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Poverty and politics in Mexico City, 1824-1854

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Title:
Poverty and politics in Mexico City, 1824-1854
Creator:
Shaw, Frederick John, 1941-
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English
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xviii, 434 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Artisans ( jstor )
Barrios ( jstor )
Cities ( jstor )
Criminals ( jstor )
Death ( jstor )
Homelessness ( jstor )
Hospitals ( jstor )
Journeymen ( jstor )
Parishes ( jstor )
Tailoring ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- History -- UF ( lcsh )
History thesis Ph. D ( lcsh )
Politics and government -- Mexico City (Mexico) ( lcsh )
Poor -- Mexico City (Mexico) ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 418-433).
Additional Physical Form:
Also available online.
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Frederick John Shaw, Jr.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Frederick John Shaw. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
06630572 ( OCLC )
0023356873 ( ALEPH )
Classification:
F1386.3 .S52 1975a ( lcc )

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POVERTY AND POLITICS
IN MEXICO CITY, 1824-1854









BY




FREDERICK JOHN SHAW JR.













A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY







UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1975



























Dedicated to the memories of David Andrew Shaw, Ruth Irene Huseman, and Susan Amanda Snider.

















ACKNOWTLEDGMENTS





My greatest single debt is to my wife, Lynn, who bore our children and supported us in comfort during the long years of work. I am also indebted to Professor Lyle N. McAlister of the Department of History for encouraging me to undertake a difficult project and to Professor Sugiyama Iutaka of the Department of Sociology for introducing me to the rudiments of statistical sampling and quantitative analysis that set the dissertation on its proper course. I would like to thank Roberta Solt who labored long hours editing and typing the reams of indecipherable copy provided to her. Finally I would like to express my gratitude to the University of Florida Rugby Club for providing a well-needed outlet for the fury of pent-up aggressions.


















Jii

















PREFACE





The dissertation originated as a study of Mexico

City's 16peros during the first three decades of national independence (1821-1854). The lIperos, according to the traditional view, were a class of idle, urban vagrants readily distinguishable from the honest laboring poor. During the course of the research, it became apparent that the 16peros did not exist as a class apart from the laboring poor and that crime and vagrancy were structured into lower-class life. The dissertation was consequently expanded into a study of the entire pattern of urban poverty.

Most sources consulted were documents preserved by

the Archivo del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de Mixico. Although traditional methodology was employed to analyze the data, reliance was also placed in quantitative data processed into the format of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences and analyzed by computer. The two sources of computerized data are the 599 cases heard by the Tribunal de Vagos between 1828 and 1852 and the municipal census of 1849. The vagrancy cases comprise all the completely recorded and full vagrancy cases existent and are supplemented by 336 uncomputerized





iv












criminal cases heard before the Juzgado de Primera Instancia of Cuartel Menor 17 in 1852. The court's jurisdiction included the barrios of Mazanares and La Palma, notorious lairs of the semicriminal 16peros.

The census of 1849 counted only 120,000 inhabitants

of a city whose population approached 200,000. Those excluded from the census were the poor who like their European brothers feared the census taker as the harbinger of the recruiting sergeant and the tax collector. The census also counted a population distorted and dislocated by war with the United States (1845-1848). Despite the inaccuracies, the census reflects important lower-class characteristics.

The census of 1849 has two advantages over the preceding census of 1842. It clearly indicates the habitation of each individual, making the determination of household composition possible. The census also lists the monthly rent of each habitation. Throughout the dissertation, mean monthly rent is assumed to be an indicator of the economic status of the capital's occupational groups.

The analysis of the census required sampling techniques. Sixty sample blocks were selected randomly from the capital's 246 officially designated blocks. One out of every six adult males fifteen years of age or older was chosen from those residing on the sample blocks, and information entered on IBM cards. The 1,366 cases collected comprise a random sample of the adult male population.



v












A random sample of adult males and their households could not reflect all characteristics of a population 57 percent female and possessing an extremely large number of matrifocal housholds. For this reason, reference to "sample population" applies only to the adult male population. Details on the characteristics of the general population were obtained through analysis of the populations of the barrios of Necatitlin and San Salvador el Seco. The reader is notified when this information is used.









































vi








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A Plazo de lo Constituci6n
a Catedral Nocional h Paolocio Nocionol 22 c Ayuntamiento 2 d Parion 4 B Plaza del Volodor VI// C Plaza del Santo Domingo -D Plaza del Factor IV E Ciudadelo VI 26 F Acordo 13 25 G Hospital de SonAndres -- -- 14 H Hospicio de Pobres 21
I Hospital de Son L6zar J Barrio deNecatitlon K Barrio de San Salvador el Seco 3 L Borrios de la Palma and Mazonres
1 Alameda 23
N Pose de Bucareli Parish Church 0
Cuareles Ioya1e I h' F L Cuareles Menores t
30 5 18 19 Boundary of Trazo (1736) 17

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CIJARTELES NAh YORES, ClJTINTOUS ENOES, BARRIOS, AND TRAZA

















CONTENTS






ACKNOWLEDGMENTS, iii PREFACE, iv


MAPA DE LA CIUDAD DE MEXICO, vii CUARTELES MAYORES, CUARTELES MENORES, BARRIOS, AND TRAZA, viii TABLES, xi


ABSTRACT, xvi


CHAPTER ONE. CITY, ECONOMY, PEOPLE, 1


City, 1. Economy, 18. People, 38. Notes, 60. CHAPTER TWO. LABOR AND WAGES, 69


Labor, 69. Wages, 113. Notes, 120.


CHAPTER THREE. LIFE STYLES, HEALTH, DEMOGRAPHY, 129


Life Styles, 129. Health, 160. Demography, 167.
Notes, 179.


CHAPTER FOUR. PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS AND FAMILY, 187


Public Institutions, 187. Family, 219. Notes, 229.





ix













CHAPTER FIVE. RELIGION AND RECREATION, 235


Religion, 235. Recreation, 254. Notes, 262.


CHAPTER SIX. CRIME, LAW ENFORCEMENT, JUSTICE, 266


Crime, 266. Law Enforcement, 295. Justice, 302.
Notes, 309.


CHAPTER SEVEN. POVERTY AND POLITICS, 315


Notes, 349.


APPENDIX A. PROFILES OF MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 355 APPENDIX B. COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY, 358 APPENDIX C. SALARIES AND WAGES, 364 APPENDIX D. POPULATION ESTIMATES AND GROWTH, 369 APPENDIX E. OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES, 372 APPENDIX F. VAGRANTS AND CRIMINALS, 377 APPENDIX G. 500-YARD RING/1,000-YARD CIRCLE PROFILES, 384 APPENDIX H. TRAZA/BARRIOS PROFILES, 387 APPENDIX I. AGE AT DEATH, 1842, 1844, 1850, 390 APPENDIX J. CAUSES OF DEATH, 1842, 1844, 393 APPENDIX K. PERIODICITY OF DISEASE, 396 APPENDIX L. POPULATION, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 399 APPENDIX M. MARRIAGE PERIODICITY AND HOUSEHOLD SIZE, 403 APPENDIX N. OCCUPATIONS OF PARENTS OF FREE SCHOOL PUPILS,
1836, 406
APPENDIX 0. FAMILY MUTATION, 409 APPENDIX P. VAGRANCY CODE AND CRIMINAL STATISTICS, 18251852, 413


REFERENCES, 418


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH, 434






x
















TABLES





1. ANNUAL INCOME OF COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1848, 28

2. BRANCHES OF THE JUNTA DE FOMENTO DE ARTESANOS, 29

3. MEXICAN BUDGET, 1844, 29

4. OCCUPATIONAL-CATEGORY/MEAN-RENT CORRELATION, 30

5. COMPARISON OF THE MEAN RENTS OF OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES IN THE TRAZA AND BARRIOS, 30

6. OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES OF NATIVES OF MEXICO CITY, INTERNAL MIGRANTS, AND FOREIGNERS, 31

7. OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES BY SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHICAL ORIGIN, 31

8. URBAN ORIGINS OF IMMIGRANTS, 32

9. COMPARISON OF MEAN RENT BY ORIGIN AND OCCUPATION, 33 10. MEAN RENT BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN BY OCCUPATION, 33 11. ARTISANAL CRAFTS RANKED BY RENT, 98 12. UNSKILLED OCCUPATIONS RANKED BY RENT, 99 13. WOMEN'S OCCUPATIONS, MANZANA 168, 100 14. COMPARISON OF RENT BY OCCUPATION, 100 15. PRICE OF MAIZE AND BEANS, 153 16. RESIDENCE AND MEAN RENTS, 153 17. EPIDEMIC OF MEASLES AND DYSENTERY IN THE SAGRARIO AND
SAN SEBASTIAN, 1847, 154

18. SCARLET FEVER VICTIMS, SAGRARIO, 1844, 154





xi












19. PERCENTAGE OF IMMIGRANTS IN NECATITLAN, SAL SALVADOR EL SECO, AND THE SAMPLE MALE POPULATION, 155 20. DEPENDENCY RATIOS, 155 21. LEGITIMATE/ILLEGITIMATE BIRTHS, 156 22. CROSSTABULATION OF AGE AT MARRIAGE WITH MEAN RENT, 156 23. CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH MEAN RENT, 157 24. HOSPITALS, MEXICO CITY, 1849, 205 25. HOSPITAL OF SAN ANDRES, ADMISSION AND DISCHARGE OF PATIENTS, 1828, 1846, 205 26. PRIMARY SCHOOLS, 1845, 206 27. SCHOOLS OF THE SOCIETY OF CHARITY, 1851, 207 28. ESCUELA DE LAS AMIGAS, BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ ACATLAN, MONTHLY ATTENDANCE, 1831, 207

29. FAMILY TYPES, CENSUS OF 1849, 208 30. POPULATION OF PARISHES, CENSUS OF 1816, 247 31. POPULATION OF NUNNERIES, 1861, 247 32. VALUE OF CORPORATE PROPERTIES IN THE CITY OF MEXICO, 1846, 248

33. BAPTISMS, 1842, 248 34. COMPLAINTS AGAINST SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 283 35. UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 283 36. SUSPECTED VAGRANTS WITH TWO OR MORE OCCUPATIONS, 284 37. SUSPECTED VAGRANTS UNABLE TO SUPPORT FAMILIES, 285 38. VOTER PARTICIPATION, PRIMARY ELECTIONS, 321 A-i. OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE, MANZANA 57 AND MiANZANA 60, 356 A-2. HABITATIONAL PROFILE, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 356 A-3. RENT PROFILE, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 356





xii












A-4. BUSINESSES, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 357 B-I. COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1843, 359 B-2. SIXTEEN MOST COMMON INDUSTRIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1843, 360 B-3. WORK FORCE OF CARPENTRY SHOPS, 1845, 360 B-4. INVENTORY OF CARPENTRY SHOP WORTH $48 IN 1853, 362 B-5. CAPITAL INVESTED AND LABOR FORCE OF INDUSTRIAL AND
COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, CENSUS OF 1849, 362 C-I. CIVIL SERVICE SALARIES, 1845, 365 C-2. SERVANT WAGES, 366

C-3. WEEKLY WAGES, SKILLED, 366 C-4. WOMEN'S WAGES, 368

D-1. ESTIMATES OF MEXICO CITY'S POPULATION, 1811-1857, 370 D-2. MEXICO CITY NATURAL POPULATION GROWTH, 1839-1845, 370 D-3. POPULATION ESTIMATES OF THE AYUNTAMIENTO DE MEXICO,
1824-1846, 371

E-1. RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, MIDDLE/UPPER CLASSES, 373 E-2. RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, SKILLED, 374 E-3. RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, UNSKILLED, 376 F-i. SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, SKILLED, 378 F-2. SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED, 379 F-3. CONDEMNED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, SKILLED, 380 F-4. CONDEMNED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED, 380 F-5. CRIMINALS, MINOR WARD 17, 1828-1852, SKILLED, 381 F-6. CRIMINALS, MINOR WARD 17, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED, 382 F-7. OCCUPATIONS OF CONVICTED CRIMINALS, 383 G-1. COMPARISON OF POPULATION OF INNER 500-YARD CIRCLE
WITH OUTER 1,000-YARD RING, 385




xii1












G-2. COMPARISON OF INDUSTRIES OF INNER 500-YARD CIRCLE
AND OUTER 1,000-YARD RING, 386

H-1. CITY, TRAZA, BARRIOS OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE, 388 H-2. CITY, TRAZA, BARRIOS HABITATIONAL PROFILE, 388 H-3. CITY, TRAZA, BARRIOS RENT PROFILE, 389 I-1. AGE AT DEATH, 1842, 391 1-2. AGE AT DEATH, 1844, 391 1-3. AGE AT DEATH, 1850, 392 J-1. CAUSES OF DEATH, 1842, 1844, 394 J-2. DEATHS OF CHILDREN, THE SAGRARIO, 1842, 394 K-1. MONTHLY PERCENTAGES OF PNEUMONIA DEATHS, 1842, 1844,
1848, 397

K-2. MONTHLY PERCENTAGES OF DYSENTERY DEATHS, 1842, 1844,
1848, 397

K-3. PERCENTAGES OF TOTAL MONTHLY DEATHS, 1842, 1848, 398 L-1. MANZANA 57, AGE/SEX DISTRIBUTION, 400 L-2. MANZANA 60, AGE/SEX DISTRIBUTION, 400 L-3. MANZANA 57, MIGRANT POPULATION, 401 L-4. MANZANA 60, MIGRANT POPULATION, 401 L-5. MANZANA 57, PERCENTAGES OF MIGRANTS IN THE 20-39 AGE
BRACKET, 402

L-6. MANZANA 60, PERCENTAGES OF MIGRANTS IN THE 20-39 AGE
BRACKET, 402

M-1. MONTHLY PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL ANNUAL MARRIAGES, 1842, 404 M-2. CONTRAST OF TYPE 5 AND TYPE 9 FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS, 404 M-3. CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH RESIDENCE IN
TRAZA AND BARRIOS, 405

M-4. CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH OCCUPATION, 405





xiv












N-I. SCHOOL LOCATED ON THE STREET OF SEVEN PRINCES, OCCUPATIONS OF PARENTS, 1836, 407

0-1. FAMILY OF ABRAHAM GARCIA, SHOEMAKER, 410 0-2. FAMILY OF BENITO GIRON, WEAVER, 4.10 0-3. FAMILY OF DOMINGO FLORES, WATER CARRIER, 411 0-4. FAMILY OF CRISTOBAL GALINDO, PORK BUTCHER, 412 P-1. CRIME, 1825, 416 P-2. CRIME, 1842, 416 P-3. CRIME, 1851, 417 P-4. CRIME, 1852, 417








































xv












ABSTRACT OF DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE
OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY





POVERTY AND POLITICS
IN MEXICO CITY, 1824-1854



BY


FERDERICK JOHN SHAW JR.

JUNE 1975




Chairman: Lyle N. McAlister, Ph.D. Major Department: History


The dissertation examines lower-class life in Mexico City during the first three decades of the republican period (1824-1854). It explores fresh ground with the aid of criminal records, census data, and modern techniques of computer analysis, and in the process it disproves some traditional assumptions.

The poor were a polyglot mass of artisans, unskilled. laborers, and their families, earning a subsistence income or less. They numbered 80 percent of the capital's population. Twenty-seven percent of them were internal migrants, mostly artisans from the large cities of the Republic.

Marxist historians have grossly distorted the capitalistic oppression of the era. Artisans labored in numerous xvi












small preindustrial workshops, in their homes, or on the streets. Labor relations within the workshops were relatively harmonious, and wages should have been sufficient to assure contemporary standards of subsistence. Chronic unemployment and inflation, and not capitalistic oppression, were the true enemies of the working classes.

Ill-clothed, ill-housed, and ill-fed, and surrounded by filth, the poor were wretchedly unhealthy. Convulsions produced by fevers slaughtered the infants. At least one third of all recorded deaths were of children below the age of three. Respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases carried off the adults. Epidemics reached monstrous proportions. In 1833 and 1850 cholera took over eleven thousand lives in less than a month. Assaulted by disease, the population stagnated. Deaths exceeded births, and the heavy flow of immigrants barely replaced the natural population deficit.

The national government provided no services to the poor, but was a predator insatiably craving money and men. Judged by the standards of the times, the municipal system of public charity was a dismal failure, for the hospitals, poorhouse, and public school system withered for lack of funds. Only the orphanage, supervised by a private junta, operated humanely and efficiently.

Popular religion was a medley bf superstition and dogma scorned by educated Catholics. The Church itself criticized its ignorant and vulgar character. Nineteenthxvii












century Liberals unfairly charged that the parish clergy oppressed the poor with excessively high burial and baptismal fees. Moderate rates prevailed in the parishes. The true authors of lower-class suffering were a municipal sanitary regulation forbidding burials in the parish graveyards and the high fees of municipal cemeteries administered by the archbishopric.

The archaic system of law enforcement and criminal

justice failed to cope with the-crime and vagrancy structured into lower-class life. Popular opinion held that the capital's 14peros were a permanent, criminal class distinguishable from the honest, laboring poor. In reality the lIperos were a fluctuating cross-section of the poor reduced to idleness and crime by unemployment.

The poor had little interest in political factions or

ideologies. They became politically active only when federalistliberal politicians exploited their frustrations or caught their attentions by a rationality of hero worship. Dwelling on the margins of political life, the attachment of the poor to any cause was fleeting. Cloaked in stoic indifference, they witnessed the downfall of every regime that their rioting brought to power. Downtrodden by economic depression and by government exactions, they abandoned their early attachment to the Republic.







xviii

















CHAPTER ONE


CITY, ECONOMY, PEOPLE





Lacking all instruction, they [the castes circa 1809] were subject to great defects and vices; but with awakened spirits and vigorous bodies, they were susceptible to
every thing evil and every thing good.

--Lucas Alamin, 1853




City



A nineteenth-century traveler viewing Mexico City

from the forested slopes that separated the Valley of Mexico from the high plains of Puebla might have described

the capital as a dazzling white jewel set in a field of green interspersed with blue. North of the city began the gently rising plain that led to the fertile Bajio and the cities of Celaya, Queritaro, and Guanajuato. Lake Texcoco, victim of unrelenting drainage schemes by colonial viceroys, lay six miles from the city's fringes to the east. The heavy layer of salts left by the lake's evaporation had transformed the eastern approach into a barren, somber plain that contrasted sharply with its surroundings.



1












Bearing south, our traveler would come upon the lush marsh called Xochimilco, the floating pleasure gardens of the Aztec emperors. Southwestward the land rose to the forested slopes of Chapultepec Hill, whose majestic cedars once shaded the diversions of the Aztec nobility. Farther west, the verdant fields surrounding the villages of Tacubaya and Azcapulzalco bore witness to the fertility of the Valley of Mexico. Eight broad, aspen-shaded roads led to the garitas (internal customs houses) which rimmed the city. Whitewashed adobe walls reflected brilliantly in the sunlight.

The distant beauty of Mexico City was a facade for its treacherous location. The Valley of Mexico lay astride the gigantic earthquake zone that extends the length of North and South America. Frequent tremors, although moderate, disrupted city life and the nerves of superstitious inhabitants. During the earthquake which struck Mexico City at noon on St. Cecilia's Day in 1840, half-naked people ran into the streets, falling to their knees to take communion, terrified by the sight of swaying towers, fountains disgorging
2
their waters, and the apocalyptic pealing of church bells.

Earthquakes were a minor nuisance compared to chronic flooding. The capital sits atop the former basin of shrinking Lake Texcoco. During the nineteenth century's summer rainy seasons, daily showers deposited an annual average of twentyfour watery inches.4 There were two varieties of flooding. First, summer showers quickly saturated the marshy subsoil








3



and caused flash flooding. In the relatively well-drained central plaza, water could rise to knee level.5 The second variety was more serious. A series of heavy rainy seasons would raise the water table until the southern and eastern suburbs became shallow lakes passable only by canoes. Throughout the year, an uncomfortable dampness pervaded the

entire city.

Passing through the garitas, ugly squalor thrust

itself upon the eyes of the visitor. The distant impression of lushness was overwhelmed by the gray, polluted marshes that ringed the city and intruded into the suburbs.8 The human element was appalling. In 1847 George Ruxton, an English mining engineer, was struck by the



regularity of the streets, the chaste architecture of the buildings, the miserable appearance of the population, the downcast
look of the men, the absence of ostentatious
display of wealth, and the prevalence of
filth which everywhere meets. the eye.9



These-impressions were not confined to finicky Englishmen. In 1851 the capital's ugliness dampened the spirits of a young jalisqueho (native of Jalisco).



In a little while we entered twisting
alleys with wretched hovels inhabited by
filthy old women, grimy children, and
drunken 16peros. The coach made its way
through mountains of trash thrown carelessly in the sides of the road and bordering the drains, scattering the dogs








4




that worried the cadaver of any dead animal that chanced to be in the road. The coach
advanced farther, and I was surprised by
houses much taller than I was accustomed to see in Guadalajara, but so sad, so lacking
in color, and of life, that it astonished
me that such a beautiful sky could shelter
such a gloomy landscape. We had arrived in
Mexico City.10



The garitas enclosed a quadrilateral extending

roughly two miles north and south, and three miles east and west. A nineteenth-century map of Mexico City reveals the typical rectangular grid of the Spanish colonial city. At its center was an enormous plaza, the Plaza de la Constituci6n. Broad, straight avenues running north-south and east-west of the central plaza formed a grid that intersected the entire city. Scattered throughout the city, usually at the intersections of the larger streets, were ninety-seven lesser 11
plazas and plazuelas.

The siting of important public facilities followed the centripetal logic of city designers. The Plaza de la Constituci6n was the ceremonial, political, and administrative center. Occupying the place of honor on its northern side was the Catedral Nacional, the cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Mexico. On the eastern side, the enormous Palacio Nacional served as the formal residence of Mexico's rulers, the hall of the national congress, and an office building for most of the national bureaucracy. Directly opposite the Catedral stood the buildings of the ayuntamiento








5




(city council), housing the municipal offices, courts, and
12
jail.

Other public facilities followed the centripetal

pattern of importance and convenience. The valuable Casa de Moneda (national mint) was adjacent to the eastern side of the Palacio Nacional. The Plaza del Volador, diagonally connected to the Plaza de la Constituci6n's southeastern 13
corner, contained the main vegetable and meat market. Five hundred yards due south of the Catedral Nacional, the Casa de Aduana (internal customs house) stood on the spacious Plaza de Santo Domingo, conveniently near the heavily traveled Calle Real de Santa Anna leading north to the Bajio and south to Puebla.14 Because of the Aduana, the Plaza de Santo 15
Domingo was the capital's financial center. Less desirable facilities were located even farther from the center to protect the lives, property, and health of the inhabitants. The location of the Calle de Curtidores (Tanners' Street) and the Rastro (municipal slaughterhouse) on the southern fringes spared the central portion from noisome odors and unmanageable herds of cattle. The Hospital de San Andris (municipal hospital) was on the fringes of the northwestern suburb of San Cosme. The Ciudadela (municipal arsenal) and the Acordada (national prison) lay 1,000 yards southwest of the central plaza. The same distance from the center, but due west, were the Hospital de San Hip6lito (insane asylum) and the Hospicio de Pobres (municipal poorhouse). The












Hospital de San Lizaro (municipal leprosarium) loomed on the eastern fringes of the city, a grim sentinel to match the somberness of the eastern plain. In the extreme southeast and northwest were the two municipal cemeteries.17

Two massive aqueducts were the only public facilities that did not fit the centripetal pattern. The oldest aqueduct started at the heights of Chapultepec and ran for 5,000 yards before it emptied in the fountain of the Plaza del Salto del Agua, a southwestern suburb. Another longer aqueduct started beyond Chapultepec at the village of Santa Fe and carried water over six miles to the fountain of Maris18
cala on the northwestern fringe. From the two main fountains a 11,059-yard-long network of pipes and aqueducts fed 28 public fountains and 505 private fountains.19

The intersecting grid of streets formed the capital's administrative divisions. The intersection of the avenues at the southeastern corner of the central plaza divided the city into enormous quadrants. The quadrants contained eight cuarteles mayores (major administrative wards). The first four formed an interior quadrangle centered at the intersection of the two main avenues. The remaining four rimmed that quadrangle in an irregular pattern. Each cuartel mayor was subdivided into eight cuarteles menores (minor wards).20 Cuarteles menores usually were of similar size and were subdivided into 246 manzanas (numbered blocks) created by the intersections of the streets.21 Manzanas were the basic units of the civil administration system.







7



The cuartel system introduced in 1782 was an improvement upon the older system of civil division. Prior to 1782 the church parish and the traditional Indian barrio (neighborhood) served as basic administrative units and were difficult to police because of size. The cuartel system arranged civil divisions in a logical order and reduced them to manageable size. After 1782 a hierarchy of unpaid 22
officials policed every unit of the system.

The cuarteles were artificial creations having only administrative significance. The traditional residential divisions recognized by the general population were the Traza (old Spanish quarter) and the ancient Indian barrio. The historical roots of these divisions were embedded in the Aztec and early colonial past. The Spaniards constructing Mexico City over the ruins of Tenochtitl5n, the Aztec capital, segregated their Traza from those barrios of the surviving Indian population. The Traza formed a rough square centered upon the main plaza that measured 1,400 by 1,400 yards. It was a fortified sanctuary against a potentially hostile Indian population. Expanded over the centuries, the final boundaries enclosed all important government and church buildings, Spanish industries, and central markets.23 The barrios were remnants of a complex tribal organization. During Aztec times the city was divided into four capullis (districts) within which resided one of the four Aztec
24
tribes. Each capulli had four capultecos (subdistricts)








8



that housed the tribal clans. The capultecos centered around plazas exhibiting the altars of clan deities.25 The clans specialized economically, and their barrios acquired reputations as the homes of distinctive crafts such as silversmithing,feather working, or pottery making. The Spanish retained the barrios whenever their boundaries did not infringe upon the Traza. Surviving capullis and capultecos became religious doctrinas wherein missionaries propagated the faith, and parish churches and chapels replaced pagan altars.2 Hospitals, cemeteries, prisons, and garbage dumps were located in the barrios.27

There were many changes from conquest to independence. The Traza's military function became an anachronism, and mestizo replaced Indian in most areas. Economic specialization derived from the needs of a Europeanized city. The barrios served as administrative units during the early years of independence. Unlike the barrios of other Latin American cities, they had a recognized center and boundaries.29 The population identified itself with its traditional barrio rather than the manzana. Suspected criminals and vagrants referred to their barrios when giving addresses, and the legal addresses on wills or other public documents stated 30
barrios rather than cuarteles. In 1829 the ayuntamiento organized the inscription of civic militia by barrios.31

In all cities of Spanish colonial design, the concentration of government buildings and main market in the












center of the city promoted the geographical and social concentration of population and industry. Although the garitas lay as far as three miles from the central plaza, the buildings clustered two miles east-west and one and three-quarters miles north-south.32 Concentration of the population was more intense than the clustering of the buildings indicates. A circle of 1,000-yard radius, whose center was in the middle of the Plaza de la Constituci6n, would enclose over two thirds of the population counted in the census of 1847.33 The desirability of residence near the center lured people to settle even the swampy land on the southern and eastern fringes.

The numerous facilities of the Traza integrated the city socially and economically. The Plaza de la Constituci6n was important as a ceremonial and political-administrative

center and is discussed as a separate unit. "The peasant and the Marquesa" prayed together at the Catedral Nacional's daily Masses. The poor, however, were excluded from more 34
important religious rites. On Easter Sunday the announcement from the Catedral that Christ had risen, signaled by artillery salvos and church bells, triggered joyous citywide celebrations. On Corpus Christi Sunday, processions organized by every civic and religious corporation--and led by the president, his cabinet, the ayuntamiento, and the diplomatic corps--would march separately to the Catedral. After the Mass, the procession, accompanied by as many as forty thousand spectators, would parade through the principal
35
streets.








10



The Plaza de la Constituci6n was also a secular ceremonial center. On September 17, Independence Day, crowds would jam the square for hours to be serenaded by military bands and to enjoy the fiesta atmosphere. After the formal celebrations, the citizens and musicians would 36
disperse to the barrios for an evening of revelry.

During crises the Plaza de la Constituci6n was the political nerve center of the entire city. During the copper currency devaluations of 1837 and 1841, it filled with mobs of hungry, angry poor demanding price controls and the forced opening of bakeries and grocery stores. During revolutions crowds gathered in the Plaza to be goaded into action by irate politicians. In front of the buildings of the ayuntamiento on November 31, 1844, the public reading of the Plan de Jalapa ignited popular rioting that resulted in the overthrow of General Santa Anna.3 In 1849 republican politicians within the Palacio Nacional harangued a mob to the riotous overthrow of the monarchist
39
ayuntamiento.

The Plaza was the commercial center for shops

catering to the wealthy. Expensive watch and jewelry shops clustered under the Portales de los Mercadores in its southwestern corner and on the nearby Calle de los Plateros.40 The Parign, a collection of stalls surrounded by wooden walls, occupied the southwestern corner. Before 1828 it was an emporium of imported merchandise, famous for clothes












that excited stylish young men and women. Its strongboxes contained their owners' capital and substantial savings deposits belonging to prosperous merchants and professionals.41 After its sacking by an angry mob in the 1828 Revolution of the Acordada, its merchants, in greatly reduced circumstances, traded more in locally produced goods.42 The Pariin remained until demolition in 1843 a dilapidated eyesore, its name a 43
synonym for mob terror.

The Plaza de la Constituci6n was a recreational area for the populace. During a normal day, as many as 4,000 idlers surveyed the transaction of public and private busi44
ness. On moonlit nights citizens strolled the spacious square, enjoying the play of moonlight on the Catedral's twin spires and the magnificent view of snow-capped Popocatepetl and Atlixtahuil. The wealthy paused for refreshment at the caf6s and pastry shops on nearby streets. The poor refreshed themselves with purchases from the ambulatory 45
vendors who plied their trade within the square.

Outside the main square were two buildings of significance to the political life of Mexico City--the Ciudadela, crumbling, fortress-like arsenal; and the Acordada, foreboding national prison--close together on the western fringes of the city. The Ciudadela provided conspirators with a convenient source of weapons. The clandestine movement of troops or ammunition into it always heralded the approach of a pronuncimiento.46 Artillery duels between the Ciudadela








12



and the Palacio Nacional took their heaviest toll from among the civilians residing between the two buildings. During the attempted overthrow of President Anastasio Bustamante, by Valentin G6mez Farias in July 1840, 180 civilians were killed and more were mutilated by indiscriminate cannon fire.47

The Acordada, a few hundred yards north of the Ciudadela, contained men willing to serve any cause for the price of a pardon.48 The prison itself was a center of conspiracy.49 In late November 1828, Lorenzo Zavala and his fellow York Rite Masons plotted the fateful Revolution of the Acordada that prevented President-Elect Manuel G6mez Pedraza from taking office and launched Mexico into a half-century of political chaos.

The Aduana, according to Guillermo Prieto, the era's best-known memoirist, was "as plebian as smallpox."



The heavy traffic of mules and carts through
the great gates. The heaps of bales left for inspection in the broad patios; the bewildering noise of hammers and crowbars; the customs inspectors, schedules clutched tightly in hand, examining invoices, discovering irregularities,
and arguing with proprietors and clerks; and
the multitude of Indians, mule skinners,
clerks, and money changers who penetrated the
office.50



The activity imparted a bustling mercantile character to the Aduana and the adjoining Plaza de Santo Domingo.







13



Mexico City's central and special markets were tourist attractions that hummed with the transaction of daily business. The principal meat and vegetable market at the Plaza del Volador was over fifty years old, in an advanced state of disrepair, and so notorious as a meeting place of evildoers that in 1843 the city recommended its demolition.51 The market, however, remained until 1863 when it was replaced by the enormous Mercado de la Merced.52 The aristocracy of the market consisted of merchants who rented its rotting wooden stalls. The most common merchant, however, was the Indian who, seated upon a filthy blanket with his wares, clogged the market's passageways and entrances.53 Stall holders complained that the Indian merchant, who operated illegally, blocked traffic and harmed business. Decrees of the ayuntamiento banning the Indians from the market place were never enforced. Throughout the first decades of the nineteenth century, the decrepit stalls and blanket stands of the Plaza del Volador offered such a variety of meat and vegetables, at such economical prices, that rich and poor alike sought their residences close to
55
it.

The Baratillo located in the Plaza del Factor, 100 yards northwest of the central plaza, was the "Rag Fair" or "Petticoat Lane" of Mexico City. Foreigners noted the many odds and ends to be purchased at the Baratillo, but failed to notice its principal business, the sale of the secondhand








14



56
clothing that dressed the poor. To the perpetual annoyance of the authorities, the market was the capital's main entrepSt for stolen goods.57 Its customers and merchants were well represented among the defendants tried daily before the city's magistrates. Its merchants were an unruly lot. Dissatisfied with the location, they once boldly moved their stalls to the Plaza de Santo Domingo. Only the arrival of overwhelming force convinced them to return to the Plaza
58
del Factor.

The Plazuela de San Juan specialized in selling 59
shoes to poor people. Other markets scattered throughout the city specialized in the sale of lime, poultry, mules, and building materials.60 Mexicans boasted that a person looking for any item had merely to ask for the location of the appropriately named street.

Poor Mexicans preferred to live close to their place of work. At least 40 percent of the vagrancy suspects who gave both their own addresses and those of their employers lived two blocks from their place of work. Such localism made the barrios of the independence period self-sufficient. Typical barrios like San Salvador el Seco and Necatitlin were poor, containing a few small grocery stores, a public bath if the neighborhood lacked an aqueduct or fountain, a pawnshop or two, and a wine or pulque shop.62 Artisans worked in their homes or in a few larger workshops. Certain industrial or commercial specializations existed. San








15



Salvador el Seco was known as La Carroceria because it 63
contained a large carriage-manufacturing business. San Juan, Candelaria, and Santa Anna were entrepSts for the provisioning of the city. San Juan's plaza specialized in building materials; Candelaria's, in fowl; and Santa Anna's Calle Real was the central distributing point for pulque.64

Residents endowed.each barrio with a distinctive personality. Santa Anna, athwart the great north-south road, was notorious for high-living arrieros (mule skinners), and highwaymen frequented its many inns.65 San Sebastian and El Carmin, relatively close to the center of the city, housed romance-smitten seamstresses, rakish public coachmen and wagoners, and industrious artisans toiling in the single rooms that served as bedroom and workshop. The eastern barrios of San Lgzaro, La Soledad, La Palma, and Mazanares held the populacho and 1peros, daring rogues who lived from the proceeds of casual labor and petty crime. In the southern barrios of San Pablo, San Antonio Abad, and Salto del Agua, boatmen, impoverished clerks, and women cigar makers worked and played. The inhabitants of the extreme southeastern barrios bordering the trash dumps and the Cemeterio de Campo Florida were wretched scavengers who 66
subsisted on offal.

The barrio's plaza, often filthy and obstructed,

was the only recreational center. The Plaza de Necatitl~n and an area fronting the Garita de Peravillo accommodated








16




sites for the carnival-like jamaica and impromptu corridas (bullfights).68 Gabriel Ferry, a French resident, witnessed one Plaza de Necatitlin corrida which drew 12,000 spectators.69 More skilled corridas were held in the municipal bull ring at the Plaza de San Pablo, conveniently close to the Rastro. Corridas were held there until 1851 when General Santa Anna inaugurated his last regime by erecting a new ring west of the city. Attendance at San Pablo was usually 11,000.70

The most popular form of recreation was strolling in the fresh air of the city's pastoral outskirts. The Alameda, a spacious park on the western fringes, was thickly planted with elms. On feast days it was crowded with ladies in carriages, gentlemen on horseback, and pedestrian 1peros. South of the Alameda and endowed with its pleasant rusticity was the wealthy suburb of San Cosme where Fanny Calder6n de la Barca resided--the Scottish-American wife of Spain's first ambassador to Mexico, whose published letters and diaries have revealed so much of the capital's society.

The broad avenue of Bucareli lead to the slopes of

Chapultepec and was a favorite for equestrians and pedestrians.



Every evening, but more especially on Sundays and fete days, which last are nearly innumerable, from four o'clock until six or seven
may be seen two long rows of carriages filled with-ladies; crowds of gentlemen on horseback,
riding down the middle between the carriages;
soldiers at intervals, attending to the preservation of public order; and multitudes of
common people and 16peros mingled with some
well-bred gentlemen on foot.7








17



The pleasant paseo (promenade) was marred occasionally by the sight of garroted highwaymen mounted for public display.73

The pastoral footpath and canal of the Paseo de la Viga on the southeastern fringes of the city were famous for beauty of tree and flower.



Two long lines of carriages are to be seen
coming and going as far as the eye can
reach, and hundreds of gay plebians are assembled on the sidewalks, with flowers
and dulces for sale; and innumerable equestrians in picturesque dresses, and with
spirited horses, fill up the interval between the carriages and the canoes covering
the canal, the Indians singing and dancing lazily as the boats steal along, and under a blue and cloudless sky and in that pure,
clear atmosphere.74



At the prairie of Belin in the southwest, poorer people 75
danced to the harp and guitar of sidewalk musicians.

The upper classes of a city known for the absence of an "ostentatious display of wealth" took exception to flaunt their wealth on the paseos. Fanny Calder6n de la Barca contrasted the somber dignity of the carriages owned by the older families with the gaudy luxury of those owned by wealthy speculators or smugglers. The equipage of one prosperous smuggler consisted of a gold-embroidered suit, a sombrero with gold rolls, and a saddle "covered with velvet and richly embossed with massive gold" worth $5,000. Noting the wealth of the equestrians and the poverty of the pedestrians








18



on the Paseo de la Viga, seora de la Barca was moved to remark that Mexico was not really a republic, "for there was no connecting link between the blankets and the satins, between the poppies and the diamonds."76




Economy



Mexico City's economy produced goods and services by archaic methods for its own use. The only commodity exported to the nation at large was an ineffective government. The government, however, was one of the capital's largest employers. The centralized and conservative Plan de Tacubaya (1842) projected the employment of 690 civil servants. The more representative federal government of 1851 employed 667 civil servants, 856 if one counts the salaried congress78
men. The number of employees was larger because it was common for government departments to hire agregados (unauthorized, unlisted personnel). The national bureaucracy was augmented by at least 100 employees of the ayuntamiento and 150 employees of the archbishopric. The census of 1849 indicates that about 3 percent of the male labor force were employed by the national, municipal, or ecclesiastical bureaucracy.

The government's importance to the economy transcended that of being the largest employer.







19



Trade, industry, mining, agriculture were
secondary to the financing of government
operations. The federal government had to depend on merchants to finance a budget of 10 to 20 million pesos a year .
Due to the discount on government bonds, profits of 400 percent could be
made. Mercantile loans, in contrast, varied
from 12 to 24 percent a month.80



Because the city's largest financiers and merchants invested heavily in government securities, the credit structure of industry and commerce depended upon government solvency.

Commerce and industry employed the bulk of the capital's population. Most enterprises engaged in retail commerce. Table B-1 shows that frequently listed among the 2,672 businesses on the commercial census of 1843 were tendejones and tendejones de alborrotes mestizas (small grocery stores) which sold food and drink. Carbonerias and carnicerias (charcoal and butcher shops) were the second and third largest classes of enterprise. Most commercial enterprises were small and produced minimal profits. Table 1 shows that the net annual income of several common types of businesses was $200 or less. The low income is understandable; it took but $20 of capital to operate a small but successful clothing store at the Pariln.

Industrial production employed nearly 40 percent of the adult male population. Joel Poinsett, the United States' first ambassador to Mexico,reported in 1.822 that the capital hummed with the activity of its numerous workshops producing








20




everything from cigars to coaches despite a decade-long battle for independence.82 The branches of the Junta de Fomento de Artesanos (Committee for the Advancement of Artisans), listed in Table 2, were the most important and technically advanced industries. Table B-2, based on the industrial census of 1843, lists the sixteen most common industries. The most numerous--carpentry, shoemaking, food processing, tailoring, and textile manufacturing--account for 34 percent of the total. The sixteen largest categories account for only half of the total number of industries on the entire census.

A few textile factories were modern by the standards of the early Industrial Revolution. Five of the thirteen workshops listed as factories by the Junta de Fomento de Industria in 1843 used equipment powered by steam, animals, or water. Jan Bazant, historian of Mexico's early textile industry, estimated each factory employed an average of 200 workers for a total of 1,000 workers.8 Other industries were large scale and heavily capitalized but did not use modern machinery. A bakery might be capitalized at $8,000 to $15,000 and employ fifty operatives.84 The Estanco (government-operated tobacco factory) employed from 400 to 2,000 men and women. Scores of tailoring, shoemaking, and textile workshops employed too many workers for their owners to recognize by name.86








21



Thousands of talleres piblicos (small workshops) accomplished the bulk of the capital's industrial production. According to a survey conducted in 1844, seventyfive carpentry shops employed an average of two officials and one apprentice. Twenty-three employed no one, and fifty-one did not employ apprentices. Thirty workshops listed on the industrial census of 1849 employed an average 89
of three journeymen.

Capital invested in plant and equipment was generally small by the standards of nineteenth-century industrialized Europe. Table B-4 gives the $48 inventory of a carpentry shop confiscated for debt in 1851. The thirty shops on the industrial census of 1849 show an average capital expenditure of $49, but the largest ones had substantial investments over $1,000.90 Only 30 percent of two thousand industrial enterprises on the census of 1843 were valuable enough to be assessed a direct tax.

The economy of the city was in an advanced state of decay and would remain so for a half-century. General depression afflicted a nation wasted by wars of independence (1810-1821) and by the severance of traditional economic ties. In 1844 statesman and essayist Mariano Otero explained the plight of the once prosperous colony. Mining, the former source of wealth and the most promising export industry, languished due to the wars of independence, a shortage of mercury, and the frequent paralysis of trade








22




caused by revolutions. Sufficient foreign capital could not be obtained to revive it because foreign investors feared Mexico's political instability and because wealthy Mexicans wasted potential capital on imported luxuries or invested in speculative government securities. Without the stimulus of the mining industry, the nation seemed trapped in a vicious cycle. Mexico was largely agricultural but its agriculture produced only simple crops for a local market. Agriculture needed increased demand from the cities in order to expand. This hinged on the growth of urban population which could not increase without industrial development which was impossible without the capital generated by the mining industry. Consequently, backward urban industries produced crude products for a local market, and processed foods and many 92
agricultural raw materials were imported from abroad.

The economic depression quickly followed independence. In 1823 the capital's merchants complained to the ayuntamiento:



Nobody can hide from the fact that it [commerce] is but a shade of what it was in the past. Many of the stores selling Asian and European goods, and even those selling the
principal agricultural products of the country, have closed entirely or have been converted into tailor shops, caf6s, pastry
shops, or butcher shops. What large stores
remain of the many whose existence merchants considered to be an indispensable condition of commerce? Where is the enormous capital
that they once generated? With the exception of a small amount that stands out be-







23




cause it is so rare, most capital is
already pledged to pay outstanding debts.
A great amount of capital has left Mexico
with its Spanish owners .
In a word, the commerce of Mexico City is not the same as it formerly was due to the shortage of specie, resulting from the failure of the mines,
the sequestration of the pious funds, and
the inability of the treasury to pay the millions that it owes to the bureaucracy,
foreign creditors, and the army. And
when the debts are paid in copper coins or paper scrip that foreigners will not accept in payment for imported merchandise, the mercantile sector is paralyzed.93



The evils evident in 1823 intensified over time. Political instability harmed the capital's economy in the long run and the short run. Every revolution temporarily halted commerce and industry even when street fighting did not occur. If an army cut the government's link to the port of Vera Cruz, whose customs duties were the principal source of revenue, the government failed to meet its obligations, and commercial credit disappeared.94 Measures to restore the economy after a revolution often proved counterproductive. To revive the commerce harmed by the Revolution of September 1841, General Santa Anna suspended the payment of all debts contracted between August 31 and October 7. Until payment resumed one month later, commercial credit disappeared and the economy halted.95

The Semanario Artistico, weekly newspaper of the

Junta de Fomento de Artesanos, presented this editorial on the effects of revolutionary crises on artisanal industries:








24



Artisans especially are subject to personal
crises that threaten not only their existence but those of their families. Civil
disorders produce the same results because, altering the public confidence, they paralyze when they do not dry up the sources of
work. The epidemics are less terrible and
less dangerous for the operative than the
great political crises because the epidemics increase the danger of life but do not paralyze work.96



Political instability fed on government bankruptcy

to depress further the contracted economy. Every revolution or war created a budgetary crisis as expenses rose and the customary source of revenue disappeared. The closing of the port of Vera Cruz during the Pastry War with France in 1838 cost the government $5 million. To cover expenses, it minted worthless copper money or took out loans at extraordinarily high rates of interest. From 1825 the deficit in the treasury became permanent. Table 3 shows the gap between government revenues and expenditures for the year 1844. To pay off its agiotistas (creditors), the government gave them control of the customs houses and further diminished its revenues.

The repayment of government bonds harmed the economy by withdrawing large amounts of funds from commerce and industry. Failure to repay the bond holders meant that commercial credit, largely in the hands of the agiotistas, disappeared. The Semanario Artistico noted that the government bankruptcy of 1844 produced "the paralysis of business, public







25



misery, and private necessity within a nation worthy of a better fate."1 o

Bankruptcy affected the bureaucracy through reduced salaries and threatened unemployment. As early as 1825, unpaid civil servants hectored the government for their salaries.101 By 1.831 the discounting of civil-service salaries was common1U2
place. At the beginning of Valentin G6mez Farias's vice-presidency (1833), retired military personnel, pensioners, and civil servants had not received their pay for six months.103 By 1834 most civil servants were on half-pay or receiving discounted salaries. To discount salaries and to default on payment was the rule throughout the decade of 1840.104

To pare expenses, the government laid off personnel. The first-known reduction in force occurred in 1828, and the practice persisted at least until 1850.105 Although one is inclined to believe that the dismissed employees were promptly rehired or replaced by others, the constant threat of dismissal made the economic standing of the civil servant
106
precarious.

The black humor of the era mocked the bureaucracy's

impoverishment. The first requirement for a minor civil servant was that "he must accept with a good will a salary as scarce as it was poorly paid."107 Another wag commented that



a devoted servant of the nation will have to take the bad with the good; after all, it's not impossible for a man to support
his family on five pesos a month.'08








26



Table C-I contrasts bureaucratic salaries with the average yearly earnings of the artisans listed on the industrial census of 1849. The average civil servant's salary of $1,080 is over seven times the wage earner's annual income of $156. The bureaucrats, along with some 200 lawyers and doctors, possessed the potential of a prosperous middle class whose demands for goods and services might have invigorated the otherwise contracted and depressed economy. The Semanario Artistico listed the impoverishment of the bureaucracy as one of several causes in the chronic industrial depression.109

The minting of worthless copper coinage damaged the economy. The coinage, first struck in 1824, circulated throughout the three decades of independence. Its issuance, circulation, and inevitable devaluation produced cycles of inflation followed by depression. The copper coin was officially valued at $.25 and intrinsically worth $.125. It was very easily counterfeited. In 1841 only one tenth of the daily operating cash of the Hospital de San Hip61lito was in 110
legal tender; the remainder was counterfeit. During the devaluation of 1841, only 7 of the 700 pesos collected at 111
the national mint were genuine. Counterfeiting caused the real value of the coinage to plunge to $.0625. The manipulation of speculators who purchased huge quantities of the copper money in hope of an advantageous later redemption caused the value of the currency to gyrate wildly.12

The circulation of a currency "enormous in quantity,








27



mostly counterfeit, and having a purely imaginary value" caused "fatal fluctuations in mercantile transactions and contracts." When the value of the worthless coinage fell drastically, storekeepers refused to be paid in it. Instead, the small merchant, especially the owners of the small grocery stores patronized by the poor, issued currency carved from soap, wood, or other materials. A desperate government would pass legislation requiring that the public pay at least one tenth to one quarter of all business transactions in
114
copper money.

Devaluation was the last resort. The devaluations of 1837 and 1841 only aggravated the plight of the economy. At the very rumor of devaluation, stores--particularly bakeries, butcher shops, and groceries--would close to avoid the accumulation of the worthless coins. The government passed laws forbidding closure and required that food and other articles of primary necessity be sold at low prices. The suppliers of food, who lived outside the jurisdiction of the ayuntamiento, frustrated the laws by refusing to sell their products to the shopkeepers for anything but silver. Months before a devaluation date, shops remained open with 115
nothing on their shelves.

The law required the merchants to turn in their

stocks of copper money to the government on the promise that they would be repaid in new currency within six months. This procedure deprived merchants of operating capital, profits,








28




TABLE 1
ANNUAL INCOME OF COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1848


Enterprise Income in Pesosa


Warehouses

6 1,200
10 970
1.2 720 33 500 30 240

Imported-clothing
stores
10 400
4 300
1.3 200 13 100 11 50

Grocery stores
3 800 7 600 6 500
20 400 45 200
43 100 21 50


SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2021, exp. 68. alone peso was equivalent to US$1.







29




TABLE 2
BRANCHES OF THE JUNTA DE FOMENTO DE ARTESANOS



Carpentry Silversmithing Blacksmithing Watchmaking Weaving Purse making Tailoring Lithography Shoemaking Brass working Carriage making Pottery making Tinsmithing Sculpturing Painting Architecture (construction) Barrel making Button making Leather working Piano making Embroidery Goldsmithing Copper working Gunsmithery Tanning


SOURCE: "Fomento de las artes," Semanario Artistico, 9 agosto 1844, p. 3.






TABLE 3
MEXICAN BUDGET, 1844



Income $25,905,348 Budgeted expenses 25,336,430 Foreign and domestic debt 10,000,000 Additional revenue required 9,431,082


SOURCE: Agustin Cue Canovas, Historia social y econ6mica de Mdxico (1521-1854)(Mexico, D.F., 1963), p. 368.








30



TABLE 4
OCCUPATIONAL-CATEGORY/MEAN-RENT CORRELATION


Occupation Mean Rent % Population


Upper $24 26 Artisana 5 42 Unskilled 3 23 Unknown -- 9
Total number of cases 1,009


SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.

NOTE: "$" signifies pesos unless otherwise indicated. Because Mexican currency is divided into eighths and because the computer calculates by decimals, the mean rents contain a small negative error.

aForeign artisans included.






TABLE 5
COMPARISON OF THE MEAN RENTS OF OCCUPATIONAL
CATEGORIES IN THE TRAZA AND BARRIOS


Class Traza Barrios


Upper $27 $16 Artisan 9 2 Unskilled 4 2

Total number of cases 1,009


SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.






31



TABLE 6
OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES OF NATIVES OF MEXICO CITY,
INTERNAL MIGRANTS, AND FOREIGNERS


% % Internal % Mexico City D.F. States Foreigners


Upper 24 20 22 63 Artisans 46 27 43 23 Unskilled 23 42 31 6 Unknown 7 11 4 8
Total cases 1,339


SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.





TABLE 7
OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES BY SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHICAL ORIGIN


% Total % % Area
Population Upper Artisan Unskilled


D.F. 2 20 27 42 Guanajuato 2 35 35 24 Hidalgo 3 30 23 43 Jalisco 1 33 33 33 M~xico
5 12 39 37
(state)
Michoacin 2 14 55 27 Puebla 3 27 50 12 Queritaro 2 17 55 17 San Luis
1 25 33 42 PotosT
Vera Cruz 1 13 60 7 Oaxaca, Colima
Chiapas, Nuevo 1 41 24 24
Leon
Unidentified 4 23 23 39
Total cases 352


SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3049, 3413.








32




TABLE 8
URBAN ORIGINS OF IMMIGRANTS


State % Migrants City %


D.F. 4 Guanajuato 8 Guanajuato 5 Acambaro 1 Hidalgo 12 Pachuca 2 Real del Monte 1 Tulancingo 2 Apam 1 Jalisco 3 Guadalajara 3 Mgxico 24 Toluca 9 Texcoco 5 Zumpango 2 Michoacan 6 Morelia 3 Zamora 1 Sitacuaro 1 Puebla 11 Puebla 9 Queritaro 8 Queritaro 6 Celaya 1 San Luis PotosT 3 San Luis Potost 3 Vera Cruz 5 Jalapa 2 Vera Cruz 1 Orizaba 1 Total cases 357


SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.







33




TABLE 9
COMPARISON OF MEAN RENT BY ORIGIN AND OCCUPATION


Origin Upper Artisan Unskilled


Mexico City $22 $ 3 $ 3 D.F. 8 3 1 States 18 3 3 Foreign 34 45 14 Unidentified 10 Mean for each
24 5 3 category
Mean rent for
Mexico City $10
Total cases 1,009


SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.






TABLE 10
MEAN RENT BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN BY OCCUPATION


Origin Upper Artisan Unskilled


D.F. 7 3 2 Guanajuato 30 3 3 Hidalgo 11 3 4 Jalisco 18 4 1 Mexico (state) 30 2 2 Michoacn 14 3 3 Puebla 19 2 2 Querdtaro 15 4 2 San Luis Potosi 22 1 1 Vera Cruz 34 11 2 Other 7 4 2
Total cases 352


SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.







34




and personal income for an entire year. During the devaluation of 1841, many merchants chose to go out of business rather than place their money in the hands of a government 116
whose promises they considered worthless.

Devaluation did not check the use of copper money.
117
The coinage of 1837 was replaced by one equally overvalued. Soon the counterfeiters were at work insuring that the new money was as worthless as the old.118 As late as 1853 copper money was in circulation, wreaking havoc upon the commerce
119
of the city.

Foreign manufactures, both those permitted by special license and those smuggled, crippled Mexico City's economy. From 1824 to 1828 Mexico experimented with a policy of unrestricted free trade whose net effect was to depress native 120
industry, particularly textile manufacturing. The results of free trade, according to its critics, were the near extinction of the tanning, textile, glassmaking, and hat making industries. After 1828 a restrictive tariff policy permitting the entrance of goods that native artisans did not manufacture, but forbidding the importation of goods that competed with 121
native manufactures, lasted for twenty years.

Governments in straitened circumstances granted special permits to import prohibited goods in hope of receiving extra revenues. These excursions from'protectionism hurt the economy of the capital. In 1841 the government of General Mariano Arista granted a permit to import cotton thread in







35




expectation of receiving $170,000 of extra customs revenues. Upon notification of the proposed importation, the nation's textile manufacturers printed a petition warning that the 122
measure would force the closure of the native-owned mills. The ayuntamiento sprang to the defense of this important sector of the local economy by printing a petition stating that the measure would "deprive the miserable classes that unfortunately abound in our country of any hope or belief." 123

The illegal introduction of contraband did serious damage to the economy of the city. Although the inability of the government to enforce protectionism was evident from the inception of the policy, smuggling reached blatant proportions by 1.840. In 1_841 the ayuntamiento estimated that the amount of contraband thread entering the country would 124
surpass the 8 million pounds of legally imported thread. Factories near the coast became illegal way stations where smuggled textiles were marked with the national stamp. In 1844 the government ordered the closure of coastal factories 125
and the public burning of seized contraband. After 1847 Mexican protectionism became a dead letter as the North American administrators of the ports of Matzatlin, Tampico, and Vera Cruz ignored the laws and allowed a flood of contra126
band to enter the country.

Contraband easily found its way. into Mexico City.

In 1841, 1842, and 1843, Siglo Diez y Nueve and Semanario Artistico launched campaigns to denounce and seize the contra-








36



band in the capital. 127 The injury suffered by the artisanal industries was stated in a petition which 6,124 artisans sent to the ayuntamiento in 1851. Because of contraband, the artisans complained, many workshops closed and others hovered close to bankruptcy.


Our children and our wives lack bread, and
the government cannot separate our necessity from any other social need. Bread is bought
with money; money is earned by work, and
there is no work due to the indiscrete and
illegal introduction of foreign merchandise.



The direct competition of foreigners also damaged the Mexican-owned sector of the economy. Article 6 of the Constitution of 1824 permitted foreigners willing to convert to Catholicism the same civil rights and legal protection granted to Mexican citizens. 29 The flow of foreigners into the capital was substantial. In 1844 over 420 foreign arti130
sans entered Mexico through the port of Vera Cruz. Although destinations were unlisted, a substantial number settled in Mexico City. Charles Latrobe, a North American tourist, reported in 1833 that "many foreign artisans have of late settled in Mexico City."131 The census of 1843 counted 1,230 foreigners, or 10 percent of the total counted
132
population. In the census of 1849 they numbered 6 percent of the population. Twenty-two percent of the foreigners counted in 1849 were artisans.







37




The foreigners possessed a reputation for technical excellence and reliability. Their popularity with the upper and middle classes had two effects on the capital's economy. Foreign-operated industries pushed aside those operated by Mexicans, and foreign artisans replaced Mexicans in an economy of severely constricted opportunities. In 1845 a master blacksmith lamented his inability to employ more journeymen because "the art of blacksmithing is much reduced in this capital." He could sell "only balcony rails and insignificant remnants," and customers preferred to patronize "the foreigners for these trifles." 133 The effect on native journeymen is stated with simple eloquence by Jos6 Hern~ndez, a twenty-one-year-old shoemaker arrested for vagrancy in 1835.



Why have you dragged from my aged mother
the comfort of her old age? For better or
worse by my craft of shoemaker, working here or there, I support her existence.
You will ask me in what workshop do I
work, and I respond that in the workshops of distinction I have not worked because
most of them are foreign. And these, when
they hire Mexican journeymen, want those that have a decent exterior, and fate has
not permitted to me the appearance to work in them; so that all that is left to me is
to work among the rinconeras [those that
lack a public workshop], and that, Sir, is
my situation.134



Ill-feeling caused by direct competition with the foreigners resident in the capital led to efforts to ban








38



them from commerce and industry. In 1830 native merchants complained to the ayuntamiento that "foreigners entered the city every day unnoticed by the government and the police" and that "it was notorious that the streets of the city were sown with foreign shops." The foreigners, they alleged, did not fulfill the obligations of Mexican citizenship and left
135
the city as soon as their fortunes were made. The ayuntamiento concluded after a full legal examination of the issues that it was powerless to take any action. In 1843, however, public outcry was so great that the government of General Santa Anna temporarily and regretfully banned the aliens
136
from commerce.





People



Estimates of the capital's population ranged between 150,000 and 160,000 in 1824 and between 176,000 and 200,000 137
in the 1840s and 1850s. All estimates lacked an accurate 138
census upon which to base calculations. The upper and middle classes were a heterogeneous assortment of independently wealthy, prosperous merchants, financiers, industrialists, professionals, and civil servants. This group will be referred to in the future as the upper classes. They numbered 26 percent of the sample population of 1849.139 Because the bias of the census favored them, their percentage within the actual population must have been lower.








39



An enormous mass of laboring poor were readily identifiable to the wealthy who described them as "miserable people," "unhappy people," "the needy class," and other phrases descriptive of poverty. In 1841 Siglo Diez y Nueve defined them as the poor artisans and wage laborers "who in the best of times earned scarcely enough to eat and half dress" and who now were reduced to beggary. 140 This is a splendid working definition and it is only necessary to amplify journalistic brevity. The laboring poor were journeymen artisans, unskilled laborers, street peddlers, and domestic servants, and their families, earning a subsistence income or less. In 1841 their numbers were estimated to be 160,000, or 80 percent of a total population of 200,000.141

Occasionally, cultivated Mexicans used the archaic term plebe to designate the poor. Plebe literally denoted all those engaged in retail commerce, manual labor, and
142
menial occupations. Prosperous retail merchants had not been considered members of the plebe since the sixteenth cen143
tury. By the eighteenth century the word denoted two groups, the artisans and the plebe infime. Artisans were skilled craftsmen whose importance to colonial society was acknowledged by their incorporation into legally recognized and self-regulating gremios (craft guilds).144 Forty-two 145
percent of the sample population were artisans. The plebe infime, literally meaning the lowest portion of the plebe, were a polyglot mass of unskilled workers, street








40




peddlers, domestic servants, and artisans who labored in low-prestige crafts. Twenty-nine percent of the sample 146
population fell into this category. The vulgar name for this class was the populacho. A Spanish administrator of the late colonial period estimated the plebe of his era to 147
amount to 80 percent of the entire population.

The populacho was the same "poor and idle class of 148
half-caste Mexicans" that foreigners called 16peros. Although their definitional criteria varied, foreign estimates of the percentage of 1.peros in the population approximated that of the traditional populacho. Henry Ward, the first British ambassador to Mexico, reported that "twenty thousand naked 16peros" existed in the capital prior to independence and the consequent importation of cheap British
149
textiles. Joel Poinsett, his North American rival, estimated the same number to lack fixed residences or a means of support in 1824.150 A quarter-century later a French consul using unspecified criteria estimated that 25 percent of the 151
population were 16peros.

The division of Mexico City's society into an upper class and a plebe reflects a valid occupational hierarchy supported by economic status. Table 4 compares the size and mean monthly rent of each occupational group. The mean rent of the upper classes was five times that of the artisans and six times that of the populacho. The rent paid by artisans was 40 percent higher than that of the unskilled. Because







41



of its validity, the hierarchy will be used whenever occupational characteristics are discussed.

Although plebe and its component terms are valuable

as a system of occupational classification, their use obscures rather than clarifies Mexican social reality. Artisans did consider themselves members of a single group united by a skilled craft, but great differences in wealth and interest separated the master artisan who owned his shop from the journeyman whom he hired. In the eighteenth century, the masters waged a long, bitter, and losing struggle to prevent 152
employees from starting their own small businesses. The differences dividing the two groups were apparent. References to artesanos in the official correspondence of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries did not signify
153
master artisans. The final abolition of the grerio in 1824, the vehicle through which the master exercized his legal monopoly on trade, temporarily muted the conflict between master and journeyman. Republican references to artesanos denoted both masters and journeymen. Important differences, however, persisted. There existed an unbridgeable gap between the world of Lucas Balderas, owner of a fashionable tailor shop specializing in military uniforms--the permanent inspector of the capital's civic militia and former regidor of the ayuntamiento--and the world of Luis, Ortega, journeyman tailor who received materials from a public workshop to complete at 154
home and who frequently worked as a waiter to make ends meet.








42



There was a greater gap between Balderas and the lowly rinconera (street-corner artisan) who squatted outside the casa de vecindad (apartment house), enticing customers with
155
parodies of French fashions. Because of high economic and social status, master artisans cannot be included within the Republic's plebe.

A.more serious objection to the use of plebe involves the criminal or vagrant connotations of the terms plebe Infime and populacho. An article appearing in the Museo Mexicano, a cultural publication of the period, described the traits associated with these elements. The males, who performed occupations requiring "brute instinct" rather than skill, earned scarcely enough to support their necessities which happened to be drinking and smoking. When unemployed, which was frequently, they apathetically dozed in the shade or borrowed anything worth pawning. An audacious one would become a pickpocket, expert at lifting scarves or watches during church services or public spectacles. When caught he was usually released to commit greater crimes. As for the women, they could be seen in the streets scrounging for discarded fruits, cigarette or cigar
156
butts, and drinking mezcal in the doors of wine shops. The upper classes considered "the most profligate artisan"
157
to be superior to any member of that degraded class.

Foreign descriptions of the 16peros are very similar to Mexican descriptions of the populacho. Gabriel Ferry wrote of his. 1pero acquaintances:






43




Porter, stonemason, teamster, street paver, peddler--the 16pero is everything at different times. Although he is often a thief, he is subjected to thievery. If he earns in
the morning enough money to live for a day, he stops working immediately.
He has no capacity to save money. Unemployed, he idly awaits a new turn of
fortune.158



Ferry also said:



He fulfills alternatively all types of
trades. But he is a born thief and
steals by instinct. His life results in a long series of altercations with
justice that covers him with misfortune.159



In 1862 the pen of Guillermo Prieto, the period's

most famous memoirist, immortalized the 1pero as the mestizo

cultural hero who made "love, fighting, and pulque the stuff

of his life." Shunning armed robbery as crude, the 16pero

displayed native guile by fleecing his victims through in160
geniously contrived frauds. Prieto's memories had mellowed

perhaps; his contemporaries considered the 16pero a social

menace. They believed l6pero idleness to be at the root of

the crime that plagued the capital. Brantz Mayer, a North

American diplomat, described the relationship of the 16pero's

life style to crime with a flair for colorful detail.








44




There on the canals around the markets
and pulque shops, these miserable
outcasts hang all day long, feeding on fragments, quarreling, drinking, stealing, and lying drunk about the pavements
with their children crying with hunger
around them. At night they slink off
to these suburbs and coil themselves up
on 'the damp floors of their lairs to
sleep off the effects of liquor and to
awake to another day of misery and crime.
Is it wonderful in a city with an immense
proportion of its inhabitants of such a class (hopeless in the present and the
future) that there are murderers and
robbers?161



The quantitative data point out that the unskilled and menial workers did not merit their unsavory reputation. Seventy-one percent of all suspected vagrants were artisans; the most heavily represented were masons, shoemakers, tailors, and weavers. Twenty-nine percent of all suspects were unskilled workers; peddlers, servants, street porters, and coachmen were the most heavily represented. The Tribunal de Vagos showed little prejudice against the unskilled, convicting 17 percent of their total number and 16 percent of the artisans. The Tribunal tended to convict large numbers of tailors, weavers, street porters, and bakers.162

In Cuartel Menor 17, 73 percent of all male criminal suspects were artisans and 27 percent were unskilled. Masons, weavers, tailors, and carpenters were the most heavily represented craftsmen; street porters and wax chandlers were the most numerous unskilled workers. Seventy percent of the







45



convicted criminals were artisans; and the remainder, unskilled workers. The court convicted disproportionately large numbers
163
of masons, weavers, shoemakers, and carpenters.

Mexican and foreign reports leave no doubt as to the existence of a criminal and vagrant populacho. If the men

arraigned before the Tribunal de Vagos and the Juzgado de Primera Instancia were representative lIperos or members of the populacho, the composition and nature of the class require redefinition. Not a permanent group of menial workers distinguishable from artisans by lack of skill, disinclination to work, and dishonesty, the populacho was a representative crosssection of the poor driven to vagrancy and crime by unemployment and underemployment. Membership fluctuated with the fortunes of the economy; because of continual economic depression, its size was always large.

A problem of contrasting social perception arises. In 1876 Niceto Zamacois, a Mexican historian, objected to the common use of the appellation of 16pero to designate the lowest portion of the Mexican plebe. Zamacois explained that


in Mexico the word 16pero is not applied
to anybody because he belongs to the
lowest class of the plebe; he can belong
to that and not merit the qualification as long as he occupies himself in some
honest work. Ldpero signifies truly an individual of low moral sphere who does not work at all, whose manner of living
is unknown, and in whom all the vices
concur. Thus it is that among the most
humble people of society, the word is
applied only to he who commits a very indecorous act.164








46



The historian's opinion is supported by the absence of l6pero from the recorded testimonies of thousands of suspected vagrants and criminals consulted during the course of research. It appears on an official document in 1843 when a harried junior official complains that "one cannot remain indifferent to the disorders that the 16pero commits."16 In private publications before 1843, 14pero and populacho appear only during the course of political polemic. Both terms are found more frequently after 1845 when economic, political, and military collapse aroused fears of social anarchy among the upper classes.

The rare use of 1pero supports the view of Robert Wilson, a visitor from the United States, that 14pero was an extremely derogatory slur to designate the poor during the colonial period. The word disappeared from the vocabulary after the 1828 Revolution of the Acordada when lowerclass rioters made their presence felt in.republican politics. Foreigners learned of the word by reading the account of Giovanni Francesco Gemeli (1651-1725), a Neapolitan visitor to New Spain who originated the term, or by hearing it used in private conversations with wealthy friends. The word, however, experienced the same unpopularity that nigger experienced in modern North American society.

Foreigners and the upper classes perceived a degraded class of criminals and vagrants whom they believed to be unskilled or menial laborers. The holders of such occupations







47



never thought of themselves in such terms. In the streets, the lowest peddler called himself maestro (mas167
ter). The meanest adolescent mandadero (errand boy) hauled before the Tribunal de Vagos would protest to the magistrates that he possessed an oficio (skilled craft). No pe6n del albahil (unskilled construction laborer) would ever admit to being less than an oficial del albahil (journeyman in construction). The waiter employed at the fashionable Caf6 de la Bella Uni6n or the driver of the municipal trash wagon considered himself to be as socially distant from the unskilled construction laborer or the street paver as the wealthiest financier from his
168
most junior clerk. In the depressed economy of Mexico City, any occupation, no matter how menial, gave its holder a certain degree of status.

Marked patterns of residential segregation separated the plebe from his superior. The wealthy occupied the drier, more-convenient central locations of Mexico City while the poor resided on the wetter fringes. The area enclosed by a circle of five-hundred-yard radius, with its center at the middle of the central plaza, enclosed 17 percent of the population. Within that circle, the upper classes numbered 35 percent of the population; artisans, 32 percent; and the unskilled, 25 percent. The mean rent of the area was $23 compared to the mean municipal rent








48



of $1.0. Beyond the circle lived 83 percent of the population. Twenty-five percent of it were in the upper-class category; 41 percent were artisans, and 23 percent were unskilled. The mean rent of this area was $8. The industrial census of 1843 manifests wealthy businesses clustered in the central area. The interior circle contained 32 percent of the city's industries; the government assessed taxes on 55 percent. The outer ring contained 68 percent of the industries; the govern169
ment assessed taxes on only 21 percent however.

The archaic separation of the Spanish Traza from the Indian barrio left an indelible mark upon the social distribution of the population. The boundaries of the Traza delineated two cities. One was "worthy of being counted among the most beautiful in the New World."170 The other city of the barrios was a city "of mud, of clogged, stinking sewers, of

unlit streets" in which "human misery was revealed to the most cynical publicity."

The census of 1849 demonstrates the extent the Traza

differed from the barrios. The population of the random sample was evenly divided between the two areas, but because of the bias of the census, the population of the barrios exceeded that of the Traza. The Traza's occupational composition was 37 percent upper, 33 percent artisanal, and 22 percent unskilled. That of the barrios was 15 percent upper, 50 percent artisanal, and 22 percent unskilled.172 Economic division

between Traza and barrio was evident within the occupational







49



divisions themselves. Table 5 compares the differences in mean rents paid by members of the occupational categories residing in the two areas.

Twenty-four percent of the Traza's residents lived in private homes, 20 percent in apartments, 19 percent in accesorias (outbuildings), and 32 percent in single rooms. In the barrios, 11 percent lived in private homes, 9 percent lived in apartments, 10 percent in accesorias, 62 percent in single rooms, and 6 percent in shacks. The mean rent of the Traza habitations was $16; that of the barrios was $4. The Traza included 81 percent of the houses employing servants and 83 173
percent of the capital's foreign residents.

The poor of Mexico City were readily identifiable
174
as mestizos. Lucas Alamin, the Mexican statesman and historian, explained the relationship of race to social position when he wrote of the colonial castes.



From them also came the trusted servants of the country and in the city. Having
much facility and much comprehension,
they exercized all the crafts and the mechanical arts, and, in sum, one could say
that from them came the labor that was employed in every task.175



Legal racial discrimination existed in the colonial period. In the last two decades of that era, however, it had become such an embarrassing anachronism that legal witnesses could be purchased, and officials were extremely perfunctory








50



176
in entering racial antecedents on legal documents. During the early decades of independence, the legal abolition of all references to race--scrupulously observed in legal documents, newspapers, and all but the sociological literature--demonstrated the popular revulsion to the colonial heritage of racial discrimination. Centuries of oppression had left its scar upon the mestizo population. Alamin summarized the condition on the eve of the wars of independence:



Lacking all instruction, they [the castes]
were subject to great defects and vices,
but with awakened spirits and vigorous bodies, they were susceptible to every
thing evil and every thing good.177



Foreigners--mostly Spanish, French, and British-amounted to 6 percent of the sample population. Prosperity and superior training segregated the 22 percent who were master and journeyman artisans from the majority of native artisans. Internal migrants were an impressive 27 percent of the sample Mexican population. Most of them were the laboring poor. Table 6 contrasts the occupational composition of migrants to that of natives of the capital. Sixty-nine percent of the natives belonged to the two lowest occupational categories. Sixty-nine percent of all migrants from the Distrito Federal and 74 percent of those from the states of the Republic belonged to the lower occupational categories.








51



Table 7 depicts occupations of migrants from the individual states and the Distrito Federal. Large percentages of artisans came from Puebla, Queritaro, Mexico, Michoacin, and Vera Cruz. Large percentages of unskilled came from Hidalgo, M6xico, and San Luis Potosf. Although the percentages of migrants in the two lower occupational categories approximate those of the native Mexicans, migrants were disproportionately represented among weavers, domestic servants, herders, street porters, water carriers, and charcoal vendors.

Table 8 gives the urban origins of the migrants.

Seventy percent came from the states bordering the Distrito Federal and Guanajuato, Queritaro, and Michoac5n: urbanized and economically developed areas. The majority came from the large cities of the states. Only 4 percent were natives of the rural villages in the Distrito Federal.

Depression in home states drove migrants to the capital in search of work. Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Michoacin, and Quer6taro were devastated during the wars of independence (18101821) and were then afflicted with the depression associated with the collapse of the mining industry. Puebla, Queritaro, and to a certain extent M6xico suffered from the depression of the textile industry, produced by the Republic's early experiment with free trade (1821-1828) and by the flood of contraband that followed later prohibitory tariff policies. The Semanario Artistico explained the false lure of the capital:








52




Mexico [City] appears as the center of all
artisanal activities, attracting many operatives that come from distant places where
they have left their workshops believing
that they will find here abundant work.
Nevertheless, the depressed state, in which
unfortunately one sees our manufacturing
industry, has not been able to provide occupations to everybody, and the privations and the quickening of hunger produces the inclination to steal. In former times it was
very rare to find an artisan among thieves.179



Francisco L6pez Cimara, a social historian, and Tercuato di Tella, a sociologist, projecting into the past the difficulties experienced by modern internal migrants in finding work, have assumed that nineteenth-century internal migrants were the 180
primary component of the 16pero population.

Some migrants were suspected of being less respectable than well-intentioned seekers of work. Mexico City, according to a report of the ayuntamiento, was the "concourse of vagrants"
181
from all over the Republic. The Ministro de Relaciones Interiores (internal ministry) feared that the city was a sanctuary for men on the run who disappeared "amidst the numerous population and confusion of persons." These men "without craft or any honest occupation" were "a material ever disposed towards tumults and disorders." 182

Vagrants and notorious criminals certainly must have existed among the migrant population, but the quantitative evidence indicates that the migrants were no more prone to crime than natives of Mexico City. Thirty-eight percent of






53



the suspected vagrants were migrants, and 49 percent, natives of Mexico City. The Tribunal de Vagos did not discriminate against the migrants. Natives of Mexico City were 52 percent of the convicted vagrants while migrants were 40 percent.

Migrants were not overly represented among the criminals. Fifty-five percent of the criminal suspects were natives of Mexico City and the remainder were migrants. The percentages of natives and migrants among the criminal suspects are about the same as those of the sample blocks within Cuartel Menor 17. Fifty-eight percent of all convicted criminals were natives and 42 percent were migrants.

The dire consequences of migration described by the Semanario Artistico and supported by the conclusions of L6pez Camara and Di Tella may never have occurred. Table 9 compares the mean rents of migrants with those of natives. Except for unskilled workers from the Distrito Federal, migrants and native Mexicans in the two lowest occupational categories paid almost identical mean rents. Table 10 breaks down the mean rents of the migrants by their specific origins. Those from Vera Cruz, Quer6taro, and Guanajuato paid higher rents, while those from the Distrito Federal, Mixico, Puebla, and San Luis PotosT paid lower rents.

The migrants settled throughout the city. The random. sample does not show any statistically significant concentration of migrants on any one block or area of the city. There is evidence, however, from the barrios of San Salvador el








54



Seco and Necatitlin that they did not mix socially with the natives. The barrios' migrant population amounted to 37 and 26 percent of their respective general populations. Only 15 and 13 percent respectively of the barrios' married migrants were married to native Mexicans. The conclusion that the low percentages of migrant-native marriages indicate a lack of social integration must be tempered; large numbers of migrants undoubtedly arrived in Mexico City already married.

The laboring poor were largely sedentary. Mexico

City lacked a "floating population" of seasonal laborers from the countryside of the type that swelled the ranks of the 183
Parisian poor during the eighteenth century. Unless driven into the capital by famine or press gangs, the Indians of the surrounding rural villages preferred to stay home rather than experience an alien and unfriendly culture.184 It is unknown whether these refugees became permanent residents or returned as soon as conditions at home improved. Even the vagrants were sedentary. Ten percent of all suspected vagrants and 18 percent of all convicted vagrants admitted to frequent absences from Mexico City or prolonged residences during adulthood in other cities. However, 50 percent of the suspects and 47 percent of the convicted had lived in Mexico City for at least ten years.

The labor histories of vagrancy suspects show a

small but significant number of journeymen migrating from and to the city whenever economic conditions merited. A








55



traditional traffic ran between the capital and neighboring Puebla, sixty miles distant. In the late colonial period indebted journeymen escaped their masters by fleeing to Puebla "to hide amid the many corners of that populous city. "185 Puebla's popularity persisted among republic artisans. Agustin Baldivera, a potter, was born in Mexico City, served his apprenticeship in Puebla, and returned to his place of birth where he found employment at a public workshop owned and 186
staffed by former poblanos (natives of Puebla). Jesus Divila, a seventeen-year-old stone carver, traveled regularly between Mexico City, Puebla, and "various other places" in search of work.

Others traveled farther afield. Guillermo Canales, a carriage maker, went to Zacatecas where he worked as a coachman. He then moved to Guadalajara where he tried his 188
hand at glass blowing. 88 hen Mariano Bucolo saw his trade of sweet making decline after 1826, he and his wife journeyed to Durango where he found employment as a cabinet maker, and she, as a cook. Like the others, they eventually re189
turned to Mexico City.

The willingness of native artisans to travel in search of work, together with the presence of a large body of migrants within Mexico City, reflects a homogeneity of urban culture that softened the disruptive effects of migration. The urban laboring poor possessed some knowledge of economic conditions outside the confines of their cities and perhaps a national rather than a regional identity.








56




Catastrophes would force people to flee or relocate within the city. References in the proceedings of the Tribunal de Vagos lead me to suspect that the cholera epidemic of 1833 caused mass flight. The occupation of Mexico City by the United States Army caused massive dislocation of the population. After the withdrawal, municipal administration could hardly function because of the general depopulation 190
and the redistribution of the survivors within the city.

The miserable people were not highly regarded by the upper classes. The "low" people were said to have vicious habits, live in idleness, and lack social respect. Their religion was an aggregate of superstitions that degraded true faith. They were commonly differentiated from the upper classes by the explanation that they acted according to the instincts of brutish animals rather than the rationality
191
of men. Mariano Otero summarized the base regard for the urban lower classes:



Their common origin [with the Indians],
the contact that they have through forming the same class, and the stagnation of the mechanical arts and industry has resulted in conserving within them the
same ignorance and brutishness as the
Indians; their mansion in the cities
has served for no other purpose than to infect them with the vices of the upper
classes whom they mimic. The vices, developed by the savage character of the
population, degrade them doubly because
of their barbarous stupidity.192







57



The unmerited notoriety of the unskilled and menial workers has been noted. The upper classes also showed little regard for the artisans who were supposed to be the elite of the miserable people. In the late colonial period, Viceroy Revillagigedo (1789-1794) criticized the journeymen for "their general lack of education, their consequent imprudence, and the one thousand defects that abound in them."193 Jose Fernindez de Lizardi's El periquillo sarniento, a social comedy of the last decade of colonial rule, humorously portrayed the apprenticing of a European boy to a craft as an 194
unthinkable social disgrace. Mariano Otero related that successful artisans would not allow their sons to enter crafts, preferring to obtain employment for them in the civil service 195
or to educate them for a life of leisure. Although Otero's observations could describe occupational prejudices in the United States, he was examining a social prejudice noticeable to his contemporaries. After observing Mexico City's artisans, Robert Wilson concluded that they were degraded and lacked the social respect their counterparts in the United
196
States received.

The era's progressives condemned the traditional disrespect for manual labor; however, they criticized the journeyman's antiquated inefficiency. Their thinking is reflected in an editorial appearing in Siglo Diez y Nueve. The editors regretted that although disrespect for the artisan was not as great as it once was, it still existed and criticized those








58




wrong-thinkers who snubbed all Mexican manufactures in favor of imported merchandise. Nevertheless, it criticized the journeymen for their lack of punctuality, requests for advances in wages, slothfulness, and an addiction to pulque and gambling. The editors did not wonder that masters pre197
ferred to employ foreigners.

The artisans' poverty created its own reasons for

prejudice. Josg MarTa Lafragua, a republican statesman, criticized the urban lower classes for their vices and their inability to defend Mexico.



Our people are divided into two classes-the mixed race and the Indian. The first is vice ridden and, above all, is in general that class from which the artisans
come, who can only serve in the national
guard for the defense of a city.198



Lafragua did not wonder at the inability of the artisans to defend the capital against the North Americans but rather at the refusal of the Indian populace to rise to the patriotic defense of the Republic. The belief that poverty prevented the performance of civic duties was reflected in the writings of the liberal philosopher Josg Luis Maria Mora and the conservative electoral restrictions that banned those earning 199
less than $200 per year from voting.

The low opinion of the wealthy for the miserable people does not mean that social attitudes had not changed







59




in the transition from colonial to republic society. The contrasting attitudes of a colonial police official and the Museo Mexicano's anonymous author reflect the change. In 1783 the police official wrote of the problem of alcoholism. The vinateria (wine shop), he wrote, catered to judges, clerks, and the better sort of artisan and should be strictly regulated because the corruption of these useful subjects harmed society. The pulqueria (pulque shop), a notorious spawning ground of riots and political disorders, catered to the plebe infime and the poorest artisans. Some overzealous reformers suggested that the pulquerias be closed down or strictly regulated, but the official disagreed. The pulgueria, he wrote, could not possibly corrupt the plebe infime because that class was degraded by birth. The official applied the same reasoning to the notorious nudity of the lowest class. How, he asked, could nudity be shameful or degrading to people who had known no other way of life?200

The contributor to the Museo Mexicano wrote of the same people and the same vices. He confessed that a "great sorrow" overwhelmed him when he wrote of the populacho whom he characterized as "a miserable class without education, morality, and among whom the spirit of work is absolutely unknown." He finished his essay on an optimistic note.



Cannot one think that some day education
will erradicate these customs and make
of these useless and in some cases harmful men useful citizens who will contribute with their work to the prosperity of
the Republic?201








60




Notes





Brantz Mayer, Mexico As It Was and As It Is (New York, 1844), pp. 37, 64.

Guillermo Prieto, Memorias de mis tiempos (Mdxico, D.F., 1948), p. 249.

Manuel Rivera Cambas, M6xico pintoresco, 3 tomos (Mixico, D.F., 1882), tomo 1, p. xxxv.
4
"Cantidad de aguas de lluvias que cay6 en M6xico en el quinquenio de 1841 a 1845 ," Boletin de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografla y Estadistica, 1861, p. 300.
Victoriano Salado Alvarez, De Santa Anna a la Reforma, memorias de un veterano (Mixico, D.F., 1902), p. 3.
6Edward B. Tylor, Anahuac, or Mexico and the Mexicans, Ancient and Modern (London, 1861), p. 65.
7
Donald B. Cooper, Epidemic Disease in Mexico City, 1716-1813, Latin American Monographs, no. 3 (Austin, Texas, 1965).
8
Fanny Calder6n de la Barca, Life in Mexico, ed.
Howard T. Fisher and Marian Hall Fisher (Garden City, New York, 1970), p. 49.
9
George F. Ruxton, Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains (New York, 1848).
10
Salado Alvarez, pp. 135-36.
11
Mapa de la Ciudad de Mdxico (Mfxico, D.F., 1824).
2Rivera Cambas, tomo 1, pp. 9-10, 30. Antonio Garcia Cubas, El libro de mis recuerdos (Mxico, D.F., 1945), pp. 200, 234.
13
Mapa de la Ciudad.
14
"Barrios de la Ciudad," Boletin Municipal, 17 marzo 1903, p. 1.
R15ivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 44.
16
Mexico City, Archivo del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de Mexico (hereinafter cited as AACM), tomo 3689, exp. 13.
17
Mapa de la Ciudad.
18
Edward Tayloe Thornton, Mexico, 1825-1828 (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1.959), p. 64.
19
Manuel Carrera Stampa, "Planos de la Ciudad de Mcxico," Boletin de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geograffa y Estadistica, tomo 67 (junio 1949), p. 228.








61



2o
Jos6 Maria MarroquT, La Ciudad de M&xico, 3 tomos .(2da ed., Mexico, D.F., 1969), tomo 1, p. 107.
21
Directorio de la Ciudad de Mxico (M6xico, D.F., 1857).
22
Marroqui, tomo 1, p. 107. Juan Rodriguez de San Miguel, Manual de providencias econ6micas-politicas para uso de los habitantes del Distrito Federal (M6xico, D.F., 1834), pp. 102-106.
23
Carrera Stampa, l1mina 1, p. 321.
24
Marroquf, tomo 1, pp. 101-102.
25
Charles Gibson, The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule (Stanford, California, 1965), p. 398.
26
Ibid., pp. 370, 398. The major barrios with their Aztec and Christian names respectively are: Cuepopam, Santa Marfa; Atzacualco, San Sebastian; Teopin, San Pablo; and Moyotlin, San Juan.
27
Carrera Stampa, p. 319.
28
AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43. Gibson, p. 398.
29
James R. Scobie, "Buenos Aires as a Commercial-Bureaucratic City, 1880-1910: Characteristics of a City's Orientation," American Historical Review, October 1972, pp. 1035-73. AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43. "Barrios," p. 1. Marroquf, tomo 3, p. 544.
30
AACM, tomos 2939-55, 4151-56. Mexico City, Archivo de las Notarias (hereinafter cited as AN), leg. 430.
31
AACM, tomo 229,"Actas de 7 septiembre 1829."
32
Thornton, p. 51.
33
AACM, tomo 873, exp. 15.
34
Calder6n de la Barca, pp. 367-69.
35
Garcia Cubas, pp. 359-65. Waddy Thompson, Recollections of Mexico (New York, 1846), p. 102.
36Garcfa Cubas, pp. 170-71.
37
AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 14.
38
AACM, tomo 165,"Actas de 30 noviembre 1844."
39
"Tentativas revolucionarias," Universal, 3 diciembre 1849.
40
Carrera Stampa, pp. 309-10. 'Mexico City, Palacio Nacional, Archivo General de la Naci6n (hereinafter cited as AGN), leg. 83,"Padrones de establecimientos industriales
(1843), Manzana 46."








62



41
Guillermo Prieto, Memorias de mis tiempos (Mexico, D.F., 1964), p. 34.
42
Charles Joseph Latrobe, The Rambler in Mexico (London, 1836), pp. 146-47.
43
Documentos oficiales relatives a 2a construcci6n y demolici6n del Paridn (MExico, D.F., 1843).
44
Carrera Stampa, p. 305.
45
Garcfa Cubas, p. 169.
46
AACM, tomo 2279, p. 350.
47
Calder6n de la Barca, pp. 300-301. Ayuntamiento de MExico, Memoria de 1845 (M6xico, D.F., 1845), p. 204. During the Revolution of 1840, President Bustamante occupied the Ciudadela while G6mez Farfas occupied the Palacio Nacional.
48
Don Jose Ram6n Malo, Diario de sucesos notables (1832-1864), ed. P. Mariano Cuevas S. J., 2 tomos (M6xico, D.F., 1948), tomo 1, p. 60.
AACM, tomo 154,"Actas de 15 junio 1833."
50
Prieto (1964), pp. 155, 156.
51
Ayuntamiento de M6xico, p. 78.
52
Manuel Orozco y Berra, Memoria para el plano de la Ciudad de M4xico (Mexico, D.F., 1867), p. 3.
53
Prieto (1964), pp. 305-306.
54
AACM, Actas secretas, Actas de 1828, 1836, 1841.
55
Miguel S. Macedo, Mi barrio, segunda mitad del siglo XIX (MExico, D.F., 1930), p. 15.
Tylor, pp. 169-70. This and the last observation of the paragraph are the conclusions drawn after reading thousands of vagrancy and criminal cases.
57
Ayuntamiento de Mexico, p. 78.
M58arroqui, tomo 2, p. 318.
59
Malo, tomo 2, p. 380.
60
Carrera Stampa, p. 318.
61
Manuel Flores and Ram6n Gamboa, Voto particular leido ante el Exmo. Ayuntamiento sobre la destrucci6n del Paridn (Mixico, D.F., 1829), p. 1.
62
See Table A-i.
63
Directorio, p. 8.
64
Carrera Stampa, p. 318. The association of Candelaria de los Patos with the sale of.poultry still survives.








