the creation of separate nations would threaten

the security of all concerned. This veiled threat was made

more explicit in the concluding paragraph which informed

Gainza that a Mexican division under the command of Vicente

Filisola was on its way to "protect the salutary endeavors

of the patriots of your country." Fearing that Iturbide

intended to take direct action, Gainza and the junta consultiva

decided not to wait on a decision by the impending congress

and referred the matter to the town councils of the provinces.

On November 30, Gainza sent the various municipal bodies

copies of Iturbide's letter and instructed them to ascertain

local preferences regarding annexation by means of cabildos

abiertos. The decisions reached in these meetings were to

be reported to the capital by the end of December.9

The issue of annexation was raised in a meeting of

the Salvadoran diputacidn on December 12. Ill disposed to

trade their independence for the benefits of union with

Mexico, the creoles immediately decided to oppose the policy

being pursued by Gainza. Two days later the diputacion
informed the jefe politico superior that, though the

diputacion had not been included in the circularization of

Iturbide's letter, it was aware of Gainza's order and viewed

the directive as a repudiation of the Act of Independence.

Gainza was also reminded of his earlier statement that a

decision concerning annexation was beyond the faculties of

any existing agency.90 Having determined that Gainza's

proposal for deciding the question of annexation was illegal,

the Salvadorans might have refrained from further action;

but form was observed, and a cabildo abierto was held on the

eighteenth of December. At this meeting the citizens opted

to have the ayuntamiento and diputacidn make the decision

for them. In a closed session the members of these bodies

maintained the position originally taken by the diputacidn,

and refusing to either advocate or reject union with Mexico,

dictated the reply that the issue of annexation could only

be resolved by the provincial congress.91

Sensing the determination of the Iturbide's friends

to have their way in the matter, and realizing that they

could not stand alone, the Salvadorans initiated a rather

naive attempt to form a union which could successfully

resist annexation. Possibly hoping that the previously

announced support for the Plan of Iguala was based more on

antipathy to Guatemala than friendship for Mexico, the

Salvadoran diputacion wrote to the diputaciones of Comayagua

and Ledn on December 25 and proposed the formation of a

confederation by the three provinces.92 Stating that Gainza's

actions had led to numerous disorders in Central America,
the Salvadorans suggested that the issue of annexation might

give rise to internecine warfare. This possibility could be

avoided by a union of the provinces which, with the exclusion


of Guatemala, would guarantee the well-being of all concerned.

One wonders what passed through the minds of the leaders of

Leon and Comayagua as they read this proposal. If anything,

they were arch-conservatives, and based on the belief that

he could best preserve the old order, their attachment to

Iturbide was most sincere. The Salvadorans might as well

have looked to the man-in-the-moon for support, and were

left to face the empire by themselves.

On January 5, 1822, the responses of the cabildos

abiertos were tabulated with the following results: twenty-

one reserved the decision for the provincial congress, one

hundred and four supported annexation, eleven favored annex-

ation with some conditions, thirty-two agreed to accept any

decision made by the central government, and two opposed

annexation.93 In accordance with these returns, Gainza

announced on the same day the annexation of Central America

to Mexico in a manifesto that appears to have been written

primarily for Iturbide's consumption. Declining to accept

this decree as binding on them,the Salvadoran diputacion

and ayuntamiento met in joint session on January 11 and

drafted a statement in which they reaffirmed their contention

that the poll of the towns carried no authority. The

Salvadorans also pointed out that the results of the poll

could not definitely be said to represent the wishes of

the majority of the people as the vote of a small community

carried just as much weight as that of a town twenty times

larger. Still, they did not totally reject the idea of


union with Mexico but expressed the now forlorn hope that

the provincial congress would be convened to consider the

matter. It was further declared that the province acceded

to sovereign status inasmuch as the decree of annexation had

brought about the demise of the central government. Pending

the fulfillment of the terms of the September 15 Act of

Independence, the diputacion would serve as the provisional

government of the province.94

The news of San Salvador's independent action soon

reached Guatemala, and sycophant Mariano Aycinena immediately

informed Iturbide of the Salvadoran perfidy. Urging the

dispatch bof a Mexican expeditionary force, Aycinena attempted

to impress his new master with the gravity of the situation

by reporting the rumor that Lord Cochrane had provided the

Salvadorans with five hundred rifles.95 Gabino Gainza,

however, was anxious to prove that there was no need for

Mexican intervention. The security of his position in the

empire depended on the demonstration of his ability to

maintain a condition of tranquil obedience to Iturbide.

Gainza's first response to the Salvadoran threat resembled

the approach he had adopted in dealing with Leon and Comayagua

the previous year. He informed the Salvadorans that there

was no legal justification for their action which was

insubordinate if not treasonous. In a reply drafted on

January 29, Delgado argued that San Salvador had become a

sovereign entity at the time of independence. Obedience to

the central government during the proceeding months had been


based on Salvador's acceptance of the Guatemalan declaration

of September 15, 1821, which was viewed as a kind of pact

between the provinces. As this pact had been abrogated by

the annexation decree, Delgado claimed that the Salvadorans

were justified in reasserting their independence.96 While

there was little basis for this argument, it convinced

Gainza that the Salvadorans could not be won over by persua-

sion, and he asked the junta consultiva for permission to use

force in bringing the Salvadorans back into the fold. The

junta replied that such measures could be employed only if

the Salvadorans engaged in hostile activities.97 Though

temporarily frustrated, Gainza did not have long to wait

before he was provided with an excuse for action.

The Salvadorans had not received any assistance from

Lord Cochrane, but they were convinced that their security

demanded the organization of military force. The diputacion

entrusted this responsibility to Arce who was appointed

comandante general of the province. The comandante quickly

organized a one hundred and fifty man squadron of dragoons,

and by the first of February he was in the field, ostensibly

for the purpose of protecting the "liberty and independence"

of San Salvador.98 Arce's primary concern, however, was the

elimination of the threat posed by towns such as Santa Ana

which had declared for annexation to Mexico and refused to

recognize the authority of the government of San Salvador.

