BACKGROUND OF CONSTITUTION MONUMENT
The following is drawn chiefly from "A History of
Spain" by Rafael Altamira.
The French Revolution caused a wave of liberalism
to spread over Europe. French armies under Napoleon, 1O
overran much of Spain and Joseph brother of Napoleo
was set up as King over the partially conquered rea1.
During this period the Cortes met at Cadiz (180 9813)
and adopted the socalled Liberal Constitution of 1812.
Some of its provisions weret- see page 537 Altamira.
With the final defeat of Napoleon in 1814, Ferdi-
nand VII was restored to the Spanish throne. One of
his first acts was to completely revoke the Liberal
Constitution of 1812, and restore the absolute monarchy.
Many of the liberals fled to escape persecution, some
to France and England others to America. The period
from 1814 to 1820 in Spain was marked by a bloodless
revolution, which in 1820 forced Ferdinand VII to yield
and restore for a time the Liberal Constitution.
With regard to the Masonic emblem, which appeass
on one of the tablets of St. Augustine's monument.
Altamira has the following to say of Free Masonry in
Spain (page 540)s
"Freemasonry had existed in Spain since about 1750;
first depending on centers established in other coun-
tries, later with a separate Spanish organization. Not
all Masons were revolutionists; but all aided one another
and the radical elements used the lodges as a cloak for
"In 1819 the Andalusian Masons, especially those
at Seville and at Cadiz, where an expeditionary force
was being assembled to send to the Americas decided
to further the Revolution" (which culminated in the con-
vening of the Cortes in 1820).
It is highly probably that there were Freemasons in
St. Augustine, and that considerable liberal sentiment
existed here, so that the use of the emblem on the tablet
may have received official sanction.
We have no definite authority for the statement that
in 1814 when the Liberal Constitution was revoked the
monuments erected to commemorate it were "ordered dismantled",
although this seems highly probable. An inspection of a
more detailed Spanish history than we have available would
no doubt reveal this to be a faot. Nor do we know whether
this monument in our Plaza was erected voluntarily, or as
a result of an express order from the Cortes or some other
In "Spain in History", Harrison has the following to say
of the fall of the liberal movement: (page 478)
"In May, 1814,- the year of the great congress of
Vienna the last smothered ory of the cortes was sup-
pressed* The deputies were arrested; the memorial
stone of the Constitution, erected in the public squares
of the cities overturned; and no trace of protest either
from the people or army was heard."
This monument was one of many erected In Spanish cities
to commemorate the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812. In
1814 this Constitution was revoked and the monuments ordered
dismantled. Here, only the tablets were removed and later
replaced. The replioa on the west side was made to preserve
the text of the original, which translates as follows:
Plaza.of the Constitution
Proolaimed in this City of St. Augustine, East Florida
On the seventeenth of October, 1812
During the governorship of
Brigadier Don Sebastian Kindelan
Knight of the Order of Santiago
The Constitutional Council has raised this monument
As an everlasting memorial
Under the supervision of
Don Fernando de la Maza Arredondo, the Younger
Dean of the Council and
Don Franoisoo Robira
St. Augustine Historical Society