63



The symbol for the Candelaria station on the Mexico City subway system is a duck. Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 194.
65
"Barrios," p. 1. Ruxton, p. 55.
66
Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, pp. 94, 144, 176, 241.
67
Carrera Stampa, p. 305.
68
Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 97. Prieto (1964), p. 375.
69
Luis de Bellemar [Gabriel Ferry], Escenas de la vida mejicana, trad. Lic. Garcda de Real (Barcelona, n.d.), pp. 10-15.
70Garcia Cubas, p. 269.

71Thornton, p. 59.
72
Calder6n de la Barca, p. 166.
73
Tylor, p. 247.
74
Calder6n de la Barca, p. 175.
75
Prieto (1964), p. 90.
7Calder6n de la Barca, pp. 175, 177. Edward Tayloe Thornton, a Southern aristocrat, was moved to feelings of disgust by the sight of the social inequality he observed on the paseos of Mexico City.
77
Mariano Galvan Rivera, Guia de forasteros, 1842 (Mexico, D.F., 1842).
78
Juan Nepucemo Almonte, Guia de forasteros (Mgxico, D.F., 1852).
79
Mariano Galvan Rivera, Gula de forasteros, 1832 (M6xico, D.F., 1832). AACM, tomo 2020, exp. 43.
80
Jan Bazant, Alienation of Church Wealth in Mexico, trans. Michael P. Costeloe (Cambridge, 1971), pp. 90, 91.
81
AACM, tomo 4160, exp. 60.
82
Joel Robert Poinsett, Notas sobre M6xico, trad. Pablo Martinez del Campo (Mixico, D.F., 1950), pp. 155-58.
83
Jan Bazant, "La industria textil en el siglo diez y nueve," en Colecci6n de documentos para la historia de comercio exterior del Mdxico. El comercio exterior y el artesano mexicano (Mixico, D.F., 1965), p. 33.
84
AACM, tomo 3409,'Padr6n de 1849."
85
Thornton, p. 59. Poinsett, p. 158.
86
AACM, tomo 4152, exps. 73, 79.
87Agustin Cue Canovas, Historia social y econ6mica de M&xico, 1521-1824 (Mixico, D.F., 1963), p. 281. Secre-








64




tarfa de Estado y Despacho de Relaciones Interiores y Ex-teriores, Memoria de 1844 (M6xico, D.F.., 1847).
88
AACM, tomo 2279, p. 238.
89
See Table B-3.
90
AACM, tomo 2889. See Table B-5.
91
AGN, legs. 83, 84.
92
Mariano Otero, Obras, 2 tomos (Mixico, D.F., 1967), tomo 1, pp. 25-29.
93
AACM, tomo 3274, exp. 95.
94
Tylor, p. 114. AACM, tomo 2279, Bando de 6 septiembre 1843. Bazant, Alienation, pp. 90, 91.
95
Diario Oficial, 11 agosto 1844.
"El robo," Semanario Artistico, 11 junio 1844, p. 1.
97
Cue Canovas, pp. 285-96.
98
Marcelo Bitar Letayf, "La vida econ6mica de Mixico de 1824 a 1867 y sus proyecciones" (tesis, Licenciado en economfa, Universidad Nacional Aut6noma de'Mxico, 1964), pp. 237-38.
99
Cue Canovas, p. 289.
100
"Petici6n," Semanario Artistico, 24 febrero 1844.
101
Cue Canovas, p. 39.
102
Manuel Diblan and Josg Maria Lozano, Legislaci6n mexicana 34 tomos (Mixico, D.F., 1892), tomo 2, ley 898.
103Jos6 Maria Bocanegra, Memorias para la historia de Mdxico independiente, 2 tomos (M~xico, D.F., 1892), tomo 2, p. 124.
104
Diario Oficial, 24 agosto 1844. Dublin and Lozano, tomo 5, leyes 3167, 3232.
105
Dblan and Lozano, tomo 3, leyes 2040, 1828.

Otero, tomo 2, p. 808.

107Garcia Cubas, p. 236.
108
Salado Alvarez, p. 264.
1 09
"Petici6n."
]10
AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 14.
111
Carlos Maria Bustamante, Apuntes para la historia
del gobierno de general Antonio L6pez de Santa Anna, 1841-1844
(M~xico, D.F., 1845), p. 9.








65




112
AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 14.
113
Diario Oficial, 23 agosto 1844, p. 1.

314
AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 12.
115
AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 14.
116
AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 14.
117
DGblan and Lozano, tomo 4, ley 2292.
118
Bustamante, p. 25.
119
AACM, tomo 3453, exp. 94.
120
Luis Chgvez Orozco, Documentos para la historia
econ6mica de M6xico, tomo 1, La industria de hilados y tejidos en M4xico (1829-1842) (Mexico, D.F., 1934-1936). Henry George Ward, Mexico in 1827, 2 vols. (London, 1828), vol. 1, p. 79. Daniel Cosio Villegas, La cuestidn arancelaria en Mdxico, tomo 3, Historia de la politica aduanal (Mexico, D.F., 1932), pp. 156, 157.
121
Chgvez Orozco, p. 127. Cosio Villegas, pp. 156, 157.
122
Exposici6n dirigida al congreso.de la naci6n por
los fabricantes y cultivadores de algoddn (Mdxico, D.F., 1841) p. 1.
123
Ayuntamiento de Mexico, Representaci6n de Ayuntamiento de esta Capital en defensa de la industria agricola y fabril de la Repdblica (Mexico, D.F., 1841), p. 1.
124
Ibid., p. 24.
125
Diario Oficial, 21 agosto 1844, p. 1; 23 agosto 1844, p. 1i.
126
Jose Marfa Lafragua, Miscelanea de political (Mxico, D.F., 1943), pp. 716-48.
127
Semanario Artistico, 1843, and Siglo Diez y Nueve, 1842.
128
Representaci6n dirigido al Congreso de la Uni6n por 6,124 artesanos pidiendo protecci6n para el trabajo de los nacionales (Mxico, D.F., 1851).
129
Ayuntamiento de Mexico, Dictamenes de los ciudadanos sindicos acerca de si los estrangeros pueden tener carniceras, panaderias, y otras comercios de esta clase (Mexico, D.F., 16 agosto 1830).
130
Diario Oficial, enero-diciembre 1844.
131
Latrobe, p. 111.
132
AACM, tomo 863, exp. 38.








66




133
AACM, tomo 4779, exp. 353.
134
AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 139. Hernindez's reference to a "decent exterior" is intriguing. Perhaps he is referring to a mestizo rather than a European appearance.
135
Ayuntamiento de MExico, Dictamenes.
136
AACM, tomo 522, exp. 8.
137
See Table D-1.
138
"Poblaci6n," pp. 48-50.
139
See Table E-l.
140
"Editorial,"' Siglo Diez y Nueve, 12 noviembre 1841, p. 3.
141
"Moneda de Cobre," 12 noviembre 1841, p. 3.

142
Real Academia Espaiola, Diccionario de la lengua espahola (Madrid, 1970).
143
Lyle N. McAlister, "Social Structure and Social Change in New Spain," Hispanic American Historical Review, August, 1963, p. 352.
144
Manuel Carrera Stampa, Los gremios mexicanos (Mxico, D.F., 1954).
145
See Table E-2.
146
.See Table E-3.
147
AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43.
148
Tylor, p. 251.
149
Ward, tome 1, p. 22.
]50
Poinsett, p. 95.
151
Francisco L6pez Camara, La estructura econ6mica y social de Mdxico en la 6poca de la Reforma (M6xico, D.F., 1967), p. 227.
152
Carrera Stampa, Los gremios.
153
AACM, tomo 383, exps. 18-21.
154
AACM, tomo 4779, exp. 354.
155
Antonio Garcia Cubas, El libro de mis recuerdos (M6xico, D.F., 1904), p. 241.
156
"Populacho de M6xico," Museo Mexicano, tomo 3 (1844), p. 450.
157
AACM, tome 3689, exp. 43.
158
Gabriel Ferry, Vagabond Life in Mexico (New York, 1856), p. 40.






67




159Bellemar, p. 8.

160Prieto (1964), pp. 206-209.
161
Mayer, p. 41.
162
See Tables F-i and F-2.

163See Tables F-3 and F-4.
164
Niceto Zamacois, Historia de M4jico, 13 tomos (Mjico, D.F., 1879), tomo 11, p. 287.
I65AACM, tomo 392, exp. 58.

166Robert A. Wilson, Mexico, Its Peasants and Its Priests (New York, 1856), p. 281.
167Garcia Cubas (1904), p. 238.

168,Populacho," p. 450.
169
See Tables G-1, G-2, and G-3.

170Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 146.
171
Prieto (1948), pp. 202-203.

172See Table H-1.
173See Tables H-2 and H-3.
174
Thompson, p. 188.
175Lucas Alam5n, Historia de Mxico, 5 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1942), tomo 1, p. 33.
176McAlister, p. 358.

177Alamin, tomo 1, p. 33.

178Ward, tomo 1, pp. 27-28; tomo 2, p. 38. Alejandra Moreno Toscano, "Cambios en los patrones de urbanizaci6n en Mixico," Sobretiro de Historia Mexicana, tomo 22, no. 2, pp. 164-74.

179"El robo," p. 1.
18L6pez Cmara, p. 277. Torcuato di Tella, "The

Dangerous Classes in Early Nineteenth-Century Mexico," Journal of Latin American Studies, May 1973, p. 95.
181
AACM, tomo 4158, exp. 334.
182
Secretaria de Estado y Despacho de Relaciones Interiores y Exteriores, p. 13.
183Jeffry Kaplow, The Names of Kings (New York, 1972), p. 30.
]84
Tylor, pp. 60-61.

185AACM, tomo 383, exp. 18.








68




186
AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 30.
187
AACM, tomo 4157, exp. 302.
188
AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 161.
189
AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 159.
190
AACM, tomo 872, exp. 17.
191
"Pueblo bajo," Eco de Comercio, 14 marzo 1848, p. 1. Di Tella, p. 1.
192
Mariano Otero, Ensayo sobre el verdadero estado de la cuesti6n social y politica (Guadalajara, 1952), p. 51.
193
AACM, tomo 3831, exp. 18.
194
Jose Fernandez de Lizardi, El periquillo sarniento,
2 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1949), tomo 1, pp. 71-76.
195
Otero, Ensayo, p. 110.
196
Wilson, pp. 281-86.
"97"Nuestros artesanos," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 3 diciem-bre 1848, p. 3.
198
Lafragua, p. 57.
199
Jose Maria Luis Mora, M6xico y sus revoluciones,
3 tomos (Mgxico, D.F., 1950), tomo 1, p. 284.
200
AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43.
20
"Populacho," p. 450.
















CHAPTER TWO


LABOR AND WAGES






For a long time I have not worked at my
craft of blanket weaving because I can
earn more by selling matches in the
streets.
--Mariano Tirado, 1845





Labor



Mexico City's poor labored under unique circumstances created by severe economic depression, the demise of the colonial guild system, and the birth of modern industrial organization. This chapter will examine their "modes" of labor, working conditions, and wages. Artisans, masters, journeymen, and apprentices constituted 38 percent of the sample population and over 65 percent of the lower occupational
1
categories. Seventy percent of them were shoemakers, tailors,
2
carpenters, masons, bakers, weavers, painters, and printers. They were not the most prosperous craftsmen. Table 11 ranks the mean rent listed on the census of 1849. Only the rents of the tailors and carpenters were among the ten highest. The





69








70



rents of shoemakers, weavers, and masons ranked seventeen, nineteen, and twenty-four respectively. Shoemaking was the most common occupation within a largely barefoot population.

The completion of an apprenticeship was the prerequisite to becoming a journeyman, the highest position to which a poor boy could aspire. Severing the youth from home ties for a prolonged period of time, apprenticeship was a dramatic rite of passage to adulthood. It also created lifelong friendships. "I have known him since we were apprentices together" was the usual way that artisans expressed a deep and favorable knowledge of an individual's character before
3
the city's magistrates. An apprentice who served his master well could expect references and family connections when seeking his first post or, more rarely, a loan to start his own business.

Apprenticeship began at any age. Wealthier artisans gave their children a prolonged formal education, apprentic4
ing them between the ages of fifteen and seventeen. Poorer families, unable to feed or cloth their children or seeking to augment their incomes, apprenticed them at quite early ages. Records of the Tribunal de Vagos show apprenticeship starting at the age of eight.6 Older men entered into apprenticeship whenever their original crafts became depressed.7

An apprenticeship was a legal contract, verbal or written, stipulating the craft to be taught, the conditions under which it was to be taught, duration, and fee. A good








71



apprenticeship, one contracted with a prosperous artisan of recognized skill, involved the payment of a large fee and was
9
written. Apprenticeships to craftsmen of recognized skill were not limited exclusively to the children of the prosperous. Some wealthy craftsmen, acting out of charitable impulses, took on poor boys without fees, providing that the parents continued to shelter, feed, and clothe them.To

Poorer families made verbal contracts. These were no less binding than those written if acknowledged by both parties during litigation. A few examples of the verbal agreements sworn before the Tribunal de Vagos when it apprenticed delinquent youths are vague and indicate the conditions under which a poor boy entered apprenticeship.



He took formal delivery of the accused, Jos9 Romauldo, to teach him a craft and
care for his conduct, and bring him usefully into society.'1

He contracted to receive the expressed
Estanislao under the obligation to teach
him the craft of carpentry and instruct
him in the principles of good morals and
Christian education that correspond to
his condition.12

Hle receives under his responsibility and
with the qualification that he shall work by his side and fulfill all the duties of
a respectable man [hombre de bien] to
Josi Lerroa who he will have in his house and at his side, trying to direct him in
the bosom of honor.13



Not all verbal contracts were vague. One case in the pro-








72



ceedings of the Tribunal specified a fee and stipulated that 14
the boy be taught to read and write.

The examples illustrate the paternal nature of the master's relationship with his apprentice. Once the oath was sworn, the master became legally responsible for the conduct of the boy. Most apprentices lived in their master's workshop or house. A significant minority of poor apprentices resided with their parents. The minimal wages earned by an apprentice went to his parents.15 After the contract was made it could be broken by either party for any infraction. The most common were incompetence, misbehavior, or laziness on the part of the apprentice and mistreatment or neglect on the part of the master.

In the colonial period, guild regulations specified long apprenticeship. After 1821 the parties concerned mutually agreed to the duration of training. The time it took to learn any trade was a matter of common knowledge and stipulated by the contract. If the apprentice demonstrated aptitude, he was promoted to "half-journeyman," which involved 18
more responsibility and more pay. The era's progressives viewed the elimination of guild regulations that could keep a mature man an apprentice for as many as seven years as an escape from an artificially prolonged infancy. Boys apprenticed at the age of eight might remain apprentices for seven or eight years.20 All men with traceable labor histories who appeared before the Tribunal were journeymen before the age of twenty.







73



The image of republican apprenticeship projected by Manuel Payno in his Los banditos de Rio Frio is one of malnourishment, maltreatment, and malpayment. The stereotype is repeated by Manuel Carrera Stampa in Los gremios mexicanos, 21
but is not justified. Glaring physical abuse is not cited in the records of the Tribunal de Vagos or criminal courts where examples of such treatment might be expected. Masters beat and even clubbed recalcitrant apprentices, but this was not worse punishment than irate fathers meted out to dis22
obedient sons.

Apprentices suffered other forms of abuse. The contract of Encarnaci6n Carranza specified a daily wage of one real and a flat rate of five reals weekly for any overtime. After a month of overtime work, Carranza's master refused to pay the additional wages. Hoping to rid himself of the complaining apprentice, he falsely accused the boy of disobedience and turned him over to the Tribunal. After a full hearing, the Tribunal adjudged the master guilty of perjury, ordered him to pay all back wages, and jailed him. Although this is the only recorded case of nonpayment, the skepticism with which the Tribunal greeted the master's accusations 23
suggests that the abuse was common.

Poor apprentices suffered from neglect. The very poor, unwilling or unable to feed and dress an adolescent, apprenticed the child to an inept "master of the streets" for a worthless three or four years during which the boy








74



learned little.24 More substantial masters might also be incompetent teachers. A contributor to the Semanario Artistico complained that the abolition of examinations for the masterships, a result of the disestablishment of the gremios, had created a class of masters who possessed sufficient capital to start a business but insufficient knowledge of their crafts. They "were not embarrassed" to take on paying apprentices who learned only the ineptitude of their masters and the bad habits of loosely disciplined journeymen.25

The abandonment of apprentices was common. When

business was slow, frequent in the capital, masters left young apprentices to shift for themselves until the return of better times. It was difficult to find new masters. Quinino Escobar, a thirteen-year-old carpenter, spent four months seeking one after he was abandoned in January 1851. He was reduced to selling candy and filching parcels from the market place. The abandoned apprentice was further disadvantaged if his parents had left town or no longer recognized legal responsibility for him. One fifteen-year-old mason, laid off work in 1835, discovered that his father had moved to Zinacantepec during his apprenticeship. By day the boy supported himself assisting arrieros. By night he slept in the doorways of houses. An orphaned thirteen-year-old purse maker normally worked and slept in his uncle's shop. Whenever business was slow the uncle turned the boy out into the streets. Homeless, he joined a teen-age street gang that spent its time annoying the residents of the barrio of Santa Marla la Redonda.26








75



Republican apprenticeship sometimes occurred with little concern for the wishes or talents of the youths. Many delinquent apprentices brought before the Tribunal de Vagos were searching restlessly for a vocation compatible 27
with their interests. Jos6 Lucas Granada's case shows the familiar adolescent rebellion against parental authority, combined with a search for a suitable vocation. His father attempted to teach him the family trade of sweet making but the boy balked. The father then apprenticed his son as a carpenter. Disliking carpentry, the boy ran off and became a shoemaker's apprentice. Tiring of the cobblers' trade, the boy returned to his angry parents who denounced him to the authorities.

If a boy found himself suited to the trade to which

he was apprenticed, youthful mischief frequently landed him in trouble. The employer of twelve-year-old Remagio Jiminez complained that the child always wanted to play.28 Rafael Gutierrez, a fifteen-year-old tailor's apprentice, left work without permission to visit a hat shop with his friend.29 Good-natured or negligent masters tolerated these impromptu holidays. The mother of a fifteen-year-old leather worker turned her son in to the Tribunal de Vagos for missing two weeks of work. The boy's master, however, excused him, saying that the boy was a good worker and that lengthy, unannounced absences were not unusual among apprentices. The Tribunal considered the master a poor disciplinarian and reapprenticed the boy.30







76



Republican apprenticeship was a poor system of vocational training. The few apprenticeships listed on the enumeration of carpentry shops and on the industrial census of 1849 lead to the suspicion that this solitary system of vocational education had very few openings. Mexican technology was notoriously backwards, a fact readily conceded by its 31
most sympathetic defenders. A poor lad apprenticed to an average master learned to produce mediocre goods that wealthy Mexicans shunned. Poor boys apprenticed at the age of seven, eight, and nine were illiterate, ignorant of simple arithmetic, and unprepared to absorb available technical information. The ayuntamiento worked to establish a free primary education for poor children in literacy, arithmetic, and industrial drawing.32

Having completed his apprenticeship, the youth became a journeyman and went in search of employment. Journeymen who found full-time employment in the capital's small workshops were fortunate. Based upon Siglo Diez y Nueve's estimate of 40,000 male wage earners for the city, the percentages of the sample survey indicate that 28,000 were arti33
sans. If the average workshop employed five officials, the estimate of the economic historian Francisco L6pez Cimara, only 10,000 could be employed in the capital's 2,000 workshops.34 The workshops listed on the industrial census of 1849 employed an average of three artisans. This suggests that only 6,000 artisans found employment at the workshops.








77




This number is almost identical to that of the artisans who signed a mass petition in 1851 requesting the suppression of contraband. Although the above estimates are admittedly crude, the conclusion is inescapable that the public workshops employed significantly less than half of the city's
36
artisans..

Most journeymen set up their own small workshops, became rinconeras, or took in work provided by merchants or the public workshops. Those who set up shop were often highly skilled craftsmen who developed an appreciative clientele. Brantz Mayer, a North American diplomat, visited the workshop of a wax sculptor whose work was admired throughout the city. He watched in amazement as the sculptor, squatting over a portable furnace in his cramped, one-room workshop, fashioned an exquisite statue from soft wax.37 Other artisans possessed excellent neighborhood reputations. Vicente Soria, a seventyyear-old carpenter, furnished the homes of his neighbors with "curious and delicate" works.38 These independents maintained a haphazard, easy-going system of production that attracted the attention of Robert Wilson. They did not work for orders. Members of their families hawked their products on the streets as soon as they were produced. If sales were brisk, the 39
family took a week-long fiesta. Although Wilson thought the irregularity peculiarly Mexican, it was common to independent artisans throughout the Western world.40








78



The lowest class of independent journeyman was the wretched rinconera who squatted outside the casas de vecindad, trying to gain the patronage of minor civil servants
41
and store clerks. Guillermo Prieto, the nineteenth-century politician and essayist, wrote earthy descriptions of them. Walking through the streets of the city, one could observe



some shoemaker, shirtless, a large rosary crossing under his chest, a thick thatch of hair hanging across his forehead, his
tripod stool, his filthy workbench covered
by his tools or the trash of his crude work, his pleading dog, and his jar of
pulque by his side. ... [or] the weaver
of straw chairs, sitting on the ground with a chisel, supported by the big toe of his foot, forming those chairs whose grandeur we had admired in the "Cafg of
the South." 42



Most journeymen labored in their homes. Large workshops provided some with materials to be fashioned into a finished product and returned by a specified date. Retail merchants placed orders with other journeymen, lent money for the purchase of materials, and purchased the finished product.43 The interest charged and profits earned in the latter transaction are not known. The commercial interest rate varied from 12 to 24 percent per month.

Pilferage of materials must have been common. The phrase "he can be trusted with his materials" was a common form of character reference. Mexican artisans were notorious







79



44
for failing to deliver goods on time. The requirement that a verbal contract be acknowledged by both parties to have legal validity favored the tardy journeyman. I found no breach-of-contract case among thousands of criminal cases.

Many artisans worked at two or more systems of pro'duction. Pablo Martinez, a tailor, took in work from a master and made clothes for his own customers.45 A shoemaker took in materials provided by one public workshop and worked in another.46 The variations were common and necessary for survival in the permanently depressed economy.

Marxist historians have exaggerated the role of the public workshop in Mexico's labor history by applying their theory superficially to extremely sparse data. A typical Marxist treatment is that of Roberto de la Cerda Silva, author of El movimiento obrero en Mexico. According to de la Cerda Silva, the artisans were victims of an embryonic capitalist system that developed slowly after the abolition of the gremios. Deprived of the gremios' protection, government fiat forced people to enter factories in which they performed exhausting and dangerous labor for starvation
47
wages. Other Marxists write of the legalization of usury, the proliferation of indebted labor, and the increase of the notorious obrajes (large textile workshops).48 To illustrate their case, they are fond of describing the obraje in Queritaro that Alexander von Humboldt visited in 1792. In this "dark prison" whose double doors were constantly locked,







80



mestizos, Indians, and criminals worked with unsafe machinery and in unsanitary surroundings. Floggings were frequent, and married men saw their families only on Sundays.49

The Marxists overidealized the colonial guild system. Manuel Carrera Stampa's opinion of the late-colonial gremio cannot be overstated. Far from being an institution devoted to the benefit of all artisans, the late-colonial gremio stifled economic and personal freedom to enforce an inefficient and unpopular monopoly. Apprenticeships were expensive and discouragingly long. High fees and irrelevant, demanding examinations thwarted journeymen who wished to become masters. The more desperate overcame these obstacles by running away and establishing their own shops or working for wealthy nonguild masters of large illegal workshops.50 Regatoneras (renegade journeymen) were common in the shoemaking, blacksmithing, carriage making, glove making, hat making, leather working, and painting crafts.51 They sold at lower prices and operated at more convenient hours than did the guildsmen. Their competition particularly hurt the master shoemakers who complained that it forced them to reduce prices "without regard for the time and money that they had spent to pass their examinations."52

To combat illegal competition, the guildsmen resorted to two expedients. Special courts sentenced arrested regatoneras to labor in public workshops. Dress regulations compelled the captive journeymen to borrow money from their








81



masters for the purchase of clothing. The master then extracted repayment from wages, theoretically leaving the journeyman enough money to support himself and his family. Justified as a measure to end the "indecent and shameless nudity" of the poor artisans, the actual purpose was to indebt the worker to his master.

The efforts of the guild to restrict competition

failed long before the independence period. Artisans forced to borrow money ran away to prosperous Puebla where work was readily .obtained on the street corners or from masters who asked no questions concerning the newcomer's past. Those who remained in the workshops drove their masters bankrupt by stealing tools and materials or by the production of shoddy goods.53 Consumer opinion supported the renegades. Guild shoemakers protested that the poor preferred the cheap shoes of the regatoneras to their allegedly more durable but more expensive product. In other crafts illegal industry also produced a clearly superior product. Compared to the coaches manufactured and operated illegally, the guild 54
coaches looked as "old and shabby" as their mules. Because of their product's popularity, independents produced and operated most of the city's coaches.

Government policy, influenced by physiocratic philosophy that shunned monopolies, tacitly sided with the regatoneras. Many independents obtained immunity from gremio prosecution by enrolling in the city militia and claiming fuero








82



militar (military privilege) that exempted them from civil jurisdiction.55 Guildsmen whispered that the influence of the owners of the large, heavily capitalized carriage-making shops reached to the Viceroy's palace. The civil courts made a shambles of the intent of the clothing codes by granting journeymen indebted to their masters legal permission to change jobs.56 The unwillingness of the government to cooperate with the gremios demonstrates that decades before independence it viewed the gremios as archaic, antisocial embarrassments.

The Marxists distort the republican industrial sys-tem. Only a few of Mexico City's larger industries were capitalistic, organized and operated in a manner approaching the rationality of modern industry. Work at the most modern textile mills was probably organized like that of the Durango mill which employed 200 operatives in 1844. The factory ran two, twelve-hour shifts, one beginning at 6:00 a.m. and the other at 12:00 p.m. The workers took lunch breaks at 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. according to their shifts. The organization of work in the large bakeries was also highly rationalized. A minimum of twelve men worked in shifts of six around the clock to provide the city with fresh bread. 58 Most bakery workers listed on the census of 1849 referred to themselves as "operatives" rather than journeymen; they considered themselves to be hired hands rather than artisans.59




Full Text
APPENDIX I
AGE AT DEATH, 1842, 1844, 1850


225
The principal reason given for informal liaisons was
the expense of a formal marriage, but others were also in
volved. Marriage in Catholic Mexico was for life. Accord
ing to one judge, requests for divorces appeared quite fre
quently, but the process was lengthy and unpleasant. While
a canonical court investigated the complaint, honest women
had to be incarcerated. Since convents refused to shelter
them, they suffered the degradation of residence in the
13 4
Acordada. Many liaisons between the young were in the
character of trial marriages to avoid the pitfalls of divorce.
One pregnant seventeen-year-old broke up with her lover when
she discovered that he was stingy with the household money.
Another lived with her mate for a year before discovering
his "evil habits." Not wishing to marry him, she requested
13 5
the courts make a settlement of their common property.
The high percentage of extended families indicates
their importance to the poor. Poor men supported destitute
relatives whenever it was possible. Judging from the fre
quency of fights between relatives over money, the extended
family was the primary source of small loans. Because, of
the bonds of an extended family, private life within a nu
clear family could not exist. Appollonio Calleja's brothers-
in-law, for example, beat him frequently for mistreating his
wife.
The extended family was of fundamental importance
in dealing with other portions of society. It protected its


62
41 ^
Guillermo Prieto, Memorias de mis tiempos (Mexico,
D.F., 1964), p. 34.
42
"Charles Joseph Latrobe, The Rambler in Mexico (Lon
don, 1836), pp. 146-47.
43
Documentos oficiales relativos a la construccin
y demolicin del Parn (Mexico, D.F., 1843).
44
Carrera Stampa, p. 305.
45
Garca Cubas.
169.
4 6
AACM, tomo 2279, p. 350.
4 7-
Calderon de la Barca, pp. 300-301. Ayuntamiento
de Mexico, Memoria de 1845 (Mexico, D.F., 1845), p. 204.
During the Revolution of 1840, President Bustamante occupied
the Ciudadela while Gomez Farias occupied the Palacio Nacional.
4 8 _
Don Jos Ramon Malo, Diario de sucesos notables
(1832-1864), ed. P. Mariano Cuevas S. J., 2 tomos (Mxico,
D.F., 1948), tomo 1, p. 60.
4^AACM, tomo 154,"Actas de 15 junio 1833."
5Prieto (1964), pp. 155, 156.
51 Ayuntamiento de Mxico, p. 78.
5 2
Manuel Orozco y Berra, Memoria para el plano de la
Ciudad de Mxico (Mxico, D.F., 1867), p. 3.
53Prieto (1964), pp. 305-306.
AACM, Actas secretas, Actas de 1828, 1836, 1841.
5 5
Miguel S. Macedo, Mi barrio, segunda mitad del
siglo XIX (Mxico, D.F., 1930), p. 15.
56Tylor, pp. 169-70. This and the last observation
of the paragraph are the conclusions drawn after reading
thousands of vagrancy and criminal cases.
5 7
Ayuntamiento de Mexico, p. 78.
5 8
Marroqu, tomo 2, p. 318.
39Malo, tomo 2, p. 380.
60
Carrera Stampa, p. 318.
61 Manuel Flores and Ramon Gamboa, Voto particular
ledo ante el Exmo. Ayuntamiento sobre la destruccin del
Parin (Mxico, D.F., 1829), p. 1.
6"See Table A-l.
63 .
Directorio, p. 8.
6 4
Carrera Stampa, p. 318. The association of Cande
laria de los Patos with the sale of.poultry still survives.


298
Cuartel Menor 2, allegedly supported himself by levying
illegal fines, accepting bribes, and extorting money from
98
local merchants. Another auxiliar was accused of being in
9
league with common criminals to despoil his own neighborhood.
In 1832 a damaging series of articles appeared in the plebian
Toro which was highly critical of the unpaid officials. The
reporters specifically accused Ignacio Torres of arbitrarily
arresting the poor and receiving a share of the bribes
, . ,...100
resulting from subsequent litigation.
The other agencies of public authority did not
cooperate with the auxiliares or their aides. Like all
civilian inhabitants of Mexico City, they were forbidden to
carry firearms, even when on patrol. "How is it possible,"
asked the ayuntamiento, "that a patrol composed of a regidor
an auxiliar, and two or three ayudantes, and some other per
sons poorly armed with swords, can impose any respect on
evildoers that always carry firearms?" When auxiliares dared
to carry firearms to defend themselves, the courts punished
101
them with "barbaric rigor."
The auxiliares were forever complaining that the
] 0 2
courts failed to support them. It was frustrating, claimed
one, to arrest dangerous criminals only to have them released
the next day to jeer at the same patrol that arrested them
103
the night before. Their allegations were partly the
result of the classic conflict between those who must enforce
the law and those who must dispense justice and have a


Ill
sultan whose petulant enforcement of regulations, arbitrary
evictions, and unjustified complaints to the police oppressed
l 46
the lives of her vassals.
There were thousands of other ways that men and women
gained a living in the capital. Basureros scavenged the trash
heaps for anything that could be sold to wear or eat. Traperos
collected old rags and paper to sell to the paper factory. At
the factory, women found employment washing the rags to pre-
14 7
pare them for processing. In the Plaza de la Constitucin
scribes sat waiting to pen letters for illiterate clients. A
declaration of love cost one real; a scolding letter, one-half
l 4 8
real; and an upbraiding, two reals. Thousands of men
worked as unskilled wage laborers for the municipality or for
private construction projects. These men were frequently
underemployed or unemployed because of the depression of the
149
construction industry.
In contrast to the artisans, the unskilled wage la
borers demonstrated a consciousness based on clear economic
interest rather than occupational solidarity. In November
1841 the foremen, laborers, and other wage earners employed
by the city struck for payment in silver coins or double pay-
150
ment m copper. The tobacco workers possessed a history
of mutinies that dated from colonial times. In December 1841
the women workers of the tobacco factory on the Street of San
Lorenzo held a sit-down strike to demand payment in silver
currency. Soldiers called to the scene refused to enter the


274
a public menace when they were allowed to roam the streets
unguarded.^
A professional criminal class existed. Its elite
consisted of men of "fine education and a facade of decency"
3 2
who were in reality thieves and robbers. Gentlemen-turned
highway-robbers periodically augmented the ranks of the elite.
3 3
One part-time road agent was an aid of General Santa Anna.
In the barrios well-armed and mounted gangs led by leaders
bizarrely named "The Chicken," "Banana," "Bugler," or "Cream-
puff" terrorized the poorer residents. Headquartered at
sleazy pulqueras, they cavorted and met with local merchants
whose stores served as arsenals and warehouses of stolen
goods. The influence of the merchants protected the criminals.
The residents of Cuartel Mayor 8 refused to join a posse
hunting a well-known thief, claiming that their efforts
would be useless because the thief knew how to use his money
and had friendships with many merchants. Residents of the
same cuartel refused to join another posse because they did
not wish to make enemies of the thieves and expose themselves
3 4
to insult and murder.
There was also ample scope for the ingenuity of the
individual criminal. In the 1850s the city was afflicted
by the ensebados (greased ones): men naked and smeared with
grease who waylaid people on the streets, robbed them, and
murdered those who resisted. Others, mounted and hiding in
dark alley-ways, .lassoed likely looking passers-by, towed


297
their most time-consuming duty, deprived them of the time
9 3
to provide for themselves or their families. Upon
learning of an impending census, the auxiliar and his sub
ordinates usually threatened to resign. Only threats of
fines or imprisonment compelled them to fulfill their
9 4.
duties. Their resentment goes a long way to explain the
inaccuracies of the censuses. The "Ramo de Auxiliares" in
the Archivo del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de Mexico is
literally crammed with resignations for reasons of financial
hardship. Because of poverty many of the poorer wards lacked
i 95
the officials.
Those auxiliares who remained at their posts were
likely to be tyrannical. The conservative newspaper Sol
accused them of ruling in a "sultanic style" with "royal
caprice," of sending men to jail on the basis of gossip
or private grudge, and of illegally condemning poor men to
9 6
involuntary and unpaid servitude in local bakeries. The
auxiliares, continued Sol, had converted themselves from the
"fathers of the poor" into "stepfathers." A decree of the
governor general of the Distrito Federal confirmed the com
plaints. It praised the behavior of most auxiliares, admitting
that abuses of authority existed, and reminded them that
arrested men must be arraigned before a judge within eight
9 7
hours of arrest.
Because of their poverty, auxiliares often combined
corruption with tyranny. Pablo Reyes, while administering


3
and caused flash flooding. In the relatively well-drained
central plaza, water could rise to knee level.5 The second
variety was more serious. A series of heavy rainy seasons
would raise the water table until the southern and eastern
suburbs became shallow lakes passable only by canoes.6
Throughout the year, an uncomfortable dampness pervaded the
7
entire city.
Passing through the garitas, ugly squalor thrust
itself upon the eyes of the visitor. The distant impression
of lushness was overwhelmed by the gray, polluted marshes
8
that ringed the city and intruded into the suburbs. The
human element was appalling. In 1847 George Ruxton, an
English mining engineer, was struck by the
regularity of the streets, the chaste ar
chitecture of the buildings, the miserable
appearance of the population, the downcast
look of the men, the absence of ostentatious
display of wealth, and the prevalence of
filth which everywhere meets the eye.9
These impressions were not confined to finicky Englishmen.
In 1851 the capital's ugliness dampened the spirits of a
young jalisqueho (native of Jalisco).
In a little while we entered twisting
alleys with wretched hovels inhabited by
filthy old women, grimy children, and
drunken lperos. The coach made its way
through mountains of trash thrown care
lessly in the sides of the road and bor
dering the drains, scattering the dogs


240
buted, he added, every cleric would receive one thousand pesos
2 9
annually. This was a popular notion of Church wealth
discredited by the research of Michael Costeloe and Jan
Bazant. During the Napoleonic wars, bankrupt Spanish Bourbons
had sequestered many Church properties and endowments. Al
though the Church, particularly the convents, owned con
siderable real property in Mexico City (presented in Table 32),
physical deterioration, the extensive failure of tenants to
pay rent, and illiquidity within the depressed economy limited
its practical value. Much of it also was pledged as
3 0
collateral to back the bonds of bankrupt regimes. After
1833 the government abolished the mandatory tithes that
were an important source of clerical income. Facing a
diminishing income, the Church perceived itself as waging a
constant struggle to maintain the traditional standards for
proper worship.
The straitened circumstances of the Church affected
the poor. Its inability to expand or repair buildings contri
buted to the depression of the construction industry that
3 l
lasted from 1824 to 1857. The Church reluctantly engaged
in charitable activities. After 1824 the hospital of the
Franciscan Terciaries was the only one funded and supervised
3 2
by a religious order. During the 1833 cholera epidemic,
the ayuntamiento asked the nunneries and monasteries to con
tribute money for relief. Not one responded. Only the
monastery of La Merced established an emergency hospital at


I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly pre
sentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
sU.
ill
Lyjle N. McAlister, Chairman
Professor of History
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly pre
sentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
pr'A ^ -
Sugiyama 'lutaka
Associate Professor of Sociology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly pre
sentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
A '
Neill W. Macaulay Jr.
Associate Professor of History
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate
Faculty of the Department of History in the College of Arts
and Sciences and to the Graduate Council, and was accepted
as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
June 1975
Harry H. Sisler
Dean, Graduate School


270
coolly, another man followed him, drew
his knife, and stabbed him in the back.
The man fell backward with a groan,
upon which a woman of the party, probably
the murderer's wife, drew out her knife
and gave the wounded man three or four
stabs to the heart to finish him; the
others meanwhile neither speaking nor
interfering, but looking on with folded
arms and their usual placid smiles of
indifference.6
Every day murdered bodies produced by similar brawls lay
spread-eagle upon the Acordada's grate awaiting identifi
cation. The available statistics do not reflect the amount
of murder that actually occurred. In 1842, for example,
the courts condemned eighty-seven murderers. The police,
however, collected 113 dead bodies from the streets and
7
sent 894 seriously wounded individuals to the hospitals.
The wealthy fell victim to murderous thieves. On
the night of March 29, 1850, a servant discovered Juan de
Dios Caedos, a respected congressional deputy, brutally
stabbed to death in his room. Some whispered that a politi
cal vendetta inspired the crime. The murderer turned out to
8
be a former servant who had killed the old man for his watch.
Foreigners were frequent targets of deadly assaults. A
soldier slew an American Protestant shoemaker for failing
to genuflect as the Host,passed by. Later, lperos despoiled
his grave. Thieves murdered the Swiss consul, a wealthy
9
dealer in parchment, for the contents of his strongbox.
During the Revolution of .1841 a squad of soldiers robbed a


37
The foreigners possessed a reputation for technical
excellence and reliability. Their popularity with the upper
and middle classes had two effects on the capital's economy.
Foreign-operated industries pushed aside those operated by
Mexicans, and foreign artisans replaced Mexicans in an
economy of severely constricted opportunities. In 1845 a
master blacksmith lamented his inability to employ more jour
neymen because "the art of blacksmithing is much reduced in
this capital." He could sell "only balcony rails and insig
nificant remnants," and customers preferred to patronize
13 3
"the foreigners for these trifles." The effect on na
tive journeymen is stated with simple eloquence by Jose Her
nandez, a twenty-one-year-old shoemaker arrested for vagrancy
in 1835.
Why have you dragged from my aged mother
the comfort of her old age? For better or
worse by my craft of shoemaker, working
here or there, I support her existence.
You will ask me in what workshop do I
work, and I respond that in the workshops
of distinction I have not worked because
most of them are foreign. And these, when
they hire Mexican journeymen, want those
that have a decent exterior, and fate has
not permitted to me the appearance to work
in them; so that all that is left to me is
to work among the rinconeras [those that
lack a public workshop], and that, Sir, is
my situation.1 34
Ill-feeling caused by direct competition with the
foreigners resident in the capital led to efforts to ban


376
TABLE E-3
RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, UNSKILLED
Occupation
Number %
Servant
76
5.6
Street peddler
52
3.8
Street porter
29
2.1
Pork butcher
24
1.8
Janitor
23
1.7
Agricultural laborer
17
1.1
Nonmetallic mineral producer
14
1.0
Barber
8
0.6
Coachman
7
0.5
Wagoner
7
0.5
Bartender
6
0.4
Drover
6
0.4
Food and beverage producer
5
0.4
Teams ter
5
0.4
Fiber preparer
5
0.4
Sexton
4
0.3
Other producers
4
0.3
Aguador
4
0.3
Musican entertainer
2
0.1
Waiter
2
0.1
Vegetable grower
2
0.1
Unskilled factory hands
2
0.1
Newspaper vendor
1
0.1
Money lender
1
0.1
Fisherman
1
0.1
Beverage maker
1
0.1
Boatman
1
0.1
Street sweeper
1
0.1
Wax chandler
10
1.7
Cigar maker
10
1.7
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of. 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.
NOTE: The unskilled class comprised nearly 23 percent of
the entire economically-active male population and 38 percent
of the lower-class male population. Their percentage in the
entire population is very close to the estimates of the num
ber of lperos in the population. Because many of the poorer
artisans and unskilled laborers lived in the streets, in
ruins, or areas otherwise unaccessible to the enumerator, the
number of artisans and populacho is underrepresented on the
sample survey.


220
The reluctance of the poor to marry legally does not
mean a liaison between a man and a woman was short or de
graded. One couple, for example, lived together for twenty
years and had four children. Although they separated
briefly, loneliness drove them back to each other. Pedro
Escovedo, a stonecutter, lived with his partner for seven
years and fathered four children. Their poverty prevented
them from marrying formally. There was, however, a tendency
for poor Mexicans of both sexes to engage in postmarital
affairs. Family fights because of such daliances resulted
from mutual jealousy or because the wife discovered her mate
spending household money on his bastards. The court's ruling
in one of these cases was that a man's primary obligation was
11 5
to his first family.
The medieval Spanish law practiced in republican
Mexico specified that the husband held the same authority
116
over his family that a king held over his subjects. He
therefore expected that his wife wait upon him hand and
foot and resorted to corporal, punishment whenever his expec
tations were not met.. Wife beating was legal if justified
by misbehavior. In two cases the courts acquitted men who
had punished their wives for not washing clothes or pre-
11 7
paring the meals. Women accepted corporal punishment.
The wife of Vicent Barreto withdrew charges of maltreatment
against her husband by claiming that she had been beaten for
good reason. Another woman stated that although her husband


POVERTY AND POLITICS
IN MEXICO CITY, 1824-1854
BY
FREDERICK JOHN SHAW JR.
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1975

Dedicated to the memories
of David Andrew Shaw,
Ruth Irene Huseman, and
Susan Amanda Snider.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
My greatest single debt is to my wife, Lynn, who
bore our children and supported us in comfort during the
long years of work. I am also indebted to Professor
Lyle N. McAlister of the Department of History for en
couraging me to undertake a difficult project and to
Professor Sugiyama lutaka of the Department of Sociology
for introducing me to the rudiments of statistical
sampling and quantitative analysis that set the disser
tation on its proper course. I would like to thank
Roberta Solt who labored long hours editing and typing
the reams of indecipherable copy provided to her. Finally
I would like to express my gratitude to the University of
Florida Rugby Club for providing a well-needed outlet for
the fury of pent-up aggressions.
111

PREFACE
The dissertation originated as a study of Mexico
City's lperos during the first three decades of national in
dependence (1821-1854). The lperos, according to the tradi
tional view, were a class of idle, urban vagrants readily
distinguishable from the honest laboring poor. During the
course of the research, it became apparent that the lperos
did not exist as a class apart from the laboring poor and
that crime and vagrancy were structured into lower-class life.
The dissertation was consequently expanded into a study of
the entire pattern of urban poverty.
Most sources consulted were documents preserved by
the Archivo del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de Mexico. Although
traditional methodology was employed to analyze the data, re
liance was also placed in quantitative data processed into
the format of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences
and analyzed by computer. The two sources of computerized
data are the 599 cases heard by the Tribunal de Vagos between
1828. and 1852 and the municipal census of 1849. The vagrancy
cases comprise all the completely recorded and full vagrancy
cases existent and are supplemented by 336 uncomputerized ,
IV

criminal cases heard before the Juzgado de Primera Instancia
of Cuartel Menor 17 in 1852. The court's jurisdiction in
cluded the barrios of Mazanares and La Palma, notorious lairs
of the semicriminal lperos.
The census of 1849 counted only 120,000 inhabitants
of a city whose population approached 200,000. Those excluded
from the census were the poor who like their European brothers
feared the census taker as the harbinger of the recruiting
sergeant and the tax collector. The census also counted a
population distorted and dislocated by war with the United
States (1845-1848). Despite the inaccuracies, the census re
flects important lower-class characteristics.
The census of 1849 has two advantages over the pre
ceding census of 1842. It clearly indicates the habitation
of each individual, making the determination of household
composition possible. The census also lists the monthly
rent of each habitation. Throughout the dissertation, mean
monthly rent is assumed to be an indicator of the economic
status of the capital's occupational groups.
The analysis of the census required sampling tech
niques. Sixty sample blocks were selected randomly from
the capital's 246 officially designated blocks. One out of
every six adult males fifteen years of age or older was
chosen from those residing on the sample blocks, and infor
mation entered on IBM cards. The 1,366 cases collected
comprise a random sample of the adult male population.
v

A random sample of adult males and their households
could not reflect all characteristics of a population 57
percent female and possessing an' extremely large number of
matrifocal housholds. For this reason, reference to "sample
population" applies only to the adult male population.
Details on the characteristics of the general population
were obtained through analysis of the populations of the
barrios of Necatitln and San Salvador el Seco. The reader
is notified when this information is used.
vi


VI11
A Plazo de la Constitucin
a Catedral Nacional
h Paiocio Nacional
c Ayuntamiento
d Paran
B Plaza del Volador
C Plazo del Santo Domingo
D Plaza del Factor
E Ciudadelo
F Acordada
G Hospital de San Andrs
H Hospicio de Pobres
Hospital de San Lzaro
J Barrio de Necatitlon
k Barrio de San Salvador e! Seco ¡
L Barrios de lo Palma and Mazanores
M Alameda
N Paseo de Bucareli
S Parish Church
Cuarteles Mayores
Cuarteles Menores
///// Boundary of Traza (1736) /
32
CUARTELES MAYORES, CUARTELES MENORES, BARRIOS, AND TRAZA

CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS, iii
PREFACE, iv
MAPA DE LA CIUDAD DE MEXICO, vii
CUARTELES MAYORES, CUARTELES MENORES, BARRIOS, AND TRAZA, yiii
TABLES, xi
ABSTRACT, xvi
CHAPTER ONE. CITY, ECONOMY, PEOPLE, 1
City, 1. Economy, 18. People, 38. Notes, 60.
CHAPTER TWO. LABOR AND WAGES, 69
Labor, 69. Wages, 113. Notes, 120.
CHAPTER THREE. LIFE STYLES, HEALTH, DEMOGRAPHY, 129
Life Styles, 129. Health, 160. Demography, 167.
Notes, 179.
CHAPTER FOUR. PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS AND FAMILY, 187
Public Institutions, 187. Family, 219. Notes, 229.
rx

CHAPTER FIVE. RELIGION AND RECREATION, 235
Religion, 235. Recreation, 254. Notes, 262.
CHAPTER SIX. CRIME, LAW ENFORCEMENT, JUSTICE, 266
Crime, 266. Law Enforcement, 295. Justice, 302.
Notes, 309.
CHAPTER SEVEN. POVERTY AND POLITICS, 315
Notes, 349.
APPENDIX A.
APPENDIX B.
APPENDIX C.
APPENDIX D.
APPENDIX E.
APPENDIX F.
APPENDIX G.
APPENDIX H.
APPENDIX I.
APPENDIX J.
APPENDIX K.
APPENDIX L.
APPENDIX M.
APPENDIX N.
APPENDIX 0.
APPENDIX P.
PROFILES OF MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 355
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY, 358
SALARIES AND WAGES, 364
POPULATION ESTIMATES AND GROWTH, 369
OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES, 372
VAGRANTS AND CRIMINALS, 377
500-YARD RING/1,000-YARD CIRCLE PROFILES, 384
TRAZA/BARRIOS PROFILES, 387
AGE AT DEATH, 1842, 1844, 1850, 390
CAUSES OF DEATH, 1842, 1844, 393
PERIODICITY OF DISEASE, 396
POPULATION, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 399
MARRIAGE PERIODICITY AND HOUSEHOLD SIZE, 403
OCCUPATIONS OF PARENTS OF FREE SCHOOL PUPILS,
1836, 406
FAMILY MUTATION, 409
VAGRANCY CODE AND CRIMINAL STATISTICS, 1825-
1852, 413
REFERENCES, 418
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH, 434
x

TABLES
1.
2.
3.
'4.
5.
6.
7.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
ANNUAL INCOME OF COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1848, 28
BRANCHES OF THE JUNTA DE FOMENTO DE ARTESANOS, 29
MEXICAN BUDGET, 1844, 29
OCCUPATIONAL-CATEGORY/MEAN-RENT CORRELATION, 30
COMPARISON OF THE MEAN RENTS OF OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES
IN THE TRAZA AND BARRIOS, 30
OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES OF NATIVES OF MEXICO CITY, IN
TERNAL MIGRANTS, AND FOREIGNERS, 31
OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES BY SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHICAL
ORIGIN, 31
URBAN ORIGINS OF IMMIGRANTS, 32
COMPARISON OF MEAN RENT BY ORIGIN AND OCCUPATION, 33
MEAN RENT BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN BY OCCUPATION, 33
ARTISANAL CRAFTS RANKED BY RENT, 98
UNSKILLED OCCUPATIONS RANKED BY RENT, 99
WOMENS OCCUPATIONS, MANZANA 168, 100
COMPARISON OF RENT BY OCCUPATION, 100
PRICE OF MAIZE AND BEANS, 153
RESIDENCE AND MEAN RENTS, 153
EPIDEMIC OF^MEASLES AND DYSENTERY IN THE SAGRARIO AND
SAN SEBASTIAN, 1847, 154
SCARLET FEVER VICTIMS, SAGRARIO, 1844, 154
xi

1.9. PERCENTAGE OF IMMIGRANTS IN NECATITLAN, SAL SALVADOR
EL SECO, AND THE SAMPLE MALE POPULATION, 155
20. DEPENDENCY RATIOS, 155
21. LEGITIMATE/ILLEGITIMATE BIRTHS, 156
22. CROSSTABULATION OF AGE AT MARRIAGE WITH MEAN RENT, 156
23. CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH MEAN RENT, 157
24. HOSPITALS, MEXICO CITY, 1849, 205
25. HOSPITAL OF SAN ANDRES, ADMISSION AND DISCHARGE OF
PATIENTS, .1828, 1846, 205
26. PRIMARY SCHOOLS, 1845, 206
27. SCHOOLS OF THE SOCIETY OF CHARITY, 1851, 207
28. ESCUELA DE LAS AMIGAS, BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ ACATLAN,
MONTHLY ATTENDANCE, 1831, 207
29. FAMILY TYPES, CENSUS OF 1849, 208
30. POPULATION OF PARISHES, CENSUS OF 1816, 247
31. POPULATION OF NUNNERIES, 1861, 247
32. VALUE OF CORPORATE PROPERTIES IN THE CITY OF MEXICO,
1846, 248
33. BAPTISMS, 1842, 248
34. COMPLAINTS AGAINST SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 283
35. UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 283
36. SUSPECTED VAGRANTS WITH TWO OR MORE OCCUPATIONS, 284
37. SUSPECTED VAGRANTS UNABLE TO SUPPORT FAMILIES, 285
38. VOTER PARTICIPATION, PRIMARY ELECTIONS, 321
A-l. OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 356
A-2. HABITATIONAL PROFILE, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 356
A-3. RENT PROFILE, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 356
Xll

A-4 .
B-l.
B-2.
B-3.
B-4.
B-5.
C-l.
C-2.
C-3.
C-4.
D-l.
D-2.
D-3.
E-l.
E-2.
E~3.
F-l.
F-2.
F-3.
F-4.
F-5.
F-6.
F-7.
G-l.
BUSINESSES, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 357
COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1843, 359
SIXTEEN MOST COMMON INDUSTRIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1843, 360
WORK FORCE OF CARPENTRY SHOPS, 1845, 360
INVENTORY OF CARPENTRY SHOP WORTH $48 IN ]853, 362
CAPITAL INVESTED AND LABOR FORCE OF INDUSTRIAL AND
COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, CENSUS OF 1849, 362
CIVIL SERVICE SALARIES, 1845, 365
SERVANT WAGES, 366
WEEKLY WAGES, SKILLED, 366
WOMEN'S WAGES, 368
ESTIMATES OF MEXICO CITY'S POPULATION, 1811-1857, 370
MEXICO CITY NATURAL POPULATION GROWTH, 1839-1845, 370
POPULATION ESTIMATES OF THE AYUNTAMIENTO DE MEXICO,
1824-1846, 371
RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, MIDDLE/UPPER CLASSES, 373
RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, SKILLED, 374
RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, UNSKILLED, 376
SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, SKILLED, 378
SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED, 379
CONDEMNED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, SKILLED, 380
CONDEMNED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED, 380
CRIMINALS, MINOR WARD 17, 1828-1852, SKILLED, 381
CRIMINALS, MINOR WARD 17, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED, 382
OCCUPATIONS OF CONVICTED CRIMINALS, 383
COMPARISON OF POPULATION OF INNER 500-YARD CIRCLE
WITH OUTER 1,000-YARD RING, 385
xiii

G-2. COMPARISON OF INDUSTRIES OF INNER 500-YARD CIRCLE
AND OUTER 1,000-YARD RING, 386
H-l.
CITY,
TRAZA, BARRIOS
OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE,
388
H-2.
CITY,
TRAZA, BARRIOS
HABITATIONAL PROFILE,
388
H-3.
CITY,
TRAZA, BARRIOS
RENT PROFILE, 389
1-1.
AGE AT
DEATH, 1842,
391
1-2.
AGE AT
DEATH, 1844,
391
1-3.
AGE AT
DEATH, 1850,
392
J-l. CAUSES OF DEATH, 1842, 1844, 394
J-2. DEATHS OF CHILDREN, THE SAGRARIO, 1842, 394
K-l. MONTHLY PERCENTAGES OF PNEUMONIA DEATHS, 1842, 1844,
1848, 397
K-2. MONTHLY PERCENTAGES OF DYSENTERY DEATHS, 1842, 1844,
1848, 397
K-3. PERCENTAGES OF TOTAL MONTHLY DEATHS, 1842, 1848, 398
L-l. MANZANA 57, AGE/SEX DISTRIBUTION, 400
L-2. MANZANA 60, AGE/SEX DISTRIBUTION, 400
L-3. MANZANA 57, MIGRANT POPULATION, 401
L-4. MANZANA 60, MIGRANT POPULATION, 401
L-5. MANZANA 57, PERCENTAGES OF MIGRANTS IN THE 20-39 AGE
BRACKET, 402
L-6. MANZANA 60, PERCENTAGES OF MIGRANTS IN THE 20-39 AGE
BRACKET, 402
M-l. MONTHLY PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL ANNUAL MARRIAGES, 1842, 404
M-2. CONTRAST OF TYPE 5 AND TYPE 9 FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS, 404
M-3. CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH RESIDENCE IN
TRAZA AND BARRIOS, 405
M-4. CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH OCCUPATION, 405
xxv

N-l.
SCHOOL
PATIONS
LOCATED ON THE STREET OF SEVEN PRINCES,
OF PARENTS, 1836, 407
0-1.
FAMILY
OF ABRAHAM GARCIA, SHOEMAKER, 4.10
0-2.
FAMILY
OF BENITO GIRON, WEAVER, 4.10
0-3.
FAMILY
OF DOMINGO FLORES, WATER CARRIER, 411
0-4.
FAMILY
OF CRISTOBAL GALINDO, PORK BUTCHER, 412
P-1.
CRIME,
1825, 416
P-2.
CRIME,
1842, 416
P-3.
CRIME,
1851, 417
P-4.
CRIME,
1852, 417
occu-
xv

ABSTRACT OF DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE
OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
POVERTY AND POLITICS
IN MEXICO CITY, 1824-1854
BY
FERDERICK JOHN SHAW JR.
JUNE 1975
Chairman: Lyle N. McAlister, Ph.D.
Major Department: History
The dissertation examines lower-class life in Mexico
City during the first three decades of the republican period
(.1824-1854) It explores fresh ground with the aid of
criminal records, census data, and modern techniques of com
puter analysis, and in the process it disproves some tradi
tional assumptions.
The poor were a polyglot mass of artisans, unskilled,
laborers, and their families, earning a subsistence income
or less. They numbered 80 percent of the capital's popula
tion. Twenty-seven percent of them were internal migrants,
mostly artisans from the large cities of the Republic.
Marxist historians have grossly distorted the, capi
talistic oppression of the era. Artisans labored in numerous
xvi

small preindustrial workshops, in their homes, or on the
streets. Labor relations within the workshops were rela
tively harmonious, and wages should have been sufficient
to assure contemporary standards of subsistence. Chronic
unemployment and inflation, and not capitalistic oppression,
were the true enemies of the working classes.
Ill-clothed, ill-housed, and ill-fed, and surrounded
by filth, the poor were wretchedly unhealthy. Convulsions
produced by fevers slaughtered the infants. At least one
third of all recorded deaths were of children below the age
of three. Respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases carried
off the adults. Epidemics reached monstrous proportions. In
1833 and 1850 cholera took over eleven thousand lives in less
than a month. Assaulted by disease, the population stagnated.
Deaths exceeded births, and the heavy flow of immigrants
barely replaced the natural population deficit.
The national government provided no services to the
poor, but was a predator insatiably craving money and men.
Judged by the standards of the times, the municipal system
of public charity was a dismal failure, for the hospitals,
poorhouse, and public school system withered for lack of
funds. Only the orphanage, supervised by a private junta,
operated humanely and efficiently.
Popular religion was a medley of superstition and
dogma scorned by educated Catholics. The Church itself
criticized its ignorant and vulgar character. Nineteenth-
xvii

century Liberals unfairly charged that the parish clergy
oppressed the poor with excessively high burial and bap
tismal fees. Moderate rates prevailed in the parishes.
The true authors of lower-class suffering were a municipal
sanitary regulation forbidding burials in the parish grave
yards and the high fees of municipal cemeteries administered
by the archbishopric.
The archaic system of law enforcement and criminal
justice failed to cope with the crime and vagrancy structured
into lower-class life. Popular opinion held that the capital's
lperos were a permanent, criminal class distinguishable from
the honest, laboring poor. In reality the lperos were a
fluctuating cross-section of the poor reduced to idleness and
crime by unemployment.
The poor had little interest in political factions or
ideologies. They became politically active only when federalist-
liberal politicians exploited their frustrations or caught
their attentions by a rationality of hero worship. Dwelling
on the margins of political life, the attachment of the
poor to any cause was fleeting. Cloaked in stoic indifference,
they witnessed the downfall of every regime that their rioting
brought to power. Downtrodden by economic depression and by
government exactions, they abandoned their early attachment to
the Republic.
xviii

CHAPTER ONE
CITY, ECONOMY, PEOPLE
Lacking all instruction, they [the castes
circa 1809\ were subject to great defects
and vices; but with awakened spirits and
vigorous bodies, they were susceptible to
every thing evil and every thing good.
Lucas Alaman, 1853
City
A nineteenth-century traveler viewing Mexico City
from the forested slopes that separated the Valley of
Mexico from the high plains of Puebla might have described
the capital as a dazzling white jewel set in a field of
green interspersed with blue. North of the city began the
gently rising plain that led to the fertile Bajio and the
cities of Celaya, Queretaro, and Guanajuato. Lake Texcoco,
victim of unrelenting drainage schemes by colonial viceroys,
lay six miles from the city's fringes to the east. The
heavy layer of salts left by the lake's evaporation had
transformed the eastern approach into a barren, somber
plain that contrasted sharply with its surroundings.
1

2
Bearing south, our traveler would come upon the lush marsh
called Xochimilco, the floating pleasure gardens of the
Aztec emperors. Southwestward the land rose to the forested
slopes of Chapultepec Hill, whose majestic cedars once
shaded the diversions of the Aztec nobility. Farther west,
the verdant fields surrounding the villages of Tacubaya and
Azcapulzalco bore witness to the fertility of the Valley of
Mexico. Eight broad, aspen-shaded roads led to the garitas
(internal customs houses) which rimmed the city. Whitewashed
adobe walls reflected brilliantly in the sunlight.1
The distant beauty of Mexico City was a facade for
its treacherous location. The Valley of Mexico lay astride
the gigantic earthquake zone that extends the length of
North and South America. Frequent tremors, although moderate,
disrupted city life and the nerves of superstitious inhabi
tants. During the earthquake which struck Mexico City at
noon on St. Cecilia's Day in 1840, half-naked people ran
into the streets, falling to their knees to take communion,
terrified by the sight of swaying towers, fountains disgorging
2
their waters, and the apocalyptic pealing of church bells.
Earthquakes were a minor nuisance compared to chronic
flooding. The capital sits atop the former basin of shrinking
3
Lake Texcoco. During the nineteenth century's summer rainy
seasons, daily showers deposited an annual average of twenty-
4
four watery inches. There were two varieties of flooding.
First, summer showers quickly saturated the marshy subsoil

3
and caused flash flooding. In the relatively well-drained
central plaza, water could rise to knee level.5 The second
variety was more serious. A series of heavy rainy seasons
would raise the water table until the southern and eastern
suburbs became shallow lakes passable only by canoes.6
Throughout the year, an uncomfortable dampness pervaded the
7
entire city.
Passing through the garitas, ugly squalor thrust
itself upon the eyes of the visitor. The distant impression
of lushness was overwhelmed by the gray, polluted marshes
8
that ringed the city and intruded into the suburbs. The
human element was appalling. In 1847 George Ruxton, an
English mining engineer, was struck by the
regularity of the streets, the chaste ar
chitecture of the buildings, the miserable
appearance of the population, the downcast
look of the men, the absence of ostentatious
display of wealth, and the prevalence of
filth which everywhere meets the eye.9
These impressions were not confined to finicky Englishmen.
In 1851 the capital's ugliness dampened the spirits of a
young jalisqueho (native of Jalisco).
In a little while we entered twisting
alleys with wretched hovels inhabited by
filthy old women, grimy children, and
drunken lperos. The coach made its way
through mountains of trash thrown care
lessly in the sides of the road and bor
dering the drains, scattering the dogs

4
that' worried the cadaver of any dead animal
that chanced to be in the road. The coach
advanced farther, and I was surprised by
houses much taller than I was accustomed to
see in Guadalajara, but so sad, so lacking
in color, and of life, that it astonished
me that such a beautiful sky could shelter
such a gloomy landscape. We had arrived in
Mexico City.10
The garitas enclosed a quadrilateral extending
roughly'two miles north and south, and three miles east and
west. A nineteenth-century map of Mexico City reveals the
typical rectangular grid of the Spanish colonial city. At
its center was an enormous plaza, the Plaza de la Constitucin.
Broad, straight avenues running north-south and east-west of
the central plaza formed a grid that intersected the entire
city. Scattered throughout the city, usually at the inter
sections of the larger streets, were ninety-seven lesser
, 11
plazas and plazuelas.
The siting of important public facilities followed
the centripetal logic of city designers. The Plaza de la
Constitucin was the ceremonial, political, and administra
tive center. Occupying the place of honor on its northern
side was the Catedral Nacional, the cathedral church of the
Archdiocese of Mexico. On the eastern side, the enormous
Palacio Nacional served as the formal residence of Mexicos
rulers, the hall of the national congress, and an office
building for most of the national bureaucracy. Directly
opposite the Catedral stood the buildings of the ayuntamiento

5
(city council), housing the municipal offices, courts, and
l 2
jail.
Other public facilities followed the centripetal
pattern of importance and convenience. The valuable Casa de
Moneda (national mint) was adjacent to the eastern side of
the Palacio Nacional. The Plaza del Volador, diagonally
connected to the Plaza de la Constitucin's southeastern
l 3
corner, contained the main vegetable and meat market.
Five hundred yards due south of the Catedral Nacional, the-
Casa de Aduana (internal customs house) stood on the spacious
Plaza d Santo Domingo, conveniently near the heavily traveled
Calle Real de Santa Anna leading north to the Bajio and south
l 4
to Puebla. Because of the Aduana, the Plaza de Santo
Domingo was the capital's financial center. 5 Less desirable
facilities were located even farther from the center to pro
tect the lives, property, and health of the inhabitants.
The location of the Calle de Curtidores (Tanners' Street)
and the Rastro (municipal slaughterhouse) on the southern
fringes spared the central portion from noisome odors and
l 6
unmanageable herds of cattle. The Hospital de San Andres
(municipal hospital) was on the fringes of the northwestern
suburb f San Cosme. The Ciudadela (municipal arsenal) and
the Acordada (national prison) lay 1,000 yards southwest of
the central plaza. The same distance from the center, but
due west, were the Hospital de San Hiplito (insane asylum)
and the Hospicio de Pobres (municipal, poorhouse) The

6
Hospital de San Lzaro (municipal leprosarium) loomed on the
eastern fringes of the city, a grim sentinel to match the
somberness of the eastern plain. In the extreme southeast
1 7
and northwest were the two municipal cemeteries.
Two massive aqueducts were the only public facilities
that did not fit the centripetal pattern. The oldest aque
duct started at the heights of Chapultepec and ran for 5,000
yards before it emptied in the fountain of the Plaza del
Salto del Agua, a southwestern suburb. Another longer
aqueduct started beyond Chapultepec at the village of Santa
Fe and carried water over six miles to the fountain of Maris-
i 8
cala on the northwestern fringe. From the two main foun
tains a 11,059-yard-long network of pipes and aqueducts fed
l 9
28'public fountains and 505 private fountains.
The intersecting grid of streets formed the capital's
administrative divisions. The intersection of the avenues
at the southeastern corner of the central plaza divided the
city into enormous quadrants. The quadrants contained eight
cuarteles mayores (major administrative wards). The first
four formed an interior quadrangle centered at the intersec
tion of the two main avenues. The remaining four rimmed
that quadrangle in an irregular pattern. Each cuartel mayor
2 o
was subdivided into eight cuarteles menores (minor wards).
Cuarteles menores usually were of similar size and were sub
divided into 246 manzanas (numbered blocks) created by the
2 1
intersections of the streets. Manzanas were the basic units
of the civil administration system.

7
The cuartel system introduced in 1782 was an im
provement upon the older system of civil division. Prior to
1782 the church parish and the traditional Indian barrio
(neighborhood) served as basic administrative units and
were difficult to police because of size. The cuartel sys
tem arranged civil divisions in a logical order and reduced
them to manageable size. After 1782 a hierarchy of unpaid
2 2
officials policed every unit of the system.
The cuarteles were artificial creations having only
administrative significance. The traditional residential
divisions recognized by the general population were the
Traza (old Spanish quarter) and the ancient Indian barrio.
The historical roots of these divisions were embedded in
the Aztec and early colonial past. The Spaniards construct
ing Mexico City over the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec
capital, segregated their Traza from those barrios of the
surviving Indian population. The Traza formed a rough
square centered upon the main plaza that measured 1,400 by
1,400 yards. It was a fortified sanctuary against a potentially
hostile Indian population. Expanded over the centuries, the
final boundaries enclosed all important government and
2 3
church buildings, Spanish industries, and central markets.
The barrios were remnants of a complex tribal organization.
During Aztec times the city was divided into four capullis
(districts) within which resided one of the four Aztec
2 4
tribes. Each capulli had four capultecos (subdistricts)

that housed the tribal clans. The capultecos centered around
25
plazas exhibiting the altars of clan deities. The clans
specialized economically, and their barrios acquired reputa
tions as the homes of distinctive crafts such as silversmith-
ing,feather working, or pottery making. The Spanish re
tained the barrios whenever their boundaries did not infringe
upon the Traza. Surviving capullis and capultecos became
religious doctrinas wherein missionaries propagated the faith,
2 6
and parish churches and chapels replaced pagan altars.
Hospitals, cemeteries, prisons, and garbage dumps were located
2 7
in the barrios.
There were many changes from conquest to independence.
The Traza's military function became an anachronism, and
2 8
mestizo replaced Indian in most areas. Economic speciali
zation derived from the needs of a Europeanized city. The
barrios served as administrative units during the early years
of independence. Unlike the barrios of other Latin American
. 29
cities, they had a recognized center and boundaries. The
population identified itself with its traditional barrio
rather than the manzana. Suspected criminals and vagrants
referred to their barrios when giving addresses, and the
legal addresses on wills or other public documents stated
3 o
barrios rather than cuarteles. In 1829 the ayuntamiento
31
organized the inscription of civic militia by barrios.
In all cities of Spanish colonial design, the con
centration of government buildings and main market in the

9
center of the city promoted the geographical and social con
centration of population and industry. Although the garitas
lay as far as three miles from the central plaza, the build
ings clustered two miles east-west and one and three-quarters
32
miles north-south. Concentration of the population was
more intense than the clustering of the buildings indicates.
A circle of 1,000-yard radius, whose center was in the middle
of the Plaza de la Constitucin, would enclose over two thirds
3 3
of the population counted in the census of 1847. The desir
ability of residence near the center lured people to settle
even the swampy land on the southern and eastern fringes.
The numerous facilities of the Traza integrated the
city socially and economically. The Plaza de la Constitucin
was important as a ceremonial and political-administrative
center and is discussed as a separate unit. "The peasant
and the Marquesa" prayed together at the Catedral Nacional's
daily Masses. The poor, however, were excluded from more
, . 34
important religious rites. On Easter Sunday- the announce
ment from the Catedral that Christ had risen, signaled by
artillery salvos and church bells, triggered joyous city
wide celebrations. On Corpus Christi Sunday, processions
organized by every civic and religious corporationand led
by the president, his cabinet, the ayuntamiento, and the
diplomatic corpswould march separately to the Catedral.
After the Mass, the procession, accompanied by as many as
forty thousand spectators, would parade through the principal
3 5
streets.

10
The Plaza de la Constitucin was also a secular
ceremonial center. On September 17, Independence Day,
crowds would jam the square for hours to be serenaded by
military bands and to enjoy the fiesta atmosphere. After
the formal celebrations, the citizens and musicians would
3 6
disperse to the barrios for an evening of revelry.
During crises the Plaza de la Constitucin was the
political nerve center of the entire city. During the
copper currency devaluations of 1837 and 1841, It filled
with mobs of hungry, angry poor demanding price controls
3 7
and the forced opening of bakeries and grocery stores.
During revolutions crowds gathered in the Plaza to be
goaded into action by irate politicians. In front of the
buildings of the ayuntamiento on November 31, 1844, the
public reading of the Plan de Jalapa ignited popular riot-
3 8
ing that resulted in the overthrow of General Santa Anna.
In 1849 republican po.liticlans within the Palacio Nacional
harangued a mob to the riotous overthrow of the monarchist
39
ayuntamiento.
The Plaza was the commercial center for shops
catering to the weal.thy. Expensive watch and jewelry shops
clustered under the Portales de los Mercadores in its south-
40
western corner and on the nearby Calle de los Plateros.
The Parian, a collection of stalls surrounded by wooden
walls, occupied the southwestern corner. Before 1828 it
was an emporium of imported merchandise, famous for clothes

11
that excited stylish young men and women. Its strongboxes
contained their owners' capital and substantial savings de-
41
posits belonging, to prosperous merchants and professionals.
After its sacking by an angry mob in the 1828 Revolution of
the Acordada, its merchants, in greatly reduced circumstances,
traded more in locally produced goods. ~ The Parian remained
until demolition in 1843 a dilapidated eyesore, its name a
43
synonym for mob terror.
Tine Plaza de la Constitucin was a recreational area
for the populace. During a normal day, as many as 4,000
idlers surveyed the transaction of public and private busi-
44
ness. On moonlit nights citizens strolled the spacious
square, enjoying the play of moonlight on the Catedral's
twin spires and the magnificent view of snow-capped Popoca
tepetl and Atlixtahuil-. The wealthy paused for refreshment
at the cafes and pastry shops on nearby streets. The poor
refreshed themselves with purchases from the ambulatory
45
vendors who plied their trade within the square.
Outside the main square were two buildings of signi
ficance to the political life of Mexico Citythe Ciudadela,
crumbling, fortress-like arsenal; and the Acordada, fore
boding national prisonclose together on the western fringes
of the city. The' Ciudadela provided conspirators with a
convenient source of weapons. The clandestine movement of
troops or ammunition into it always heralded the approach
4 6
of a pronun cimiento.
Artillery duels between the Ciudadela

12
and the Palacio Nacional took their heaviest toll from among
the civilians residing between the two buildings. During
the attempted overthrow of President Anastasio Bustamante,
by Valentin Gomez Farias in July 1840, 180 civilians were
killed and more were mutilated by indiscriminate cannon
47
fire.
The Acordada, a few hundred yards north of the Ciuda-
dela, contained men willing to serve any cause for the price
48 .
of a pardon. The prison itself was a center of conspiracy.
In late November 1828, Lorenzo Zavala and his fellow York
Rite Masons plotted the fateful Revolution of the Acordada
that.prevented President-Elect -Manuel Gomez Pedraza from
taking office and launched Mexico into a half-century of
political chaos.
The Aduana, according to Guillermo Prieto, the era's
best-known memoirist, was "as plebian as smallpox."
The heavy traffic of mules and carts through
the great gates. The heaps of bales left for
inspection in the broad patios; the bewilder
ing noise of hammers and crowbars; the customs
inspectors, schedules clutched tightly in hand,
examining invoices, discovering irregularities,
and arguing with proprietors and clerks; and
the multitude of Indians, mule skinners,
clerks, and money changers who penetrated the
office.5 0
The activity imparted a bustling mercantile character to the
Aduana and the adjoining Plaza de Santo Domingo.

13
Mexico Citys central and special markets were
tourist attractions that hummed with the transaction of
daily business. The principal meat and vegetable market at
the Plaza del Volador was over fifty years old, in an ad
vanced state of disrepair, and so notorious as a meeting
place of evildoers that in 1843 the city recommended its
demolition.51 The market, however, remained until 1863 when
5 2
it was replaced by the enormous Mercado de la Merced.
The aristocracy of the market consisted of merchants who
rented its rotting wooden stalls. The most common merchant,
however, was the Indian who, seated upon a filthy blanket
with his wares, clogged the market's passageways and en-
53
trances. Stall holders complained that the Indian mer
chant, who operated illegally, blocked traffic and harmed
5 4
business. Decrees of the ayuntamiento banning the Indians
from the market place were never enforced. Throughout the
first decades of the nineteenth century, the decrepit stalls
and blanket stands of the Plaza del Volador offered such a
variety of meat and vegetables, at such economical prices,
that rich and poor alike sought their residences close to
. 5 5 .
it.
The Baratillo located in the Plaza del Factor, 100
yards northwest of the central plaza, was the "Rag Fair" or
"Petticoat Lane" of Mexico City. Foreigners noted the many
odds and ends to be purchased at the Baratillo, but failed
to notice its principal business, the sale of the secondhand

14
clothing that dressed the poor. To the perpetual annoy
ance of the authorities, the market was the capital's main
5 7
entrepot for stolen goods. Its customers and merchants
were well represented among the defendants tried daily be
fore the city's magistrates. Its merchants were an unruly
lot. Dissatisfied with the location, they once boldly moved
their stalls to the Plaza de Santo Domingo. Only the arrival
of overwhelming force convinced them to return to the Plaza
5 8
del Factor.
The Plazuela de San Juan specialized in selling
5 9
shoes to poor people. Other markets scattered throughout
the city specialized in the sale of lime, poultry, mules,
6 o
and building materials. Mexicans boasted that a person
looking for any item had merely to ask for the location of
6 l
the appropriately named street.
Poor Mexicans preferred to live close to their place
of work. At least 40 percent of the vagrancy suspects who
gave both their own addresses and those of their employers
lived two blocks from their place of work. Such localism
made the barrios of the independence period self-sufficient.
Typical barrios like San Salvador el Seco and Necatitln
were poor, containing a few small grocery stores, a public
bath if the neighborhood lacked an aqueduct or fountain, a
6 2
pawnshop or two, and a wine or pulque shop. Artisans
worked in their homes or in a few larger workshops. Cer
tain industrial or commercial specializations existed. San

15
Salvador el Seco was known as La Carrocera because it
63
contained a large carriage-manufacturing business. San
Juan, Candelaria, and Santa Anna were entrepots for the
provisioning of the city. San Juan's plaza specialized in
building materials; Candelaria's, in fowl; and Santa Anna's
6 4
Calle Real was the central distributing point for pulque.
Residents endowed, each barrio with a distinctive
personality. Santa Anna, athwart the great north-south
road, was notorious for high-living arrieros (mule skinners),
6 5 ^
and highwaymen frequented its many inns. San Sebastian
and El Carmen, relatively close to the center of the city,
housed romance-smitten seamstresses, rakish public coachmen
and wagoners, and industrious artisans toiling in the single
rooms that served as bedroom and workshop. The eastern
barrios of San Lzaro, La Soledad, La Palma, and Mazanares
held the populacho and lperos, daring rogues who lived
from the proceeds of casual labor and petty crime. In the
southern barrios of San Pablo, San Antonio Abad, and Salto
del Agua, boatmen, impoverished clerks, and women cigar
makers worked and played. The inhabitants of the extreme
southeastern barrios bordering the trash dumps and the
Cerneterio de Campo Florida were wretched scavengers who
6 6
subsisted on offal.
The barrio's plaza, often filthy and obstructed,
was the only recreational center/7 The Plaza de Necatitlan
and an area fronting the Garita de Peravillo accommodated

16
sites for the carnival-like jamaica and impromptu corridas
6 8
(bullfights). Gabriel Ferry, a French resident, witnessed
6 9
one Plaza de Necatitlan corrida which drew 12,000 spectators.
More skilled corridas were held in the municipal bull ring
at the Plaza de San Pablo, conveniently close to the Rastro.
Corridas were held there until 1851 when General Santa Anna
inaugurated his last regime by erecting a new ring west of
7 0
the city. Attendance at San Pablo was usually 11,000.
The most popular form of recreation was strolling in
the fresh air of the city's pastoral outskirts. The Alameda,
a spacious park on the western fringes, was thickly planted
7 1 .
with elms. On feast days it was crowded with ladies in
carriages, gentlemen on horseback, and pedestrian lperos.
South of the Alameda and endowed with its pleasant rusticity
was the wealthy suburb of San Cosme where Fanny Calderon de
la Barca residedthe Scottish-American wife of Spain's first
ambassador to Mexico, whose published letters and diaries
have revealed so much of the capital's s'ociety.
The broad avenue of Bucareli lead to the slopes of
Chapultepee and was a favorite for equestrians and pedestrians.
Every evening, but more especially on Sundays
and fete days, which last are nearly innumer
able, from four o'clock until six or seven
may be seen two long rows of carriages filled
with-ladies; crowds of gentlemen on horseback,
riding down the middle between the carriages;
soldiers at intervals, attending to the preser
vation of public order; and multitudes of
common people and lperos mingled with some
well-bred gentlemen on foot.7"

The pleasant paseo (promenade) was marred occasionally by
7 3
the sight of garroted highwaymen mounted for public display.
The pastoral footpath and canal of the Paseo de la
Viga on the southeastern fringes of the city were famous
for beauty of tree and flower.
Two long lines of carriages are to be seen
coming and going as far as the eye can
reach, and hundreds of gay plebians are
assembled on the sidewalks, with flowers
and dulces for sale; and innumerable eques
trians in picturesque dresses, and with
spirited horses, fill up the interval be
tween the carriages and the canoes covering
the canal, the Indians singing and dancing
lazily as the boats steal along, and under
a blue and cloudless sky and in that pure,
clear atmosphere.74
At the prairie of Helen in the southwest, poorer people
75
danced to the harp and guitar of sidewalk musicians.
The upper classes of a city known for the absence of
an "ostentatious display of wealth" took exception to flaunt
their wealth on the paseos. Fanny Calderon de la Barca con
trasted the somber dignity of the carriages owned by the
older families with the gaudy luxury of those owned by
wealthy speculators or smugglers. The equipage of one pros
perous smuggler consisted of a gold-embroidered suit, a
sombrero with gold rolls, and a saddle "covered with velvet
and richly embossed with massive gold" worth $5,000. Noting
the wealth of the equestrians and the poverty of the pedestrians

18
on the Paseo de la Viga seora de la Barca was moved to
remark that Mexico was not really a republic, "for there
was no connecting link between the blankets and the satins,
76
between the poppies and the diamonds.
Economy
Mexico City's economy produced goods and services by
archaic methods for its own use. The only commodity ex
ported to the nation at large was an ineffective government.
The government, however, was one of the capital's largest
employers. The centralized and conservative Plan de Tacubaya
7 7
(1842) projected the employment of 690 civil servants.
The more representative federal government of 1851 employed
667 civil servants, 856 if one counts the salaried congress-
7 8
men. The number of employees was larger because it was
common for government departments to hire agregados (unau
thorized, unlisted personnel). The national bureaucracy was
augmented by at least 100 employees of the ayuntamiento and
7 9
150 employees of the archbishopric. The census of 1849
indicates that about 3 percent of the male labor force were
employed by the national, municipal, or ecclesiastical
bureaucracy.
The government's importance to the economy transcended
that of being the largest employer.

19
Trade, industry, mining, agriculture were
secondary to the financing of government
operations. The federal government had
to depend on merchants to finance a bud
get of 10 to 20 million pesos a year. . .
. . Due to the discount on government
bonds, profits of 400 percent could be
made. Mercantile loans, in contrast, varied
from 12 to 24 percent a month.80
Because the city's largest financiers and merchants invested
heavily in government securities, the credit structure of
industry and commerce depended upon government solvency.
Commerce and industry employed the bulk of the capi
tal's population. Most enterprises engaged in retail commerce.
Table B-l shows that frequently listed among the 2,672
businesses on the commercial census of 1843 were tendejones
and tendejones de alborrotes mestizas (small grocery stores)
which sold food and drink. Carboneras and carniceras (char
coal and butcher shops) were the second and third largest
classes of enterprise. Most commercial enterprises were
small and produced minimal profits. Table 1 shows that the
net annual income of several common types of businesses was
$200 or less. The low income is understandable; it took but
$20 of capital to operate a small but successful clothing
. 81
store at the Parian.
Industrial production employed nearly 40 percent of
the adult male population. Joel Poinsett, the United States'
first ambassador to Mexico, reported in 1822 that the capital
hummed with the activity of its numerous workshops producing

20
everything from cigars to coaches despite a decade-long
8 2
battle for independence. The branches of the Junta de
Fomento de Artesanos (Committee for the Advancement of Arti
sans) listed in Table 2, were the most important and tech
nically advanced industries. Table B-2, based on the in
dustrial census of 1843, lists the sixteen most common in
dustries. The most numerouscarpentry, shoemaking, food
processing, tailoring, and textile manufacturingaccount
for 34 percent of the total. The sixteen largest categories
account for only half of the total number of industries on
the entire census.
A few textile factories were modern by the standards
of the early Industrial Revolution. Five of the thirteen
workshops listed as factories by the Junta de Fomento de
Industria in 1843 used equipment powered by steam, animals,
or water. Jan Bazant, historian of Mexico's early textile
industry, estimated each factory employed an average of 200
8 3
workers for a total of 1,000 workers. Other industries
were large scale and heavily capitalized but did not use
modern machinery. A bakery might be capitalized at $8,000
8 4
to $15,000 and employ fifty operatives. The Estanco
(government-operated tobacco factory) employed from 400 to
8 5
2,000 men and women. Scores of tailoring, shoemaking, and
textile workshops employed too many workers for their owners
8 6
to recognize by name.

21
Thousands of talleres pblicos (small workshops)
accomplished the bulk of the capital's industrial produc-
8 7
tion. According to a survey conducted in 1844, seventy-
five carpentry shops employed an average of two officials
8 8
and one apprentice. Twenty-three employed no one, and
fifty-one did not employ apprentices. Thirty workshops
listed on the industrial census of 1849 employed an average
89
of three journeymen.
Capital invested in plant and equipment was gen
erally small by the standards of nineteenth-century indus
trialized Europe. Table B-4 gives the $48 inventory of a
carpentry shop confiscated for debt in 1851. The thirty
shops on the industrial census of 1849 show an average capi
tal expenditure of $49, but the largest ones had substan-
90
tial investments over $1,000. Only 30 percent of two
thousand industrial enterprises on the census of 1843 were
91
valuable enough to be assessed a direct tax.
The economy of the city was in an advanced state of
decay and would remain so for a half-century. General de
pression afflicted a nation wasted by wars of independence
(1810-1821) and by the severance of traditional economic
ties. In 1844 statesman and essayist Mariano Otero ex
plained the plight of the once prosperous colony. Mining,
the former source of wealth and the most promising export
industry, languished due to the wars of independence, a
shortage of mercury, and the frequent paralysis of trade

22
caused by revolutions. Sufficient foreign capital could not
be obtained to revive it because foreign investors feared
Mexico's political instability and because wealthy Mexicans
wasted potential capital on imported luxuries or invested in
speculative government securities. Without the stimulus of
the mining industry, the nation seemed trapped in a vicious
cycle. Mexico was largely agricultural but its agriculture
produced only simple crops for a local market. Agriculture
needed increased demand from the cities in order to expand.
This hinged on the growth of urban population which could
not increase without industrial development which was im
possible without the capital generated by the mining indus
try. Consequently, backward urban industries produced crude
products for a local market, and processed foods and many
9 2
agricultural raw materials were imported from abroad.
The economic depression quickly followed independence.
In 1823 the capital's merchants complained to the ayuntamiento
Nobody can hide from the fact that it [com
merce] is but a shade of what it was in the
past. Many of the stores selling Asian and
European goods, and even those selling the
principal agricultural products of the coun
try, have closed entirely or have been con
verted into tailor shops, cafes, pastry
shops, or butcher shops. What large stores
remain of the many whose existence merchants
considered to be an indispensable condition
of commerce? Where is the enormous capital
that they once generated? With the excep
tion of a small amount that stands out be-

23
cause it is so rare, most capital is
already pledged to pay outstanding debts.
A great amount of capital has left Mexico
with its Spanish owners....
. . In a word, the commerce of Mexi
co City is not the same as it formerly
was due to the shortage of specie, re
sulting from the failure of the mines,
the sequestration of the pious funds, and
the inability of the treasury to pay the
millions that it owes to the bureaucracy,
foreign creditors, and the army. And
when the debts are paid in copper coins
or paper scrip that foreigners will not
accept in payment for imported merchan
dise, the mercantile sector is paralyzed.93
The evils evident in 1823 intensified over time.
Political instability harmed the capitals economy in the
long run and the short run. Every revolution temporarily
halted commerce and industry even when street fighting did
not occur. If an army cut the government's link to the port
of Vera Cruz, whose customs duties were the principal source
of revenue, the government failed to meet its obligations,
94
and commercial credit disappeared. Measures to restore
the economy after a revolution often proved counterproduc
tive. To revive the commerce harmed by the Revolution of
September 1841, General Santa Anna suspended the payment
of all debts contracted between August 31 and October 7.
Until payment resumed one month later, commercial credit
9 5
disappeared and the economy halted.
The Semanario Artstico, weekly newspaper of the
Junta de Fomento de Artesanos, presented this editorial on
the effects of revolutionary crises on artisanal industries:

24
Artisans especially are subject to personal
crises that threaten not only their exis
tence but those of their families. Civil
disorders produce the same results because,
altering the public confidence, they para
lyze when they do not dry up the sources of
work. The epidemics are less terrible and
less dangerous for the operative than the
great political crises because the epidemics
increase the danger of life but do not para
lyze work.96
Political instability fed on government bankruptcy
to depress further the contracted economy. Every revolution
or war created a budgetary crisis as expenses rose and the
9 7
customary source of revenue disappeared. The closing of
the port of Vera Cruz during the Pastry War with France
in 1838 cost the government $5 million. To cover expenses,
it minted worthless copper money or took out loans at extra-
98
ordinarily high rates of interest. From 1825 the deficit
in the treasury became permanent. Table 3 shows the gap be
tween government revenues and expenditures for the year 1844.
To pay off its agiotistas (creditors), the government gave
them control of the customs houses and further diminished
its revenues.
The repayment of government bonds harmed the economy
by withdrawing large amounts of funds from commerce and in-
9 9
dustry. Failure to repay the bond holders meant that com
mercial credit, largely in the hands of the agiotistas, dis
appeared. The Semanario Artstico noted that the government
bankruptcy of 1844 produced "the paralysis of business, public

25
misery, and private necessity within a nation worthy of a
0 0
better fate.
Bankruptcy affected the bureaucracy through reduced
salaries and threatened unemployment. As early as 1825, un
paid civil servants hectored the government for their salaries.
By 1831 the discounting of civil-service salaries was common-
102
place. At the beginning of Valentin Gomez Farias's vice
presidency (1833), retired military personnel, pensioners,
l 0
and civil servants had not received their pay for six months.
By 1834 most civil servants were on half-pay or receiving
discounted salaries. To discount salaries and to default on
1 04
payment was the rule throughout the decade of 1840.
To pare expenses, the government laid off personnel.
The first-known reduction in force occurred in 1828, and
the practice persisted at least until 1850.105 Although one
is inclined to believe that the dismissed employees were
promptly rehired or replaced by others, the constant threat
of dismissal made the economic standing of the civil servant
106
precarious.
The black humor of the era mocked the bureaucracy's
impoverishment. The first requirement for a minor civil ser
vant was that "he must accept with a good will a salary as
10 7
scarce as it was poorly paid." Another wag commented that
a devoted servant of the nation will have
to take the bad with the good; after all,
it's not impossible for a man to support
his family on five pesos a month.108

26
Table C-l contrasts bureaucratic salaries with the average
yearly earnings of the artisans listed on the industrial cen
sus of 1849. The average civil servant's salary of $1,080
is over seven times the wage earner's annual income of $156.
The bureaucrats, along with some 200 lawyers and doctors,
possessed the potential of a prosperous middle class whose
demands for goods and services might have invigorated the
otherwise contracted and depressed economy. The Semanario
Artstico listed the impoverishment of the bureaucracy as one
10 9
of several causes in the chronic industrial depression.
The minting of worthless copper coinage damaged the
economy. The coinage, first struck in 1824, circulated
throughout the three decades of independence. Its issuance,
circulation, and inevitable devaluation produced cycles of
inflation followed by depression. The copper coin was offi
cially valued at $.25 and intrinsically worth $.125. It was
very easily counterfeited. In 1841 only one tenth of the
daily operating cash of the Hospital de San Hiplito was in
legal tender; the remainder was counterfeit.110 During the
devaluation of 1841, only 7 of the 700 pesos collected at
i11
the national mint were genuine. Counterfeiting caused
the real value of the coinage to plunge to $.0625. The mani
pulation of speculators who purchased huge quantities of the
copper money in hope of an advantageous later redemption
11 2
caused the value of the currency to gyrate wildly.
The circulation of a currency "enormous in quantity,

27
mostly counterfeit, and having a purely imaginary value"
caused "fatal fluctuations in mercantile transactions and
i1 3
contracts. When the value of the worthless coinage fell
drastically, storekeepers refused to be paid in it. Instead,
the small merchant, especially the owners of the small gro
cery stores patronized by the poor, issued currency carved
from soap, wood, or other materials. A desperate government
would pass legislation requiring that the public pay at least
one tenth to one quarter of all business transactions in
11 4
copper money.
Devaluation was the last resort. The devaluations
of 1837 and 1841 only aggravated the plight of the economy.
At the very rumor of devaluation, stores--particularly
bakeries, butcher shops, and grocerieswould close to avoid
the accumulation of the worthless coins. The government
passed laws forbidding closure and required that food and
other articles of primary necessity be sold at low prices.
The suppliers of food, who lived outside the jurisdiction of
the ayuntamiento, frustrated the laws by refusing to sell
their products to the shopkeepers for anything but silver.
Months before a devaluation date, shops remained open with
.. , US
nothing on their shelves.
The law required the merchants to turn in their
stocks of copper money to the government on the promise that
they would be repaid in new currency within six months. This
procedure deprived merchants of operating capital, profits,

28
TABLE 1
ANNUAL INCOME OF COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1848
Enterprise
Income in Pesos3
Warehouses
6
1,200
10
970
12
720
33
500
30
240
Imported-clothing
stores
10
400
4
300
13
200
13
100
11
50
Grocery stores
3
800
7
600
6
500
20
400
45
200
43
100
21
50
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2021, exp. 68.
a0ne peso was equivalent to US$1.