Santa Ana especially attracted Arce's attention as it was

under the protection of a garrison led by Nicolas Abos

Padilla who had been actively promoting defection in other

areas of the province. Claiming that the communities of the

province did not enjoy the right of independent action, Arce

moved on Santa Ana as the end of the month approached. When

he learned of Arce's action, Padilla demonstrated that he

lacked the courage of his convictions by withdrawing his

troops to the district of Sonsonate which was then under the

jurisdiction of Guatemala. Santa Ana was taken without a

shot being fired, and Arce had little difficulty in securing

a declaration of the town's allegiance to San Salvador.9

With the intention of consolidating his position, Arce then

pursued Padilla into Sonsonate. The Salvadorans occupied

the town of Ahuachapan, and encountering Padilla on March

11, they completely routed his force in a battle near El

Espinal.100 Following this victory, Arce returned to San

Salvador which now exercised uncontested authority in the


The move into Sonsonate had been a tactical error,

however, as it provided Gainza with grounds for launching an

attack against San Salvador. On March 18, he ordered Colonel

Manuel Arzu to occupy the provincial capital. At the same

time, he informed Iturbide that the situation was well in

hand and Mexican assistance would not be necessary.101 Had

he been able to anticipate the behavior of his colonel and

the Salvadorans, Gainza would have been much less optimistic.

The Salvadorans were not at all eager for a military confron-

tation with Guatemala, and on learning of the preparations

for Arzu's campaign, the ayuntamiento sent Gainza a proposal

for the peaceful settlement of their differences. The letter

restated the legality of Salvadoran independence which had

not been proclaimed in a spirit of hostility to Guatemala.

It was asserted that the incursion into Sonsonate had been

made at the request of officials of the district, and the

encounter at El Espinal was the consequence of an attack by

Padilla. In conclusion the ayuntamiento offered to send

representatives to Guatemala to discuss the means of pre-

venting further disputes between the two states.102

While the ayuntamiento was drafting its letter to

Gainza, Delgado dispatched a note to General Vicente Filisola.

Leading a division of six hundred men, Filisola had arrived

in Chiapas at the end of February, and on March 19 he had

informed the Salvadorans that they could consider themselves

under the protection of the Mexican empire. Delgado told

the General that his letter had been received with great

joy in San Salvador and hinted that the province would

attach itself to the empire. There would be no need for

military action as a congress would meet in San Salvador on

May 1 to decide the question of annexation.103 At the same

time, the diputacion, which now included Delgado, Arce,

Rodriguez, Leandro Fagoaga, Mariano Fagoaga, Domingo Lara,

Antonio Jose Canas, and Juan de Dios Mayorga, demonstrated

its independence by decreeing the erection of a bishopric

and named Delgado bishop of the province.1

All of this activity had little effect on Gainza who

allowed Colonel Arzu to continue his march on San Salvador.

Throughout his campaign, Arzu moved with such caution that

it appears he did not really favor military action against

the Salvadorans. He had spent nearly a month on the march

when he finally drew near the city and camped at Apopa on

April 13. A few minor skirmishes occurred, but Arce

hesitated to engage in a major battle and on the sixteenth

proposed the negotiation of an armistice. Equally hesitant,

Arzu readily agreed to negotiations on the following day and

dispatched Rafael Montufar to treat with the Salvadorans.

Both the discussions and the armistice were peculiarly one-

sided. On April 18, Montufar attended a joint session of

the ayuntamiento and the diputacion in which the Salvadorans

presented a lengthy condemnation of the Guatemalan invasion

and dictated the terms of the armistice. The more significant

terms of this agreement provided for: Arzu's withdrawal to

Quezaltepeque, the free movement of persons in areas under

Guatemalan control, a prohibition on the acquisition of

reinforcements, permission for Guatemalan residents to

attend the Salvadoran congress that would decide the question

of annexation, and final disposition of the issue by means of

direct negotiations between San Salvador and Mexico.105

Despite these unfavorable terms, Arzu signed the armistice

on April 22, and forwarded it to Gainza for approval.

Gainza spent a very busy day when he learned of the

armistice on the third of May. In a letter to Iturbide,

he protested that San Salvador's continued resistance was due

solelyto Arzf's failure to carry out his orders. Though

Gainza complained that Filisola, who had now reached Quezal-

tenango, had refused to send the Mexican cavalry to Arzu's

assistance, he assured Iturbide that San Salvador would soon

be brought into line.106 The jefe politico then wrote to

the Salvadorans stating that, as he had not authorized any

settlement, he would not be bound by the armistice and that

Arzu would shortly present them with the only acceptable

armistice terms. He also informed the Salvadorans that

Pedro Molina, Jose Francisco Barrundia, Jose Francisco

Cordova, and Manuel Ibarra, who had been elected to represent

various Salvadoran districts in the provincial congress,

would not be permitted to attend the proposed congress in

San Salvador as they were now citizens of the Mexican empire.107

Finally, Gainza sent Arziu a blistering note which stated that

the commander's behavior was totally incomprehensible.

There had been no military reason for agreement to an

armistice, and if Arzu had merely wanted to avoid bloodshed,

he could have at least secured a more advantageous settle-

ment. This was followed by a lengthy letter designed to

convince Arzu of the justice of the campaign against San

Salvador. Writing in terms that could be understood,by a

child, Gainza presented a damning indictment of Salvadoran

perfidy and aggression. He directed the rejection of any

armistice that did not provide for: the disbanding of

Salvadoran forces, the deliverance of all arms, payment of

indemnities, and the establishment of garrisons in the

provinces. Until these terms were accepted, Arzu was to

give no thought to the suspension of hostilities.108
As might be expected, the Salvadoran government

rejected Gainza's terms, and on May 27 the reluctant Arzu

began to move against the city. Hoping to take Arce by

surprise, Arzu elected to approach the city by way of a

little used route which crossed the slopes of the volcano

lying to the west; and after considerable difficulty, reached

the outskirts of San Salvador on the second of June. Arzu's

stealth proved to have been a wasted effort as Arce had

decided not to engage in open combat and had withdrawn to

the city. Leading his 1,000 man force into San Salvador on

the following morning, Arzu found that he also had been denied

the opportunity for a frontal assault as the Salvadoran

commander had stationed his men at doorways and windows,

behind walls, and on rooftops.109 Once engaged, Arz main-

tained the battle for nearly eight hours, but he was not

prepared to cope with the type of defense presented by the

Salvadorans. The Guatemalan force was broken into a number

of isolated units, many of which demonstrated greater

interest in looting than fighting. Informed of numerous

desertions,. Arz4 began a withdrawal at three o'clock in the

afternoon. The Salvadorans pursued the invading force as it

left the city, and the retreat gradually became a rout.