29
TABLE 2
BRANCHES OF THE JUNTA DE FOMENTO DE ARTESANOS
Carpentry
Blacksmithing
Weaving
Tailoring
Shoemaking
Carriage making
Tinsmithing
Painting
Barrel making
Leather working
Embroidery
Copper working
Tanning
Silversmithing
Watchmaking
Purse making
Lithography
Brass working
Pottery making.
Sculpturing
Architecture (construction)
Button making
Piano making
Goldsmithing
Gunsmithery
SOURCE: "Fomento de las artes," Semanario Artstico, 9 agosto
1844, p. 3.
TABLE 3
MEXICAN BUDGET, 1844
Income
$25,905,348
Budgeted expenses
25,336,430
Foreign and domestic debt
10,000,000
Additional revenue required
9,431,082
SOURCE: Agustn Cue Cnovas, Historia social y econmica de
Mxico (1521-1854)(Mexico, D.F., 1963), p. 368.

30
TABLE 4
OCCUPATIONAL-CATEGORY/MEAN-RENT CORRELATION
Occupation
Mean Rent
% Population
Upper $24 26
Artisan3 5 42
Unskilled 3 23
Unknown 9
Total number of cases 1,009
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.
NOTE: "$" signifies pesos' unless otherwise indicated. Be
cause Mexican currency is divided into eighths and because
the computer calculates by decimals, the mean rents contain
a small negative error.
a
Foreign
artisans
included.
TABLE 5
COMPARISON OF THE MEAN RENTS OF OCCUPATIONAL
CATEGORIES IN THE TRAZA AND BARRIOS
Class
Traza
Barrios
Upper
$27
$16
Artisan
9
2
Unskilled
4
2
Total number of cases
1,009
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.

31
TABLE 6
OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES OF NATIVES OF MEXICO CITY,
INTERNAL MIGRANTS, AND FOREIGNERS
%
Mexico City
% Internal
D.F. States
%
Foreigners
Upper
24
20
22
63
Artisans
46
27
43
23
Unskilled
23
42
31
6
Unknown
7
11
4
8
Total cases 1,339
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.
TABLE 7
OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES BY SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHICAL ORIGIN
Area
% Total
%
%
%
Population
Upper
Artisan
Unskilled
D.F.
2
20
27
42
Guanajuato
2
35
35
24
Hidalgo
3
30
23
43
Jalisco
1
33
33
33
Mexico
(state)
5
12
39
37
Michoacn
2
14
55
27
Puebla
3
27
50
12
Queretaro
2
17
55
17
San Luis
Potos
1
25
33
42
Vera Cruz
Oaxaca, Colima
1
13
60
7
Chiapas, Nuevo
Leon
1
41
24
24
Unidentified
4
23
23
39
Total cases
352
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3049, 3413.

32
TABLE 8
URBAN ORIGINS OF IMMIGRANTS
State
% Migrants
City %
D.F.
4
Guanajuato
8
Guanajuato
5
Acambaro
1
Hidalgo
12
Pachuca
2
Real del Monte
1
Tulancingo
2
Apam
1
Jalisco
3
Guadalaj ara
3
Mexico
24
Toluca
9
Texcoco
5
Michoacan
Zumpango
2
6
Morelia
3
Zamora
1
Sitacuaro
1
Puebla
11
Puebla
9
Queretaro
8
Queretaro
6
Celaya
1
San Luis Potos
3
San Luis Potos
3
Vera Cruz
5
Jalapa
2
Vera Cruz
1
Orizaba
1
Total cases 357
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.

33
TABLE 9
COMPARISON OF MEAN RENT BY ORIGIN AND OCCUPATION
Origin
Upper
Artisan
Unskilled
Mexico City
$22
$ 3
$ 3
D. F.
8
3
1
S tates
18
3
3
Foreign
34
45
14
Unidentified
Mean for each
category
Mean rent for
Mexico City $10
Total cases 1,009
24
5
10
3
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.
TABLE 10
MEAN RENT BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN BY OCCUPATION
Origin
Upper
Artisan
Unskilled
D.F.
7
3
2
Guanajuato
30
3
3
Hidalgo
11
3
4
Jalisco
18
4
1
Mexico (state)
30
2
2
Michoacan
14
3
3
Puebla
19
2
2
Quertaro
15
4
2
San Luis Potos
22
1
1
Vera Cruz
34
11
2
Other
7
4
2
Total cases 352
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.

34
and personal income for an entire year. During the devalua
tion of 1841, many merchants chose to go out of business
rather than place their money in the hands of a government
l l 6
whose promises they considered worthless.
Devaluation did not check the use of copper money.
l l 7
The coinage of 1837 was replaced by one equally overvalued.
Soon the counterfeiters were at work insuring that the new
118
money was as worthless as the old. As late as 1853 copper
money was in circulation, wreaking havoc upon the commerce
, 11 9
of the city.
Foreign manufactures, both those permitted by special
license and those smuggled, crippled Mexico City's economy.
From 1824 to 1828 Mexico experimented with a policy of un
restricted free trade whose net effect was to depress native
12 0
industry, particularly textile manufacturing. The results
of free trade, according to its critics, were the near ex
tinction of the tanning, textile, glassmaking, and hat making
industries. After 1828 a restrictive tariff policy permitting
the entrance of goods that native artisans did not manufacture,
but forbidding the importation of goods that competed with
l 21
native manufactures, lasted for twenty years. -
Governments in straitened circumstances granted spe
cial permits to import prohibited goods in hope of receiving
extra revenues. These excursions from'protectionism hurt the
economy of the capital. In 1841 the government of General
Mariano Arista granted a permit to import cotton thread in

35
expectation of receiving $170,000 of extra customs revenues.
Upon notification of the proposed importation, the nation's
textile manufacturers printed a petition warning that the
12 2
measure would force the closure of the native-owned mills.
The ayuntamiento sprang to the defense of this important sec
tor of the local economy by printing a petition stating that
the measure would "deprive the miserable classes that unfor-
12 3
tunately abound in our country of any hope or belief."
The illegal introduction of contraband did serious
damage to the economy of the city. Although the inability
of the government to enforce protectionism was evident from
the inception of the policy, smuggling reached blatant pro
portions by 1840. In 1841 the ayuntamiento estimated that
the amount of contraband thread entering the country would
12 4
surpass the 8 million pounds of legally imported thread.
Factories near the coast became illegal way stations where
smuggled textiles were marked with the national stamp. In
1844 the government ordered the closure of coastal factories
12 5
and the public burning of seized contraband. After 1847
Mexican protectionism became a dead letter as the North
American administrators of the ports of Matzatln, Tampico,
and. Vera Cruz ignored the laws and allowed a flood of contra-
, , 126
band to enter the country.
Contraband easily found its way. into Mexico City.
In 1841, 1842, and 1843, Siglo Diez y Nueve and Semanario Ar
tstico launched campaigns to denounce and seize the contra-

36
12 7
band in the capital. The injury suffered by the arti
sanal industries was stated in a petition which 6,124 arti
sans sent to the ayuntamiento in 1851. Because of contra
band, the artisans complained, many workshops closed and
others hovered close to bankruptcy.
Our children and our wives lack bread, and
the government cannot separate our necessity
from any other social need. Bread is bought
with money; money is earned by work, and
there is no work due to the indiscrete and
i O Q
illegal introduction of foreign merchandise.
The direct competition of foreigners also damaged
the Mexican-owned sector of the economy. Article 6 of the
Constitution of 1824 permitted foreigners willing to convert
to Catholicism the same civil rights and legal protection
.12 9
granted to Mexican citizens. The flow of foreigners into
the capital was substantial. In 1844 over 420 foreign arti-
13 0
sans entered Mexico through the port of Vera Cruz. Al
though destinations were unlisted, a substantial number
settled in Mexico City. Charles Latrobe, a North American
tourist, reported in 1833 that "many foreign artisans have
l 3 l
of late settled in Mexico City." The census of 1843
counted 1,230 foreigners, or 10 percent of the total counted
1 3 2
population. In the census of 1849 they numbered 6 percent
of the population. Twenty-two percent of the foreigners
counted in 1849 were artisans.

37
The foreigners possessed a reputation for technical
excellence and reliability. Their popularity with the upper
and middle classes had two effects on the capital's economy.
Foreign-operated industries pushed aside those operated by
Mexicans, and foreign artisans replaced Mexicans in an
economy of severely constricted opportunities. In 1845 a
master blacksmith lamented his inability to employ more jour
neymen because "the art of blacksmithing is much reduced in
this capital." He could sell "only balcony rails and insig
nificant remnants," and customers preferred to patronize
13 3
"the foreigners for these trifles." The effect on na
tive journeymen is stated with simple eloquence by Jose Her
nandez, a twenty-one-year-old shoemaker arrested for vagrancy
in 1835.
Why have you dragged from my aged mother
the comfort of her old age? For better or
worse by my craft of shoemaker, working
here or there, I support her existence.
You will ask me in what workshop do I
work, and I respond that in the workshops
of distinction I have not worked because
most of them are foreign. And these, when
they hire Mexican journeymen, want those
that have a decent exterior, and fate has
not permitted to me the appearance to work
in them; so that all that is left to me is
to work among the rinconeras [those that
lack a public workshop], and that, Sir, is
my situation.1 34
Ill-feeling caused by direct competition with the
foreigners resident in the capital led to efforts to ban

38
them from commerce and industry. In 1830 native merchants
complained to the ayuntamiento that "foreigners entered the
city every day unnoticed by the government and the police"
and that "it was notorious that the streets of the city were
sown with foreign shops." The foreigners, they alleged, did
not fulfill the obligations of Mexican citizenship and left
13 5
the city as soon as their fortunes were made. The ayunta
miento concluded after a full legal examination of the issues
that it was powerless to take any action. In 1843, however,
public outcry was so great that the government of General
Santa Anna temporarily and regretfully banned the aliens
136
from commerce.
People
Estimates of the capital's population ranged between
150,000 and 160,000 In 1824 and between 176,000 and 200,000
13 7
In the 1840s and 1850s. All estimates lacked an accurate
13 8
census upon which to base calculations. The upper and
middle classes were a heterogeneous assortment of indepen
dently wealthy, prosperous merchants, financiers, indus
trialists, professionals, and civil servants. This group
will be referred to in the future as the upper classes.
13 9
They numbered 26 percent of the sample population of 1849.
Because the bias of the census favored them, their percentage
within the actual population must have been lower.

39
An enormous mass of laboring poor were readily iden
tifiable to the wealthy who described them as "miserable
people," "unhappy people," "the needy class," and other
phrases descriptive of poverty. In 1841 Siglo Diez y Nueve
defined them as the poor artisans and wage laborers "who in
the best of times earned scarcely enough to eat and half dress"
14 0
and who now were reduced to beggary. This is a splendid
working definition and it is only necessary to amplify jour
nalistic brevity. The laboring poor were journeymen artisans,
unskilled laborers, street peddlers, and domestic servants,
and their families, earning a subsistence income or less.
In 1841 their numbers were estimated to be 160,000, or 80
l 4 i
percent of a total population of 200,000.
Occasionally, cultivated Mexicans used the archaic
term plebe to designate the poor. Plebe literally denoted
all those engaged in retail commerce, manual labor, and
.14 2
menial occupations. Prosperous retail merchants had not
been considered members of the plebe since the sixteenth cen-
l 43
tury. By the eighteenth century the word denoted two
groups, the artisans and the plebe infime. Artisans were
skilled craftsmen whose importance to colonial society was
acknowledged by their incorporation into legally recognized
14 4
and self-regulating gremios (craft guilds). Forty-two
l 4 5
percent of the sample population were artisans. The
plebe infime, literally meaning the lowest portion of the
plebe, were a polyglot mass of unskilled workers, street

40
peddlers, domestic servants, and artisans who labored in
low-prestige crafts. Twenty-nine percent of the sample
l 46
population fell into this category. The vulgar name for
this class was the populacho. A Spanish administrator of
the late colonial period estimated the plebe of his era to
l 4 7
amount to 80 percent of the entire population.
The populacho was the same "poor and idle class of
u 148
half-caste Mexicans that foreigners called leperos.
Although their definitional criteria varied, foreign esti
mates of the percentage of lperos in the population approxi
mated that of the traditional populacho. Henry Ward, the
first British ambassador to Mexico, reported that "twenty
thousand naked lperos" existed in the capital prior to in
dependence and the consequent importation of cheap British
] 49
textiles. Joel Poinsett, his North American rival, esti
mated the same number to lack fixed residences or a means of
support in 1824.1 5 0 A quarter-century later a French consul
using unspecified criteria estimated that 25 percent of the
, 15 1
population were leperos.
The division of Mexico City's society into an upper
class and a plebe reflects a valid occupational hierarchy
supported by economic status. Table 4 compares the size
and mean monthly rent of each occupational group. The mean
rent of the upper classes was five times that of the artisans
and six times that of the populacho. The rent paid by arti
sans was 40 percent higher than that of the unskilled. Because

41
of its validity, the hierarchy will be used whenever occu
pational characteristics are discussed.
Although plebe and its component terms are valuable
as a system of occupational classification, their use obscures
rather than clarifies Mexican social reality. Artisans did
consider themselves members of a single group united by a
skilled craft, but great differences in wealth and interest
separated the master artisan who owned his shop from the
journeyman whom he hired. In the eighteenth century, the mas
ters waged a long, bitter, and losing struggle to prevent
15 2
employees from starting their own small businesses.
The differences dividing the two groups were apparent. Refer
ences to artesanos in the official correspondence of the
late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries did not signify
153
master artisans. The final abolition of the gremio in
1824, the vehicle through which the master exercized his
legal monopoly on trade, temporarily muted the conflict be
tween master and journeyman. Republican references to arte
sanos denoted both masters and journeymen. Important dif
ferences, however, persisted. There existed an unbridgeable
gap between the world of Lucas Balderas, owner of a fashionable
tailor shop specializing in military uniformsthe permanent in
spector of the capital's civic militia and former regidor of
the ayuntamientoand the world of Luis- Ortega, journeyman tailor
who received materials,from a public workshop to complete at
15 4
home and who frequently worked as a waiter to make ends meet.

42
There was a greater gap between Balderas and the lowly
rinconera (street-corner artisan) who squatted outside the
casa de vecindad (apartment house), enticing customers with
1 5 5
parodies of French fashions. Because of high economic
and social status, master artisans cannot be included within
the Republic's plebe.
A. more serious objection to the use of plebe in
volves the criminal or vagrant connotations of the terms
plebe Infime and populacho. An article appearing in the
Museo Mexicano, a cultural publication of the period, de
scribed the traits associated with these elements. The
males, who performed occupations requiring "brute instinct"
rather than skill, earned scarcely enough to support their
necessities which happened to be drinking and smoking. When
unemployed, which was frequently, they apathetically dozed
in the shade or borrowed anything worth pawning. An auda
cious one would become a pickpocket, expert at lifting
scarves or watches during church services or public spec
tacles. When caught he was usually released to commit
greater crimes. As for the women, they could be seen in the
streets scrounging for discarded fruits, cigarette or cigar
15 6
butts, and drinking mezcal in the doors of wine shops.
The upper classes considered "the most profligate artisan"
15 7
to be superior to any member of that degraded class.
Foreign descriptions of the lperos are very similar
to Mexican descriptions of the populacho. Gabriel Ferry wrote
of his. lpero acquaintances:

43
Porter, stonemason, teamster, street
paver, peddlerthe lpero is every
thing at different times. . Al
though he is often a thief, he is sub
jected to thievery. If he earns in
the morning enough money to live for
a day, he stops working immediately.
He has no capacity to save money. Un
employed, he idly awaits a new turn of
fortune.15 8
Ferry also said:
He fulfills alternatively all types of
trades. But he is a born thief and
steals by instinct. His life results
in a long series of altercations with
justice that covers him with misfor
tune .1 5 9
In 1862 the pen of Guillermo Prieto, the period's
most famous memoirist, immortalized the lpero as the mestizo
cultural hero who made "love, fighting, and pulque the stuff
of his life." Shunning armed robbery as crude, the lpero
displayed native guile by fleecing his victims through in
geniously contrived frauds.160 Prieto's memories had mellowed
perhaps; his contemporaries considered the lpero a social
menace. They believed lpero idleness to be at the root of
the crime that plagued the capital. Brantz Mayer, a North
American diplomat, described the relationship of the lpero's
life style to crime with a flair for colorful detail.

44
There on the canals around the markets
and pulque shops, . these miserable
outcasts hang all day long, feeding on
fragments, quarreling, drinking, steal
ing, and lying drunk about the pavements
with their children crying with hunger
around them. At night they slink off
to these suburbs and coil themselves up
on the damp floors of their lairs to
sleep off the effects of liquor and to
awake to another day of misery and crime,
is it wonderful in a city with an immense
proportion of its inhabitants of such a
class (hopeless in the present and the
future) that there are murderers and
robbers?161
The quantitative data point out that the unskilled
and menial workers did not merit their unsavory reputation.
Seventy-one percent of all suspected vagrants were artisans;
the most heavily represented were masons, shoemakers, tailors,
and weavers. Twenty-nine percent of all suspects were un
skilled workers; peddlers, servants, street porters, and
coachmen were the most heavily represented. The Tribunal
de Vagos showed little prejudice against the unskilled, con
victing 17 percent of their total number and 16 percent of
the artisans. The Tribunal tended to convict large numbers
16 2
of tailors, weavers, street porters, and bakers.
In Cuartel Menor 17, 73 percent of all male criminal
suspects were artisans and 27 percent were unskilled. Ma
sons, weavers, tailors, and carpenters were the most heavily
represented craftsmen; street porters and wax chandlers were
the most numerous unskilled workers. Seventy percent of the

45
convicted criminals were artisans; and the remainder, unskilled
workers. The court convicted disproportionately large numbers
1 63
of masons, weavers, shoemakers, and carpenters.
Mexican and foreign reports .leave no doubt as to the
existence of a criminal and vagrant populacho. If the men
arraigned before the Tribunal de Vagos and the Juzgado de
Primera Instancia were representative lperos or members of
the. populacho, the composition and nature of the class require
redefinition. Not a permanent group of menial workers distin
guishable from artisans by lack of skill, disinclination to
work, and dishonesty, the populacho was a representative cross-
section of the poor driven to vagrancy and crime by unemploy
ment and underemployment. Membership fluctuated with the
fortunes of the economy; because of continual economic depres
sion, its size was always large.
A problem of contrasting social perception arises. In
1876 Niceto Zamacois, a Mexican historian, objected to the
common use of the appellation of lpero to designate the lowest
portion of the Mexican plebe. Zamacois explained that
in Mexico the word lpero is not applied
to anybody because he belongs to the
lowest class of the plebe; he can belong
to that and not merit the qualification
as long as he occupies himself in some
honest work. Lpero signifies truly an
individual of low moral sphere who does
not work at all, whose manner of living
is unknown, and in whom all the vices
concur. Thus it is that among the most
humble people of society, the word is
applied only to he who commits a very in
decorous act.164

46
The historian's opinion is supported by the absence of
lpero from the recorded testimonies of thousands of sus
pected vagrants and criminals consulted during the course of
research. It appears on an official document in 1843 when
a harried junior official complains that "one cannot remain
indifferent to the disorders that the lpero commits."165
In private publications before 1843, lpero and populacho
appear only during the course of political polemic. Both
terms are found more frequently after 1845 when economic,
political, and military collapse aroused fears of social
anarchy among the upper classes.
The rare use of lpero supports the view of Robert
Wilson, a visitor from the United States, that lpero was
an extremely derogatory slur to designate the poor during
16 6
the colonial period. The word disappeared from the vocabu
lary after the 1828 Revolution of the Acordada when lower-
class rioters made their presence felt in republican politics
Foreigners learned of the word by reading the account of
Giovanni Francesco Gemeli (1651-1725), a Neapolitan visitor
to New Spain who originated the term, or by hearing it used
in private conversations with wealthy friends. The word,
however, experienced the same unpopularity that nigger ex
perienced in modern North American society.
Foreigners and the upper classes perceived a degraded
class of criminals and vagrants whom they believed to be un
skilled, or menial laborers. The holders of such occupations

47
never thought of themselves in such terms. In the
streets, the lowest peddler called himself maestro (mas
ter) 67 The meanest adolescent mandadero (errand boy)
hauled before the Tribunal de Vagos would protest to the
magistrates that he possessed an oficio (skilled craft).
No pen del albail (unskilled construction laborer)
would ever admit to being less than an oficial del alba
il (journeyman in construction). The waiter employed at
the fashionable Cafe de la Bella Union or the driver of
the municipal trash wagon considered himself to be as
socially distant from the unskilled construction laborer
or the street paver as the wealthiest financier from his
l 6 8
most junior clerk. In the depressed economy of Mexico
City, any occupation, no matter how menial, gave its
holder a certain degree of status.
Marked patterns of residential segregation sepa
rated the plebe from his superior. The wealthy occupied
the drier, more-convenient central locations of Mexico
City while the poor resided on the wetter fringes. The
area enclosed by a circle of five-hundred-yard radius,
with its center at the middle of the central plaza, en
closed 17 percent of the population. Within that circle, the
upper classes numbered 35 percent of the population; arti
sans, 32 percent; and the unskilled, 25 percent. The mean
rent of the area was $23 compared to the mean municipal rent

48
of $10. Beyond the circle lived 83 percent of the population.
Twenty-five percent of it were in the upper-class category;
41 percent were artisans, and 23 percent were unskilled.
The mean rent of this area was $8. The industrial census of
1843 manifests wealthy businesses clustered in the central
area. The interior circle contained 32 percent of the city's
industries; the government assessed taxes on 55 percent. The
outer ring contained 68 percent of the industries; the govern-
16 9
ment assessed taxes on only 21 percent however.
The archaic separation of the Spanish Traza from the
Indian barrio left an indelible mark upon the social distri
bution of the population. The boundaries of the Traza delin
eated two cities. One was "worthy of being counted among the
i 7 o
most beautiful in the New World." The other city of the
barrios was a city "of mud, of clogged, stinking sewers, of
unlit streets" in which "human misery was revealed to the
,.l 7 l
most cynical publicity."
The census of 1849 demonstrates the extent the Traza
differed from the barrios. The population of the random sam
ple was evenly divided between the two areas, but because of
the bias of the census, the population of the barrios exceeded
that of the Traza. The Traza's occupational composition was
37 percent upper, 33 percent artisanal, and 22 percent un
skilled. That of the barrios was 15 percent upper, 50 percent
1 7 2
artisanal, and 22 percent unskilled. Economic division
between Traza and barrio was evident within the occupational

49
divisions themselves. Table 5 compares the differences in
mean rents paid by members of the occupational categories
residing in the two areas.
Twenty-four percent of the Traza's residents lived in
private homes, 20 percent in apartments, 19 percent in acces
orias (outbuildings), and 32 percent in single rooms. In the
barrios, 11 percent lived in private homes, 9 percent lived
in apartments, 10 percent in accesorias, 62 percent in single
rooms, and 6 percent in shacks. The mean rent of the Traza
habitations was $16; that of the barrios was $4. The Traza
included 81 percent of the houses employing servants and 83
l 7 3
percent of the capital's foreign residents.
The poor of Mexico City were readily identifiable
17 4
as mestizos. Lucas Alaman, the Mexican statesman and his
torian, explained the relationship of race to social position
when he wrote of the colonial castes.
From them also came the trusted servants
of the country and in the city. Having
much facility and much comprehension,
they exercized all the crafts and the me
chanical arts, and, in sum, one could say
that from them came the labor that was em
ployed in every task.175
period.
Legal racial
In the las t
discrimination existed in the colonial
two decades of that era, however, it had
become such an embarrassing anachronism that legal witnesses
could be purchased, and officials were extremely perfunctory

50
in entering racial antecedents on legal documents. During
the early decades of independence, the legal abolition of all
references to racescrupulously observed in legal documents,
newspapers, and all but the sociological literaturedemon
strated the popular revulsion to the colonial heritage of
racial discrimination. Centuries of oppression had left its
scar upon the mestizo population. Alaman summarized the con
dition on the eve of the wars of independence:
Lacking all instruction, they [the castes]
were subject to great defects and vices,
but with awakened spirits and vigorous
bodies, they were susceptible to every
thing evil and every thing good.177
Foreignersmostly Spanish, French, and British
amounted to 6 percent of the sample population. Prosperity
and superior training segregated the 22 percent who were mas
ter and journeyman artisans from the majority of native arti
sans. Internal migrants were an impressive 27 percent of the
sample Mexican population. Most of them were the laboring
poor. Table 6 contrasts the occupational composition of
migrants to that of natives of the capital. Sixty-nine
percent of the natives belonged to the two lowest occupational
categories. Sixty-nine percent of all migrants from the Dis
trito Federal and 74 percent of those from the states of the
Republic belonged to the lower occupational categories.

51
Table 7 depicts occupations of migrants from the in
dividual states and the Distrito Federal. Large percentages
of artisans came from Puebla, Queretaro, Mexico, Michoacan,
and Vera Cruz. Large percentages of unskilled came from
Hidalgo, Mexico, and San Luis Potos. Although the percent
ages of migrants in the two lower occupational categories
approximate those of the native Mexicans, migrants were dis
proportionately represented among weavers, domestic servants,
herders, street porters, water carriers, and charcoal vendors.
Table 8 gives the urban origins of the migrants.
Seventy percent came from the states bordering the Distrito
Federal and Guanajuato, Queretaro, and Michoacan: urbanized
and economically developed areas. The majority came from the
large cities of the states. Only 4 percent were natives of
the rural villages in the Distrito Federal.
Depression in home states drove migrants to the capital
in search of work. Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Michoacan, and Quere
taro were devastated during the wars of independence (1810-
1821) and were then afflicted with the depression associated with
17 8
the collapse of the mining industry. Puebla, Queretaro,
and to a certain extent Mexico suffered from the depression of
the textile industry, produced by the Republic's early experi
ment with free trade (1821-1828) and by the flood of contraband
that followed later prohibitory tariff policies. The Semanario
Artstico explained the false lure of the capital:

52
Mexico [City] appears as the center of all
artisanal activities, attracting many opera
tives that come from distant places where
they have left their workshops believing
that they will find here abundant work.
Nevertheless, the depressed state, in which
unfortunately one sees our manufacturing
industry, has not been able to provide occu
pations to everybody, and the privations and
the quickening of hunger produces the incli
nation to steal. In former times it was
very rare to find an artisan among thieves.179
Francisco Lopez Camara, a social historian, and Torcuato di
Telia, a sociologist, projecting into the past the difficulties
experienced by modern internal migrants in finding work, have
assumed that nineteenth-century internal migrants were the
] 80
primary component of the lepero population.
Some migrants were suspected of being less respectable
than well-intentioned seekers of work. Mexico City, according
to a report of the ayuntamiento, was the "concourse of vagrants"
j 8 i
from all over the Republic. The Ministro de Relaciones In
teriores (internal ministry) feared that the city was a sanc
tuary for men on the run who disappeared "amidst the numerous
population and confusion of persons." These men "without
craft or any honest occupation" were "a material ever disposed
,18 2
towards tumults and disorders. 1
Vagrants and notorious criminals certainly must have
existed among the migrant population, but the quantitative
evidence indicates that the migrants were no more prone to
crime than natives of Mexico City. Thirty-eight percent of

53
the suspected vagrants were migrants, and 49 percent, natives
of Mexico City. The Tribunal de Vagos did not discriminate
against the migrants. Natives of Mexico City were 52 percent
of the convicted vagrants while migrants were 40 percent.
Migrants were not overly represented among the crimi
nals. Fifty-five percent of the criminal suspects were na
tives of Mexico City and the remainder were migrants. The
percentages of natives and migrants among the criminal sus
pects are about the same as those of the sample blocks within
Cuartel Menor 17. Fifty-eight percent of all convicted crimi
nals were natives and 42 percent were migrants.
The dire consequences of migration described by the
Semanario Artstico and supported by the conclusions of Lopez
Camara and Di Telia may never have occurred. Table 9 compares
the mean rents of migrants with those of natives. Except for
unskilled workers from the Distrito Federal, migrants and
native Mexicans in the two lowest occupational categories
paid almost identical mean rents. Table 10 breaks down the
mean rents of the migrants by their specific origins. Those '
from Vera Cruz, Queretaro, and Guanajuato paid higher rents,
while those from the Distrito Federal, Mexico, Puebla, and
San Luis Potos paid lower rents.
The migrants settled throughout the city. The random,
sample does not show any statistically significant concentra
tion of migrants on any one block or area of the city. There
is evidence, however, from the barrios of San Salvador el

54
Seco and Necatitln that they did not mix socially with the
natives. The barrios' migrant population amounted to 37 and
26 percent of their respective general populations. Only 15
and 13 percent respectively of the barrios' married migrants
were married to native Mexicans. The conclusion that the
low percentages of migrant-native marriages indicate a lack
of social integration must be tempered; large numbers of mi
grants undoubtedly arrived in Mexico City already married.
The laboring poor were largely sedentary. Mexico
City lacked a "floating population" of seasonal laborers from
the countryside of the type that swelled the ranks of the
l 83
Parisian poor during the eighteenth century. Unless
driven into the capital by famine or press gangs, the In
dians of the surrounding rural villages preferred to stay
3 8
home rather than experience an alien and unfriendly culture.
It is unknown whether these refugees became permanent resi
dents or returned as soon as conditions at home improved.
Even the vagrants were sedntary. Ten percent of all sus
pected vagrants and 18 percent of all convicted vagrants
admitted to frequent absences from Mexico City or prolonged
residences during adulthood in other cities. However, 50 per
cent of the suspects and 47 percent of the convicted had
lived in Mexico City for at least ten years.
The labor histories of vagrancy suspects show a
small but significant number of journeymen migrating from
and to the city whenever economic conditions merited. A

55
traditional traffic ran between the capital and neighboring
Puebla, sixty miles distant. In the late colonial period
indebted journeymen escaped their masters by fleeing to Puebla
18 5
"to hide amid the many corners of that populous city."
Puebla's popularity persisted among republic artisans. Agus
tn Baldivera, a potter, was born in Mexico City, served his
apprenticeship in Puebla, and returned to his place of birth
where he found employment at a public workshop owned and
staffed by former poblanos (natives of Puebla).186 Jesus
Davila, a seventeen-year-old stone carver, traveled regularly
between Mexico City, Puebla, and "various other places" in
. r 18 7
search of work.
Others traveled farther afield. Guillermo Canales,
a carriage maker, went to Zacatecas where he worked as a
coachman. He then moved to Guadalajara where he tried his
18 8
hand at glass blowing. When Mariano Bucolo saw his trade
of sweet making decline after 1826, he and his wife journeyed
to Durango where he found employment as a cabinet maker,
and she, as a cook. Like the others, they eventually re-
, 1 8 9
turned to Mexico City.
The willingness of native artisans to travel.in search
of work, together with the presence of a large body of mi
grants within Mexico City, reflects a homogeneity of urban
culture that softened the disruptive effects of migration.
The urban laboring poor possessed some knowledge of economic
conditions outside the confines of their cities and perhaps
a national rather than a regional identity.

56
Catastrophes would force people to flee or relocate
within the city. References in the proceedings of the Tri
bunal de Vagos lead me to suspect that the cholera epidemic
of 1833 caused mass flight. The occupation of Mexico City
by the United States Army caused massive dislocation of the
population. After the withdrawal, municipal administration
could hardly function because of the general depopulation
190
and the redistribution of the survivors within the city.
The miserable people were not highly regarded by the
upper classes. The "low" people were said to have vicious
habits, live in idleness, and lack social respect. Their
religion was an aggregate of superstitions that degraded
true faith. They were commonly differentiated from the
upper classes by the explanation that they acted according
to the instincts of brutish animals rather than the rationality
19 1
of men. Mariano Otero summarized the base regard for the
urban lower classes:
Their common origin [with the Indians],
the contact that they have through form
ing the same class, and the stagnation
of the mechanical arts and industry has
resulted in conserving within them the
same ignorance and brutishness as the
Indians; their mansion in the cities
has served for no other purpose than to
infect them with the vices of the upper
classes whom they mimic. The vices, de
veloped by the savage character of the
population, degrade them doubly because
of their barbarous stupidity.192

57
The unmerited notoriety of the unskilled and menial
workers has been noted. The upper classes also showed little
regard for the artisans who were supposed to be the elite of
the miserable people. In the late colonial period, Viceroy
Revillagigedo (1789-1794) criticized the journeymen for
"their general lack of education, their consequent imprudence,
19 3
and the one thousand defects that abound in them." Jose
Fernandez de Lizardi's El periquillo sarniento, a social
comedy of the last decade of colonial rule, humorously por
trayed the apprenticing of a European boy to a craft as an
19 4
unthinkable social disgrace. Mariano Otero related that
successful artisans would not allow their sons to enter crafts,
preferring to obtain employment for them in the civil service
l 9 5
or to educate them for a life of leisure. Although Otero's
observations could describe occupational prejudices in the
United States, he was examining a social prejudice noticeable
to his contemporaries. After observing Mexico City's arti
sans, Robert Wilson concluded that they were degraded and
lacked the social respect their counterparts in the United
States received.
The era's progressives condemned the traditional dis
respect for manual labor; however, they criticized the jour
neyman's antiquated inefficiency. Their thinking is reflected
in an editorial appearing in Siglo Diez y Nueve. The editors
regretted that although disrespect for the artisan was not
as great as it once was, it still existed and criticized those

58
wrong-thinkers who snubbed all Mexican manufactures in favor
of imported merchandise. Nevertheless, it criticized the
journeymen for their lack of punctuality, requests for ad
vances in wages, slothfulness, and an addiction to pulque
and gambling. The editors did not wonder that masters pre-
l 9 7
ferred to employ foreigners.
The artisans' poverty created its own reasons for
prejudice. Jose Mara Lafragua, a republican statesman, cri
ticized the urban lower classes for their vices and their
inability to defend Mexico.
Our people are divided into two classes
the mixed race and the Indian. The first
Is vice ridden and, above all, is in gen
eral that class from which the artisans
come, who can only serve in the national
J 19 8
guard for the defense of a city.
Lafragua did not wonder at the inability of the artisans to
defend the capital against the North Americans but rather at
the refusal of the Indian populace to rise to the patriotic
defense of the Republic. The belief that poverty prevented
the performance of civic duties was reflected in the writings
of the liberal philosopher Jose Luis Mara Mora and the con
servative electoral restrictions that banned those earning
19 9
less than $200 per year from voting.
The low opinion of the wealthy for the miserable
people does not mean that social attitudes had not changed

59
in the transition from colonial to republic society. The
contrasting attitudes of a colonial police official and the
Museo Mexicano's anonymous author reflect the change. In
1783 the police official wrote of the problem of alcoholism.
The vinatera (wine shop), he wrote, catered to judges, clerks,
and the better sort of artisan and should be strictly regulated
because the corruption of these useful subjects harmed society.
The pulquera (pulque shop), a notorious spawning ground of
riots and political disorders, catered to the plebe infime
and the poorest artisans. Some overzealous reformers suggested
that the pulqueras be closed down or strictly regulated, but
the official disagreed. The pulquera, he wrote, could not
possibly corrupt the plebe infime because that class was de
graded by birth. The official applied the same reasoning to
the notorious nudity of the lowest class. How, he asked,
could nudity be shameful or degrading to people who had known
200
no other way of life?
The contributor to the Museo Mexicano wrote of the
same people and the same vices. He confessed that a "great
sorrow" overwhelmed him when he wrote of the populacho whom
he characterized as "a miserable class without education,
morality, and among whom the spirit of work is absolutely un
known." He finished his essay on an optimistic note.
Cannot one think that some day education
will erradcate these customs and make
of these useless and in some cases harm
ful men useful citizens who will contri
bute with their work to the prosperity of
the Republic?201

60
Notes
1Brantz Mayer, Mexico As It Was and As It Is (New
York, 1844), pp. 37, 64.
2 ^
Guillermo Prieto, Memorias de mis tiempos (Mxico,
D.F., 1948), p. 249.
3
Manuel Rivera Cambas, Mxico pintoresco, 3 tomos
(Mxico, D.F., 1882), tomo 1, p. xxxv.
4
Cantidad de aguas de lluvias que cayo en Mxico
en el quinquenio de 1841 a 1845 . Boletn de la
Sociedad Mexicana de Geografa y Estadstica, 1861, p. 300.
5Victoriano Salado Alvarez, De Santa Anna a la Re
forma, memorias de un veterano (Mxico, D.F., 1902), p. 3.
6Edward B. Tylor, Anahuac, or Mexico and the Mexi
cans, Ancient and Modern (London, 1861), p. 65.
7
Donald B. Cooper, Epidemic Disease in Mexico City,
1716-1813, Latin American Monographs, no. 3 (Austin, Texas,
1965) .
8
Fanny Calderon de la Barca, Life in Mexico, ed.
Howard T. Fisher and Marian Hall Fisher (Garden City, New
York, 1970), p. 49.
9
George F. Ruxton, Adventures in Mexico and the
Rocky Mountains (New York, 1848).
Salado Alvarez, pp. 135-36.
11 Mapa de la Ciudad de Mxico (Mxico, D.F., 1824).
12
Rivera Cambas, tomo 1, pp. 9-10, 30. Antonio Gar
ca Cubas, El libro de mis recuerdos (Mxico, D.F., 1945),
pp. 200, 234.
1 3
Mapa de la Ciudad.
14,
Barrios de la Ciudad," Boletn Municipal, 17 marzo
1903, p. 1.
15Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 44.
16Mexico City, Archivo del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad
de Mxico (hereinafter cited as AACM), tomo 3689, exp. 13.
i 7
Mapa de la Ciudad.
1 8
Edward Tayloe Thornton, Mexico, 1825-1828 (Chapel
Hill, North Carolina, 1959), p. 64.
19
Manuel Carrera Stampa, "Pianos de la Ciudad de Mxi
co," Boletn de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografa y Estads
tica, tomo 67 (junio 1949), p. 228.

61
2 0 ^ ^ ^
Jose Mara Marroqu, La Ciudad de Mexico, 3 tomos
(2da ed., Mxico, D.F., 1969), tomo 1, p. 107.
21 ^
Directorio de la Ciudad de Mxico (Mxico, D.F.,
1857).
22
Marroqu, tomo 1, p. 107. Juan Rodrguez de San
Miguel, Manual de providencias econmicas-polticas para uso
de los habitantes del Distrito Federal (Mxico, D.F., 1834),
pp. 102-106.
2 3
Carrera Stampa, lmina 1, p. 321.
2 4 ^
Marroqu, tomo 1, pp. 101-102.
2 5
Charles Gibson, The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule (Stan
ford, California, 1965), p. 398.
2 6
Ibid., pp. 370, 398. The major barrios with their
Aztec and Christian names respectively are: Cuepopam, Santa
Mara; Atzacualco, San Sebastian; Teopn, San Pablo; and
Moyotln, San Juan.
2 7
Carrera Stampa, p. 319.
~8AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43. Gibson, p. 398.
2 9
James R. Scobie, "Buenos Aires as a Commercial-Bureau
cratic City, 1880-1910: Characteristics of a City's Orienta
tion," American Historical Review, October 1972, pp. 1035-73.
AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43. "Barrios," p. 1. Marroqu, tomo 3,
p. 544 .
30AACM, tomos 2939-55, 4151-56. Mexico City, Archivo
de las Notarias (hereinafter cited as AN), leg. 430.
31 AACM, tomo 229,"Actas de 7 septiembre 1829."
3 2
Thornton, p. 51.
33AACM, tomo 873, exp. 15.
3 4
Calderon de la Barca, pp. 367-69.
3 5
Garca Cubas, pp. 359-65. Waddy Thompson, Recollec
tions of Mexico (New York, 1846), p. 102.
j6Garca Cubas, pp. 170-71.
3 7
AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 14.
AACM, tomo 165,"Actas de 30 noviembre 1844."
3 9
"Tentativas revolucionarias," Universal, 3 diciem
bre 1849.
4 0
Carrera Stampa, pp. 309-10. Mexico City, Palacio
Nacional, Archivo General de la Nacin (hereinafter cited as
AGN), leg. 83,"Padrones de establecimientos industriales
(1843), Manzana 46."

62
41 ^
Guillermo Prieto, Memorias de mis tiempos (Mexico,
D.F., 1964), p. 34.
42
"Charles Joseph Latrobe, The Rambler in Mexico (Lon
don, 1836), pp. 146-47.
43
Documentos oficiales relativos a la construccin
y demolicin del Parn (Mexico, D.F., 1843).
44
Carrera Stampa, p. 305.
45
Garca Cubas.
169.
4 6
AACM, tomo 2279, p. 350.
4 7-
Calderon de la Barca, pp. 300-301. Ayuntamiento
de Mexico, Memoria de 1845 (Mexico, D.F., 1845), p. 204.
During the Revolution of 1840, President Bustamante occupied
the Ciudadela while Gomez Farias occupied the Palacio Nacional.
4 8 _
Don Jos Ramon Malo, Diario de sucesos notables
(1832-1864), ed. P. Mariano Cuevas S. J., 2 tomos (Mxico,
D.F., 1948), tomo 1, p. 60.
4^AACM, tomo 154,"Actas de 15 junio 1833."
5Prieto (1964), pp. 155, 156.
51 Ayuntamiento de Mxico, p. 78.
5 2
Manuel Orozco y Berra, Memoria para el plano de la
Ciudad de Mxico (Mxico, D.F., 1867), p. 3.
53Prieto (1964), pp. 305-306.
AACM, Actas secretas, Actas de 1828, 1836, 1841.
5 5
Miguel S. Macedo, Mi barrio, segunda mitad del
siglo XIX (Mxico, D.F., 1930), p. 15.
56Tylor, pp. 169-70. This and the last observation
of the paragraph are the conclusions drawn after reading
thousands of vagrancy and criminal cases.
5 7
Ayuntamiento de Mexico, p. 78.
5 8
Marroqu, tomo 2, p. 318.
39Malo, tomo 2, p. 380.
60
Carrera Stampa, p. 318.
61 Manuel Flores and Ramon Gamboa, Voto particular
ledo ante el Exmo. Ayuntamiento sobre la destruccin del
Parin (Mxico, D.F., 1829), p. 1.
6"See Table A-l.
63 .
Directorio, p. 8.
6 4
Carrera Stampa, p. 318. The association of Cande
laria de los Patos with the sale of.poultry still survives.

63
The symbol for the Candelaria station on the Mexico City
'subway system is a duck. Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 194.
"Barrios," p. 1. Ruxton, p. 55.
66Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, pp. 94, 144, 176, 241.
67
Carrera Stampa, p. 305.
6 8
Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 97. Prieto (1964), p.
375.
69.
Luis de Bellemar [Gabriel Ferry], Escenas de la
vida mejicana, trad. Lie. Garca de Real (Barcelona, n.d.),
pp. 10-15.
70
1\
72
73
74
7 5
Garca Cubas, p. 269.
Thornton, p. 59.
Calderon de la Barca, p. 166.
Tylor, p. 247.
Calderon de la Barca, p. 175.
Prieto (1964), p. 90.
7 6
Calderon de la Barca, pp. 175, 177. Edward Tayloe
Thornton, a Southern aristocrat, was moved to feelings of
disgust by the sight of the social inequality he observed on
the paseos of Mexico City.
77
Mariano Galvan Rivera, Gua de forasteros, 1842
(Mexico, D.F., 1842).
78
Juan Nepucemo Almonte, Gua de forasteros (Mexico,
D.F., 1852).
79
Mariano Galvan Rivera, Gua de forasteros, 1832
(Mxico, D.F., 1832). AACM, tomo 2020, exp. 43.
8 0
Jan Bazant, Alienation of Church Wealth in Mexico,
trans. Michael P. Costeloe (Cambridge, 1971), pp. 90, 91.
81
AACM, tomo 4160, exp. 60.
8 ^
"Joel Robert Poinsett, Notas sobre Mxico, trad.
Pablo Martnez del Campo (Mexico, D.F., 1950), pp. 155-58.
8 3
Jan Bazant, "La industria textil en el siglo diez
y nueve," en Coleccin de documentos para la historia de
comercio exterior del Mxico. El comercio exterior y el
artesano mexicano (Mxico, D.F., 1965), p. 33.
4AACM, tomo 3409,"Padrn de 1849."
8 5
Thornton, p. 59. Poinsett, p. 158.
86AACM, tomo 4152, exps. 73, 79.
87
Agustn Cue Cnovas, Historia social y econmica
de Mxico, 1521-1824 (Mxico, D.F., 1963), p. 281. Secre-

64
tarfa de Estado y Despacho de Relaciones Interiores y Ex
teriores, Memoria de 1844 (Mexico, D.F.., 1847).
89
AACM, tomo 2279, p. 238.
See Table B-3.
9 0
91
AACM, tomo 2889. See Table B-5.
AGN, legs. 83, 84.
9 2 ^
Mariano Otero, Obras, 2 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1967),
tomo 1, pp. 25-29.
J"AACM, tomo 3274, exp. 95.
,4Tylor, p. 114. AACM, tomo 2279, Bando de 6 sep
tiembre 1843. Bazant, Alienation, pp. 90, 91.
9 5
Diario Oficial, 11 agosto 1844.
9 6
"El robo," Semanario Artstico, 11 junio 1844, p. 1.
9 7
Cue Cnovas, pp. 285-96.
9 8
Marcelo Bitar Letayf, "La vida econmica de Mexico
de 1824 a 1867 y sus proyecciones" (tesis, Licenciado en eco
noma, Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mexico, 1964), pp.
237-38.
9 9
Cue Cnovas, p. 289.
"Peticion," Semanario Artstico, 24 febrero 1844.
101
Cue Cnovas, p. 39.
102 ^ ^
Manuel Dublan and Jos Mana Lozano, Legislacin
mexicana . 34 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1892), tomo 2, ley
898.
10 3 ^
Jos Mara Bocanegra, Memorias para la historia de
Mxico independiente, 2 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1892), tomo 2,
p. 124.
10 4
Diario Oficial, 24 agosto 1844. Dublan and Lozano,
tomo 5, leyes 3167, 3232.
10 5
Dublan and Lozano, tomo 3, leyes 2040, 1828.
106
Otero, tomo 2, p. 808.
10 7^
Garca Cubas, p. 236.
10 8
Salado Alvarez, p. 264.
10 9.. ,, ..
Peticin.
AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 14-
ni
Carlos Maria Bustamante, Apuntes para la historia
del gobierno de general Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna, 1841-1844
(Mxico, D.F., 1845), p. 9.

65
1 1 2
1 1 3
1 1 4
1 1 5
1 1 6
1 1 7
1 1 8
1 1 9
AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 14.
Diario Oficial, 23 agosto 1844, p. 1.
AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 12.
.AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 14.
AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 14.
Dblan and Lozano, tomo 4, ley 2292.
Bustamante, p. 25.
AACM, tomo 3453, exp. 94.
12 0
Luis Chvez Orozco, Documentos para la historia
econmica de Mxico, tomo 1, La industria de hilados y teji
dos en Mxico (1829-1842) (Mxico, D.F., 1934-1936). Henry
George Ward, Mexico in 1827, 2 vols. (London, 1828), vol. 1,
p. 79. Daniel Cosio Villegas, La cuestin arancelaria en
Mxico, tomo 3, Historia de la poltica aduanal (Mxico, D.F.,
1932), pp. 156, 157.
121
Chvez Orozco, p. 127. Cosio Villegas, pp. 156,
157.
122
Exposicin dirigida al congreso.de la nacin por
los fabricantes y cultivadores de algodn (Mxico, D.F., 1841)
p. 1.
12 3
Ayuntamiento de Mexico, Representacin de Ayunta
miento de esta Capital en defensa de la industria agrcola y
fabril de la Repblica (Mxico, D.F., 1841), p. .
124
Ibid., p. 24.
125
Diario Oficial, 21 agosto 1844, p. 1; 23 agosto
1844, p. 1.
Jos Mara Lafragua, Miscelnea de poltica (Mxi
co, D.F., 1943), pp. 716-48.
127
Semanario Artstico, 1843, and Siglo Diez y Nueve,
1842.
128
Representacin dirigido al Congreso de la Unin
por 6,124 artesanos pidiendo proteccin para el trabajo de
los nacionales (Mxico, D.F., 1851).
i 29 ,
Ayuntamiento'de Mexico, Dictmenes de los ciuda
danos sndicos acerca de si los estrangeros pueden tener car
niceras, panaderas, y otras comercios de esta clase (Mxi
co, D.F., 16 agosto 1830).
130 '
Diario Oficial, enero-diciembre 1844.
i 31
Latrobe, p. 111.
AACM, tomo 863, exp. 38.

66
1 3 3
AACM, tomo 4779, exp. 353.
13 4
AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 139. Hernandez s refer
ence to a "decent exterior" is intriguing. Perhaps he is
referring to a mestizo rather than a European appearance.
Ayuntamiento de Mexico, Dictmenes.
136AACM, tomo 522, exp. 8.
See Table D-l.
"Poblacin," pp. 48-50.
l 3 9
See Table E-l.
] 4 0
"Editorial," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 12 noviembre
1841, p. 3.
1 4 1
"Moneda de Cobre," 12 noviembre 1841, p. 3.
1 42
Real Academia Espaola, Diccionario de la lengua
espaola (Madrid, 1970).
i 4 3
Lyle N. McAlister, "Social Structure and Social
Change in New Spain," Hispanic American Historical Review,
August, 1963, p. 352.
144 /
Manuel Carrera Stampa, Los gremios mexicanos (Mexi
co, D.F., 1954).
1 45
See Table E-2.
1 4 6
.See Table E-3.
14?AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43.
Tylor, p. 251.
14 9
Ward, tomo 1, p. 22.
1 5 0 .
Poinsett, p. 95.
15 1
Francisco Lopez Camara, La estructura econmica y
social de Mexico en la poca de la Reforma (Mxico, D.F.,
1967), p. 227.
1 5 2
Carrera Stampa, Los gremios.
153AACM, tomo 383, exps. 18-21.
154AACM, tomo 4779, exp. 354.
155 .
Antonio Garca Cubas, El libro de mis recuerdos
(Mxico, D.F., 1904), p. 241.
"Populadlo de Mxico," Museo Mexicano, tomo 3
(1844), p. 450.
7AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43.
15 8
Gabriel Ferry, Vagabond Life in Mexico (New York,
1856), p. 40.

67
15 9
Bellemar, p. 8.
Prieto (1964), pp. 206-209.
l 6 i ,, ,,
Mayer, p. 41.
16See Tables F-l and F-2.
163See Tables F-3 and F-4.
16 4
Niceto Zamacois, Historia de Mjico, 13 tomos
(Mjico, D.F., 1879), tomo 11, p. 287.
165AACM, tomo 392, exp. 58.
166Robert A. Wilson, Mexico, Its Peasants and Its
Priests (New York, 1856), p. 281.
167Garca Cubas (1904), p. 238.
"Populacho," p. 450.
169 See Tables G-l, G-2, and G-3.
17 0.
Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 146.
371 Prieto (1948), pp. 202-203.
172See Table H-l.
173 See Tables H-2 and H-3.
174
Thompson, p. 188.
17 5 ^ .
Lucas Alaman, Historia de Mxico, 5 tomos (Mxico,
D.F. 1942), tomo 1, p. 33.
1 76McAlister,, p. 358.
17 7
Alaman, tomo 1, p. 33.
17 8
Ward, tomo 1, pp. 27-28; tomo 2, p. 38. Alejandra
Moreno Toscano, "Cambios en los patrones de urbanizacin en
Mxico," Sobretiro de Historia Mexicana, tomo 22, no. 2, pp.
164-74.
179"E1 robo," p. 1.
18 0
Lopez Camara, p. 277. Torcuato di Telia, "The
Dangerous Classes in Early Nineteenth-Century Mexico," Jour
nal of Latin American Studies, May 1973, p. 95.
181AACM, tomo 4158, exp. 334.
18 2
Secretara de Estado y Despacho de Relaciones In
teriores y Exteriores, p. 13.
18 3
Jeffry Kaplow,, The Names of Kings (New York, 1972),
P. 30.
184Tylor, pp. 60-61.
185AACM, tomo 383, exp. 18.

68
1 86
AACM,
tomo
4151,
exp.
30.
1 8 7
AACM,
tomo
4157,
exp.
302.
1 8 8
AACM,
tomo
4154,
exp.
161.
1 8 9
AACM,
tomo
4151,
exp.
159.
19 0
AACM,
tomo
872,
exp.
17.
191,,
Pueblo baj
o," Eco de
Comercio
Di Telia, p. 1.
i 9 2
14 marzo 1848, p.
1
Mariano Otero, Ensayo sobre el verdadero estado de
la cuestin social y poltica (Guadalajara, 1952), p. 51.
193AACM, tomo 3831, exp. 18.
19 4
Jos Fernandez de Lizardi, El periquillo Sarniento,
2 tomos (Mxico, D.F., 1949), tomo 1, pp. 71-76.
19 5
Otero, Ensayo, p. 110.
i;6Wilson, pp. 281-86.
l 9 7
"Nuestros artesanos," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 3 diciem
bre 1848, p. 3.
198t r r7
Lafragua, p. 57.
19 9^^
Jos Mara Luis Mora, Mexico y sus revoluciones,
3 tomos (Mxico, D.F., 1950), tomo 1, p. 284.
1AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43.
"Populacho," p. 450..

CHAPTER TWO
LABOR AND WAGES
For a long time I have not worked at my
craft of blanket weaving because I can
earn more by selling matches in the
streets. w m. n, .
Mariano lirado, 1845
Labor
Mexico City's poor labored under unique circumstances
created by severe economic depression, the demise of the
colonial guild system, and the birth of modern industrial
organization. This chapter will examine their "modes" of
labor, working conditions, and wages. Artisans, masters,
journeymen, and apprentices constituted 38 percent of the sam
ple population and over 65 percent of the lower occupational
l
categories. Seventy percent of them were shoemakers, tailors,
2
carpenters, masons, bakers, weavers, painters, and printers.
They were not the most prosperous craftsmen. Table 11 ranks
the mean rent listed on the census of 1849. Only the rents of
the tailors and carpenters were among the ten highest. The
69

70
rents of shoemakers, weavers, and masons ranked seventeen,
nineteen, and twenty-four respectively. Shoemaking was the
most common occupation within a largely barefoot population.
The completion of an apprenticeship was the prerequi
site to becoming a journeyman, the highest position to which
a poor boy could aspire. Severing the youth from home ties
for a prolonged period of time, apprenticeship was a dramatic
rite of passage to adulthood. It also created lifelong
friendships. "I have known him since we were apprentices
together" was the usual way that artisans expressed a deep
and favorable knowledge of an individual's character before
3
the city s magistrates. An apprentice who served his master
well could expect references and family connections when
seeking his first post or, more rarely, a loan to start his
own business.
Apprenticeship began at any age. Wealthier artisans
gave their children a prolonged formal education, apprentic-
4
ing them between the ages of fifteen and seventeen. Poorer
families, unable to feed or cloth their children or seeking
to augment their incomes, apprenticed them at quite early
ages.5 Records of the Tribunal de Vagos show apprenticeship
starting at the age of eight.6 Older men entered into appren-
7
ticeship whenever their original crafts became depressed.
An apprenticeship was a legal contract, verbal or
written, stipulating the craft to be taught, the conditions
8
under which it was to be taught, duration, and fee. A good

71
apprenticeship, one contracted with a prosperous artisan of
recognized skill, involved the payment of a large fee and was
9
written. Apprenticeships to craftsmen of recognized skill
were not limited exclusively to the children of the pros
perous. Some wealthy craftsmen, acting out of charitable
impulses, took on poor boys without fees, providing that the
l 0
parents continued to shelter, feed, and clothe them.
Poorer families made verbal contracts. These were
no less binding than those written if acknowledged by both
parties during litigation. A few examples of the verbal
agreements sworn before the Tribunal de Vagos when it appren
ticed delinquent youths are vague and indicate the conditions
under which a poor boy entered apprenticeship.
He took formal delivery of the accused,
Jose Romauldo, to teach him a craft and
care for his conduct, and bring him use
fully into society.11
He contracted to receive the expressed
Estanislao under the obligation to teach
him the craft of carpentry and instruct
him in the principles of good morals and
Christian education that correspond to
his condition.12
He receives under his responsibility and
with the qualification that he shall work
by his side and fulfill all the duties of
a respectable man [hombre de bien] to
Jos Lerroa who he will have in his house
and at his side, trying to direct him in
the bosom of honor.13
Not all verbal contracts were vague. One case in the pro-

72
ceedings of the Tribunal specified a fee and stipulated that
14
the boy be taught to read and write.
The examples illustrate the paternal, nature of the
master's relationship with his apprentice. Once the oath
was sworn, the master became legally responsible for the
conduct of'the boy. Most apprentices lived in their master's
workshop or house. A significant minority of poor appren
tices resided with their parents. The minimal wages earned
1 1 5
by an apprentice went to his parents. After the contract
was made it could be broken by either party for any infrac
tion. The most common were incompetence, misbehavior, or
laziness on the part of the apprentice and mistreatment or
l 6
neglect on the part of the master.
In the colonial period, guild regulations specified
long apprenticeship. After 1821 the parties concerned mu
tually agreed to the duration of training. The time it took
to learn any trade was a matter of common knowledge and
l 7
stipulated by the contract. If the apprentice demonstrated
aptitude, he was promoted to "half-journeyman," which involved
1 8
more responsibility and more pay. The era's progressives
viewed the elimination of guild regulations that could keep
a mature man an apprentice for as many as seven years as an
] 9
escape from an artificially prolonged infancy. Boys appren
ticed at the age of eight might remain apprentices for seven
20
or eight years. All men with traceable labor histories
who appeared before the Tribunal were journeymen before the
age of twenty.

73
The image of republican apprenticeship projected by
Manuel Payno in his Los banditos de Ro Frio is one of mal-
nourishment, maltreatment, and malpayment. The stereotype is
repeated by Manuel Carrera Stampa in Los gremios mexicanos,
21
but is not justified. Glaring physical abuse is not cited
in the records of the Tribunal de Vagos or criminal courts
where examples of such treatment might be expected. Masters
beat and even clubbed recalcitrant apprentices, but this was
not worse punishment than irate fathers meted out to dis-
22
obedient sons.
Apprentices suffered other forms of abuse. The con
tract of Encarnacin Carranza specified a daily wage of one
real and a flat rate of five reals weekly for any overtime.
After a month of overtime work, Carranza's master refused to
pay the additional wages. Hoping to rid himself of the com
plaining apprentice, he falsely accused the boy of disobedi
ence and turned him over to the Tribunal. After a full hear
ing, the Tribunal adjudged the master guilty of perjury, or
dered him to pay all back wages, and jailed him. Although
this is the only recorded case of nonpayment, the skepticism
with which the Tribunal greeted the master's accusations
2 3
suggests that the abuse was common.
Poor apprentices suffered from neglect. The very
poor, unwilling or unable to feed and dress an adolescent,
apprenticed the child to an inept "master of the streets"
for a worthless three or four years during which the boy

74
learned little. More substantial masters might also be
incompetent teachers. A contributor to the Semanario Arts
tico complained that the abolition of examinations for the
masterships, a result of the disestablishment of the gremios,
had created a class of masters who possessed sufficient
capital to start a business but insufficient knowledge of
their crafts. They "were not embarrassed" to take on paying
apprentices who learned only the ineptitude of their masters
2 5
and the bad habits of loosely disciplined journeymen.
The abandonment of apprentices was common. When
business was slow, frequent in the capital, masters left young
apprentices to shift for themselves until the return of better
times. It was difficult to find new masters. Quinino Esco
bar, a thirteen-year-old carpenter, spent four months seeking
one aftr he was abandoned in January 1851. He was reduced
to selling candy and filching parcels from the market place.
The abandoned apprentice was further disadvantaged if his
parents had left town or no longer recognized legal respon
sibility for him. One fifteen-year-old mason, laid off work
in 1835, discovered that his father had moved to Zinacantepec
during his apprenticeship. By day the boy supported himself
assisting arrieros-. By night he slept in the doorways of
houses. An orphaned thirteen-year-old purse maker normally
worked and slept in his uncle's shop. Whenever business was
slow the uncle turned the boy out into the streets. Homeless,
he joined a teen-age street gang that spent its time annoying
2 6
the residents of the barrio of Santa Mara la Redonda.

75
, Republican apprenticeship sometimes occurred with
little concern for the wishes or talents of the youths.
Many delinquent apprentices brought before the Tribunal de
Vagos were searching restlessly for a vocation compatible
2 7
with their interests. Jose Lucas Granada's case shows
the familiar adolescent rebellion against parental authority,
combined with a search for a suitable vocation. His father
attempted to teach him the family trade of sweet making but
the boy balked. The father then apprenticed his son as a
carpenter. Disliking carpentry, the boy ran off and became
a shoemaker's apprentice. Tiring of the cobblers' trade,
the boy returned to his angry parents who denounced him to
the, authorities.
If a boy found himself suited to the trade to which
he was apprenticed, youthful mischief frequently landed him in
trouble. The employer of twelve-year-old Remagio Jimenez
28
complained that the child always wanted to play. Rafael
Gutierrez, a fifteen-year-old tailor's apprentice, left work
2 9
without permission to visit a hat shop with his friend.
Good-natured or negligent masters tolerated these impromptu
holidays. The mother of a fifteen-year-old leather worker
turned her son in to the Tribunal de Vagos for missing two
weeks of work. The boy's master, however, excused him,
saying that the boy was a good worker and that lengthy, un
announced absences were not unusual among apprentices. The
Tribunal considered the master a poor disciplinarian and re
30
apprenticed the boy.

76
Republican apprenticeship was a poor system of voca
tional training. The few apprenticeships listed, on the enu
meration of carpentry shops and on the industrial census of
.1849 lead to the suspicion that this solitary system of vo
cational education had very few openings. Mexican technology
was notoriously backwards, a fact readily conceded by its
3 1
most sympathetic defenders. A poor lad apprenticed to an
average master learned to produce mediocre goods that
wealthy Mexicans shunned. Poor boys apprenticed at the
age of seven, eight, and nine were illiterate, ignorant of
simple arithmetic, and unprepared to absorb available
technical information. The ayuntamiento worked to establish
a free primary education for poor children in literacy,
3 2
arithmetic, and industrial drawing.
Having completed his apprenticeship, the youth be
came a journeyman and went in search of employment. Journey
men who found full-time employment in the capital's small
workshops were fortunate. Based upon Siglo Diez y Nueve's
estimate of 40,000 male wage earners for the city, the per
centages of the sample survey indicate that 28,000 were arti-
3 3
sans. If the average workshop employed five officials, the
estimate of the economic historian Francisco Lopez Camara,
only 10,000 could be employed in the capital's 2,000 work-
34
shops. The workshops listed on the industrial census of
1849 employed an average of three artisans. This suggests
that only 6,000 artisans found employment at the workshops.

77
This number is almost identical to that of the artisans who
signed a mass petition in 1851 requesting the suppression of
3 5
contraband/' Although the above estimates are admittedly
crude, the conclusion is inescapable that the public work
shops employed significantly less than half of the city's
36
artisans..
Most journeymen set up their own small workshops, be
came rinconeras, or took in work provided by merchants or the
public workshops. Those who set up shop were often highly
skilled craftsmen who developed an appreciative clientele.
Brantz Mayer, a North American diplomat, visited the workshop
of a wax sculptor whose work was admired throughout the city.
He watched in amazement as the sculptor, squatting over a
portable furnace in his cramped, one-room workshop, fashioned
3 7
an exquisite statue from soft wax. Other artisans possessed
excellent neighborhood reputations. Vicente Soria, a seventy-
year-old carpenter, furnished the homes of his neighbors with
3 8
"curious and delicate" works. These independents maintained
a haphazard, easy-going system of production that attracted
the attention of Robert Wilson. They did not work for orders.
Members of their families hawked their products on the streets
as soon as they were produced. If sales were brisk, the
3 9
family took a week-long fiesta. Although Wilson thought
the irregularity peculiarly Mexican, it was common to inde-
4 0
pendent artisans throughout the Western world.

78
The lowest class of independent journeyman was the
wretched rinconera who squatted outside the casas de vecin
dad, trying to gain the patronage of minor civil servants
41
and store clerks. Guillermo Prieto, the nineteenth-century
politician and essayist, wrote earthy descriptions of them.
Walking through the streets of the city, one could observe
some shoemaker, shirtless, a large rosary
crossing under his chest, a thick thatch
of hair hanging across his forehead, his
tripod stool, his filthy workbench covered
by his tools or the trash of his crude
work, his pleading dog, and his jar of
pulque by his side. . [or] the weaver
of straw chairs, sitting on the ground
with a chisel, supported by the big toe
of his foot, forming those chairs whose
grandeur we had admired in the "Cafe of
the South."42
Most journeymen labored in their homes. Large work
shops provided some with materials to be fashioned into a
finished product and returned by a specified date. Retail
merchants placed orders with other journeymen, lent money
for the purchase of materials, and purchased the finished
43
product. The interest charged and profits earned in the
latter transaction are not known. The commercial interest
rate varied from 12 to 24 percent per month.
Pilferage of materials must have been common. The
phrase "he can be trusted with his materials" was a common
form of character reference. Mexican artisans were notorious

79
44
for failing to deliver goods on time. The requirement
that a verbal contract be acknowledged by both parties to
have legal validity favored the tardy journeyman. I found
no breach-of-contract case among thousands of criminal cases
Many artisans worked at two or more systems of pro
duction. Pablo Martinez, a tailor, took in work from a
4 5
master and made clothes for his own customers. A shoe
maker took in materials provided by one public workshop and
1 4 6 .
worked in another. The variations were common and neces-
sary for survival in the permanently depressed economy.
Marxist historians have exaggerated the role of the
public workshop in Mexico's labor history by applying their
theory superficially to extremely sparse data. A typical
Marxist treatment is that of Roberto de la Cerda Silva,
author of El movimiento obrero en Mxico. According to de
la Cerda Silva, the artisans were victims of an embryonic
capitalist system that developed slowly after the abolition
of the gremios. Deprived of the gremios' protection, govern
ment fiat forced people to enter factories in which they
performed exhausting and dangerous labor for starvation
47
wages. Other Marxists write of the legalization of usury,
the proliferation of indebted labor, and the increase of
4 8
the notorious obrajes (large textile workshops). To illus
trate their case, they are fond of describing the obraje in
Queretaro that Alexander von Humboldt visited in 1792. In
this "dark prison" whose double doors were constantly locked

80
mestizos, Indians, and criminals worked with unsafe machinery
and in unsanitary surroundings. Floggings were frequent, and
49
married men saw their families only on Sundays.
The Marxists overidealized the colonial guild system.
Manuel Carrera Stampa's opinion of the late-colonial gremio
cannot be overstated. Far from being an institution devoted
to the benefit of all artisans, the late-colonial gremio
stifled economic and personal freedom to enforce an ineffi
cient and unpopular monopoly. Apprenticeships were expensive
and discouragingly long. High fees and irrelevant, demanding
examinations thwarted journeymen who wished to become masters
The more desperate overcame these obstacles by running away
and establishing their own shops or working for wealthy non-
5 o
guild masters of large illegal workshops. Regatoneras
(renegade journeymen) were common in the shoemaking, black-
smithing, carriage making, glove making, hat making, leather
working, and painting crafts.51 They sold at lower prices
and operated at more convenient hours than did the guildsmen.
Their competition particularly hurt the master shoemakers who
complained that it forced them to reduce prices "without re
gard for the time and money that they had spent to pass their
5 2
examinations."
To combat illegal competition, the guildsmen resorted
to two expedients. Special courts sentenced arrested regato
neras to labor in public workshops. Dress regulations com
pelled the captive journeymen to borrow money from their

81
masters for the purchase of clothing. The master then ex
tracted repayment from wages, theoretically leaving the
journeyman enough money to support himself and his family.
Justified as a measure to end the "indecent and shameless
nudity" of the poor artisans, the actual purpose was to in
debt the worker to his master.
The efforts of the guild to restrict competition
failed long before the independence period. Artisans forced
to borrow money ran away to prosperous Puebla where work was
readily obtained on the street corners or from masters who
asked no questions concerning the newcomer's past. Those
who remained in the workshops drove their masters bankrupt
by stealing tools and materials or by the production of
5 3
shoddy goods. Consumer opinion supported the renegades.
Guild shoemakers protested that the poor preferred the cheap
shoes of the regatoneras to their allegedly more durable but
more expensive product. In other crafts illegal industry
also produced a clearly superior product. Compared to the
coaches manufactured and operated illegally, the guild
5 4
coaches looked as "old and shabby" as their mules. Be
cause of their product's popularity, independents produced
and operated most of the city's coaches.
Government policy, influenced by physiocratic phil
osophy that shunned monopolies, tacitly sided with the regato
neras. Many independents obtained immunity from gremio pro
secution by enrolling in the city militia and claiming fuero

82
militar (military privilege) that exempted them from civil
jurisdiction.5' Guildsmen whispered that the influence of
the owners of the large, heavily capitalized carriage-making
shops reached to the Viceroy's palace. The civil courts
made a shambles of the intent of the clothing codes by
granting journeymen indebted to their masters legal permis
sion to change jobs.56 The unwillingness of the government
to cooperate with the gremios demonstrates that decades be
fore independence it viewed the gremios as archaic, antiso
cial embarrassments.
The Marxists distort the republican industrial sys
tem. Only a few of Mexico City's larger industries were
capitalistic, organized and operated in a manner approaching
the rationality of modern industry. Work at the most modern
textile mills was probably organized like that of the Durango
mill which employed 200 operatives in 1844. The factory ran
two, twelve-hour shifts, one beginning at 6:00 a.m. and the
other at 12:00 p.m. The workers took lunch breaks at 9:00
5 7
a.m. and 2:00 p.m. according to their shifts. The organi
zation of work in the large bakeries was also highly ra
tionalized. A minimum of twelve men worked in shifts of
5 8
six around the clock to provide the city with fresh bread.
Most bakery workers listed on the census of 1849 referred
to themselves as "operatives" rather than journeymen; they
5 9
considered themselves to be hired hands rather than artisans.

83
Other large establishments lacked the modern organi
zation of the textile mills and bakeries. Each worker at
the Estanco received tobacco and paper sufficient to pro
duce sixty-five to seventy-five packets of cigarettes. They
then returned to their benches and individually produced
their quota/0 In the larger shoemaking, tailoring, and
weaving establishments, masters assigned journeymen indi
vidual projects, distributed materials, and specified the
completion date. Like the workers of the Estanco, the
journeymen labored independently of each other at their
assigned task. If the product was not the result of a
specific order, the artisan himself or another employee
hawked it in the streets immediately upon completion.6'
Production in most workshops was geared to small
orders from individuals. To handle significantly in
creased production, masters assigned materials to journey
men working in their homes. A decrease in demand produced
immediate layoffs. The small size of the orders and the
inconstancy of the flow made employment in the public
workshop an insecure, day-to-day affair for even the most
skilled and reliable worker. The socialist editor of Hijo
de Trabajo, although writing in a later period, described a
scene common to early republican decades.
We cannot properly define the sentiment
that overpowers us when we see the mul
titude of workers standing in front of

84
the workshop hours and entire days,
suffering from the inclement weather,
hoping that the master will come out
and distribute work, or fearing that
without any consideration, without
giving explanations, he will lay them
off, leaving in the most horrible
misery those who were regularly and
for some time producing profits.62
Forced labor through imprisonment or indebtedness
existed on a very limited scale. Bakeries, and not the
obraje, were the most notorious exploiters of forced labor.
Heat, dust, and long hours made baking an undesirable craft.
From the late colonial period on, convicts were sentenced
to perform forced labor in the bakeries. The Republic's
Tribunal de Vagos continued the practice on a relatively
minor scale, and occasionally lesser officials abused
authority by arbitrarily imprisoning ne'er-do-wells in
6 4
local bakeries. The treatment of the bakeries opera
tives, whether freely hired or condemned convicts, could be
brutal. The case of Loreto Flores's sixteen-^year-old son
illustrates the abuses that occurred. The boy customarily
worked extremely long hours and collapsed exhausted until
driven back to work by the blows of his foremen. The ba
kery's administrator accused him falsely of stealing bread
and deducted its cost from his daily wages. Tiring of the
mistreatment, Flores decided to quit. The administrator,
however, accused him of helping another lad to escape,
held him responsible for the escapee's debts, and imprisoned

85
him within the bakery. Incarcerated, Flores received more
and heavier beatings. His mother's appeal to the courts
, 6 5
obtained his release and an $8 fine for his tormentor.
The Flores incident was not an isolated case. In
1849 the Ministry of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs re
ceived complaints of the brutalities occurring in the city's
bakeries. Following a report made in the colonial period,
it recommended the abolition of convict labor, shorter
hours, and the payment of extremely high wages to make the
66
industry attractive to free labor.
The dungeon-like obrajes of colonial Queretaro did
not exist in Mexico City. In 1827 the city was astir with
the pathetic tale of young Cosmo Damian who at the age of
five was sold by his alcoholic father into an obraje in
the nearby village of San Angel. For five years Cosmo and
his work mates labored without rest, receiving beatings for
inspiration and bread crusts for nourishment. Their over
seers sequestered their meager wages as compensation for
spurious thefts. Their only holiday was on the Fiesta of
San Antonio when they climbed to the balcony of the obraje
to watch the festivities. Even this small pleasure cost
them dearly, for the owners deducted the obraje's share of
the fiesta's costs from their wages, or more accurately,
added it to their debts. Eventually a.village alcalde dis-
6 7
covered the obraje and liberated its grateful inmates.

86
The tale of Cosmo Damian was published in a pamphlet
and circulated widely among the artisans of Mexico City.
The sensation created by the tale illustrates that forced
labor of this type was illegal and extremely rare in the
vicinity of the capital. The obrajes of Mexico City, judging'
from the few documents, were large textile shops utilizing
very antiquated systems of production. The obrajeros them
selves often sold their wares immediately after completion,
6 8
a practice that provided the opportunity to cheat employers.
In some obrajes workers lived on the premises and received
meals or a daily cash allowance. In the obraje on Manzana
127, four weavers and three operatives lived with their
r 69
families.
Freedom of movement was the rule. The criminal
records indicate that obrajeros living on the premises came
7 0.
and went as they pleased. Weaving, as the mean rents in
dicate, was not a very prosperous craft. Those residing in
the obraje free from the burden of rent may have considered
themselves fortunate. Residence within an obraje, however,
was not the rule. Many individuals describing themselves
as obrajeros were listed as the tenants of single rooms on
the census of 1849.
Indebted labor existed, but not as a form of capital
ist or precapitalist slavery. Legal judgments that indebted
journeymen to masters were made against proven cases of
theft. There is no indication that the courts or employers

87
intimidated workers into admitting guilt. The size of the
debts were small, varying between five and one-half reals
and seventeen pesos. The latter debt was for an outrageous
theft of thirty-six rebozos. The legal judgment stipulated
the amount of the debt and the manner in which it was to be
paid. In each case the worker had the option of paying off
the debt in cash or accepting wage deductions. Usually the
7 l
worker voluntarily consented to the wage-deduction scheme.
A debt of $17 would appear insurmountable to a man earning
a $12 monthly income that barely provided him with the
necessities of life. The law, however, did not obligate
the indebted worker to the service of his master. Republican
judges followed late-colonial legislation that permitted the
freedom of movement of an indebted worker provided that he
72
paid his debt or had it guaranteed by his new master.
The decrepit state of the municipal police system guaranteed
de facto freedom of movement.
Forced debt as a method of obtaining and retaining
labor was dysfunctional in Mexico City. Logic indicates
that the employer surveying the line of unemployed at the
door of his workshop would hardly desire or need the labor
of the inept or the dishonest. A policy of forced loans
similar to that of the colonial period does not ring well
in a community whose merchants and masters were continually
short of capital and who complained that employees were al-
7 3
ways pestering them for advances on wages.

88
Mexico City was a refuge for rural peons fleeing
debt servitude. Bernandino Perez, an agricultural laborer
from Monte Alto, fled to Mexico City when interest mush
roomed a $7 loan for the purchase of maize into a debt of
$25. He found work in an obraje where his creditor soon
located him. Unwilling to return to Monte Alto, Perez
borrowed money to repay the debt from his employer and
agreed to repay the new loan through deductions in his
, 74
weekly wages.
The courts did not tolerate the physical abuse of
workers. Two criminal cases indicate that free adult
workers quickly sought legal redress for physical mistreat
ment. The maid of Teodora Vsquez brought her mistress to
court for beating her and withholding wages. The case was
never tried because the maid did not appear in court. A
foreman of a pork butcher shop beat several employees whom
he had caught in the act of theft. At the trial the
workers admitted their guilt but complained of their beat
ings. The judge ruled the foreman's action understandable,
but illegal, and fined him $10 admonishing him to treat his
underlings more humanely. He sentenced the thieves to one
month's imprisonment, but to compensate for their mistreat-
7 5
ment, he levied no fines.
The most common form of abuse the Mexican journeyman
received at the hands of his master was the withholding of
wages. The Semanario Artstico explained this problem:

The greater part of the workshop owners
are not capitalists, and they need to be
paid punctually for their completed works
in order to meet operating expenses and
subsistence.
Unfortunately, most of the customers
of public workshops do not pay their bills
on time, and the delayed payments case a
host of evils. The master must waste
precious time collecting and in some cases
demanding the delinquent accounts. Often
he is so short of the cash that he planned
to be available that he is hounded by
creditors, finds personal subsistence dif
ficult, and is unable to pay his own jour
neymen .7 6
The courts were evenhanded in their judgments of
delinquent wage cases. In three cases they upheld the
right of an employer to withhold the costs of admitted
negligence or theft without a prior legal judgment. That
these cases appeared before the courts at all is proof that
the aggrieved employees expected a fair hearing. In the
single case that involved wages being withheld for no
justifiable cause, the courts ruled in favor of the employee.
Jose Maria Morales, an arriero, took clothes from his master
in lieu of $20 in back pay. Charged with theft, Morales
was acquitted by the court which ruled that he had justly
compensated himself.7?
The masters had a case to state against the republi
can journeymen. Their employees were as unreliable as the
journeymen working in their homes. The Semanario Artstico
tactfully stated the criticism of the masters:

90
The owners of workshops, factories, etc.,
and those that are themselves masters must
employ subordinate labor who are the jour
neymen upon whom they depend. The civil
and artistic education that this class of
society receives is such that they do not
understand their duties or esteem as they
should the delicacies or formalities of
their promises. For this reason, most of
our journeymen will not complete a project
on time or according to specifications and
cause their masters to involuntarily fail
their customers.78
The editorial alluded to the preindustrial habits of the
Mexican journeymen who, like European and North American ar
tisans, showed a marked aversion to continual and consistent
labor, habits the early Industrial Revolution demanded of
7 9
its working force. The Mexicans "kept Monday" by not
working. Masters deplored the "ancient and pernicious cus-
8 0
tom" but accepted it as the general rule. Artisans who
1 81
worked on Mondays drew the praise of their masters.
During workday they were apt to take frequent and unannounced
breaks. Public censure by the foreman or the chance appear
ance of an old friend were sufficient justification to de-
8 9
sert the workshop for the pleasures of the pulquera. The
code of honor that equated capacity to drink with manliness
and required a worker to match the drinks bought for him by
his friends often caused an entire workshop to pass an after
noon drinking. Many masters, sharing the habits of their
employees, saw little harm in allowing their journeymen to
8 3
drink in the shop and even joined in the carousing.

91
Journeymen frequently took advantage of a master
who was ignorant of his craft. Realizing the total depen
dence of the master upon him, the skilled employee would
cheat his master or avoid work. The behavior of the ma
lingerers gradually corrupted the more honest. Having
served their apprenticeships under such demoralizing condi
tions, young journeymen caused severe disciplinary problems
8 4
when they went to work for masters who knew their crafts.
Apprentices living by the side of a respected and
kind master must have considered him as a father. Many un
married journeymen continued to live in the master's home
, 85
or workshop. Residence at the latter was a mark of trust
because of the value of the tools stored there and the high
incidence of pilferage. The overall impression presented
by the court and vagrancy records was that "pacific and
moderate" workers might expect friendly and close relations
with their fellow journeymen and masters.
The gremio vanished from the pages of republican his
tory, but the cofrada, its religious brotherhood, remained
as a reminder of the past. The cofrada originated in the
gremio's obligation to develop the spiritual welfare of its
members. Each one was dedicated to the performance of a
specific religious function, usually the veneration of a
saint. From a secular point of view, its most important
function was to serve as a benevolent society during sickness
or death. The Cofrada of the Holy Sacrament and Sodality

92
of Santa Cruz provided its members with the following benefits:
1. A payment of $2 for the administration
of the sacraments during illnesses.
2. A payment of $5 at death to provide
for Mass, funeral, and other burial
expenses.
3. A payment of $19,7 [nineteen pesos and
seven reals] to the heirs of the de
ceased .
4. Each year widows and, orphans of de
ceased members participated in a lot
tery that provided four prizes of $200.86
The first three benefits are typical of those offered by other
cofradas. It is unknown whether any of the others offered
the $200 lottery.
The cofrada's principal function was to provide each
brother with a decent minimum of religious rites at sickness
or death. Nineteen pesos represented little more than a month
and one-half of a poor artisan's income and was insufficient to
8 y
save him or his family from destitution.
Cofrada dues were a moderate one-half real a week or
two reals a month. Membership was open to women as well as
men,. The tailor's cofrada mentions only master tailors as
its beneficiaries. The charters of others and the membership
lists of all were not available for inspection. It is unlikely
that most journeymen were members. Those who worked outside
the guild system would have no connection with the remnants
of the archaic gremio. Those who were irregularly employed,

93
whether in the workshop or outside of it, could not maintain
payment. The rules permitted a maximum debt of one third of
the brother's total obligations to the cofrada. If a brother
owing that sum and having less than ten years seniority should
die, he received no benefitsa penalty that would discourage
8 8
the membership of most poor artisans.
The minimum importance of the gremio or cofrada to
the poor artisan does not suggest that the republican artisan
possessed no sense of group identity. The poorest artisan
had a fierce sense of pride in his skilled craft. To insult
a journeyman's skill was.to provoke a fist fight which the
court, normally severe when dealing with brawling, refused to
8 9
condemn. Those arraigned before the Tribunal de Vagos al
ways protested that they were artesanos honrados (honored arti-
. 9 0
sans). None demonstrated a stronger sense of artisanal iden
tity than Amado Daz, a thirty-five-year-old gilder and appren
tice painter who testified that although personal circumstances
forced him to sell used clothes, he "was an artisan and proud
r 9 1
of it.
Significant distinctions of wealth and status, existed
between the journeyman and the master, but artisans shared
the belief of their Victorian English counterparts "that peo
ple engaged in making the same thing werethe same kind of
9 2
people." The owners of the largest public workshops dis
played a sense of identity with, and consequently responsi
bility for, the poorest of artisans. In 1841 the capital's

94
richest artisans, encouraged by the government, established
the Junta de
Fomento de Artesanos. The goals of the Junta
were:
1.
Halting the invasion of foreign manu
factures .
2.
Increasing the growth of national pro
duction .
3.
Contributing to the creation of schools
for elementary and vocational education.
4.
Uniting for the defense of the common
interest.
5.
Raising the moral level of the artisans
through religion.
6.
Creating charitable institutions to pro
tect artisans from want.93
The Semanario Artstico, the Junta's weekly newspaper and only
legacy to history, provided an idea of the Junta's activities.
Didactic essays preached the virtues of thrift and the evils
of alcoholism. Articles warned against inhaling the dust and
fumes produced by industrial processes and disseminated the
latest technical information. The paper printed schemes urging
the necessity of bank accounts or mutual benefit societies and
promoted the establishment of night schools to teach writing
and elementary bookkeeping to apprentices and journeymen. The
Semanario Artstico attempted to influence public policy by pro
posing a boycott of contraband and legal imports and by peti-
9 4
tionmg the government to stabilize its finances.