Losing its armaments on the way, the Guatemalan column

suffered continued harassment until it reached a point some

fifteen leagues from San Salvador three days later.110

This victory brought to a close the first phase of

the Salvadorans4 struggle to maintain their independence.

Arce's forces occupied the towns of Santa Ana, Ahuachapan

and Sonsonante, restoring San Salvador to the position it had

held following the defeat of Padilla. Gainza was unable to

offer further opposition. On June 12, General Filisola

arrived in Guatemala, and eight days later he ordered the

jefe politico to report to Iturbide in Mexico City. With

the arrival of the Mexican general, the Salvadorans initiated

a prolonged series of negotiations which extended almost to

the end of the year. Apparently, Delgado's letter of March

30 and subsequent letters written by Arce achieved the

desired effect as Filisola had become convinced that the

Salvadorans did not genuinely oppose union with Mexico and,

if treated gently, would declare for annexation. 1 While

Gainza was in the process of convincing Arzu to take

vigorous action, Filisola had advised the Guatemalan

commander that a peaceful approach would be the most pro-

ductive as he believed that the conflict was caused not so

much by the issue of annexation as it was by old rivalries.112

Following the defeat of Arzu, the Salvadorans reinforced

Filisola's conviction as they welcomed the news of his

arrival in Guatemala with the statement that it meant the

end of the unjust treatment they had suffered. Their resis-

tance, they said, had not been directed against union with

Mexico but against the oppression of Guatemala.113 In

letters to Delgado and Arce, Filisola assured the Salvadorans

that he was only interested in a peaceful settlement of

differences and suggested that commissioners be sent to

negotiate an armistice.

The better part of the summer was spent in the ex-

change of correspondence, but on August 20, Antonio Jose

Canas ad Juan Francisco de Sosa finally arrived in Guatemala

to represent San Salvador in the armistice negotiations.

After the discussions began, Filisola's belief that the

Salvadoran plan to convene a provincial congress for the

purpose of declaring annexation represented a punctilious

concern for prestige and independent action gradually faded.

Salvadoran pressure for recognition of such a congress in

the armistice terms caused Filisola to view the plan as a

strategem for securing tacit authorization for a declaration

of absolute independence. While he believed that the

Salvadorans lacked the resources necessary to maintain

independent existence, Filisola became convinced that they

would make the attempt if given the opportunity. Fearing

that an example set by San Salvador might have disruptive

tendencies in other areas of the empire, Filisola refused to

include any mention of a congress in the armistice agreement.114

The terms of the armistice which was signed on September 10

provided that San Salvador would send representatives to

Mexico to negotiate the territorial status of the province.

While these negotiations were under way, the Salvadoran

government would exercise provisional authority over those

areas of the province which had not declared for annexation.


During the period of the armistice, San Salvador was free to

engage in any non-hostile activities, but it was required to

return the arms that had been siezed at Sonsonate.115

The Salvadoran government ratified the armistice on

September 28, and four days later ordered elections for a

provincial congress which would convene on November 10.

Filisola disapproved of this action, but holding to the

terms of the armistice, did nothing. By declining to

intervene in the province, Filisola demonstrated his belief

that the Salvadorans could ultimately be brought to their

senses through persuasion and acted in accordance with the

July 10 order of the Mexican congress which forbade the use

of force against the dissident province. Then on October 1,

Emperor Iturbide dissolved the congress and nine days later

rejected the armistice, denying that the Salvadorans had the

right to convene a provincial assembly. Filisola announced

the Emperor's decision in a manifesto issued on October 26,

and he warned the Salvadorans that if their congress met, it

could only "pronounce the union of San Salvador with the

Mexican Empire," or "resist it with arms."116 Refusing to

be intimidated, the Salvadoran congress convened on November

10 with Delgado representing San Vicente and Arce represent-

ing the city of San Salvador. While they preserved their

honor, the Salvadorans were not prepared to offer further

opposition to the empire; and after two days of discussion,

the delegates declared for union with Mexico. In a secret

letter written on November 14, Delgado informed Filisola of


the decision which was said to demonstrate the fact that the

congress had never had any purpose other than that of issuing

a decree of annexation. It is clear, however, that the

Salvadorans intended to preserve a degree of autonomy as

they tied to annexation conditions which called for the

establishment of a bishopric, complete independence from

Guatemala, maintenance of a Salvadoran military force, and

retention of all Salvadoran officials.117

This attempt to secure the accommodation of both

Mexican and Salvadoran ambitions did not succeed. On

November 17, Filisola rejected the annexation decree and

informed the Salvadorans that they had no option other

than unconditional adherence to the empire. Fearing that

they could not survive as an independent nation but deter-

mined not to sacrifice themselves to Mexico, the members of

the congress engaged in a frantic search for a deus ex machine.

The desire to preserve some remnant of Salvadoran identity

ultimately led to the pathetic gesture of decreeing annexa-

tion to the United States on November 22, 1822.118 This

action made little impression on Filisola who moved into the

province and on December 11, established his headquarters at

the Mapilapa hacienda some four leagues from the city of San

Salvador. Once in the field, Filisola proved to be as

reluctant to engage in hostilities as Arzu had been.

Possibly he believed that the Salvadorans could be subdued

by intimidation. In any case, the next fifty-eight days saw

nothing but minor skirmishes and the exchange of declarations

and counter-declarations. Finally, in the latter part of


January, Filisola received a letter informing him that he was

trying the patience of the Emperor. The Mexican general was

reminded that his role was not that of "a friendly arbitrator

but a soldier who goes out in the service of his government

to repress as he must a rebellious faction which has distur-

bed public order." Filisola was commanded to initiate

military action to take San Salvador "at all costs . .

treating those who oppose you as rebels and traitors."119

In accordance with this order, on February 7 Filisola

led his troops in an attack against the Salvadoran forces

assembled on the .plains of Angel. From the start, the

Salvadorans were at a disadvantage as Arce had been struck

by an illness that rendered him unable to lead his men.120

Still, the Salvadorans were able to repulse several assaults

and held their position for two hours before they were

forced to retire to Mejicanos, on the outskirts of San

Salvador. The imperial column immediately advanced to the

suburb where the battle was resumed. After three hours of

combat, the Salvadorans were forced to give up the fight.