95
Rosendo Rojas Corlas, author of Tratado de coopera
tivismo mexicano, considers the Junta de fomento de Artesanos
' r 95
to be a resurgence of the archaic gremio system. His view
is unjustified, for the Junta resembled neither the actual
nor the idealized gremios. The colonial gremios were instru
ments for the restriction of production, the perpetuation of
an obsolete technology, and the literal subjugation of the
journeyman. The Junta attempted to introduce superior tech
nology, protect artisans by the promotion of schools and mu
tual-benefit societies, and influence public policy to the
benefit of its members. The idealized gremio used its legal
status to insure the well-being of its members through the
regulation of working conditions, productivity, and the pro
vision of welfare benefits. The Junta never sought cor
porate legal authority, nor did it seek to interfere with
the free-market mechanism, with the exception of its advocacy
of tariff protection. Its basic goal was self-help through
moral reform and education.
The Junta was similar to other organizations of
artisans in Europe and North America during the early stages
of the Industrial Revolution. Cynics might argue that they
served the needs of embryonic industrialists. A more reason
able interpretation would be that in the early stages of the
Industrial Revolution, masters and journeymen still considered
9 6
their interests to be identical.

96
The Junta de Fomento de Artesanos dissolved in 1845
but artisanal unity persisted. In 1851 artisans, without
government sponsorship, presented an exhibition to dissemi
nate technical information. That same year they petitioned
the government to establish public workshops in which the
97 v.
unemployed could work. In If51 over 6,400 of the capital's
artisans petitioned the government to enforce anti-contraband
9 8
legisla tion.
Unskilled workers accounted for over 25 percent of
the entire sample population and 36 percent of the two lowest
occupational categories. Sixty-seven percent of the unskilled
were servants, street peddlers, street porters, pork butchers,
9 9
janitors, and agricultural laborers. Table 12 ranks un
skilled occupations by mean rent and reveals that the five
most common occupations were among the least prosperous.
Despite a low position in the occupational hierarchy,
unskilled laborers provided valuable services and color to
urban life. The crowded, rutted streets would not permit the
passage of large, wheeled vehicles, so heavy loads were
assigned to cargadores (street porters) who could transport
cargoes as heavy as 300 pounds with the aid of tumplines.100
Human beasts of burden made up 9 percent of the unskilled
l 0 l
labor force. They were present on every corner, waiting
patiently or bargaining with customers intent on three loads
10 2
for the price of one. The cargadores were notorious for
animosity displayed to the wealthy classes. During the rainy

97
season when they carried the wealthy across puddles, critics
accused them of deliberately splashing their clients or
103
raising the skirts of ladies to indecent heights.
The aguador (water carrier) enjoyed greater esteem
than the cargador. Even the Museo Mexicano, a cultural pub
lication highly critical of the populacho, described him as
a man of propriety and honor. His headquarters were the
fountains of Salto del Agua or Santo Domingo. From 6:00 a.m.
to 11:00 p.m. he labored, two huge jugs of water suspended
from his head by a tumpline, his hands holding two large
ladles, supplying the neighborhoods which lacked fountains.
An illiterate, he kept track of his accounts by using colored
beans to signify the amount of water that each customer con-
, 10 4
sumed.
The aguador was a respected and beloved figure in the
neighborhoods that he served. Children loved him because he
could be persuaded to give them free drinks during school
recess. Adults knew him as the purveyor of local gossip, de
liverer of love letters, and walking domestic employment
agency. He was renowned as the enemy of cats, for his clients
gave him unwanted felines to be disposed of by drowning or
dunking in the fountains. After eleven o'clock some aguadores
found employment as street sweepers or in other menial occu
pations. Most, however, preferred to pass their spare time
10 5
gambling, drinking, or flirting by the fountains.

98
TABLE 11
ARTISANAL CRAFTS RANKED BY RENT
Occupation
Mean Rent
1.
Lithographer
$50,0
2.
Lathe turner
8,0
3.
Goldsmith
7,0
4.
Printer
6,2
5.
Silversmith
6,0
6.
Skilled construction
6,0
7.
Tanner
5,2
8.
Tinsmith
5,0
9.
Tailor
4,5
o
11
Carpenter
4,5
11.
Embroiderer
4,0
12.
Watch maker
4,0
13.
Painter
4,0
14.
Independent artisan
3,6
15.
Beef butcher
3,4
16.
Leather worker
2,6
17.
Shoemaker
2,5
oo
ii
Blacksmith
2,3
19.
Weaver
2,1
o
CM
Knitter
2,1
21.
Hat maker
2,0
22.
Forging press operator
2,0
23.
Baker
1,7
24.
Mason
1,4
25.
Metal processor
i1
26.
Dyer
1,2
27.
Potter
1,1
CO
CM
Cabinet maker
o
T1
Total cases 388
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author for the random
sample from the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.

99
TABLE 12
UNSKILLED OCCUPATIONS RANKED BY RENT
Occupation
Mean Rent
1.
Barber
$7,0
2.
Sexton
6,0
3.
Bartender
5,0
4.
Waiter
4,0
5.
Pork butcher
4,0
6.
Unskilled factory laborer
4,0
7.
Mule skinner
3,2
8.
Food and beverage processor
3,2
9.
Coachman
3,1
10.
Money lender
3,0
11.
Wax chandler
2,9
12.
Street peddler
2 ?
13.
Nonmetallic mineral producer
2,2
14.
Agricultural laborer
2,2
15.
Cigar maker
2,0
16.
Vegetable grower
2,0
17.
Servant
2,0
18.
Fisherman
2,0
19.
Musical entertainer
2,0
20.
Drover
1,6
21.
Fiber preparer
1,5
22.
Street porter
1,5
23.
Wagoner
1,4
24.
Other producers
1,3
25.
Water carrier
1,2
26.
Street sweeper
1,0
Total cases 145
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author for the random
sample from the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.

100
TABLE 13
WOMEN'S OCCUPATIONS, MANZANA 168
Seamstresses 16
Tobacco workers 10
Tortilla makers 9
Embroiderers 3
Milk vendors ,3
Atole makers 4
Peddlers 4
Maid 1
Errand girl 1
Butcher 1
Tamale maker 1
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 3409.
dFive of the above were married: Three peddlers, one maid,
and one tortillera.
TABLE 14
COMPARISON OF RENT BY OCCUPATION
$0,0-1,0 $1,1-2,0 $2,1-3,0 $3,1-4,0 $4,1+
No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Artisan 49 12 155 37 97 22 36 9 87 21
Unskilled 21 16 79 40 50 28 13 6 36 12
Total cases
623

101
The aguadores possessed an esprit de corps. They
formed informal gremios headquartered at the fountains from
which they drew water.106 The membership passed judgment on
prospective novitiates. The rejected were harassed from the
neighborhood; the accepted were given a ritual buffeting
and dunking, and sent on their first rounds. At the end of
the day, the initiate treated his brothers to drinks. The
aguadores marched as nazarenos in the Holy'Week processions
and traditionally pawned their water jugs in order to pur
chase the resplendent costumes. At one time aguadores served
as professional mourners at funerals, but by 1843 the inmates
of the Hospicio de Pobres had usurped the rights to this em-
10 7
ployment. The gremio was not very cohesive. In 1851 the
government ordered the capital's aguadores to organize in
order to clean fountains, fight fires, and provide all areas
r . 108
of the city with water.
The hackney coachman was the nineteenth century's
cabbie. He was a rakish fellow outfitted in shirt sans tie,
jacket of white linen, and cassimere trousers encircled at
the waist by a sash of colored wool. A broad leather shield,
fastened below his right knee and buttoned to the foot,
covered his calf. His usual working hours were from 9:00
a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Like his modern descendent, he knew the
haunts of the capital's whores. Saturday, his day off, he
would load his coach full of his lpero friends and race
through the city with his drunken cargo. While working, he

102
engaged any vehicle that he encountered in homicidal races.
The police perpetually hounded him.
The coachman gets put in jail for the most
innocent trespasses. Because he pawned
his coach's sliding door, because a cap
tain or a clerk complained of him without
justification, because he lay back lazily
on a sidewalk, one audacious foot inter-
' posed between two precious little ones be
longing to the sweetheart of a lawyer or
anybody else: for everythingjail.109
A cochero's guild is mentioned in the documents. We have
little knowledge of its activities other than that it pro
vided its members with burials in the parish graveyard of
lio
San Pablo.
Street merchants comprised 16 percent of the male
lower-class population. They and the rinconeras jammed the
flow of traffic causing the ayuntamiento to issue a futile
ordinance requiring them to remove themselves to the Plazas
of San Juan de Dios, del Carmen, La Santssima, San Juan de
Letran, San Pablo, and the Colegio de los Nios.111 They
hawked an endless variety of products. Antonio Garca Cubas,
in his memoirs of life in early nineteenth-century Mexico
City, recalled twenty-nine different types of vendors, each
l l 2
with his own musical cry. A glimpse at those servicing
the neighborhood of seora Calderon de -la Barca gives an
idea of their variety and utility. At dawn the ambassador's
wife awoke to the cries of the coal vendor followed by those

103
of peddlers selling lard, salt beef, household wares, fruit,
and other provisions. In the afternoon, sweets, honey cakes,
and lottery tickets appeared. At nightfall, sellers of hot
ducks, chestnuts, and tortillas entered the streets. Their
singing cries praising the merits of their wares verged on
113
poetry.
Street vending required acrobatic balance and great
strength. Fruit vendors and bakers carried a day's supply
of their wares in baskets balanced upon their heads. The
cabeceros roamed the streets in teams of two carrying a wooden
table holding the severed heads of sheep or goats. One of
them held a bucket of burning charcoal, and the other an
enormous jug of pulque. The lard seller carried upon his
head a tin holding from fifty to seventy-five pounds of lard.
Those who could afford it wore a leather apron and a shirt
made from an old blanket. The poorer ones wore no more than
cotton trousers as grimy as their bodies, and rosaries crossed
1 1 4
their naked greasy chests.
The street vendors provided artisans and merchants
with access to the remotest barrio. The Parian's clothes
merchants, for example, depended on teen-age boys to hawk
their goods throughout the city. The best of these youthful
peddlers earned the respect of the merchants for their honesty
in handling the property of others and their reliability in
fulfilling contracts. Their position, one stall holder ex
plained to the Tribunal de Vagos, was one of "some responsi-

104
bility and trust." When the clothing trade was slow, the
'young peddlers of the Parian turned to selling glassware,
] 1 5
hardware, or "whatever else presented itself."
Other vendors were independent businessmen. The cri-
sollero bartered his plates and glassware for old clothes
that he resold in the Baratillo. The mercero carried sus
pended from an enormous pole hanging across his shoulders
needles, files, thimbles, spools, knitting
needles, curetes, balls of thread, hair
pins, shawl pins, earrings, Navalles and
Repalda catechisms, cheap editions of ver
ses and literature by Inclan and Sixto
Casillas, games of clay, plates decorated
with the Siege of Sevastopol, games for
children, and other trifles. His left
hand sustained a yardstick and a small
cane from which hung various thicknesses
of embroidered dobles and woven point lace
for petticoats.116
The enormous inventory marked him as a small shopkeeper sav
ing himself the expense of rent.
Servants comprised 23 percent of the lowest occupa
tional category, but because of the bias of the census, their
117
actual percentage was smaller. Scullions, lackeys, and
errand boys possessed the lowest prestige.. Maids, chamber
maids, and cooks occupied an intermediate position. The
aristocrat of the male servant corps was the coachman, usually
a former hackney driver, peasant, or household domestic who
had risen through the ranks. The wealthy lavished good treat-

105
ment upon the coachman whose services they considered indis
pensable in providing the conspicuous pomp of the formal
visit or promenade. He and his family occupied the best
room on the ground-floor servant quarters. The coachman
adopted the characteristics of his master, whether doctor,
lawyer, civil servant, or general. Whenever possible the
coachman demonstrated noblesse oblige to his lesser colleagues
11 8
by treating them to free rides. The female housekeeper,
however, occupied the highest rung in the domestic-staff
hierarchy. If she was good, then "the troubles of the
menage rest upon her shoulders, and accustomed to the amiable
weaknesses of her countrymen, she is neither surprised nor
] l 9
disturbed by them."
Two hundred and eighty-eight families on the census
of 1849 employed an average of three servants. Staffs larger
than ten, however, were quite common. Over 70 percent resided
with their employers. Unlike eighteenth-century Paris,, many
12 0
Mexican servants preserved their family life. Porters,
coachmen, and gardeners kept their families in the house
holds. In many, wives and daughters worked as chambermaids
while sons served as errand boys. Others abandoned their
families temporarily to go into domestic service. The laun
dress of seora de la Barca had six children who were left
to their own devices whenever their mother chose to be em
ployed. Her frequent departures from the service of her mis
tress, which the seora attributed to laziness, may have been

106
caused by the need to spend time with her family. Unmarried
adolescents managed to maintain some contact with their
families. A sewing girl hired by the De la Barcas saw her
family and friends once a week at which time "they would
have dinner, light their cigars, and together with little
Josefita, sit and howl and bemoan themselves, roaring, cry
ing, and lamenting her sad fate in being obliged to go out
121
to service."
Domestic service was considered the ideal education
for a poor girl. The convents, particularly, were the elite
academies where young girls learned the skills necessary for
i
employment in wealthy households or to attract good husbands.
Josefita, the de la Barcas little servant girl, entered domes
tic service under conditions demanded by her mother that "she
should be taught to read, taken to church, and instructed
12 3
regularly in all kinds of work."
Poor men disliked domestic service. Only 45 percent
of the male- servants were natives of Mexico City, an indica
tion that only luckless male migrants from necessity entered
the occupation. Its unpopularity probably lay in the power
of the master to regulate family life and personal conduct.
Married men, in fact, avoided the trade. Forty-six percent
of all male domestic servants were single, nearly 80 percent
greater than the percentage of single men in the entire popu
lation. The contempt of the lpero, archtype of lower-class
roguery and independence, for the domestic servant illustrates

107
that the lower classes considered personal liberty too great
l 24
a sacrifice for secure employment.
The wealthy recognized that compared to foreign ser
vants, native Mexicans were "the perfection of civility:
humble, obliging, excessively and constantly good tempered,
and very easily attached to those with whom they live." Their
virtues, however, were marred by unreliability and filth.
Seora de la Barca's maids were forever leaving the household
to enjoy long rests (para descansar). Although the men were
reasonably clean, it took "a cast iron stomach" to observe
the long, dirty, matted, uncombed hair of kitchen maids and
l 25
cooks suspended over the soup.
Begging in Mexico City, as in other preindustrial
. 3 26
cities, was a profession. The law reluctantly recognized
the trade. It condemned begging among the able-bodied as
vagrancy but tolerated that of the aged, infirm, or deformed
as a necessary evil if no poor houses or other charitable
127
institutions existed. Although schemes abounded to place
honest beggars in the Hospicio de Pobres, its limited capa
city and extremely wretched physical condition made such pro-
12 8
jects unrealistic. Throughout the first half of the nine
teenth century, the aged or handicapped obtained the legal
right to beg by purchasing a license costing one-eighth of
,3 29
a real. There was not much shame attached to begging,
and a few individuals readily admitted to the census takers
13 0
that they earned their living "from providence" or by begging.

108
Deformed and infirm beggars were everywhere.
Alone, guided by perillos (young boys), carried on the
shoulders of sturdy assistants or on horsebackall were
called pordioseros because they began each request for alms
13 2
with "por Dios.' Whether entering the kitchens of the
rich or squatting in the portals of convents and churches,
they were well received. Waddy Thompson, an American diplo
mat, remarked that deformity was an asset because it guaran
teed a man a secure income.1 3 The success of the beggar
was due to the special value that Latin Catholicism assigned
to an act of charity. The presence of the poor was con
sidered to be the living and visible testimony of the pres
ence of Christ and his doctrine. They were allegorically
the other Christ and whosoever aided them assured his eter
nal salvation. The giver of alms benefited more than he
who received. The almsgiver often received more than the
13 4
opportunity to perform an act of perfect grace. An old
cripple observed by Thompson pandered to the crowd's sadistic
impulses by performing epileptic fits during which he rolled
i 3 5
on the ground and howled like a dog. Others rendered a
higher level of entertainment. Two old beggars living under
the portals of San Agustn would recite the following poem
in unison:
Esccheme navegante
que vas surcando tu sombra
atiende; pues que te nombra

109
mi voz en tu paso errante,
detente y caminante,
desde el nacir al morir,
que te pretendo decir,
que tu vida es todo un susto;
a as escucha sin disgusto
si te quieres divertir
antes de nacir, causaste
a tu madre mil dolores
penas diste por favores
y el alma la congogaste
naciste, mas no cesaste
de prevenirla tormento
se te quedo en el olvido
pues a Dios (Todos los circunstantes se quitaban
el sombrero)
has ofendido,
busca el arrepentimiento.136
Women numbered over half of Mexico City's population.
They were an economically marginal group. Although a very
few might be artisans, most found employment in domestic ser
vice, the production and sale of tortillas, atole, or sweets,
13 8
or as laundresses. Many worked in the Estanco, and when
that was not in operation, they converted their tiny rooms
into estanquillos (small shops). Table 13 lists the- occupa
tions of women residing on Manzana 168. Only three profes
sions, dressmaking, midwifery, and working as a caretaker in
a casa de vecindad, gave a poor woman any degree of status.
A costurera or modista (skilled seamstress) trained
in European techniques and knowledgeable of European fashions
13 9
could develop a wealthy clientele. Single girls thought -
of the occupation as a way of meeting young men of good
family. The trade was also a respectable occupation for

110
spinsters or widows left with children to raise and educate.
The two maiden aunts who raised the orphaned Guillermo
Prieto labored tirelessly day and night as seamstresses so
that they could afford the genteel poverty of the middle
14 0
class. Other seamstresses listed in the census of 1849
lived in apartments drawing moderate to relatively high
rents indicating that their craft earned them a degree of
l 41
economic security and comfort.
The partera (midwife) was more prestigious than the
seamstress. Although only thirteen registered midwives
appeared on the professional census of 1851, there were
l 4 2
probably many more practicing in the barrios. They pro
vided a highly valued service. The midwife presiding over
a childbirth in a middle-class Mexican family was the real
"professor of obstetrics," delivering the baby while the
doctor comforted the godmother and the father by mumbling
143
learned Latin phrases.
The casera (female concierge) ruled the casa de ve
cindad. In return for a free room, she assigned rooms, kept
keys, locked the door at curfew, called the police when
quarrels arose, and collected the rent. A wealthy author
once described her as a friendly "regulating power" involving
herself in the residents' personal affairs with an authority
144-
that exceeded that of the owner. Those "who had the mis
fortune to live in a casa de vecindad" thought differently
14 5
of her. Angry residents described her as a tyrannical

Ill
sultan whose petulant enforcement of regulations, arbitrary
evictions, and unjustified complaints to the police oppressed
l 46
the lives of her vassals.
There were thousands of other ways that men and women
gained a living in the capital. Basureros scavenged the trash
heaps for anything that could be sold to wear or eat. Traperos
collected old rags and paper to sell to the paper factory. At
the factory, women found employment washing the rags to pre-
14 7
pare them for processing. In the Plaza de la Constitucin
scribes sat waiting to pen letters for illiterate clients. A
declaration of love cost one real; a scolding letter, one-half
l 4 8
real; and an upbraiding, two reals. Thousands of men
worked as unskilled wage laborers for the municipality or for
private construction projects. These men were frequently
underemployed or unemployed because of the depression of the
149
construction industry.
In contrast to the artisans, the unskilled wage la
borers demonstrated a consciousness based on clear economic
interest rather than occupational solidarity. In November
1841 the foremen, laborers, and other wage earners employed
by the city struck for payment in silver coins or double pay-
150
ment m copper. The tobacco workers possessed a history
of mutinies that dated from colonial times. In December 1841
the women workers of the tobacco factory on the Street of San
Lorenzo held a sit-down strike to demand payment in silver
currency. Soldiers called to the scene refused to enter the

112
factory out of consideration for the women's sex and for
1 5 1
fear of the scissors wielded by the angry workers.
By modern standards, the Mexican poor, when fully
employed, did not work many days of the year. Construction
laborers and other unskilled workers labored whenever em
ployment was available. Those who had the good fortune to
be employed by the city experienced full and year-round em-
15 2
ployment. These were probably the elite of the unskilled
labor force. The workers at the modern textile mills aver-
153
aged 300 work days yearly. Artisans worked a five-day
week, taking Sunday and Monday off. At least ten days more
were taken off because of mandatory religious holidays in-
154
eluding Christmas and Easter. Although foreigners reported
that every saint's day was an excuse for a holiday, there is
evidence from the late colonial period that poor artisans,
defying guild regulations, preferred to work on lesser re
ligious holidays.155 Assuming full employment, a generous
estimate is that an artisan or unskilled laborer worked 250
, 1 56
days a year.
Twelve-hour days were the rule. The municipal labor
15 7
force worked in twelve-hour shifts. Artisans employed in
15 8
public workshops left work at 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. Assuming
a moderate siesta, the late departures indicate a regular
twelve-hour day. Rinconeras and those who worked in their
own homes labored at their own pace for as long as work
lasted.

113
Wages
Total annual income and the level of subsistence it
purchased are far more significant problems than hours of
employment. Jan Bazant is the only modern scholar who
correlates the earnings of the urban republican worker
with purchasing power. Using Manuel Lerdo de Tejada's 1857
estimate that the average Mexican spent $.50 weekly on food,
he concluded that the $3 earned weekly by the poblano tex
tile worker was more than enough to live on, especially
15 9
when supplemented by the earnings of wife and children.
Bazant errs in applying Lerdo de Tejada's estimate, which
correctly assumed the majority of the nation's poor to
be rural laborers, to the urban worker. The cost of
living was much higher in urban areas. During a series of
articles discussing the copper money inflation, Siglo Diez
y Nueve estimated that a bare subsistence income was one
and one-half -reals daily$67.5 annually per capita, or
$270 annually for a family of four.16* The newspaper's
estimates were commonly accepted. The per capita estimate
is nearly identical to the $70 that tax legislation required
"servants of the inferior sort" to calculate into their
yearly incomes to cover the hidden wages of room and board.
The $270 necessary to support a family of four is quite
close to the $300 minimum annual income below which people
lived in such misery that later legislation exempted them

114
from the payment of the direct tax. The estimate may
understate the cost of subsistence. Some obrajes granted
live-in workers an allowance of two reals a day to cover
162
meals.
The newspaper's estimate assumed full employment
and sound currency. The economy did not supply full em
ployment, and the curse of copper money reduced real wages.
The poor received copper coins worth one eighth to one
quarter of their face value. They purchased food from a
merchant who adjus.ted his prices to reflect the real value
l 6 3
of the coinage. At times the merchant would adjust his
prices even higher to protect himself from official deval
uations or speculatory spirals. Real income consequently
plummeted. Before 1837 the discount on copper money aver
aged 37 to 40 percent. After 1837 the discount could go as
high as 25 percent, but averaged 10 percent. Over the long
run, the wage laborer could loose 50 percent of his real in-
- 164
come to inflation.
Even without inflation, most of the poor earned less
than the annual $270 to $300 necessary to support a family
of four. Appendix C-2 lists servant wages. Male and fe
male live-in servants received $3 to $5 a month. The pam
pered coachman received from $15 to $18 monthly, but $7 was
expected to cover the expense of his equipage.165 Male ser
vants living outside the house received $12 a month. An
entire family engaged in domestic service would have no

115
trouble supporting itself from the combined income of its
members. A single servant could maintain himself comfortably,
but a married man could not hope to support himself, his
wife, and children on an income that came to little more
than half of that assumed necessary for family subsistence.
The aguador earned about $4 for every 200 deliveries.
The demand for water was constant, and his earnings depended
upon only his desire and his health. The wages paid to the
city's street-paving crews give some idea of what a fully
employed, unskilled worker might earn. Medio-cucharas (semi
skilled workers) received wages of $3 a week. The unskilled
peon received $2.25 a week. Their incomes came to $144
and $120 annually, far below the estimated level of family
subsistence. Municipal workers, however, were the elite of
the unskilled labor force because they enjoyed full employ
ment. The annual income of those working in private con
struction or as simple day laborers may have been far lower.
The 150 artisans, some of whom were masters, listed
on the industrial census of 1849 earned an average of $3 a
16 8
week, identical to the servant and unskilled laborer.
Table 14 shows the similar economic status of artisan and
unskilled laborer by a comparison of mean rents. Seventy-one
percent of the artisans paid the same rents as 84 percent of
the unskilled. Artisans, however, were the wealthier group.
The percentage of artisans paying over $4 in rent was twice
as high as that of the unskilled.

116
The similar mean rents do not tell whether both arti
sans and unskilled laborers experienced constant employment.
The extremely depressed and erratic economy probably caused
unsteady employment for both groups. The quantitative evi
dence is contradictory. Over half of the suspected vagrants
requiring two or more trades to earn a living were unskilled
laborers. However, 63 percent of the suspects earning in
sufficient income to support a family were artisans. Per
haps during hard times unskilled laborers changed jobs while
artisans refused to abandon their crafts.
The similar incomes of artisans and unskilled laborers
vary with the general rule that artisans could support a
family on their incomes while the unskilled could not. The
conclusion is based on empirical studies of nineteenth-
century European and North American cities. Most recently
Michael Katz and Stephen Thernstrom demonstrated that the
artisans of Hamilton, Ontario, and Newburyport, Massachusetts,
earned considerably more than the unskilled laborer. Thern
strom concluded that in Newburyport the unskilled laborer
earned so little that he had to resort to charity or crime
169
m order to survive.
Torcuato di Telia, in his article."The Dangerous
Classes in Nineteenth-Century Mexico," assumed that a wage
differential between artisans and unskilled laborers existed
in Mexico City. The grounds for his assumption are the con
clusions of European and North American researchers and the

117
statement in the Museo Mexicano that "wages of the populacho
,,l 7 0
were scarcely enough to cover their necessities. His
assumption is refuted by the inclusion of artisans within
the ranks of the "miserable people" and the quantitative data
referred to above.
The quantitative evidence that a poor man could not
provide for his family is supported by the opinion of Juan
Barquera, author of a pamphlet advocating measures to increase
the Republic's population.
A lad with good education will always earn
enough to support himself, but no more.
However, when he is married he will not
have saved enough money to satisfy future
necessities like childbirth, raising child
ren, and illnesses. When these occur, the
wage laborer goes into a debt with his em
ployers that he can never repay.171
Although Barquera uses the word jornalero (wage laborer) in
the passage, his reference to "a lad with a good education"
indicates that he is referring to an artisan. In the prein
dustrial world, apprenticeship to a skilled craft was the
best education that a poor boy could obtain.
The inability of an adult male to earn a subsistence
income for his family leads to the assumption that the labor
of his wife was a necessity for the survival of the family.
The thirty-eight females on the census of 1849 reported an
17 2
average wage of $1.00 a week. This amounted to $60 a year

118
and could bring the total family income of an artisan or
semiskilled laborer to within 75 percent of the family sub
sistence level. Paradoxically, most married women did not
work. On the censuses of 1842 and 1844, only unmarried
women or widows, with a few exceptions, gave their occupa-
17 3
tions. Assuming the necessity of the wife s income to
secure subsistence, there seem to be two plausible reasons
for the censuses. The census taker recorded the husband's
occupation and considered that of the wife too menial for
inclusion, or he feared that inquiry into the wife's occu
pation would offend her husband.
The children of the poor worked constantly. The one
to one and one-half reals daily that a child might earn from
hawking matches, sweets, fruit, or newspapers were essential
to the family. The nonattendance of poor children at school
was commonly attributed to the parents' need for the child's
l 7 4
wages.
Single women or widows faced a difficult struggle on
their meager earnings. Sixty pesos annually would barely
support a single person. Many women chose to live together.
In the barrio of San Salvador el Seco, 27 percent of all
matrifocal households were women living together. In Neca-
titlan, 31 percent of the matrifocal households were female
_ 175
menages. Most female households possessed young children,
and it is interesting to speculate that an older adult served
as a baby sitter for working mothers. '

119
Although the learned Society of Geography and Statis
tics denied that many prostitutes existed in Mexico City,
the oldest profession flourished, one of the few occupations
1 7 6
at which women could earn a decent income. The problem
of young girls or widows turning to prostitution was so
serious that it was argued before the ayuntamiento that
foreign seamstresses should be encouraged to establish them
selves within the city so that young girls would be taught
] 77
a more useful and moral career.
Wealthy Mexicans believed that the poor artisans
frittered away their spare money on gambling and drinking
rather than saving it or spending it on the goods that
17 8
would increase national production. The Semanario Arts
tico assumed the journeyman's prodigality when it encouraged
the establishment of savings accounts and mutual benefit
1 7 9
societies. It is doubtful, however, that people who
before inflation "earned scarcely enough to eat or half
dress" would consider anything more than.an immediate
pleasure with the few coins that they could save. Infla
tion, according to the affluent contributors to Siglo Diez
y Nueve, made the development of thrifty habits an impossi-
, ., 18 0
bility.
Zerfermia Verdigul's case illustrates the futility
of saving. She and her lover lived together for eight
years, supporting themselves by selling fruit and eggs on
181
the city's streets. When they parted, they had accumulated

120
a joint savings of $8 and a few bits of furniture.
Their savings provide some idea of what a childless, poor
couple might expect to save in eight years. Let us now
examine whether it was sufficient to provide for life's
emergencies. Marriage at the church of Santa Catarina
18 2
Mrtir cost $6,6. A supervised childbirth, a frequent
necessity in a land of delicately boned women, required
...183 .
$15. Burial m the cemeteries beyond the garitas (be
tween 1833 and 1849, the only legal burial grounds) cost a
minimum of $8at least $4 for the frightened cargador who
18 4
carried the body and $4 more for the burial. A shoe-
18 5
maker's tool kit adequate to earn one a living cost $8.
Any one expense would have exhausted the couple's life
savings. Two or more would have driven them into debt.
Notes
This figure differs slightly from that presented in
the first chapter because small shopkeepers and other re
spectable nonartisanal trades were removed from the artisanal
category to give a more accurate idea of its size. They
amounted to no more than 5 percent of the category.
2 See Table E-2.
3AACM, tomo 4154, exps. 168, 185.
4
"Colegio artstico," Semanario Artstico, 16 noviem
bre 1845, p. 1.
AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 12.
6AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 64; tomo 4154, exp. 185; tomo
4156, exp. 264b.

121
7AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 168.
8
Diccionario de la industria, manufacturera, comercio
y agrcola, trad. Jose M. Flores Verdad, 4 tomos (Mexico, D.F
1852), tomo 1, p. 226.
9
AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 163. ."Fondo de beneficencia,"
Semanario Artstico, 3 marzo 1844, p. 2.
1 0
AACM,
razonado
tomo
2478,
(Par
exp
is,
. 32. Juaquin Escriche, Diccio
1856), "Aprendizaje."
11
AACM,
tomo
4154,
exp
. 171.
1 2
AACM,
tomo
4154,
exp
. 63.
1 3
AACM,
tomo
4154,
exp
. 185.
1 4
AACM,
tomo
4.153,
exp
. 121.
1 5
AACM,
tomo
4151,
exp
. 9.
l 6
Diccionario
> de la industria, tomo 1, pp.
. 226, 227.
l V
Ib id.
1 8
AACM,
tomo
4152,
exp
. 74.
19 .
Diccionario
de la industria, tomo 1, pp.
226, .227.
2 0
AACM,
tomo
4252,
exp
. 74.
21
Carrera Stampa,
Los
gremios, p. 285. Manuel Payno,
Los banditos de Ro Fro (Mexico, D.F., 1945).
9 9
AACM,
tomo
4154,
exp.
192.
23
AACM,
tomo
4161,
exp.
691.
24
AACM,
tomo
2478,
exp.
32.
"Remitido,"
1 Semanario
Artstico, 3 agosto 1844,
p. 4
26
AACM,
tomo
4152,
exp.
64; tomo 4154, exps. 64,
156,
198.
2 7
AACM,
tomo
4152,
exp.
62; tomo 4154, exp. 186;
tomo
4157,
exp. 315b
; tomo 4160
* > exp
. 356.
2 8
AACM,
tomo
4154,
exp.
192.
29
AACM,
tomo
4153,
exp.
121; tomo 4154, exp. 185.
30
AACM,
tomo
4152,
exp.
74.
Los extrangeros y los adventureros (Mexico, D.F.,
1832), p. 14. Diario Oficial, 11 agosto 1844, p. 1.
32AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 28.
3 3
"Editorial," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 11 noviembre 1841,
p. 3.

122
Francisco Lopez Cmara, Los fundamentos de la econo-
.ma mexicana en la poca de la Reforma y la Intervencin (Mexi
co, D.F., 1962).
35
Representacin.
36The percentage is 21 percent for the 6,000 artisan
estimate and 35 percent for the 10,000 artisan estimate.
3 7
Mayer, p. 83. Calderon de la Barca, p. 286.
38AACM, tomo 4153, exp. 130.
^Wilson, pp. 282-86.
4 0
Herbert G. Gutman, Work, Culture, and Society in
Industrializing America, 1815-1919," American Historical Re
view, June 1973, pp. 531-88.
41 Garca Cubas (1945), p. 241.
4~Prieto (.1964), pp. 85, 86.
4"AACM, tomo 4157, exp. 315b.
4 4
Mexico," Semanario Artstico, 24 febrero 1844, p.
4. AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 9; tomo 4152, exp. 82; tomo 4779,
exp. 346.
45AACM, tomo 4779, exp. 343.
AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 36.
47
Roberto de la Cerda Silva, El movimiento obrero en
Mxico (Mexico, D.F., 1961), pp. 59-62.
4 8
Diego G. Lopez Rosado, Historia y pensamiento econ
mico de Mxico, 6 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1968), tomo 2, p. 280.
Mara del Carmen Merino Gambio, "Historia sociolgica del tra
bajo en Mexico" (Tesis, Licenciado en ciencias sociales, Uni
versidad Nacional Autnoma de Mexico, 1969), p. 82. Rosendo
Rojas Corias, Tratado de cooperativismo mexicano (Mexico, D.F.
1952), pp. 59-61.
49
Alexander von Humbolt, Political Essay on the King
dom of New Spain, trans. John Black, 3 vols. (New York, 1966),
vol. 3, pp. 463-64.
5 0
Carrera Stampa,
Los gremios,
AACM,
tomo
383,
exp. 21.
52AACM,
tomo
383,
exps. 18,
20.
53AACM,
tomo
383,
exp. 21.
5 4
AACM,
tomo
383,
exps. 18,
20.
55AACM,
tomo
383,
exps. 18,
20.
267-68.

123
56
AACM, tomo
383,
5 7"Durango,"
Museo
5 8
AACM, tomo
3409.
51 Di Telia,
pp. 95-
6 0
Thornton,
p. 59.
6 i
AACM, tomo
4152,
:ps. 79, 83; tomo 2892, Contra
Jos Mara Ortiz, 1853," "Contra Jos Mara Chaira, 1853."
6 2.
"Necesidad de instruccin," Hijo de Trabajo, 24
septiembre 1876, p. 1.
~AACM, tomo 3453, exp. 92.
6 4 _
Rodrguez de San Miguel, pp. 102-106.
65AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Loreto Flores, 2 Febrero
1853."
66
AACM,- tomo 3453, exp. 92
67
Horrosa crueldad del obraje de.Posadas (Mxico,
D.F., 1826).
6 8
AACM, tomo 2892, "Contra Guadalupe Orea, 3 abril
1853"; tomo 4154, exp. 185.
AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.
7 0
AACM, tomo 2892, "Contra Jos Mara Ortiz," "Contra
Juan Battierra," "Contra Jos Mara Chaira."
71
Ibid.
72
Genaro V. Vasquez, Legislacin del trabajo en los
siglos XVI, XVII, XVIII (Mxico, D.F., 1936).
7 3
"Nuestros artesanos," p.
2889 "
Mendez."
74
AACM, tomo
2889,
"Contra
Bernadino Prez,
1853."
7 5
AACM, tomo
2891,
"Contra
Teodora Vasquez;
tomo
'Contra Manuel
1!
Snchez, Toms
Uribe, y Florentino
76 ,,
Mexico, p
. 2.
77
AACM, tomo
2891,
"Contra
Jos Mara Morales."
7 8
"Remitido,
" Semanario Artstico, 2 febrero 1844, p.
79
Gutman.
80
AACM, tomo
4154,
exp. 89;
tomo 4151, exp.
9.
8 1
AACM, tomo
2890,
"Contra
Toms Uri.be." "
La embria-
Semanario Artstico,
16 marzo 1844, p. 1.

124
O .
"Casas de Vecindad," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 11 noviem-
'bre 1841, p. 2. AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 186.
8 3
"La embriaguez," p. 1.
8 4
"Remitido," Semanario Artstico, 3 agosto 1844,
p. 4.
8 5
AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 62; tomo 4154, exp. 186.
86
Cofrada de Santa Cruz, Patente de las indulgencias
y privilegios (Mexico, D.F., 1849).
8?See Tables B-l and B-2.
8 8
Cofrada de seor Homobono, Patente de las indulgen
cias y privilegios (Mxico, D.F., 1836).
8 9
AACM, tomo 2939, "Incidente de Gregorio Bonilla."
AACM, tomos 4151-58, 4778-88.
9 1
AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 168.
9 2
J. R. Vicent, Pollbooks: How Victorians Voted (Cam
bridge, 1967), as quoted in Michael B. Katz, "Social Structure
in Hamilton, Ontario," ed. Stephen Thernstrom and Richard Sen-
nett, Nineteenth Century Cities (New Haven, Connecticut, 1969),
p. 214.
9 3
"Fomento de las artes," Semanario Artstico, 9 fe
brero 1844, p. 3.
9 4
"El trabajo," Semanario Artstico, 20 abril 1841,
p. 1. "La embriaguez," p. 1. "Mxico," idem, 2 febrero 1842,
p. 1. "Instruccin general," dem, 7 julio 1844, p. 1. "Ef-
fectos nacionales," idem, 4 mayo 1844, p. 1. "Peticin," idem,
27 abril 1844, p. 1.
9 5
Rojas Corlas, tomo 4, p. 216.
96
The British social historian E. J. Hobsbawm notes
that in the early nineteenth century, European industrialists
were undecided whether the capitalistic system or various
utopian socialist systems were the most efficient forms of
industrialized society. Their indecision, in my opinion,
reflects a vestigal sense of artisanal unity; idem, The Age
of Democratic Revolutions (New York, 1962), p. 304. William
L. Langer, Political Reform and Social Upheaval, 1832-1852
(New York, 1969), pp. 181-214.
AACM, tomo 383, exp. 34.
98
Representacin.
9 9
See Table E-3.
i oo
Thornton, pp. 50-51.
l 01
See Table E-3.

125
1 O 2
103,
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 240.
'Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 11 noviembre 1841,
i 04
Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, pp. 173-75.
Ibid. Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 90.
Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 90.
Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, pp. 173-75.
Dblan and Lozano, tomo 5, ley 3448.
Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, pp. 373-77.
AACM, tomo 3673, exp. 18.
AACM, tomo 148, "Actas secretas de 10 octubre 1828."
Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 238-39.
Calderon de la Barca, p. 110.
Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 238-39.
AACM, tomo 4153, exp. 133; tomo 4154, exp. 162.
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 219.
See Table E-3.
Museo Mexicano-, tomo 3, pp. 373-77.
Calderon de la Barca, p. 257.
Kaplow, p. 51.
Calderon de la Barca, pp. 253-57.
12 2
"Noticia de, los conventos del arzobispado de Mexico,
ao de 1826," Boletn del Archivo General de la Nacin, no. 3
(1953), p. 475.
12 3 ,,
Calderon de la Barca, p. 253.
Prieto (1964), p. 206.
125
Calderon de la Barca, pp. 253-57.
126
Gideon Sjoberg, The Preindustrial City (New York,
1960), p. 203.
12?Escriche, "Vagos," "Mendigos."
12 8
AACM, tomo 168, "Actas de 1 septiembre 1846."
AACM, tomo 4158, exp. 337.
AACM, tomo 3409, "Manzana 60"; tomo 3413, "Man
zanas 168, 186."
Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 244-45.
1 05
i o 6
107
1 08
1 0 9
1 1 0
1 1 1
1 1 2
1 1 3
1 1 4
1 1 5
1 1 6
1 1 7
1 1 8
1 1 9
1 2 0
1 21

126
13 2
"Ruxton, p. 51. Thompson, p. 149, Mayer, p. 55.
133
Thompson, p. 149.
13 4 ^ ^
Maria Jimenez Salas, Historia de la asistencia
social en Espaa en la edad moderna, Monografas Historicos-
Sociales, vol. 4 (Madrid, 1958), pp. 9, 33, 64.
i 3 5
Thompson, p. 149.
136Garc£a Cubas (1945), p. 255.
1'?AACM, tomo 3411, "Copia del padrn de 1842."
i 38
See Table C-4.
l 3 9
Los extrangeros.
llPrieto (1964), p. 130.
n AACM, tomo 3409, "Manzana 57."
~ AGN, t orno 8 2.
3 Garca Cubas (1945), p. 102.
14 4
Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 157.
14 5
"Casas," p. 2.
"Remitido," 23 octubre 1849, p. 3.
i 4 7
"El papel," Semanario Artstico, 25 enero 1845, p. 1.
148
Mayer, p. 40.
149.,. .
Felix F. Palavicim, Mxico: historia de su evolu
cin constructiva, 6 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1955), tomo 2, pp.
198-200.
AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 14.
1 51 .
Bustamante, p. 24.
l3AACM, tomos 1272-1300.
15 3
Bazant, "La industria textil," p. 34.
154.
Mariano Josef Zuniga de Ontiveros, Calendario
manual y gula para el ao de 1820 (Mexico, D.F., 1820), pp.
96-97.
55 Calderon de la Barca, p. 66. AACM, tomo 383, exp.
20.
15 6
This is the exact figure that Kaplow concludes the
laboring poor of Paris worked, although it was calculated from
entirely different data.
?AACM, tomos 1272-1300.
15 8
AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Abraham Monterano, Juan
Canalla, y Roque Perez, 1853," "Contra Rafael Lerma, 1853."

127
1 59
16 0
1 6 1
Bazant, "Industria algonera," pp. 141-42.
"Editorial," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 14 noviembre 1841.
Dblan and Lozano, tomo 4, leyes 2311, 2590.
16 2
AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 9; tomo 2892, "Contra Jos
Mara Chaira, 1853."
1 6 3 .
Jose Mana Cunaga, Gabino Sanchez, Jose Marra
Gonzlez, Rafael P. Murgia, Ignacio Manon, Agustn Cruz,
Jos Agreda, "Sobre efectos de dinero de cobre," Siglo Diez
y Nueve, 11 noviembre 1841, p. 3.
"Editorial," 12 noviembre 1841, p. 4.
i 6 5
Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, pp. 373-77.
pp. 173-75.
6?AACM, tomos 1272-1300.
16 8
See Table C-4.
1 6 9
Katz, p. 232. Stephen Thernstrom, Poverty and Pro
gress: Social Mobility in a Nineteenth Century Town (Cam
bridge, Massachusetts, 1964), p. 22.
7 Di Telia, pp. 79-105.
171
Juan Wenceslao Barquera, Disertacin economica-
poltica sobre los medios de aumentar la poblacin de los
Estados Unidos Mexicanos y su illustracin y riqueza (Mxico,
D.F., 1825), pp. 10-16.
172
See Table C-4.
17 3
Dorothy T. Estrada, "Las escuelas lancastrianas en
la Ciudad de Mxico," Historia Mexicana, vol. 22, no. 4, p.
508, fn. 33.
AACM, tomo 2477, exp. 30; tomo 2479, exp. 389.
75AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzanas 57 and 60."
17 6
Ateneo Mexicano, 1844, pp. 317-18. Los extrangeros,
p. 6. AACM, tomo 161, "Actas de 11 noviembre 1841." Siglo
Diez y Nueve, 16 julio 1848, p. 4.
177
Los extrangeros, p. 3.
17 8
AACM, tomo 522, exp. 14. Otero, Obras, tomo 1,
pp. 139-47. Poinsett, p. 84. Elliot Liebow, Talley's Comer
(New York, 1967).
17 9,
Cuentas de ahorros," Semanario Artstico, 1 julio
1844, p. 2.
180o .
Curiaga et al., p. 3.
181
AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Zefermia Verdiguil."

128
1 82
Becerro: parroquia de Santa Catarina Mrtir
(Mexico, D.F.: Filmoteca del Instituto de Geneologica y
Heralda, agosto 1832), rollo 301, vols. 16-21.
1 83
AACM,
tomo
2760,
"Contra
Diego Bolles."
1 8 4
AACM,
tomo
3675 ,
exp.
26.
1 85
AACM,
tomo
4154,
exp.
80.
A cobbler took out a
loan to obtain the money necessary to purchase the tool kit.

CHAPTER THREE
LIFE STYLES, HEALTH, DEMOGRAPHY
The low people who lived on the out
skirts of and in some central points
of the city kept miserable conditions
which fortunately today appear to us
in every way incredible.
Guillermo Prieto, 1886
Life Styles
Dramatically different life styles separated the mes
tizo poor from the white and Europeanized upper and middle
classes. For the sake of contrast, the differences in
clothing, diet, and habitations will be described in detail.
About 1850 a truly elegant young man wore cashmere
wool pants embroidered with branches, flowers, and even doll
The decorations created the impression that the garment was
made of carpeting material. A broad tie of many brilliant
colors, fastened by a sparkling glass solitaire, fell across
his finely pleated shirt which was covered by a velvet waist
coat colored cherry, sea green, or Prussian blue. His outer
garment was an overcoat or an enormous Spanish cape with a
129

130
beaver collar. Laced half-boots or full riding boots com-
l
pleted the outfit. During the ground swell of nationalistic
feeling that followed the defeat of Mexico by the United
States, dashing young men dressed in the leather breeches,
richly embroidered ponchos, and broad sombreros of the
2
Mexican ranchers. ~
The middle classes substituted cheaper textiles, but
emulated the standards of the wealthy. The very rich pur
chased their clothes at exclusive French tailors; the mer
chant's clerk and the minor civil servant were the "parish
ioners" of the rinconera.
Women wore a high-bodiced, tight-waisted, full-skirted
dress that dropped to the floor. The dress demanded the use
of whale-bone corset, many petticoats, and crinoline and steel
3
hoops. Women also affected the costume of the china, the
Mexican ideal of mestiza beauty. Her costume was a blouse
of fine linen embroidered with glass jewlry and an ankle-length
skirt fastened by a broad belt of crepe with large pleats that
opened and closed around the hips. An elegant exterior petti
coat of green silk bordered by beaver, spangles, or simple
ribbon fell upon the white lace ruffles of the interior petti-
4
coats. Fine lace stockings completed the outfit. The china's
dress so captivated Fanny Calderon de la Barca that she chose
to wear it to a formal ball given in her honor by President
Anastaci.o Bustamante.5

131
Following the fashions was not only slavery but mar
tyrdom. The tight garters and belts worn by the men created
a bagging at the knees giving the appearance that the
trousers contained cotton bales. Crossing one's legs while
seated in company snapped the garter belt. Tight corsets
tortured the women. Walking in the streets was impossible
because full skirts obstructed passers-by and collected
filth. During the rainy season it was improper for women
to walk abroad because the street puddles immodestly
reflected their interior petticoats. During formal visits
gentlemen averted their eyes as the ladies struggled when
seating themselves to keep their hoops from rising to
6
indecorous heights.
The clothing of the poor was a historical scandal.
In 1789 Viceroy Revillagigedo wrote of "the shameless and
indecent nudity" of a great part of the plebe who wore only
"a tattered blanket or a filthy jerkin that does not manage
to cover them entirely." The women, complained a police offi
cial, were "in every way worse than the men, lacking the
slightest shame or the slightest fear." Clothing codes were
issued and demanded such simple additions as a shirt, a cotton
7
jacket or vest, half-breeches, and shoes.
The high price of clothing fostered nudity. Workers
indebted themselves to purchase the simple garments required
by law. Shoes were expensive, and the thrifty purchased those
g
stripped from the victims of contagious disease. Most went
barefoot.

132
Postindependence industrialization and expanded
trade brought an improvement in the dress of the poor. In
1828 Henry Ward, the British ambassador to Mexico, reported
that nudity had disappeared from the streets of Mexico City
9
because of the importation of cheap British textiles.
Robert Wilson made a similar observation in 1854.10 Lucas
Alaman, an enthusiastic, promoter of Mexican industrializa
tion, claimed the change in dress was due to the moderniza
tion of the Mexican textile industry. According to Alaman,
before independence the cheap cotton cloth from which the
poor fashioned their clothing cost three reals per vara.
In 1843 the best quality cloth cost two reals per vara and
was twice as thick, representing a real savings of two
thirds and increasing the per capita consumption of the
material.11 The aduana's records confirm Alaman's. In
1844 and 1845 the wholesale price of cheap cotton cloth at
^ 12
the Plaza de Mexico was one and three-fifths reals per vara.
Ready-made clothing was prohibitively expensive.
The least expensive pair of trousers to be purchased at
the tailor shop of the Acordada prison sold for $2, two
thirds of a poor man's weekly salary. The prices of vests
and jackets began at $1.75 and $2.00 respectively.13 Used
clothing was also expensive. The average artisan worked
over a day to earn the five reals to purchase a pair of
cotton trousers; a $2 serape represented nearly two thirds
of his weekly wages. A cotton blanket or a quilt required

133
three days of labor or twelve reals. Four petticoats cost
, 14
seventeen reals, over four days wages.
Partial nudity remained. In 1841 the ayuntamiento
complained that naked beggars assailed the customers of
cafs and ice cream parlors. The exposure of the women
offended the public decency. 5 About the same time, Prieto
wrote of the people of the poorer barrios:
One could not say that they were dressed,
because one should not qualify rags as
dress. They were great consumers of the
products of Baron and Iglesias [manufac
turers of cheap textiles], of rebozos and
paliacates; bosoms uncovered in all their
amplitude, men in half-trousers with half
their body naked.16
At best the poor dressed shabbily. According to the
Museo Mexicano, a typical lpero wore a straw sombrero; a
tattered blanket or serape; broad, white cotton breeches
or half-breeches of leather, fastened by a belt of sisal.
l 7
If he wore shoes, he had scavenged them from the trash.
Respectable artisans dressed badly. The skilled wax sculptor
visited by Mayer was "scarcely distinguishable from a lpero."1
Clothing merged all poor men into an indistinguishable mass.
Edward Tylor and a friend remarked on the similarity of dress
after visiting the Acordada in 1857.
The inmates were brown Indians or half-
breed Mexicans appearing to belong to

134
the poorest class, but just like the
average of the people in the streets
outside. As my companion said: "If
these fellows are thieves and mur
derers, so are our servants and so is
every man in a serape that we meet in
the streets."19
Only during religious festivals did poor men show a
degree of sartorial elegance and imagination. During the
carnival they became "fantastic knights in their glittering
2 o
accouterments." The costumes were expensive. Aguadores
pledged their water deliveries months in advance to purchase
2 1
Holy Week costumes.
Women dressed with slightly more decorum than the
males. A well-dressed mestiza wore white cotton petticoats;
a cotton blouse colored a sober blue, brown, or gray; and a
small, equally sober rebozo or shawl which passed over the
2 2
arch of a hair comb perched atop her head. At her best,
dressed more colorfully, hair neatly combed and dark eyes
2 3
shining, she became the idealized china. The lpera never
approached that ideal.
Continually slovenly, with her hair in
disorder, a disheveled blouse, mended
petticoats with patches of a thousand
colors and even of leather, [she] was
always collecting cigar or cigarette
butts, eating fruit peels, and drink
ing mescal in the doors of the wine
shops.2 4

135
In the colonial period, clothing worn by creole, mes
tizo, and Indian readily marked caste. Clothing of the Re
public served a similar purpose. The caste system was dead;
however, the sparse, ill-fitting, ragged, and filthy dress
of urban mestizos marked them as pariahs. John Tylor thought
the upper classes shunned the serape as a lower-class mark.
When he attempted to visit a friend's house while wearing
2 5
one, he was set upon by the watchdog.
Usually the capital was well provisioned. In 1857
Mexico City imported 25,677 head of cattle, 151,246 sheep and
goats, 71,814 hogs, 91,194 cargas (one carga is equivalent to
approximately 250 pounds) of maize, 23,299 cargas of barley,
2 6
and 122,961 cargas of wheat. The provisions were given by
an extended hinterland. Maize, vegetables, and livestock
came from areas immediately surrounding the city and from a
2 7
few patches of arable ground surviving within the garitas.
The haciendas of Chaleo thirty miles southwest were the tradi
tional sources of maize, but careless cultivation of the
Valley of Mexico resulted in inconsistent and insufficient
2 8
harvests. With the late-colonial famines, authorities de-
2 9
veloped more distant sources of supply. The plain of To
luca, some sixty miles distant, provided hams, wheat, maize,
3 0
and beans. Wheat came from as far away as Orizaba in the
3 1
state of Vera Cruz.
Food for the wealthy and the middle classes was plen
tiful and varied. Guillermo Prieto described a typical middle-

136
class diet. Breakfast began with sweetened hot chocolate
for adults or atole for children. Coffee with milk and
toast, biscuits, or pastries followed. A large glass of
distilled water completed the meal. At eleven o'clock,
chocolate or atole was served with anisette. Mid-afternoon
supper consisted of bread soup, an "anemic" roast garnished
with mustard and chile sauce, eggs in chile, and a wide
variety of local vegetables. The "popular bean, friend of
the disinherited, the consolidation of the hungry, the
heavenly bean" served with pickled onion, cheese, and spiced
sauces occupied the place of honor and was plentiful. For
dessert, honey flavored with grated orange graced toasted
tortillas. Snackers refreshed at night with a light dinner
of mole, stewed meat, and a lettuce salad. During holidays
and family reunions, tables were laden sumptuously with ex-
3 2
pert preparations.
The diet of the poor was sparse and unappetizing.
At breakfast, pastries or brioche rolls were, washed down
33
with atole, clear tea, or aguardiente. At irregular in
tervals throughout the day they were sustained with "three
friends"maize tortillas, beans, and chilesupplemented by
morsels of meat or fat that "would horrify any national
3 4
stomach." This diet was so frugal that nutritionists
hailed the introduction of green vegetables, fresh fruit,
and porridge during the last years of the Porfiriato (1876
3 5
1910) as a significant nutritional advance.

137
Tlie poor did not eat at home. Food was purchased
from sidewalk vendors and restaurants. The extremely poor
were nourished with chile boiled in lard, beans, and lump
of meat on a tortilla. Lacking eating utensils, they folded
the tortilla to create an empaada (turnover). The more
fortunate carried clay plates and used the tortilla as a
r 36
fork.
Wholesale-food cost lists for the republican period,
similar to those upon which Enrique Florescano based his
3
masterful study of late-colonial maize prices, do not exist.
Fortunately, political crises and epidemics motivated a
series of price-fixing decrees that give some idea of food
costs. In 1832 and 1841, a 42-ounce loaf of coarse bread
cost one real. During the cholera epidemic of 1833, a 30-
3 8
ounce loaf sold for one real. Wheaten bread, however, was
3 9
too expensive for the poor whose staple was maize. The
4 i
price of inexpensive Tolucan maize varied with the harvests.
Table 15 shows its price per carga during the years for which
there are records. The average price for the eight-year
period was $6.75. One real could purchase 5 pounds of maize.
Table 15 also compares the price per carga of beans for a
six-year period. The average price for the period was $9 per
carga, or one real for each 4 pounds.
The published prices seem inexpensive, but do not
represent the true cost of food. The quotation of price per
carga indicates these were wholesale prices. The retailer's

138
markup is unknown. The cost of food occupied a very large
portion of the poor man's budget. In the colonial period,
it was common for the poor to flee the market without paying
41
for provisions. In 1850 the Society of Charity attributed
the irregular school attendance of poor children to the diffi
culty in obtaining meals.
They continually present themselves at
school at eleven or twelve o'clock be-'
cause, being extremely needy people,
their parents cannot send their child
ren to school until they give to them
the first meal of the day, which they
cannot do unless they complete a pro
duct that they can sell or pawn some
garment.1 2
When the Society decided to attract the children to school
by serving a breakfast of bread and tea, hungry children
swamped the schools.
The natural scarcities of the early republican
decades were not comparable to late-colonial famine cycles
43
and deprivations of the wars of independence. In 1830. the
Ministry of Interior Relations reported a three-year drought
causing a scarcity of provisions. In 1834 cholera's ravages
4 4
among the rural population checked wheat and maize harvests.
The wheat crop on the plain of Toluca and the Valley of
Mexico was destroyed by the winter hail of 1842. The scar
city continued into 1843; Indian laborers hid from government
4 5
press gangs and could not be mustered to harvest the crops.

139
The general picture, however, was of relative adequacy. Per
capita consumption was low. In 1843 the Ministry of Industry
Agriculture, and Colonization complained: a good harvest de
pressed food prices because there was no demand for the sur-
4 6
plus. Waddy Thompson reported that food for the lower
classes was relatively scarce but always sufficient to insure
4 7
survival. Mexico City bakers' boastful threat that the
capital never experienced a revolution for lack of bread re-
48
fleeted the availability of food.
The relative abundance of food never justified Manuel
Payno's claim that unlike the European worker, the Mexican
49
could not be forced to work by the threat of starvation.
Slow death was the fate of those unable to work, too proud
to beg, and too honest to steal. Brantz Mayer fed and
clothed a little beggar boy suffering from tuberculosis. The
child sold the first outfit he received to buy food for his
mother, stricken with rheumatism and unable to feed her
5
family for a month.
Man accomplished what nature failed to do. Revolu
tion and inflation caused numerous short but serious famines.
During the crises the ayuntamiento tried to keep the price
of food low. It considered, and then abandoned as too expen
sive, various schemes to purchase maize for distribution to
the poor at no cost or at nominal prices. Requests for con
tributions drew an unfavorable response from nearby haciendas
As a last resort, the ayuntamiento fixed the price of staples

140
at unrealistically low levels and drove the scarce commodities
off the market. In 1841 a civil servant vividly described
how the starving vented their anger and frustration:
The people will ask for bread and there
will be no bread to give them. They will
cry that they are hungry, and they will
not remain silent or sate their hunger
because there is no food. Finally they
will begin to move rabidly, their terrible
and disorderly masses becoming more vio
lent as they rampage to wherever they be
lieve they will find food. Nothing will
be sacred to them and nothing will contain
C 1
their irresistible force.
The quality of the food and beverages consumed by the
poor was dangerously low. The city could not maintain the
purity of its water supply. The "fat" water from the Chapul-
tepec aqueduct contained a high content of mud and minerals.
5 2
The "thin" water from Santa Fe was relatively clear. During
the rainy season, the waters of both aqueducts became so
saturated with impurities that filtration was necessary. Even
53
after filtration, it sickened sensitive palates. Throughout
the year, the smaller aqueducts feeding the central portions
of the city silted up with mud which transformed the flowing
5 4
current into a miasmic puddle.
Mud, minerals, and the rainy season were the will of
God. The people dangerously polluted their own water supply.
Tanners, wax chandlers, starch makers, and pork butchers
dumped' wastes into the aqueducts and the portion of the Canal

141
de la Viga that served as the water supply for the barrios of
San Gernimo and Candelaria. The canal was also the receptacle
for the filth that drained from nearby dunghills. Private in
dividuals dumped household trash and fecal material into the
5 5
aqueducts, fountains, and canals in which they also bathed.
The city did little to protect the quality of the
water. Aesthetic considerations rather than a concern for
public health motivated efforts to keep aqueduct currents
flowing. In 1832 the inhabitants of a block in the center of
the city complained that poisonous gases reeking from a
stopped-up aqueduct endangered their health. An inspector
from the Junta de Sanidad confirmed the condition but de
clared that it was not dangerous because the residents ap
peared to be generally healthy. Although municipal regula
tions forbade the dumping of liquid or fresh wastes into
the aqueducts, the disposal of dry wastes by that method was
permitted. No regulation effectively prevented the plebe
5 6
from polluting its water supply.
The germ theory of disease was unknown, but many sus
pected that drinking the water was linked to disease. In 1851
Doctor Isidoro Olivera, a veteran of the cholera epidemic of
1833 and 1850, wrote a study of the disease. He concluded
that those who drank "fat" water or even "slender" water al-
5 7
ways suffered the most. Fifty years later a British physi
cian in the Indian civil service proved that cholera was
5 8
spawned m and spread by a contaminated water supply.

142
The sale of contaminated food was common. Dead fish
from the aqueducts or the beaches of Vera Cruz found their
way to the stalls of the central market place. Tanners sold
the spoiled flesh of pigs and goats or the more palatable
meat of dogs fattened on maize. Entrails taken from the
cadavers of scavenger dogs found in the streets appeared in
5 9
the shops as beef or pork tripe. The food sold at the side
walk stands and restaurants was no better. A colonial offi
cial condemned these small Mexico City eateries which en
couraged the poor to
eat and drink, very often and not at
regular hours, which irregularity
greatly influences cleanliness because
of the natural upsets [attacks of
diarrhea] that they cannot contain
upon the moment they occur, without
asking pardon or any permission.60
Over a century later, a correspondent for the Boletn Munici
pal reported a more modern reason for the relationship be
tween the small restaurants and the "natural upsets" of their
customers. The sidewalk restaurants in the barrio of Maza-
nares sold two-or three-day-old food stored in unwashed earth
enware crocks and served it with unwashed dishes and spoons.
The correspondent concluded that the restaurants' food was
at the root of the digestive disorders that plagued the city.6
Fresh food became contaminated while awaiting sale.
Sanitary food-handling procedures were unknown. When it

143
rained, the poorer merchants of the main market place carried
on their commerce
in the mud between fruit peels, feathers,
the remains of fowl, and all species of
offal. The filth and the pestilence was
most notable among the fruit, tamales of
fish, frogs, salamanders, etc., and pre
served fruit, fat tripe, sweetbreads,
meat pies, and other indecent and half-
cooked meats.62
Edibles were further debased after purchase by a customary
washing in the aqueducts or fountains.63
The food was badly adulterated. People watched milk
6 4
taken directly from the cow to be assured of its purity.
The pulque taken with meals was flavored with bananas, lime,
nitrate of soda, and unspecified poisons. Although the Junta
de Sanidad forbade the use of Prussian Blue and other chemical
dyes to color fruit and pastries, confectioners throughout the
city sold pastries colored by these substances. No .less an
authority than the Diccionario de la industria, manufacturera,
comercio y agrcola recommended their use as food colorings.65
Bakers regularly substituted rust for saffron and crmate of
lead for egg in sweetbreads that the poor ate for breakfast.
Flagrant adulteration prompted the creation of the Junta de
Sanidad.
Mexico City's homes were often solid, two-or three-
story buildings of porphry or porous amygdaloid.67 Green,

144
light blue, orange, crimson, or distemper white exteriors
6 8
bestowed moods that were bright and gay. A thick, wooden
door was the only access from the street to a large central
patio. Across the patio, a staircase led to corridors and
interior porticoes. The houses of the wealthy were quite
spacious. Fanny Calderon de la Barca's house provides an
example. The ground floor of her home resembled a small
village. Twenty rooms that accommodated servant quarters
and storerooms surrounded a patio graced by two fountains
and a garden. The upper floor contained the kitchen, the
owner's private chambers, and dining and drawing rooms.
These chambers were large and well furnished. The drawing
room of the Countess de Cortina contained cabinets inlaid
with gold, "hundreds of rich and curious things," and an
imported English piano. The flat roof served as an attractive
balcony and might be planted in a garden. An uncomfortable
dampness marred the luxury. During the rainy season, water
poured through the ground-floor windows and under the front
door, imparting the flooded appearance of "a crossbreed be-
6 9
tween a palace and a barn."
Table 16 lists the mean rents of the six most common
dwellings encountered.on the sample survey. Large, well-
built houses were expensive. One advertised in Siglo Diez y
7 0
Nueve cost $6,800. The mean rent for the random sample of
1848 was $40 monthly, or $480 annually. A suitable resi
dence for a member of the diplomatic corps might rent for

145
$500 to $2,500 annually. American diplomats considered
these rents to be incredibly high, at least three times
71
those of New York.
Tire middle class lived in viviendas (apartments) in
the more substantial casas de vecindad. If the vecindad
contained two floors, apartments were upstairs and the
7 2
single rooms or servant quarters downstairs. The prefer
ence of the middle class for the dry, upper floors caused
73
vertical social stratification within the vecindad. For
example, the upper floor of a vecindad on Manzana 138 con
tained three apartments renting for $6,4 in which fourteen
inhabitants resided. The ground floor contained fifteen
rooms renting for $2. Forty-four persons occupied the ten
7 4
rented rooms. If the casa de vecindad had one story, then
7 5
an elegant apartment was likely to be in the front. The
mean rent of the 175 apartments of the random sample was $18
monthly, or $216 annually.
Apartments were spacious and comfortable. Guillermo
Prieto gave us a charming portrait of a middle-class dwelling.
A steep stairway led to a corridor paved with red varnished
millstones. The corridor was embellished with cages filled
with stuffed birds and squirrels, wind chimes, and earthen
crocks packed with stored foods and vegetables. Landscapes
of the Paseo de la Viga or Chapultepec hill adorned its
walls. Comfortable chairs and couches of tule painted coffee
and green furnished the principal chamber. Cuspidors occupied

146
its corners, and a large brazier for cigarettes and heat
stood on the floor. In the bedroom were a large bed of fine
wood, easy chairs, and wardrobes. The small children of a
large family slept in the halls. Those of a small family
slept with their parents in curtained compartments of the
main bedroom. The dining room contained a washstand holding
towels, soap, straw, and a scouring stone for scrubbing.
Colored vegetables, pots and pans, and jars lined the
kitchen walls yet further festooned with strips of garlic
and pepper for a festive air. A huge barrel of water stood
7 6
m its center.
The dwellings of the poor were considerably less sub
stantial. The jacal or shack of sun-dried brick faced with
adobe accounted for 3.4 percent of the habitations in the
77 ,
survey. Location in poor barrios probably resulted in
7 8
underrepresentation on the census of 1849. The jacal was
often a solitary unit; occasionally groups of them were
arranged around a central patio and enclosed by a corral or
wall. The mean rent of the jacales was $1,7 a month.
The most common type of lower-class habitation was
the rented room or accesoria within the casa de vecindad.
Single rooms and accesorias were over 60 percent of the habi
tations listed on the sample. The accesoria fronted the
street, but most rooms opened onto a lrge central patio.
Not all accesorias were habitations of the humble. Judging
from their rents, some housed large stores or were apartments

147
of more than one room. The mean rent of the accesorias was
$8; that of the room, $2.
The design of the vecindad originated in the late
eighteenth century when the owners of large private houses
divided the spacious interior apartments into small rooms
7 9
and rented them to an expanding population. Vecindad de
sign parodied that of the wealthier homes. The poor man's
80
vecindad was a one-story building m the barrios. Typical
vecindades listed on the census of 1849 contained fifteen or
twenty rooms; some grouped as many as fifty rooms about two
81
or three patios. A humble vecindad of two stories might
rent sleeping space on the ground floor. .George Ruxton
visited one such flophouse where the poor of both sexes
8 2
slept on the muddy earthen floor, rolled in their serapes.
Sleeping space rented from one-eighth to one-quarter real a
83
night. A small fountain standing in the middle of the
patio served as the source of drinking water, washtub, and
84
laundry.
The annual rent of a room came to no more than 15
percent of an artisans annual income. Many, however, could
not afford it. Anne Staples concluded in her examination
of convent-owned housing that much of the convents' poverty
was due to the inability of the tenants to pay their rents.
Although the nuns needed the rent desperately, only pressure
from the archbishop could force the tenderhearted sisters
1 ,- 85
to turn the delinquent tenants out into the streets.

148
Dr. Staple's research is confirmed by the account books of
the houses owned by the Cofrada of the Santsimo Sacramento
y Soledad de Nuestra Seora. One of its vecindades contained
twenty-four habitations whose rents ranged from $1.50 to $3.00
a month. Each room rented for an average of 1.7 times a year.
All but five of the tenants eventually fell in arrears. All
debtors vacated owing sums ranging from $4,4 to $18. Only
a female weaver owing $18 attempted to repay the debt. She
pawned, her loom for $15 and turned the sum over to the land
lord. The casera displayed great flexibility, collecting
rents by the week, by the month, or whenever the tenants
could pay a small installment on their debt. No evictions
appear, but the account book may not have distinguished among
those who fled, those who vacated legitimately, and those
8 6
who suffered eviction. Shrewd caseras in other vecindades
collected rents by the week to prevent the accumulation of
87
large arrears.
Many Mexicans slept in the streets. In 1824 Joel
Poinsett estimated that as many as 20,000 slept "beneath
8 8
the dosel of heaven." Others lived in the ruins that
abounded in the city. Thanks to the bravery of two census
takers, a few of the ruins appear on the census of 1849;
however, because of their unsavory reputations as the haunts
of thieves and cutthroats, they were probably underrepre-
, 89
sented.

149
Those who lived in the ruins endured "miser
terranean conditions," exposed to the elements and
90
death from collapsing walls or the fever. Other
tions were no less run down. The shacks weathered
91
shapes of holes in the mud. The census taker of
180 on the eastern fringes of the city appended his
with this note:
able, sub
risking
habita-
into the
Manzana
returns
This is to serve notice that the shacks
listed on this block are not of impor
tance, but of adobe and mud, the greater
part without cement, unpaved earthen
floors; some have roofs of pebbles with
out any frame. For the expressed reasons,
one encounters some of very low value and
q 2
some that are worthless.
Greedy landlords neglected to repair or pave the
93
ground floors of vecindades. One eleven-room vecindad of
Necatitln contained four unoccupied rooms in ruins. The
seven remaining were occupied but were probably in an equally
. 94
ruinous condition.
The interior of the houses were filthy. Trash en
closed the fountain, cluttered the stairways, and covered
the floors of lower rooms whose "ant-like inhabitants lacked
9 5
the slightest trace of cleanliness." Constant dampness
created its own problems and intensified those associated
with the filth. The unpaved ground-floor rooms were below
street level. Throughout the year, ground water seeping into

150
the rooms created an atmosphere of "pure humidity." During
the rainy season, water pouring in from the unpaved streets
or seeping up slowly through the unpaved floor buried the
97
rooms in a foul concoction of mud, garbage, and human feces.
At such times the houses were abandoned, their former inhabi
tants augmenting the numbers of street dwellers in the drier
9 8
portions of the city. In 1903 a newspaper reporter wondered
how human beings could exist in the crumbling, substreet-level
99
accesorias surviving in the southern barrios.
The concentration of so large a population within a
very small area in a city whose largest dwellings were three
stories high produced a considerable degree of crowding. Al
though the census of 1849 shows vacancy rates nearing 50 per
cent in some vecindades, the vacancies were likely attributable
l 0 0
to absent or uncooperative tenants. Residents and visitors
reported lower-class dwellings crammed with people. Amazed
by the "small villages" contained within the vecindades,
Thompson wondered why the large open spaces of the city re-
l l
maxned undeveloped. Married couples rented living space
10 2
on stairwell landings or in the corners of occupied rooms.
In the cheerless, gray vecindades of the southeastern barrios,
tiny rooms enclosed entire families and everything necessary
10 3
to sustain life in "a suffocating and lethal atmosphere."
Even the more prosperous artisans lived under crowded condi
tions. The two-room flat of the wax sculptor visited by
Brantz Mayer possessed one room "large enough to turn around

151
in that "served as bedroom for the1 sculptor, his wife, and
'two or three children." The other room, equally small, was
a workshop and contained a small furnace.
1 04
Privacy, es
pecially where rooms interconnected by corridors, was an
l 05
impossibility. Miguel Macedo complained that because
the area around the patio was so crowded with occupants per
forming the most intimate personal and household chores, the
children, women, and household servants lived in "slightly
,,106
decent promiscuity. Conditions in houses that rented
sleeping space were worse. Small one-room houses on Man
zana 41 held from nine to eighteen tenantsall single men.
l 0 7
On the ground floor that Ruxton visited, men and women slept
i o a
shoulder to shoulder. Those who avoided the expense of
rent by sleeping in the ruins did not avoid crowding. On
Manzana 168 a street peddler and his family of eight huddled
together in the one habitable room of an abandoned vecindad.
The educated recognized that lower-class housing was
unhealthy. They held the continual dampness of ground-floor
rooms responsible for the fevers that kept the population
from reproducing itself.1 1 The dampness, filth, and crowd
ing of the vecindades made its inhabitants the "greatest
nourishment of the epidemics, increasing and increasing the
numbers of its victims."1'1 Residence in filthy, dark, and
poorly ventilated ground-floor rooms was a main factor in
i o 9
the vulnerability to cholera.
11 2
Guillermo Prieto visited
a thirty-room vecindad in the barrio of Lagunilla. The
11 3
inhabitants had all been slaughtered by cholera.

152
In 1832 a public-spirited citizen suggested the govern
ment force landlords to repair properties in the interests of
114
public health. In 1849 the governor of the Distrito
Federal contemplated similar action to forestall an expected
outbreak of cholera. He was dissuaded by the ayuntamiento
who reasoned very properly that the law would be a dead letter.
The only housing action that the government ever enforced was
a repainting of all houses after the cholera epidemic of 1833.
The environs of Mexico City embraced further dangers
and discomforts. Fire menaced the city. After a series of
tragic fires in 1838, the city considered seriously the re
moval of crucifixes from church steeples and convents because
11 5
11 6
they acted as lightening rods
11 7
Guillermo Prieto recalled
flames which swept Mexico City in 1850 accompanied by wide-
, 118
spread looting.
The cramped houses literally spilled their occupants
into the streets. Obstruction of the broad avenues reflected
the competition for space. Artisans and merchants blocked
119
traffic by placing their wares and furniture in the streets.
Within the barrios, mestizos and Indians of "low condition"
120
built shacks in the middle of thoroughfares. "Embroils of
alleys, these remnants of habitable construction, of exitless
12 1
quagmires" pierced the heart of the city. Because the clogged
streets blocked passage of the larger horse-drawn vehicles,
the cargador commonly transported bulk freight.
l 2 2
Thompson
reported an uncomfortable feeling of crowdedness as he
123
strolled through the central areas of the city.

153
TABLE 15
PRICE OF MAIZE AND BEANS
Year
Maize
(per carga)
Beans
(per carga)
Source
1827
$5
Ward.
1832
8
$10
AACM, tomo 293.
1833
6
10
AACM, tomo 3676, exp.
A
1841
8
0,4
(per'almud)
AACM, tomo 2279, p. 98.
1847
7
10
AACM, tomo 2266, exp.
60.
1848
5
8
"Precios de necesidades
primarias," Monitor Re
publicano, 29 mayo 1848,
p. 4.
1851
7
9
Ayuntamiento de Mexico,
Memoria de 1851 (Mexico,
D.F., 1851).
1852
4
9
Almonte.
NOTE: One carga = 250 lbs.
TABLE 16
RESIDENCE AND MEAN RENTS
Residence
Number
Percentage
Mean Rent per Month
House
235
18
$40
Room
629
47
2
Acessoria
197
15
8
Vivienda
195
14
18
Entresuelo
24
2
20
Jacal
46
3
2
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the
survey from the census of 1849, AACM,
author for
tomo 3406.
the sample

154
TABLE 17
EPIDEMIC OF MEASLES AND DYSENTERY
IN THE SAGRARIO AND SAN SEBASTIAN, 1847
Month
Sagrario
San
Sebastian
San
Pablo
Births
Deaths
Births Deaths
Births
Deaths
Jan.
136
94
62
39
51
20
Feb.
101
84
33
28
44
16
Mar,
85
69
65
48
49
10
Apr.
EPIDEMIC
135
BEGINS
81
33
35
58
17
May
119
104
37
43
47
18
June
143
150
15
42
41
26
July
119
139
8
32
51
38
Aug.
146
116
51
107
40
25
Sept.
106
150
38
72
40
32
Oct.
103
121
40
44
47
19
Nov.
104
88
37
30
43
17
Dec.
108
132
30
43
30
21
SOURCE:
AACM,
tomo 727,
exps.
1-15.
TABLE 18
SCARLET FEVER VICTIMS, SAGRARIO, 1844
Age
No.
Months
in Which
Victims
Died
o
1
24
Jan.
0
May
6
Sept.
3
5-9
12
Feb.
4
June
10
Oct.
0
10-14
2
Mar.
1
July
3
Nov.
5
15+
11
Apr.
12
Aug.
1
Dec.
4
Total 49
City, total 180
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 725, exp. 16.

155
TABLE 19
PERCENTAGE OF IMMIGRANTS
IN NECATITLN, SAN SALVADOR EL SECO,
AND THE SAMPLE MALE POPULATION
Age
Bracket
Necatitln
San Salvador
el Seco
Sample Male
Population3-
15-19
20-24
M
20
35
16
20-24
F
30
40
20-29
25-29
M
45
30
26
25-29
F
40
50
30-39
30-34
M
30
65
31
30-34
F
30
50
35-39
M
45
40
35-39
F
45
45
40-49
40-44
M *
30
50
29
40-44
F
35
55
50-59
28
SOURCE: For the sample male population, the census of 1849,
AACM, tomo 3406. For Necatitln and San Salvador el Seco,
AACM, tomos 3409 and 3413.
aTotal sample male population = 1364.
TABLE 20
DEPENDENCY RATIOS
Youth
Aged
Total
Necatitln
32
13
46
San Salvador el Seco
58
4
62
Manzana 97
70
5
75
SOURCE: AACM, tomos 3409, 3413, 3411.

156
TABLE 21
LEGITIMATE/ILLEGITIMATE BIRTHS
Parish
Year
Total
Births
Illegitimate
Births
Percent
San Pablo
1830
566
103
18
San Miguel
1830
270
72
27
San. Sebastian
1830
317
67
21
San Pablo
1834
609
136
22
Sagrario
1838
385
82
21
San Sebastian
1842
358
104
29
San Jos
1842
511
167
33
San Pablo
1842
592
104
18
SOURCE: Mexico City, Filmoteca del Instituto de Geneologica
y Heralda, rollos 310, 311, 976, 993, 997, 1003, 1550, 1551.
TABLE 2 2
CROSSTABULATION OF AGE AT MARRIAGE WITH MEAN RENT
Age at
Marriage
Mean
Rent
Age at
Marriage
Mean
Rent
16
$ 1
29
$10
17
2
30
7
18
3
31
16
19
2
32
5
20
10
33
13
21
4
35
7
23
5
36
8
24
10
37
11
25
6
38
20
27
10
39
22
28
33
40
6
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author for the random
sample from the census of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.

157
TABLE 23
CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH MEAN RENT
Household Size
Mean Rent
1
$ 8
2
8
3
7
4
10
5
11
6
10
7
17
8
26
9
18
10
24
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.

158
The unpaved and undrained streets substituted for
i 2 4
privies and trash dumps. Piles of refuse lay m the
125
middle of streets and leaned against the sides of houses.
Pigs roamed the streets, spreading offal throughout entire
neighborhoods. Eventually the trash accumulated into mula~
dores (huge piles), deposited in the plazas and sometimes
at large intersections. The obstructions created by the
mounds became so ominous that a concerned parish priest
suggested that vacant lots be legally designated as dumps
, 126
and privies.
The inefficiency of trash collectors made the giant
mulador a permanent eyesore. Contractors responsible for
carting the trash from the city defaulted with regularity,
12 7
and the muladores multiplied in size and number. In 1841 a
private citizen complained to Siglo Diez y Nueve that the
muladores were the size of small mountains and seriously
12 8
impeded the flow of traffic. During four months in 1846
when the collectors were not operating, the total number
12 9
within the city grew from thirteen to twenty-eight.
Zangas (drains) dug from the muladores to nearby canals or
the central gutter of each street added to the impediments
13 0
of traffic and general squalor.
Because of filthy streets, a stroll in any part of
131
the city endangered one's health. The educated acknowl
edged a relationship between the muladores and unspecified
fevers, scarlet fever, and cholera but were unsure of the

159
13 2
specifics. One doctor argued before the ayuntamiento
that although the gases produced by the trash might cause
fevers, trash strewn in the streets dried too fast to be a risk to
hazard public health. The ayuntamiento remained uncon
vinced. After rejecting burning as a method of trash dis
posal, it decided to dump the trash into Lake Texcoco, an
i 3 3
important source of municipal drinking water.
Streets with no pavement and inadequate drainage
supplemented the oppressive circumstances. The rains of
13 4
late summer collected in putrid puddles. When flooding
occurred, thoroughfares became impassable. The Traza's
13 5
residents bridged streets with long wooden planks. In
the southern barrios, canoes replaced feet as the principal
means of transportation. The polluted waters of Lake
Texcoco vengefully redistributed the filth throughout the
, 136
fringe barrios.
Polluted air assailed the most insensitive nostrils.
In the heart of the city, the fumes of burning cacao and
chile, wafting from respectable houses of commerce, burned
the eyes of well-to-do residents. The stench rising from
animal wastes carelessly strewn around the shops of butchers,
candle makers, and tanners contaminated the atmosphere of
entire neighborhoods. Foul odors from stopped-up aqueducts
or filthy central gutters were constant sources of complaint.
l 3 7
appearance.
The frightful conditions of the barrio molded a man's
1 3 8
Foreign visitors wrote of the "miserable,

160
downcast" look of the populace. Brantz Mayer, never at a
loss for a descriptive phrase, called the poor "dismounted
witches" and proceeded to justify his hyperbole:
Blacken a man in the sun; let his hair
grow long and tangled or become filled
with vermin; let him plod about the
streets in all kinds of dirt for years
and never know the use of brush or
towel or water even, except in storms;
let him put on a pair of leather
breeches at twenty and wear them until
forty without change or ablution, and
over all, place a tan and blackened
hat and a tattered, blanket begrimed
with abominations; let him have wild
eyes and shining teeth and features
pinched by famine into sharpness,
breasts bared and browned, and (if fe
males) with two or three miniatures of
the same species trotting after her and
another certainly strapped to her back.
Combine all these in your imagination,
and you have a recipe for a Mexican
i 13 9
lepero.
Health
In spite of these and other peculiari
ties that have been discussed concern
ing the notorious fecundity of the pro
ductive castes, one finds that the
Kingdom is not so populated as it should
be. because,of the misery in which
the plebe generally live, the lamentable
vices of their education, the famines
and plagues that make a growing number
of persons disappear.
Francisco Norriaga, 1813

161
The wretched health of the population is clearly
reflected by the records of the "Ramo de Demografa" in
140
the Archivo del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de Mexico.
The records include transcripts of the causes of deaths
listed on the hospital, and parish registers. Many of
the diseases noted on the registersfor example,
pneumonia, measles, and scarlet feverare readily recog
nizable to the modern reader. Others describe symptoms
of disease rather than modern diseases. Fiebre con-
tinuosa, for example, is a variety fever that appears
1 41
m cases of typhoid and paratyphoid. Fortunately,
older medical dictionaries may correlate the archaic
disease with its modern equivalent, and the modern
reader is given a clue to the actual cause of death.
The records reveal a veritable slaughter of the
inf-ants. Tables 1-1 through 1-3 are mortality tables of
ages at death during the years 1842, 1844, and 1850.
In 1842 and 1844 approximately 36 percent of the city's
total number of recorded deaths were children under three
years of age. Thirty-eight percent of all deaths occurred
below the age of ten in 1850. Because the death of an
unbaptized infant remained uncounted, the parish registers
14 2
underrepresent the real infant mortality rate. ~ The num
bers of deaths in the late-childhood and early-adolescent
years were quite low. The percentages grew markedly in the

162
adult age brackets and fluctuated between 8 and 14 percent
until the sixty-year age bracket when the percentages began
to decline.
Infectious diseases of the digestive and respiratory
systems slew the population. Table J-l depicts the causes
of death for the entire city in 1842 and 1844. Many were
specific to particular ages, sexes, and occupations. Table
J-2 depicts the cause of death for children under ten years
in the Sagrario. Alfereca, the convulsions produced by
high fevers resulting from infection, carried off the
greatest percentage (17 percent). Dysentery (11 percent),
strokes (10 percent), whooping cough (10 percent), and dis
orders of the stomach (7 percent) followed. Together the
five diseases accounted for 65 percent of child deaths below
the age of ten.
Table J-2 shows the causes of death in the Sagrario
for individuals over age ten. Six diseases produced over
50 percent of the fatalities. Pneumonia, the largest killer,
accounted for 20 percent of the total number of deaths.
Hidropesa (dropsy), the immediate result of a stoppage of
circulation produced by pregnancy, hormone deficiencies, or
kidney failure, caused 13 percent of the fatalities. Dysen
tery, continuous fever (probably typhoid or paratyphoid),
and costado, a respiratory disorder produced by a number of
modern diseases, were the next most common fatal diseases.
Continuous fever attacked children and young adults. Pneumonia

163
scourged the aged. Tuberculosis was prevalent among males.
Women were the prey of dropsy. Deaths attributable to
childbirth accounted for less than 1 percent of the total
number of female deaths.
Specific occupations produced specific diseases.
Gilders and gold workers developed the universal tremors
of mercury poisoning. Baking was a particularly unhealthy
occupation. Excessive drinking of aguardiente and cold
water by thirsty bakers produced disorders of the stomach.
Flour in the air inflamed the eyes, and flour-dust inhala-
14 3
tion led to consumption. Persons in trades that re
quired exposure to the elements or submergence in water
14 4
were particularly vulnerable to cholera.
The tolerant official attitude toward disease shocks
the modern mind. In 1839 the Junta de Sanidad decided that
to declare a smallpox epidemic would create undue alarm be
cause in1 the preceding month only three people in the Sa-
14 5
grario had succumbed to the disease. Diseases like
smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, typhoid, and cholera were
endemic and did not necessarily alarm the population. Table
17 shows the course of an outbreak of measles and diarrhea
occurring in the adjoining parishes of the Sagrario and San
Sebastian that left the southwestern barrio of San Pablo
unscathed. At any time, however, the diseases could explode
into truly monstrous epidemics. An outbreak of smallpox in
1840 carried off 2,878 children and scarred countless others.

164
Cholera was the largest killer. The epidemic of 1833
sickened 37,863 and killed 5,822. The death toll, however,
was substantially greater because the official count did
not include those who died in the hospitals and in several
147 i
populous barrios. Cholera s second visit to Mexico City
in 1850 produced 6,688 recorded deaths, but the actual total
1 4 8
may have reached 9,000.
Children, particularly infants, were vulnerable to
the epidemics. Childhood diseases were always the most
likely to reach serious proportions. The toll of the 1840
smallpox epidemic has already been cited. Table 18 illus
trates the ravages of scarlet fever among the children of
the Sagrario in 1844. Cholera always produced its greatest
149
fatalities among the infants.
Disease took its greatest toll from among the poor.
In 1824 Edward Thornton wrote that an outbreak of measles
among the lower classes was the chief topic of upper-class
l 5 o
conversation. Dr. Olivera wrote of two cholera epidemics.
that the "clase infeliz" always suffered the most.151 His
statement is supported by the historian Niceto Zamacois
and the diarist Jose Ramon Malo, who also survived the two
15 2
epidemics. The incidence of cholera among the poor of
Mexico City, however, was not nearly so shocking as it was
among the urban proletariat of Europe. The cities of nineteenth-
century Europe were ghettoized by the early Industrial Revolu
tion. The incidence of the 1833 epidemic among the Parisian

165
poor was so marked that they thought the disease was a plot
153 ,
by the rich to poison them. Cholera s European incur
sions produced a continent-wide movement to reform municipal
15 4
administration and sanitation. In closely packed Mexico
City, the disease took its toll of all who did not flee.
Guillermo Prieto wrote of the ravages of the disease among
15 5
the middle classes. Malo recorded that although the
cholera attack of 1850 ran rampant among the poor, the
disease also attacked the wealthy. The most prominent vic
tim of that epidemic was Manuel Payno, politician and
15 6
essayist.
Tables K-l and K-2 show the periodicity of pneumonia
and dysentery. Pneumonia was a disease of the winter and
early spring. Dysentery came with the summer rainy season
but could also break out in the winter. Diarrhea also
followed this pattern. The summer rains always carried
measles and cholera. The overall monthly death rate appear
ing in Table K-3 shows no marked seasonal pattern.
Infectious diseases that slaughtered the population
were an indictment of the living conditions. As the ayunta
miento and others suspected, cholera, typhoid, smallpox, and
a host of other diseases were bred in the damp filth or
stagnant waters and attacked an inadequately clothed and
sheltered population. Malnourishment increased the poor's
vulnerability to disease. Lack of milk, a condition often
caused by malnourishment of nursing mothers, caused 6 percent

166
of all infant (1 day to 12 months) deaths in the Sagrario in
15 7
1842. Dropsy also may be caused by malnourishment, es
pecially during pregnancy. Epidemiologists and bacteriolo
gists attribute the presence of typhoid and pneumonia con
tinually and on a large scale in any population to chronic
malnourishment. For example:
In the ghetto of Lodz during World War
II, there existed an evident relation
ship between hunger and infection.
Weakness brought on a cold; a cold
brought on pneumonia; then followed a
funeral. A scratch led to infection
and death.]5 8
Disease deformed the poor. Mayer observed that de-
l 5 9
formities, blindness, and sores were capital. Poinsett
thought them the results of intemperance, smallpox, typhus,
scarlet fever, and the putrid enfermedades of the throat.
The bizarre inhabitants of the barrios were
skeletal types, cadaverous examples of
disinterred corpses, anomalous and
terrible . who left far behind
the court of miracles illuminated with
frightful light by the pen of Victor
,,160
Guillermo Prieto saw
the open sore, the walking mummy. And
deformed like humpbacks, contorted in

167
the faces, bandy-legged, and epileptic.
The men were like domino pieces of
six and blank, bare skin above and
cotton pants below; the women with a
short woolen shawl floating over the
breast and shoulder and wrapped about
in a long cloth. Pull it back, and
you make the wearer spin like a top.161
Demography
The materials available for the study of Mexico City's
demography at the Archivo del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de
Mexico are sparse and inaccurate. The "Ramo de Padrones"
contains the municipal censuses of 1842, 1849, and fragments
16 2
of the industrial census of 1850. Although the best
material available for the study of household size, composi
tion, and fertility, they drastically undercounted the popu
lation. Males, fearing the census taker to be the harbinger
of the tax collector or the press gang, were particularly
, 1 63
underrepresented.
The "Ramo de Demografa" contains transcripts of
parish and hospital registers covering the years 1840, 1842,
16 4
1844, 1847, 1848, and 1850. The transcripts appear to
be complete and well analyzed, but they too are inaccurate.
The parish registers underrepresent infant deaths because
priests did not record the deaths of unbaptized infants.165
Many adult deaths also do not appear on the registers.

168
After 1833 the city periodically forbade burials in parish
16 6
cemeteries within the garitas. Enacted to preserve the
public health, the measure affected the accuracy of the
parish registers. The poor, avoiding the expense and bother
of burial in the municipal cemeteries, placed their dead in
secret cemeteries southwest of the city. It is possible
that smaller-parish priests, financially dependent upon burial
fees, conducted secret burials in their own cemeteries.
The age-sex characteristics of the population of
Mexico City in 1849 reveal the play of natural and social
forces. The procedure used to sample the census of 1849
does not allow the construction of an accurate population
pyramid. It was possible, however, to construct population
tables for the barrios of Necatitln (Manzana 57) and San
Salvador el Seco (Manzana 60). Bearing in mind that the
populations of the barrios came and went as they pleased,
their characteristics will be assumed to indicate city-wide
patterns. Wherever possible, supplementary material will
be added to support or disprove the observations.
The population was mature. Appendix L contains pop
ulation tables on Necatitln and San Salvador el Seco. They
show that only 33 and 41 percent of the respective popu
lations were below the age of twenty. The percentages
approximate those of several other blocks listed on the
168
census of 1842.
In the twentieth century, similar

169
percentages would be found in nations experiencing declining
169 ...
birthrates. In nineteenth-century Mexico City, the birth
rates were undoubtedly high, but so too was infant mortality
For example, the glaring shortages of young people in the
fifteen-to-nineteen-year. age brackets of both barrios
probably reflects in part the ravages of cholera upon the
infant population of 1833. The shortages of children in the
ten-to-nineteen-year brackets suggest that the tumultuous
years following 1829 levied a high toll upon the capital's
children. Immigration further reduced the percentages of
adolescents in the barrios by fleshing out the adult age
brackets. The majority of migrants were young adults in
their twenties and thirties as shown by Appendix L. Table
19 illustrates that over 50 percent of the members of some
adult age brackets were migrants. The percentages of immi
grants among the sample male population were smaller, but
still substantial.
The tables of Appendix L show that the median age
of both barrios was twenty-five. Modern Chile and India
. 17 0
possess similar median ages. Only 10 percent of the
populations were older than forty-five. Less than 8 percent
of the sample of adult males were age forty-five or over.
The low median age and the lack of oldsters in the popula
tion suggest very short life expectancies among the sur
vivors of infancy.

170
The dependency ratio measures the number of econom
ically unproductive persons per hundred of the economically
productive. It is the sum of two component ratios: the
youth dependency ratio and the age dependency ratio. Both
are derived by dividing the number of those under the age
of fifteen and those over the age of fifty-nine by the
number of individuals in the fifteen-to-fifty-nine-year age
bracket. Table 20 lists the dependency ratios of the two
barrios and one manzana for which data exist. They are
surprisingly small. For example, Necatitln's ratio is
lower than that of any modern nation. San Salvador el Seco's
ratio equals that of modern Italy. All bear a closer
resemblence to the poorer modernized nations of Europe,
Latin America, and North America than to the undeveloped
nations of the world. In the modern.world extremely high
dependency ratios signify that the producers of developing
nations must devote a large portion of their labor to the
feeding of unproductive mouths rather than to the produc-
.. 17 1
tion of an economic surplus. The relatively low depen
dency ratios of nineteenth-century Mexico City suggest that
prior to the advent of modern medicine and sanitation, nature
kept a rough balance between producers and consumers.
According to the census of 1842, 55 percent of the
. 17 2
population were female. In 1849 the percentages of fe
males in Necatitlan and San Salvador el Seco were 56 and 57.
The sex ratio, or number of males per hundred females, is

171
derived by dividing the number of males into the number of
females. In a population with an equal number of females,
the sex ratio is 100; with more males than females, it is
over 100; with less males than females, it is less than 100.
The ratios of the city and the two barrios were 83, 85, and
75 respectively.
In the modern age, a sex ratio of below 90 indicates
that a war or similar catastrophe has wasted the male popu
lation. For example, the 1960 sex ratios for the Soviet
1 73
Union and East Germany were 80 and 82. Mexico City's
males had provided the manpower of many a revolutionary
army and had recently waged a bloody and unsuccessful de
fense of the capital against the North Americans. It is
reasonable to assume that the low sex ratios existing in
nineteenth-century Mexico City were the results of war
losses. Twenty-seven and 18 percent of the widows of the
two barrios were below the age of thirty suggesting that
their military-aged husbands had died in battle. The
population tables, however, fail to support the war-loss
hypothesis. The male deficit is almost totally explained
by their absence from the fifteen-to-nineteen age brackets.
One explanation for the missing adolescents was that they
were performing apprenticeships in other parts of the city.
Because of the errors inherent in constructing population
tables of the barrios, the latter observation hardly in
validates the war-loss hypothesis.

172
Sixty and 62 percent of the migrants in Necatitln
and San. Salvador el Seco were female. They were particularly
numerous in the twenty-to-twenty-nine age brackets. Their
numerical superiority may be explained by the hypothesis
that more employment opportunities existed for single women
and widows in Mexico City than in the surrounding Distrito
Federal and states. Two possible reasons exist for their
youthfulness. The normal tendency was for younger wives
to accompany their older husbands to the city. Also,
lacking an apprenticeship to complete, single women left
home at earlier ages than did males.
Marriages were of two types: legal ones sanctified
by a formal church wedding and permanent liaisons having no
legal standing. Appendix M illustrates the tendency, normal
in Latin Catholic countries, for church weddings to be
deferred until just before or just after Christmas and
Easter. It is unlikely that many of the poor followed this
pattern. An idea of the number of poor who chose to save
the expense of a wedding by living in sin is provided by
the percentages of illegitimate children baptized in parishes
that maintained separate registers for legitimate and ille
gitimate births. Table 21 shows that the percentages of ille
gitimate births in these parishes averaged over 25 percent
and in one instance rose to 33 percent.- Because parishes
maintained the separate registers contrary to law and public
sentiment, many more illegitimate births entered the registers
as legitimate.

173
Most Mexicans married or established permanent
liaisons during their lifetimes. Seventy-eight percent
of the random sample of adult males listed their civil
status as married or widowed. The actual percentage was
higher because the sample probably included an unduly large
portion of wealthy young bachelors living at home and un
married ecclesiastics. In Necatitln and San Salvador el
Seco, the percentages of married or widowed males over
twenty years of age were 81 percent and 91 percent respectively.
Eighty-three and 91 percent of the females over the age of
twenty were either married or widowed. Because of the nu- .
metrical superiority of females over males in the adult age
brackets, it is likely that women who did not marry during
their youth stayed unmarried for their entire lives. A
large number of single adult females in the two barrios were
over the age of thirty, while almost' all single males over
the age of twenty were in their early twenties.
In the Sagrario, Mexico City's largest parish, in
1842 the average marriage-age for males was thirty-two; that
l 74
for females was twenty-three. A church marriage was an
upper-class luxury: the poor mated at much younger ages. Di
rect information on age of marriage was absent, so the figures
for the surveyed males and for both sexes of Manzana 57 were
estimated by subtracting the age of th eldest child from
that of the parents. The method errs toward overestimation be
cause of child mortality and departure from the home of grown

174
children. The method, however, provided substantially lower
figures than those of the Sagrario. The median age of
marriage for sample males was twenty-seven. On Manzana 57
the mean age of marriage was twenty-eight for males and
twenty-one for females. Table 22, which correlates age at
marriage with mean rent, shows the tendency for age of
marriage to increase with economic status.
In modern nations possessing high infant mortality
rates, the poor breed more children to compensate for future
deaths. Nineteenth-century Mexican parents reasoned simi
larly. The fertility rate of Mexican women, calculated by
dividing the number of children four years old and under
by the number of females in the fifteen-to-forty-four-year
age brackets and multiplying by 1,000, was extremely
high. San Salvador el Seco's fertility rate was 457. Neca-
titln possessed fewer married women and had a fertility
rate of 267. The only method of birth control Mexican
woman practiced was breast feeding. Although modern birth
control experts question the relationship of breast feeding
to low fertility, it is reasonable to assume that women
enjoying substantiallyless nutritional standards than
do those of today would have been substantially less fertile
l 7 5
during lactation. In .1852 one woman was nursing two
children aged fifteen and thirty-five months.176 Assuming
no other births, separated the two children, the separation
between them was a respectable twenty months. Unfortunately

175
this was the only reference to breast feeding appearing in
the documents. Because of infant mortality and the depar
ture of grown children, it was impossible to determine how
many children were born into the poor Mexican family. In
Necatitln married women produced children every twelve to
twenty-four months throughout their reproductive years.
Although common in the colonial period, infant
abandonment, a form of population control, occurred on a
limited scale. No tract ever discussed the abandonment of
infants as a serious social problem, and the practice
does not appear to have absorbed the attention of the
authorities. One document, however, does mention that
the bodies of abandoned infants found in the parishes were
17 7
sent to the paupers' cemetery of Santa Paula for burial.
The maternity ward for unmarried mothers at the Hospicio
de Pobres required its clients surrender their offspring
to the orphanage. The requirement may have stemmed from
the fear that the infant would later be abandoned. Manuel
Orozco y Berra, writing early in the reign of Emperor Maxi-
millian (1864-1867), reported that "the inhuman requirement"
had been abolished and that mothers using the facility al-
i 7 8
most always chose to keep their babies.
Despite the high birth rates, the Mexican family
was small. Thirteen percent of the sample households con
sisted of only the sample male and his wife. Households
containing the sample male, his wife, and children comprised

176
24 percent of the total and were of quite modest size.
Thirty-six percent possessed only one child; 24 percent
possessed two; and 16 percent, three. Only 20 percent
possessed four or more children. In Necatitlan the mean
size of households containing children was 4.5. These
figures agree with Siglo Diez y Nueve's that the average
17 9
size of the poor Mexican family was four.
The sample data indicate that large broods of
children were the prerogatives of the wealthy. Two percent
of the households consisted of the sample male, his parents,
and his siblings. These were coded Type 9. Households con
taining the sample male, his wife, and his children were
coded Type 5. Table M-2 contrasts the size, economic, and
occupational characteristics of the two types. The size of
Type 5 households has been cited above. Compared to them,
Type 9 households were extremely large. Over 40 percent
possessed six or more children. Type 5 households paid a
mean rent of $9. Type 9 households paid $25. Type 5
households were distributed proportionately among the occu
pational categories. Only 3 percent of the Type 9 families
were in the unskilled category. Over 40 percent of them
were in the upper group.
Large households including children and live-in
relatives were also concentrated among'the wealthy. Tables M-3
and M-4 contrast household sizes with residences and occupa
tional characteristics. Residents of the Traza and members

177
of the upper occupational category possessed the largest
households. Table 23, contrasting mean rent with household
size, shows a correlation between large size and high mean
rent.
Living in such wretched circumstances, the popula
tion failed to reproduce itself. The only continuous set
of figures showing the natural rate of growth were those
for the years 1839-1845 which the ayuntamiento published in
1846. They show a small net natural population increase of
18 0
750 a year. These figures, however, must be taken with
a grain of salt because they were extracted mainly from
the parish records that always erred toward fecundity. They
also disagree with contemporary opinion. At a meeting of
the Junta de Sanidad, a member stated that deaths, par-
18 1
ticularly in the barrios, exceeded births. The private
citizen who advocated the repair of dilapidated housing ex-
382
pressed the same view. Even if the ayuntamiento1s estimate
of natural population growth is correct, there existed the
long-term net population deficit. The 19,000 recorded
deaths of the cholera epidemics of 1833 and 1850 and the
smallpox epidemic of 1840 neutralized twenty-five years of
average annual population growth. These arguments leave
little reason to doubt the assessment of the demographic
historian T. H. Hollingsworth that preindustrial urban
death rates are universally higher than birth rates and
that constant immigration is necessary to maintain the popu-
1 83
lation at a constant level.

178
The heavy rate of immigration into the city failed
to produce substantial population growth. Keith Davies,
whose research is based on the estimates reproduced in
Table I-A, concluded that during the first half of the
nineteenth century, the population of Mexico City grew by
n 184 T
.8 percent a year. Richard Morse s seminar on Mexican
urban population growth for the same period suggested a
18 5
slightly lower rate of .7 percent a year. The conclu
sions of both scholars support the hypothesis that during
the early decades of national independence, the national
capital stagnated while outlying cities enjoyed modest
growth or even flourished.
The conclusions of Davies and Morse may be opti
mistic. Indirect evidence suggests an even smaller growth
rate. Eighteenth-century immigration into the capital
caused homelessness and public disorders that moved the
l 8 6
police to suggest the walling of the city. Republican
immigration, in contrast, caused little public comment. No
session of the ayuntamiento, public or private, ever dis
cussed internal immigration or the problems associated
with excessive population growth. Immigration failed to
replace the losses of the 1833 cholera epidemic. A decade
after its dreadful visit, large areas of the city emptied
18 7
by the disease remained depopulated.
The men who made the estimates used by Davies and
Morse admitted that their estimates were little better than

179
intelligent guesswork. With this in mind, let us con
sider the ayuntamiento's own population estimates based on
their revisions of the municipal census. Since the census
always underenumerated the population, it was the practice of
the municipality to carefully review.the returns and to re
vise the count upward. The census determined electoral
representation, so the ayuntamiento had a vested interest
in making the highest possible estimate. Table D-3 illus
trates that the highest population estimate made in 1846
was 174,000. This surpassed by only 6,000 the estimate of
168,846 made in the year 1816 and used by the ayuntamiento
to calculate electoral representation for 1824. During its
1844 review, the ayuntamiento concluded that the population
of the city grew by one person every three days, an estimate
that indicates a rate of growth far below that of Davies
l 89
and Morse. The conclusions of the ayuntamiento suggest
that neither human reproduction nor immigration produced
population growth in the capital's deadly environment.
Notes
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 241.
2
Ferry, p. 41.
3Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 241, 242.
4Prieto (1964), p. 204.
5 Calderon de la Barca, p. 125.

180
6Garca Cubas (1945), p. 241.
?AACM, tomo 383, exps. 21, 18; tomo. 3689, exp. 43.
8AACM, tomo 383, exp. 20.
9
Ward, tomo 1, p. 42.
Wilson, p. 281.
AACM, tomo 522, exp. 9. One vara is equal to approxi
mately one English yard.
1 "AACM, tomo 522, exp. 10.
l 3
Siglo Diez y Nueve, 2 enero 1844, p. 4.
l 4
AACM, tomo 4164, exps. 556, 570; tomo 4.157, exp.
287; tomo 4153, exps. 110, 106.
15AACM, tomo 161, "Actas de 2 noviembre 1841."
6Prieto' (1964), p. 86.
17
Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, p. 450.
l 8
Mayer, p. 83.
JTylor, pp. 245, 46.
"Prieto (1964), p. 190.
21
Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, p. 73.
""Tylor, pp. 55, 56.
"Populacho," p. 450. Prieto (1964), p. 207.
~4"Populacho," p. 450.
"5Tylor, p. 168.
26 ^
Jess Hermosa, Manual de geografa y estadstica de
la repblica mejicana (Paris, 1857), p. 194.
"?Tylor, p. 174.
2 8
Ward, tomo 1, pp. 16, 17. Thompson, p. 35. Tylor,
p. 159. Mayer, pp. 36, 37.
2 9
Enrique Florescano, Precios del maz y crisis agr
colas en Mxico (1708-1810) (Mexico, D.F., 1969).
3 o
Thornton, p. 75.
31
Thompson, p. 35.
3Prieto (1964), p. 200.
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 206.
34Prieto (1948), p. 202.
35
Julio Guerrero, La gnesis del crimen en Mxico: es
tudios de psiquiatra social (Mexico, D.F., 1901), p. 148.

181
36
37
38
Mayer, p. 16.
Florescano.
"Actas de 15 noviembre 1832"; tomo
Semanario Artstico, 30 noviembre 1844, p. 1.
AACM, tomo 154
3676, exp. 4.
3 9
4 u
Ward,
tomo
1, pp.
. 16,
17.
41
AACM,
tomo
3689,
exp.
43.
4 2
AACM,
tomo
2479,
exp.
389
4 3
Poinsett, p. 123.
4 4
Secretaria de Estado y Despacho de Relaciones In
teriores y Exteriores, 1830, pp. 27, 33; idem, Memoria de
1834 (Mxico, D.F., 1835), p. 35.
4 5
Zamacois, tomo 12, pp. 262-63. Bustamante, p. 46.
4 6
AACM, tomo 522, exp. 7. Cue Cnovas, p. 374.
4 7
Thompson, pp. 150-51.
AACM, tomo 3453, exp. 93.
4 9
Otero, Obras, tomo 1.
Mayer, pp. 56-57.
AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 14; tomo 152, "Actas de
6-10 octubre 1832," "Actas de 27 octubre 1832"; tomo 3284,
exps. 14, 15.
5 2
Carrera Stampa, "Planos," p. 287.
53
Thornton, p. 64.
AACM, tomo 3668, exp. 23, 35.
55AACM, tomo 3668, exps. 30, 56. Liceo mexicano, 2
tomos (Mxico, D.F., 1844), tomo 1, p. 389.
AACM, tomo 3686, exps. 35, 36.
5 7 ^
Isidoro Olivera, El clera (Mexico, D.F., 1851),
59.
5 8 .
David A. Langtry, "The 1832 Epidemic of Asiatic
Cholera in New Haven, Connecticut," Journal of the History
of Medicine and Allied Sciences, October, 1970), p. 464.
5 *AACM, tomo 3668, exps. 20, 35, 58. Carlos Maria
Bustamante, El gabinete mexicano, 2 tomos (Mexico, D.F.,
1842), tomo 1, p. 52.
AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43.
"Barrios de la Ciudad," Boletn Municipal, 10
marzo 1903, p. 1.

182
Prieto (1964), p. 306.
63AACM, tomo 3668, exp. 30.
64
Macedo, p. 25.
65AACM tomo 3686, exps. 43, 56. Diccionario de la in
dustria, "Confitero."
66Garca Cubas (1945), p. 206.
67
Latrobe, pp. 110, 111.
6 8,
Thornton, p. 51.
6 Caldern de la Barca, pp. 108-109, 144-45.
7 o
Siglo Diez y Nueve, 12 noviembre 1841, p. 1.
71
Mayer, Appendix 5. Thompson, pp. 47-48.
72
Ibi d.
73
Mexico City's vertical social stratification was the
opposite of that prevailing in Paris of the same period where
the poor lived upstairs and the rich occupied the lowest floors.
74AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 136."
7 5
Macedo, p. 63.
76Prieto (1964), p. 157.
77,
Mayer, p. 41.
*Prieto (1964), pp. 202-203. Macedo, p. 78. Tylor,
66.
79,
80
Di Telia, p. 95.
Mayer, p. 41.
Prieto (1948), pp. 202-203. Macedo, p. 78. Tylor,
66.
8 2
Ruxton, p. 54.
84
AACM, tomo 4153, exp. 141.
Macedo, p. 88.
Ann F. Staples,"La cola del diablo en la vida con
ventual" (Tesis, Doctor en historia, Colegio de. Mexico, Centro
de Estudios Histricos, 1970), p. 170.
86 .
Mexico City, Archivo de Salubridad y Asistencia,
"Libro de cuentas, casa de vecindad, Calle de las Moscas,
ao de 1.838."
87AACM, tomo 392, exp. 53.
8 8
Poinsett, p. 95.
AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 57"; tomo 3409,~"Manzana
168"; tomo 369.1, exp. 153.
9 0
Ibid.

183
Mayer, p. 41.
J~AACM, tomo 3409, "Manzana 180."
)3"Remitido," Sol, 13 mayo 1832, p. 4.
JIAACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 57."
9 5
"Casas de vecindad," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 14 noviem
bre 1844, p. 4.
76 Calderon de la Barca, p. 145. "Remitido," Sol, p. 3.
7'"Remitido," Sol, 14 agosto 1844, p. 3.
9 8
Tylor, p. 65.
9 9
"Barrios de la Ciudad," Boletn Municipal, 7 febrero
1903, p. 1.
100AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 57."
l o ,
Thompson, p. 51.
10 2
AACM, tomo 2892, "Contra Guadalupe Reyes,
1852."
Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 241.
104
Mayer, p. 83..
3 Thompson, p. 51.
106
Macedo, p. 50.
7AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 41."
10 8 .
Ruxton, p. 54.
"9AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 168."
"Remitido," Sol, 13 mayo 1832, p. 3.
11"Casas," 14 noviembre 1841, p. 4.
i i 2 , .
Olivera, p. 57.
10 octubre
This was the equivalent of the Parisian "cholera
house in which conditions were worse than bad." The rooms
narrow, filthy, ill-ventilatedprovided the persons who ex
isted there with as little as three square meters of space
each. See R. E. McGrew, "The First Cholera Epidemic in
Social History," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, vol.
39 (1960), p. 69.
1"Remitido, Sol, 13 mayo 1832, p. 3.
5AACM, tomo 302, "Actas de 18-abril 1839."
11 6
Latrobe, p. 111.
7AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 47.

184
118Pr'ieto (1948), p. 238.
119
Rodriguez de San Miguel, Manual, p. 49.
l 2 0
Macedo, p. 78.
1 "^Prieto (1948), pp. 202-203.
122
Thornton, pp. 50-51.
123
Thompson, pp. 47-48.
1'aACM, tomo 3691, exp. 307; tomo 3627, exp. 43.
1-5Prieto (1948), pp. 202-204.
12&AACM, tomo 3668, exp. 27; tomo 3686, exp. 35.
12 7
AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 40. Ayuntamiento de Mexico,
Memoria de 1845, p. 8.,
i 2 8
"Muladores," Siglo Diez y Nuev, 19 noviembre 1841,
p. 2.
12 9
Ayuntamiento de Mexico, Memoria de 1845, p. 8.
13"Barrios," 17 febrero 1903, p. 1.
131 Prieto (1964), pp. 202-203. "Barrios de la Ciudad,"
Boletn Municipal, 9 enero 1903, p. 1.
"Muladores," p. 2.
133AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 33.
134AACM, tomo 3668, exp. 14.
"Remitido," Sol, 14 agosto 1834, p. 3.
13 6
Tylor, p. 65.
137AACM, tomo 3631, exp. 307; tomo 3686, exps. 33, 37,
53; tomo 3668, exps. 23, 32, 49, 55.
138
Ruxton, p. 20. R. H. Mason, Pictures of Life in
Mexico, 2 vols. (London, 1852), vol. 1, p. 123.
13 9
Mayer, p. 41.
AACM, tomos 723-38.
141 '
E. Dabout, Diccionario de medecina (Mexico, D.F.,
1958) .
14 2
T. H. Hollingsworth, Historical Demography (New
York, 1969), "Introduction."
143
"Mexico," Semanario Artstico, 30 noviembre 1844,
p. 2.
1 44
Olivera, p. 57.
5AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 53.

185
1 4 6
1 4 7
Ayuntamiento de Mexico, Memoria de 1845, p. 204.
AACM, tomo 3676, exp. 4.
14 8
AACM, tomo 733. Richard E. Boyer, "Las ciudades
mexicanas: perspectivas de estudio en el siglo XIX," His
toria Mexicana, vol. 21 (enero-marzo 1972), pp. 481-525.
l 49
i 5
1 51
1 52
1 53
1 5 4
1 55
1 56
1 5 7
Olivera, p. 56.
Thornton, p. 81.
Olivera, p. 57.
Malo, tomo 1, p. 75. Zamacois, tomo 13, pp. 377-78.
McGrew, pp. 61-73.
Langtry, p. 500.
Prieto (1964), pp. 69-73.
Malo, tomo 2, p. 75.
AACM, tomos 723-24.
15 8
Leonard Tushnet, "Health Conditions in the Ghetto
of Lodz," Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences,
January, 1963, p. 65. David T. Smith et al., Bacteriology (New
York, 1957).
Mayer, p. 55.
16 0.
Poinsett, p. 23.
Prieto (1948), pp. 458-59, 202-203.
1)-AACM, tomos 3406-31.
163AACM, tomo 2020, exp. 40.
164AACM, tomos 723-33.
16 5
Hollingsworth.
166AACM, tomo 3673, exps. 15-42. These documents are
requests to exempt the smaller parishes directly dependent
upon burial fees for their finances from the prohibition
against burials inside the city. They cover a sixteen-year
period (1833-1849).
16?Prieto (1948), pp. 202-203. "Barrios de la Ciudad,"
Boletn Municipal, .17 febrero 1903, p. 1.
l 6 8 , .
The manzanas and the percentages of their popula
tions under age fifteen are Manzana 97, forty percent; Man
zana 198, thirty-five percent; Manzana-129, twenty-four per
cent; Manzana 90, thirty-six percent.
l 6.9
Warren S. Thompson and David T. Lewis, Population
Problems, 5th ed. (New York, 1965), pp. 86-87.

186
17 Ibid., p. 90.
171 Ibid., pp. 92-94.
?~AACM, Como 3411.
17 3
Thompson and Lewis, p. 75.
74AACM, tomos 723-24.
17 5
Ronald Freedman, "Family Size in Underdeveloped
Areas," in Charles B. Nam, ed., Population and Society (Bos
ton, 1968).
176AACM, tomo 2760, "Sobre Mara Trinidad Laura, 1852."
177AACM, tomo 3673, exp. 42.
17 8
Manuel Orozco y Berra, Estado actual de los esta
blecimientos de beneficencia (Mexico, D.F., 1864), p. 18.
177"Editorial," 12 noviembre 1841, p. 3.
18 0
Ayuntamiento de Mxico, Memoria de 1845, p. 204.
See also Table P-2.
181AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 35.
"Remitido," Sol, 13 mayo 1832, p. 3.
18 3
Hollingsworth, p. 40.
18 4
Keith Davies, Tendencias demogrficas urbanas
durante el siglo XIX en Mxico," Historia Mexicana, octubre-
diciembre 1972, pp. 142-60.
18 5
'John Wibel and Jesse de la Cruz, "Mxico," in
Richard M. Morse, ed., The Urban Development of Latin America,
1750-1920 (Stanford, California, 1971).
186Di Telia, pp. 107-11.
187Prieto (1948), p. 53.
"Poblacin," pp. 48-50.
189AACM, tomo 373, exp. 2; tomo 863.

CHAPTER FOUR
PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS AND FAMILY
We have seen monuments erected but
not the establishment of hospitals
and other charitable institutions;
mil lions consumed to fund public
and even private gatherings in
great luxury, but not one cent con
secrated to the sake of humanity.
Liceo Mexicano, 1844
Public Institutions
The national government was an insatiable predator
which craved money and men. A variety of excise taxes on
primary necessities like maize, beans, eggs, meat, and pul
que weighed heavily upon the poor. In 1841 Thompson, re
ferring to the excise taxes, reported that the government
of General Santa Anna was "engaged in a campaign to see
how much taxation the people can bear." The government
also levied a series of direct taxes upon income. The per
sonal contribution of 1842 affected all males capable of
work and was a minimum of one real a month. It was followed
2
the next year by a general head tax of one real a month.
187

188
The normally dull pages of Legislacin mexicana ex
press outrage when they describe the impact of the direct
taxes upon the poor. The police collected the "direct con
tribution" of 1825 brutally. They demanded more than the
poor possessed and would "literally" take the bread from
their mouths. Although the "personal contribution" of 1842
exempted incomes under $300 a year, tax collectors ignored
the exemption. A government circular stated:
Notices have arrived to the Supreme
Government that some tax collectors
stop debtors in the streets and
strip them or enter the shacks of
the miserable and rip the rags off
their backs, which above all is un
just and causes serious disgust.
The Government orders that under no
circumstances will the "unhappy
class" or the truly, miserable be
extorted or seized.3
The circular admitted that the rates charged the poor were
determined arbitrarily and bore no relation to individual
ability to pay.
The government's demand for soldiers was insatiable.
Poor men hated impressment, the traditional method of re
cruiting, as a vestige of colonial absolutism. Riots
occurred in 1826, 1828, and 1832 when press gangs roamed
4
the barrios. The function of the Tribunal de Vagos, es
tablished in 1828, was to extract vagrants from the popula
tion for military service while sparing the useful and

189
productive.5 The hearings of the Tribunal, legally limited
to three days, often lasted longer because judges permitted
the defendant additional time to gather witnesses. The
lengthy hearings, the result of an earnest desire to pro
vide justice, failed to provide the government with a steady
or large stream of soldiers. When military exigencies were
acute, the government harassed the Tribunal into declaring
as vagrant everybody seized by the police or army.6 During
August 1841, for example, it sentenced five hundred men to
military service in trials lasting less than twenty-four
hours. The sole criterion of guilt or innocence was whether
or not the accused had been arrested in a pulquera. Critics
of these proceedings claimed that their burden fell principally
upon the honest, hard-working poor and that their progress
7
allowed ample scope for revenging neighborhood feuds.
In 1829 and 1851 the government selected soldiers
by compulsory sorteo (lottery). A critic of the 1829 sorteo
argued that only the poor were assured of conscription and
that the system "divided the classes with the speed of
8
lightening." The sorteo conducted by General Santa Anna
in 1851, designed to raise an army of ninety thousand, de
generated into impressment. Workshops and factories became
9
idle as their occupants were dragged off to the barracks.
The sight of "kidnapped lperoswith pants just
fitting around their hips and stomachs protruding from short
uniform coats, stumbling through the manual of arms, amused

190
i o
Thompson. The poor, however, hardly regarded military
service as a joke. Soldiers chained and marched the con-
scriptees to the barracks where they awaited assignment to
regiments.11 In 1848 men taken by a press gang remained
locked for days without food in the convent of Beln until
a friar, hearing of their plight, purchased bread for them
. 12
out of his own pocket. Once processed into the army, they
experienced brutal treatment. Sergeants beat recalcitrants
with clubs until their "heartbreaking shouts degenerated into
animal moaning" or tied them to a rack and flogged them until
13
they required hospitalization. It is little wonder that
l 4
most deserted before their term of service had expired.
The impressment of a head of family was an economic
catastrophe for his dependents, for military pay was insuffi
cient to feed even himself, and rations were scanty and ir
regularly issued.15 The necessity of keeping a family to
gether during military service was one of the principal
reasons why the Junta de Fomento de Artesanos promoted the
establishment of savings accounts. 6 Since savings accounts
did not exist, the families of conscriptees faced destitu
tion. Wailing wives and children surrounded the barracks
1 7
which housed their husbands and fathers. In 1841 the
wives and children of soldiers impressed in the provinces
and stationed in Mexico City died of exposure in their
makeshift camps near the convents of San Agustn, San Fran-
1 8
cisco, Santo Domingo, and La Merced.

191
The national government and the municipality failed
to compensate the poor for their sacrifice of money and man
power. Public institutions provided minimal relief. Mexico
City's hospitals were in disgraceful condition. During the
colonial period, the religious orders had administered them.
Following independence, the hospitals, most of which were in
decrepit condition, became the responsibility of the ayunta-
l 9
miento. Table 24 lists the hospitals that existed in 1849.
The mitre (archbishopric), under contract to the city,
staffed and administered the 500-bed general hospital of
San Andres. San Pablo was a 70-bed general hospital founded
during the war with the United States. The hospitals of
San Hiplito and the Divine Savior were lunatic asylums
for men and women. San Lzaro was a leprosarium. The hos--
pitis of Saint John and Jesus were small, private hospitals
that took charity cases. Although after 1843 the Sisters
of Charity administered the municipal hospitals, the only
hospital funded and operated by a religious order was that
of San Franciscan Terciaries.
Conditions in the hospitals were extremely poor. A
visitor to the hospital of San Lzaro complained that the
isolated lepers, afflicted with a disease that intensified
their sexual drives, resorted to "horrible and repugnant
,,20
practices against nature." A year later the Junta de
Sanidad reported that since leprosy was not,a contagious
disease, San Lzaro should be closed down. If the lepers

192
were to remain hospitalized, it added, conditions in the hos-
21
pital should at least be made livable. Some improvement
followed the criticism. Tylor, visiting the leprosarium
in 1852, reported the building to be spacious and clean and
the patients well attended. Their lives were cheered by
22
visits and small gifts from charitable persons.
Fanny Calderon de la Barca visited the hospital of
the Divine Savior in 1841. She remarked diplomatically that
although the institution lacked funds, its directoress was
totally devoted to the patients in her care. The patients,
however, appeared "poor and miserable." The men's insane
asylum at San Hiplito gave the ambassador's wife a far
better impression. The 90 to 100 inmates "sauntered about
quiet and for the most part sad amidst the beauty of large
stone courts, with orange trees and pomegranates now in full
blossom and large fountains of beautifully clear water."
Although the visitor failed to see the inmate's cells, she
did visit the "black chamber," the small, dark, and airless
cell in which the violent thrashed out their seizures. She
remarked that the asylum had not yet instituted the practice
of employing the insane. One imbecile boy passed his entire
life in a wooden box placed before the kitchen, watching the
maids prepare meals.23
Seora de la Barca's favorable -impression of life at
San Hiplito is belied by the 1848 report of the Junta de
Sanidad:

193
The condition of San Hiplito is now, and
probably has been for the past seventy
years, a frightful disgrace. Each patient
is enclosed in filthy and unventilated
little cells that comprise the principal
part of the building; they are called,
with some justice, jails. The patients
are taken early in the morning to the
patio and left with nothing to do. No
patient has left cured, and all have aban
doned the little sanity that they once
possessed. Degrees of mental illness are
not distinguished. Raging madmen are left
with absolute idiots. Idiots are reduced
to a purely animal life. The greater
part of the unfortunates are "monomaniacs";
they many times retain sufficient judgment
to be put to useful work, but the managers
practice only an inmemorable routine. In
the first days that they are put in the
hospital, the mildly insane beg for work
to break the monotony, but gradually they
are brought to a state of despair and hope
lessness through boredom. The hospital
rather than being a benefit is a positive
evil, a place of despair.
The hospital of San Andres was never In any condition
to provide proper medical care. It lost most of its funds
when the legal settlement of corporately owned property
that immediately followed postindependence ceded its reve
nue-producing properties to the ayuntamiento. At the same
time, the municipality closed down four of the most decrepit
public hospitals, leaving San Andres the only general hos
pital tasked with the care of charity cases. Squeezed by
increasing responsibilities and decreasing revenues, San
Andres was a public disgrace. In 1828 the hospital's rector
complained that the department of surgery on the ground floor

194
was too wet for medical use. Its darkness and lack of venti
lation aggravated the suffering of the patients. The de
partment of medicine was indiscriminately crammed with pa
tients suffering from contagious and noncontagious diseases.
2 5
The patients lacked proper bedding and nourishing food.
The passage of years changed nothing at San Andres.
In 1848 the Eco de Comercio reported that the hospital was
crowded and filthy. One small poorly ventilated room con
tained eighty patients who lay on the floor in rows one-half
yard apart. The bedding was unwashed and reeked with the
sweat of 200 patients. A layer of grime one-half inch thick
coated the wooden partitions dividing the wards. The sight
of cadavers being delivered from the wards to the morgue
2 ^
located in the central patio demoralized the patients.
Hospitalization was free to the needy; however, they
were reluctant to use the available facilities. Table 25
shows the admission and exit of free and imprisoned pa
tients for portions of 1828 and 1846. Over half of the
patients during these periods were prisoners. Twenty-seven
and 28 percent of all free patients who entered the hospital
died while only 10 and 12 percent of the imprisoned patients
did so. The smaller number of free patients and their
higher percentages of deaths indicate their reluctance to
place themselves in the hospital until'they were on the
2 7
verge of death.

195
The republican ayuntamiento continued the colonial
tradition of providing the poor with free medical care.
Colonial decrees ordering licensed doctors to provide the
2 8
poor with free medical care were reenacted in 1822. The
doctors,, however, were notoriously loath to treat anyone
2 9
but their affluent regular patients. Had they been more
enthusiastic about meeting the needs of the poor, their
small numbers123 or 1:1,040and their residences within
3 0
the Traza limited their accessibility to the poor.
The poor hesitated to visit trained doctors. In
stead they attempted to cure themselves with poisonous
patent medicines or sought the aid of curanderos (unlicensed
3 i
doctors) who abounded in the city. The authorities con
sidered the curanderos a menace to public health and treated
3 2
them as criminal vagrants.
Boticas (drug stores) traditionally gave free medi
cine to the poor in the evenings. The poor availed them
selves of the drugs, but their effectiveness is doubtful.
The boticas were fetid and filthy. The druggist, himself,
was to a licensed doctor as a pretentious articled clerk
was to a lawyer. His usual remedies were a yellow ointment
for pimples, cefalic water for toothaches, powdered horn,
tripe of Judas or gum of aquiln for childbirth, and stag
horn or powdered cornmeal for general ailments. During the
cholera epidemic of 1833, a druggist sold pieces of parch
ment that purportedly would protect the wearers from the

196
disease. Hundreds purchased the parchment and subsequently
perished. The ayuntamiento showed its low evaluation of
customary medicines when it wisely decided that nourishing
food was the best medicine to distribute to the poor during
3 3
the measles epidemic of 1825.
Municipality efforts at preventive medicine failed.
It was unable to enforce even rudimentary standards of muni
cipal sanitation. A mass antismallpox vaccination drive
held in 1826 also failed. The poor would not present their
children for vaccination. The few who were vaccinated
deliberately picked off their scabs before immunization
could occur or lacked sufficient clothing to protect the
3 4
development of the sore.
Epidemics overwhelmed the city's meager medical fa
cilities. In 1825, to combat a mysterious fever, the ayunta
miento published and distributed a pamphlet advising the
poor to take to bed at the first hint of a fever, eat
nourishing food, and drink lots of fresh fruit juices. The
advice, which would probably meet the approval of modern
doctors, never reached its audience who could not read or
afford to rest from its daily labors. Efforts to curb an
outbreak of measles that same year failed because the
fathers of poor children would not send them to the hospital.'
The cholera epidemic of 1833 illustrates the ayunta
miento' s tragic inability to provide emergency medical care
to the poor. The municipal authorities anxiously followed

197
the spread of the epidemic from Europe through the United
States and into the ports of northern Mexico. It ordered,
36
but could not enforce, a general cleanup. In June, as
the disease spread into central Mexico, ordinances decreed
the establishment of two emergency hospitals whose services
would be available free to the poor, councils of health in
every two cuarteles menores. The municipality appealed to
convents, monasteries, cofradas, the mitre, and wealthy
private citizens for contributions to fund the struggle
against the disease. It also asked the religious institu-
3 7
tions to establish their own emergency hospitals.
Nothing came of the ayuntamiento's efforts. On
August 7, the day cholera appeared in the city, new ordi
nances repeated those of June and pledged the authorities
to the care and feeding of the poor. Contributions to fi
nance the measures did not appear. Although the mitre and
some of the parishes established hospitals, all the con
vents save La Merced refused to exhaust their resources or
endanger the health of their members by the establishment
r , 38
of hospitals.
One week after cholera appeared in the streets and
hovels of the city, so many people were dying that it was
impossible for the parish clergy to administer the last
rites. Unable to contain the disease, the ayuntamiento re
quested the mitre to dispatch sufficient numbers of the reli
gious and nonparish clergy to the barrios to confess the

198
dying. Three weeks later, on August 28, cholera had slain
' 3 9
nearly 6,000 inhabitants. By that time the city was a
fear-ridden sepulcher, a place of
silent deserted streets with the sound of
hurried footsteps in the distance of some
one running for help. The yellow, black,
and white flags that showed the presence
of the disease, the doctors, the priests,
the houses of charity, the pharmacies
crowded with people, the churches with
their doors wide open and their altars
covered with 1,000 lights, people kneeling
down with their arms forming a cross and
weeping . and far off in the distance,
the dismal high-pitched squeal of wagon
wheels as they bore away the load of
corpses.40
Few details concerning the Hospicio de Pobres (muni
cipal almshouse) survive from the period. A detailed re
port written in 1864 by Manuel Orozco y Berra supplements
existing information. The hospicio's official capacity was
500 inmates. In 1864, however, the institution held only
41
197: 75 boys, 73 girls, 13 old men, and 35 old women.
During the period of this study, the number of inmates that
it contained evidently strained its resources. In 1831 the
rector evicted eight inmates for alleged misbehavior. All
eventually found their way to the dockets of the Tribunal
de Vagos whose magistrates declared them physically or men
tally unfit for military service and remanded them to the
hospicio. The rector reaccepted his former charges, admitting

199
that the poverty and overcrowding had forced him to make a
4 2
hasty and unwise decision. Hampered by lack of funds, the
43
hospicio temporarily ceased operations in 1826 and 1841.
Physically the hospicio was a shambles. Guillermo
Prieto described the building as it existed in 1841:
Patios full of sand with weeds growing
to the banks of the drainpipes, loose
and dangling gratings, broken bricks
in. the corridors, pieces of crumbling
roof tiles. In the dining room, hunger;
in -the kitchen, smoke, grime, and bones
replacing meat. In the department of
beggars, filth, cold, and living skele
tons ,44
The Junta de Sanidad reported in 1849 generally filthy condi
tions that included poor ventilation, insufficient baths,
4 5
pools of stagnant water in the wards, and clogged toilets.
In the 1830s the inmates of the hospicio occupied
46
themselves by weaving and tailoring. A loan from the
Banco de Avio enabled the establishment of a paper factory
4 7
on the premises. In the 1840s girls worked as lace makers.
Contractors hired the boys as spinners in textile mills.
4 8
Prieto thought the latter employment to be sweated labor.
Adults worked and received wages from a canvas factory
4 9
established on the premises by a private entrepreneur.
The hospicio's inmates also worked as p'allbearers at the
funerals of the wealthy.50

200
The 1864 report gives a more detailed picture of the
hospicio's daily routine. The tailoring, carpentry, and
weaving workshops occupying rent-free premises on the es
tablishment so mistreated and underpaid the boys that they
preferred to work as pallbearers. In view of their abuses,
Orozco y Berra questioned the usefulness of the workshops
continued existence. The pallbearers received $1, keeping
one real and surrendering the remaining seven to the hos
picio. When the boys were not working, they performed all
the chores of the establishment. Girls worked at a sewing
and embroidery shop and were well instructed and well paid.
The aged had no duties but the cleaning of their quarters.
Hospicio regulations to the contrary, they passed the day
, . u 51
begging m the streets.
The Casa de Cua (orphanage), supervised by a junta
of the wealthiest families in Mexico, was the most effectively
administered charity. The junta's male members contributed
money while their wives took personal responsibility for
each foundling entrusted to the orphanage. The cua placed
newborn or infant foundlings in the care of Indian wet nurses
living in the villages surrounding the capital. The wet
nurses, whose health and character were periodically certified,
received for their services the respectable sum of $4 a month.
This sensible practice, also prevalent In Europe, removed
5 2
the infants from the city's deadly environment. Every
fifteen days the wealthy benefactresses personally inspected

201
the infants at the village of Tacubaya. The better families
53
of the capital eventually adopted the foundlings.
In 1841 seora de la Barca reported the orphanage
5 4
to be clean and spacious. The 1849 report of the Junta de
Sanidad criticized the institution for its filth and over-
5 5
crowding. The orphanage's condition that year may have
been due to the aftermath of the war with the United States.
Manuel Orozco y Berra expressed his "great pleasure and
astonishment" at the good order, cleanliness, and efficient
supervision of the orphanage that contrasted sharply with
the capital's other charitable institutions. Wet nurses
were kept on hand for the emergency nursing of malnourished
foundlings. Grown children were not turned out on the
streets but remained in the establishment until adulthood.
The orphanage contained a small primary school for the in
struction of both sexes. Adolescent boys received instruc
tion in shoemaking, goldsmithing, drawing, and painting,
while girls learned music and embroidery. Family spirit
and economy was engendered by having the girls sew clothes
for the boys and the boys make shoes and trinkets for the
- i 56
girls.
The municipal prison on the ground floor of the
ayuntamiento's building housed pe.tty thieves, n' eer-do-wells ,
5 7
and drunkards. The Junta de Sanidad reported it to be
overcrowded and filthy. Barrels containing the prisoners'
excrement stood in the cells, and a thick paste of grime

202
and crushed roaches caked the walls. Every day its in-
59
mates were led out m chains to sweep the streets.
The Acordada housed prisoners serving sentences of
more than one month and those awaiting trial for the more
serious crimes. Over 1,000 men and women languished within
6 0
it's gray walls. The exterior of the prison presented a
grisly sight. At the main entrance stood a large iron
gate displaying the bodies of those found murdered in the
streets; the display was for the purpose of identification.
Private and relatively clean cells housed the wealthy, but
large common cells whose conditions disgraced nineteenth-
century standards of penal sanitation housed the poorer
prisoners.62 The Junta de Sanidad reported in 1848 that
the cells were overcrowded and filthy. Two of them were in
a "fatal state" because their pavement had become loose and
their floors were wet. Their inmates, lacking pallets,
slept directly on the damp and filthy floors. The stench
from currentless toilets pervaded the prison. The report
ended by strongly urging the authorities to remedy the
physical defects and "above all to provide more sleeping
space because an epidemic would transform the jails (na
tional and municipal) into "inexhaustable focuses of infec
tion and death."63
There was no effort to separate first offenders,
hardened criminals, murderers, or those who were merely
awaiting trial. All mixed together in the cells or in the

203
large central recreational courtyard. The government, in
a fit of prudery, ended the cherished practice of conjugal
visitation. It was not long before indignant prisoners
complained that sodomy and other unnatural practices
flourished. Mistreatment of the prisoners occasionally
took place. In 1841 a prison official neglected to feed
6 5
the prisoners. The general impression is, however, that
the authorities left the prisoners to themselves. Inmates
formed societies within which the strong terrorized the weak,
robbing them of possessions and imposing their own system
. 6 6
of justice. The prison authorities did little to inter
fere with the internal society of the prison. At times
prisoner's wives openly made "aguardiente trips," and gambling
6 7
establishments and cantinas existed within the prison. Not
surprisingly the prisoners were openly contemptuous of their
keepers. A riot and charges of maltreatment were the rewards
of one zealous warden who attempted to arrest and punish the
ringleader of a vicious extortion racket flourishing inside
, 68
the prison.
Little constructive activity occurred within the
prison. Some inmates supported themselves by selling the
handicrafts they produced from any materials that they could
6 9
scavenge. Every day up to 150 naked, filthy prisoners
chained to each other by their throats-and feet earned one
7 o
real, a day by laboring at various public projects. The
most degrading of these was the cleaning of the drains and

204
aqueducts during which the prisoners stood up to their
waists in the putrid slime, removing it with rude tools' or
71
their own hands. Despite the forced labor, the prisoners
were poorly exercized. The Junta de Sanidad thought that
7 2
lack of exercise seriously weakened inmates of both jails.
In 1841, prompted by scandal and reports of British
reforms, the government established a school and workshops
at which the prisoners could learn useful trades while
earning half-pay that could be applied to supplementary
food and clothing. The workshops, reported Siglo Diez y
73
Nueve, were well lit, supervised, and equipped. The Acor
dada 's tailor shop advertised its wares until 1844, but it
is doubtful that the school and shops survived the war with
the United States.
Chronic debt was the lot of the poor, and credit
their necessity. Lacking money, the poor commonly resorted
to simple barter. Stores and pulqueras accepted pawns in
7 4
direct payment for groceries and pulque. This practice,
which encouraged petty theft, was illegal in Mexico City as
7 5
it was in nineteenth-century London. The tobacco factory,
in 1851, operated a store (Tienda de Raya) where the opera
tives could buy clothes on credit. 6 The store could only
have been a service to the Estanco's malpaid employees.
Credit was scarce. An artisan 'in need of money
could pester his master or the merchant for whom he worked
7 7
for an advance in wages or an outright loan. The typical

205
TABLE 24
HOSPITALS, MEXICO CITY, 1849
Hospital
Function
Capacity
San Andres (1851)
San Pablo, Fd. 1847
Jesus
Terceros
San Hiplito
Divine Savior
San Lazaro
San Juan de Dios, Fd. 1.845
Municipal general
500
Municipal general
60
Private general
50
Private general
Male insane asylum
Female insane asylum
90
Leprosarium
Private general
SOURCE: Gilberto F. Aguilar and Roberto Ezquero Peraza, Los
hospitales de Mexico (Mexico, D.F., 1936).
TABLE 25
HOSPITAL OF SAN ANDRES,
ADMISSION AND DISCHARGE OF PATIENTS, 1828, 1846
Previously
Admitted
Entered
Exited
Died
Remainder
Jan. 1 to April
30, 1828:
Free patients
94
390
285
107
97
Prisoners
127
440
411
46
110
May 1 to May 19
, 1828:
Free patients
97
71
71
20
77
Prisoners
110
81
86
8
97
Jan. 1 to Aug.
30, 1846:
Free patients
57
43
34
21
45
Prisoners
74
94
86
11
70
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2297, exps. 7, 14.

206
TABLE 26
PRIMARY SCHOOLS, 1845
Schools
Enrollment
Convents:
San Francisco
66
La Merced
330
San Agustn
530
Santo Domingo
103
San Diego
222
Total
1,221
Lancastrian (males):
Filantropa
300
San Felipe de Jesus
260
La Beneficencia
300
Nocturna de Adultos
60
Casa de Correccin
57
Crcel-Presos
60
Total
1,037
Lancastrian (females):
Santa Mara la Redonda
120
Santa Rosa de Lima
110
La Caridad
139
La Providencia
140
San Diego
60
Salto de Agua
72
Callejn de Lecuona
53
Carcel-Presas
41
Total
735
Private (males):
44
1,546
Private (females):
40
892
TOTAL
5,847
SOURCE: Dorothy T. Estrada, "Las escuelas lancastrianas en
la Ciudad de Mexico: 1822-1842," Historia Mexicana, vol. 22,
no 4, p. 497.

207
TABLE 27
SCHOOLS OF THE SOCIETY OF CHARITY, 1851
Year of
Foundation
Location
Enrollment
1846
CallejSn de Higuera
200
1847
Plaza de Mixcalco
100
1847
Plaza de Necatitln
160
1848
Plazuela de San Sebastian
120
1848
Puente de Santa Mara
250
1848
Calle de Cuadrante de Santa Anna
125
1849
Calle de Zapo
250
1849
Calle de San Antonio Abad
150
1849
Calle de San Hiplito
110
1850
Candalaria de los Patos
120
1851
Candalaria de los Patos
120
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2479, exp. 389.
TABLE 28
ESCUELA DE LAS AMIGAS, BARRIO DE SANTA CRUZ ACATLAN,
MONTHLY ATTENDANCE, 183.1
Month
Boys
Girls
Jan.
43
9
Feb.
42
16
Mar.
45
15
Apr.
32
7
May
35
14
June
28
16
July
47
21
Aug.
66
21
Sept.
73
29
Oct.
72
34
Nov.
79
43
Dec.
86
51
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 298.

208
TABLE 29
FAMILY TYPES, CENSUS OF 1849
Type %
Nuclear:
Self/wife 19
Self/wife/children 35
Self/siblings/parents 3
Self/mother 2
Self/mother/father 2
Self/siblings 3
Self/mother/siblings 2
Total 66
Extended or households 44
Total cases 1,052
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 3406.

209
merchant or master, himself short of cash, would be unlikely
to advance wages or make loans to any but his most trusted
artisans. If he did, his interest rate was probably the
7 8
usual mercantile rates of 12 to 24 percent a month. If
the poor man was desperate he could go to the professional
money lender. This man
with the generous heart of the bird of prey
who hides in a cave, feeding himself on the
juice of the cadavers, would provide credit
half in foodstuffs at exorbitant prices and
half in filthy and corroded coins. A des
picably small quantity for which he will
have to always pay a usurious interest rate
every eight days.79
For good reason the poor resorted to loans of cash
only as a last resort. The common way of raising cash was
by pawning possessions, usually clothing, tools, or furni
ture. The most well-known pawnshop in the city was the
Monte Pio (national pawnshop) established In the late
colonial period to provide for people in need. The Monte
Pio lent money against pawns at the annual rate of interest
of 6.25 percent. It sold articles unredeemed within six
months and returned the profits of the sale, minus princi
pal and interest, to the owner. The old clothes hanging
on racks at the Monte Pio indicated the popularity of the
8 0
national pawnshop with the poor. In 1842 the shop
8 1
succored 200 people daily. During the entire thirty-year

210
period between 1824 and 1854, the shop received and redeemed
82
an average of 42,000 pawns yearly. Other pawnshops that
kept pawns for six months but retained all profits from the
sale existed within the city. These may have been fronts
for usurers. At least two of the pawnshops cheated their
customers by selling the pledges before the six-month period
8 3
had expired. They did not attract the volume of business
that the charity-oriented Monte Pio did.
Mexicans of all classes and political persuasions
viewed education as the panacea for the problems of the
lower classes. The ayuntamiento thought that public educa
tion would "raise the moral and physical level of the poor
by ending vice and nakedness." The priest of Santo Tomas de
la Palma desired a school in his parish to promote "good
8 A
order, tranquility, and the security of lives and property."
The Museo Mexicano's critic of the populacho hoped that
education would one day end the vices of that near criminal
8 5
class. The Semanario Artstico praised education for
"making one acquire the habits of work, . driving from
man laziness and vice . and making him know that truth
is inseparable from virtue."86
Social harmony and the personal acceptance of the
existing order was the aim of the educators. The Semanario
Artstico warned against using education to advance above
one's station in life:

211
To summarize, for the classes placed in
less favorable positions, to leave them
with imprudent steps by educating their
children, marrying them, or placing them
outside of the sphere in which they find
themselves is fully dangerous; and ex
perience confirms it: dangerous for the
family, bitter for the heart of he who
has elevated himself, useless almost al
ways for the world for whom it is said
that it is not worth so much having a
great man as it is to have the general
peace and the domestic welfare of families.
Education taught, above all, the virtue of resignation, work,
and private property.
It is the school of resignation: It
teaches us our duties to others. It
corrects and punishes our vanity and
reminds us that the human life is
only a time of trial and preparation.
Work is also the origin of prop
erty, and the lovers of work are
those who understand better the re-
8 8
spect due to property.
Public education was the constitutional responsibility
of the ayuntamiento who established its own schools and pro
moted the establishment of private schools. In 1822 seventy-
one primary schools taught 3,800 students. Table 26 shows
that by 1845 one hundred three schools enrolled 5,847 stu
dents. The most numerous private schools were the Schools
8 9
of the Friends and those of the famous Lancastrian Company.
The five municipal schools enrolled paying as well as free
students. Almost all the private schools enrolled poor

212
children free upon authorization and payment of the munici
pality. In 1831, for example, the School of the Friends in
Cuartel Menor 11 enrolled 437 students of whom 102 were
nr ,,9 0
free s tudents.
After 1846 an organization known as the Society of
Charity established the twelve schools presented in Table
27 expressly for the education of the poor. In 1851 these
schools enrolled 1,865 students. Three years later their
numbers had expanded to twenty-eight and their enrollment
had increased to 6,360. Unlike the municipal schools and
private schools which preceded them, public contribution
rather than municipal funds or private fees supported the
schools of the Society of Charity. The parents of the stu
dents paid the quite modest fee of one eighth of a real per
1 91
week.
Thanks to the requirements of the ayuntamiento, the
curriculum taught at the schools was reasonably standard and
included reading, writing, arithmetic, and Christian doc
trine according to the catechisms of Ripaldi and Fleury.
The municipal free schools, however, added to their curri
culum sewing and embroidery for girls and industrial draft
ing for boys. The addition of these subjects shows how
earnestly the ayuntamiento desired to prepare poor children
9 2
for productive work later in their adolescence.
At the Schools of the Friends children were taught
by the conventional classroom method. Lancastrian methodology

213
stressed mass education through constant activity designed
to maintain the interest of the children. Classes were held
in enormous rooms holding from 100 to 300 students. Desks
for the teacher and classroom monitors stood at the head of
the class. Rows of long tables with benches holding ten
students each filled the classroom. In the middle of the
first table stood a telegraph, a long pole topped by a
metal frame which held a poster of the letter or number to
93
be learned during every class session.
The children entered the classroom and stood at
attention while the teacher inspected them for cleanliness.
Afterward they marched to their assigned tables, knelt in
unison and said their morning prayer. The beginning stu
dents sat at the first file of tables and practiced printing
letters in the sand held in the depressed table tops. Inter
mediate students drew letters on blackboards. The most ad
vanced practiced printing and script with pen and paper.
A decurin (student instructor) sat with each group of ten
and monitored each student's work. In the afternoon each
group sat in a semicircle around its decurin and repeated
aloud and in unison the catechism and lessons in pronouncia-
tion. Later the students returned to their benches for
arithmetic lessons taught in the same fashion as the morn
ing's writing. Throughout the day the teacher functioned
solely to insure the clock-like precisioned operation of
94
the gigantic class. Rapid advancement, prizes, and promotion

214
to decurin rewarded the apt pupil. Punishments for the
slower refractory included moderate paddlings, wearing
burros ears, the public recitation of personal faults,
nd incarceration in a mock jail. The punishments were
not arbitrary, but precisely inscribed in the rules and
95
regulations of the Lancastrian Company.
The great advantage of the Lancastrian method was
that one instructor could educate 200 to 1,000 students.
Enrollments were large. The School of Philanthropy, the
oldest and largest, enrolled 300 students. Another advan
tage was that a student could learn at his own pace. The
length of time in which a student could complete all
phases of study varied from eleven to eighteen months.
The concept of Lancastrian education became so popular
that the municipal schools and, judging from their size,
those of the Society of Charity adopted it for their
methodology. Municipal and national governments and the
periodicals spared no efforts to popularize education at
the Lancastrian schools. Poor children received prizes
of clothes or money. Final examinations and graduations
9
were public, and the best graduates received public awards.
At one such ceremony held in 1843, General Santa Anna pre
sided, over the graduation of more than 400 students and
9 7
distributed gifts of money.
The "aversion of the poor to education was immense."
In some schools parents removed their children as soon as

215
they had learned to read and write, but before they had
9
learned arithmetic and the rudiments of Christian doctrine.
At other times the parents objected forcefully to the
corporal punishment of the children, threatening the
9 9
teacher with retaliation in kind. Most of the problems
concerning children and parents were caused by poverty.
Parents could not send their children to school promptly
or regularly because they were unfed, lacked clothing, or
were needed to work at home. Table 28 shows the atten
dance record of the students at the School of Friends in
the barrio of Santa Cruz Acatlan. Attendance during the
last six months of the year was nearly double that of the
first six months. When the children of the poor did
attend school, teachers complained that "heroic qualities"
were necessary to overcome their students' "indolence,
distraction, and slothfulness." A modern educator might
attribute these same qualities to malnutrition or intestinal
parisites.
There were other obstacles to public education be
sides those created by the poor. The convent and early
Lancastrian schools were located too far from the barrios
i o i
that needed them. Some teachers refused to educate the
free students. At the municipal school of San Cosme, the
instructor separated the free students from the paying
students on the pretext of separating the slow learners from
the more rapid. He then ignored the free students. The

216
same instructor allowed only one out of six free applicants-
to be enrolled in the school. The instructor of another
school did not allow any free student to enroll. A sharp-
eyed inspector discovered the violation when he noticed
that although the school was located in a poor barrio, all
102
its students wore shoes.
A census taken in 1842 counted sixty licensed and
i 03
forty-three unlicensed teachers in the city. A report
read to the ayuntamiento in 1832 called many of the unli
censed teachers "ignorant men whose morality was not very
refined." The report's author concluded that to entrust
children to the care of these men was a misfortune but the
greater misfortune would be to close the schools for lack
of qualified teachers and to deprive the poor of any in-
l 04
struction.
The greatest obstacle to public education was the
poverty of the educational system itself. The Lancastrian
and municipal schools labored under severe financial strain.
Public subsidies were always in arrears, and private stu
dents failed to pay their fees. The financial difficulties
affected the quality of instruction. In November 1840 the
municipality owed the directors of the municipal free
schools $2,500 in back salaries. Although they were bodily
present in the classroom with their students, their spirits
were home with their families wondering where -the next meal
would come from. Some of the free schools lacked textbooks

217
for all branches of instruction. The texts of others were
so badly deteriorated as to be useless. None of the schools
had the materials to teach sewing, and the few girls who
learned sewing were the fortunate whose parents could pro
vide them with materials. For lack of the proper textbooks,
it was impossible to teach Spanish grammar or industrial
_ 105
drafting.
Education managed to seep down to the poor. Table
N-l shows the occupations of the parents of students attend
ing the municipal school located on the Street of the Seven
l 06
Princes. Twenty-four percent of the occupations were
female, indicating that the fathers of the students were
dead and that they were being supported solely by their
mothers. The remaining male occupations indicated that the
parents were poor. Thompson observed that servants and
lperos had some knowledge of reading and writing and attri-
10 7
buted it to the Lancastrian system of education. Twenty-
five percent of the six hundred men arrested for vagrancy
between 1828. and 1851 could sign their names to the copies
, . 108
of their testimony.
Fanny Calderon de la Barca thought there existed "no
country in the world where charities, both public and pri-
1 0 9
vate, are practiced on so noble a scale." Waddy Thompson,
who was in Mexico at the same time as seora de la Barca,
gave an entirely different opinion of Mexican charity.

218
There are scarcely any of those institu
tions to which we are accustomed in all
our principal cities. There are more of
these, I have no doubt, in either of
the cities of Boston or Philadelphia
than in Mexico.110
Thompson's judgment is more suited to the facts. Philadel
phia, a city of 96,664 in 1810, possessed a large hospital
and a dispensary whose staff visited the sick in their homes.
Its almshouse housed over 1,200 inmates while the city dis-
lil
pensed poor relief to 2,500 more. Conditions within all
the public facilities surpassed the century's standards, and
Philadelphia's system of public charity became a model for
, . . 112 .
other cities to imitate. Sixteen private organizations
as diverse as the Magdalen Society to Reform Prostitutes
and the Female Society to Employ the Poor supplemented public
, 1 13
charity. In contrast to those of Philadelphia, the hos- .
pitis and almshouse of Mexico City were ramshackle and
overcrowded. Conditions within the prisons were comparable
to most North American ones but twenty years behind those of
France and England. At precisely the time when the public
schools of North America were about to enter a great period
of reform and expansion, those of Mexico City, although of
noble inspiration, withered for lack of funds. During the
entire period only two permanent private charitable associa
tions existed.
In 1844 the Liceo mexicano criticized the indiffer
ence of wealthy Mexicans to public and private charity:

219
We live in a century of magnificence and
of luxury. We procure the adornment of
the cities and their splendor: sumptuous
palaces, astonishing theaters, great sta
tues, elevated triumphal arches, columns,
pyramids. Yet we watch the poor man ground
into the dirt, the sick suffering without
aid, the abandoned illegitimate child, the
prostituted orphan girl, and the naked and
desolate widow die victims of misery. We
have seen monuments erected, but not the
establishment of hospitals and other char
itable institutions, millions.consumed to
fund public and even private gatherings in
great luxury, but not one cent consecrated
to the sake of humanity.114
Family
Bereft of strong public institutions, the poor Mexi
can relied for psychological and material support upon his
family, the most basic of human institutions. Table 29
lists the types of households numbering more than one member
that appeared on the random sample of the census of 1849.
Nuclear families accounted for over 66 percent of the family
types. The remaining 44 percent were over one hundred
variations of the horizontally or vertically extended
family or unrelated households.
There is no way to assess objectively the quality of
Mexican family relations. The following interpretation is
based upon the impressions obtained from reading criminal
and vagrancy records. Consequently it may err toward nega
tivism. Public law will be quoted only when it is thought
to accurately reflect relevant social attitudes.

220
The reluctance of the poor to marry legally does not
mean a liaison between a man and a woman was short or de
graded. One couple, for example, lived together for twenty
years and had four children. Although they separated
briefly, loneliness drove them back to each other. Pedro
Escovedo, a stonecutter, lived with his partner for seven
years and fathered four children. Their poverty prevented
them from marrying formally. There was, however, a tendency
for poor Mexicans of both sexes to engage in postmarital
affairs. Family fights because of such daliances resulted
from mutual jealousy or because the wife discovered her mate
spending household money on his bastards. The court's ruling
in one of these cases was that a man's primary obligation was
11 5
to his first family.
The medieval Spanish law practiced in republican
Mexico specified that the husband held the same authority
116
over his family that a king held over his subjects. He
therefore expected that his wife wait upon him hand and
foot and resorted to corporal, punishment whenever his expec
tations were not met.. Wife beating was legal if justified
by misbehavior. In two cases the courts acquitted men who
had punished their wives for not washing clothes or pre-
11 7
paring the meals. Women accepted corporal punishment.
The wife of Vicent Barreto withdrew charges of maltreatment
against her husband by claiming that she had been beaten for
good reason. Another woman stated that although her husband

221
beat her while he was drunk, he drank infrequently, was a
11
good provider, and gave her and her daughters a good life.
Women preserved a sense of honor and self-respect
despite their husbands' recognized authority. Spanish law
permitted women to deny their bodies to their husbands
11 9
whenever they felt physically indisposed. A Mexican
court of conciliation surpassed the letter of the law in one
case. A female plaintiff had angrily rebuffed the overtures
of her husband one day when he came home from work early as
12 0
she was in the midst of housework. Her husband received
a month in jail for the beating that followed. Another
case illustrates the subtle boundaries between legitimate
authority and abuse of personal honor. Jesus Castro came
home to find his wife wearing the white stockings and bright
red shoes that he had forbidden her to buy because they
were worn by prostitutes. Enraged, he called her a whore
and burned her clothes. The court found that his wife was
honorable and released Castro on condition that he apolo
gize and treat her well. His wife, in turn, promised to
"obey him in every way," and her mother promised to help
12 1
the husband in every way that she could."
Custom and law made the husband the household's
principal provider. Failure to provide for his wife and
family was criminal vagrancy. Allegations of nonsupport
always accompanied serious complaints of physical mistreat
ment. The testimony of Appollonio Calleja's wife reveals

222
the tangible benefits that a woman expected from her
"marriage. Her husband deceived her into marrying him by
telling her that he was a journeyman pastry maker. She
later discovered he was not even an apprentice. In four
years of marriage the aggrieved wife claimed that she had
not received one-half real in support. During her pregnancy
she had to beg for food. Poverty forced her to give up her
little daughter. When the infant died her husband would
not even give her the half-real burial fee. After four
years of starvation, lacking clothing, and brutal treatment,
l 2 2
she left him.
The birth of a child was an extremely serious event.
One pastry maker received twenty days off to assist his
123
wife's delivery. Immediately after birth the attending
midwife attempted to mold the baby's features by placing
its head in a tortoise shell and lengthening its flat nose
with her fingers. She then placed amulets in its hands
12 4
to protect it from witches. The mother took principal
responsibility for educating the child for the first seven
l 2 5
years of its life. The Semanario Artstico, however,
warned fathers to vigilantly watch their children and act
as their moral guides because their wives were so carelessly
12 6
educated. Poor children often experienced neglect be
cause their parents who worked from dawn to dusk permitted
them to wander all day in the streets learning vice and
l 2 7
losing all respect for parental authority.

223
At about the age of seven, the traditional age of
moral maturity, poor parents put their children to work per
forming household chores if female or earning money if male.
The male child's earnings were an important part of the
family income. The father possessed the legal right to
l 28
it and any property that his son might acquire. Naturally
fathers desired to keep productive sons in the household
until a very late age. Paternal possessiveness conflicted
with both adolescent frivolity and the growing yearning of
the young man for independence. The tension between father
and son probably was the origin of the belief that a child
who dies before the age of seven becomes an angel in heaven
l 2 9
because he had done nothing to offend his father.
Widowed mothers were especially concerned with the
behavior of their sons, who were their only source of in
come. Hardly a session of the Tribunal de Vagos passed
without its hearing the case of an erring lad turned in by
his mother. The mothers desired no more than that their
sons receive a lecture from the judge. Histrionic appeals
followed the discovery that their sons faced seven years
of military service. Maria Dominquez's plea illustrates the
economic importance of her son to her.
He is an obedient son upon whom I depend
for food, and if through misfortune I
loose him^ I will unjustly be left to
starve.13

224
It says much for the basic humanity of the magistrates that
in all such cases the boys received a tongue lashing and were
released to the custody of their mothers.
"Law and nature" demanded that children respect
i 3 l
their parents absolutely. Even a widowed mother totally
dependent upon her son knew the respect owed her. When one
mother returned to her room one night to find her adult son
sleeping "with great satisfaction" between two whores, she
packed him off to the Tribunal de Vagos. She later told the
magistrates that although her son was not a vagrant, a night
in jail and a good fright would teach him a badly needed
, 1 3 2
lesson.
Eventually grown children did go off to start
families of their own. Many marriages or liaisons occurred
without the consent of both families. Usually a young girl
ran away from home to live with her boy friend. As a con
sequence, her partner became liable to charges of "illicit
relations," "rape," or "kidnapping." Fathers, perhaps re
lieved at the disappearance of economically marginal members
of their families, did not appear to press charges against
men living with their daughters. Mothers, however, did.
Although one mother protested that she did not want her
daughter to marry her. lover, most wished to protect their
daughters' interests by forcing a legal marriage. A legal
marriage, according to one plaintiff, "would cover the honor
13 3
of her daughter so that no one would mock her."

225
The principal reason given for informal liaisons was
the expense of a formal marriage, but others were also in
volved. Marriage in Catholic Mexico was for life. Accord
ing to one judge, requests for divorces appeared quite fre
quently, but the process was lengthy and unpleasant. While
a canonical court investigated the complaint, honest women
had to be incarcerated. Since convents refused to shelter
them, they suffered the degradation of residence in the
13 4
Acordada. Many liaisons between the young were in the
character of trial marriages to avoid the pitfalls of divorce.
One pregnant seventeen-year-old broke up with her lover when
she discovered that he was stingy with the household money.
Another lived with her mate for a year before discovering
his "evil habits." Not wishing to marry him, she requested
13 5
the courts make a settlement of their common property.
The high percentage of extended families indicates
their importance to the poor. Poor men supported destitute
relatives whenever it was possible. Judging from the fre
quency of fights between relatives over money, the extended
family was the primary source of small loans. Because, of
the bonds of an extended family, private life within a nu
clear family could not exist. Appollonio Calleja's brothers-
in-law, for example, beat him frequently for mistreating his
wife.
The extended family was of fundamental importance
in dealing with other portions of society. It protected its

226
members that found themselves in trouble with the law. One
alcalde sarcastically reported that the mob of witnesses
testifying on behalf of an accused swore that they were
unrelated to the defendant. In another incident a young
man was arrested for threatening to kill his wife and
mother-in-law. The mother-in-law, a maid in a judge's house
hold, had the youth arrested. A week later her employer was
shocked to discover her asking for a $3 advance in her wages
to contribute to the obra buena (bribe) that was to obtain
, 136
her son-in-law s release. The extended family used any
connection to the administrative system for its own purposes.
One alcalde had his sons-in-law falsely testify against a
young man who was seeing his daughter. The young man's family
convinced the Tribunal of the lad's good character by swamp
ing it with the testimony of over twenty presumably unre-
, 137
lated witnesses.
Compadrazco, or fictive kinship, existed but was in
13 8
decline. Garca Cubas reported that prospective god
parents of relative wealth and position often refused ties
13 9
of compadrazco unless the friendship was very strong.
According to Rivera Cambas, the casera of the casa de vecin
dad was the comadre of all its residents. Because of the
short tenancies of most of the vecindad1s occupants, it is
reasonable to assume that the parents of the child selected
her only to meet the requirements of the baptismal certifi
cate .

227
Where ties of compadrazco did exist, they supplemented
the extended family as a system of support. The natural
parents of a child could, because of their poverty, surrender
the legal custody of a child to its godparents. When the
child reached adolescence, he could choose to resume living
14 0
with his natural parents. Children of both sexes sought
shelter from family problems by running away and residing
l 4 l
with their godparents. Good godparents then mediated
the disputes between parents and children. Godparents also
obeyed the injunction to protect the child when its parents
died. When Benita Anguina's lover beat her, her godfather
paid him four reals to leave the neighborhood and later
brought him before the Tribunal. Poverty limited the ef
fectiveness of a godparent. The godmother of one sixteen-
year-old girl could not support her and had to entrust her
142
charge to a neighbor who subsequently neglected the girl.
The compadrazco system also linked families with the adminis
tration. The corrupt alcalde of Minor Ward 28 established
ties of compadrazco with a band of cutthroats operating in
his ward. In return for a share of the loot, the alcalde
143
would free the bandits whenever they were arrested.
A casera and laundress once told Robert Wilson a
moving tale of family disintegration. Unbound by the ties
of a church marriage, her husband had deserted her and her
four children. A press gang carried off her eldest son,
and a stray bullet killed her daughter during a revolution.

228
Imprisoned for a drunken brawl, her eldest son was performing
forced labor. Her remaining daughter was unmarriageable be
cause she lacked the money for a wedding. Despite her mis
fortunes, the casera considered herself fortunate to have
secure employment and free lodgings. Wilson judged the
144
story to be fanciful, but containing elements of truth.
Appendix 0 lists six families appearing both on the
census of 1842 and 1849 and illustrates that death and the
departure of grown children could mutate a family within a
seven-year period. The rapid mutation did not destroy sin
cere feelings of tenderness between parents and children.
The impression from the vagrancy and criminal records is
that most families tried to develop an esprit de corps to
carry on the struggle for survival. Mothers were par
ticularly saddened by the deaths of their children. Ob
serving the grieving mother of a dead child, Luis de Bellemar
commented, "The angel taken to heaven could not replace the
14 5
one lost on earth." When the little boy who Brantz
Mayer had fed and clothed died, his impoverished mother
14 6
arranged a simple but touching funeral. The child's
body was placed on a rose-bedecked tray, his hands crossed
over his chest and bound by a thread of gold, and artificial
flowers sprinkled over his body. Watching the sad event,
Mayer concluded that "these people are not as degraded as
they appear to be."

229
brero
1844,
Nueve
1848,
Notes
1 Thompson, p. 191.
2
Dublan and Lozano, tomo 4, ley 2313.
3 Ibid., ley 2590.
^AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 4; tomo 4155, exp. 228.
5AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 6.
6AACM, tomo 4155, exp. 228; tomo 4157, exp. 207.
?AACM, tomo 4155, exp. 231-47; tomo 3275, exp. 115.
8
Bustamante, Apuntes, p. 7.
9
Salado Alvarez, p. 10.
10Thompson, p. 288.
11 Mora, Mxico, tomo 3, p. 358.
l 2
"Monstrosidad liberal," Monitor Republicano, 13 fe-
1848, p. 4.
13Garca Cubas (1945), p. 473.
14
AGN, "Archivo Histrico de Guerra."
15Thompson, p. 169.
6"Instruccin general," Semanario Artstico, 27 agosto
p. 1.
1 7
Mayer, p. 286.
1 8
Bustamante, Apuntes,
p. 7.
l 9
Zamacois, tomo 11, pp
. 48-49.
~AACM, tomo 2294, exp.
30.
2 1
"Estado de instituciones publicas,"
Siglo Diez y
4 octubre 1849, p. 3.
"Tylor, pp. 251, 252.
23
Calderon de la Barca,
pp. 535, 541.
4AACM, tomo 2299, exp.
30.
~5AACM, tomo 2297, exp.
7; tomo 3686,
exp. 35.
"Hospital de San Andres," Eco de Comercio, 14 marzo
p. 4.
27
Kaplow, p. 95. Thompson, p. 5.
~8AACM, tomo 3890, exp. 2.

230
29
"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 17 diciembre 1844,
1.
30
AACM, tomo 3890, exp. 2. The calculation is based
on a population estimate of 180,000.
31 AACM,
tomo 3686,
exp. 35.
Dblan
and Lozano
, tomo 4, ley
2273.
3 3 .
Prieto
(1964), pp
. 7.0, 220.
3 4
AACM,
tomo 3686,
exps. 35, 37.
3 5
AACM,
tomo 3686,
exp. 33.
3 6
C. A.
Hutchinson,
"The Asiatic
Cholera
1833 in Mexico," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, January-
February, 1968, pp. 1-23.
37AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 4.
38
Ibid.
3 9
Ibid.
(Prieto (1964), p. 69.
Orozco y Berra, Estado, p. 57.
AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 73.
4 3
Mayer, p. 55. Thornton, p. 62.
44Prieto (1948), p. 97.
45
"Estado de instituciones pblicas," Siglo Diez y
Nueve, 4 octubre 1849, p. 3.
6AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 73.
4 7
Ministerio de lo Interior, Memoria de 1838 (Mxico,
D.F., 1838), p. 40.
4 8 .
Juan B. Peza, La beneficencia en Mexico (Mexico, D.F.,
1881). Prieto (1948), p. 97.
4)?eza, p. 150.
50Malo, tomo 2, p. 219.
510rozco y Berra, Estado, pp. 13-14, 24.
5 2
Calderon de la Barca, p. 519. Kaplow, p. 63.
53
Orozco y Berra, Estado, p. 36. Caldern de la
pp. 531-32.
54
Ibid.
55"Estado," p. 3. Orozco y Berra, Estado, pp. 38-39.
560rozco y Berra, Estado, pp. 36-37.
Barca.

231
Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 233-34.
"Estado," p. 3.
59Garca Cubas (1945), p. 234.
6Tylor, p. 246.
1Mayer, pp. 268-70.
6_Xylor, p. 244. Calderon de la Barca, p. 53.
3"Estado," p. 3.
61Tylor, p. 244. Garca Cubas (1945), p. 244.
5AACM, tomo 497, exps. 163, 165; tomo 298, "Actas
de 17 diciembre 1841."
6"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 9 enero 1844, p. 3.
,7Garca Cubas (1945), p. 235.
"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 9 enero 18'44, p. 3.
67Mayer, pp. 268-70.
Mason, vol. 1, p. 84. AACM, tomo 1272.
7 Garca Cubas (1945), p. 237.
7-"Estado," p. 3.
73
"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 29 octubre 1.841, p.
4. Ibid., 9 noviembre 1841, p. 2.
AACM, tomo .2889, "Contra Candalario Avila, 1852";
tomo 2892, "Contra Camilio Guerrero, 1852"; tomo 2892, "25
octubre 1852."
7 5
J. J. Tobias, Crime and Industrial Society in
Nineteenth-Century London (New York, 1967). AACM, tomo 3719,
exp. 63.
AACM, tomo 2892, "Contra Juan Baltierra, 1852."
7 7
Nuestros artesanos," p. 3.
7 8
Bazant, Alienation, pp. 90-91.
7 9 ^
Manuel Ramirez Arriega, Las procuraduras de pobres
(Mexico, D.F., 1950), p. 8.
8 0
Thornton, p. 62.
8 1
Thompson, pp. 128-29.
8 2
Secretaria de Estado de Fomento, Colonizacin, In
dustria y Comercio, Memoria de 1857 (Mxico, D.F., 1857), p.
8.
8 3
AACM, tomo 2892, "Contra Macedonio Flores, 1852."

232
1844
8 4
85
86
p. 1.
87
8 8
89 .
90
9 1
92
93
9 4 .
95
9 6 .
AACM, tomo 2478, exps. 29, 297.
"Populacho," p. 450.
"Educacin moral," Semanario Artstico, 9 febrero
Ibid.
"El trabajo,'
Estrada. ,
1.
AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 298.
AACM tomo 2479, exp. 389; tomo 2480, exp. 4721/2.
AACM, tomo 2480, exp. 280; tomo 2479, exp. 386.
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 404. Estrada, pp. 498-505.
Ibid.
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 406.
Estrada, pp. 495, 497. Also personal conversation
with seora T. de Estrada, December 1, 1972.
9 7
Malo, tomo 1, p. 231.
AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 327.
^Estrada, p. 512.
AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 379.
01 Ibid., exp. 386. "Remitido," Sol, 21 febrero 1830,
1.
1 0 2
1 03
1 04
105
1 06
1 07
1 0 8
1 0 9
1 1 0
AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 327.
AACM, tomo 162, "Actas de 2 junio 1842."
AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 303.
AACM, tomo 2479, exp. 379.
The table is copied from seora de Estrada's article.
Thompson, pp. 152-53.
'AACM, tomos 4151-56, 4778-884.
Calderon de la Barca, p. 285.
Thompson, p. 148.
111
James Mease, The Picture of Philadelphia (Philadel
phia, Pennsylvania, 1811), p. 15.
112 '
Sidney Pomerantz, New York: An American City, 1783-
1803 (New York, 1938), pp. 297-354.
3Mease, p. 16.

233
Liceo mexicano, tomo 2, p. 86.
115
AACM, tomo 2891, "Contra Manuel Perez, 6 febrero
1852"; "Contra Pedro Escovedo, 3 marzo 1852"; tomo 4154, exp.
153.
116
Rodrguez de San Miguel, Pandectas hispano-
megicanos . (Mexico, D.F., 1840), ley 2737.
11 7
AACM, tomo .2 891, "Contra Luis Guzman, 3' abril
1852"; tomo 2892, "Contra Mariano Espinosa, 3 enero 1852."
AACM, tomo 4778, exp. 307H; tomo 478.1, exp. 364.
l i 9
Rodrguez de San Miguel, Pandectas, ley 2691.
12 0
AACM, tomo 2891, "Contra Domingo Heriz, 4 octubre
1852."
1 2 1
AACM, tomo 2760, "Contra Jesus Castro, 2 marzo
1851."
~2AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 37.
AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 80.
~4Garca Cubas (1945), p. 183.
AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43.
12 6
"Educacin moral," p. 1.
12 7
"Vagos," Semanario Artstico, 27 abril 1844, p. 1.
12 8
Rodrguez de San Miguel,. Pandectas, ley 2813.
9Bellemar, pp. 25-29.
13AACM, tomos 462, 4784.
131 ^
Rodrguez de San Miguel, Pandectas, ley 2813,
~AACM, tomo 4153, exp. 107.
AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Benito Laya, 15 junio 1852.'
l 3 4
AACM, tomo 496, exp. 106.
13 5
AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Luis Viera, 12 septiembre
1852"; "Contra .Jos Bustamante, 3 febrero 1852."
JAACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66.
AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 24.
1 3 8
Manuel L. Carlos and Lois Sellers, Family, Kinship
Structure, and Modernization in Latin America," Latin American
Research Review, Summer, 1972, pp. 98-99.
139Garca Cubas (1945), p. 182.
t0AACM, tomo 2760, "Diligencias, 2 marzo 1849."

234
14^AACM, tomo 2890, "Contra Angela Flores, 17 julio
1852"; tomo 4154, exp. 212.
1~AACM, tomo 4154, exp. 159; tomo 4781, exp. 369.
143AACM, tomo 391, exp. 34.
4Wilson, p. 286.
145
Bellemar, p. 29.
14 6 r, r_,
Mayer, pp. 56-57.

CHAPTER FIVE
RELIGION AND RECREATION
For the poor who are without schools,
without workshops, and often without
work to support life, the service that
the Mexican clergy has provided to the
nation is very greatmaintaining the
populations in a subordination that
would not have been possible without
the powerful influence of religion.
Luis G. Cuevas, 1850
Religion
The Church was omnipresent. In a city of "severe" or
"chaste" secular architecture, the religious buildings were
i
"striking." Through their towering, ornate splendor, the
convents and the churches conveyed the power and majesty of
the Roman Catholic faith to the city. Their spires rising
high above private and public buildings proclaimed the omni
potence of God in the world of man. The exquisite carvings of
the exterior walls or the interior chapels with plated and
carved panels, colorful images, and paintings were, especially
for the poor, the only glimpse of beauty in a drab and ugly
235

236
world. Decades after most of the convents and monasteries
had become the victims of reform and modernization, men who
passed their childhoods in the first decades of the nineteenth
2
century would write lovingly and sadly of a vanished glory.
The pealing bells of the Church overwhelmed the public
psychology. During the hours of prayer they inspired the
3
population with a "superstitious fervor." Guillermo Prieto
described the sound of church bells ringing during the
earthquake reverberations of St. Cecilia's Day, 1840, as
4
apocalyptic. During the cholera epidemic of 1833, their
mournful tolling "infused the stricken population with such
terror that the ayuntamiento prohibited the practice."5
The clergy was highly visible. Thompson observed "an
equal number of officers, soldiers, lperos, priests, and
friarsall equally useless."6 The mendicant friars of the
street were Guillermo Prieto's "great distraction and pleasure."
The most prestigious proved their holiness and wisdom by the
raggedness of their habits, uncombed hair, filthy hands, and
7
unshaven faces. Nobody could ignore the carriage, each door
adorned with a painting of an enormous eye, escorted by sol
diers and lay brothers ringing bells, carrying priests bringing
8
the host to sick or dying Christians.
The Archdiocese of Mexico City oversaw the ecclesias
tical affairs of the entire nation. In addition to its
suffragan bishoprics, it had under its direct responsibility
a large, irregular area extending to Tampico in the northeast,

237
Acapulco in the west, and Vera Cruz in the east. It super
vised the affairs of nineteen of the capital's twenty-one
nunneries and eleven colleges and chaplaincies. Its com
ponent offices included a secretariat, the metropolitan pro-
visorate and council, the court of testaments, chaplaincies
l o
and pious works, and the accountancy and treasury. The
mitre, the popular name for the office of the archbishop,
staffed and administered the hospitals of San Andres, San
Hiplito, and San Lazaro.
The capital contained fourteen parishes. The Sagrario,
the oldest and largest parish, was founded in 1523 to serve
j r
the needs of the Spaniards. Its territory covered most of
the original Traza. Its parish church on the eastern side of
the national cathedral symbolized its primacy. San Miguel,
founded in 1690, occupied late.r extensions of the Traza.
Parishes serving the barrios rimmed the edges of the Traza.
San Antonio de las Huertas on the extreme southeastern fringes
1 2
of the city was depopulated by the end of the colonial period.
Table 30 presents the population of the parishes according
to the Spanish census of 1816.
Because the parish church was a focus of public atten
tion and because its records were until 1840 the only source
of census data and civil records, it served occasionally as
a secular administrative unit. In 1824 and 1828 the parishes
were the electoral districts for national and municipal elec-
1 3
tions. In 1825 the parish church publicized and served as

238
the.center for a smallpox vaccination campaign. During the
dreadful winter currency devaluation of 1841, it became the
unit from which the municipality distributed poor relief.15
Until Spain formally recognized the independence of
Mexico in 1840, the nation lacked an archbishop.1 The
archbishopric's staff, however, remained and functioned nor
mally. Guidebooks published in 184.1 and .1851 listed 51 and
1 7
47 persons assigned to the mitre's staff. The "Libro de
inscripcin," an ecclesiastical register of 1851, listed 304
clergy staffing the offices of the archbishop and the
1 8
colleges. It is unclear, however, whether the "Libro" in
cludes the names of deceased clergy and clergy who had once
l 9
served on the staff but had since been reassigned.
The number of regular clergy was slowly diminishing
as vocations declined and the professed died. In 1835 Mora,
referencing government reports, claimed that 1,688 monks and
2 o
911 nuns existed in the entire nation. The guidebook of
1851 listed only 91 monks in Mexico City. These were 44
Franciscans, 17 Augustinins, 15 Diegans, 12 Carmelites, and
2 l
3 Mercedarians. Table 31 lists the twenty-one female
orders, not including the Sisters of Charity, that existed
in the capital in 1861. The largest nunneries were La Encar
nacin and La Concepcion. The total population of the con
vents was 561. The Sisters of Charity,' who arrived in Mexico
City in 1843, supervised and staffed the municipal hospitals.'