Carrying their commander on a litter, the defeated troops

withdrew to a point beyond San Salvador, and Filisola entered

the city the following morning. Although Mexican soldiers

broke into Arce's home, their commander generally kept a

close rein on his troops and treated the Salvadorans with

consideration. On February 9, Filisola wrote a letter to

Arce urging his surrender, but the Salvadoran army continued

to roam the countryside for over a week. The Salvadorans


finally capitulated in Gualcince on February 21, 1823. Arce

was given a safe-conduct pass, and he made his way to Belice.

Arriving in Walis on March 25, Arce wrote to Filisola

thanking him for his generous behavior and commending the

protection of his family to the Mexican general.121 Arce

then joined Juan Manuel Rodriguez on a ship bound for the

United States where the two exiles would attempt to represent

the interests of their nonexistent nation. As the sails were

set, Arce may have wondered what had been accomplished by

the years of struggle.

Roberto Molina y Morales, "Don Bernardo de Arce," in
Garcia, Arce, I, 4.

2Pedro Arce y Rubio, "Biografia de don Manuel Jose
Arce," in Garcia, Arce, I, 82.

3Ibid.; Jorge Larde y Larin, El Grito de la Merced;
5 de n:ovTiemre de 1811 (San Salvador, 1960), p. 53.

4Molina y Morales, "Don Bernardo de Arce," p. 8;
Manuel Valladares, "Biografia del General don Manuel Jose
Arce," in Garcia, Arce, I, 15; Lardd y Larin, Grito, pp. 50-
55; Baron Castro, Jose'Matias Delgado, p. 25.

5Montufar y Coronado, Memorias, I, 93.

6Delgado is usually referred to as Arce's uncle, and
in view of the age difference, this term probably best
describes the nature of the relationship between the two men.

7Roberto Molina y Morales, "Procer Linaje: Arce" in
Miguel Angel Garcia, ed., Procesos por infidencia contra los
proceres Salvadorenos de la independencia de Centroamerica,
desde 1811 hasta 1818 (San Salvador, 1940), p. ix.

ANG, A1.40, leg. 1763; Pases de titulos; Molina y
Morales, "Don Bernar0o de Arce," p. 5.

9Molina y Morales, ibid.; Baron Castro, Jose Matias
Delgado, p. 61.

10Salazar, Historia de veintiun anos, p. 152; Larde y
Larin, p. 39; J. Antonio Villacorta, Historia de la Capitania
General de Guatemala (Guatemala, 1942), p. 472.

11Robert S.'Smith, "Indigo Production and Trade in
Colonial Guatemala," Hispanic American Historical Review,
XXXIX (May, 1959), p. 183.

12Woodward, "Economic and Social Origins," p. 551.

13Henry Dunn, Guatimala [sic], or the Republic of
Central America, in 1827-8; Being Sketches and Memorandums
Made During a Twelve-Month's Residence (London, 1829), p. 212.
For the years 1791-1818, the following production figures
were given:

Year Pounds of Indigo Year Pounds of Indigo

1791 1,015,200 1804 732,570
1792 1,139,250 1810 740,820
1793 1,149,800 1811 536,475
1794 789,950 1812 450,425
1795 852,100 1813 257,300
1796 865,100 1814 422,507
1797 763,425 1815 412,781
1798 749,775 1816 376,800
1799 625,612 1817 332,200
1800 802,350 1818 332,200

14ANG, A1.1, leg. 6926, exp. 57032, "Instancia de
Manuela Antonia de Arce, sobre desembargo de bienes suyos y
hermanos, por hallarse pro, indivisos los embargados a D. ,
Manuel Jos''-; Vicente Filisola, Manifesto del general Filisola
sobre su expedition a Guatemala (Puebla, 1824).

15Salazar, Historia de veintiun anos, pp. 123, 133;
Villacorta, Historia de la Capitania General, p. 465; Laudelino
Moreno, "Independencia de la CapLtania General de Guatemala,"
Anales de la Sociedad de Geografia e Historia, VI (September,
1929), p. 13. The first person to be investigated by the
tribunal de fidelidad was Jose Francisco Cordova. Co'rdova
and Jose Maria Castilla perfectly exemplify the manner in
which Central Americans shifted from one political faction
to another. Both Spaniards, they supported independence,
opposed annexation to Mexico, favored a unitary form of
government,and ended up as staunch conservatives.

16Jose Bustamante y Guerra, "Informe del Capitan
General de Guatemala al Consejo de Regencia" [March 3, 1813],
in Fernandez, Documentos, p. 55.


18Lardl y Larin, Grito, p. 64.
9ANG, Al.1, leg. 6924, exp. 57003, "Contra D. Manuel
Jose Arce por infidencia que le result en las sublevaciones
de 5 de noviembre de 1811 y 24 de enero de 1814." This
expediente contains the major part of the testimony concerning
Arce's participation in the uprisings of 1811 and 1814. It
and related expedientes are reproduced in Garcia, Procesos.



23Ibid.; "Contra D. Mariano Fagoaga por ciertas Juntas
y expresiones sospechosas de infidencia," in Garcia, Procesos,

p. 270. Juan Miguel Bustamante, the teniente letrado of
Nicaragua was making a trip to Guatemala and passed through
San Salvador at the time of the uprising. Bustamante, who
later prosecuted the case against Arce, was threatened with
imprisonment by Miguel Delgado.

24ANG, Al.1, leg. 6924, exp. 57003, "Contra D. Manuel
Jose Arce."

26Ibid.; ANG, Al.1, leg. 6926, exp. 57043, "Don
Manuel Jose Arze reo de Ynfidencia quejandose de qe. el Juez
en comsn. le ha estrechado el arrest y negando los recursos."

27ANG, Al.1, leg. 6924, exp. 57003, "Contra D. Manuel
Jose Arce."
28ANG, B2.1, leg. 22, exp. 681, "Sobre las conmociones
de la ciudad de San Salvador."