239
The guidebooks list three priests assigned to the
23
Sagrario and one priest to each of the remaining parishes.
This was an absurdly insufficient number to attend to a popu
lation of 180,000. The "Libro de inscripcin," however, re
cords at .least one priest and a vicar assigned to twelve of
the parishes. Soledad de Santa Cruz, although lacking a
2 4
priest, possessed three vicars. San Antonio de las Huertas
possessed one priest but no vicars. More clergy actually
occupied themselves in parish work. A document from 1846
2 5
mentions seventeen priests assigned to the Sagrario. The
parish records show that clergy from the Mercedarian monas
tery and the mitre regularly performed duties in the smaller
- 26
parishes.
The random sample of the census of 1849 shows that
the clergy residing outside the convents amounted to 1 percent
of the adult male population. This percentage indicates the
presence of approximately 320 secular and regular clergy in
27
the capital. In 1841, however, members of the ayuntamiento
reported to Thompson that 2,800 secular and regular clergy
2 8
resided in the capital. Thompson's figure is probably
nearer the truth. Because of the growing hostility between
church and state, the Church had good reason to mislead
the compilers of guidebooks and the census takers.
In 1857 Edward Tylor reported that the Church owned
one half of the property of Mexico City and received an
income of ten million pesos a year. Were it evenly distri-

240
buted, he added, every cleric would receive one thousand pesos
2 9
annually. This was a popular notion of Church wealth
discredited by the research of Michael Costeloe and Jan
Bazant. During the Napoleonic wars, bankrupt Spanish Bourbons
had sequestered many Church properties and endowments. Al
though the Church, particularly the convents, owned con
siderable real property in Mexico City (presented in Table 32),
physical deterioration, the extensive failure of tenants to
pay rent, and illiquidity within the depressed economy limited
its practical value. Much of it also was pledged as
3 0
collateral to back the bonds of bankrupt regimes. After
1833 the government abolished the mandatory tithes that
were an important source of clerical income. Facing a
diminishing income, the Church perceived itself as waging a
constant struggle to maintain the traditional standards for
proper worship.
The straitened circumstances of the Church affected
the poor. Its inability to expand or repair buildings contri
buted to the depression of the construction industry that
3 l
lasted from 1824 to 1857. The Church reluctantly engaged
in charitable activities. After 1824 the hospital of the
Franciscan Terciaries was the only one funded and supervised
3 2
by a religious order. During the 1833 cholera epidemic,
the ayuntamiento asked the nunneries and monasteries to con
tribute money for relief. Not one responded. Only the
monastery of La Merced established an emergency hospital at

241
the request of the city. The mitre and the parishes also
3 3
established emergency hospitals. Although the archbishop
established a cholera hospital during the 1850 epidemic,
it could not have been a very large one. In the combined
dioceses of Mexico, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Michoacan, and
34
Chiapas, only 7,648 patients received treatment. Cholera
sickened 36,000 in Mexico City alone.
Education was the constitutional responsibility of
the ayuntamiento, but even Conservatives were of the opinion
that the establishment of schools by the nunneries and
monasteries would be just "recompense" for the property and
3 5
money that society had bestowed upon them. The religious
orders, however, did not view requests to establish schools
enthusiastically. In 1823 the office of the archbishop,
speaking for the convents, pled their poverty. The convents,
according to their defender, justified their existence by
performing acts of penance and mercy and by preparing young
3 6
girls to be good mothers or servants. Prodded by the anti
clerical regime of Gomez Farias (1833-1834), eight religious
orders established schools. Eight years later only five
existed. In 1842 the ayuntamiento complained that the re
maining schools were poorly advertised and inconveniently
located. That year the monastery of San Diego informed the
ayuntamiento that it was closing down its school. The con
vent, wrote its rector, was short on members, lacked trained
personnel, and did not wish to be submitted to the degradation

242
of secular visitation. Shortly afterward San Juan de la
3 7
Penitencia refused to establish schools on similar grounds.
The parishes of the city were under heavy financial
strain. Efforts to remain solvent focused upon the poor.
According to Mora, the greater part of Church tithes
supported the upper clergy who lived in idleness and luxury.
The parish priest, deprived of his fair share, depended
upon excessively high parish fees to fund worship and to
support himself. High marriage fees discouraged matrimony
and stimulated incontinency. The burial fee was the "worst
and most immoral" transaction. After the grief-stricken
family had exhausted its resources caring for the deceased,
the priest took advantage of the circumstances to charge
3 8
dearly for a Christian burial. The ayuntamiento reiterated
3 9
this charge when it banned parish burials in 1834.
The question of parish fees is more complex than
Mora would have it. The Church pursued an equivocal policy.
A pamphlet in 1840 admitted that the abolition of separate
schedules for whites, castes, and Indians following
independence had created confusion regarding proper charges.
To clarify matters it advised priests to charge the higher
fees formerly restricted to Spaniards but reprinted an edict
of 1721 ordering priests to provide free sacraments to the
poor. Since the pamphlet was advisory' in nature, compliance
40
was a matter of conscience.

243
In Mexico City marriage fees were excessive. The
priest of Santa Catarina Mrtir charged $6,6 for a wedding
a sum equivalent to a poor man's life savings. High illegiti
macy rates indicate that the poor did not marry in the Church.
Young men arrested for living with a woman without the con
sent of her parents usually pleaded that they "lacked suffi-
,, .41
cient resources for a marriage.
Baptismal and burial fees were reasonable. Baptisms
at Santa Catarina cost a minimum of one real, an extremely
low fee considering the seriousness of the charges leveled
42
against the Church. Table 33 shows the disproportionate
number of baptisms in the smaller parishes. The smaller
parishes of the city may have competed with the larger
parishes for baptismal revenues.
The smaller parishes charged low burial fees. Imme
diately after the city banned parish burials, six parish
priests complained to the ayuntamiento. They admitted their
total dependence upon burial fees but pointed out that the
charge was no more than four reals; the extremely poor
were buried without charge. The cost of burials at the
Panten of Santiago Tlatelolco, continued the priests, varied
from $4 to $8 because frightened cargadores charged extremely
high fees to carry bodies.. In the Sagrarlo, however, burial
fees were high, and the needy were denied free burial. When
the municipality investigated a complaint made against the
Sagrario in 1846, its notary grudgingly admitted that the cost

244
of maintaining seventeen priests necessitated high charges
43
and the discouragement of free burials.
The real villain of the burial-fee controversy was
the mitre itself. In 1846 the ayuntamiento rebuked it for
charging the families of prisoners who died in the municipal
hospitals a two-real burial fee. Since the families of the
deceased were destitute, the municipality requested that the
4 4
mitre "have the Christian charity" to provide free burials.
In 1849 Santa Paula, the cemetery of the hospital of San
Andres became the municipal cemetery. It charged a burial
fee of twelve reals. The complaint of Father Zarate of Santa
Catarina Mrtir against the cemetery reveals the incredibly
degrading conditions which the poor experienced. The gist
of Father Zarate's complaint was that Santa Paula refused to
accept the bodies of paupers. The hospital was so mean as
to return the bodies of abandoned infants to the parishes
where they had been discovered. The father wrote specifically
on behalf of one Manuel Buenrostro whom, contrary to municipal
and canon law, he had permitted to beg at the church doors
to collect his mother's burial fees. Although Buenrostro
collected nine reals, the cemetery refused his mother's
body. The lad staye-d begging at the church door for two more
days, the rotting body of his mother by his side, before
45
collecting the full sum.

245
It is strange how all the world over
mankind seems to expect from those
who assume religion as a profession
a degree of, superhuman perfection.
Their failings are insisted upon.
Every eye is upon them to mark what
soever may be amiss in their conduct.
Their virtues, their learning, their
holy livesnothing will avail them
if one blot, can be discovered in
their character. In the Catholic re
ligion, where more is professed, still
more is demanded, and the errors of
one padre or ecclesiastic seems to
throw a shade over the whole community
to which they belong.46
Fanny Calderon de la Barca's musings reflected the
generally poor reputation of the capital's regular clergy.
Mercedarian fathers labored tirelessly in the barrios, the
"pale nuns" in the declining convents led lives of "privation
and virtue," and after 1843 the Sisters of Charity won the
respect of the most anticlerical Liberals; but the antics
of a few scoundrels blackened the reputations of all. Tales
of monkish misconduct abounded. Based on his experiences in
Mexico City, Luis de Bellemar invented the fictional Fray
Sarapio. The picaresque friar, an inveterate gambler and
aficionado of the bull ring, hid when called upon to confess
4 7
the dying. The friar was imaginary, but monks like him
existed. Guillermo Prieto wrote of the Franciscan who sang
so sweetly that "he could melt rocks" and of the Mercedarian
who, attired as a rakish bandito, regularly quenched his
, . 4 8
thirst m the pulqueras. When a man was stabbed to death
near the monastery of San Francisco,, those seeking a confessor

246
inside of it discovered that all the monks save one who
was old and bed ridden were at home with their families or
49
fast asleep.
A scandal occurred in 1849 when the monks of the
monastery of San Agustn scrawled "convinced whores" across
the walls of the hospital of San Pablo, administered by the
highly respected Sisters of Charity. An investigation by
the ayuntamiento revealed that the Augustinians had been
holding nightly revels with lperos in the Plaza de San
Pablo. Their antics disturbed the hospital's patients, but
the abbess superior refused to complain in fear of creating
bad publicity for the city's religious. The abbess finally
protested after a monk entered the hospital under the decep
tion of confessing a sick patient and seduced a maid. Her
complaints to the rowdy monks were greeted with howls of
derision and a shower of rocks. Later they retaliated with
the obscenity. The apology of the Augustinian's elderly
5 0
prior, himself innocent, resolved the incident.
In 1848 Siglo Diez y Nueve published a complaint
against- the behavior of Padre Aguilar, the priest of an
unspecified parish who only resided in the capital on week
ends when he collected his fees and gave Mass. Poorly
guarded by a feeble-minded sacristan, the church fell as
an easy prey to thieves. The padre had even refused to
contribute $3 for the establishment of a school.51

247
TABLE 30
POPULATION OF PARISHES, CENSUS OF 1816
Sagrario 50,000
San Miguel 24,000
Santa Catarina 20,000
Santa Vera Cruz 8,000
San Jos 4,000
Santa Ana 6,000
Santa Cruz y Soledad 18,000
San Sebastian 6,000
Santa Maria 4,000
San Pablo 8,000
Santa Cruz Acatlan 4,000
Salto del Agua 6,000
Santo Tomas de las Palms 6,000
San Antonio de las Huertas 4,000
SOURCE: AACM, leg. 873, exp. 2.
TABLE 31
POPULATION OF NUNNERIES, 1861
Encarnacin
44
Santa Catalina de Sena
25
Concepcion
36
San Bernardo
23
Capuchinas
35
Santa Clara
22
Enseanza Antigua
35
Santa Teresa la Antigua
22
Regina
30
San Juan de la Penitencia
22
San Lorenzo
30
Santa Teresa la Nueva
21
Jesus Maria
29
Enseanza la Nueva
21
Santa Brigida
28
Corpus Cristi
19
Balvanera
27
Santa Ines
17
San Jeronimo
26
San Jos de Gracia
22
Santa Isabel
25
SOURCE: Antonio
Garcia
Cubas, El libro de mis recuerdos
(Me:
co, D.F., 1945) ,
p. 38.

248
TABLE 32
VALUE OF CORPORATE PROPERTIES IN THE CITY OF MEXICO, 1846
Corporation
Properties
Value
20 nunneries
1,024
$9,758,123
11 monasteries
193
1,307,645
Colleges
122
809,836
Congregations &
brotherhoods
157
1,231,984
Hospitals
96
1,067,076
Pious works
57
367,287
SOURCE: Jan Bazant, Alienation of Church Wealth in Mexico,
trans. Michael P. Costeloe (Cambridge, 1971) p. 94, Table 8.
TABLE 33
BAPTISMS, 1842
Parish
Population
Baptisms
Rate3
Sagrario
50,000
1,499
29.98
San Miguel
24,000
435
18.00
Santa Catarina
20,000
680
34.00
Santa Vera Cruz
8,000
605
75.00
San Jose
4,000
509
127.00
Santa Ana
6,000
159
27.00
Santa Cruz.y Soledad
18,000
763
42.00
San Sebastian
6,000
438
73.00
Santa Maria
4,000
178
45.00
San Pablo
8,000
603
75.00
Santa Cruz Actlan
4,000
60
15.00
Salto del Agua
6,000
511
40.00
Santo Toms de la
Palma
6,000
172
29.00
San Antonio de las
Huertas
4,000
39
10.00
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1816, AACM, tomo 873.
aPer thousand.

249
The conduct of Padre Aguilar was the exception.
Thompson, a pronounced anti-Catholic, wrote that one might
always expect charity at a priest's home. Mora, the
period's most noted anti cleric, penned this sympathetic
description of the parish priest and his duties:
A parish priest has no secure hour or
moment of rest, since he can be called
in less time than one thinks a con
siderable distance in the middle of
the strongest rains or the burning
rays of the torrid sun or the rigors
of the frigid zone to aid the sick.
He has to perform the burials, baptisms,
and marriages and prepare the certifi
cates for all of them, and he cannot
even, considering all this, rest on a
festival day which is under his
supervision. He works by necessity,
traveling hungry many leagues in order
to give Mass at points many miles apart.53
His earlier target of criticism was ecclesiastical funding,
not the parish clergy themselves.
The poor stood in awe of the clergy and their reli
gion. A colonial official wrote that when the archbishop
passed in his carriage, the plebe would remain kneeling for
54
minutes in a most humble and blind deference." The
parish clergy's influence among the poor was'so great that
the ayuntamiento asked them to publicize the 1825 smallpox
vaccination drive in its sermons.5J Clerical misconduct
did not diminish the respect of the poor for the regulars.
Bellemar wrote of Fray Sarapio:

250
Only the friar could walk carelessly
among the city's thieves and cutthroats,
and the slightest movement of his san
dal inspired more respect than the
rattle of the policeman's saber.
Like domesticated tigers, many
thronged to kiss the hand of Fray
Sarapio.5 6
When a priest walked by, carrying the Host, all passers-by
observed the "almost mandatory practice of genuflecting."
Protestant foreigners on their first visit to Mexico City
heard tales of the North American shoemaker who was murdered
5 7
when he refused to kneel.
The priest was the absolute authority on the word of
5 8
God. Thompson asked Mexicans of all classes if they
believed that the real body of Christ was present in the host.
They all replied that Christ's presence must be symbolic.
Then he gleefully informed them that their belief was at
variance with Catholic doctrine and to consult a priest if
they did not believe him. To the diplomat's disgust, the
Mexicans all replied that if the priest said it was so, then
5 9
despite their incredulity, it must be so.
The Eco de Comercio criticized the priest for en
couraging superstition.60 Juan Barquera accused him of
teaching a "dull and casuistic routine" when he could be
following in the footsteps of the immortal Hidalgo by teach
ing the "secrets of industry, art, and agriculture."61 Charges
against the parish clergy were to a certain extent justified.

Their manual in 1840 was the reprint of the seventeenth-
century treatise authored by Archbishop Palafox y Mendoza.
Reiterated on the last page were the priest's five main
duties. These were:
1. Preach and encourage Christian vir
tues .
2. Teach the ignorant the rudiments
of the faith to salvation and obe
dience to God and their parents.
3. Give Masses whenever tradition calls
for them and say them for free if
necessity demands.
4. Reside in the parishes.
5. On festive days have adults pray
aloud so that they will not forget
them. Make sure the adults know
the days of abstinence from meat,
, 9 ?
and count attendance at Mass.-
The priest worked as best he could with parishioners
who practiced the primitive folk Catholicism still common in
modern Latin America. His flock was obsessed with death
and the hope of the afterlife. In the barrios the people
attended church solely to pray for the souls of their dead
relatives. When burials in the parishes were banned, it
was impossible to find volunteers to maintain the church,
... . ,63
participate m processions, or care for the graveyards.
The efficacy of indulgences were taken for granted. Thompson
was astonished when his maid asked him for a $2 loan to pur
chase one that would free her mother from ten thousand years
6 4
of purgatory. His polite skepticism shocked her.

252
The worship of the saints was universal, sometimes
with results opposite from those which were intended. Thousands
flocked to the shrine of the Virgen de Guadalupe during the
smallpox epidemic of 1840the convalescents to beg relief,
the cured to give thanks, and the healthy to be spared. The
6 5
epidemic therefore spread to the healthy. At other times
the exploitation of the reverence for the saints approached
chicanery, at least from the point of view of Protestant
observers. When the rainy season failed to arrive, in 1827,
the mitre and the ayuntamiento cosponsored a procession of the
Virgen de los Remedios. Thornton remarked that since the
rainy season was certain to arrive within a few weeks or
66
even days, all would hail the efficacy of the procession.
It was true that the priest encouraged the peoples'
primitive theology to suit his own. ends. Fear of purgatory
increased attendance at Mass. Thompson's servant claimed
that he would spend seven thousand years in purgatory for
6 7
each Mass that he missed. The sale of indulgences and
parish burial fees was an important source of revenue. The
beliefs preceded the priest's exploitation of them-, and
until the educational level of the people was raised, they
would not disappear. Since public education was rightfully
the responsibility of the ayuntamiento, the priest cannot be
blamed for the ignorance of his flock.' To attempt to eradi
cate the beliefs on his own would almost certainly have led to
resistance and violence.

253
The parish clergy did try to promote public education.
In 1835 the priest of Santo Toms de la Palma repeated the
request, of his predecessor for the establishment of a municipal
school. His parish was a "good example of the school of
ignorance where thieves and murderers received their education."
Only four of his parishioners knew enough Christian doctrine
to participate in prayers. Such ignorance and poverty were
commonplace; all the parishes had "zealously" sought the
creation of municipal schools. He concluded that until educa
tion raised his flock from their "maltorpor and ignorance,"
6 8
their moral and theological training would be impossible.
The religion of the poor may also be interpreted
positively, for it gave meaning to the lives of people
menaced by a violent, ugly, and painful world. Luis G.
Cuevas, the proclerical, conservative historian, praised
the Church in 1850.
For the poor who are without schools,
without workshops, and often without
work to support life, the service that
the Mexican clergy has provided to the
nation is very greatmaintaining the
populations in a subordination that
would not have been possible without
the powerful.influence of religion.69

254
Recreation
The religious holiday was an important source of
recreation. Masons and aguadores celebrated the day of
Santa Cruz de Mayo by building altars at their fountains
and construction sites, exploding fireworks, and clanging
tamborines. On the twenty-fourth of June, the day of San
Juan, the male children of Mexico City donned costumes and
7 0
engaged in "wars between Christians and Moors. The day
of any saint, no matter how minor, was an important event
in the neighborhood of the parish, chapel, or convent that
7 1
choose to celebrate it. On the night before the celebra
tion, a group of boys carried placards displaying the saint
to be honored and, escorted by musicians, paraded around the
church and through the neighborhood distributing printed or
handwritten invitations. The priest accompanied them
collecting contributions. The next day the church was
splendidly decorated, and at night the church and all the
houses of the barrio were illuminated by candle light. The
Mass and the procession occurred later in the evening and
was followed by a fireworks display. In the fiesta atmos
phere, little boys ran about their comrades who. were lucky
enough to be carrying toritos (a wooden frame resembling a
bull, lined with firecrackers), and the entire neighborhood
filled with the cries of street vendors, the glare of light,
and the smoke of exploding fireworks. Later the neighbors

255
held dances in the streets or in the decorated patios of
7 2
vecindades.
The greatest series of religious celebrations
occurred during the Easter season. The carnival signaled
the Lenten feast. During the wild and vulgar street .parties
the poor dressed in fantastic costumes and pelted each other
73
with gourds filled with clay powder or pestilent water.
Before Holy Week there occurred three city-wide processions
of which that of the Paseo de la,Viga took on the character
7 4
of a holiday walk in the country. The city's excitement
reached fever pitch during Holy Week. Convents displayed
7 5
the life of Christ with their most treasured images.
The poor purchased metracas (rattles) representing the
bones of Judas and walked about the streets shaking them to
illustrate their intentions of breaking the traitor's
bones. During the processions the people rattled their
metracas and publicly humiliated effigies of Judas or
7 6
heretics. On Easter Sunday the populace poised for an
explosion of religious and less solemn exuberance. At the
Catedral a high Mass attended by the city's notables was in
progress. In the barrios every shop was open, and people
crowded the balconies of houses to watch the ensuing cele
bration. In the carriage shops, coachmen hurriedly put the,
finishing touches on the floats that were soon to be paraded
After the cathedral choir finished the in excelcis Deo, an
artillery salvo announced the resurrection of Christ. At

256
the sound of the salvo, the barrio surged with activity. The
floats entered the streets. Revelers set afire the effigies
of Judas or ran through the streets observing the ancient
77
practice of tying fireworks to dogs tails.
The religious celebrations possessed a rowdy and
vulgar character that religious and public authorities dis
liked. Drunken masons and aguadores celebrating the day of
Santa Cruz engaged in bloody brawls. The battls between
the Moors and the Christians degenerated into teen-age gang
7 8
wars. The ecclesiastical cabildo (council) noted "that
regularly during religious solemnities and particularly those
of Christmas, many of the 'gente popular' meet, animated by
a reprehensible joy, and above all by drunkeness, to make
7 9
terrible and lamentable abuses and excesses." Holy Week
celebrations became so disorderly that in 1836 a conservative
government banned portrayals of Moors, Saxons, Jews, cen-
turians, spies, and pharisees from the processions. A liberal
government, fearing that the rivalries of pro and anticlerical.
political factions would intensify the traditional disorder,
8 0
repeated the prohibition in 1857.
Luis de Bellemar's description of a lower-class
velorio (wake) demonstrates how an essentially religious
ceremony could be debased to almost nauseating vulgarity. In
the center of a small room lay the body of a child. It had
been there for several days and was beginning to decompose.
As the parents served food and drink, twenty guests diverted

257
themselves by gambling for piles of copper money that were
lying on the floor. The air was thick with smoke, alcoholic
fumes, and the stench of the cadaver. The father of the
deceased was pleased that his young son had become an angel
in heaven and also that his guests were enjoying themselves.
Only the mother appeared to be truly grief stricken. For
her "the angel taken to heaven could hardly replace the one
she had lost on earth." At 12:00 p.m. everybody kneeled for
prayers, and for the first time, Bellemar reflected, their
81
behavior suited the occasion.
The pulquera was the barrio's center of adult recrea
tion. Twenty-six licensed pulqueras existed in the city in
1826. Because of colonial regulations, most were located in
the barrios. The typical establishment was an immense shack
fifty yards.long by twenty yards deep, roofed with slate or
shingles and supported by pillars of wood or stone painted
8 2
red, green, or blue. Huge murals depicting the titanic
struggles of knights, matadors, or dragons decorated its
whitewashed rear wall. Broad, brightly painted barrels of
pulque, six feet in height and labeled with vulgar mottos,
stood in a long row at the rear of the building. At right
angles to the pulque barrels lay a long table holding
8 3
glasses, snacks, dice, and cards. Waitresses dressed as
chinas poblanas served the pulque with "large measures. The
8 4
men conversed or gambled as they drank. Outside under
broad awnings, men and women danced or sang to guitar music.

258
George Ruxton attended a fandango at one pulquera given by
arrieros recently arrived from Durango. At the fandango,
which later degenerated into a knife fight, variants of
the Moorish jarabe named "The Shoemaker," "The Little Tailor,"
8 5
or "The Swordsman" were performed. The great, test of the
jarabe dancers was to keep their bodies rigid from the waist
up while rapidly and erotically swaying their hips and
stamping their feet. To prove prowess, the more accomplished
dancers would balance a glass of water on their heads and
8 6
perform the dance without spilling a drop. The dances were
accompanied by erotic or bawdy lyrics. Those which accom
panied one dance extolled the virtues of pulque.
Sabe que es pulque
licor divino-o.
Lo beben los Angeles
8 7
el seren-o.
8 8
Gambling was popular recreation for all classes.
Men, women, and children played cards, dice, or rayuela (a
form of tic-tac-toe) in their homes, on the streets, and
8 9
even in the workshops. Cockfighting ranked second only
9 0
to bullfighting as a national passion. General Santa
Anna bred fighting cocks and held public cockfights attended
_ 91
by lperos. Seora de la Barca expressed surprise that
while in Europe and the United States only rogues attended
9 2
cockfights, the best families in Mexico favored the sport.

259
Although private gambling was illegal, Brantz Mayer reported
9 3
that hundreds of gambling halls operated daily.
The government's policy toward gambling was ambiva
lent. Public lotteries supported hospitals, the shrine of
9 4
the Virgen de Guadalupe, and the Academy of Fine Arts.
The festival held at San Agustn, twelve miles from Mexico
City, was a legalized three-day revel at which fortunes were
made and lost. All classes of Mexicans from the president
of the Republic to the lowest beggar diced, played cards,
and attended bull and cockfights. Tables designated for
gambling in gold, silver, or copper coins created a degree
of social segregation. The Mexican practice of saving for
a year in order to squander their money at the festival
9 5
disgusted the puritanical Thompson.
Bullfighting, the Mexican's first love, combined
pageantry, skill, and bravery with the passion for gambling.
A jamaica or monte parnaso always preceded the plebian
showings held in the larger plazas of the city and at the
Garita de Perravillo. The jamaica, a carnival-like accumu
lation of booths garlanded with flowers from which refresh
ments were sold,appeared in the plaza on the day of the
corrida. The monte parnaso, an artificial tree twelve to
fifteen feet high, festooned with brightly colored scarves
and packets containing small sums of money, stood in the
plaza's center. At the cry of "Toro! Toro!" the plaza was
cleared save for the daring young men who attempted to climb

260
the tree and pick the scarves and money. The noisy, swaying,
brightly-colored monte parnaso immediately caught the atten
tion of the bull. The men in the tree fighting each other
for the prizes ignored the beast. The climax of the event
came when the bull battered the tree and its occupants to
9 6
the ground to the amusement of the spectators.
Bullfights held in the Plaza de Toros were pompous
affairs. In the days of General Santa Anna, the general,
his staff, and his magnificently attired guards attended them,
and military bands playing operatic overtures serenaded the
assemblage of notables. Fanny Calderon de la Barca saw
nobility "in the roaring of the lord of lowing herds, the
skill of the riders, the gay dresses, the music, and the
9 7
agile matadorin short, the whole circumstances of combat."
Tylor, in contrast, found Mexican bullfights to be well below
the standards of Europe. He was, however, impressed by the
lazadores who "lazoed" the bulls by the horns and the coladores
9 8
who tossed charging bulls by their tails. All agreed that
the entire spectacle delighted the lperos who packed the
9 9
unshaded galleries.
The government sponsored bullfights in the belief that
l 0 o
the spectacles stimulated bravery and patriotism. Foreign
and Mexican critics of the sport believed that the "appeal to
animal lusts could only have undesirable consequences for
people so scarcely removed from an animal existence."101
Antonio Garca Cubas added that "it hardly helped the low

261
people to witness their superiors behaving as crudely as
,,10 2
they themselves.
Other public spectacles delighted the populace. The
ayuntamiento sponsored the flight of the French balloonist
Adolf Theodore in the Plaza de San Pablo. When the balloon
failed to rise, the disappointed spectators rioted and
pelted the flyer with trash and rotten fruit. In the same
plaza a businessman staged a fight between a tiger and a
bull. The poor, who identified the bull as a symbol of
national honor, cheered mightily when it gored to death a
i 03
confused and frightened tiger.
General Santa Anna catered to the mob with his tri
umphal celebrations. In November of 1833 he held a public
l 04
feast at the Ciudadela in full view of the poor. After
the inauguration of the Bases orgnicas in 1842, the general
treated the populace to a fiesta at the Alameda at which
l 05
sangra spurted from the fountains. Twenty thousand
viewed the burial of the general's first wife, a "magnifi
cent procession" that included all the dignitaries of the
Church, government, and army.106 Republican regimes also
diverted the public. After the capitulation of Puebla in
1855, the government celebrated its success with triumphal
l 07
entries, speeches, bullfights, and illuminations.
Jose Ramon Malo, a prominent conservative, called
the feast at the Ciudadela, held at a time of severe de
pression and hunger, an affront to the needy. As a

262
young man Niceto Zamacois witnessed Santa Anna's extrava
ganzas :
The brilliance of these fiestas fasci
nated the people who did not think,
but they were a bitter irony to the
people who suffered.109
Notes
Ruxton, p. 20. Salado Alvarez, pp. 135-36. La-
trobe, pp. 110-11.
2 ^
Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 1-136. Rivera Cambas,
tomos 1-2. Marroqu, tomos 1, 3, 5.
3
Poinsett, p. 139.
^Prieto (1948), p. 249.
5AACM, tomo 3676, exp. 4.
(> Thompson, p. 128.
?Prieto (1964), pp. 169-70.
8
Calderon de la Barca, p. 117.
9
Rivera Cambas, tomo 1.
10AGN, tomo 127, exp. 2.
^Gibson, pp. 378, 398. Marroqu, tomo 1, pp. 101-102.
12 ,
Alfredo Pina, Relacin descriptiva de la fundacin
de las iglesias y conventos de Mxico (Mexico, D.F., 1863).
13AACM, tomo 872, exp. 3.
4AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 37.
15AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 17.
16 Calderon de la Barca, p. 122.
17
Galvan Rivera, 1842. Almonte.
58AGN, tomo 127, exp. 2.
i 9
Many of the names inscribed in the "Libro" are anno
tated "deceased" with dates that indicate that the individual
serving in the office had completed a term of service.

263
Jos Mara Luis Mora, El clero, el estado, y la
economa nacional (Mxico, D.F., 1950).
21 #,
Almonte.
22
Mariano P. Cuevas, Historia de la iglesia en Mexico,
5 tomos (5to ed., Mxico, D.F., 1947), tomo 5, pp. 300-301.
Orozco y Berra, Memoria.
23
Galvan Rivera, 1842. Almonte.
~4AGN, tomo 127, exp. 2.
~5AACM, tomo 3673, exp. 37.
26
Mexico City, Filmoteca del Institute de Geneologica
y Heralda, rollos 0013, 1152, 1579, 1977.
?Male population = 43 percent of 180,000 = 77,000.
Adult male population = 40 percent of 77,000 = 32,000. One
percent of 32,000 = 230 + 800 nuns + 100 monks = 1,220.
2 8
Thompson, p. 198.
~9Tylor, p. 286.
30
Bazant, Alienation, p. 94. Michael P. Costeloe,
Church Wealth in Mexico (Cambridge, 1967).
31
Lopez Rosado, tomo 2, pp. 200-208.
32
Bazant, Alienation, p. 98.
3 3
AACM, tomo 3676, exp. 4.
3 4
Zamacois, tomo 13, pp. 377-78. Cuevas.
35AACM, tomo 2476, exp. 386.
36"Noticia de los conventos," p. 475.
3?AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 2479.
3 8
Mora, El clero, pp. 27-31.
AACM, tomo 3673, exp. 18.
4 0
Arancel para todos los curas del Arzobispado de
Mxico (Mxico, D.F., 1840).
41
AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Manuel Palacios, 2 febrero
1853."
42
Becerro.
43
The complaining parishes were Santa Catarina Mrtir,
Salto del Agua, San Pablo, San Sebastian, Santa Mara- la Re
donda. AACM, tomo 3673, exps. 15-37.
AACM,
tomo
2299,
exp.
39.
AACM,
tomo
3673,
exp.
42.

264
46 -
Calderon de la Barca, p. 259.
47Bellemar, pp. 9-12.
48Prieto (1964), p. 170.
t9Tylor, p. 287.
50AACM, tomo 302, "Actas de 12 septiembre 1849."
51
"Supplemento 190," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 8 diciembre
1848.
Thompson, p. 114.
5jMora, El clero, pp. 29-30.
54AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43.
5AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 37.
56Bellemar, pp. 9-12.
57
Ruxton, p. 47.
5 8
Barquera, pp. 16-17.
5 Thompson, pp. 108-109.
60"Pueblo bajo," p. 3.
61 Barquera, pp. 16-17.
6 2
Juan Palafox y Mendoza, Manual para la precisa,
pronta, y fcil administracin de los santos sacramentos
(Mexico, D.F., 1856).
63AACM, tomo 3673, exps. 25-26.
6 4 *
Ihompson, p. 42.
65Mayer, p. 143.
6 6'
Thornton, p. 54.
6 1
Thompson, p. 42.
68AACM, tomo 2478, exps. 25-33.
6.9
Cuevas, tomo 5, p. 47.
7AACM, tomo 3631, exps. 307, 291.
71Preto (1964), p. 190.
7Garca Cubas (1945), p. 284. Prieto (1964), p.
Prieto (1964), p. 190.
74Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 308-336.
7 5
Thompson.
76Tylor, pp. 49-50.
77Garc£a Cubas (1945), pp. 308-36. Mayer, p. 150.
Tylor, pp. 49-50.
190.

265
78AACM, tomo 3631, exp. 307.
. 79AACM, tomo 2266, exp. 6.
8Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 308-336.
81Bellemar, pp. 25-29.
8Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 220-27.
3Prieto (1964), pp. 48-49.
84 Garca Cubas (1945), p. 227.
85_ cc
Ruxton, p. 55.
86Prieto (1964), p. 241.
87
Ruxton, p. 55.
88
Liceo mexicano, tomo 1, p. 35.
8 9.
"El juego," Semanario. Artstico, 23 marzo 1844, p. 1.
Thompson, p. 231.
Prieto (1948), p. 105.
9 Calderon de la Barca, p. 272.
93
Mayer, p. 78.
4Wilson, p. 193.
95
Thompson, pp. 132-34.
96Bellemar, pp. 10-15.
9 7^ ^
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 274. Calderon de la Barca,
pp. 127, 271.
98Tylor, pp. 71-72.
9Mayer, pp. 28, 61. Tylor, pp. 71-72.
10Garca Cubas (1945), p. 274.
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 274. Calderon de la Barca,
p. 121. Mayer, pp. 26, 61.
10~Garca Cubas (1945), p. 274.
103Prieto (1964), p. 87.
l 04
Malo, tomo 1, pp. 83-84.
105Zamacois, tomo 12, p. 302.
i 06
Thompson, p. 53.
107
Tylor, p. 19.
108Malo, tomo 2, pp. 83-84.
109
Zamacos, tomo 12, p. 302.

CHAPTER SIX
CRIME, LAW ENFORCEMENT, JUSTICE
The evil is in the things. . The de
pression of business that causes the
horrible misery of which our people com
plain and the immorality that thanks to
the political revolutions has contami
nated every social class are the causes
of the robberies, quarrels, and murders
that are so frequently committed.
Ayuntamiento de Mexico, 1845
Crime
In 1844 the academicians of the Society of Geography
and Statistics complacently concluded that one criminal
existed for every 528 inhabitants and that one crime occurred
daily. They congratulated themselves, for this represented
a crime rate thirty times less than that of Paris, a city
i
three times as large as the capital of Mexico. The aca
demicians deluded themselves, for crime plagued the city.
Appendix P shows the crimes committed by convicted criminals
during 1825, 1842, 1851, and 1852. In 1842 six percent of
the entire population, or 8,861 persons, served prison terms
266

267
within the Acordada. Since the statistics exclude unsolved
or unreported crimes, the total number of crimes committed
must have been far higher.
Poor Mexicans committed the usual variety of crimes.
Private gambling was illegal because of its social conse
quences. "A gambler loves nothing, has no honor, has no
affections. Unhappy gambler! Unhappy children!" lamented
2
a contributor to the Liceo mexicano. The Semanario Artstico
complained that gambling ruined workshop discipline. Many
workers gambled away their wages in the shop. Addicted
gamblers in prisons and hospitals would wager away their
pay for months in advance and then starve themselves by
3
venturing their rations. The crime, however, was victimless
and an extremely popular mode of recreation. The ayuntamiento
did not seriously enforce the antigambling laws. The usual
treatment was to arrest gamblers on charges of vagrancy and
allow them to cool their heels in the municipal jail for
five to seven days. Magistrates released them after extremely
perfunctory trials. The municipality candidly admitted and
admirably defended its refusal to enforce the laws to the
national government.
In respect to gambling, the ayuntamiento
will only note that this vice is unfor
tunately so widespread in Mexico that one
must consider that the cards fall as often
on beautiful gaming tables as they do on
tattered blankets. What justice is there,
seor Prefect, to punish those who wager

268
four reals and not those that venture
ounces of gold? This is not a policy
of indifference on the part of the
ayuntamiento. The Prefecture should
lend it not only the physical but the
moral force to punish the rich and
the poor together.4
Robbery accounted for approximately one third of the
crimes committed annually. In every year for which there are
statistics, the sex ratio of male to female convicted thieves
was at least 2:1. The articles stolen in Cuartel Menor 17
were of small value. The most expensive theft was that of
thirty-six rebozos worth $13 pesos. Most stolen articles
were worth far less. Not even a tattered serape or a stone
metate used to grind corn were safe. Twenty percent of all
the ward's thefts occurred at work and were of tools or the
clothes of work mates. Most of the thefts occurred in the
unlocked rooms of the vecindades when the occupants were
absent or in the streets when the attention of the victims
was distracted. The robberies appear to have been motivated
by the desire to satisfy an immediate and basic need. Usually
the thief quickly pawned the stolen property or bartered it
directly for food or.drink. The rich were also the prey of
thieves. Tortoise-shell combs went out of fashion among the
upper-class ladies after mounted thieves imperiled their
wearers by galloping through the streets and wrenching them
from their wearers'heads.5

269
Quarreling (rias) with or without weapons was the
most common offense, accounting for 40 to 60 percent of the
crimes committed armually. Women were particularly prone to
this offense. Forty percent of all quarrels were committed
by women, and 62 percent of all crimes committed by women
were quarrels. In Cuartel Menor 17 over half of the fights
occurred between married couples, close relatives, or close
acquaintances. Sometimes the motives were rational or at
least understandable. An argument with husband or wife over
household expenses, a dispute over a delinquent loan, or a
hasty insult by a close friend would inevitably result in a
fist fight.. At other times the violence was senseless. An
innocent passer-by was waylaid in the streets by a drunken
mob of men and women and knocked senseless with iron pipes.
Two drunken women engaged in a violent quarrel burst into
a carpenter's shop and slashed the well-meaning proprietor
as he tried to separate them.
Fighting with weapons easily resulted in murder. Am
bassador de la Barca witnessed one from his balcony while
taking coffee with his guests.
These gentlemen had for some time ob
served below some men and women of the
lower class talking and apparently amus
ing themselves, sometimes laughing and
other times disputing and giving each
other blows. Suddenly one of the number,
a man, darted out from amongst the others
and tried to escape by clambering over
the low wall which supports the arches
of the aqueducts. Instantly and quite

270
coolly, another man followed him, drew
his knife, and stabbed him in the back.
The man fell backward with a groan,
upon which a woman of the party, probably
the murderer's wife, drew out her knife
and gave the wounded man three or four
stabs to the heart to finish him; the
others meanwhile neither speaking nor
interfering, but looking on with folded
arms and their usual placid smiles of
indifference.6
Every day murdered bodies produced by similar brawls lay
spread-eagle upon the Acordada's grate awaiting identifi
cation. The available statistics do not reflect the amount
of murder that actually occurred. In 1842, for example,
the courts condemned eighty-seven murderers. The police,
however, collected 113 dead bodies from the streets and
7
sent 894 seriously wounded individuals to the hospitals.
The wealthy fell victim to murderous thieves. On
the night of March 29, 1850, a servant discovered Juan de
Dios Caedos, a respected congressional deputy, brutally
stabbed to death in his room. Some whispered that a politi
cal vendetta inspired the crime. The murderer turned out to
8
be a former servant who had killed the old man for his watch.
Foreigners were frequent targets of deadly assaults. A
soldier slew an American Protestant shoemaker for failing
to genuflect as the Host,passed by. Later, lperos despoiled
his grave. Thieves murdered the Swiss consul, a wealthy
9
dealer in parchment, for the contents of his strongbox.
During the Revolution of .1841 a squad of soldiers robbed a

271
factory, murdered its French owner, and abused the women of
the household.10 Most foreigners accepted the notion that a
mixture of greed and religious intolerance motivated the
attacks. Charles Latrobe who visited Mexico City in 1833
interpreted the violent anti-foreignism as an expression of
. . . 11
lower-class resentment against the foreign artisan.
In Cuartel Menor 17 crime lacked any marked seasonal
periodicity. Serious crime waves accompanied every
revolutionary or military crisis when the attention of the
. 12
authorities was diverted. During the 1822 occupation of
the capital by the Army of the Three Guarantees, twelve
13
thousand murders occurred. The troops sent to the capital
to restore order in the wake of the 1828 Revolution of the
l 4
Acordada openly robbed and assaulted civilians. A great
outburst of criminal activity occurred during the North
American occupation (September 1847 to June 1848). Zama-
cois at first blamed the crime on the North American
soldiers but, after reading a report by the governor of the
Distrito Federal, admitted that the crime possessed a deeply
rooted indigenous aspect that could not be explained away
by revolution or foreign military occupation.15 Crime waves
in fact occurred in relatively tranquil periods. In 1825 and
1843 the army patrolled the streets and administered justice
1 6
in an effort to control the rising tide of crime. In
October 1845, criminal activity reached such proportions
that "honest citizens were ready to abandon civilized society
to join the better-organized society of the criminals."17

272
The government viewed with "horror the portion of
robberies, murders, and scandals . that have been com
mitted ... in the center of the capitalmany of them before
,,18 ,
the first authorities of the Rebpulic. The period s legis
lation reflected the official dismay.
The Republic re-decreed colonial legislation banning
l 9
the carrying ofarms. A government circular, also of colo
nial origin, cautioned doctors that although they must report
all wounds resulting from quarrels, their first duty was to
the medical and spiritual welfare of the patient. The circular
consequently advised the doctors on methods that would rapidly
staunch the flow of blood so that they could rapidly summon
20
both priest and police. Another decree ineffectually
ordered locks placed in every room and a watchman assigned to
every house of the city in order to thwart an epidemic of
2 l
robberies..
The people appeared superficially indifferent to the
crime. Seora de la Barca commented that murders occurred
so frequently that the one witnessed by her husband excited
2 2
little comment from his Mexican guests. In the Plaza de
la Constitucin, thieves robbed and left for dead a man in
the presence of numerous witnesses who ignored the entire
proceeding. The police located in a post across the square
were aware of the crime but did not bother to come to the
. 23
victim s aid. At the corner of the convent of Santa Cata
rina de Sena and the college of San Idlefonso, thieves attacked

273
an army officer in front of witnesses and them moved with im
punity to another street. Siglo Diez y Nueve, the reporter
of the incident, expressed outrage that the same people who
witnessed the crime passed the thieves at their new post
24
and did not raise a warning. On the heavily traveled
Paseo Bucareli at 5:00 p.m., highwaymen held up several youths
2 5
one by one in full view of the Paseo's usual promenaders.
In 1841 Siglo Diez y Nueve, following the precedent
set a decade earlier by Sol and Themis, published the names
of convicted criminals in an effort to heighten the literate
public's awareness of crime." The newspaper's efforts were
unnecessary, for the psychology of the upper classes had
already been affected by the sea of crime that engulfed them.
"In the periodicals, in the cafes, in the private houses,
one hears complaints of assaults or fears of being assaulted
as if there was not a single authority with the obligation to
prevent crime," complained the governer of the Distrito Fede-
2 7
ral. Joel Poinsett's porter rebuked him for walking the
2 8
streets at night unarmed. Thornton, however, reported
that although crimes occurred frequently, a gentleman might
2 9
take a nightly stroll without his sword. Before leaving
their houses to attend Mass or large public spectacles, the
wealthy normally inspected each other to insure that all
their valuables remained at home. They also maintained large
3 o
dogs to protect themselves and their property. The dogs,
trained to attack any stranger in a serape, themselves became

274
a public menace when they were allowed to roam the streets
unguarded.^
A professional criminal class existed. Its elite
consisted of men of "fine education and a facade of decency"
3 2
who were in reality thieves and robbers. Gentlemen-turned
highway-robbers periodically augmented the ranks of the elite.
3 3
One part-time road agent was an aid of General Santa Anna.
In the barrios well-armed and mounted gangs led by leaders
bizarrely named "The Chicken," "Banana," "Bugler," or "Cream-
puff" terrorized the poorer residents. Headquartered at
sleazy pulqueras, they cavorted and met with local merchants
whose stores served as arsenals and warehouses of stolen
goods. The influence of the merchants protected the criminals.
The residents of Cuartel Mayor 8 refused to join a posse
hunting a well-known thief, claiming that their efforts
would be useless because the thief knew how to use his money
and had friendships with many merchants. Residents of the
same cuartel refused to join another posse because they did
not wish to make enemies of the thieves and expose themselves
3 4
to insult and murder.
There was also ample scope for the ingenuity of the
individual criminal. In the 1850s the city was afflicted
by the ensebados (greased ones): men naked and smeared with
grease who waylaid people on the streets, robbed them, and
murdered those who resisted. Others, mounted and hiding in
dark alley-ways, .lassoed likely looking passers-by, towed

275
them into alleys, and robbed them at leisure. Crime
paid handsome dividends. One eighteen-year-old thief had
accumulated a hoard of three hundred silver pesos before his
36
arrest.
Despite the presence of the professionals, the sheer
dimensions of criminal activity is sufficient proof that
most of the crime was committed by the poor, upon the poor.
Some reasons for lower-class criminality will now be dis
cussed .
Alcoholism was rampant among the general population.
Mexican consumption of alcohol surpassed that of France and
3 7
England. The Semanario Artstico wrote,
It is the most heartbreaking spectacle
and unworthy of humanity to see a father
and mother drunk in the middle of the
night in their room whose door they
cannot open with their trembling hands
when one is aware that outside the door
there is a small child who cannot give
them any help and who is forced to sleep
on a cold doorstep. And we will say of
that father that the following day and
every day after that, he will give to
his wife and child a bit of atole and
some bread crusts so that he may squander
his wages at the wine shop.88
In 1845 a police official estimated that over six thousand
people would be jailed overnight and fined for drunkeness
, 39
during the course of the year.

276
A temperance advocate wrote that alcoholism was the
beginning of a chain whose links were "sickness, brutishness,
,,4 0
misery, vice, and crime. The criminal records confirm
his opinion. Over 40 percent of all criminals arrested in
1851 committed offenses while intoxicated. In Cuartel Menor
17 many criminals stole simply to purchase enough pulque or
aguardiente for a good drunk. Twenty-five percent of all
those arrested for quarreling within the cuartel admitted
that they had been intoxicated at the time of the incident.
The pulqueras were unpopular with the authorities.
The behavior of its customers offended the public decorum.
Almost naked men thrown across the gal
leries of the pulqueras. Habitual revels
of drunks who blaspheme and in no way have
the behavior or continence of the honest
persons that pass by. Saucy, brutal, and
filthy women who with disheveled clothes
and exaggerated shouts attract the atten
tion of young people of both sexes that
pass nearby is a small portrait of what
this class of establishment presents.41
The Monitor Constitucional printed a frequently re
curring complaint when it stated that the pulqueras were the
"seedbeds of the major crimes, for there is not a fight,
scandal, robbery, wound, or death" that could not be traced
, 42
to them. At times the city considered reducing their num
bers and concentrating the remainder in the center of the
43
city. Nothing came of these schemes. The temperance

277
advocate offered one reason for their rejection. Although
recognizing the merits of reduction and centralization, he
decided that because' pulqueras were so frequently the center
of revolutionary disorders, it would be better to let them
4 4
remain scattered on the fringes of the city.
Public laws strictly regulated the pulqueras and
the hundreds of small pulque shops scattered throughout
the city. They could be no higher than one story with
counters nailed across the doors to prevent the entrance of
customers. To further discourage customer access, chairs,
tables, and the sale of food were forbidden on the premises.
The customers could not play cards or pawn possessions to
pay for drinks. The owners were to prevent their customers
from relieving themselves in nearby doorways. Since the
ayuntamiento first issued their regulations in the late
colonial period and reissued them in 1825, 1831, and 1845,
there is little reason to believe that the public ever ob-
45
served them.
The government and most educated Mexicans believed
that vagrancy was the cause of crime. A full examination of
the municipality's efforts to eradicate vagrancy illustrates
that unemployment and underemployment were at the heart of
vagrancy and petty theft.
The vagrancy code of the republic was a compilation
46
of laws dating from 1745. Table P-2 lists the twenty-one
types of behavior that the code classified as criminal vagrancy.

278
These may be separated into two broad classes of behavior.
The first group were immoral actions like maltreating one's
wife, gambling, drinking, or disgracing one's parents. The
second and more important group was behavior that reflected
the willful refusal of able-bodied men to engage in regular
and productive work. The premises that opportunities for
productive employment were abundant and that idleness was
a personal moral flaw were implicit in the code.
The target of the vagrancy code was. the enormous
population of lperos. The governor of the Distrito Federal
lectured the ayuntamiento that the "total idleness" of the
vagrants "could only be the mother of other vices and will
oblige them to solicit their sustenance by illicit and repro-
4 7
bate means." At the very least they were a public nuisance
setting a poor example for youth by loitering in rowdy groups,
insulting respectable citizens, gambling, and filching goods
48
from the stalls of merchants. At their worst their drunkea
brawls produced the bodies found daily in the streets and
, 49
vacant lots.
The ayuntamiento struggled continuously against the
vagrants who periodically "flooded" or "infested" the capital.50
The Tribunal de Vagos established in March of 1828 was the
municipality's chosen weapon.51 The procedure of the Tribunal
varied over the years but was always intended to provide a
fair trial for the suspected vagrant. In 1828 alcaldes and
regidores (elected members of the ayuntamiento) sitting in

279
rotation conducted the proceedings. The city sndico (notary)
acted as both prosecutor and defense attorney. In the first
stages of the trial, the Tribunal read the formal charges
against the accused and allowed him to refute them. Written
and oral testimony for and against the accused appeared at
later stages. Because the collection of testimony often
took long periods of time, suspected vagrants could pass as
many as four months in jail before their trials were completed.
Laws passed in .1845 made the release of the accused mandatory
if evidence could not be presented against him within five
a 52
days.
A convicted vagrant faced four years of military
service, colonization in California or Texas,, or imprisonment.
He had recourse to an appeals court that could revoke, con-,
5 3
firm, or moderate his sentence within three days. Although
the law specified that the appeals court would consist of the
regidores and three neighbors, in practice only the city
officials heard the appeals. No convicted vagrant appealed
a verdict after 1834.
Believing its proper function to be the determination
of vagrants, the Tribunal resisted the efforts of the national
government to transform it into its chief source of military
conscripts. Angered by the resistance, the national govern
ment terminated the Tribunal on the eve of the Mexican-American
War and gave the authority to condemn vagrants to the magis
trates of the lesser courts. The law that terminated the

Tribunal expressly forbade the municipal sndico from inter-
5 4
fering in any way with the decisions of the judges. About
1850 the Tribunal resumed its operations as an appeals board
for the decisions of the alcalde de cuartel (unpaid official
of a cuartel mayor).
Thousands of suspects paraded before the Tribunal.
The police commonly collected suspects in mass arrests that
netted every idler in the pulqueras and the streets. The
ayuntamiento's first effort to enforce the vagrancy code
netted three hundred suspects in a single night.55 Most of
these were released without charge after a few days in jail.
The police, however, arrested only 17 percent of the suspects.
The alcaldes auxiliares (appointed officials of cuarteles
menores) arrested the remainder at the request of irritated
neighbors, relatives, or wives. Table 34 lists the complaints
that most commonly resulted in an arrest for vagrancy. Twenty-
nine percent of the suspects were arrested on suspicion of
vagrancya rubric that included loitering in the streets,
wife beating, and irritating one's neighbors; 28 percent were
arrested for robbery; and 17 percent, for gambling.
Considering the numerous complaints against the vagrants
and the ayuntamiento's determination to expunge them, the
amazing facet of the Tribunal's history was that it found
only 18 percent of the suspects guilty.' Another 6 percent
were released in the custody of employers, or parents. These
were in general disobedient adolescents, wayward apprentices,

281
or young journeymen whose conduct reflected the rambunctious
ness of youth rather than vagrancy.
One reason for the low conviction rate was the failure
of the alcaldes auxiliares to provide the Tribunal with suffi
cient evidence. Lacking the time to collect written deposi
tions or track down witnesses, the alcaldes frequently supplied
the court with only briefly worded declarations. The magis
trates made the mandatory legal presumption that the lack of
unfavorable testimony indicated that the suspect was of good
56 .
moral character and released him. The principal reason for
the low conviction rate, however, was that the magistrates,
sincerely desiring to root out vagrancy, scrupulously investi
gated the suspect's background and found little basis for con
viction. Fifty-three percent of the suspects produced
witnesses that included friends, employers, and alcaldes
auxiliares to testify on their behalf. Almost all produced
written depositions, apparently genuine, from former employers
and auxiliares, praising their industry and character. Against
the favorable testimony, the judges usually possessed only
the brief declaration of the arresting official. Civilian
witnesses for the prosecution were present in only 13 percent
of the cases.
Wife beaters, drunkards, gamblers, and neighborhood
rowdies filled the Tribunal's dockets. Provided that they
showed evidence of employment, the Tribunal was reluctant to
condemn them to the rigors of military service or colonization.

A'conviction-prone suspect possessed a criminal record, was
usually arrested during a criminal act, lacked convincing
proof of past or present employment, and received detailed
and extremely unfavorable testimony from the arresting offi
cial that was corroborated by responsible civilian witnesses.
The following are two examples of the men condemned
as vagrants. Juan Torres appeared before the Tribunal
charged with trying to sell a stolen purse and pistol in the
Plaza del Volador. He described himself as a weaver who
worked as a vendor of blankets when work was scarce in his
proper trade. For witnesses he produced wholesalers who
gave the court the impression that they were purveyors of
stolen property. Testifying against Torres was the market's
administrator and a group of reputable stall holders. On
the basis of their testimony, the judges condemned Torres.
When Dionesio Guerrero completed a prison term for robbery,
the director of the Acordada marched him to the Tribunal.
He claimed to be a used-clothes peddler but could not present
proof of employment or a single witness during the two
weeks allowed him. After waiting another week, the Tribunal 1
condemned Guerrero.57
The failure of the Tribunal to condemn a significant
number of vagrants indicates that the vagrancy code was ill-
suited to the social and economic reality of Mexico City.
Its colonial originators intended it to force the labor of
Indians and mestizos within the Spanish sector of the economy.

283
TABLE 34
COMPLAINTS AGAINST SUSPECTED VAGRANTS
Complaint %
Vagrancy 29
Attempted robbery 28
Gambling 16
Drunkeness 4
Quarreling 5
Mistreatment of wife 5
Incontinence 2
Disobedience to parents 2
Unspecified 7
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
4151-4158.
TABLE 35
UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG SUSPECTED VAGRANTS
Occupation
Unemployment Rate
Within Occupation
% of Total
Unemployed
Construction laborer
21%
6
Carpenter
20
6
Baker
20
3
Weaver
11
4
Wax chandler
20
2
Servant
19
3
Sweet maker (vendor)
20
1
Shoemaker
11
14
Tailor
17
10
Reason Unemployed
Sickness 32%
Scarcity of work 22
Recent arrival 15
General unemployment rate 15%
Artisanal unemployment rate 15%
Unskilled unemployment rate 16%
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
4151-4158.

284
TABLE 36
SUSPECTED VAGRANTS WITH TWO OR MORE OCCUPATIONS
Occupational Group
% Group
.% Total Requiring
Additional Trades
Construction laborers
38
11
Coachmen
27
3
Tailors
21
8
Weavers
25
9
Street peddlers
71
12
Shoemakers
11
11
Servants
56
6
Favorite Additional Occupations
Domestic service 13%
Street peddler 8
Shoemaker 7
Weaver 7
Cargador 1
General Category of Additional Occupations Chosen
by Artisans and Unskilled
Artisans 27% Unskilled 73% Artisanal
Unskilled 57 Artisanal 43 Unskilled
General percentage 23%
15% of all suspected artisans
37% of all suspected unskilled
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
4151-4158.

285
TABLE 37
SUSPECTED VAGRANTS UNABLE TO SUPPORT FAMILIES
Occupational Group
% Group
% Total
Street peddlers
42
16
Leather workers
25
3
Bakers
20
3
Tailors
19
11
Coachmen
18
2
Blacksmiths
17
2
Cargadores
16
2
Construction laborers
14
7
Shoemakers
12
16
Weavers
8
3
General percentage 15%
Artisans 14%
Unskilled 19%
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
4151-4158.

286
Its supreme irony was that unemployment and underemployment
was rampant in the republican capital. Although the owners
of public workshops constantly complained of the shortage of
skilled and dependable workers, they were not referring to
5 9
the unemployed lperos who loitered outside their shops.
The Tribunal sentenced only 24 percent of the vagrants to
forced labor, and it placed these in the bakeries.
The records of the Tribunal give an idea of the
extent of unemployment and underemployment among the artisans
and unskilled laborers. Unemployment is defined simply as
the lack of work. Fifteen percent of those arrested for
vagrancy were unemployed at the time of arrest. Table 35
shows that extremely high rates of unemployment prevailed
among construction laborers, bakers, wax chandlers, carpen
ters, and servants.
Underemployment was a far greater problem. In con
trast to unemployment, underemployment signifies the lack of
economically productive work rather than its total absence.
Two indicators of it appeared in the records: the inability
of a suspect to support his family and the suspect's posses
sion of two or more occupations. Recognizing that many both
could not support their families and held two or more occu
pations, the two indicators will be analyzed separately to
give a more precise view of the problem.
Twenty-three percent of all vagrancy suspects
supported themselves by two or more trades. Table 36 shows

287
that large percentages of street peddlers, servants, and
construction laborers possessed multiple trades. Table
36 also shows that domestic service and street vending were
the most common alternate trades. The popularity of the
already impoverished trades as alternate occupations is
evidence of extremely limited opportunities for productive
employment. Fifteen percent of the suspects stated that
they were unable to support their families at their present
trades. Table 37 shows that street merchants, tailors,
bakers, and coachmen were the most common occupational
groups represented.
The men who loitered in the streets or pulqueras
between odd jobs were the lperos, populacho, or vagrants of
the capital. Juan Barquera described how unemployment swiftly
drove a man to crime and to alcoholism.
During illnesses or unemployment, the
worker quickly exhausts his meager
sources of credit. He then watches
his children starve or die of incurable
diseases. Living chronically in hunger,
the father will resort to robbery and
force his wife and daughter to become
prostitutes. Afterward he will deliver
himself to drunkeness to escape his con-
60
science.
Dishonesty was inherent in marginal employment. Many
rinconeras earned barely enough to survive. The bitter letter
of the shoemaker Jose Hernandez, which is quoted in Chapter

288
One, reveals the lowliness of these men. Their poverty fre
quently drove them to crime. Rafael Ibanez sold the clothes
entrusted to him for mending in order to eat and pay rent.
Moved by his pleas, the authorities and his neighbors per-
6 i
mitted him to remain free. Another tailor stole his room
mate's savings of $6 in order to make the trousers that his
6 2
customers had ordered.
A successful peddler required as little as $6 of work-
63
mg capital to operate his business. Because of its low
capital requirements, street vending lured its share of the
down and out-. A small supply of wood or access to chicken
feathers were all that were needed to transform unemployed
shoemakers into manufacturers and vendors of small boxes or
6 4
feather dusters. Enterprises of this type provided a man
with a degree of respect but earned little. Mariano Aguilar,
for example, an unemployed tile maker, used a working capital
of two reals to vend fruit. His daily profit of five or
six eighths of a real was insufficient to maintain himself
65
or his wife. Aguilar and men like him survived by mixing
legitimate commerce with crime. Aguilar was arrested for
petty theft. The box vendor sold his wares and burglarized
66
the unguarded houses that he chanced by. The dishonesty of
the peddlers brought the scrutiny of the police upon the
profession. A law of 1834 required men describing themselves
as merchants to prove their occupations by showing their
wares or place of work. Self-described brokers were to show
. , 67
their account books.

289
The surliness of the cargadores might be explained by
their backgrounds. Many of them worked at the trade be
cause of unemployment in their regular profession. Typical
of the part-time cargador was Rafael Avila, a mason who worked
6 i
as a cargador whenever he could find no work at construction.
Others were orphan boys like Francisco Acala who stole the
6 9
goods his customers entrusted to him for delivery.
The professional cargadores resented the influx of newcomers,
and street-corner fights between them and over customers were
70
frequent.
The authorities attempted to insure the honesty and
orderliness of the cargadores with a series of strict regula
tions issued in 1851. These required that all cargadores be
bonded and assigned to a specific zone under the supervision
of an appointed foreman. No cargador with a criminal record
would be licensed, and the commission of a crime by a licensed
cargador would result in the forfeiture of his license. If
the cargador worked for a commercial establishment, he was
the legal responsibility of his employer. The law forbade
adolescents or young men to enter the trade. Youngsters
employed before the regulations went into effect were to be
rounded up and apprenticed to a skilled craft. Only the
71
aged or infirm were permitted to become cargadores.
Dishonesty was a serious problem among domestic ser
vants. Petty thieves commonly found employment on household
7 2
staffs. The De la Barcas unwittingly employed a chronic

290
gambler wanted for robbery and a kitchen maid who stole $50
7 3
from the housekeeper. The carelessness with which employers
gave references to servants whom they had discharged for
dishonesty worsened the problem. Public authority sought
to insure the honesty of the household staff. A law of
1834 required all servants to carry a passbook showing em
ployment history, present employment, and salary. It for-
7 4
bade the employment of those lacking passbooks. The
Inspectorate of Servants and Domestics, founded in 1846, for
bade employers under pain of fine to hire servants lacking
75
its accreditation.
The literate public was aware that underemployment
and unemployment were closely connected to crime. Gabriel
Ferry wrote that because there existed few opportunities
for employment, there was little wonder that, part of the
lower classes found life in the Acordada prison acceptable
and even cheerful because it was a refuge offering food
and shelter. One of his characters, a lpero, abandoned a
life of crime when after a year's search he obtained em
ployment as a cargador.1^ In June of 1848 Siglo Diez y Nueve
warned that if the government did not press the unemployed
7 7
into the National Guard, they would become thieves.
The authorities knew that periods of vagrancy and
crime coincided with economic depression. Correspondence
ordering the press gangs to the barrios in 1827 discussed
the need of pressing "all vagrants and those who lacked

291
craft or occupation into military service." The governor of
the Distrito- Federal smugly justified the impressment of the
unemployed as a means of "putting the multitude of people
without occupation," but who were "sufficiently robust, to
useful work," removing them from the pulqueras and other
7 8
"pernicious places" that they inhabited. In February of
1829 he complained to the ayuntamiento that
the city is full of vagrants either
because the Tribunal has failed to
act in the past months or because
the circumstances have placed many
persons without having objects
to consecrate their labor.
The intent of the Tribunal de Vagos was to spare the
poor, whether employed or unemployed, from impressment while
ridding the city of vagrants. Its magistrates kept faith
with its goal, sparing the unemployed or partially employed
but condemning the truly idle. The seemingly contradictory
situation exists, however, that while all were aware that
unemployment and underemployment were the roots of vagrancy
and crime, all held that vagrancy defined as a personal, moral
vice caused crime. Regidor Manuel de la Cadena, who per
sonally led antivagrancy patrols, clearly stated the ambi
valent position in a report to the government of the Distrito
Federal after making'his first patrol. No one who had ever
lived in the barrios of Santa Ana and El Carmen, wrote the

292
regidor, would ever deny that the capital possessed vagrants.
In the barrios under his supervision, however, the artisans
had "very few manufactures with which to occupy themselves
and, sometimes none at all." The regidor did not wish to
persecute "weavers and silversmiths who when arrested
claimed truthfully that they did not work because they had
nothing with which to occupy themselves." He requested gui
dance from higher authority that would resolve the "inex-
8 U
plicable conflict."
The government's response to the reports of regidor
Cadenas and other officials was to ignore them and demand
that they supply a steady stream of suspects to the Tribunal
81
de Vagos. The auxiliares complied ingenuously by arrest
ing innocent strangers. The Tribunal always released men
8 2
arrested in such a fashion for lack of evidence.
It is puzzling but understandable that nineteenth-
century Mexicans believed in the existence of a large class
of criminal vagrants while knowing that unemployment and
underemployment resulted in vagrancy and crime. Their faith
was similar to that of modern North Americans asserting that
freeloaders clutter the welfare rolls. Both beliefs could
not sustain close examination. The government of the Distrito
Federal, solely concerned with the fight against crime and
the procurement of soldiers, was so far removed from daily
contact with the poor that it could delude itself with the
myth of vagrancy. The magistrates of the Tribunal de Vagos

293
and the men who enforced the laws were less fortunate. Their
daily contact with the poor brought them face to face with
the vagrants true identity. Although they paid lip service
to the myth, they refused to convict the unemployed or under-
employed.
The universal violence of lower-class behavior is a
phenomenon for which modern social scientists have failed to
provide a definitive explanation. It is reasonable to sus
pect, however-, that physical and psychological frustration
resulting from crowding, economic deprivation, hunger, and
pain played the same role in motivating the violence of the
nineteenth-century Mexican barrio as it does in the slums of
twentieth-century cities. The violence of the poor also
followed the pattern of society. The upper classes dueled
among themselves to avenge personal insults and resorted to
violent revolution to settle political disagreements. The
consensus of contemporary opinion was that the revolutions
were the height of irresponsible violence. The July 1840
cannonade between the Palacio Nacional and the Ciudadela
slew nearly two hundred innocent civilians. Not all fell
victim to wayward cannon balls. Soldiers of both factions
stationed in the towers of the churches and convents amused
themselves by sniping at pedestrians searching the streets
8 3 *
for provisions. Many of the wounded were horridly maimed.
The following is a description of one victim unlucky enough
to survive.

294
Amongst the patients is an unfortunate
child of eight years who, in the pro-
nuncimiento, had been accidentally
struck by a bullet which entered her
left temple and came out her right eye.
The ball was extracted, and a portion
of the brain came out at the wound.
She is blind, or nearly so, having but
a faint glimmering of light. They say
she will probably live, which seems
impossible. She looks like a galvanized
corpse, . yet must have been a
pretty child.84
The violence of nature surpassed that of society.
Medical experts describe cholera as an unnerving disease
8 5
whose symptoms are revolting. He who witnessed the
snuffing out of fifty-eight hundred lives during the three
weeks of August 1833 would hardly view the casualties of
the 1840 pronuncimiento or the "murderous brawls of the
half-breeds" as a perversion of the natural order of the
universe.
The ayuntamiento most succinctly stated the relation
ship between lower-class criminality and the pattern of the
entire society when it responded to accusations that its
inertia and indifference were responsible for the October
1845 crime wave. After listing the obstacles that faced
law enforcement and the hypocrisy of penalizing the poor for
gambling or keeping their children from school, the municipal
sndico concluded that the true cause of "the evil is in the
things." In the

295
depression of business that causes the
horrible misery of which our people
complain and in the immorality that,
thanks to the political revolutions,
has contaminated every social class
are the causes of the robberies, quar
rels, and murders that so frequently
are committed.86
Law Enforcement
The policing of Mexico City was notoriously ineffi
cient. Although the first decades of the independence period
witnessed numerous proposals for the establishment of a large
professional police force, it was not established until 1879.
Until that time the police force consisted of some twenty-
five celadores (municipal policemen) and a few dozen market
8 8
guards armed with sabers. This force was effective in the
areas that it patrolled, but was too small to police the
entire city. Security duties were supposed to be shared
with the 350-strong, paramilitary public security corps under
the command of the government of the Distrito Federal, but
that force was uncooperative and frequently in conflict with
municipal authorities. The ayuntamiento once complained that
its existence hindered rather than helped effective law en-
c 8 9
forcement.
Lacking an efficient professional police force, the
full brunt of law enforcement and civic administration fell
upon the unpaid alcalde. The ayuntamiento appointed two

296
alcaldes auxiliares for each cuartel menor. Each auxiliar
in turn appointed six ayudantes and additional ayudantes
caides. The mission of the involuntary civil servants was
demanding. They were to be
true fathers of the neighbors of their
respective territories who, without
introducing themselves into the houses
or disturbing domestic order, will
attempt to avoid, to conciliate, and
to pacify domestic quarrels and to
end other disorders so that they will
9 0
not become scandals.
Their duties included registering new residents, conducting
the census, serving as truant officers, organizing the fire
brigade, and making the nightly patrol of the neighbor-
91
hoods. The ayudantes were to accompany the alcalde during
the patrol and to otherwise be of assistance.
The alcalde auxiliar and his ayudante failed in their
mission. One reason for the failure was their poverty which
prevented the performance of duties. Surviving lists of
alcaldes auxiliares show that they were artisans, but do not
reveal whether they were masters or journeymen. Ayudantes
were mostly artisans, probably journeymen, but included
among their numbers were a. few marginal merchants. Whether
master, journeyman, or marginal merchant, all were described
as "needy artisans . having no more resource than their
9 2
meager personal work." The fulfillment of census taking,

297
their most time-consuming duty, deprived them of the time
9 3
to provide for themselves or their families. Upon
learning of an impending census, the auxiliar and his sub
ordinates usually threatened to resign. Only threats of
fines or imprisonment compelled them to fulfill their
9 4.
duties. Their resentment goes a long way to explain the
inaccuracies of the censuses. The "Ramo de Auxiliares" in
the Archivo del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de Mexico is
literally crammed with resignations for reasons of financial
hardship. Because of poverty many of the poorer wards lacked
i 95
the officials.
Those auxiliares who remained at their posts were
likely to be tyrannical. The conservative newspaper Sol
accused them of ruling in a "sultanic style" with "royal
caprice," of sending men to jail on the basis of gossip
or private grudge, and of illegally condemning poor men to
9 6
involuntary and unpaid servitude in local bakeries. The
auxiliares, continued Sol, had converted themselves from the
"fathers of the poor" into "stepfathers." A decree of the
governor general of the Distrito Federal confirmed the com
plaints. It praised the behavior of most auxiliares, admitting
that abuses of authority existed, and reminded them that
arrested men must be arraigned before a judge within eight
9 7
hours of arrest.
Because of their poverty, auxiliares often combined
corruption with tyranny. Pablo Reyes, while administering

298
Cuartel Menor 2, allegedly supported himself by levying
illegal fines, accepting bribes, and extorting money from
98
local merchants. Another auxiliar was accused of being in
9
league with common criminals to despoil his own neighborhood.
In 1832 a damaging series of articles appeared in the plebian
Toro which was highly critical of the unpaid officials. The
reporters specifically accused Ignacio Torres of arbitrarily
arresting the poor and receiving a share of the bribes
, . ,...100
resulting from subsequent litigation.
The other agencies of public authority did not
cooperate with the auxiliares or their aides. Like all
civilian inhabitants of Mexico City, they were forbidden to
carry firearms, even when on patrol. "How is it possible,"
asked the ayuntamiento, "that a patrol composed of a regidor
an auxiliar, and two or three ayudantes, and some other per
sons poorly armed with swords, can impose any respect on
evildoers that always carry firearms?" When auxiliares dared
to carry firearms to defend themselves, the courts punished
101
them with "barbaric rigor."
The auxiliares were forever complaining that the
] 0 2
courts failed to support them. It was frustrating, claimed
one, to arrest dangerous criminals only to have them released
the next day to jeer at the same patrol that arrested them
103
the night before. Their allegations were partly the
result of the classic conflict between those who must enforce
the law and those who must dispense justice and have a

299
familiar ring to modern ears. Centuries of authoritarian
rule intensified the clash. The auxiliares quite naturally
desired the courts to bolster their authority by the quick
condemnation of those who were arrested. The courts, in
contrast, carefully observed the letter of Mexican law.
Judges allowed the accused to defend himself in the presence
of the arresting official, a procedure that the auxiliares
104
thought degrading. More importantly, the judges insisted
on the legal requirement that all evidence against the
105
accused be presented within three days. This was an
impossibility, for the unpaid auxiliares. When the evidence
was submitted promptly, it frequently was not in the lengthy
and complex form required by Mexican courts.106 The failure
to follow evidentiary regulations led to the frequent re
lease of suspects and was the basis for the oft-repeated
. 10 7
complaint that' the courts failed to prosecute criminals.
The courts, in turn, were apt to view auxiliares and ayudantes
as "persons of little education and little ability" and
10 8
tended to treat them like errand boys.
The auxiliares quarreled bitterly with the military.
The soldiers, whether members of the city's garrison or the
civilian militia that sometimes existed, demonstrated their
military fuero (right) by refusing to cooperate with, and
often publicly resisting or humiliating, the civilian
officials. The following two examples illustrate their
contempt. In 1827 soldiers arbitrarily arrested an auxiliar

300
and his entire patrol of twelve men, placed them in the
Acordada, and to the amusement of convicted criminals, made
them sweep the prison's filthy patios. In 1828 a colonel of
the civic militia publicly insulted and manhandled an auxiliar
1 0 9
for refusing to release suspected vagrants. In other inci
dents soldiers guilty of crimes successfully defied the
efforts of the civilians to arrest.them or to bring them
to trial. Military disrespect for the officials led the
municipality to lodge official complaints in 1828, 1830, and
1845. That of 1845 stated that there could be little
respect for civilian authority when the military was free
from civil jurisdiction, treated civilian institutions with
, , ., 11 o
contempt, and openly resisted civilian authority.
A more profound reason for the failure of civilian
authority was that lacking any material force or power, it
had to rely upon the cooperation of the populace, both rich
and poor, for support. Cooperation was impossible when the
public viewed civil regulations at best as a nuisance and
at worst as a system of repressive rules imposed by an
alien authority. The fate of alcalde auxiliar Juan Alvarez
illustrates the frustrations of a dedicated man fighting the
public apathy. Alvarez, a schoolteacher, zealously fulfilled
his mandate to be father of the people, enforcing sanitary
regulations, arbitrating domestic quarrels, and leading
the nightly patrol. The auxiliar1s efforts received the
praise of a regidor of the ayuntamiento, the former auxiliar,

301
and two parish priests. As a reward and because no one else
wanted the position, the municipality appointed Alvarez to
an illegal third term. His neighbors reacted to the appoint
ment with legitimate complaints of its illegality and
trumped-up charges that "the little angel" levied illegal
fines, compelled his neighbors to sweep the streets, abused
the poor, and permitted the existence of a brothel next to
his residence. An investigation proved the matter of the
brothel a calumny and proved other charges to be stemming
from the neighborhood's resentment when Alvarez rigorously
ill
enforced the municipal sanitary regulations.
Popular hatred of the alcalde auxiliar, especially by
i i 2
the populacho, was intense. One lieutenant of the civil
militia refused to serve as an auxiliar on the grounds that
acceptance of the position "would bring grave disrespect
and dishonor to the concept of service in the civil militia."
After the publication of the Toro's articles, an auxiliar re
signed claiming that he had just opened a small store and
that the public resentment generated by the articles jeopar-
113
dized his chances for success.
Public hatred created its own obstacles for law en
forcement and civil administration. Volunteers for auxiliar
or ayudante were few, and those compelled to serve faced the
dilemma of forcing their neighbors upon whom they depended
11 4
for a livelihood to accept unpopular laws. Luis de Bellemar
humorously captured the innate conflict of interest when he

302
described a patrol as "publicans who lodge criminals during
1 1 5
the day and let them off to pursue them at night. Many
resolved their problem by lax law enforcement. The auxiliar's
habit of arresting strangers has already been cited. In
1828 regidor Cadenas explained sympathetically to the governor
of the Distrito Federal that the principal obstacle that pre
vented him from enforcing the Republic's strict vagrancy laws
was
of my three auxiliares, one owns a cafe
and another, a wine shop. . One
cannot expect that they would denounce
those that contribute to their subsis-
Jus tice
The criminal or civil courts of the Distrito Federal
11 7
heard murders, serious robberies, and important litigation.
The Tribunal de Vagos's purview was limited to vagrancy cases,
and its proceedings were chaired by members of the ayuntamiento
118
sitting in rotation. Courts of conciliation handled
the advanced phases of civil litigation. Prior to 1846 the
principal courts with which the poor dealt were the juzgados
de primera instancia that existed in all cuarteles menores.
The courts handled the primary stages of civil litigation and
the petty robberies, brawls, disturbances of the peace that

303
were the stuff of lower-class crime. They also settled
litigation involving small sums of money. A juez de letras,
whom the ayuntamiento appointed from the ranks of master
artisans and shopkeepers, presided over the court.
Critics frequently accused the untrained judge of
l 2 0
rendering illegal or quasi-legal verdicts. The evidence
does not bear out this charge. Until the first civil code
was introduced in 1876, Mexican law was archaic Spanish law
dating from the late Middle Ages and codified in .La nueva
121
recopilacin. Interpreting the law to suit the condition
of the nineteenth century left a judge ample scope for improvi
sationprobably more scope than a North American judge would
possess while trying a case according to common law. The
complaints of the alcaldes auxiliares and an examination of
the decisions made in Cuartel Menor 17's juzgado de primera
instancia reveal that in criminal cases the judges made fair
decisions, scrupulously observing the legal rights of the
accused.
Charges of corruption, particularly regarding civil
cases, were .common. "A good law suit," friends told Tylor,
"must be carefully prepared by bribing the juez de letras
whose reports serve as the basis of all subsequent litiga-
.,122
tion. The corruption of the lower courts stemmed from
the impoverishment of the judges and their clerks. In 1847
a judge complained that he and his clerks had not been paid
for a month and warned that "impartial justice" would not come

304
from those whose circumstances were reduced to those of the
"miserable people." Although the documents do not reveal
judges involved in bribery, their clerks regularly disguised
bribes as legal fees. For example, when Vicente Cruz was
arrested for vagrancy, the Tribunal's clerk asked him for
a bribe of $15 to prepare the proper reports. Having earlier
assured his nephew's release by bribing a municipal clerk,
Cruz's uncle indignantly refused to pay. In fairness to
Mexican justice, it must be added that after confirming the
allegation of bribery, the Tribunal de Vagos dismissed the
l 23
case against Cruz.
The requirement to be represented by two hombres buenos
(character witnesses) provided further opportunities for
corruption. The hombres buenos, working in league with the
legal clerks, extorted money from the poor by falsely repre
senting themselves as lawyers or implying that their services
were necessary to obtain a favorable decision. When not em
ployed as hombres buenos, the rascals worked as tintorillos
(false witnesses) whose testimony could be purchased for the
appropriate fee. Their existence mocked and perverted Mexican
l 2 4
justice. Many times the tintorillo did not appear in court,
abandoning the defendant to his just deserts. The government
considered the hombres buenos and the tintorillos so vicious
12 5
that it defined the practice of the professions as vagrancy.
The expenses engendered by the corruption of the Mexican
courts gave rise to the expression that "a good compromise
1 26
is better than a good lawsuit:."

305
The legitimate fees charged by the clerk of the
court for the preparation of lega], documents ranged $15
12 7
to $20. Their expense discouraged the poor from using
the courts. In 1850 reformers proposed a model fee schedule
containing fees varying from $1 to $4. It is unknown whether
the municipality ever adopted the schedule, but since any
litigation required several documents, its fees would still
l 28
have been a considerable expense for the poor.
After 1846 each cuartel menor elected an unpaid
justice of the peace in order to free the juzgados de pri
mera instancia for more serious cases and to provide inex
pensive justice' to the poor. The justices heard petty
criminal and civil cases and imposed light fines and short
jail sentences. The judge could use the fines that he
levied for awards in civil litigation. Defendants arraigned
before the justices remained at liberty and did not require
12 9
the services of hombres buenos.
The new system of judgeships was impossible to imple
ment. Because of the complete disorganization of the city
during the war with the United States, the municipality
could not appoint a justice in every minor ward, and the
barrio's petty criminal cases went unheard. Later amendments
limited the appointment of the justices to the eight cuarteles
13 0
mayores. Soon complaints circulated that the cuarteles
mayores' justices charged excessive fees and were accessible
l 3 l
only to the rich.

306
To secure law enforcement and reestablish administra
tion in a city bereft of police, administrators, and judges,
the governor of the Distrito Federal established in 1847
juntas de polica (police boards) tasked with the responsi
bility of policing the city and administering criminal jus
tice. Each major ward was to elect a junta composed of
citizens earning $3,000 annually. The junta would organize
the elections of a jefe de manzana whose duties were to police
13 2
the streets and render verbal judgments of criminal cases.
Idealists writing for Siglo Diez y Nueve hailed the the new
1 3 3
system of juntas a classroom in democracy.
For a time the struggle over jurisdiction between the
newly appointed jefes and the alcaldes auxiliares and his
ayudantes thwarted the intent of the junta. Eleven months
after the new system was introduced, a decree was necessary
to assign judicial matters to the jefe and enforcement of the
laws to the auxiliar. The city abolished the position of jefe
de manzana after discovering that qualified candidates did
. 134
not exist m sufficient numbers.
In the absence of a jefe de manzana, local justice
fell into the hands of the alcalde de manzana, the elected
official whose position existed briefly after 1848. The com
bination of judicial, police, and administrative power in
the hands of one person increased the opportunities for
their abuse. The charges against alcalde de manzana Victoriano
Montoya show the extent to which the position's authority could

307
be abused. Businessmen bribed him to harass their competitors
out of the neighborhood. The alcalde profited from both the
original bribe and the one paid by his victim to avoid im
prisonment. The alcalde also sold justice. For $2 he trans
ferred an unwanted .grandchild to its padrino, and separated a
pair of lovers and then forced their marriage. He fined
l 3 5
another man twenty reals for fighting with his wife. One
must observe, however, that the alcalde's justice was cheaper
and swifter than that obtained by legitimate methods.
The abuses of the alcaldes de manzana led to the aboli
tion of that position in 1849. His place was taken by an al
calde de cuartel. The new alcalde was to handle verbal judg
ments, conciliations, and vagrancy cases. The new system was
no better than the one which it replaced. In 1850 the monar
chist newspaper Universal complained that there was no appeal
from an alcalde's decisions and that because of his tyranny
the system of justice as it applied to the poor must be re-
l 3 6
formed. The evidence of the Tribunal de Vagos supports
the newspaper's complaint. In 1852 alcalde de cuartel Picazo
through arbitrary imprisonment, the suppression of evidence,
and the intimidation of witnessescondemned four men to cer-
13 7
tain death through military service in the Yucatan peninsula.
Despite its irregularities Mexican justice was
reasonably swift. Criminal cases in Cuartel Menor 17 were
13 8
tried within forty-eight hours of the accused's arrest.
In 1847, however, when the unpaid court clerks refused to

308
work, criminal cases took over a week to hear. The
lengthy procedures of the Tribunal de Vagos could drag on
for months, especially if the accused chose to appeal a
140
guilty verdict. In 1841, however, the city was indignant
when two master artisans were mistakenly arrested and held
1 4 1
in jail for two weeks awaiting trial. Normally the
trials of vagrancy suspects occurred within two weeks of
their arrest.
Penalties were not harsh. The higher courts were
extremely reluctant to impose the death penalty. Charles
Latrobe reported in 1834 that only the insistence of the
British ambassador had pressured the government to execute
14 2
the murderer of the Swiss consul. At times regimes
resorted to atypical severity to dramatize their determina
tion to stamp out crime. During 1842 the government of
General Santa Anna garroted seventy highwaymen and displayed
14
their ghostly, white-robed bodies on the Paseo de Bucareli.
The murderer of Juan de Dios Caedos was hung from the
balcony of his victim's hotel room in the presence of his
14 4
accomplice and an immense crowd. Petty robberies were
punished by fines or imprisonment. If the complainant
permitted, the defendant avoided jail by repaying the value
of the stolen property in cash or labor. Most jail sentences
for robbery rarely exceeded one month.' The courts dealt
more severely with those who fought with weapons. Sentences
for this crime were normally a fine and three months im
prisonment.

309
Imprisonment weighed heavily on the families of the
prisoners. The following plea for prison reform graphically
describes their plight.
Deprived of their breadwinner, the first
days they can scarcely live by the. sale
of their miserable clothes and rags and
the services that old friends lend to
them. Very soon these friends tire of
them, and their miserable rags are sold,
for which reason they find themselves
naked and subject to the most horrible
misery. Physical suffering, consequent
illnesses, and complete moral degrada
tion follow. They abandon completely
the few habits of cleanliness and industry
that they possessed. They do not make any
effort to find work, they completely for
get the education of the children, and
instead of procuring it for them so that
they will be instructed in the rudiments
of first letters, without which they can
not learn a craft, they leave them in
ignorance and idleness. One sees these
families very frequently dedicated to
mendicancy, scattered throughout the
cities and the highways, imploring pub
lic charity.145
Notes
"El Crimen," Ateneo Mexicano, 1844, p. 35.
2
Liceo mexicano, tomo 1, p. 35.
3"El juego," p. 1.
AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66.
^Tylor, p. 170.
6
Calderon de la Barca, pp. 168-69.
7 Mayer, pp. 266-70, 271.

310
Garca Cubas (1945)
337.
i o
11.
1 2
Mayer, pp. 140-41.
Bustamante, El gabinete, tomo 2, p. 180.
Latrobe, p. 100.
AACM, tomo 2279, "Carta de 1 enero 1845"; tomo 2267
exp.
32.
1 3
] 4
1 5
1 6
1 7
1 8
1 9
20
2 1
Poinsett, p. 130. Zamacois, tomo 11, pp. 128-30.
AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 32.
Zamacois, tomo 13, pp. 209-214.
AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 15. Malo, tomo 1, p. 240.
AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66, pp. 1-6.
AACM, tomo 393, exp. 110.
"Parte oficial," Sol, 6 septiembre 1828, p. 1.
Rodrguez de San Miguel, Manual, p. 101.
"Parte oficial,'
2.
22
23
24
2 5
Calderon de la Barca, p. 170.
Tylor, p. 170.
"Robo," Siglo diez y Nueve, 28 noviembre 1841, p. 3
Zamacois, tomo 13, pp. 447-48.
26..,
2.
27
'Crimenes," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 9 noviembre 1841,
AACM, tomo 393, exp. 110.
29
3 0
3 1
Poinsett, p. 130.
I
Thornton, p. 53.
Tylor, pp. 52-53, 150.
'Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 26 noviembre 1841.
3 2
33
3 4
3 5
3 6
Ibid.
Thompson, p. 23. Calderon de la Barca, pp. 153-54.
AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66; tomo 3691, exp. 107.
Ferry, p. 17.
AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66.
3 7
Francisco Ortega, Memoria sobre los medios de des
terrar la embriaguez (Mexico, D-.F., 1847).
3 8
"La embriaguez," p. 2.