29ANG, Al.l, leg. 6924, exp. 57003, "Contra D. Manuel
Jose Arce." There is some variation between the details of
the uprising as presented in the Salvadoran manifesto and
the present account which follows the testimony given in
the proceedings against Arce.


31Ibid. One of the pieces of evidence introduced in
Arce's case was a letter bearing his signature that had
been received by Serapio Melendes of Zacatecoluca. Both
Arce and Melendes testified that they had never met, and
Melendes, who had no part in the revolt, stated that the
tone of the letter indicated that it had been written by an
old acquaintance. Arce swore that the letter was not his
but allowed that it might have been written by someone else
in his father's house. Possibly in the rush to get the
announcements out, Arce signed the letter by mistake.

33"Don Domingo Palles, sobre lo acaecido con los
insurgentes en el Pueblo de Usulutan," in Garcia, Procesos,
p. 353; Marure, Bosquejo, I, 47.

34Gazeta extraordinaria de Guatemala, November 21,
1811, in Garcia, Delgado, I, 476.

35ANG, B2.1, leg. 22, exp. 681, "Sobre las conmociones"' '
Gazeta extrordinaria de Guatemala, November 28, 1811, in
Garcia, Delgado, I, 486. The opposition of these towns
appears to have been the product of genuine conservatism,
jealousy of the creoles of San Salvador, and the inclination

to bet on the stronger side. The towns were rewarded for
their loyalty as San Miguel was given the title Muy Noble y
Leal, the villa of San Vicente was promoted to the status of
ciudad, ana the pueblo of Santa Ana was raised to the rank
of villa.

36ANG, B2.9 leg. 38, exp. 860. Untitled report on
the negotiations conducted between San Salvador and San


38ANG, B2.1, leg, 22, exp. 669, "Oficio del Capitan
General Jose"de Bustamante dirigido a la Audiencia,"
November 16, 1811.
39Bustamante y Guerra, "Informe al Consejo de Regencia,"
in Fernandez, Documentos, pp. 57-58.

40ANG, B2.9 leg. 38. exp. 840. Ayuntamiento of San
Salvador to the ayuntamiento of Guatemala, December 5, 1811.

41Bustamante y Guerra, "Informe al Consejo de Regencia,"
in Fernandez, Documentos, pp. 53-54.

4ANG, Al.1, leg. 6924, exp. 57003, "Contra D. Manuel
Josd Arce."

43Gavidia, Historia Moderna, p. 235.

44Haring, The Spanish Empire, p. 161.

45This action appears to refute the thesis presented
in Alejandro D. Marroquin, Apreciaci;n Sociologica, pp. 60-
71. Taking creole testimony at face value, Marroquin argues
that the November revolt was a popularly based independence
movement which was subverted by the creoles who maintained a
holding action until legitimate authority could be reestab-
46ANG, Al.1, leg, 6924, exp. 57003. "Contra D. Manuel
Jose Arce."

47Gavidia, Historia Moderna, p. 291.
4Ibid., p. 278.
49D a
Delgado, Rodriguez and Cells to Morelos, March 1,
1813, in Garcia, Delgado, I, 507.

50JosI Bustamante y Guerra, "El Capitan General de
Guatemala a la Regencia del Reino sobre las insurreciones
de San Salvador" [May 18, 1814], in Fernandez, Documentos,

51Ibid., p. 74.

53Jose' Maria Peinado, "Comunicacion dirigida por el
Intendente D. Josd'Maria Peinado al Capitan General del Reino,
dandole cuenta de la insurreccion efectuada en la ciudad de
San S lvador el 24 de Enero de 1814" [February 9, 1814], in
Garcia, Delgado, I, 406.

54Ibid. p. 407; "Contra D. Mariano Fagoaga," in
Garcfa, Procesos, p. 275.

55Peinado, "Comunicacion al Capitan General," in
Garcia, Delgado, I, 409.


57ANG, Al.1, leg. 6924, exp. 57003, "Contra D. Manuel
Jose Arce."

S58Pinado, "ComunicaciAn al Capitan Genoral," in
Garcia, Delgado, I, 410.

59Ibid., p. 411.

61ANG, Al.1, leg, 6924, exp. 57003, "Contra D. Manuel
Jose' Arce."
62Ibid.; Bustamante y Guerra, "El Capitadn General a
la Regencia," in Garcia, Delgado, I, 432. According to
several of his biographers, Arce fought a rear-guard action
while his comrades escaped, but evidence to support this
story was not found.

63ANG, Al.1, leg. 6924, exp. 57003, "Contra D. Manuel
Jose Arce."
64ANG, Al.1, leg. 6925, exp. 57025, "Da. Felipa
Aranzamendi Sre. que se reciva Ynformacion contra el Juez de
letras Dn. Juan Miguel Bustamante."

65ANG, Al.1, leg. 6924, exp. 57003, "Contra D. Manuel
Jose Arce;" ANG, A.l, leg. 6925, ex. 57024, "Queja de Don
Manuel Jose de Arze, por los agravios que le ha inferido el
Intendente Ynterino Don Juan Miguel Bustamante."
66ANG, Al., leg. 6923, exp. 56995, "Varias solicitudes
de parte de Don Manuel Jose Arce en resueltas de su arresto"
In reply to Arce's complaint, his jailers testified that
they had to open his door for visitors as often as six times
a day.


68ANG, Al.1, leg. 6926, exp. 57027, "Incidente de la
causa contra D. Manl Jose' de Arce--recusacion y apartamento:
diligencias de embargo de bienes a que se opone su herma Da.
Manuela Antonia."

69Ibid.; ANG, Al.1, leg. 6926, exp. 57032, "Instancia
de Manuela Antonia de Arce."
70ANG, Al.1, leg. 6926, exp. 57043, "Don Manuel Jose
de Arze reo de Ynfidencia."

71ANG, Al.1, leg, 6924, exp. 57003, "Contra D. Manuel
Jose Arce."

72ANG, Al.l, leg. 6926, exp. 57043, "Don Manuel Jose
de Arze reo de Ynfidencia."

73Ibid.; "Contra D. Mariano Fagoaga," in Garcia,
Process, p. 274.

74ANG, Al.1, leg. 6924, exp. 57003, "Contra D. Manuel
Jose Arce."

75ANG, B2.6, leg. 30, exp. 765. Manuel Jose/Arce to
Carlos Urrutia, April 9, 1818.

76ANG, Al.1, leg. 6926, exp. 57043, "Don Manuel Jose
de Arze reo de Ynfidencia." The writer was unable to deter-
mine the precise date on which Arce was released from custody.

77None of the participants in the uprisings of 1811 and
1814 were included in the group of officials who signed the
Act of Independence on September 21, 1821, and the ayuntamiento
supported the arrest of Arce, Rodriguez and others when they
pressed for the reorganization of the government.

78Manuel Josd'Arce to Pedro Molina, September 13, 1821,
in Garcia, Arce, I, 104.

791bid. pp. 104-105.

80ANG, B5.4, leg, 60, exp. 1452, fol. 4, "Cuaderno
que comprende la solicitud de formacion de la junta gober-
nativa subalterna."

81E1 genio de la libertad, October 15, 1821.
82ANG, B5.4, leg. 59, exp. 1408, fol. 1, Jose Rossi
to Gabino Gainza, October 4, 1821.

83ANG, B5.4, leg. 60, exp. 1477, fol. 1, Ayuntamiento
of San Vicente to Gabino Gainza, October 5, 1821.


84ANG, B5.4, leg. 60, exp. 1510, Pedro Barriere:to
Gabino Gainza, October 7, 1821.
85E1 genio de la libertad, October 29, 1821. Delgado
undoubtedly played a large part in determining the govern-
ment's response to Barriere's actions.

86ANG, B5.4, leg. 61, exp. 1586. Untitled report on
the establishment of the diputacion in San Salvador.

87E1 genio de la libertad, October 29, 1821.

88Agustin Iturbide to Gabino Gainza, October 19, 1821,
in Garcia, Delgado, I, 519-523.
89"El Jefe Politico de Guatemala, don Gabino Gainza,
se dirige a los Ayuntamientos del antiguo Reino, trascrib-
iendoles el oficio de Iturbide, en que se invita a la anexion
a Mexico; y les pide que en cabildo abierto resuelvan," in
Garcia, Delgado, I, 524-525.

90Diputacion of San Salvador to Gabino Gainza,
December 114, 1821, in Garcia, Delgado, I, 538-541.
91Jose' Matas Delgado to Gabino Gainza, December 20,
1821, in Garcia, Delgado, I, 531-533.
92 Diputacion of San Salvador to the Diputaciones of
Leo'naid Comayagua, December, 25, 1821, in Garcia, Delgado, I,

93Marure, Bosquejo, I, 332.

94"Acta del Ayuntamiento y la Diputacion Provincial
de San Salvador, en que la Provincia asume su soberania,,
nombra Intendente y Jefe Politico al doctor don Jose Matias
Delgado y reserve al Congreso resuelva la union al Imperio
Mexicano," in Garcia, Delgado, II, 493-495.

95Mariano Aycinena to Agustin Iturbide, January 18,
1822, in Garcia, Delgado, II, 497-498.

9ANG, B5.4, leg. 62, exp. 1669, Jose Matias Delgado
to Gabino Gainza, January 29, 1822. There was little legal
justification for Delgado's argument as the act of September
21, 1821 did not mention the independence of San Salvador,
and there was nothing in the Guatemalan declaration of
independence that would give it the character of a contract
between the provinces..

97Marure, Bosquejo, I, 87.

98ANG, B5.4, leg. 59, exp. 1378. Untitled proclamation
by Arce dated February 3, 1822.

99ANG, B5.4, leg. 63, exp. 1714. Acta of the cabildo
of Santa Ana dated February 27, 1822.

100Gabino Gainza to Agustin Iturbide, March 18, 1822,
in Garcia Delgado, II, 516-517; Marure, Bosquejo, I, 89;
Montufar y Coronado, Memorias, I, 72.

101Gabino Gainza to Agustin Iturbide, March 18, 1822,
in Garcia Delgado, II, 516-517.
102Auntamiento of San Salvador to Gabino Gainza,
March 30, 1822, in Garcia, Delgado, II, 517-520.
103Jose Matias Delgado to Vicente Filisola, March 30,
1822 in Garcia, Delgado, II, 521.
104Acta of the diputacid'n of San Salvador dated
March 30, 1822 in Garcia, Delgado, II, 118-119. This action
may have been a tactical move designed to insure the popular
support of the government.
105"Acta del Gvno. de S. Salvador" [April 22, 1822],
in Garcia, Delgado, II, 530-531.

1Gabino Gainza to Agustin Iturbide, May 3, 1822, in
Garcia, Delgado, II,, 544-547. In a letter written to Iturbide
on May 15, 1822 Filisola expressed the belief that Gainza
had ulterior motives for the request that a part of the
Mexican division be placed under Arzu's command.
107"El Capitan General de Guatemala, Brigadier don
Gabino Gainza, se dirige a la Junta de Gobierno de la
Provincia de San Salvador desaprobando el armisticio firmado
con el Comandante General de las trop,as expedicionarias,
Coronel don Manuel de Arziu," in Garcia, Delgado, II, 541-
543. The Salvadorans had been anxious to secure the parti-
cipation of Molina, et al. in order to build a base of
support for their cause in Guatemala.
108Letters of Gabino Gainza to Manuel Arzu, May 3,
1822, in Garcia, Delgado, II, 538-541, 548-554.
109"Los Ayudantes del Estado Mayor del Jefe de la
Columna Imperial Expedicionaria sobre San Salvador, don
Pedro Gonzalez y don Antonio de Aycineia, dan detalles
del ataque a aquella ciudad," in Garcia, Delgado, II, 561-
110Ibid.; Manuel Arzu to Gabino Gainza, June 18, 1822,
in Garcia, Delgado, II, 566-569.

ViceJite Filisola to Agustin Iturbide, April 28,
1822, in Garcia, Delgado, II, 537.

112Vicente Filisola to Manuel Arzu, May 18, 1822, in
Garcia, Delgado, I, 590-591; Vicente Filisola to Agustfn
Iturbide, May 15, 1822, in Garcia, Delgado, II, 555-558.
113Letters of the diputacidn of San Salvador to /
Vicente Filisola, June 14, 1822 and June 20, 1822, in Garcia,
Delgado, II, 563-565, 571-573.