311
39
40
41
4 2
AACM, como 497, exp. 28.
Ortega, p. 16.
AACM, tomo 3719, exp. 66.
"Remitido," Monitor Constitucional, 29 marzo 1845,
p. 1.
1848.
4 3
"La embriaguez," Eco de Comercio, 11 septiembre
p. 4. AACM, tomo 3719, exp. 57.
41.
2.
44
Ortega
, P-
59.
45
AACM,
tomo
3719,
exps.
23,
57, 63. Prieto (1964),
4 6
AACM,
tomo
4779,
exp.
334.
47
AACM,
tomo
4151,
exp.
19.
4 8
Vagos
," P
. 1.
4 9
"Vagos
y mendigo
s," Eco de
Comercio, 20 junio 1848
50AACM,
tomo
3631,
exp.
392;
tomo 4151, exp. 334.
5 1 AACM,
tomo
4151,
exp.
6.
52
AACM,
tomo
4779,
exp.
334.
53AACM,
tomo
41.51,
exp.
6.
5 4
AACM,
tomo
4158,
exp.
334.
AACM,
tomo
290,
"Actas
de
3 marzo 1828."
56AACM,
tomo
4779 ,
exp.
334.
5 7
AACM,
tomo
4.159,
exp.
7.
5 8
Norman
F. Martin
, Los
vagabundos en la Nueva Espa,
siglo XVI (Mxico, D.F. 1957), pp. 1-20. Luis Chavez Orozco
and Enrique Florescano, Agricultura- y industria textil de
Vera Cruz: siglo XIX; fuentes para la historia econmica y
social de Vera Cruz (Xalapa, 1965), pp. 151-54.
5 9
"Polica," Siglo Diez y.Nueve, 8 diciembre 1848,
p. 3.
6 0
Barquera, pp. 10-11.
6 1
AACM,
tomo
2889,
"Contra
Rafael
1852."
6 2AACM,
tomo
2889,
"Contra
Jorge
6 3
AACM,
tomo
4154,
exp.
162

6 4
AACM,
tomo
4778,
exp.
300
; tomo
65AACM,
tomo
4156,
exp.
255

312
6 6
AACM,
tomo 4778,
exp.
300.
67
AACM,
tomo 4151,
exp.
6. All peddlers, no matter
what their income, referred to themselves as "merchants" or
"brokers."
6 8
AACM,
tomo
4151, exp.
20.
69
AACM,
tomo
4156, exp.
256.
7 0
AACM,
tomo
2156, exp.
20; tomo 4154, exp. 175
7 1 -
Dublan
and
Lozano, tomo 4.
72
AACM,
tomo
3690, exp.
73.
73
Calderon de
: la Barca,
pp. 255-56.
74
AACM,
tomo
4151, exp.
6.
75
AACM,
tomo
3690, exp.
73.
76
Ferry,
tomo
1 1, pp. 65,
83.
'"Policia,"
Siglo Diez
y Nueve, 17 junio 1848,
78
AACM,
tomo
4151, exp.
4.
79
AACM,
tomo
229, "Actas
de 14 febrero 1829."
80
AACM,
tomo
4151, exps.
1-6.
81AACM,
tomo
4151, exp.
19.
82
AACM,
tomo
4779, exp.
334.
8' "Informe,"
Cosmopolita
, 15 julio 1849.
8 4
Calderon de la Barca, p. 530.
8 5
Charles E. Rosenberg, "The Cholera Epidemic of 1832
in New York City," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 1959,
p. 137.
8C>AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66.
87"Barrios," 9 enero 1903, p. 1. The "Ramo de Polica'
in the AACM contains proposals to establish a large, trained
municipal police force during the years 1826, 1841, 1845, and
1848. During 1848 no less than three separate proposals were
made.
88AACM, tomo 3623, exp. 39; tomo 3690, exp. 66.
8 9
Ibid.
90
Rodriguez de San Miguel, Manual, pp. 102-106.
91 AACM, tomo 392, exp. 82.
9"AACM, tomo 389, exp. 12; tomo 392, exp. 115.
93AACM, tomo 2020, exps. 40, 87.

313
9 4
95
AACM, tomo 2478, exps. 14.
AACM, tomo 2020, exps. 37.
9 6
"Auxiliares," Sol, 6 junio 1830, p. 4; ibid., 24
junio 1830, p. 4.
9 7 _
Rodrguez de San Miguel, Manual, pp. 102-106.
9 8
"Auxiliares," p. 4.
9JAACti, tomo 393, exp. 107.
"Auxiliares," Toro, 17 julio 1834, pp. 178-79.
1 AACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66, p. 3.
l 02
103
104
Ibid.
AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 32.
AACM, tomo 392, exp. 70.
105
AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 1; tomo 390, exp. 24; tomo
3690, exp. 66.
1 06
exp. 70.
AACM, tomo 291, "Actas de 2 febrero 1829"; tomo 392,
1 0 7
AACM,
tomo
2478,
exp. 14.
1 08
Ibid.
1 0 9
AACM,
tomo
390,
exps. 19,
23;
tomo
392, exp.
70.
1 1 0
AACM,
tomo
390,
exps. 23,
25;
tomo
3690, exp,
. 66
11 1
AACM,
tomo
391,
exp. 34.
1 1 2
AACM,
tomo
390,
exp. 25.
1 1 3
AACM,
tomo
390,
exps. 20,
30.
1 1 4
AACM,
tomo
390,
exps. 20,
25;
tomo
392, exp.
70;
tomo 2020, exp. 40.
115
Ferry, tomo- 1, pp. 39-41.
11 6
AACM, tomo ,4151, exp. 5,
11 7
Almonte,
Galvan Rivera, 1842.
11 8
11 9
AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 6.
Escriche, "Juzgados."
2AACM, tomo 147, "Actas de 20 junio 1829." "Jueces
de letras," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 29 octubre 1841, p. 2.
3 2 1
Rodrguez de San Miguel, Pandectas.
1 22
Tylor, p. 248.
3AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 12; tomo 4179, exp. 47.

314
p. 3.
p. 3.
p. 1.
4AACM, tomo 2478, exps. 11, 12.
12 5
"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 10 octubre 1841,
AACM, tomo 2578, exp. 12.
Tylor, p. 248.
12 7
"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 16 mayo 1846, p. 2.
12 8
AACM, tomo 2479, exp. 18.
^AACM, tomo 2748, exp. 11.
i 3 o
Ibid.
13 1
"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 21 septiembre 1848,
AACM, tomo 2749, exp. 14.
13 3
"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 8 septiembre 1848,
134
i 3 5
136
1 3 7
1 3 8
1 3 9
1 40
1 41
1 42
1 43
1 4 4
1 45
AACM, tomo 2478, exps.
Ibid.
"Remitido," Universal,
AACM, tomo 4163, exps.
AACM, tomos 2889-90.
AACM, tomo 2478, exp.
Ibid.
AACM, tomo 4158, exp.
Latrobe, p. 110.
Mayer, p. 32.
Garca Cubas (1945), p
Otero, Obras, tomo 2,
14, 15; tomo 2749
21 agosto 1850, p
462-84.
12.
332b.
. 337.
p. 701.
exp.
1.
18.

CHAPTER SEVEN
POVERTY AND POLITICS
Then, finally, they were a new people
whose eyes shone with liberty and all
its enchantments. Today they are a
people who have been deceived a thou
sand times and who fear the revolu
tions because of the press gangs, be
cause of the taxes, and because of
the oppressions.
Jose Maria Lafragua, 1953
The final chapter of the dissertation examines the
political behavior of the poor. Since the nature of nineteenth-
century Mexican politics baffles the experts, the following
simplistic explanation of political factions is in order.
The Mexican political spectrum was divided into two basic
groups. The first, calling itself Conservador, Centralista,
and then Monarchists, favored a centralized state, the exis
tence of a large standing army, and the preservation of the
Roman Catholic Church's privileged, semi-independent status.
The second group, known as the Federalistas or Liberales,
desired a federated state, the replacement of the professional
army by a volunteer civic militia, and the disestablishment
of the Church.
315

316
Lacking cohesion, organization, and discipline, the
factions were a loose agglomeration of individuals sharing,
often temporarily, similar principals. Serious intrafaction
dissension was commonplace. The division between the radical
(Puros) and moderate (Moderados) Liberals is the most, well-
known example. The Puros, led by Valentin Gomez Farias, de
sired the immediate implementation of anticlerical measures.
Their most controversial goal was the expropriation of Church
property. The Moderados included among their numbers General
Mariano Salas, Jose Mara Lafragua, Mariano Otero, and Guillermo
Prieto. They favored a gradual approach to reforms and were
totally opposed to expropriation. In February of 1847 the
Moderados joined with proclerical forces in the Revolution of
the Polkos to overthrow Vice-President Gomez Farias.
Centralists and Liberals distrusted mass political
participation. The refusal of the Church to seriously ex
ploit its powerful influence in the barrios illustrates the
tendency to ignore the poor when other sources of support
were available. The religious devotion of the poor held
immense political potential. Mora accused the Church of so
thoroughly indoctrinating the masses that they could not dis
tinguish between a sin and a civil crime. When they committed
a crime, they regarded it as a sin to be forgiven after con
trition and penance. The influence of 'the clergy entered
into politics because the people considered it the final
authority on the laws of man and God. The Church hesitated

317
to use its influence among the poor for political meddling.
The cholera epidemic of 1833 occurred at the height of the
First Federal Republic's anticlerical reforms. As the epi
demic approached central Mexico, the Bishop of Puebla and
the Ecclesiastical Cabildo of Mexico City circulated pam
phlets warning that cholera was God's punishment for "public
2
sins. The secret sessions of the ayuntamiento, however, do
not mention subversive preaching in the barrios Considering
the primitive theology of the poor and the ravages of the
disease among them, it is unlikely that subversive preaching
was necessary to convince them that "God's whip" was scourging
4
the barrios .
The Church took stronger action in January 1847 when
Gomez Farias seized its property to finance the war against
the United States. On January 14, the day after the publica
tion of the confiscatory proclamation, all the churches of
5
the capital mysteriously closed their doors. Knowing that
the closures were intended to terrorize the people, the ayun
tamiento swiftly ordered their reopening, but could find
no,cleric with the authority to reopen them.6 During the
next three days, priests preached subversion in the Sagrario
while monks roamed the streets haranguing crowds and distribu-
n
ing anti government tracts. Riots occurred on the sixteenth,
but lacking coordination and leadership, they posed no serious
g
threat to the government. Regidores patrolling the streets
swiftly restored order.
By the seventeenth of January, most

318
of the churches had reopened. The Ecclesiastical Cabildo
lamely defended the closings to the ayuntamiento by claiming
l o
that it feared progovernment mobs.
The Church had good reasons not to raise the masses.
Over a century of Bourbon authoritarianism had ingrained
the habit of formal obedience to secular authority. The
government in 1847 referenced colonial legislation when it
, 11
demanded the churches reopen. Also, as the largest holder
of real estate and valuable art, the Church was reluctant to
inspire rioting that might degenerate into an orgy of looting
and destruction. The most important reason, however, was
that it had far more powerful constituents than the masses
to appeal to when it needed to change a government. There
was hardly any consequential Mexican family, liberal or
centralist, that lacked a clergyman for a close relative.
His influence within it can only be conjectured. The re
sources of the Church were discreetly used to help powerful
conspirators. The churches, monasteries, and convents were
at the disposal of the wealthy notables who signed the
antifederalist Plan de Cuernavaca (June 1834) that petitioned
l 2
General Santa Anna to abolish the First Federal Republic.
In February 1847 the Church made secret contributions to the
13
National Guard units that drove Gomez Farias from office.
The administrators of convents, themselves guardsmen, actively
i 4
subverted the regiments.

319
The politicians courted the poor at election time.
The moral sanction of electoral victory buttressed inherently
weak republican authority. The capital was a political
weather vane. Regional politicians wishing to make a
successful alliance observed its election returns carefully.
Its prestige made elections to its offices essential to the
1 5
career of a rising deputy or senator. Benito Juarez, after
serving as governor of the state of Oaxaca, found it advan-
, 16
tageous to run in the capital s primary elections. Control
of the ayuntamiento was a necessity for conspirators who
used its funds and administrative machinery to overturn a
government. This was so in 1828, 1844, and a reasonable if
l 7
unproven suspicion of the national government in 1849.
Mexico City's leaders gained office through a system
of indirect elections. The electoral law of 1830 provided
for three elections. In the first election, voters selected
primary electors who later chose the ayuntamiento and the
representatives to the national legislature. The national
i 8
legislature elected the president of the Republic. The
law of 1836, which was repeated in the conservative Bases
orgnicos of 1842, created an additional election to pick
secondary electors to choose the ayuntamiento and the national
l 9
legislature. Democratic regimes favored the law of 1830;
more conservative governments, the law" of 1836. Both laws
were typical of those of early nineteenth-century Europe.
Their function was to insure that politicians did not gain
office by pandering to the whims of the poor and uneducated.

320
The parishes served as early electoral districts. In
1823 the allocation of two electors to each parish gave the
smaller parishes political power grossly disproportionate
to their size. The ayuntamiento corrected the inequity in
1824 by alloting each parish one elector for every two thousand
inhabitants. By 1828 the parishes could select one elector
for every five hundred inhabitants. The law of 1830 made
the manzana the official electoral district and granted one
2 0
elector to each one. Although the total number of electors,
approximated that of 1828, the law gave disporportionate
power to the smaller manzanas of the Traza. The intent of
the law, however, was not to disenfranchise the larger manzanas
of the barrios, but to completely secularize the elections.
The poor seldom became candidates for political
office. The 1830 law, which codified the requirements of
the 1824-1828 period, specified that an elector be twenty-
five years old, in full possession of his civil rights, and
a resident of his manzana for at least one year. Since the
law made no further qualifications for.deputy, any elector
could be run for Congress. Few of the poor took advantage
of the opportunity to run for political office. Instead they
voted for society's traditional elite: lawyers, men of
21
letters, and military officers. Seventy-five of 132 elec
tors were officers, 35 were professionals., 3 were priests,
4 were merchants, and 3 were artisans in 1827. One of the
artisans was the wealthy and respected Lucas Balderas; the
2 2
other jocularly referred to himself as "El Rebosero."

321
Later laws used income restrictions to insure that
only the wealthy obtained office. The 1836 law specified a
minimum income of $100 for primary elector, $500 for a member
of the ayuntamiento, and $1,500 for a deputy. The law of
1842 specified a minimum income of $200 for a primary elector,
2 3
$500 for a secondary elector, and $.1,200 for a deputy.
Any male Mexican, eighteen years of age if married,
twenty-five if single, solvent, and in full possession of
his civil rights could vote in the constitutional conventions
of 1823, 1842 and 1848.""' The law of 1830 repeated these
liberal requirements for participation in the primary elec
tions, provided that an individual was resident in his manzana
2 5
for at least one year. Table 38 shows the suprisingly large
number of people who voted in
TABLE 38
VOTER PARTICIPATION, elections held between 1824
PRIMARY ELECTIONS
Year
Vo ters
and 1831. The largest
number
1823
2,073
27,444voted in 1827,
a year in
1826
11,465a
1827
27,449
which a Spanish invasion scare
1829
25,238
1831
12,427
and political polemics
stirred
SOURCES: AACM, tomo 862,
exps. 8, 12, 15. Jose
Mara Tornel y Mendivel,
Breve resea histrica
(Mexico, D.F., 1852) p.
83. "Nombramientos,"
Aguila Mexicana, 10 di
ciembre 1827, p. 4.
q
Number indicates those
who voted for Yorkino
candidates only.
popular passions. Although
only 12,427 voted in 1831, this
number was 33 percent of the
38,336 eligible voters. However,
in all the elections, over half
of the eligible electorate did
not bother to cast ballots. The

322
partisans of both political factions candidly admitted that
the great majority of the people were apathetic to the political
26
issues of the day.
The conservative law of 1836 restricted the franchise
to those who earned an annual minimum of $100. The Bases
2 7
orgnicos raised the required minimum income to $200. The
number of people who voted during the period the laws were
enforced dropped drastically. The number of eligible voters
2 8
in 1843 was 15,392, or 40 percent of those eligible in 1831.
In the months prior to an election, commissioners
appointed by the ayuntamiento registered eligible voters in
each manzana. Election day morning, the commissioners met
with the registered voters to form an electoral junta that,
supervised the elections. Each voter paraded in front of
the junta, presented his ticket of registration, and announced
his vote in a "clear, loud voice" before his neighbors. The
latter provision assured, theoretically, that an unscrupulous
29
junta would not hoodwink illiterates.
Voting was pointless because no political faction
permitted honest elections. The power to appoint election
commissioners gave an incumbent ayuntamiento unlimited scope
to rig elections. During the election of 1843, a commissioner
distributed only nine registration tickets to the residents
30
of a heavily populated manzana. Illegally restricting the
size of the electorate was a crude tool when the control of
the electoral junta assured victory. During Toluca's 1849

323
elections, the liberal juntas, according to monarchist oppo
nents, demonstrated a variety of chicanery. Cuartel Menor
l's junta refused to challenge the residency credentials of
liberal voters, allowed them to vote more than once, and
forced anybody who happened to be passing through the
neighborhood to vote for liberal candidates. It was undis
mayed to discover that the ballots cast exceeded the number
of eligible voters. Cuartel Menor 4's junta allowed only
voters accompanied by the commissioners to vote. Its secre
tary nonchalantly added voters to the support of friendly
candidates and badgered other voters into changing their
minds. When a monarchist elector triumphed, the secretary
3 1
disqualified him and finagled the election of a Liberal.
Elections were disorderly affairs. Nonincumbents
fought the skulduggery of partisan electoral juntas. During
the election of June 1840, the Liberals gained control of a
junta located in the parish of San Miguel. Seor Barrera,
its president, forced the registrar to falsely certify that
Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Amat was a,resident of the district.
During the nominations the president acknowledged the nomina
tion of Amat, but refused to recognize those of his opponents.
The proceedings came to an abrupt halt when Father Jose Aguirre
of San Miguel arrived accompanied by a large crowd of his
parishioners, declared the election illegal, dissolved the
junta, and commenced new elections. Fearful of a riot, the
Liberals withdrew, indignantly complaining that the priest

324
was using his prestige to influence the votes of his parish-
32
loners.
A lieutenant colonel in the regular army demonstrated
another method of dealing with a partisan electoral junta.
He marched his fully armed regiment from their barracks to
the distant manzana in which he resided, ordering them to
vote in formation for the candidate of his choice. The junta
formally complained that the troops were not residents of
the manzana, that they earned less than $200 annually, and
that their presence intimidated the junta and eligible
33
voters.
When threats failed, politicians resorted to violence.
During the elections of 1842, eight armed men entered a
voting booth, seized the ballots, and wounded a registrar who
resisted them. The incident led the arch-conservative Carlos
Maria Bustamante to huffily remark, "and that is how a
sovereign people exercise the most sovereign act of their
3 4
sovereignty." The Liberals turned the secondary elections
of September 1849 into a "Plaza de Toros" by violently
3 5
assaulting and hospitalizing many Monarchist electors.
Influential Liberals shared the Conservatives distaste
for the rowdy elections. Lorenzo de Zavala criticized the
constitutional referendum of 1824 because the poor voted as
their traditional leaders bade them or traded their votes
for aguardiente or pulque.36 Mariano Otero disliked the
3 7
demagogery of the liberal electoral triumphs of 1829 and 1833.

325
Siglo Diez y Nueve complained that the poor picked their
heroes at election time in the same manner that they decided
3 8
the champion of a street fight. This view was shared by
the editors of Monitor Republicano who wrote that the poor
were merely the tools of the political parties and were very
3 9
fickle because they were attracted to men and not issues.
As early as 1833, Moradisgusted with the tumult, corruption,
and distortions of indirect elections-^suggested that the
electorate be severely restricted by high property qualifi-
40
cations.
Judged by its own standards, the system of indirect
elections was a failure. It encouraged the formation of
unholy alliances that distorted the opinion of the political
elite. The elections of July 1849 provide an excellent
example of the process. Monarchists and Conservatives
attributed their victory to a groundswell of popular senti-
41
ment. In reality it was due to the incohesiveness of the
liberal electors who formed a majority at the secondary
42
elections. Moderados and Puros, however, fell to squabbling
among themselves. Purosfearing that the Moderados, who
formed a relative plurality, would carry the ayuntamiento
joined forces with the Monarchists and Santanistas to -elect
, .43
a monarchist ayuntamiento.
National governments abrogated the results of unfavor
able elections. After a liberal victory in 1842, General
Santa Anna dismissed the electors and called for a new election.

326
Noting the highhandedness, Carlos Maria Bustamante commented
that any election was a useless extravagance as long as Santa
4 4
Anna controlled the army. In June 1833 Valentin Gomez
Farias dissolved the centralist ayuntamiento and appointed a
federalist one. A year later Santa Anna reinstated the Cen-
4 5
tralists. The law of 1836 allowed an incumbent ayuntamiento
to reelect itself indefinitely, a provision as advantageous
46
to the Federalists as it was to the Centralists.
The Liberals held the reputation of being the party
4 7
of the "Sans-Culottes." There was little in the liberal
ideology attractive to the poor. It was extremely vague and
inchoate. Most of the party's supporters were hostile to
"clerical and Hispanic elements" and hence identified them
selves as members of the party of progress. Their vacuity
led the wags to say that an aspiring Liberal had an image
of the Virgen de Guadalupe on the crown of his sombrero
48
and an obscure plan to regenerate the nation m his pocket.
The policy delineated in the writings of Mora, which Gomez
Farias attempted to implement, called for the creation of a
civil militia to reduce the power of the army, the expropria
tion of Church property, and its eventual redistribution
among the middle classes, the disestablishment of the
Church to reduce its political influence, and the creation
of a federation to erradicate the dangers to republicanism
49
inherent m a centralized state.

327
The only liberal policy directly relevant to the
poor was the tariff protection favored by an important seg
ment of the party. In 1828 Vicente Guerrero rallied
artisans to his cause by proposing and implementing a ban of
the importation of foreign manufactures. The following
document shows that the Liberals used the issue to gather
support in preparation for the constitutional referendum of
1846.
Our enemies bring in their rear guard
numerous magazines of their manufactures
in order to protect their industry and
to annihilate our workshops and our
agriculture so that by enlarging the
wealth of our country, the government
will be offered more certain resources
than those lent by the maritime customs
subject to blockade and contraband and
so that we can avail ourselves of the
good order of our industrial establish
ment .
Let the Republic impose upon its
supporters the obligation to prefer
national manufactures to those of the
foreigners in order to avoid the flight
of capital and to favor the occupation
of our manufacturing class because indus
try is the force which makes nations
strong and powerful; and for that reason
enlightened governments and peoples have
advanced all industrial branches . .
at the cost of great sacrifices and in
order to impose, by way of commerce, the
enslavement of the people! There is no
other origin and object for the present
The Puros, however, were obdurate free traders. In Chapter
One, I noted that economic necessity often drove the best-
intentioned regimes to abandon protectionism.

328
Conservatives unfairly accused Liberals of overtaxing
51
the rich. The direct taxes of centralist regimes in
theory placed far greater burdens upon the rich. The con
cept of socially equitable taxation was anathema to the
Liberals. In September .1846 Gomez Farias proposed that the
poor contribute their lives and the rich their wealth to the
struggle against the United States. The furor that the
announcement created among the most ardent Liberals resulted
.52
m its immediate retraction.
Puro determination to expropriate Church property
tainted liberalism with economic radicalism. Their inten
tions were not shared by the Moderados who viewed Church
property as private property guaranteed by the federal con-
53 _
stitutlon of 1824. Jose Maria Lafragua, Guillermo
Prieto, and Mariano Otero, all prominent Liberals, argued
against the confiscations of 1847, claiming that the usur
pation of private property must inevitably result in
54
grosser violations of political liberties. All .partici
pated in the Revolution of the Polkos.
The ultimate liberal goal was to create a propertied
middle class through the distribution of Church wealth. The
absurdity of their reputed hostility to property is illus
trated by their behavior during October 1847 when a rumor of
a riot against property swept through the city. The liberal
Monitor Republicano reported the rumor and editorialized on
5 5
the patent immorality of attacking private property. The

329
polemics accompanying the expropriation debate had politi
cized the volunteer national guard units defending the city
against the advancing North Americans.The Batalln de Victoria
which consisted of wealthy merchants sided with the clerical-
conservative faction. Liberal civil servants, professionals,
students, and artisans honeycombed the ranks of the Indepen
dencia and Hidalgo battalions. At the news of the riots, all
three battalions hastily armed and took to the streets, re
solved to defend private property against the phantom rioters.5
The Liberals undeniably cultivated lower-class support.
Conservatives alleged that the civil militia was armed rabble
in the pay of their enemies. Francisco Arrangoiz accused the
militia of 1833 of being the "sweepings of the jail" and
5 7
the "lowest portion of society." His accusation was
echoed by Carlos Maria Bustamante who wrote that the lperos
who rioted in 1838 were the same class of men who formed
5 8
"los cvicos of 1828. The roster of civil militia
called to active duty in May 1834 contains a polyglot of
artisans, unskilled laborers, and merchants, but very few
5 9
professionals. Because the economic status of members of
the same occupational groups varied greatly, the evidence
of the roster is inconclusive.
The issue of whether or not the civil militia received
pay is more important than its social composition. The mili
tia's compensation was nominal to avoid the danger of it
evolving into a professional army. The evidence suggests

330
that the Liberals perverted the civil militia into their
own paid paramilitary force. The legal pay of the 1828
militia was $2 to $5 monthly, depending on the branch of
service.60 Its actual pay was higher. In 1846 the Monitor
Republicano printed this letter from a Moderado national
guardsman arguing against the payment of the guard:
Remember that the payment of the civic
militia with other things was the reason
that the cvicos prostituted themselves
in 1828, and thus one saw them mix them
selves in every mutiny.61
In 1833 Gomez Farias created the Batalln Sexto of
the civic militia to thwart an impending coup. Its pay of
6 2
three reals daily approximated the city's average wage.
The unit may have formed a paid cadre that the liberal
leader used in later revolutions. Carlos Maria Bustamante
described Gomez Farias during the July 1840 coup standing
in the presidential palace hiring "lperos (or rather cvicos)"
at $2 each and gloating "all these are mine, they love me
6 3
and obey me." The gossipy arch-conservative cannot be
considered a reliable source. However, just prior to the
Revolution of the Polkos, Vice-President Gomez Farias used
the Libertad battalion of the National Guard, commanded by
his son and other Puros as a paid private army. The Monitor
Republicano accused the battalion of being the only national
. 6 4
guard unit to have received pay from the national government.

331
In January 1847 the battalion clumsily purged the officers
6 5
of units hostile to the Puros.
Estranged from the professional army and the Church,
the Liberals needed the brute force of plebian rioters.
Lower-class rioting was a notorious part of the Republic's
tumultuous politics. In December 1828 the pueblo bajo
helped the federalist civic militia to overthrow President^
Elect Manuel Gomez. Pedraza and celebrated by sacking and
burning the Parian. Ten years later they flooded the streets
in a vain effort to force centralist president Anastasio
Bustamante to restore the Federal Republic. In 1844 their
rioting thwarted an attempt of General Antonio Lopez de
Santa Anna to establish a dictatorship. Five years later
the mob's fury frightened a monarchist ayuntamiento into
resigning.
The sack of the Parian introduced rioting to repub
lican politics. Its violence scarred the memories of the
propertied classes. Nobody who witnessed the destruction
forgot it. Francisco Ibar, a professor of painting, recalled
the looting two months after it occurred.
One could see in the streets lperos
burdened with their loot, soldiers
and officers with sabers in hand con
ducting to their homes the fruit of
their perfidity and ambition: the
strongest and most daring preyed
upon the weakest, overpowering them
and stripping them of their loot.

332
One noticed only the sabers and clubs,
and one saw in all the faces the rabidity
of the most savage and inhuman cannibals.66
Guillermo Prieto, ten years old at the time of the revolution,
wrote of the sack,
Upon this emporium, upon this temple of
good taste, feel the avalanche of the
furies of the sack that exalted a
savage invasion of thefts and iniquities.
They broke down doors, flung jewelry
and fine lace to the ground, smashed
strongboxes to pieces, wounded each
other, and smothered themselves carrying
off their loot, and neither delirium
nor fire nor earthquake could give an
idea of that invasion to the eternal
shame and opprobrium of its authors.67
Thereafter the fear of the masses always lurked in
the minds of the ruling classes regardless of political
affiliation. As the city's garrison marched off to put down
a federalist uprising in October 1832, the ayuntamiento
debated whether the six hundred men of the Security Corps
and the Corps of Invalids were sufficient to cope with "all
the conspiracies that exist for a sacking."68 In July 1840
Fanny Calderon de la Barca expressed the fears of the foreign
community that a federalist victory would bring in its wake
6 9
rioting and looting. In October 1846 rumors spread through
, . . 70
the city that a riot against property was imminent. Two
years later rumors that upon the evacuation of the city by '

333
North American troops, the low people would rise in a "War
of the Castes" to commit "murder, robbery, and all types of
71
crimes" unnerved the ayuntamiento.
The sackings feared in 1832 and 1841 never happened.
The rumor of the riot against property proved to be a
political deception aimed at delaying an impending con-
7 2
stitutional convention. The caste war feared in 1848 was
a feeble effort of Santanistas wishing to discredit the
7 3
Federation and repudiate the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo.
The absence of rioting on these occasions proves that the
propertied classes exaggerated the significance of the
Parian. The following analysis will argue that the riots
were a traditional, relatively harmless form of lower-class
protest harnessed to the needs of liberal politicians.
Although a menace to unpopular regimes, they did not endanger
the existing social order.
Rioting is a traditional and universal method of
expressing lower-class discontent over such basic matters
7 4
as impressment or high food prices. In Mexico City
serious rioting to protest hard times broke out as early as
7 5
1624 and 1692. After independence bread riots occurred
during the copper currency devaluations of 1837 and 1841.
The riots followed a common pattern. Crowds formed in
front of the ayuntamiento to protest the rising prices.
Sensitive to the suffering of the people and mindful of the
potential damage of a riot, the municipality would ineffectually

334
peg prices and petition the national government to halt the
devaluation.76 The mob might hurl insults or threats at
the government. The mob of 1837 chanted in derision:
Jesus Christ in his passion
made the thief an honest man,
the Congress by its pleasure
makes the honest man a thief.77
But no violence was offered against the government or its
representatives. The mob's targets were always the maize and
grocery stores whose high prices or hoarding it considered to
7 8
be the immediate source of suffering.
As long as politicians remained aloof from the
rioters, the political order was unthreatened. The political
neutrality of the bread riot and its potential for politi-
zation is illustrated by a petition of the ayuntamiento to
the national congress in 1837. It noted that although the
rising prices had driven Queretaro's poor to sack their
granary, Mexico City's poor remained calm. The petition
warned, however, that if food remained scarce, "an upheaval
of grave seriousness to the political order was bound to
occur." Not because the rioters themselves were subversive
but because
the enemies of actual institutions who
never miss an opportunity whenever they
can to contribute with their machina-

335
tions, instantly taking advantage of
any occasion that comes to their hands
to conspire against the constituted
authorities.7 9
The rioting of 1828 and 1844 was underpinned by a
solid foundation of suffering. In 1828 Mexican artisans
were reeling from the impact of the competition of cheap and
8
technically superior foreign manufactures. In February
1827 and March 1828, the authorities conducted mass arrests
of "vagrants and those without work to occupy themselves."
The vagrancy problem of these years forced the national
government to establish the Tribunal de Vagos. It was
during the March 1828 antivagrancy campaign that regidor de
la Cadena penned his defense of the unemployed artisans of
8 1
the wards under his supervision. On November 20, scarcely
two weeks before the revolution, the governor general of the
Distrito Federal responded to a shortage of money by pegging
8 2
the price of foodstuffs.
Guillermo Prieto and Niceto Zamacois attributed the
Great Popular Revolution of 1844 entirely to the political
8 3
oppressions of General Santa Anna and General Canalizo.
They ignored the extraordinary sufferings that the profli
gate and bankrupt regime inflicted upon the poor, described
in this letter to Siglo Diez y Nueve:
The lowest classes were principally
those who suffered. The scarce bread

336
provided to them by painful work was
decreased by excise and direct taxes.
Artisans and laborers were dragged from
their workshops and fields to go and
die on the mortiferous coasts of Vera
Cruz.8 4
The regime's crass insensitivity to the problems it created
rasped against the nerves made raw from want. While General
Santa Anna attended a sumptuous diplomatic banquet at his
palace in March 1843,
many miserable persons and unpaid civil
servants ambled aimlessly outside the
building muttering over their fate. An
infinity of poor people searched anxiously
for bread, maize, and anything that they
could eat. The bakeries were guarded in
order to contain the actions of those un
fortunates tormented by their misery, and
everything was worsened because the mer
ciless speculators devaluated the copper
8 5
money.
The year 1844 saw no improvement. In the spring the
Semanario Artstico petitioned the government to alleviate
8 6
the problems caused by its bankruptcy. Throughout the
summer and fall, the pages of the official newspaper were
filled with the government's protests that it was not
responsible for its insolvency and lame promises that it would
8 7
pay the bureaucracy. On November 15, two weeks before the
rioting, the commissioner of markets announced to the ayunta
miento that the price of foodstuffs had inexplicably risen 25
8 8
percent in a single day.

337
Bread rioting might have been the only result of the
hard times of 1828 and 1844 had not the suffering coincided
with periods of acute political tension. In 1828 the
Federalists feared for the life of the Republic. Mexico
was in a state of anxiety over an impending Spanish invasion
and the expected subversion of Spaniards resident in Mexico.
In September 1827 Father Arenas, a Spanish priest, concocted
a harebrained scheme to restore the Bourbons and was ex
ecuted for his efforts. Bowing to Anti-Spanish pressure, the
government of General Guadalupe Victoria reluctantly
issued a decree expelling the Spaniards but deliberately
failed to enforce it.
Four years of intense political factionalism pre
ceded the Revolution of the Acordada. The Centralists, whose
members were organized into the Scottish-rite Masonic lodge
and called the Escoces, upheld the centralist Spanish con
stitution of 1812 and would permit the Spaniards to remain in
Mexico. The Federalists, who were members of the York-
rite Masonic lodge and called Yorkinos wished to preserve
the federal Constitution of 1824 and expel the Spanish.
In the presidential election of 1828, Manuel Gomez Pedraz,
a Centralists, defeated Vicente Guerrero, a Yorkino, by one
electoral vote. Accusations were rife among Yorkinos that
Gomez Pedraza had used his powers as minister of war to
89
rig the primary elections. On November 30, 1828, disgruntled

338
Federalists gathered with the capital's civic militia, with
elements of the regular army, and with large masses of "the
people" at the Acordada to begin the first revolution in
Mexicos political history.
Lorenzo de Zavala, the Yorkino most intimately
associated with the Revolution of the Acordada, insisted
that a coordinated conspiracy never existed and that the
90
rising was spontaneous. The secret meetings of the Yorkino
ayuntamiento reveal that for a year prior to the revolution,
it was preparing to preserve the Federation by every means
at its disposal. In October 1827, Lucas Balderas and
Lizardo Azcarate, then the municipal sndicos, noting that
the conspiracy of Father Arenas presaged further Spanish
91
subversion, urged the strengthening of the civic militia.
In the following year Balderas became a regidor and the
commander of the militia's artillery battalion. Alluding
to the Spanish threat, regidor de la Cadena suggested in
January 1828 that the alcaldes auxiliares be appointed on
the basis of their unswerving loyalty to the Federation.
By spring, the strengthening of the civic militia was in
progress and absorbing an unduly large portion of its com
mander's time. In May, regidor de la Cadena declined an
appointment to the Theater Commission because it would inter-
9
fere with his duties as commander of the infantry battalion.
In the light of the ayuntamiento's militant preparations,
the protestation of De Zavala that the rising occurred
spontaneously challenges credulity.

339
Federalists and Centralists needed lower-class support
in 1844, for the life of the Republic was again at stake.
In November General Santa Anna, disgusted with the continual
criticism of his regime by the press and the national legis
lature, attempted to abrogate the conservative Bases orgnicos
and impose a military dictatorship. While Santa Anna was
with the bulk of the army in Queretaro suppressing an
insurrection, General Canalizo, the interim president,
closed the legislature. On December 3 he demanded that
9 3
civil servants take a loyalty oath to the regime. In a
defiant mood, the national legislature moved to the
convent of San Francisco and debated the deposition of
General Santa Anna. While packed galleries listened to
the inflammatory oratory of the deputies, businesses closed
. 94
and crowds milled dangerously in the streets. Soon rioting
broke out that the city's garrison did not attempt to
contain. By December 5 the troops had declared in favor
of the rebellious deputies and General Canalizo had fled the
city. On December 7 the ayuntamiento publicly thanked the
people and the garrison for their contribution to the
9 5
victory.
The direct role of the politicians in provoking
the rioting of 1844 was well known. The day after the
closure of the congress, two liberal deputies were in the
barrios haranguing and organizing the people for a riot.96
Jos Mara Lafragua, a liberal statesman wrote that obtaining

340
control of the ayuntamiento was essential to the success of
9 7
the revolutions. The ayuntamiento certainly did its share
of rabble rousing. On November 30 it debated the feasibility
of publicly declaring its adherence to the federalist Plan
de Jalisco. Regidor Caedo, the ayuntamiento's sole Santan-
ista, opposed the move on the grounds that the ayuntamiento
was not supposed to involve itself with politics. A public
declaration in favor of the plan, Caedo warned, would
reduce politics to the "logic of the tavern or cafe," raise
an idol to the plebe and cause a popular mutiny. Mocking
9 8
the Santanistas objections, the rebels published the plan.
Men as well as hunger rallied the poor to the liberal
causes.. They possessed a cadre of men of "great influence in
the barrios" whose conspiratorial meetings presaged every
..99
rising. Lucas Baldera, the military tailor, was influential
10 0
among artisans. Manuel de la Cadena defended the unem
ployed in the cuarteles under his supervision against arbi
trary impressment and imprisonment as vagrants. Jos Mara
del Ro, the owner of a pastry shop, personally organized
the rioting of 1849.
Other Liberals displayed an earthy machismo that the
common people loved. Wealthy young Juan Jos Baz while serv
ing as a judge once fined a lpero. Angered by the sentence,
the lpero insulted Baz and challenged him to a fist fight.
The young judge accepted the challenge, thrashed his oppo
nent, and magnanimously paid the fine.
Gomez Farias

341
skillfully harangued crowds and once led an ill-trained and
l 0
armed battalion of civic militia against a rebel regiment.
The poor venerated the human symbols of the inde
pendence movement manipulated by the Liberals. They
idolized Vincente Guerrero because he was a mestizo military
i 0 4
hero. The following quotation from Guillermo Prieto
alleges to be their understanding of the Revolution of the
Acordada.
President Victoria who is in the palace
supports Gomez Pedraza; and the Yorkinos
with Zavala, governor of the state of
Mexico, and Lobato wishes that the black
Guerrero, who fought with the old insur
gents, rule us at all costs.105
Guerrero was deposed and executed by the followers of Anas
tasio Bustamante in 1830. During the federalist coup of
1832 against Bustamante, the poor chanted for the downfall
of the government whose "infamous treason" killed their
. 106
hero.
Father Hidalgo, the leader of the 1810 rebellion
against the Spaniards, was another plebian hero. The elec
tion of the monarchist ayuntamiento in July 1849 did not
alarm the poor. The Monarchists, however, sealed their
fate on September 16 when their newspaper, the Universal,
published an editorial villifying Father Hidalgo and his
l 0 7
followers. Liberal politicians publicized the editorial
in the barrios and exploited the consequent anger in later
i 0 8
noting.

342
Misinterpretations abound concerning the rioting.
The desire for loot is a traditional explanation of the
rioters' motives. Francisco Ibar and Guillermo Prieto
described the Parian's looters as lperos meaning that they
belonged to the criminal underclass rather than to the ranks
of the honest, laboring poor. Francisco Arrangoiz makes
the distinction more explicitly.
The people did not take part in these
movements even when, as in the capital,
they were exhorted to participate in
the sack upon which only that portion
of evildoers who are the scum of society
delivered themselves to it; and they
abound in all the great cities of the
worldnot the laboring people, the
honored artisan, victim like the highest
class of the crimes of that rabble and
undisciplined soldiery.109
Naturally the political beneficiaries of the riots identified
their allies simply as the "people" (pueblo, gente del pueblo)
Unfortunately the police records available to George Rude
when he identified Parisian and English rioters are un
available in Mexico. In Chapter Six, however, the lperos
were defined not as a criminal class, but as a cross-section
of the laboring poor driven to crime and vagrancy by underem
ployment and unemployment.
Serious looting and murder undeniably occurred at the
Parian. In later years federalist leaders tried to minimize
its extent. Mora maintained that the rioting, in which five

343
thousand participated, was tame in comparison to the first
111
stage of the French Revolution or the Lord Gordon Riots.
De Zavala, who was in the presidential palace when the looting
broke out, stated,
It is very rare that a sack can be con
tained on the afternoon of the first
day, being worthy of note that no
robbery at all occurred during the
night and although the next morning
some looting did occur, the excesses
did not last longer than two hours.112
De Zavala added that the value of the property destroyed was
not the $4 million reported by Henry Ward but $2 million.
The recriminations of Liberals and Centralists ob
scure the fact that many contemporaries interpreted the
sacking as a legitimate act of war, regrettable or despicably
punitive depending on one's political affiliation. Jose
Maria Tornel called the Parian "the booty of the immoral war
113
that held the city prisoner." Two Yorkino regidores re
ferred to it as "contraband of war acquired by arms and
offered spontaneously."11"*
Sacking as a legitimate part of military operations
existed in Latin America, Europe, and the United States as
late as the final half of the nineteenth century. During
Latin America's wars of independence, soldiers subduing
a rebellious city had the right to pillage the property of
i
the vanquished provided that the surrender was unconditional.

344
During the Revolution of the Acordada, the gente del pueblo
and the civic militia had fought a prolonged struggle against
men they believed to be traitors. Government forces inflicted
11 6
heavy casualties on the insurgents. Indiscriminate gun
fire, easily blamed on the government, slew and wounded the
117
innocents who huddled m their homes. The actual sacking
occurred after government forces had ceased resistance, but
before De Zavala had negotiated the final articl.es of capi-
1 ] 8
tulation with President Guadalupe Victoria.
Francisco Ibar wrote that General Lobato offered
the Parian to his soldiers and their civilian allies in
compensation for their sacrifices. Others believed that it
was an undisciplined mutiny, the act of a savage mob that
119
could have been contained by its commanders. The minutes
of the ayuntamiento clearly reveal that the Yorkinos lured
"the people" to their banners with promises of legitimate
booty. On January 5, 1829, the ayuntamiento decided to re
store stolen property to "American" 'but not to "Spanish"
families. A fair-minded sndico reminded the council that
the constitution of Mexico protected all private property
regardless of the owner's nationality. A colleague replied
that the Spaniards' property had been "acquired by the right
of conquest in which case they cannot recover that which has
been sacked from them. This was the spirit of the ideas
preached to the people and the understanding of the ayunta-
l ? o
miento."
In contrast to its indifference to the plight of

345
the Parian's Spanish merchants, the municipality did its
ineffectual best to protect all the inhabitants from the
looting of marauding militiamen during the two months of
l 21
anarchy that followed the revolution.
The controversy stirred by the Parian's looting
masks the basic intentions of the rioters. Lacking a poli
tical philosophy or a long-range goal, they vented their
rage upon the visible symbols of unpopular regimes. The
Parian was the logical target of the victorious insurgents
of 1828. It represented the colonial monopoly of commerce
and industry and potential Spanish subversion. Within its
walls in 1808, the Spaniards plotted the arrest of Viceroy
Iturrigaray who had Ingratiated himself to native Mexicans
12 2
by cultivating their friendship. In 1828 Mexicans owned'
most of the market's stalls, but its association with the
Spaniards and conspiracy was still strong. Two Yorkino
regidores explained the mob's fury:
It is said that it is an object of the
people's hatred because it was believed
that the Spaniards were the Parian's sole
tenants: they held their secret meetings
there and forged all their plans and con
spiracies to attack liberty, insult us,
and place us forever under insupportable
tyranny. For the same reason, the people
detested the building because it was the
fortress of dominating tyrants for which
they wanted to remove it from sight or
try to destroy it as many times as they
could.1 2 3

346
General Santa Anna's megalomania encouraged the
rioters of 1844 to vent their wrath on less-valuable targets
than the stalls of the Parian. On the morning of December 2
the statue of Santa Anna located in the Plaza del Volador was
draped in the white gown of condemned criminals, a tightened
1 24
noose dangling from its neck. Later that day the mob
tore down another statue of the general that stood in front
l 25
of the national theatre. It then moved to the national
cemetery where it disinterred the leg that Santa Anna had
lost to a French cannon ball at Vera Cruz and dragged it
good-naturedly in the direction of the Plaza del Volador.
The plaza's merchants feared pillaging, but to their relief
the mob only wished to tear down the second statue of the
dictator. A captain of the Grenadiers accompanied by a few
soldiers easily persuaded the rioters to disperse after
leading them in a few "vivas" for the Federation. They
returned again that night, but by then the doors of the
stalls were shuttered, and the authorities had wisely
l 2 6
removed the offending statue. On December 7, the day
that General Canalizo resigned, shops were opening for
12 7
business and the people returning to work.
The targets of the rioters of 1849 were the homes of
the monarchist ayuntamiento. Except for the stoning of win
dows, little violence occurred. The entire affair took on
a carnival atmosphere as military bands accompanied the
] 2 8
rioters and government agents exploded rockets. Similar

347
restraint was shown by the mob that celebrated the abrupt
end of General Santa Anna's last regime (1853-1855). On
August 13, 1855, the mob sacked the offices of the monarchist
newspaper Universal and the homes of the dictator and his
chief ministers. It spared, however, a grocery store and
a tailor shop that adjoined the homes. When a liberal
agent ordered them to stop, their spokesman indignantly
replied that they were not robbing but punishing the traitor
] 29
who had sold the Mesilla.
Francisco Lopez Camara has stated that the participa
do
tion of rioters in revolutions was often decisive. His
statement is incorrect. The key to a successful rising was
military support. Rioting served only to intimidate the
indecisive or weak. The Yorkinos of 1828 had at their
disposal three battalions of civic militia and elements of
the regular army. Combat operations were conducted in a
13 l
military fashion. Civilians aided insurgent troops by
1 13 2
moving cannon, carrying munitions, and evacuating wounded.
The rioting of December 1838 reached "very serious" pro
portions but failed because the capital's garrison remained
13 3
loyal to the government. In 1844 the bulk of the army
was at Quertaro, and the mob roaming in the streets
persuaded a weak and partially subverted garrison to declare
its loyalty to the national congress. The rioters of 1849
had the full support of General Mariano Arista, the liberal
minister of war who wished to avoid the blatant dissolution

348
of the ayuntamiento. In their resignation message to the
national government, the Monarchists pointedly noted how the
government encouraged the disorders. 35 Jose Mara Lafragua
stated the necessity of military support when he described
his anxieties while preparing for the coup against General
Paredes y Arrillaga'(August 4, 1846).
But my material elements were very slight
because the Liberals had neither money
nor soldiers, necessary ingredients for
every revolution. The truth is that
public opinion was ours, but public
opinion does not win revolutions.136
The Liberals were ashamed of their association with
rioting. Salado Alvarez, the chronicler of the fall of
General Santa Anna's last regime, wrote that, rioting was
justified to drive tyrants from office but "stains the
. l 3 7
enthusiasm for popular triumphs. Mora himself issued
the most damning indictment, writing that because of the
Parian's destruction, the Yorkino's moment of victory was
13 8
also their moment of defeat.
The attraction of the poor to liberal causes was
fleeting. Cloaked.in passive indifference, they witnessed
the downfall of every regime that their rioting placed in
power. Reduced to misery by economic depression and politi
cal anarchy, they became progressively disillusioned with the
Republic. Jose Maria Lafragua described the difference between

349
the partisans
the apathetic
overrun their
flocking to the banners of Father Hidalgo and
onlookers watching the heretic North Americans
nation.
Then.finally they were a new people whose
eyes shone with liberty and all its en
chantments. Today they are a people who
have been deceived a thousand times and
who fear the revolutions because of the
press gangs, taxes, and oppressions.139
Notes
Mora, Mxico, tomo 1, p. 458.
2
Hutchinson, p. 22.
AACM, tomo 293.
4
Hutchinson, p. 22.
"Noticias," Monitor Republicano, 17 enero 1847, p. 4.
6AACM, tomo 168, "Actas de 14 enero 1847."
7
"Noticias," Monitor Republicano, 16 enero 1847, p. 2.
g
"Noticias," 17 enero 1847, p. 4. Malo, tomo 1, p. 311
9"Noticias," 16 enero 1847, p. 2. AACM, tomo 300,
"Actas de 14 enero 1847."
AACM, tomo 2266, "Bando de 14 enero 1847." "Noticias,
17 enero 1847, p. 4.
AACM, tomo 168, "Actas de 14 enero 1847."
1 "AACM, tomo 2279, exp. 1.
i 3
Michael P. Costeloe, The Mexican Church in the Re
bellion of the Polkos," Hispanic American Historical Review,
May 1966, pp. 170-78.
14
Lafragua, pp. 44-47.
15.
"Elecciones," Monitor Republicano, 18 junio 1844,
p. 1.

350
16AACM, tomo 873, exp. 19.
17
"Elecciones," Monitor Republicano, 12 julio 1849,
p. 4.
18
Dublan and Lozano, tomo 2, ley 841.
Ibid., tomo 3, ley 1796; tomo 4, ley 2581.
20
AACM, tomo 873, exps. 2, 3; tomo 872, exp. 16; tomo
862, exp. 8. Dublan and Lozano, tomo 2, ley 1796.
21
Lorenzo de Zavala, Ensayo histrico de las revolu
ciones de Mxico desde 1808 hasta 1830, 2 tomos (Mexico, D.F.,
1845), tomo 1, p. 279.
"AACM, tomo 873, exp. 3.
23
Dublan and Lozano, tomo 3, ley 1796; tomo 4, ley
2581.
AACM, tomo 873, exp. 13.
25
Dublan and Lozano, tomo 2, ley 841. AACM, tomo 862,
exp. 15.
26"Elecciones de ayuntamiento," Siglo Diez y Nueve,
10 septiembre 1848, p. 2. "Partidos polticos," Monitor Re
publicano, 28 junio 1849, p. 3.
27 ^
Dublan and Lozano, tomo 3, ley 1796; tomo 4, ley 2581.
"AACM, tomos 3411, 3412.
2 9
Dublan and Lozano, tomo 2, ley 841.
3AACM, tomo 873, exp. 3.
3 1
"Elecciones," Universal, 29 septiembre 1849, p. 2.
"AACM, tomo 872, exp. 10.
33
Ibid., exp. 11.
34
Bustamante, Apuntes, p. 42.
35
"Elecciones secundarias," Universal, 11 septiembre
1849, P. 3.
De Zavala, tomo 1, p. 279.
37
Otero, Ensayo, p. 70.
3 8
"Elecciones de ayuntamiento," p. 2.
39
Partidos polticos," pp. 3-4. De Zavala, tomo 1,
p. 45.
40
Mora, Mxico, tomo 1, p. 284.
41
"Elecciones secundarias," Universal, p. 3.
4 2
"Elecciones," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 19 julio 1849,
pp. 3-4.
43
"Elecciones," Monitor Republicano, 19 julio 1849,
pp. 3-4.

351
44
45
4 6
Bustamante, Apuntes, p. 112.
AACM, tomo 862, exp. 24.
Dblan and Lozano, tomo 3, ley 1796.
4 7
Carlos Maria Bustamante, Invasin de Mxico por D.
Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna (Mexico, D.F., 1832), p. 27.
4SPrieto (1964), p. 298.
49
Mora, Mxico, tomos 1-3.
AACM, tomo 2266, p. 51.
51
Bustamante, Invasin, p. 27.
5 2
Zamacois, tomo 12, p. 517.
5 3
"Rumores?" Monitor Republicano, 24 enero 1847, p. 3.
5 4
Lafragua, pp. 44-47.
4.
55
5 6 ,
5 7 ,
'Rumores?" p. 3.
'Tumulto," Monitor Republicano, 14 octubre 1846,
Francisco de Paula de Arrangoiz, Mjico desde 1808
hasta 1867, 4 tomos (Madrid, 1871-1872), tomo 2, p. 217.
5 8
Bustamante, El gabinete, tomo 2, pp. 145-50.
AACM, tomo 3275, exp. 113.
AACM, tomo 3274, exp. 105.
61 ni
4.
6 2
6 3
6 4
p. 3.
'Remitido," Monitor Republicano, 18 noviembre 1846,
AACM, tomo 3274, exp. 91.
Bustamante, El gabinete, tomo 2, p. 64.
"Revolucin," Monitor Republicano, 26 febrero 1847,
65,
"Guardia nacional," Monitor Republicano, 14 febrero
1844, p. 3.
66
Francisco Ibar, Muerte poltico de la repblica
mexicana (Mexico, D.F., 1829), tomo 2, p. 20.
6?Prieto (1964), p. 34.
68AACM, tomo 152, "Actas de 12 octubre 1832."
6 9
Calderon de la Barca, p. 303.
70AACM, tomo 168, "Actas de 12 octubre 1846."
71 AACM, tomo 168, "Actas de 10 mayo y 23 mayo 1848."
7 2.
"Remitido," Monitor Republicano, 18 octubre 1846,
p. 1.

352
73.. ¡
Remitido," Monitor Republicano, 23 mayo 1848, p. 3.
74
George Rude, The Crowd in History (New York, 1964).
Kaplow, p. 24. G. M. Trevelyan, England in the Age of Wycliffe
5th ed. (New York, 1963), p. 76.
?:>Rosa Feijoo, "El tumulto de 1624," Historia Mexicana
(julio-septiembre 1964), pp. 39-45. Idem., "El tumulto de
1692," Historia Mexicana (abril-junio 1965), pp. 656-79.
7>AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 14.
7 7
Zamacois, tomo 11, p. 132.
78AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 10.
79
Ibid.
8 0
Chavez Orozco, Documentos, "Introduccin."
81
AACM, tomo 4151, exps. 4, 5.
82
Ibar, p. 3.
83
Prieto (1964), p. 365. Zamacois, tomo 12, p. 498.
84
"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 29 diciembre 1844,
p. 2.
85Bustamante, Apuntes, p. 33.
"Compromiso," Semanario Artstico, 27 abril 1844,
pp. 1-2.
87
Diario Oficial, nos. 3350-439 (agosto-noviembre
1844).
88AACM, tomo 165, "Actas de 15 noviembre 1844."
8 9
De Zavala, tomo 2, pp. 48, 49.
90
Ibid., tomo 2, p. 82.
91 AACM, tomo 3274, exp. 105.
AACM, tomo 290, "Actas de 4 enero y 6 mayo 1828."
93
Zamacois, tomo 12, pp. 349-68.
94Prieto (1964), pp. 365-71.
9 5
AACM, tomo 165, "Actas de 7 diciembre 1844."
96
Bustamante, Apuntes, pp. 361-65.
97
Lafragua, p. 32.
AACM, tomo 165, "Actas de 30 noviembre 1844."
99
Zamacois, tomo 12, p. 8.
10Cuevas, pp. 178-82.
Prieto (1964), p. 298. Malo, tomo 1, p. 342.

353
1 02
Prieto (1964)
i 3
Manuel Rivera Cambas, Los gobernantes de Mxico,
2 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1872-1873), tomo 1.
De Zavala, tomo 2, pp. 48-49.
Prieto (1948), pp. 32-33.
luis Chavez Orozco, Historia de Mxico (1808-1836)
(Mxico, D.F., 1947), p. 293.'
10 7
"Aniversario del grito de Dolores," Universal, 16
septiembre 1849, p. 1.
1 8
Zamacois, tomo
13,
P-
296
.
109 A
. De Arrangoiz,
11 ()
Rude.
tomo
2,
P-
114,
ill
Mora, Mexico,
tomo
1,
P-
8.
The Lord Gordon
Riots
9, 1780) were in
protest
of
the
passage of the
Catholi
Relief Act by the British Parliament.
l i 2
Lorenzo de Zavala, Juicio imparcial sobre los acon
tecimientos de Mxico en 1828-1829 (Mxico, D.F., 1830), pp.
19-20.
3 Jos Mara Tornel y Mendivel, Breve resea his
trico (Mxico, D.F., 1852), p. 393.
114
Flores and Gamboa, pp. 18-19.
115German Carrerra Damas, "Sobre el significado socio
econmico de la accin histrica de Boves," en Comisin Organi
zadora del Cuatricentenaro de Caracas, Materiales para el
cuatricentenario de Caracas (Caracas, 1964).
1 1 6 TK r
Ibar, p. 5.
117Prieto (1948), pp. 32-33.
.118
Zamacois, tomo 11, pp. 693-706.
119
Ibar, p. 6. Juan Suarez y Navarro, Historia de
Mxico y del General Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna (Mxico, D.F.
1850), p. 130. Bocanegra, p. 146. Zamacois, tomo 11, pp. 693
700. De Zavala, Juicio, pp. 19-20. Cuevas, pp. 298-302.
1AACM, tomo 291, "Actas de 5 enero 1829."
1~)AACM, tomos 148, 228, "Actas de 9 diciembre 1828
y 14 febrero 1828."
i 2 2
Tornel y Mendivel, p. 393. -
12 3
Flores and Gamboa, pp. 16-17.
1.2 4
Bustamante, Apuntes, p. 360.
15Prieto (1964), p. 365.

354
12 6,
Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 3 diciembre 1844,
p. 1.
12 7
"Revolucin," Hesperia, 7 diciembre 1844, p. 4.
12 8
AACM, tomo 864, exp. 44.
Salado lvarez, pp. 396-97, 400. The lpero is
referring to the sale of the Mesilla Valley to the United
States in 1853. The transaction is known in the United States
as the Gadsden Purchase.
13 0^
Lopez Camara, "Los fundamentos," p. 232.
13 1
Jose Ignacio Paz, Estupendo grito de la Acordada
(Mexico, D.F., 1829), pp. 10-25.
13 2
De Zavala, Juicio, pp. 19-20.
133
Zamacois, tomo 12, p. 171.
13 4
Malo, tomo 1, p. 347.
35AACM, tomo 863, exp. 44.
1 3£>Lafragua, p. 37.
13 7 -
Salado Alvarez, p. 400.
Mora, Mxico, tomo 1, p. 81.
Lafragua, p. 54.

APPENDIX A
PROFILES OF MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60

356
TABLE A-l
OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60
Upper
Artisan
Unskilled
Total Cases
Manzana 57 6 49 27 33
Manzana 60 6 67 23 64
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random
sample of the census of 1849, AACM.
TABLE A-2
HABITATIONAL PROFILE, PLANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60
% in % in % in % in % in
House Apartment Acessoria Room Shack
Manzana 573 5 9 79 3
Manzana 60 6 0 0 92 2
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random
sample of the census of 1849, AACM.
TABLE A-3
RENT PROFILE, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60
% Paying % Paying % Paying % Paying
$0-1,0 $1,1-2,0 $2,1-3,0 >$3,0
Manzana 57 19 67 11 4
Manzana 60 16 59 22 3
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random
sample of the census of 1849, AACM.

357
BUSINESSES,
TABLE A-4
MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60
Manzana 57
Manzana 60
2 pawnshops
1 public bath
2 soda factories
1 carpentry shop
1 weaver's shop
2 pulque stalls
1 grocery store
1 butcher shop
1 maize store
1 silk spinner's shop
1 paper dying shop
2 starch factories
3 blanket and rebozo
weaving shops
1 carriage making shop
4 grocery stores
1 grocery store and pawn
shop
1 pork butcher's shop
SOURCE: A.G.N., tomos 83, 84, "Padrones de establecimientos
industriales, 1843."

APPENDIX B
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY

359
TABLE B-l
COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1843
Type
Number %
Warehouses
96
4
Counting houses
2 7
1
Slaughter houses
38
2
Honey shops
6
Sugar shops
9
Haberdasheries
84
3
Bookshops
14
Glass and fine china stores
12
Silk shops
54
2
Shoe stores
23
1
Clothes and linen stores
68
3
Wine shops
96
4
Hardware stores
30
1
Candle shops
56
2
Rebozo shops
17
Chocolate shops
37
2
Beer stores
4
Toy stores
26
1
Straw shops
53
2
Maize shops
64
2
Coal and charcoal dealers
174
7
Wax chandler shops
3
Pottery stores
25
1
Glass and cheap pottery stores
78
3
Fruit stalls
41
2
New clothes stores
1
Clothing rental and storage
16
Used furniture warehouses
9
New furniture warehouses
12
New and used furniture warehouses
12
Woolen yard store
1
Used clothing stalls
5
Lumberyards
13
Sweet shops
23
1
Pastry shops
36
1
Confection shops
2
Leather shops
26
1
Artificial flower shops
20
Scrap metal warehouses
53
2
Bakeries
17
Pulque pubs
385
16
Butcher shops
125
5
General stores
501
20
Mixed grocery stores
373
14
SOURCE: GN, tomo 85, "Lista de califocaciones del Derecho de
Patente, 1843."

360
TABLE B-2
SIXTEEN MOST COMMON INDUSTRIAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 1843
Type
Number
%
Carpentry
165
10
Shoemaking
113
6
Tailoring
64
4
Leather working
30
2
Textiles
62
4
Metalworking
52
3
Blacksmithing
45
2
Hat making
38
2
Tannery
13
Candle making
52
3
Gold and silversmithing,
watchmaking
49
2
Food and beveraging processing
109
6
Musical instruments
10
Painting shops
22
1
Carriage factories
15
Mattress factories
9
SOURCE: AGN, tomos 83, 84, "Padrones de establecimientos in
dustriales, 1843."
TABLE B-3
WORK FORCE OF CARPENTRY SHOPS, 1845
Journeymen
Apprentices
Journeymen
Apprentices
4
1
3
0
2
3
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
2
0
0
0
0
2
0
0
2
0
2'
2
2
0
1
0
2
0
6
0
2
0
2
0
6
0
2
0

361
TABLE B-3, continued:
Journeymen
Apprentices
Journeymen
Apprentices
0
0
7
0
3
0
1
1
3
0
0
1
2
0
6
1
0
0
0
0
2
0
1
3
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
2
0
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
2
6
0
5
2
1
0
0
19
9
2
0
0
0
1
0
2
0
1
0
3
3
0
0
1
4
9
0
1
4
2
0
1 .
1
1
0
0
1
0
0
0
2
2
0
4
2
2
0
0
2
0
0
1
0
0
1
6
0
1
0
6
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2280, "Padrn de establecimientos de
carpintera, 1845."

362
TABLE B-4
INVENTORY OF CARPENTRY SHOP WORTH $48 IN 1853
One wheel with pinion
Grate, 2 3/4 yards in length
4 door frames
4 water spouts
5 mason's rasps
4 bolts of old linen
4 window panes
2 wooden corner tables
2 pieces of old cedar
2 small tables
1 almost useless spinel
1 old desk
1 small door
1 door case
1 large box
1 gate
2 small chunks of wood
5 dozen tin plates
1 wooden strip
1 dozen wooden stair railings
14 small doors
1 carpenter's bench
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra German Loris, 1852."
TABLE B-5
CAPITAL INVESTED AND LABOR FORCE OF INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL
ESTABLISHMENTS, CENSUS OF 1849
Type
Investment Income (Weekly)
Labor Force
Noodle factory
130
$ 8
4
Tinsmithing
5
2
Tapestry shop
10
4
1
Tailor shop
40.
6
8
Leather working
150
6
6
Silversmithing
90
5
2
Lathe shop
100
5
2
Carpentry shop
20
4
1
Paint shop
30
1

363
TABLE B-5, continued:
Type
Investment
Income (Weekly)
Labor Force
Carpentry shop
100
4
Tailor shop
50
3
6
Carpentry shop
10
3
1
Chair shop
25
Tailor shop
30
3
4
Chocolate shop
100
20
1
Dairy
10
4
Sock making shop
5
4
2
Carpentry shop
10
3
10
Tailor shop
50
3
10
Lathe shop
10
1
1
Paint shop
150
2
2
Tailor shop
300
7
6
Leather working
None
Scarcely enough
to pay for food
Bakery
8,000
8
Press
200
7
2
Pastry shop
185
9
2
Blacksmithing shop
20
10
Carpentry shop
500
8
Carpentry shop
1,000
5
Coppersmithing
1,000
2
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 3406, "Padrn industrial de 1849, manzana
32, 44, 142, 239."

APPENDIX C
SALARIES AND WAGES

TABLE C-l
CIVIL SERVICE SALARIES, 1845
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores,
Gobernacin, y Polica:
Minis ter
$6,000a
First officer
4,000
First officer
3,000
Second officer
2,000
Second officer
2,000
Second officer
1,000
Second officer
1,000
Second officer
1,000
Second officer
1,000
Second officer
900
Second officer
600
Archivis t
1,000
Assistant archivist
600
Clerk
400
Porter
600
Office boy
200
Oficio de Contadura Propios:
Accountant general 3,000
Second chief 2,000
Third auditor 1,000
Fourth auditor 1,000
First official of auditing 700
First official of statistics 700
Second official of auditing 600
Third official of auditing and archivist 500
Scribes (3) 400
Office boy 192
Bureaucrat's average annual salary $700
Artisans average annual earnings 156
SOURCES: Ministerio de Hacienda y Crdito Publico, Memoria
de 1844 (Mexico, D.F., 1844). Ayuntamiento de Mexico,
Memoria de 1845 (Mexico, D.F., 1845).
aAnnual wages.

366
TABLE C-2
SERVANT WAGES
Male
Female
Coachman
$ 1,6
(W,R)
Cook
$ 1,1
(W)
Coachman
4,0
(W,R)
Servant
0,5
(W,R)
Servant
3,0
(M, R)
Servant
0,4
(W,R)
Servant
2,4
(M,R)
Servant
0,4
(W,R)
Coachman
18,0
(M,R)
Servant
0,2
(W, R)
Porter
5,0
(M,R)
Servant
0,5
(W,R)
Lackey
5,0
(M,R)
Servant
0,2
(W,R)
Porter
12,0
(M)
Cook
5,4
(M,R)
Errand boy
4,0
(M,R)
Maid
5,4
(M,R)
Errand boy
12,0
(M)
Maid
5,0
(M,R)
Porter
12,0
(M)
Chambermaid
4,0
(M, R)
Servant
8,0
(M)
Maid
3,0
(M,R)
Servant
8,0
(M)
Cook
3,0
(M,R)
Servant
6,0
(M, R)
Cook
12,0
(M)
Servant
1,4
(M,R)
Servant
3,0
(M,R)
Coachman
8,0
(M,R)
Servant
3,0
(M, R)
Waddy Thompson paid
. his
servants who resided at his hous
Cook
$ 4,0-6,
0
Housekeeper
$8,0-10
,0
Coachman
15,0-20,0
Chambermaid
3,0-4,
0
Waiter
15,0
Scullion
3,0-4,
0
SOURCE: Industrial census of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.
NOTE: M = month, W = week, R = resides with employer.
TABLE C-3 '
WEEKLY WAGES, SKILLED
Ojalatero (2)
Tapideo
Tailor (8)
Leather worker (6)
Silversmith (2)
Turner (2)
Tailor (6)
Tailor (4)
Carpenter
$2,0
4,0
3,0
4,0
3,0
1,0
2,2
3,0
4,0
Tailor
Carpenter (10)
Turner
Tailor (6)
Printer (3)
Soap cutter
Tailor
Tailor
Painter
$3,0
3,0
3,0
3,0
3,0
8,0
6,0
3,0
3,0

367
TABLE C-3, continued:
Pastry maker
$3,3
Tailor
2,4
Baker
6,0
Silversmith
4,4
Pastry chef
5,2
Brass worker
3,0
Carpenter
4,3
Tailor
3,0
Weaver
3,0
Weaver
1,4
Shoemaker
2,5
Tailor
2,0
Carpenter
3,2
Tailor
0,3
Tailor
3,0
Carpenter
4,4
Leather worker
4,4
Shoemaker
3,0
Carpenter (6)
3,0
Shoemaker
1,4
Carpenter
3,0
Silversmith
3,6
Carriage maker
1,4
Tailor
4,4
Si lversmith
3,6
Carriagemaker
4,4
Hat maker
3,0
Carriage maker
4,4
Carpenter
6,0
Carpenter
4,4
Carpenter (5)
5,2
Blacksmith
2,1
Foreman
4,4
Tailor
1,4
Carpenter (5)
3,6
Coppersmith
2,2
Tailor
4,4
Blacksmith
$3,6
Weaver
1,0
Tinsmith
i
Carriage maker
2,4
Blacksmith
i1
Lace maker
3,0
Silversmith
1,4
Cigar maker
3,0
Tailor
1,4
Weaver
0.6
Stonecutter
2,2
Carriage maker
2,2
Esterrador
2,2
Shoemaker
1,4
Weaver
0,3
Weaver
1,4
Meat cutter
1,4
Leather worker
2,2
Baker
0,3
Tailor
3,0
Tailor
1,4
Wig maker
2,4
Printer
0.6
Tailor
. 0.6
Tailor
1,4
Shoe maker
1,0
Carpenter
2,2
Silversmith
0,6
Carpenter
1,4
Policeman
3,0
Carpenter
6,0
Armorer
3,0
Silversmith
1,4
Glove maker
9,0
SOURCE: Industrial census of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.

368
TABLE C-4
WOMENS WAGES
Dressmaker
$1,5
(W)
Dressmaker
0,6
(W)
Washerwoman
o
11
(W)
Washerwoman
2,4
(W)
Seamstress
0,6
(W)
Seams tress
0,6
(W)
Chocolate grinder
0,5
(W)
Cigar maker
0,6
(W)
Washerwoman
0,6
(W)
Cigar maker
0,6
(W)
Tortilla maker
0,6
(W)
Tortilla maker
0,6
(W)
Seamstress
0,6
(W)
Seamstress
0,6
(W)
Washerwoman
3,0
(W)
Cigarmaker
1,4
(W)
Washerwoman
1,4
(W)
Seams tress
! 1
1 1
(W)
Washerwoman
0,5
(W)
Washerwoman
2,4
(W)
Chocolate grinder
1,4
(W)
Washerwoman
1,0
(W)
Seamstress
0,2
(W)
Seamstress
0,2
(W)
Seamstress
0,2
(W)
Seamstress
0,2
(W)
Washerwoman
1,0
Seamstress
0,6
Weaver
0,6
Cigar maker
0,6
Seamstress
0,3
Seamstress
0,3
Seamstress
0,6
SOURCE: Industrial census of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.
NOTE: W = weekly.

APPENDIX D
POPULATION ESTIMATES AND GROWTH

370
TABLE D-l
ESTIMATES OF MEXICO CITY'S POPULATION, 1811-1857
Source Year Estimates
Padrn de Juzgado de Polica
Ayun tamiento
M.B.
Fernando Navarro y Noriega
Joel R. Poinsett
Inst. Nacional de Geog. y Est.
Brantz Mayer
Thomas J. Farnham
Juan Nepucemo Almonte
Lerdo de Tejada
Antonio Garca Cubas
1811
168,846
1813
123,907
140,000
1820
179,830
1824
150,000-160,000
1838
205,430
1842
200,000
1846
200,000
1852
170,000
1856
185,000
1857
200,000
SOURCE: Keith Davies, "Tendencias demogrficas urbanas durante
el siglo XIX en Mexico," Historia Mexicana (octubre-diciembre
1972), p. 501.
TABLE D-2
MEXICO CITY NATURAL POPULATION GROWTH, 1839-1845
Year
Born
Died
Increase/Deerease
1839
6,639
5,638
1,001
1840
6,524
8,154
-1,630a
1841
6,860
5,249
1,611
1842
6,656
5,904
752
1843
7,120
6,244
876
1844
7,113
5,950
1,163
1845
7,542
5,772
1,770
Total
48,454
42,911
5,543
Average annual population growth 790
SOURCE:
Ayuntamiento de
Mexico, Memoria
de los ramos muni-
cipales,
1845 (Mexico, D.F
., 1847).
The population deficit of
1840 was due to
a revolution that
claimed
137 civilian lives
and a smallpox
epidemic that killed
2,878.

371
TABLE D-3
POPULATION ESTIMATES OF THE AYUNTAMIENTO DE MEXICO, 1824-1846
Year
Estimate
1824
168,000
1843
145,000
1844
160,000
1846
174,000
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 872, exps. 11, 15; tomo 863, exp. 38;
tomo 873, exp. 2.

APPENDIX E
OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES

373
TABLE E-l
RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849
, MIDDLE/UPPER
CLASSES
Occupation
Number
%
Business manager
41
3.0
Lives off income
34
2.5
Shopkeeper
27
2,0
Army officer
25
1.8
Student
22
1.6
Large-shop keeper
15
1.1
Minor civil servant
14
1.0
Middle-rank civil servant
13
1.0
Nontrial lawyer
9
0.7
Sales clerk
9
0.7
Broker
9
0.7
Clergyman
8
0.6
Doctor
6
0.4
High civil servant
6
0.4
Elementary schoolteacher
5
0.4
Govt, office clerk
5
0.4
Musician
5
0.4
Religious
4
O'. 3
Professor
4
0.3
Pub owner
4
0.3
Hotel manager
4
0.3.
Pharmacis t
3
0.2
Law clerk
3
0.2
Medical assistant
2
0.1
Legal advisor
2
0.1
Head of small firm
2
0.1
Branch manager
2
0.1
Cafe/lunchroom owner
2
0.1
Restaurant operator
1
0.1
Veterinarian
1
0.1
Miner
1
0.1
Sculptor
1
0.1
Artist
1
0.1
Music teacher
1
0.1
Member lower house
1
0.1
Department manager
1
0.1
Office manager
1
0.1
Manager
1
0.1
Credit manager
1
0.1
Livestock broker
. 1
0.1
Unspecified
1
0.1
SOURCE: Compiled and computed
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.
by the author
from the
census

374
NOTE: The middle/upper class was an amorphous group whose
membership ranged from the wealthiest family living off its
income to the lowliest clerk in a house of commerce. Al
though businessmen were included in the middle/upper class
group if they paid over $7 in rent, the basic criterion for
inclusion in the group was by occupation. The computer re
sults indicated that this group comprise 26 percent of the
population. But since nearly 5 percent of the group paid
rents of $3 or less, it would appear that the computer re
sults inflate the percentage of the middle/upper classes.
The true percentage is probably nearer to the nineteenth-
century estimate of 20 percent. This group was readily dis
tinguished from the mestizo poor by its European life style.
TABLE E-2
RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, SKILLED
Occupation
Number
%
Shoemaker
Tailor
Carpenter
Mason
Baker
Weaver
One-man stand owners
Painter
Printer
Tinsmith
Jeweler
Independent artisan
Blacksmith
Hat maker
Leather worker
Watchman
Beef butcher
Tanner
Skilled construction
Cook
Potter
Cabinetmaker
Turner
Dyer
Metal processor
Policeman
94
82
52
50
46
43
24
21
14
11
11
11
10
10
9
7
6
6
6
6
6
5
4
4
4
2
0.7
0. 7
0.7
0.5
0.4
0.4
0.4
0.4
0..4
0.3
0.3
0.3
0.3
0.1
0.8
1.5
1.0
0.8
6.9
6.0
3.8
3.7
3.0
3.0
0.8
1.8

375
TABLE E-2, continued:
Occupation
Number
o
/
/
Knitter
2
0.
.1
Embroiderer
2
0.
1
Forging press operator
2
0.
, 1
Goldsmith
2
0.
1
Mail carrier
2
0,
, 1
Beautician
1
0.
,1
Prison guard
1
0.
, 1
Paper maker
1
0.
.1
Machine tool operator
1
0.
. 1
Watchmaker
1
0.
1
Plumber
1
0.
1
Lithographer
1
0.
1
Plasterer
1
0.
1
Smelter
1
0.
.1
Wood treater
1
0.
.1
Cashier
1
0.
,1
Financial clerk
1
0.
.1
Bill collector
1
0.
1
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.
NOTE: The basic criterion for classification as an artisan
was the possession of an occupation requiring a period of
formal apprenticeship. Although tanners and masons were
described as populacho in the Museo Mexicano's essay, they
have been classified as artisans because the tanners were
represented on the Junta de Fomento de Artesanos and be
cause the masons referred to themselves by their artisanal
ranks. Although it was impossible to distinguish the master
artisans from the journeymen on the census of 1849, it is
safe to assume that the great majority of those counted were
journeymen. Included within this category, although not
artisans, are merchants paying between $4 and $7 in monthly
rent and the holders of occupations possessing a modicum of
social prestige. The entire group represented 42 percent
of the economically-active male population and 67 percent of
those in the last two occupational categories.

376
TABLE E-3
RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849, UNSKILLED
Occupation
Number %
Servant
76
5.6
Street peddler
52
3.8
Street porter
29
2.1
Pork butcher
24
1.8
Janitor
23
1.7
Agricultural laborer
17
1.1
Nonmetallic mineral producer
14
1.0
Barber
8
0.6
Coachman
7
0.5
Wagoner
7
0.5
Bartender
6
0.4
Drover
6
0.4
Food and beverage producer
5
0.4
Teams ter
5
0.4
Fiber preparer
5
0.4
Sexton
4
0.3
Other producers
4
0.3
Aguador
4
0.3
Musican entertainer
2
0.1
Waiter
2
0.1
Vegetable grower
2
0.1
Unskilled factory hands
2
0.1
Newspaper vendor
1
0.1
Money lender
1
0.1
Fisherman
1
0.1
Beverage maker
1
0.1
Boatman
1
0.1
Street sweeper
1
0.1
Wax chandler
10
1.7
Cigar maker
10
1.7
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of. 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.
NOTE: The unskilled class comprised nearly 23 percent of
the entire economically-active male population and 38 percent
of the lower-class male population. Their percentage in the
entire population is very close to the estimates of the num
ber of lperos in the population. Because many of the poorer
artisans and unskilled laborers lived in the streets, in
ruins, or areas otherwise unaccessible to the enumerator, the
number of artisans and populacho is underrepresented on the
sample survey.

APPENDIX F
VAGRANTS AND CRIMINALS

378
TABLE F-l
SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, SKILLED
Occupation
Number
%
Shoemaker
119
19.9
Tailor
52
8. 7
Mason
42
7.0
Weaver
37
6.2
Carpenter
26
4.3
Baker
15
2.5
Blacksmith
12
2.0
Leather worker
12
2.0
Confectioner
12
2.0
Stonecutter
6
1.0
Printer
5
0.8
Comb maker
5
0.8
Candy maker
5
0.8
Potter
5
0.8
Gilder
4
0.8
Pulque dealer
4
0.7
Tanner
4
0.7
Spinner
3
0.5
Turner
3
0.5
Tinsmith
3
0.5
Painter
3
0.5
Stone carver
2
0.3
Butcher
3
0.5
Soap cutter
2
0.3
Brickmaker
2
0.3
Lace maker
2
0.3
Hat maker
2
0. 3
Tile maker
2-
0. 3
Dyer
2
0.3
Glasier
2
0.3
Gold leaf maker
2
0.3
Armorer
1
0.2
Ba tiojero
1
0.2
Compidrador
1
0.2
Mail carrier
1
0.2
Minter
1
0.2
Dyer
1
0.2
Card maker
1
0.2
Glove maker
1
0.2
Purse maker
1
0.2
Metalworker
1
0.2
Butcher
1
0.2
Wig maker
1
0.2
Foreman
1
. 0.2

379
TABLE F-l,. continued:
Occupation
Number
%
Cooper
1
0.2
Cake froster
1
0.2
Box maker
1
0.2
Silversmith
1
0.2
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
4151-56, 4778-88.
TABLE F-2
SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED
Occupation Number %
Peddler
Servant
Street porter
Coachman
Barber
Teamster
Waiter
Water carrier
Wage laborer
Wagoner
Pulque or meat porters
Pork butcher
Stamp seller
Drover
Mule seller
Starch maker
Boatman
Street paver
Soda maker
Errand boy
Street singer
Iceman
31
5.1
16
2.7
13
2.2
.11
1.8
7
1.2
7
1.2
7
1.2
5
0.8
5
0.8
4
0.7
4
0.7
4
0.7
4
0.7
3
0.5
2
0.3
1
0.2
1
0.2
1
0.2
1
0.2
1
0.2
1
0.2
1
0.2
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
4151-56, 4778-88.

380
TABLE F-3
CONDEMNED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, SKILLED
Occupation
Number
%
Shoemaker
12
12.0
Tailor
12
12.0
Mason
8
8.0
Confectioner
6
6.0
Carpenter
5
5.0
Baker
5
5.0
Weaver
4
4.0
Leather worker
2
2.0
Stonecutter
1
1.0
Purse maker
1
1.0
Minter
1
1.0
Dyer
1
1.0
Blacksmith
1
1.0
Turner
2
2.0
Purse maker
1
1.0
Lace maker
1
1.0
Wig maker
1
1.0
Painter
1
1.0
Tile maker
1
1.0
Total
66
16.0
SOURCE: Compiled
4151-56, 4778-88.
and computed by the author
from AACM, tomos
CONDEMNED
TABLE F-4
VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED
Occupation
Number
%
Peddler
7
7.0
Street porter
4
4.0
Servant
2
2.0
Cigar maker
2
2.0
Barber
2
2.0
Wagoner
2
2.0
Coachman
2
2.0
Vegetable grower
1
1.0
Waiter
1
1.0

381
TABLE F-4, continued:
Occupation
Number
%
Pork butcher
1
1.0
Drover
1
1.0
Servant
1
1.0
Errand boy
1
1.0
Total
27
17.0
Unknown
6
6.0
SOURCE: Compiled and
tomos 4151-56, 4778-88
computed by the author
from AACM,
CRIMINALS,
TABLE F-5
MINOR WARD 17, 1828-1852,
SKILLED
Occupation
Number
%
Mason
31
15.0
Shoemaker
30
15.0
Weaver
22
10.2
Tailor
13
6.2
Carpenter
13
6.2
Confectioner
7
3.4
Baker
6
2.9
Hat maker
4
1.9
Leather worker
3
1.4
Stonecutter
3
1.4
Butcher
3
.9
Blacksmith
2
.9
Button maker
1
.5
Glovemaker
1
.5
Spinner
1
.5
Turner
1
.5
Metalworker
1
. 5
Min ter
1
.5
Doll maker
1
.5
Chair maker
1
.5
Comb maker
1
.5
Shawl maker
1
.5
Tile maker
1
.5

382
TABLE F-5, continued:
Occupation
Number
Shopkeeper
1
.5
Cooper
1
.5
Spinner
1
.5
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
2889-92.
CRIMINALS,
TABLE F-6
MINOR WARD 17, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED
Occupation
Number %
Porter
15
7.0
Wax chandler
6
2.9
Fisherman
6
2.9
Servant
4
1.9
Meat cutter
4
1.9
Charcoal vendor
3
1.4
Wage laborer
4
1.9
Drover
3
1.4
Water carrier
2
.9
Peddler
2
.9
Waiter
2
.9
Pork butcher
2
.9
Guard
2
.9
Sweet vendor
2
.9
Coachman
1
.5
Soap maker
1
.5
Milk vendor
1
.5
Sidewalk musician
1
.5
Salt maker
1
.5
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
2889-92.

383
TABLE F-7
OCCUPATIONS OF CONVICTED CRIMINALS
Occupation
Number
Artisans:
Mason
11
Shoemaker
11
Weaver
10
Carpenter
5
Leatherworker
2
Chair maker
2
Baker
3
Painter
1
Tile maker
1
Tailor
4
Meat butcher
2
Steward
1
Stone worker
1
Glove maker
1
Unskilled:
Drover
3
Laborer
1
Street entertainer
1
Salt maker
1
Street merchant
1
Servant
2
Street porter
4
Water carrier
1
Powder maker
1
Wax chandler
2
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
2889-92.

APPENDIX G
500-YARD RING/1,000-YARD CIRCLE PROFILES

385
TABLE G-l
COMPARISON OF POPULATION OF INNER 500-YARD CIRCLE
WITH OUTER 1,000-YARD RING
Population:
Circle = 17% of total population
Ring = 83% of total population
Total cases = 1,364
Occupational composition of circle and ring:
Upper Artisanal Unskilled
Circle
35
33
25
Total cases
= 225
Ring
24
41
25
Total cases
= 1,125
Unknown = 14
Distribution of occupational categories among circle and ring:
Circle
Ring
Upper
Total cases = 2'25
22
78
Artisanal
Total cases = 573
13
87
Unskilled
Total cases = 318
18
81
TO TAI, CASES = 1,116
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.

386
TABLE G-2
COMPARISON OF INDUSTRIES OF INNER 500-YARD CIRCLE
AND OUTER 1,000-YARD RING
Distribution of industries:
Circ]e
Ring
Total cases = 2,000
%_ Total Indus try
32
68
Assessment of taxes:
Circle
Ring
Total cases = 2,000
%_ Assessed Taxes % Not Assessed Taxes
55 45
21 79
SOURCE: AGN, tomos 83, 84, "Padrones de establecimientos in
dustriales, 1843."

APPENDIX H
TRAZA/BARRIOS PROFILES

388
TABLE H-l
CITY, TRAZA, BARRIO OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE
% Upper
% Artisan
% Unskilled
City
26
42
24
Traza
37
32
22
Barrio
15
50
25
Total cases 1,364
Dis tribution
'of occupational categories:
% in Traza
% in Barrios
Upper
70
30
Artisan
38
62
Unskilled
48
52
Total cases
1,364
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.
TABLE H-2
CITY, TRAZA, BARRIO HABITATIONAL PROFILE
07 07
Z m % m
% in
% in
07
Zo m
Houses Apartments
Acessorias Single Rooms
Shacks
City 18
15
15
47
3"
Traza 25
20
19
32
1
Barrio 11
9
10
62
6
Total cases
1,342
Distribution
of habitational
types:
Traza
Barrios
% in houses
70
30
% in apartments
69
31
% in acessorias
65
35
% in single rooms
35
66
% in shacks
17
83
Total cases
1,342
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.

389
TABLE H-3
CITY, TRAZA, BARRIO RENT PROFILE
% Paying
$0-1,6
% Paying
$1,7-2,4
% Paying
$2,5-5,0
% Paying
$5,1-10,0
% Paying
Over $10,0
City
30
20
17
15
10
Traza
11
16
20
24
29
Barrio
45
26
13
11
5
Total
cases = 1,009
Distribution of rents:
Traza
Barrios
% paying $0-1,6
17
83
% paying $1,7-2,4
35
65
% paying $2,5-5,0
63
37
% paying $5,1-10,0
68
32
% paying over $10,0
81
19
Total cases = 1,009
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.

APPENDIX I
AGE AT DEATH, 1842, 1844, 1850

391
TABLE 1-1
AGE AT DEATH, 1842
Age Bracket
Number %
1-3
1,717
35
3-7
232
5
7-20
152
3
20-25
223
5
25-30
254
5
30-35
431
9
35-40
238
5
40-45
443
9
45-50
268
5
50-55
144
3
55-60
376
8
60+
447
9
Total cases 4,925
Average age at death 30
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM,
tomos 723-24.
TABLE 1-2
AGE AT DEATH, 1844
Age Bracket
Number %
1-3
1,712
34
3-7
282
6
14-11
142
3
20-21
287
6
21-25
241
5
25-30
367
7
30-35
184
4
35-40
363
7
40-45
183
4
45-50
308
6
50-55
115
2
55-60
301
6
60+
488
10

392
TABLE 1-2, continued:
Total cases 4,973
Average age at death 30
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM,
tomo 725.
TABLE 1-3
AGE AT DEATH, 18-50
Age Bracket
Number %
1 day-10 yrs
2,163
38
11-22
337
6
21-30
791
14
31-40
737
13
41-50
650
11
51-60
539
9
61-70
315
6
71-80
12 7
2
81-90
42
1
Total cases 5,701
Average age at death 28
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomo
733.
NOTE: Excludes deaths from cholera.

APPENDIX J
CAUSES OF DEATH,1842, 1844

394
TABLE J-l
CAUSES OF DEATH, 1842, 1844
Disease
1842 3
t 1844 %
Pneumonia
653
14
641
13
Dysentery
549
12
520
11
Fever
391
8
470
10
Convulsions
375
8
444
9
Tuberculosis
192
4
182
4
Costadoa
150
3
111
2
Measles
2
7
Smallpox
19
8
Scarlet fever
8 .
130
Total
2,349
2,513
Others
2,325
2,329
Total
4,674
4,842
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
723-26.
aCostado, or pleurisy, is usually a symptom of typhoid, typhus,
measles, scarlet fever, or smallpox.
TABLE J-2
DEATHS OF CHILDREN, THE SAGRARIO, 1842
Alfereca
Dysentery
Stroke
Whooping cough
Mai interior
Inflammation
Diarrhea
Etica
Angina
Empacho
Fever
Pneumonia
% Age 0-9
% Over Age 10
17
11
11
10
7
6
3
3
2
2
4
3
8
3
20

395
TABLE J-2, continued:
% Age 0-9
% Over Age 10
Hydropesia
2
Dropsy
13
Continuous fever
7
Costado
4
Tuberculosis
2
Others
19
46
Total no. of deaths
381
723
36% of all deaths are
under the age of 10
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
723, 724.

APPENDIX K
PERIODICITY OF DISEASE

397
TABLE K-l
MONTHLY PERCENTAGES OF PNEUMONIA DEATHS, 1842, 1844, 1848
Month
1842
1844
1848
Jan.
7
12
8
Feb.
8
17
9
Mar.
9
11
16
Apr.
26
6
13
May
5
4
5
June
10
6
8
July
7
6
8
Aug.
6
6
5
Sept.
2
8
5
Oct.
5
5
7
Nov.
7
14
6
Dec.
9
7
11
Total deaths
107
102
130
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
723, 725, 729.
TABLE K-2
MONTHLY PERCENTAGES OF DYSENTERY DEATHS, 1842, .1844, 1848
Month
1842
1844
1848
Jan.
2
6
9
Feb.
5
4
6
Mar.
7
9
13
Apr.
4
7
19
May
8
6
6
June
10
10
10
July
6
15
19
Aug.
14
21
4
Sept.
9
6
1
Oct.
7
6
4
Nov.
5
6 .
8
Dec.
8
3
1
Total deaths
111
67
79
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
723, 725, 729.