114Vicente Filisola to Secretario de Guerr y Marina
del Imperio Mexicano, September 16, 1822, in Garcia, Delgado,
II, 591-597.

115"Bases del armisticio firmado por el Capitan General
de Guatemala Brigadier don Vicente Filisola, sus comisionados
los senores Coronel don Felipe Codallos y Teniente Coronel
don Josd Luis Gonzalez Ojeda y los de la Provincia de San
Salvador, disidente del Imperio Mexicano, Coronel don
Antonio Jose CaVas y don Juan Francisco de Sosa," in Garcia,
Delgado, II, 588-591.
116"Proclama del Capitdn General, Jefe Superior de
Guatemala, General don Vicente Filisola, a los pueblos de la
Provincia de San Salvador," in Garcia, Delgado, I, 615-620.
117Jose' Matias Delgado to Vicente Filisola, November
14, 1822, in Garcia, Delgado, I, 631-633; Marure, Bosquejo,
I, 100-101.
118Acta of the congress of San Salvador dated
December 2, 1822, in Garcia, Delgado, I, 636-637.

119Secretario de Guerra y Marina del Imperio Mexicano
to Vicente Filisola, in Garcia, Delgado, II, 628.

120Marure, Bosquejo, I, 102.

121Manuel Jose Arce to Vicente Filisola, March 25,
1823, in Filisola, Manifesto.



Well in advance of Arce's departure for the United

States, external events had once again determined Central

America's political future. The -Salvadoran efforts to

resist incorporation in the Mexican empire may have caused

Iturbide some difficulties, but of much greater consequence

was the fact that Santa Anna had begun to stir in Veracruz.

News of the proclamation of the Plan de Casa Mata reached

Guatemala just prior to Filisola's victory at Mejicanos,

and shortly thereafter, the Mexican commander learned of the

decision of Victoria, Bravo and Guerrero to move in support

of Santa Anna's pronunciamiento.1 With the receipt of this

information, Filisola placed supervision of San Salvador in

the hands of Felipe Codallos and hurriedly returned to the

capital. Filisola initially acted with considerable caution

following his arrival in Guatemala City, and he issued a

proclamation which urged the citizens to remain calm and

refrain from precipitate action. The latter admonition

doubtlessly referred to the agitation generated by Jose

Barrundia regarding the convocation of a provincial assem-

bly. Within the space of a few weeks, however, Filisola

came to recognize the grave doubts concerning the legiti-

macy of his authority. Faced with the confusion of events

in Mexico, he demonstrated a considerable sense of justice

or lack of personal ambition and deferred to Barrundia's

demands.2 On March 29, Filisola issued a proclamation which

called for the election of deputies to a provincial congress

which would resolve the question of further association with

Mexico. Until the congress convened, the government as then

constituted would continue to administer the provinces.

Filisola was careful to point out in this decree that he was

not calling the congress on his own authority but was merely

implementing the provision for a congress of the provinces

contained in the second article of the Act of Independence.3

In effect, the Central Americans were back where they had

been over a year before.

Representation in the congress was to be determined

by population with one representative for each 15,000 inhab-

itants. On this basis, the junta consultiva drew up allot-

ments which provided for a total of 76 deputies with

Guatemala choosing 36; San Salvador, 16; Honduras, 10;

Nicaragua, 11; and Costa Rica, 3.4 A planning committee

appointed by the junta consultiva set June 1 for the open-

ing of the congress, but the deputies did not arrive in

numbers sufficient to form a quorum until June 23. On the

following day, twenty-eight delegates from Guatemala, twelve

from San Salvador and one from Honduras assembled at the

palace of the Captain General. They were joined by

Filisola, members of the junta consultiva, the audiencia

and the ayuntamiento and, together with other secular and

religious officials, proceeded to the cathedral where the

archbishop celebrated a pontifical high mass and the oath of

office was administered. The dignitaries then made their

way to the university where the congress was to hold its

sessions. Following a short speech in which Filisola

expressed his good wishes, the congress devoted the rest of

the day to internal organization and the selection of its

first officers. Jose Matias Delgado was elected president

of the body by thirty-seven votes with Pedro Molina and

Fernando Antonio Davila each receiving two votes. Davila

was then chosen as vice president in a run-off election with

Jose' Frrncisco Barrundia. Following the elections, Delgado

appointed a committee composed of himself, Francisco Flores,

Pedro Molina, Felipe Vega, and Jose Simeon Canas to prepare

recommendations concerning the area's future political

status. The assembly then adjourned until June 29.5

Delgado's hand was clearly evident in the report that

was submitted when the congress reconvened. Reviewing the

events of the preceding years, the committee charged that

incorporation with Mexico directly violated the desire for

absolute independence which had been expressed in September,

1821. It was asserted that support for annexation had been

achieved by the use of deception and fear. The people had

been promised that peaceful union would bring "mountains of

gold" and warned that resistance would mean military domi-

nation. The use of the poll of the town councils to author-

ize the decree of annexation was regarded as an illegal

device which denied the January 5 proclamation any binding

quality. Turning to the future, the committee expressed the

fear that with continued union, Central America would

probably receive treatment little better than that accorded

to a conquered province. Pointing out the fact that Central

Americans could expect little in the way of material assis-

tance, the report claimed that aid was not necessary in any

case. Mexican arms were not needed for the defense of the

territory and the maintenance of a Mexican garrison would

only have undesirable consequences such as an "increase in

prostitution." With the statement that the area did in

fact possess the resources necessary for the erection of a

sovereign state, the committee recommended that absolute

independence be proclaimed.6

While the committee's report was favorably received,

its recommendation was not immediately adopted, and the

following day was devoted to discussion of the proposal.

Some delegates feared that the area could not survive as an

independent nation and suggested that a survey of needs and

resources be conducted prior to the taking of any action.

This cautious approach was rejected on the grounds that

valid criteria for such a study were unknown and by the

time a survey was completed it would be unlikely that the

Central Americans would want to reunite with either Spain or

Mexico.7 With little inclination to search for alterna-

tives, the congress re-proclaimed the independence of

Central America on July 1, 1823. Stating that independence

from Spain had been the natural consequence of physical

separation and the fact that Spanish sovereignty had proved

inimical to the best interests of Americans, the act cate-

gorized annexation to Mexico as a de facto arrangement that

had been maintained by force. Totally independent of Spain

and Mexico, the area would henceforth constitute a sovereign

nation known as the Provincias Unidas del Centro de

America. Having decreed independence, the members of the

congress then took upon themselves the twofold task of

drafting a constitution and governing the newborn nation

until such time as the fundamental law was completed. While

historians have found much to criticize in the product of

their labors, it appears that, given the conditions then

prevailing, the deputies performed their functions remark-

ably well during their nineteen months of service. Appar-

ently the individuals selected for the congress were of

uniformly high calibre as both the liberal Alejandro Marure

and the conservative Manuel Montifar viewed the partici-

pants with considerable esteem.

On the day after independence was declared, the

congress adopted a resolution by which it assumed sovereign

powers under the name Asamblea Nacional Constituyente. The

decree also provided for the division of power with the

assembly retaining legislative authority and executive

power to be exercised by the person or persons named by the

assembly. Judicial authority was assigned to the courts

then in existence and any other courts that might be


created. This act also extended personal immunity to legis-

lators, recognized the public debt, and confirmed the

authority of all existing civil and religious authorities.

Catholicism was acknowledged as the national religion, and

pending the enactment of the laws of the nation, the Consti-

tution of 1812 and all laws of Spain which did not contra-

vene the liberties of the people were to remain in effect.10

While Pedro Molina and Juan Vicente Villacorta vigorously

opposed the establishment of Catholicism, this provision

and the interim retention of Spanish law indicate that the

Liberals who then. controlled the assembly were not possessed

by Jacobin spirits.11

When the Asamblea turned to the business of imple-

menting the provision for an executive branch of the govern-

ment, it entered upon its first, clear-cut political battle.

The Conservative members of the assembly were anxious to

have the reins of the government in a firm and familiar

hand and attempted to have the executive power entrusted to

Vicente Filisola who did not deny his availability. Outside

of the halls of the assembly, this move was strongly sup-

ported (and possibly had been suggested) by the aristo-

cratic imperialistas who were now thinking in terms of half

a loaf.12 The retention of Filisola in a position of authority

was totally abhorrent to the Liberals. Not only might he act

as a cat's paw for the Conservatives, but he would serve

as a constant reminder of the humiliating annexation to

Mexico. Yet the Liberals, either unable or disinclined

to secure outright rejection of Filisola, followed a

circuitous route, and disqualified the Mexican general from

office through the enactment of a decree which was obviously

designed to appeal to nationalistic sentiments. On July 8,

the Asamblea ordered that executive authority could be

exercised only by natural born citizens who had resided in

the territory of the republic for seven years.1 The

following day, the Asamblea provided for the creation of a

three-man executive board and acknowledged Arce's past

services to the nation by selecting him as the first-named

member of the body.14 The remaining seats on the Supremo

Poder Ejecutivo were awarded to the Liberals Pedro Molina

and Juan Vicente Villacorta. The Conservatives were

undoubtedly unhappy with the appointment of the firebrand

Molina, but they used most of their energy to oppose the

election of Villacorta. While they apparently were pre-

pared to accept Liberal control of the executive, the

Guatemalan Conservatives definitely feared the prospect of

Salvadoran dominance and attempted to secure the third

seat on the SPE for the Honduran Jose Dionisio Herrera.15

To serve as Arce's substitute, the assembly chose Antonio

Larrazabal, a member of "the family" who had been the

Guatemalan delegate to the Cortes of Cadiz. Larrazabal

declined the honor, however, and the position went to the

Liberal Antonio Rivera Cabezas.
Despite his exclusion from the government, Filisola

lingered on in Guatemala. Though he later wrote that his


intention was to prevent the outbreak of anarchy, Filisola's

purpose in remaining is uncertain.16 Possibly he exper-

ienced a change of heart in regard to his political ambi-

tions. The Guatemalan aristocrats were anxious for

Filisola to stay on and contributed to his support, but the

opposition of other sectors of society to the continued

presence of the Mexican force was unmistakable. For some

time Jose Francisco Barrundia had been introducing petitions

calling for Filisola's withdrawal, and there had been an

increasing number of incidents involving verbal and physical

clashes between the citizens and Mexican troops.17 This

antagonism was further demonstrated by the refusal of the

deputies from Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica to assume

their seats in the Asamblea so long as the Mexican division

remained in the country. In an attempt to use Filisola's

supposed political ambitions as a means for diminishing his

power, the SPE appointed him jefe politico of Guatemala.

Filisola at first accepted this position, but he quickly

changed his mind when he learned that it carried no military

authority and command of his forces would fall into the

hands of the triumvirate.18 As the Mexican government

discouraged any further interference in the affairs of

Central America, Filisola finally led his division out of

Guatemala on August 3, 1823.

With Filisola out of the way, the government got

down to the business of establishing the identity of the

new nation. On August 11, the SPE was authorized to

remove from office those individuals whose loyalty was sus-

pect. The triumvirs made extensive use of this power and a

number of officials were replaced by supporters of the new

regime. During this time the Asamblea concerned itself

primarily with the trappings of independence. A flag and

national coat of arms were designed, and the phrase "Dios

guard a Vd. muchos anos" which closed official correspon-

dence was replaced with "Dios, Union y Libertad." The use

of costumes which denoted rank was forbidden as was the

use of all terms of address other than "ciudadano."19 The

nation would have been better served if the government had

addressed itself to the resolution of more serious problems.

The most immediate of these included the need for providing

adequate revenue and assuring the loyalty of the military.

The lack of attention given these matters was directly

responsible for the serious difficulties which soon con-

fronted the government.

Apart from militia organizations, Central America's

military force consisted of a single battalion of regulars

garrisoned in Guatemala City. While spared the financial

burden of a sizeable military establishment, the govern-

ment failed to provide adequate support for this token

force, and the troops' pay was several months in arrears.

The discontent caused by this situation encouraged the

schemes of Sergeant Rafael Ariza y Torres who was in a

rebellious mood as the SPE had rejected him for promotion

to lieutenant in preference for Manuel Zelaya. In the

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