398
PERCENTAGES
TABLE K-3
OF TOTAL MONTHLY DEATHS,
1842, 1848
Month
1842
1848
Jan.
7
9
Feb.
6
8
Mar.
8
9
Apr.
10
9
May
8
8
June
9
9
July
9
10
Aug.
9
10
Sept.
8
9
Oct.
8
' 9
Nov.
9
10
Dec.
9
9
Total deaths
4,674
5,522
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
723, 729.

APPENDIX L
POPULATION, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60

TABLE L-l
MANZANA 57, AGE/SEX DISTRIBUTION
Age
% Male
% Female
0-4
5
5
5-9
6
5
10-14
2
3
15-19
1
5
20-24
5
7
25-29
6
8
30-34
5
8
35-39
3
3
40-44
5
5
45-49
1
2
50-54
3
2
55-59
0
1
60+
1
2
Total population =
699
SOURCE: Compiled and
3613.
computed by
the author from AACM, tomo
MANZANA
TABLE L-2
60, AGE/SEX DISTRIBUTION
Age
% Male
% Female
0-4
8
7
5-9
6
6
10-14
4
5
15-19
2
5
20-24
4
7
25-29
4
6
30-34
5
6
35-39
3
4
40-44
3
4
45-49
2
1
50-54
1
2
55-59
1
1
60+
2
2
Total
population =
1,35 7
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomo
3604.

401
TABLE L-3
MANZANA 57, MIGRANT POPULATION
Age
% Male
% Female
0-4
0
0
5-9
2
2
10-14
2
0
15-19
1
2
20-24
3
9
25-29
10
12
30-34
8
9
35-39
4
6
40-44
6
7
45-49 .
0
2
50-54
2
6
55+
1
4
Total
immigrants =
179
SOURCE:
3413.
Compiled and
computed by
the author from AACM, tomo
MANZANA 60
TABLE L-4
, MIGRANT POPULATION
Age
% Male
% Female
0-4
2
1
5-9
2
3
10-14
3
3
15-19
2
5
20-24
4
7
25-29
3
10
30-34
8
8
35-39
3
5
40-44
5
6
45-49
2
2
50-54
2
2
55+
3
3
Total
immigrants = 486
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomo
3409.

402
TABLE L-5
MANZANA 57, PERCENTAGES OF MIGRANTS IN THE 20-39 AGE BRACKET
Age
Male
Female
Native
Migrant
Total No.
Native
Migrant
Total No
20-24
84%
16%
32
76%
24%
51
25-29
69
31
41
73
27
58
30-34
64
36
36
78
22
57
35-39
70
30
18
72
28
23
TABLE L-6
MANZANA 60, PERCENTAGES OF MIGRANTS IN THE 20-39 AGE BRACKET
Age
Male
Female
Native
Migrant
Total No.
Native
Migrant
Total No
20-24
73%
27%
48
70%
30%
93
25-29
77
23
58
65
35
85
30-34
66
34
71
67
33
81
35-39
70
30
40
70
30
55

APPENDIX M
MARRIAGE PERIODICITY AND HOUSEHOLD SIZE

404
TABLE M-l
MONTHLY PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL ANNUAL MARRIAGES, 1842
Month
% Month %
Jan.
17
July
14
Feb.
17
Aug.
20
Mar.
9
Sep t.
12
Apr.
17
Oct.
16
May
19
Nov.
17
June
13
Dec.
7
SOURCE:
Compiled and computed by
the author from AACM,
tomo
723, exp. 2.
TABLE M-2
CONTRAST OF TYPE 5 AND TYPE 9 FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS
Number of children as percent of total number of each
2 1 4 5_
24 16 13 7
3 13 23 20
Percentage within each occupational group:
Artisan Unskilled
Type 5 44 25
Type 9 23 3
Mean, rent:
Type 5 $ 9,0
Type 9 25,0
Total number of Type 5 families = 321
Total number of Type 9 families = 30
6+
4
40
Upper
20
40
family type:
1
Type 5 36
Type 9 0
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random
sample of the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.

405
TABLE M-3
CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH RESIDENCE
IN TRAZA AND BARRIO
Household Size
2 3 4 5 6 7 8+
Traza 26% 19% 16% 13% 11% 6% 10%
Barrio 29 24 17 10 8 5 6
Traza total = 430
Barrio total = 451
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random
sample of the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.
NOTE: Sample limited to households of oyer two members.
TABLE M-4
CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH OCCUPATION
Household
Size
2
3
4 5
6
7
8+
Skilled
28%
28%
17%
9%
9%
5%
5%
Unskilled
34
18
20
12
9
3
5
Commercial/
Professional
23
17
14
13 .
11
10
12
Total skilled = 366
Total unskilled = 188
Total professional/commercial = 215
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random
sample of the census of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.
NOTE: Sample limited to households of over two.members.

APPENDIX N
OCCUPATIONS OF PARENTS OF FREE SCHOOL PUPILS, 1836

407
TABLE N-l
SCHOOL LOCATED ON THE STREET OF SEVEN PRINCES,
OCCUPATIONS OF PARENTS, 1836
1gunsmith
1 farm laborer
1 charcoal maker
23 shoemakers
30 seamstresses3
22 weavers
15 carpenters
13 tailors
5 tortilla makers3
5 sweet makers
5 tanners
4 butchers
4 cigar makers
4 hat makers
4 atole makers3
3 pork butchers
3 silversmiths
4 blacksmiths
4 silk spinners3
3 comb makers
2 metalworkers
2 leather workers
2 shawl makers
2 administrators
2 mint operatives
2 cigar makers3
2 cooks
1 dyer
1 metal caster
1 slaughterhouse worker
1 administrator of
slaughterhouse
1 pastry chef
1 waffle maker3
1 confectioner
1 miller
1 bakery administrator
1 cigar twister3
1 weaver3
1 coffee grinder3
1 colera [?]3
1 chocolate maker3
1 fruiterer
1 broom maker3
1 candle maker
1 candlestick maker
1 wool comber
1 carriage maker
1 bookbinder
1 printer
1 paymaster
1 oil maker
1 chair maker
15 soldiers
12 domestic servants3
11 laundresses3
5 clerks
3civil servants
3 minters
3 barbers
3 painters
2 janitors
1 key keeper
1 concierge3
1 schoolteacher3
1 watchman
1 collector
1 rent collector
1 policeman
1 notary
1 clergyman [sic]
1 gate guard
1 agent of Supreme Court
1 convent administrator
1 public carriage adminis
trator
1 teacher
1 vigilante
1 servant
1 foreman
1 attorney
1 sculptor
1 engraver
1 auctioneer
23 "merchants"
1 rope peddler

408
TABLE N-l, continued:
1messenger
5 street porters
4 carters
1 oarsman
1 starch maker3
2 cooks3
1 storekeeper
3 water carriers
2 coachmen
4 masons
1 merchant3
1 butcher3
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 352. Dorothy T[anke] Estrada,
"Las escuelas lancastrianas en la Ciudad de Mexico, 1822-1842,"
Historia Mexicana, tomo 22, no. 4, pp. 509-510.
indicates female occupations.

APPENDIX O
FAMILY MUTATION

TABLE 0-l_
FAMILY OF ABRAHAM GARCIA, SHOEMAKER
Name
Age
Position
1842
Abraham Garcia
23
Husband
Guadalupe Hernandez
32
Wife
Genaro Garca
8
Son
Pilar Garca
2
Daughter
Manuel Flores
1
[?]
1849
Abraham Garcia
Guadalupe Hernandez
Pilar Garcia
Petra Garcia
Felix Garcia
Juana Ibarra
Genaro Garcia
26
24
8
5
2
56
14
Husband
Wife
Daughter
Daughter
Son
[?]
Son (shoemaker)
TABLE 0-2 ^
FAMILY OF BENITO GIRON,
WEAVER
Name
Age
Position
1842
Benito Giron
75
Husband
Maria Hortencia Ramirez
60
Wife
Justa Giron
31
Daughter
Juan Giron
7
. Son
Gertrudis Marroqu
35
[?]

411
TABLE 0-2, continued:
Name
Age
Position
1849
Maria Hortencia
60
Wife (widow)
Justa Giron
26
Daughter
Juan Giron
12
Son
TABLE 0-3
FAMILY OF DOMINGO FLORES,
WATER CARRIER
Name
Age
Position
1842
Domingo Flores
34
Father
Teodora Rosales
32
Wife
Ramon Flores
6
Son
Jose Miliciano
4
Son
Josefa Flores
13
Daughter
Justa Flores
2
Daughter
Cristobal Flores
17
Son or brother
Jos Mara Flores
10
Son
1849
Teodora Rosales
45
Wife
Mara Josefa Guerra
20
[?]
Ramon Flores
12
Son
Maria
7
Daug

412
TABLE 0-4
FAMILY OF CRISTOBAL GALINDO,
PORK BUTCHER
Name
Age
Position
1842
Cristobal Galindo
48
Father
Feliciana Sanchez
33
Wife
Brigido Galindo
13
Son
Nicanor Galindo
7
Son
Jose Maria Galindo
4
Son
Juan Galindo
2
Son
Juan Galindo
2 months
Son
1849
Cristobal Galindo
41
Father
Feliciana Sanchez
39
Wife
Nicanor Galindo
14
Son
Jos Maria Galindo
11
Son

APPENDIX P
VAGRANCY CODE AND CRIMINAL STATISTICS,
1825-1852

414
VAGRANCY CODE, MARCH 2, 1845
Immoral Behavior
1. The heir of a distinguished family thatalthough possess
ing some patrimony or rent far from occupying himself with it
dedicates himself only to houses of gambling or prostitution,
visiting the cafes, and associating himself with persons of
evil habits.
2. The son of a distinguished family that does not obey or
respect his parents or superiors and who displays vicious
habits.
3. The husband who mistreats his wife frequently, without
any motive, scandalizing the community by his conduct.
4. Those who with words, gestures, or indecent actions cause
scandal in the public places or propagate immorality, selling
obscene pictures or sculpture, even when they have an honest
occupation from which they live.
5. Those who habitually play cards, rayuela, taba, or any
other form of gambling in the plazas, doorways, or taverns.
6. He who continually indulges himself in alcohol and philan
dering .
Willful Refusal to Work Regularly or Productively
1. He who lives without occupation, rent, craft, or lucrative
profession with which to obtain subsistence.
2. He who habitually begs alms, being healthy and robust or
with some lesion that does not prevent the exercise of some
indus try.
3. The invalid soldier that occupies himself by begging alms
even though he is receiving a pension.
4. He who without any motive refuses to work most of the year
in his craft.
5. The wage laborer who without any just cause works less
than half of the working week and passes the remainder without
honest occupation.

41.5
6. The youthful stranger who, having parents, lives in a
town without honest occupation.
7. He who, although residing in his town, lives only by
begging alms, either because he is an orphan or because his
parents tolerate it.
8. Those who with magic lanterns, trained animals, dice, or
other games of chance earn their living traveling from one
village to another.
9. Those who travel from village to village with sweets to
sell to children, even if the sale of them earns enough to
maintain them.
10. Those who without being unfit for the exercise of any
other office occupy themselves by reading broadsheets and
selling lottery tickets.
11. Professional swindlers.
12. Those who subsist exclusively by serving as hombres
buenos in the courts and those who are vulgarly called
tinterillos.
13. Those who with collection boxes, virgins, or rosaries
wander through the streets or from town to town asking alms
without the permission of the ecclesiastical judge or
governor of the department.
14. Those who collect alms for Masses outside of the atriums
or cemetaries of the churches.
15. Those who play harps, guitars, or other musical instru
ments in the wine shops, restaurants, or pulqueras.

416
TABLE P-1
CRIME, 1825
Crime
Numbers
Homicide
Robbery
Quarrels and bearing arms
Various unspecified crimes
151
1,050
2,011
1,508
SOURCE: Luis Manuel de Rivero, Mxico en 1842 (Madrid, 1844).
TABLE P-2'
CRIME, 1842
Crime
Male
Female
Total
Prostitution, adultery
& assorted sexual
312
179
491
offenses
Robbery
1,500
470
1,970
Quarreling and woundin
g 2,129
1,104
3,233
Quarreling and bearing
: 612
'444
1,056
arms
Homicide
70
17
87
Rape and incontinence
65
21
86
Forgery
7
1
8
Gambling
3
0
3
Miscellaneous
1,927
Lesser crimes
17
Executions
113
Dead bodies found
on the
streets
894
Wounded requiring
hospitalization
SOURCE: Brantz Mayer,
Mexico As It Was
and As
It Is (New
York, 1844).

417
TABLE P-3
CRIME, 1851
Crime
Male
Female
Robbery
384
120
Suspicion of robbery
180
84
Purse snatching
120
25
Homicide
15
3
Quarrels and wounding
728
246
Bearing arms
209
85
Prison escape
36
0
Swindling
39
17
Incontinency and adultery
354
403
Excesses against public decency
311
318
Juvenile delinquency
64
0
Suicide
1
Police infraction
212
182
Public intoxication
1,256
1,944
SOURCE: Ayuntamiento de Mexico, Memoria de 1851 (Mexico, D\F.,
1851) /
TABLE P-4
CRIME, 1852
Crime Male Female Total
Robbery
Quarreling and wounding
Bigamy
Homicide
Incontinence
Forgery
Throwing vitriol
Lesser crimes
1,800
590
2,390
2,937
1,805
4,742
421
203
624
180
42
222
75
37
112
11
3
14
41
17
6.8
734
341
1,075
SOURCE: R. H. Mason, Pictures of Life in Mexico, 2 vols.
(Mexico, D.F., 1852).

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423
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Ibid., 16 julio, 1848, p. -1.

424
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Frederick John Shaw Jr. was born April 20, 1941 in
New York City, New York. An early participant in the great
suburban migration, he moved to Massapequa, New York, in
1953, where he was graduated from Massapequa High School
in June 1958. Four years were spent at S.UNY, Binghamton,
earning a B.A. in the social sciences. He joined the United
States Air Force in December 1962, serving four years in
the United Kingdom and mustering out in March 1967 with
the rank of captain and a wife. From April 1967 to June
1968 he attended American University, Washington, D.C., re
ceiving a M.A. in Latin American area studies from the
School of International Service. In September 1968 he
embarked on his doctoral program at the University of
Florida, unknowing that it would take him six years to com
plete. He spent the year 1972 in Mexico City as a Fulbright-
Hays scholar. During the course of his academic career, he
has sired three children, baked innumerable loaves of fine
bread, fermented gallons of fiery beer and wine, and played
rugby with an all-consuming passion.
434

I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly pre
sentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
sU.
ill
Lyjle N. McAlister, Chairman
Professor of History
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly pre
sentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
pr'A ^ -
Sugiyama 'lutaka
Associate Professor of Sociology
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly pre
sentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a
dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
A '
Neill W. Macaulay Jr.
Associate Professor of History
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate
Faculty of the Department of History in the College of Arts
and Sciences and to the Graduate Council, and was accepted
as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
June 1975
Harry H. Sisler
Dean, Graduate School



232
1844
8 4
85
86
p. 1.
87
8 8
89 .
90
9 1
92
93
9 4 .
95
9 6 .
AACM, tomo 2478, exps. 29, 297.
"Populacho," p. 450.
"Educacin moral," Semanario Artstico, 9 febrero
Ibid.
"El trabajo,'
Estrada. ,
1.
AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 298.
AACM tomo 2479, exp. 389; tomo 2480, exp. 4721/2.
AACM, tomo 2480, exp. 280; tomo 2479, exp. 386.
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 404. Estrada, pp. 498-505.
Ibid.
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 406.
Estrada, pp. 495, 497. Also personal conversation
with seora T. de Estrada, December 1, 1972.
9 7
Malo, tomo 1, p. 231.
AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 327.
^Estrada, p. 512.
AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 379.
01 Ibid., exp. 386. "Remitido," Sol, 21 febrero 1830,
1.
1 0 2
1 03
1 04
105
1 06
1 07
1 0 8
1 0 9
1 1 0
AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 327.
AACM, tomo 162, "Actas de 2 junio 1842."
AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 303.
AACM, tomo 2479, exp. 379.
The table is copied from seora de Estrada's article.
Thompson, pp. 152-53.
'AACM, tomos 4151-56, 4778-884.
Calderon de la Barca, p. 285.
Thompson, p. 148.
111
James Mease, The Picture of Philadelphia (Philadel
phia, Pennsylvania, 1811), p. 15.
112 '
Sidney Pomerantz, New York: An American City, 1783-
1803 (New York, 1938), pp. 297-354.
3Mease, p. 16.


44
There on the canals around the markets
and pulque shops, . these miserable
outcasts hang all day long, feeding on
fragments, quarreling, drinking, steal
ing, and lying drunk about the pavements
with their children crying with hunger
around them. At night they slink off
to these suburbs and coil themselves up
on the damp floors of their lairs to
sleep off the effects of liquor and to
awake to another day of misery and crime,
is it wonderful in a city with an immense
proportion of its inhabitants of such a
class (hopeless in the present and the
future) that there are murderers and
robbers?161
The quantitative data point out that the unskilled
and menial workers did not merit their unsavory reputation.
Seventy-one percent of all suspected vagrants were artisans;
the most heavily represented were masons, shoemakers, tailors,
and weavers. Twenty-nine percent of all suspects were un
skilled workers; peddlers, servants, street porters, and
coachmen were the most heavily represented. The Tribunal
de Vagos showed little prejudice against the unskilled, con
victing 17 percent of their total number and 16 percent of
the artisans. The Tribunal tended to convict large numbers
16 2
of tailors, weavers, street porters, and bakers.
In Cuartel Menor 17, 73 percent of all male criminal
suspects were artisans and 27 percent were unskilled. Ma
sons, weavers, tailors, and carpenters were the most heavily
represented craftsmen; street porters and wax chandlers were
the most numerous unskilled workers. Seventy percent of the


77
This number is almost identical to that of the artisans who
signed a mass petition in 1851 requesting the suppression of
3 5
contraband/' Although the above estimates are admittedly
crude, the conclusion is inescapable that the public work
shops employed significantly less than half of the city's
36
artisans..
Most journeymen set up their own small workshops, be
came rinconeras, or took in work provided by merchants or the
public workshops. Those who set up shop were often highly
skilled craftsmen who developed an appreciative clientele.
Brantz Mayer, a North American diplomat, visited the workshop
of a wax sculptor whose work was admired throughout the city.
He watched in amazement as the sculptor, squatting over a
portable furnace in his cramped, one-room workshop, fashioned
3 7
an exquisite statue from soft wax. Other artisans possessed
excellent neighborhood reputations. Vicente Soria, a seventy-
year-old carpenter, furnished the homes of his neighbors with
3 8
"curious and delicate" works. These independents maintained
a haphazard, easy-going system of production that attracted
the attention of Robert Wilson. They did not work for orders.
Members of their families hawked their products on the streets
as soon as they were produced. If sales were brisk, the
3 9
family took a week-long fiesta. Although Wilson thought
the irregularity peculiarly Mexican, it was common to inde-
4 0
pendent artisans throughout the Western world.


APPENDIX P
VAGRANCY CODE AND CRIMINAL STATISTICS,
1825-1852


52
Mexico [City] appears as the center of all
artisanal activities, attracting many opera
tives that come from distant places where
they have left their workshops believing
that they will find here abundant work.
Nevertheless, the depressed state, in which
unfortunately one sees our manufacturing
industry, has not been able to provide occu
pations to everybody, and the privations and
the quickening of hunger produces the incli
nation to steal. In former times it was
very rare to find an artisan among thieves.179
Francisco Lopez Camara, a social historian, and Torcuato di
Telia, a sociologist, projecting into the past the difficulties
experienced by modern internal migrants in finding work, have
assumed that nineteenth-century internal migrants were the
] 80
primary component of the lepero population.
Some migrants were suspected of being less respectable
than well-intentioned seekers of work. Mexico City, according
to a report of the ayuntamiento, was the "concourse of vagrants"
j 8 i
from all over the Republic. The Ministro de Relaciones In
teriores (internal ministry) feared that the city was a sanc
tuary for men on the run who disappeared "amidst the numerous
population and confusion of persons." These men "without
craft or any honest occupation" were "a material ever disposed
,18 2
towards tumults and disorders. 1
Vagrants and notorious criminals certainly must have
existed among the migrant population, but the quantitative
evidence indicates that the migrants were no more prone to
crime than natives of Mexico City. Thirty-eight percent of


165
poor was so marked that they thought the disease was a plot
153 ,
by the rich to poison them. Cholera s European incur
sions produced a continent-wide movement to reform municipal
15 4
administration and sanitation. In closely packed Mexico
City, the disease took its toll of all who did not flee.
Guillermo Prieto wrote of the ravages of the disease among
15 5
the middle classes. Malo recorded that although the
cholera attack of 1850 ran rampant among the poor, the
disease also attacked the wealthy. The most prominent vic
tim of that epidemic was Manuel Payno, politician and
15 6
essayist.
Tables K-l and K-2 show the periodicity of pneumonia
and dysentery. Pneumonia was a disease of the winter and
early spring. Dysentery came with the summer rainy season
but could also break out in the winter. Diarrhea also
followed this pattern. The summer rains always carried
measles and cholera. The overall monthly death rate appear
ing in Table K-3 shows no marked seasonal pattern.
Infectious diseases that slaughtered the population
were an indictment of the living conditions. As the ayunta
miento and others suspected, cholera, typhoid, smallpox, and
a host of other diseases were bred in the damp filth or
stagnant waters and attacked an inadequately clothed and
sheltered population. Malnourishment increased the poor's
vulnerability to disease. Lack of milk, a condition often
caused by malnourishment of nursing mothers, caused 6 percent


233
Liceo mexicano, tomo 2, p. 86.
115
AACM, tomo 2891, "Contra Manuel Perez, 6 febrero
1852"; "Contra Pedro Escovedo, 3 marzo 1852"; tomo 4154, exp.
153.
116
Rodrguez de San Miguel, Pandectas hispano-
megicanos . (Mexico, D.F., 1840), ley 2737.
11 7
AACM, tomo .2 891, "Contra Luis Guzman, 3' abril
1852"; tomo 2892, "Contra Mariano Espinosa, 3 enero 1852."
AACM, tomo 4778, exp. 307H; tomo 478.1, exp. 364.
l i 9
Rodrguez de San Miguel, Pandectas, ley 2691.
12 0
AACM, tomo 2891, "Contra Domingo Heriz, 4 octubre
1852."
1 2 1
AACM, tomo 2760, "Contra Jesus Castro, 2 marzo
1851."
~2AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 37.
AACM, tomo 4152, exp. 80.
~4Garca Cubas (1945), p. 183.
AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43.
12 6
"Educacin moral," p. 1.
12 7
"Vagos," Semanario Artstico, 27 abril 1844, p. 1.
12 8
Rodrguez de San Miguel,. Pandectas, ley 2813.
9Bellemar, pp. 25-29.
13AACM, tomos 462, 4784.
131 ^
Rodrguez de San Miguel, Pandectas, ley 2813,
~AACM, tomo 4153, exp. 107.
AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Benito Laya, 15 junio 1852.'
l 3 4
AACM, tomo 496, exp. 106.
13 5
AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra Luis Viera, 12 septiembre
1852"; "Contra .Jos Bustamante, 3 febrero 1852."
JAACM, tomo 3690, exp. 66.
AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 24.
1 3 8
Manuel L. Carlos and Lois Sellers, Family, Kinship
Structure, and Modernization in Latin America," Latin American
Research Review, Summer, 1972, pp. 98-99.
139Garca Cubas (1945), p. 182.
t0AACM, tomo 2760, "Diligencias, 2 marzo 1849."


4
that' worried the cadaver of any dead animal
that chanced to be in the road. The coach
advanced farther, and I was surprised by
houses much taller than I was accustomed to
see in Guadalajara, but so sad, so lacking
in color, and of life, that it astonished
me that such a beautiful sky could shelter
such a gloomy landscape. We had arrived in
Mexico City.10
The garitas enclosed a quadrilateral extending
roughly'two miles north and south, and three miles east and
west. A nineteenth-century map of Mexico City reveals the
typical rectangular grid of the Spanish colonial city. At
its center was an enormous plaza, the Plaza de la Constitucin.
Broad, straight avenues running north-south and east-west of
the central plaza formed a grid that intersected the entire
city. Scattered throughout the city, usually at the inter
sections of the larger streets, were ninety-seven lesser
, 11
plazas and plazuelas.
The siting of important public facilities followed
the centripetal logic of city designers. The Plaza de la
Constitucin was the ceremonial, political, and administra
tive center. Occupying the place of honor on its northern
side was the Catedral Nacional, the cathedral church of the
Archdiocese of Mexico. On the eastern side, the enormous
Palacio Nacional served as the formal residence of Mexicos
rulers, the hall of the national congress, and an office
building for most of the national bureaucracy. Directly
opposite the Catedral stood the buildings of the ayuntamiento


64
tarfa de Estado y Despacho de Relaciones Interiores y Ex
teriores, Memoria de 1844 (Mexico, D.F.., 1847).
89
AACM, tomo 2279, p. 238.
See Table B-3.
9 0
91
AACM, tomo 2889. See Table B-5.
AGN, legs. 83, 84.
9 2 ^
Mariano Otero, Obras, 2 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1967),
tomo 1, pp. 25-29.
J"AACM, tomo 3274, exp. 95.
,4Tylor, p. 114. AACM, tomo 2279, Bando de 6 sep
tiembre 1843. Bazant, Alienation, pp. 90, 91.
9 5
Diario Oficial, 11 agosto 1844.
9 6
"El robo," Semanario Artstico, 11 junio 1844, p. 1.
9 7
Cue Cnovas, pp. 285-96.
9 8
Marcelo Bitar Letayf, "La vida econmica de Mexico
de 1824 a 1867 y sus proyecciones" (tesis, Licenciado en eco
noma, Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mexico, 1964), pp.
237-38.
9 9
Cue Cnovas, p. 289.
"Peticion," Semanario Artstico, 24 febrero 1844.
101
Cue Cnovas, p. 39.
102 ^ ^
Manuel Dublan and Jos Mana Lozano, Legislacin
mexicana . 34 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1892), tomo 2, ley
898.
10 3 ^
Jos Mara Bocanegra, Memorias para la historia de
Mxico independiente, 2 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1892), tomo 2,
p. 124.
10 4
Diario Oficial, 24 agosto 1844. Dublan and Lozano,
tomo 5, leyes 3167, 3232.
10 5
Dublan and Lozano, tomo 3, leyes 2040, 1828.
106
Otero, tomo 2, p. 808.
10 7^
Garca Cubas, p. 236.
10 8
Salado Alvarez, p. 264.
10 9.. ,, ..
Peticin.
AACM, tomo 3284, exps. 10, 14-
ni
Carlos Maria Bustamante, Apuntes para la historia
del gobierno de general Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna, 1841-1844
(Mxico, D.F., 1845), p. 9.


285
TABLE 37
SUSPECTED VAGRANTS UNABLE TO SUPPORT FAMILIES
Occupational Group
% Group
% Total
Street peddlers
42
16
Leather workers
25
3
Bakers
20
3
Tailors
19
11
Coachmen
18
2
Blacksmiths
17
2
Cargadores
16
2
Construction laborers
14
7
Shoemakers
12
16
Weavers
8
3
General percentage 15%
Artisans 14%
Unskilled 19%
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
4151-4158.


41.5
6. The youthful stranger who, having parents, lives in a
town without honest occupation.
7. He who, although residing in his town, lives only by
begging alms, either because he is an orphan or because his
parents tolerate it.
8. Those who with magic lanterns, trained animals, dice, or
other games of chance earn their living traveling from one
village to another.
9. Those who travel from village to village with sweets to
sell to children, even if the sale of them earns enough to
maintain them.
10. Those who without being unfit for the exercise of any
other office occupy themselves by reading broadsheets and
selling lottery tickets.
11. Professional swindlers.
12. Those who subsist exclusively by serving as hombres
buenos in the courts and those who are vulgarly called
tinterillos.
13. Those who with collection boxes, virgins, or rosaries
wander through the streets or from town to town asking alms
without the permission of the ecclesiastical judge or
governor of the department.
14. Those who collect alms for Masses outside of the atriums
or cemetaries of the churches.
15. Those who play harps, guitars, or other musical instru
ments in the wine shops, restaurants, or pulqueras.


134
the poorest class, but just like the
average of the people in the streets
outside. As my companion said: "If
these fellows are thieves and mur
derers, so are our servants and so is
every man in a serape that we meet in
the streets."19
Only during religious festivals did poor men show a
degree of sartorial elegance and imagination. During the
carnival they became "fantastic knights in their glittering
2 o
accouterments." The costumes were expensive. Aguadores
pledged their water deliveries months in advance to purchase
2 1
Holy Week costumes.
Women dressed with slightly more decorum than the
males. A well-dressed mestiza wore white cotton petticoats;
a cotton blouse colored a sober blue, brown, or gray; and a
small, equally sober rebozo or shawl which passed over the
2 2
arch of a hair comb perched atop her head. At her best,
dressed more colorfully, hair neatly combed and dark eyes
2 3
shining, she became the idealized china. The lpera never
approached that ideal.
Continually slovenly, with her hair in
disorder, a disheveled blouse, mended
petticoats with patches of a thousand
colors and even of leather, [she] was
always collecting cigar or cigarette
butts, eating fruit peels, and drink
ing mescal in the doors of the wine
shops.2 4


375
TABLE E-2, continued:
Occupation
Number
o
/
/
Knitter
2
0.
.1
Embroiderer
2
0.
1
Forging press operator
2
0.
, 1
Goldsmith
2
0.
1
Mail carrier
2
0,
, 1
Beautician
1
0.
,1
Prison guard
1
0.
, 1
Paper maker
1
0.
.1
Machine tool operator
1
0.
. 1
Watchmaker
1
0.
1
Plumber
1
0.
1
Lithographer
1
0.
1
Plasterer
1
0.
1
Smelter
1
0.
.1
Wood treater
1
0.
.1
Cashier
1
0.
,1
Financial clerk
1
0.
.1
Bill collector
1
0.
1
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.
NOTE: The basic criterion for classification as an artisan
was the possession of an occupation requiring a period of
formal apprenticeship. Although tanners and masons were
described as populacho in the Museo Mexicano's essay, they
have been classified as artisans because the tanners were
represented on the Junta de Fomento de Artesanos and be
cause the masons referred to themselves by their artisanal
ranks. Although it was impossible to distinguish the master
artisans from the journeymen on the census of 1849, it is
safe to assume that the great majority of those counted were
journeymen. Included within this category, although not
artisans, are merchants paying between $4 and $7 in monthly
rent and the holders of occupations possessing a modicum of
social prestige. The entire group represented 42 percent
of the economically-active male population and 67 percent of
those in the last two occupational categories.


125
1 O 2
103,
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 240.
'Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 11 noviembre 1841,
i 04
Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, pp. 173-75.
Ibid. Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 90.
Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 90.
Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, pp. 173-75.
Dblan and Lozano, tomo 5, ley 3448.
Museo Mexicano, tomo 3, pp. 373-77.
AACM, tomo 3673, exp. 18.
AACM, tomo 148, "Actas secretas de 10 octubre 1828."
Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 238-39.
Calderon de la Barca, p. 110.
Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 238-39.
AACM, tomo 4153, exp. 133; tomo 4154, exp. 162.
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 219.
See Table E-3.
Museo Mexicano-, tomo 3, pp. 373-77.
Calderon de la Barca, p. 257.
Kaplow, p. 51.
Calderon de la Barca, pp. 253-57.
12 2
"Noticia de, los conventos del arzobispado de Mexico,
ao de 1826," Boletn del Archivo General de la Nacin, no. 3
(1953), p. 475.
12 3 ,,
Calderon de la Barca, p. 253.
Prieto (1964), p. 206.
125
Calderon de la Barca, pp. 253-57.
126
Gideon Sjoberg, The Preindustrial City (New York,
1960), p. 203.
12?Escriche, "Vagos," "Mendigos."
12 8
AACM, tomo 168, "Actas de 1 septiembre 1846."
AACM, tomo 4158, exp. 337.
AACM, tomo 3409, "Manzana 60"; tomo 3413, "Man
zanas 168, 186."
Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 244-45.
1 05
i o 6
107
1 08
1 0 9
1 1 0
1 1 1
1 1 2
1 1 3
1 1 4
1 1 5
1 1 6
1 1 7
1 1 8
1 1 9
1 2 0
1 21


382
TABLE F-5, continued:
Occupation
Number
Shopkeeper
1
.5
Cooper
1
.5
Spinner
1
.5
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
2889-92.
CRIMINALS,
TABLE F-6
MINOR WARD 17, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED
Occupation
Number %
Porter
15
7.0
Wax chandler
6
2.9
Fisherman
6
2.9
Servant
4
1.9
Meat cutter
4
1.9
Charcoal vendor
3
1.4
Wage laborer
4
1.9
Drover
3
1.4
Water carrier
2
.9
Peddler
2
.9
Waiter
2
.9
Pork butcher
2
.9
Guard
2
.9
Sweet vendor
2
.9
Coachman
1
.5
Soap maker
1
.5
Milk vendor
1
.5
Sidewalk musician
1
.5
Salt maker
1
.5
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
2889-92.


385
TABLE G-l
COMPARISON OF POPULATION OF INNER 500-YARD CIRCLE
WITH OUTER 1,000-YARD RING
Population:
Circle = 17% of total population
Ring = 83% of total population
Total cases = 1,364
Occupational composition of circle and ring:
Upper Artisanal Unskilled
Circle
35
33
25
Total cases
= 225
Ring
24
41
25
Total cases
= 1,125
Unknown = 14
Distribution of occupational categories among circle and ring:
Circle
Ring
Upper
Total cases = 2'25
22
78
Artisanal
Total cases = 573
13
87
Unskilled
Total cases = 318
18
81
TO TAI, CASES = 1,116
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.


CHAPTER FIVE. RELIGION AND RECREATION, 235
Religion, 235. Recreation, 254. Notes, 262.
CHAPTER SIX. CRIME, LAW ENFORCEMENT, JUSTICE, 266
Crime, 266. Law Enforcement, 295. Justice, 302.
Notes, 309.
CHAPTER SEVEN. POVERTY AND POLITICS, 315
Notes, 349.
APPENDIX A.
APPENDIX B.
APPENDIX C.
APPENDIX D.
APPENDIX E.
APPENDIX F.
APPENDIX G.
APPENDIX H.
APPENDIX I.
APPENDIX J.
APPENDIX K.
APPENDIX L.
APPENDIX M.
APPENDIX N.
APPENDIX 0.
APPENDIX P.
PROFILES OF MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 355
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY, 358
SALARIES AND WAGES, 364
POPULATION ESTIMATES AND GROWTH, 369
OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORIES, 372
VAGRANTS AND CRIMINALS, 377
500-YARD RING/1,000-YARD CIRCLE PROFILES, 384
TRAZA/BARRIOS PROFILES, 387
AGE AT DEATH, 1842, 1844, 1850, 390
CAUSES OF DEATH, 1842, 1844, 393
PERIODICITY OF DISEASE, 396
POPULATION, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60, 399
MARRIAGE PERIODICITY AND HOUSEHOLD SIZE, 403
OCCUPATIONS OF PARENTS OF FREE SCHOOL PUPILS,
1836, 406
FAMILY MUTATION, 409
VAGRANCY CODE AND CRIMINAL STATISTICS, 1825-
1852, 413
REFERENCES, 418
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH, 434
x


292
regidor, would ever deny that the capital possessed vagrants.
In the barrios under his supervision, however, the artisans
had "very few manufactures with which to occupy themselves
and, sometimes none at all." The regidor did not wish to
persecute "weavers and silversmiths who when arrested
claimed truthfully that they did not work because they had
nothing with which to occupy themselves." He requested gui
dance from higher authority that would resolve the "inex-
8 U
plicable conflict."
The government's response to the reports of regidor
Cadenas and other officials was to ignore them and demand
that they supply a steady stream of suspects to the Tribunal
81
de Vagos. The auxiliares complied ingenuously by arrest
ing innocent strangers. The Tribunal always released men
8 2
arrested in such a fashion for lack of evidence.
It is puzzling but understandable that nineteenth-
century Mexicans believed in the existence of a large class
of criminal vagrants while knowing that unemployment and
underemployment resulted in vagrancy and crime. Their faith
was similar to that of modern North Americans asserting that
freeloaders clutter the welfare rolls. Both beliefs could
not sustain close examination. The government of the Distrito
Federal, solely concerned with the fight against crime and
the procurement of soldiers, was so far removed from daily
contact with the poor that it could delude itself with the
myth of vagrancy. The magistrates of the Tribunal de Vagos


147
of more than one room. The mean rent of the accesorias was
$8; that of the room, $2.
The design of the vecindad originated in the late
eighteenth century when the owners of large private houses
divided the spacious interior apartments into small rooms
7 9
and rented them to an expanding population. Vecindad de
sign parodied that of the wealthier homes. The poor man's
80
vecindad was a one-story building m the barrios. Typical
vecindades listed on the census of 1849 contained fifteen or
twenty rooms; some grouped as many as fifty rooms about two
81
or three patios. A humble vecindad of two stories might
rent sleeping space on the ground floor. .George Ruxton
visited one such flophouse where the poor of both sexes
8 2
slept on the muddy earthen floor, rolled in their serapes.
Sleeping space rented from one-eighth to one-quarter real a
83
night. A small fountain standing in the middle of the
patio served as the source of drinking water, washtub, and
84
laundry.
The annual rent of a room came to no more than 15
percent of an artisans annual income. Many, however, could
not afford it. Anne Staples concluded in her examination
of convent-owned housing that much of the convents' poverty
was due to the inability of the tenants to pay their rents.
Although the nuns needed the rent desperately, only pressure
from the archbishop could force the tenderhearted sisters
1 ,- 85
to turn the delinquent tenants out into the streets.


249
The conduct of Padre Aguilar was the exception.
Thompson, a pronounced anti-Catholic, wrote that one might
always expect charity at a priest's home. Mora, the
period's most noted anti cleric, penned this sympathetic
description of the parish priest and his duties:
A parish priest has no secure hour or
moment of rest, since he can be called
in less time than one thinks a con
siderable distance in the middle of
the strongest rains or the burning
rays of the torrid sun or the rigors
of the frigid zone to aid the sick.
He has to perform the burials, baptisms,
and marriages and prepare the certifi
cates for all of them, and he cannot
even, considering all this, rest on a
festival day which is under his
supervision. He works by necessity,
traveling hungry many leagues in order
to give Mass at points many miles apart.53
His earlier target of criticism was ecclesiastical funding,
not the parish clergy themselves.
The poor stood in awe of the clergy and their reli
gion. A colonial official wrote that when the archbishop
passed in his carriage, the plebe would remain kneeling for
54
minutes in a most humble and blind deference." The
parish clergy's influence among the poor was'so great that
the ayuntamiento asked them to publicize the 1825 smallpox
vaccination drive in its sermons.5J Clerical misconduct
did not diminish the respect of the poor for the regulars.
Bellemar wrote of Fray Sarapio:


362
TABLE B-4
INVENTORY OF CARPENTRY SHOP WORTH $48 IN 1853
One wheel with pinion
Grate, 2 3/4 yards in length
4 door frames
4 water spouts
5 mason's rasps
4 bolts of old linen
4 window panes
2 wooden corner tables
2 pieces of old cedar
2 small tables
1 almost useless spinel
1 old desk
1 small door
1 door case
1 large box
1 gate
2 small chunks of wood
5 dozen tin plates
1 wooden strip
1 dozen wooden stair railings
14 small doors
1 carpenter's bench
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2889, "Contra German Loris, 1852."
TABLE B-5
CAPITAL INVESTED AND LABOR FORCE OF INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL
ESTABLISHMENTS, CENSUS OF 1849
Type
Investment Income (Weekly)
Labor Force
Noodle factory
130
$ 8
4
Tinsmithing
5
2
Tapestry shop
10
4
1
Tailor shop
40.
6
8
Leather working
150
6
6
Silversmithing
90
5
2
Lathe shop
100
5
2
Carpentry shop
20
4
1
Paint shop
30
1


395
TABLE J-2, continued:
% Age 0-9
% Over Age 10
Hydropesia
2
Dropsy
13
Continuous fever
7
Costado
4
Tuberculosis
2
Others
19
46
Total no. of deaths
381
723
36% of all deaths are
under the age of 10
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
723, 724.


373
TABLE E-l
RANDOM SAMPLE OF 1849
, MIDDLE/UPPER
CLASSES
Occupation
Number
%
Business manager
41
3.0
Lives off income
34
2.5
Shopkeeper
27
2,0
Army officer
25
1.8
Student
22
1.6
Large-shop keeper
15
1.1
Minor civil servant
14
1.0
Middle-rank civil servant
13
1.0
Nontrial lawyer
9
0.7
Sales clerk
9
0.7
Broker
9
0.7
Clergyman
8
0.6
Doctor
6
0.4
High civil servant
6
0.4
Elementary schoolteacher
5
0.4
Govt, office clerk
5
0.4
Musician
5
0.4
Religious
4
O'. 3
Professor
4
0.3
Pub owner
4
0.3
Hotel manager
4
0.3.
Pharmacis t
3
0.2
Law clerk
3
0.2
Medical assistant
2
0.1
Legal advisor
2
0.1
Head of small firm
2
0.1
Branch manager
2
0.1
Cafe/lunchroom owner
2
0.1
Restaurant operator
1
0.1
Veterinarian
1
0.1
Miner
1
0.1
Sculptor
1
0.1
Artist
1
0.1
Music teacher
1
0.1
Member lower house
1
0.1
Department manager
1
0.1
Office manager
1
0.1
Manager
1
0.1
Credit manager
1
0.1
Livestock broker
. 1
0.1
Unspecified
1
0.1
SOURCE: Compiled and computed
of 1849, AACM, tomo 3406.
by the author
from the
census


322
partisans of both political factions candidly admitted that
the great majority of the people were apathetic to the political
26
issues of the day.
The conservative law of 1836 restricted the franchise
to those who earned an annual minimum of $100. The Bases
2 7
orgnicos raised the required minimum income to $200. The
number of people who voted during the period the laws were
enforced dropped drastically. The number of eligible voters
2 8
in 1843 was 15,392, or 40 percent of those eligible in 1831.
In the months prior to an election, commissioners
appointed by the ayuntamiento registered eligible voters in
each manzana. Election day morning, the commissioners met
with the registered voters to form an electoral junta that,
supervised the elections. Each voter paraded in front of
the junta, presented his ticket of registration, and announced
his vote in a "clear, loud voice" before his neighbors. The
latter provision assured, theoretically, that an unscrupulous
29
junta would not hoodwink illiterates.
Voting was pointless because no political faction
permitted honest elections. The power to appoint election
commissioners gave an incumbent ayuntamiento unlimited scope
to rig elections. During the election of 1843, a commissioner
distributed only nine registration tickets to the residents
30
of a heavily populated manzana. Illegally restricting the
size of the electorate was a crude tool when the control of
the electoral junta assured victory. During Toluca's 1849


336
provided to them by painful work was
decreased by excise and direct taxes.
Artisans and laborers were dragged from
their workshops and fields to go and
die on the mortiferous coasts of Vera
Cruz.8 4
The regime's crass insensitivity to the problems it created
rasped against the nerves made raw from want. While General
Santa Anna attended a sumptuous diplomatic banquet at his
palace in March 1843,
many miserable persons and unpaid civil
servants ambled aimlessly outside the
building muttering over their fate. An
infinity of poor people searched anxiously
for bread, maize, and anything that they
could eat. The bakeries were guarded in
order to contain the actions of those un
fortunates tormented by their misery, and
everything was worsened because the mer
ciless speculators devaluated the copper
8 5
money.
The year 1844 saw no improvement. In the spring the
Semanario Artstico petitioned the government to alleviate
8 6
the problems caused by its bankruptcy. Throughout the
summer and fall, the pages of the official newspaper were
filled with the government's protests that it was not
responsible for its insolvency and lame promises that it would
8 7
pay the bureaucracy. On November 15, two weeks before the
rioting, the commissioner of markets announced to the ayunta
miento that the price of foodstuffs had inexplicably risen 25
8 8
percent in a single day.


112
factory out of consideration for the women's sex and for
1 5 1
fear of the scissors wielded by the angry workers.
By modern standards, the Mexican poor, when fully
employed, did not work many days of the year. Construction
laborers and other unskilled workers labored whenever em
ployment was available. Those who had the good fortune to
be employed by the city experienced full and year-round em-
15 2
ployment. These were probably the elite of the unskilled
labor force. The workers at the modern textile mills aver-
153
aged 300 work days yearly. Artisans worked a five-day
week, taking Sunday and Monday off. At least ten days more
were taken off because of mandatory religious holidays in-
154
eluding Christmas and Easter. Although foreigners reported
that every saint's day was an excuse for a holiday, there is
evidence from the late colonial period that poor artisans,
defying guild regulations, preferred to work on lesser re
ligious holidays.155 Assuming full employment, a generous
estimate is that an artisan or unskilled laborer worked 250
, 1 56
days a year.
Twelve-hour days were the rule. The municipal labor
15 7
force worked in twelve-hour shifts. Artisans employed in
15 8
public workshops left work at 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. Assuming
a moderate siesta, the late departures indicate a regular
twelve-hour day. Rinconeras and those who worked in their
own homes labored at their own pace for as long as work
lasted.


141
de la Viga that served as the water supply for the barrios of
San Gernimo and Candelaria. The canal was also the receptacle
for the filth that drained from nearby dunghills. Private in
dividuals dumped household trash and fecal material into the
5 5
aqueducts, fountains, and canals in which they also bathed.
The city did little to protect the quality of the
water. Aesthetic considerations rather than a concern for
public health motivated efforts to keep aqueduct currents
flowing. In 1832 the inhabitants of a block in the center of
the city complained that poisonous gases reeking from a
stopped-up aqueduct endangered their health. An inspector
from the Junta de Sanidad confirmed the condition but de
clared that it was not dangerous because the residents ap
peared to be generally healthy. Although municipal regula
tions forbade the dumping of liquid or fresh wastes into
the aqueducts, the disposal of dry wastes by that method was
permitted. No regulation effectively prevented the plebe
5 6
from polluting its water supply.
The germ theory of disease was unknown, but many sus
pected that drinking the water was linked to disease. In 1851
Doctor Isidoro Olivera, a veteran of the cholera epidemic of
1833 and 1850, wrote a study of the disease. He concluded
that those who drank "fat" water or even "slender" water al-
5 7
ways suffered the most. Fifty years later a British physi
cian in the Indian civil service proved that cholera was
5 8
spawned m and spread by a contaminated water supply.


344
During the Revolution of the Acordada, the gente del pueblo
and the civic militia had fought a prolonged struggle against
men they believed to be traitors. Government forces inflicted
11 6
heavy casualties on the insurgents. Indiscriminate gun
fire, easily blamed on the government, slew and wounded the
117
innocents who huddled m their homes. The actual sacking
occurred after government forces had ceased resistance, but
before De Zavala had negotiated the final articl.es of capi-
1 ] 8
tulation with President Guadalupe Victoria.
Francisco Ibar wrote that General Lobato offered
the Parian to his soldiers and their civilian allies in
compensation for their sacrifices. Others believed that it
was an undisciplined mutiny, the act of a savage mob that
119
could have been contained by its commanders. The minutes
of the ayuntamiento clearly reveal that the Yorkinos lured
"the people" to their banners with promises of legitimate
booty. On January 5, 1829, the ayuntamiento decided to re
store stolen property to "American" 'but not to "Spanish"
families. A fair-minded sndico reminded the council that
the constitution of Mexico protected all private property
regardless of the owner's nationality. A colleague replied
that the Spaniards' property had been "acquired by the right
of conquest in which case they cannot recover that which has
been sacked from them. This was the spirit of the ideas
preached to the people and the understanding of the ayunta-
l ? o
miento."
In contrast to its indifference to the plight of


259
Although private gambling was illegal, Brantz Mayer reported
9 3
that hundreds of gambling halls operated daily.
The government's policy toward gambling was ambiva
lent. Public lotteries supported hospitals, the shrine of
9 4
the Virgen de Guadalupe, and the Academy of Fine Arts.
The festival held at San Agustn, twelve miles from Mexico
City, was a legalized three-day revel at which fortunes were
made and lost. All classes of Mexicans from the president
of the Republic to the lowest beggar diced, played cards,
and attended bull and cockfights. Tables designated for
gambling in gold, silver, or copper coins created a degree
of social segregation. The Mexican practice of saving for
a year in order to squander their money at the festival
9 5
disgusted the puritanical Thompson.
Bullfighting, the Mexican's first love, combined
pageantry, skill, and bravery with the passion for gambling.
A jamaica or monte parnaso always preceded the plebian
showings held in the larger plazas of the city and at the
Garita de Perravillo. The jamaica, a carnival-like accumu
lation of booths garlanded with flowers from which refresh
ments were sold,appeared in the plaza on the day of the
corrida. The monte parnaso, an artificial tree twelve to
fifteen feet high, festooned with brightly colored scarves
and packets containing small sums of money, stood in the
plaza's center. At the cry of "Toro! Toro!" the plaza was
cleared save for the daring young men who attempted to climb


247
TABLE 30
POPULATION OF PARISHES, CENSUS OF 1816
Sagrario 50,000
San Miguel 24,000
Santa Catarina 20,000
Santa Vera Cruz 8,000
San Jos 4,000
Santa Ana 6,000
Santa Cruz y Soledad 18,000
San Sebastian 6,000
Santa Maria 4,000
San Pablo 8,000
Santa Cruz Acatlan 4,000
Salto del Agua 6,000
Santo Tomas de las Palms 6,000
San Antonio de las Huertas 4,000
SOURCE: AACM, leg. 873, exp. 2.
TABLE 31
POPULATION OF NUNNERIES, 1861
Encarnacin
44
Santa Catalina de Sena
25
Concepcion
36
San Bernardo
23
Capuchinas
35
Santa Clara
22
Enseanza Antigua
35
Santa Teresa la Antigua
22
Regina
30
San Juan de la Penitencia
22
San Lorenzo
30
Santa Teresa la Nueva
21
Jesus Maria
29
Enseanza la Nueva
21
Santa Brigida
28
Corpus Cristi
19
Balvanera
27
Santa Ines
17
San Jeronimo
26
San Jos de Gracia
22
Santa Isabel
25
SOURCE: Antonio
Garcia
Cubas, El libro de mis recuerdos
(Me:
co, D.F., 1945) ,
p. 38.


172
Sixty and 62 percent of the migrants in Necatitln
and San. Salvador el Seco were female. They were particularly
numerous in the twenty-to-twenty-nine age brackets. Their
numerical superiority may be explained by the hypothesis
that more employment opportunities existed for single women
and widows in Mexico City than in the surrounding Distrito
Federal and states. Two possible reasons exist for their
youthfulness. The normal tendency was for younger wives
to accompany their older husbands to the city. Also,
lacking an apprenticeship to complete, single women left
home at earlier ages than did males.
Marriages were of two types: legal ones sanctified
by a formal church wedding and permanent liaisons having no
legal standing. Appendix M illustrates the tendency, normal
in Latin Catholic countries, for church weddings to be
deferred until just before or just after Christmas and
Easter. It is unlikely that many of the poor followed this
pattern. An idea of the number of poor who chose to save
the expense of a wedding by living in sin is provided by
the percentages of illegitimate children baptized in parishes
that maintained separate registers for legitimate and ille
gitimate births. Table 21 shows that the percentages of ille
gitimate births in these parishes averaged over 25 percent
and in one instance rose to 33 percent.- Because parishes
maintained the separate registers contrary to law and public
sentiment, many more illegitimate births entered the registers
as legitimate.


398
PERCENTAGES
TABLE K-3
OF TOTAL MONTHLY DEATHS,
1842, 1848
Month
1842
1848
Jan.
7
9
Feb.
6
8
Mar.
8
9
Apr.
10
9
May
8
8
June
9
9
July
9
10
Aug.
9
10
Sept.
8
9
Oct.
8
' 9
Nov.
9
10
Dec.
9
9
Total deaths
4,674
5,522
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
723, 729.


245
It is strange how all the world over
mankind seems to expect from those
who assume religion as a profession
a degree of, superhuman perfection.
Their failings are insisted upon.
Every eye is upon them to mark what
soever may be amiss in their conduct.
Their virtues, their learning, their
holy livesnothing will avail them
if one blot, can be discovered in
their character. In the Catholic re
ligion, where more is professed, still
more is demanded, and the errors of
one padre or ecclesiastic seems to
throw a shade over the whole community
to which they belong.46
Fanny Calderon de la Barca's musings reflected the
generally poor reputation of the capital's regular clergy.
Mercedarian fathers labored tirelessly in the barrios, the
"pale nuns" in the declining convents led lives of "privation
and virtue," and after 1843 the Sisters of Charity won the
respect of the most anticlerical Liberals; but the antics
of a few scoundrels blackened the reputations of all. Tales
of monkish misconduct abounded. Based on his experiences in
Mexico City, Luis de Bellemar invented the fictional Fray
Sarapio. The picaresque friar, an inveterate gambler and
aficionado of the bull ring, hid when called upon to confess
4 7
the dying. The friar was imaginary, but monks like him
existed. Guillermo Prieto wrote of the Franciscan who sang
so sweetly that "he could melt rocks" and of the Mercedarian
who, attired as a rakish bandito, regularly quenched his
, . 4 8
thirst m the pulqueras. When a man was stabbed to death
near the monastery of San Francisco,, those seeking a confessor


VI11
A Plazo de la Constitucin
a Catedral Nacional
h Paiocio Nacional
c Ayuntamiento
d Paran
B Plaza del Volador
C Plazo del Santo Domingo
D Plaza del Factor
E Ciudadelo
F Acordada
G Hospital de San Andrs
H Hospicio de Pobres
Hospital de San Lzaro
J Barrio de Necatitlon
k Barrio de San Salvador e! Seco ¡
L Barrios de lo Palma and Mazanores
M Alameda
N Paseo de Bucareli
S Parish Church
Cuarteles Mayores
Cuarteles Menores
///// Boundary of Traza (1736) /
32
CUARTELES MAYORES, CUARTELES MENORES, BARRIOS, AND TRAZA


182
Prieto (1964), p. 306.
63AACM, tomo 3668, exp. 30.
64
Macedo, p. 25.
65AACM tomo 3686, exps. 43, 56. Diccionario de la in
dustria, "Confitero."
66Garca Cubas (1945), p. 206.
67
Latrobe, pp. 110, 111.
6 8,
Thornton, p. 51.
6 Caldern de la Barca, pp. 108-109, 144-45.
7 o
Siglo Diez y Nueve, 12 noviembre 1841, p. 1.
71
Mayer, Appendix 5. Thompson, pp. 47-48.
72
Ibi d.
73
Mexico City's vertical social stratification was the
opposite of that prevailing in Paris of the same period where
the poor lived upstairs and the rich occupied the lowest floors.
74AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 136."
7 5
Macedo, p. 63.
76Prieto (1964), p. 157.
77,
Mayer, p. 41.
*Prieto (1964), pp. 202-203. Macedo, p. 78. Tylor,
66.
79,
80
Di Telia, p. 95.
Mayer, p. 41.
Prieto (1948), pp. 202-203. Macedo, p. 78. Tylor,
66.
8 2
Ruxton, p. 54.
84
AACM, tomo 4153, exp. 141.
Macedo, p. 88.
Ann F. Staples,"La cola del diablo en la vida con
ventual" (Tesis, Doctor en historia, Colegio de. Mexico, Centro
de Estudios Histricos, 1970), p. 170.
86 .
Mexico City, Archivo de Salubridad y Asistencia,
"Libro de cuentas, casa de vecindad, Calle de las Moscas,
ao de 1.838."
87AACM, tomo 392, exp. 53.
8 8
Poinsett, p. 95.
AACM, tomo 3413, "Manzana 57"; tomo 3409,~"Manzana
168"; tomo 369.1, exp. 153.
9 0
Ibid.


APPENDIX N
OCCUPATIONS OF PARENTS OF FREE SCHOOL PUPILS, 1836


391
TABLE 1-1
AGE AT DEATH, 1842
Age Bracket
Number %
1-3
1,717
35
3-7
232
5
7-20
152
3
20-25
223
5
25-30
254
5
30-35
431
9
35-40
238
5
40-45
443
9
45-50
268
5
50-55
144
3
55-60
376
8
60+
447
9
Total cases 4,925
Average age at death 30
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM,
tomos 723-24.
TABLE 1-2
AGE AT DEATH, 1844
Age Bracket
Number %
1-3
1,712
34
3-7
282
6
14-11
142
3
20-21
287
6
21-25
241
5
25-30
367
7
30-35
184
4
35-40
363
7
40-45
183
4
45-50
308
6
50-55
115
2
55-60
301
6
60+
488
10


356
TABLE A-l
OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60
Upper
Artisan
Unskilled
Total Cases
Manzana 57 6 49 27 33
Manzana 60 6 67 23 64
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random
sample of the census of 1849, AACM.
TABLE A-2
HABITATIONAL PROFILE, PLANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60
% in % in % in % in % in
House Apartment Acessoria Room Shack
Manzana 573 5 9 79 3
Manzana 60 6 0 0 92 2
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random
sample of the census of 1849, AACM.
TABLE A-3
RENT PROFILE, MANZANA 57 AND MANZANA 60
% Paying % Paying % Paying % Paying
$0-1,0 $1,1-2,0 $2,1-3,0 >$3,0
Manzana 57 19 67 11 4
Manzana 60 16 59 22 3
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the random
sample of the census of 1849, AACM.


429
Latrobe, Charles Joseph. The Rambler in Mexico. London, 1836.
Liceo mexicano. 2 tomos. Mexico, D.F., 1844.
Liebow, Elliot. Talley's Corner. New York, 1967.
Lopez Camara, Francisco. La estructura econmica y social de
Mxico en la poca de la Reforma. Mexico, D.F. 1967.
. Los fundamentos de la economa mexicana en la
poca de la Reforma y la Intervencin. Mexico, D.F.,
1962.
Lopez Rosado, Diego G. Historia y pensamiento econmico de
Mxico. 6 tomos. Mexico, D.F., 1968.
Macedo, Miguel S. Mi barrio, segunda mitad del siglo XIX.
Mexico, D.F., 1930.
Malo, Don Jose Ramon Malo. Diario de sucesos notables (1832-
1864). Ed. P. Mariano Cuevas S. J. 2 tomos. Mexico,
Dk F., 1948.
Mapa de la Ciudad de Mxico. Mexico, D.F., 1824.
Marroqu, Jos Mara. La Ciudad de Mxico. 3 tomos. 2da
ed. Mexico, D.F., 1969.
Martin,
, Norman
. F. Los vagabundos
en la Nueva
; Espaa: siglo
XVI.
Mxico, D.F., 1957.
Mason,
R. H.
Pictures of Life in
Mexico. 2
vols. London,
1852.
Mayer,
Brantz.
Mexico As It Was
and As It Is
:. New York,
1844.
Mease,
James.
The Picture of Philadelphia.
Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, 1811.
Merino
Gambio
, Maria del Carmen.
"Historia
sociolgica del
trabajo en Mexico." Tesis, Licenciado en ciencias
sociales, Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mexico,
1969.
Ministerio de Haciendo y Crdito Publico. Memoria de 1844.
Mxico, D.F., 1844.
Ministerio de lo Interior. Memoria de 1838. Mxico, D.F.,
1838.


250
Only the friar could walk carelessly
among the city's thieves and cutthroats,
and the slightest movement of his san
dal inspired more respect than the
rattle of the policeman's saber.
Like domesticated tigers, many
thronged to kiss the hand of Fray
Sarapio.5 6
When a priest walked by, carrying the Host, all passers-by
observed the "almost mandatory practice of genuflecting."
Protestant foreigners on their first visit to Mexico City
heard tales of the North American shoemaker who was murdered
5 7
when he refused to kneel.
The priest was the absolute authority on the word of
5 8
God. Thompson asked Mexicans of all classes if they
believed that the real body of Christ was present in the host.
They all replied that Christ's presence must be symbolic.
Then he gleefully informed them that their belief was at
variance with Catholic doctrine and to consult a priest if
they did not believe him. To the diplomat's disgust, the
Mexicans all replied that if the priest said it was so, then
5 9
despite their incredulity, it must be so.
The Eco de Comercio criticized the priest for en
couraging superstition.60 Juan Barquera accused him of
teaching a "dull and casuistic routine" when he could be
following in the footsteps of the immortal Hidalgo by teach
ing the "secrets of industry, art, and agriculture."61 Charges
against the parish clergy were to a certain extent justified.


G-2. COMPARISON OF INDUSTRIES OF INNER 500-YARD CIRCLE
AND OUTER 1,000-YARD RING, 386
H-l.
CITY,
TRAZA, BARRIOS
OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE,
388
H-2.
CITY,
TRAZA, BARRIOS
HABITATIONAL PROFILE,
388
H-3.
CITY,
TRAZA, BARRIOS
RENT PROFILE, 389
1-1.
AGE AT
DEATH, 1842,
391
1-2.
AGE AT
DEATH, 1844,
391
1-3.
AGE AT
DEATH, 1850,
392
J-l. CAUSES OF DEATH, 1842, 1844, 394
J-2. DEATHS OF CHILDREN, THE SAGRARIO, 1842, 394
K-l. MONTHLY PERCENTAGES OF PNEUMONIA DEATHS, 1842, 1844,
1848, 397
K-2. MONTHLY PERCENTAGES OF DYSENTERY DEATHS, 1842, 1844,
1848, 397
K-3. PERCENTAGES OF TOTAL MONTHLY DEATHS, 1842, 1848, 398
L-l. MANZANA 57, AGE/SEX DISTRIBUTION, 400
L-2. MANZANA 60, AGE/SEX DISTRIBUTION, 400
L-3. MANZANA 57, MIGRANT POPULATION, 401
L-4. MANZANA 60, MIGRANT POPULATION, 401
L-5. MANZANA 57, PERCENTAGES OF MIGRANTS IN THE 20-39 AGE
BRACKET, 402
L-6. MANZANA 60, PERCENTAGES OF MIGRANTS IN THE 20-39 AGE
BRACKET, 402
M-l. MONTHLY PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL ANNUAL MARRIAGES, 1842, 404
M-2. CONTRAST OF TYPE 5 AND TYPE 9 FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS, 404
M-3. CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH RESIDENCE IN
TRAZA AND BARRIOS, 405
M-4. CROSSTABULATION OF HOUSEHOLD SIZE WITH OCCUPATION, 405
xxv


95
Rosendo Rojas Corlas, author of Tratado de coopera
tivismo mexicano, considers the Junta de fomento de Artesanos
' r 95
to be a resurgence of the archaic gremio system. His view
is unjustified, for the Junta resembled neither the actual
nor the idealized gremios. The colonial gremios were instru
ments for the restriction of production, the perpetuation of
an obsolete technology, and the literal subjugation of the
journeyman. The Junta attempted to introduce superior tech
nology, protect artisans by the promotion of schools and mu
tual-benefit societies, and influence public policy to the
benefit of its members. The idealized gremio used its legal
status to insure the well-being of its members through the
regulation of working conditions, productivity, and the pro
vision of welfare benefits. The Junta never sought cor
porate legal authority, nor did it seek to interfere with
the free-market mechanism, with the exception of its advocacy
of tariff protection. Its basic goal was self-help through
moral reform and education.
The Junta was similar to other organizations of
artisans in Europe and North America during the early stages
of the Industrial Revolution. Cynics might argue that they
served the needs of embryonic industrialists. A more reason
able interpretation would be that in the early stages of the
Industrial Revolution, masters and journeymen still considered
9 6
their interests to be identical.


152
In 1832 a public-spirited citizen suggested the govern
ment force landlords to repair properties in the interests of
114
public health. In 1849 the governor of the Distrito
Federal contemplated similar action to forestall an expected
outbreak of cholera. He was dissuaded by the ayuntamiento
who reasoned very properly that the law would be a dead letter.
The only housing action that the government ever enforced was
a repainting of all houses after the cholera epidemic of 1833.
The environs of Mexico City embraced further dangers
and discomforts. Fire menaced the city. After a series of
tragic fires in 1838, the city considered seriously the re
moval of crucifixes from church steeples and convents because
11 5
11 6
they acted as lightening rods
11 7
Guillermo Prieto recalled
flames which swept Mexico City in 1850 accompanied by wide-
, 118
spread looting.
The cramped houses literally spilled their occupants
into the streets. Obstruction of the broad avenues reflected
the competition for space. Artisans and merchants blocked
119
traffic by placing their wares and furniture in the streets.
Within the barrios, mestizos and Indians of "low condition"
120
built shacks in the middle of thoroughfares. "Embroils of
alleys, these remnants of habitable construction, of exitless
12 1
quagmires" pierced the heart of the city. Because the clogged
streets blocked passage of the larger horse-drawn vehicles,
the cargador commonly transported bulk freight.
l 2 2
Thompson
reported an uncomfortable feeling of crowdedness as he
123
strolled through the central areas of the city.


295
depression of business that causes the
horrible misery of which our people
complain and in the immorality that,
thanks to the political revolutions,
has contaminated every social class
are the causes of the robberies, quar
rels, and murders that so frequently
are committed.86
Law Enforcement
The policing of Mexico City was notoriously ineffi
cient. Although the first decades of the independence period
witnessed numerous proposals for the establishment of a large
professional police force, it was not established until 1879.
Until that time the police force consisted of some twenty-
five celadores (municipal policemen) and a few dozen market
8 8
guards armed with sabers. This force was effective in the
areas that it patrolled, but was too small to police the
entire city. Security duties were supposed to be shared
with the 350-strong, paramilitary public security corps under
the command of the government of the Distrito Federal, but
that force was uncooperative and frequently in conflict with
municipal authorities. The ayuntamiento once complained that
its existence hindered rather than helped effective law en-
c 8 9
forcement.
Lacking an efficient professional police force, the
full brunt of law enforcement and civic administration fell
upon the unpaid alcalde. The ayuntamiento appointed two


100
TABLE 13
WOMEN'S OCCUPATIONS, MANZANA 168
Seamstresses 16
Tobacco workers 10
Tortilla makers 9
Embroiderers 3
Milk vendors ,3
Atole makers 4
Peddlers 4
Maid 1
Errand girl 1
Butcher 1
Tamale maker 1
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 3409.
dFive of the above were married: Three peddlers, one maid,
and one tortillera.
TABLE 14
COMPARISON OF RENT BY OCCUPATION
$0,0-1,0 $1,1-2,0 $2,1-3,0 $3,1-4,0 $4,1+
No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Artisan 49 12 155 37 97 22 36 9 87 21
Unskilled 21 16 79 40 50 28 13 6 36 12
Total cases
623


379
TABLE F-l,. continued:
Occupation
Number
%
Cooper
1
0.2
Cake froster
1
0.2
Box maker
1
0.2
Silversmith
1
0.2
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
4151-56, 4778-88.
TABLE F-2
SUSPECTED VAGRANTS, 1828-1852, UNSKILLED
Occupation Number %
Peddler
Servant
Street porter
Coachman
Barber
Teamster
Waiter
Water carrier
Wage laborer
Wagoner
Pulque or meat porters
Pork butcher
Stamp seller
Drover
Mule seller
Starch maker
Boatman
Street paver
Soda maker
Errand boy
Street singer
Iceman
31
5.1
16
2.7
13
2.2
.11
1.8
7
1.2
7
1.2
7
1.2
5
0.8
5
0.8
4
0.7
4
0.7
4
0.7
4
0.7
3
0.5
2
0.3
1
0.2
1
0.2
1
0.2
1
0.2
1
0.2
1
0.2
1
0.2
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
4151-56, 4778-88.


386
TABLE G-2
COMPARISON OF INDUSTRIES OF INNER 500-YARD CIRCLE
AND OUTER 1,000-YARD RING
Distribution of industries:
Circ]e
Ring
Total cases = 2,000
%_ Total Indus try
32
68
Assessment of taxes:
Circle
Ring
Total cases = 2,000
%_ Assessed Taxes % Not Assessed Taxes
55 45
21 79
SOURCE: AGN, tomos 83, 84, "Padrones de establecimientos in
dustriales, 1843."


CHAPTER TWO
LABOR AND WAGES
For a long time I have not worked at my
craft of blanket weaving because I can
earn more by selling matches in the
streets. w m. n, .
Mariano lirado, 1845
Labor
Mexico City's poor labored under unique circumstances
created by severe economic depression, the demise of the
colonial guild system, and the birth of modern industrial
organization. This chapter will examine their "modes" of
labor, working conditions, and wages. Artisans, masters,
journeymen, and apprentices constituted 38 percent of the sam
ple population and over 65 percent of the lower occupational
l
categories. Seventy percent of them were shoemakers, tailors,
2
carpenters, masons, bakers, weavers, painters, and printers.
They were not the most prosperous craftsmen. Table 11 ranks
the mean rent listed on the census of 1849. Only the rents of
the tailors and carpenters were among the ten highest. The
69


218
There are scarcely any of those institu
tions to which we are accustomed in all
our principal cities. There are more of
these, I have no doubt, in either of
the cities of Boston or Philadelphia
than in Mexico.110
Thompson's judgment is more suited to the facts. Philadel
phia, a city of 96,664 in 1810, possessed a large hospital
and a dispensary whose staff visited the sick in their homes.
Its almshouse housed over 1,200 inmates while the city dis-
lil
pensed poor relief to 2,500 more. Conditions within all
the public facilities surpassed the century's standards, and
Philadelphia's system of public charity became a model for
, . . 112 .
other cities to imitate. Sixteen private organizations
as diverse as the Magdalen Society to Reform Prostitutes
and the Female Society to Employ the Poor supplemented public
, 1 13
charity. In contrast to those of Philadelphia, the hos- .
pitis and almshouse of Mexico City were ramshackle and
overcrowded. Conditions within the prisons were comparable
to most North American ones but twenty years behind those of
France and England. At precisely the time when the public
schools of North America were about to enter a great period
of reform and expansion, those of Mexico City, although of
noble inspiration, withered for lack of funds. During the
entire period only two permanent private charitable associa
tions existed.
In 1844 the Liceo mexicano criticized the indiffer
ence of wealthy Mexicans to public and private charity:


287
that large percentages of street peddlers, servants, and
construction laborers possessed multiple trades. Table
36 also shows that domestic service and street vending were
the most common alternate trades. The popularity of the
already impoverished trades as alternate occupations is
evidence of extremely limited opportunities for productive
employment. Fifteen percent of the suspects stated that
they were unable to support their families at their present
trades. Table 37 shows that street merchants, tailors,
bakers, and coachmen were the most common occupational
groups represented.
The men who loitered in the streets or pulqueras
between odd jobs were the lperos, populacho, or vagrants of
the capital. Juan Barquera described how unemployment swiftly
drove a man to crime and to alcoholism.
During illnesses or unemployment, the
worker quickly exhausts his meager
sources of credit. He then watches
his children starve or die of incurable
diseases. Living chronically in hunger,
the father will resort to robbery and
force his wife and daughter to become
prostitutes. Afterward he will deliver
himself to drunkeness to escape his con-
60
science.
Dishonesty was inherent in marginal employment. Many
rinconeras earned barely enough to survive. The bitter letter
of the shoemaker Jose Hernandez, which is quoted in Chapter


314
p. 3.
p. 3.
p. 1.
4AACM, tomo 2478, exps. 11, 12.
12 5
"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 10 octubre 1841,
AACM, tomo 2578, exp. 12.
Tylor, p. 248.
12 7
"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 16 mayo 1846, p. 2.
12 8
AACM, tomo 2479, exp. 18.
^AACM, tomo 2748, exp. 11.
i 3 o
Ibid.
13 1
"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 21 septiembre 1848,
AACM, tomo 2749, exp. 14.
13 3
"Remitido," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 8 septiembre 1848,
134
i 3 5
136
1 3 7
1 3 8
1 3 9
1 40
1 41
1 42
1 43
1 4 4
1 45
AACM, tomo 2478, exps.
Ibid.
"Remitido," Universal,
AACM, tomo 4163, exps.
AACM, tomos 2889-90.
AACM, tomo 2478, exp.
Ibid.
AACM, tomo 4158, exp.
Latrobe, p. 110.
Mayer, p. 32.
Garca Cubas (1945), p
Otero, Obras, tomo 2,
14, 15; tomo 2749
21 agosto 1850, p
462-84.
12.
332b.
. 337.
p. 701.
exp.
1.
18.


243
In Mexico City marriage fees were excessive. The
priest of Santa Catarina Mrtir charged $6,6 for a wedding
a sum equivalent to a poor man's life savings. High illegiti
macy rates indicate that the poor did not marry in the Church.
Young men arrested for living with a woman without the con
sent of her parents usually pleaded that they "lacked suffi-
,, .41
cient resources for a marriage.
Baptismal and burial fees were reasonable. Baptisms
at Santa Catarina cost a minimum of one real, an extremely
low fee considering the seriousness of the charges leveled
42
against the Church. Table 33 shows the disproportionate
number of baptisms in the smaller parishes. The smaller
parishes of the city may have competed with the larger
parishes for baptismal revenues.
The smaller parishes charged low burial fees. Imme
diately after the city banned parish burials, six parish
priests complained to the ayuntamiento. They admitted their
total dependence upon burial fees but pointed out that the
charge was no more than four reals; the extremely poor
were buried without charge. The cost of burials at the
Panten of Santiago Tlatelolco, continued the priests, varied
from $4 to $8 because frightened cargadores charged extremely
high fees to carry bodies.. In the Sagrarlo, however, burial
fees were high, and the needy were denied free burial. When
the municipality investigated a complaint made against the
Sagrario in 1846, its notary grudgingly admitted that the cost


253
The parish clergy did try to promote public education.
In 1835 the priest of Santo Toms de la Palma repeated the
request, of his predecessor for the establishment of a municipal
school. His parish was a "good example of the school of
ignorance where thieves and murderers received their education."
Only four of his parishioners knew enough Christian doctrine
to participate in prayers. Such ignorance and poverty were
commonplace; all the parishes had "zealously" sought the
creation of municipal schools. He concluded that until educa
tion raised his flock from their "maltorpor and ignorance,"
6 8
their moral and theological training would be impossible.
The religion of the poor may also be interpreted
positively, for it gave meaning to the lives of people
menaced by a violent, ugly, and painful world. Luis G.
Cuevas, the proclerical, conservative historian, praised
the Church in 1850.
For the poor who are without schools,
without workshops, and often without
work to support life, the service that
the Mexican clergy has provided to the
nation is very greatmaintaining the
populations in a subordination that
would not have been possible without
the powerful.influence of religion.69


32
TABLE 8
URBAN ORIGINS OF IMMIGRANTS
State
% Migrants
City %
D.F.
4
Guanajuato
8
Guanajuato
5
Acambaro
1
Hidalgo
12
Pachuca
2
Real del Monte
1
Tulancingo
2
Apam
1
Jalisco
3
Guadalaj ara
3
Mexico
24
Toluca
9
Texcoco
5
Michoacan
Zumpango
2
6
Morelia
3
Zamora
1
Sitacuaro
1
Puebla
11
Puebla
9
Queretaro
8
Queretaro
6
Celaya
1
San Luis Potos
3
San Luis Potos
3
Vera Cruz
5
Jalapa
2
Vera Cruz
1
Orizaba
1
Total cases 357
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from the census
of 1849, AACM, tomos 3409, 3413.


301
and two parish priests. As a reward and because no one else
wanted the position, the municipality appointed Alvarez to
an illegal third term. His neighbors reacted to the appoint
ment with legitimate complaints of its illegality and
trumped-up charges that "the little angel" levied illegal
fines, compelled his neighbors to sweep the streets, abused
the poor, and permitted the existence of a brothel next to
his residence. An investigation proved the matter of the
brothel a calumny and proved other charges to be stemming
from the neighborhood's resentment when Alvarez rigorously
ill
enforced the municipal sanitary regulations.
Popular hatred of the alcalde auxiliar, especially by
i i 2
the populacho, was intense. One lieutenant of the civil
militia refused to serve as an auxiliar on the grounds that
acceptance of the position "would bring grave disrespect
and dishonor to the concept of service in the civil militia."
After the publication of the Toro's articles, an auxiliar re
signed claiming that he had just opened a small store and
that the public resentment generated by the articles jeopar-
113
dized his chances for success.
Public hatred created its own obstacles for law en
forcement and civil administration. Volunteers for auxiliar
or ayudante were few, and those compelled to serve faced the
dilemma of forcing their neighbors upon whom they depended
11 4
for a livelihood to accept unpopular laws. Luis de Bellemar
humorously captured the innate conflict of interest when he


47
never thought of themselves in such terms. In the
streets, the lowest peddler called himself maestro (mas
ter) 67 The meanest adolescent mandadero (errand boy)
hauled before the Tribunal de Vagos would protest to the
magistrates that he possessed an oficio (skilled craft).
No pen del albail (unskilled construction laborer)
would ever admit to being less than an oficial del alba
il (journeyman in construction). The waiter employed at
the fashionable Cafe de la Bella Union or the driver of
the municipal trash wagon considered himself to be as
socially distant from the unskilled construction laborer
or the street paver as the wealthiest financier from his
l 6 8
most junior clerk. In the depressed economy of Mexico
City, any occupation, no matter how menial, gave its
holder a certain degree of status.
Marked patterns of residential segregation sepa
rated the plebe from his superior. The wealthy occupied
the drier, more-convenient central locations of Mexico
City while the poor resided on the wetter fringes. The
area enclosed by a circle of five-hundred-yard radius,
with its center at the middle of the central plaza, en
closed 17 percent of the population. Within that circle, the
upper classes numbered 35 percent of the population; arti
sans, 32 percent; and the unskilled, 25 percent. The mean
rent of the area was $23 compared to the mean municipal rent


53
the suspected vagrants were migrants, and 49 percent, natives
of Mexico City. The Tribunal de Vagos did not discriminate
against the migrants. Natives of Mexico City were 52 percent
of the convicted vagrants while migrants were 40 percent.
Migrants were not overly represented among the crimi
nals. Fifty-five percent of the criminal suspects were na
tives of Mexico City and the remainder were migrants. The
percentages of natives and migrants among the criminal sus
pects are about the same as those of the sample blocks within
Cuartel Menor 17. Fifty-eight percent of all convicted crimi
nals were natives and 42 percent were migrants.
The dire consequences of migration described by the
Semanario Artstico and supported by the conclusions of Lopez
Camara and Di Telia may never have occurred. Table 9 compares
the mean rents of migrants with those of natives. Except for
unskilled workers from the Distrito Federal, migrants and
native Mexicans in the two lowest occupational categories
paid almost identical mean rents. Table 10 breaks down the
mean rents of the migrants by their specific origins. Those '
from Vera Cruz, Queretaro, and Guanajuato paid higher rents,
while those from the Distrito Federal, Mexico, Puebla, and
San Luis Potos paid lower rents.
The migrants settled throughout the city. The random,
sample does not show any statistically significant concentra
tion of migrants on any one block or area of the city. There
is evidence, however, from the barrios of San Salvador el


CHAPTER FIVE
RELIGION AND RECREATION
For the poor who are without schools,
without workshops, and often without
work to support life, the service that
the Mexican clergy has provided to the
nation is very greatmaintaining the
populations in a subordination that
would not have been possible without
the powerful influence of religion.
Luis G. Cuevas, 1850
Religion
The Church was omnipresent. In a city of "severe" or
"chaste" secular architecture, the religious buildings were
i
"striking." Through their towering, ornate splendor, the
convents and the churches conveyed the power and majesty of
the Roman Catholic faith to the city. Their spires rising
high above private and public buildings proclaimed the omni
potence of God in the world of man. The exquisite carvings of
the exterior walls or the interior chapels with plated and
carved panels, colorful images, and paintings were, especially
for the poor, the only glimpse of beauty in a drab and ugly
235


162
adult age brackets and fluctuated between 8 and 14 percent
until the sixty-year age bracket when the percentages began
to decline.
Infectious diseases of the digestive and respiratory
systems slew the population. Table J-l depicts the causes
of death for the entire city in 1842 and 1844. Many were
specific to particular ages, sexes, and occupations. Table
J-2 depicts the cause of death for children under ten years
in the Sagrario. Alfereca, the convulsions produced by
high fevers resulting from infection, carried off the
greatest percentage (17 percent). Dysentery (11 percent),
strokes (10 percent), whooping cough (10 percent), and dis
orders of the stomach (7 percent) followed. Together the
five diseases accounted for 65 percent of child deaths below
the age of ten.
Table J-2 shows the causes of death in the Sagrario
for individuals over age ten. Six diseases produced over
50 percent of the fatalities. Pneumonia, the largest killer,
accounted for 20 percent of the total number of deaths.
Hidropesa (dropsy), the immediate result of a stoppage of
circulation produced by pregnancy, hormone deficiencies, or
kidney failure, caused 13 percent of the fatalities. Dysen
tery, continuous fever (probably typhoid or paratyphoid),
and costado, a respiratory disorder produced by a number of
modern diseases, were the next most common fatal diseases.
Continuous fever attacked children and young adults. Pneumonia


371
TABLE D-3
POPULATION ESTIMATES OF THE AYUNTAMIENTO DE MEXICO, 1824-1846
Year
Estimate
1824
168,000
1843
145,000
1844
160,000
1846
174,000
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 872, exps. 11, 15; tomo 863, exp. 38;
tomo 873, exp. 2.


168
After 1833 the city periodically forbade burials in parish
16 6
cemeteries within the garitas. Enacted to preserve the
public health, the measure affected the accuracy of the
parish registers. The poor, avoiding the expense and bother
of burial in the municipal cemeteries, placed their dead in
secret cemeteries southwest of the city. It is possible
that smaller-parish priests, financially dependent upon burial
fees, conducted secret burials in their own cemeteries.
The age-sex characteristics of the population of
Mexico City in 1849 reveal the play of natural and social
forces. The procedure used to sample the census of 1849
does not allow the construction of an accurate population
pyramid. It was possible, however, to construct population
tables for the barrios of Necatitln (Manzana 57) and San
Salvador el Seco (Manzana 60). Bearing in mind that the
populations of the barrios came and went as they pleased,
their characteristics will be assumed to indicate city-wide
patterns. Wherever possible, supplementary material will
be added to support or disprove the observations.
The population was mature. Appendix L contains pop
ulation tables on Necatitln and San Salvador el Seco. They
show that only 33 and 41 percent of the respective popu
lations were below the age of twenty. The percentages
approximate those of several other blocks listed on the
168
census of 1842.
In the twentieth century, similar


193
The condition of San Hiplito is now, and
probably has been for the past seventy
years, a frightful disgrace. Each patient
is enclosed in filthy and unventilated
little cells that comprise the principal
part of the building; they are called,
with some justice, jails. The patients
are taken early in the morning to the
patio and left with nothing to do. No
patient has left cured, and all have aban
doned the little sanity that they once
possessed. Degrees of mental illness are
not distinguished. Raging madmen are left
with absolute idiots. Idiots are reduced
to a purely animal life. The greater
part of the unfortunates are "monomaniacs";
they many times retain sufficient judgment
to be put to useful work, but the managers
practice only an inmemorable routine. In
the first days that they are put in the
hospital, the mildly insane beg for work
to break the monotony, but gradually they
are brought to a state of despair and hope
lessness through boredom. The hospital
rather than being a benefit is a positive
evil, a place of despair.
The hospital of San Andres was never In any condition
to provide proper medical care. It lost most of its funds
when the legal settlement of corporately owned property
that immediately followed postindependence ceded its reve
nue-producing properties to the ayuntamiento. At the same
time, the municipality closed down four of the most decrepit
public hospitals, leaving San Andres the only general hos
pital tasked with the care of charity cases. Squeezed by
increasing responsibilities and decreasing revenues, San
Andres was a public disgrace. In 1828 the hospital's rector
complained that the department of surgery on the ground floor


128
1 82
Becerro: parroquia de Santa Catarina Mrtir
(Mexico, D.F.: Filmoteca del Instituto de Geneologica y
Heralda, agosto 1832), rollo 301, vols. 16-21.
1 83
AACM,
tomo
2760,
"Contra
Diego Bolles."
1 8 4
AACM,
tomo
3675 ,
exp.
26.
1 85
AACM,
tomo
4154,
exp.
80.
A cobbler took out a
loan to obtain the money necessary to purchase the tool kit.


APPENDIX J
CAUSES OF DEATH,1842, 1844


49
divisions themselves. Table 5 compares the differences in
mean rents paid by members of the occupational categories
residing in the two areas.
Twenty-four percent of the Traza's residents lived in
private homes, 20 percent in apartments, 19 percent in acces
orias (outbuildings), and 32 percent in single rooms. In the
barrios, 11 percent lived in private homes, 9 percent lived
in apartments, 10 percent in accesorias, 62 percent in single
rooms, and 6 percent in shacks. The mean rent of the Traza
habitations was $16; that of the barrios was $4. The Traza
included 81 percent of the houses employing servants and 83
l 7 3
percent of the capital's foreign residents.
The poor of Mexico City were readily identifiable
17 4
as mestizos. Lucas Alaman, the Mexican statesman and his
torian, explained the relationship of race to social position
when he wrote of the colonial castes.
From them also came the trusted servants
of the country and in the city. Having
much facility and much comprehension,
they exercized all the crafts and the me
chanical arts, and, in sum, one could say
that from them came the labor that was em
ployed in every task.175
period.
Legal racial
In the las t
discrimination existed in the colonial
two decades of that era, however, it had
become such an embarrassing anachronism that legal witnesses
could be purchased, and officials were extremely perfunctory


109
mi voz en tu paso errante,
detente y caminante,
desde el nacir al morir,
que te pretendo decir,
que tu vida es todo un susto;
a as escucha sin disgusto
si te quieres divertir
antes de nacir, causaste
a tu madre mil dolores
penas diste por favores
y el alma la congogaste
naciste, mas no cesaste
de prevenirla tormento
se te quedo en el olvido
pues a Dios (Todos los circunstantes se quitaban
el sombrero)
has ofendido,
busca el arrepentimiento.136
Women numbered over half of Mexico City's population.
They were an economically marginal group. Although a very
few might be artisans, most found employment in domestic ser
vice, the production and sale of tortillas, atole, or sweets,
13 8
or as laundresses. Many worked in the Estanco, and when
that was not in operation, they converted their tiny rooms
into estanquillos (small shops). Table 13 lists the- occupa
tions of women residing on Manzana 168. Only three profes
sions, dressmaking, midwifery, and working as a caretaker in
a casa de vecindad, gave a poor woman any degree of status.
A costurera or modista (skilled seamstress) trained
in European techniques and knowledgeable of European fashions
13 9
could develop a wealthy clientele. Single girls thought -
of the occupation as a way of meeting young men of good
family. The trade was also a respectable occupation for


94
richest artisans, encouraged by the government, established
the Junta de
Fomento de Artesanos. The goals of the Junta
were:
1.
Halting the invasion of foreign manu
factures .
2.
Increasing the growth of national pro
duction .
3.
Contributing to the creation of schools
for elementary and vocational education.
4.
Uniting for the defense of the common
interest.
5.
Raising the moral level of the artisans
through religion.
6.
Creating charitable institutions to pro
tect artisans from want.93
The Semanario Artstico, the Junta's weekly newspaper and only
legacy to history, provided an idea of the Junta's activities.
Didactic essays preached the virtues of thrift and the evils
of alcoholism. Articles warned against inhaling the dust and
fumes produced by industrial processes and disseminated the
latest technical information. The paper printed schemes urging
the necessity of bank accounts or mutual benefit societies and
promoted the establishment of night schools to teach writing
and elementary bookkeeping to apprentices and journeymen. The
Semanario Artstico attempted to influence public policy by pro
posing a boycott of contraband and legal imports and by peti-
9 4
tionmg the government to stabilize its finances.


425
"Vagos y mendigos," Eco de Comercio, 20 junio 1848, p. 2.
'Wibel, John, and Jesse de la Cruz. "Mexico." In Richard M.
Morse, ed., The Urban Development of Latin America,
1750-1920. Stanford, California, 1971.
Books
Aguilar, Gilberto, and Roberto Ezquero Peraza. Los hospi
tales de Mxico. Mexico, D.F., 1936.
Almonte, Juan Nepucemo. Gula de forasteros. Mexico, D.F.,
.1852.
Alaman, Lucas D. Historia de Mjico. 5 tomos. Mexico, D.F.,
1942.
Arancel para todos los curas del Arzobispado de Mxico.
Mxico, D.F., 1840.
De Arrangoiz, Francisco de Paula. Mjico desde 1808 hasta
1867. 4 tomos. Madrid, 1871-1872.
Ayuntamiento de Mxico. Dictmenes de los ciudadanos sndicos
acerca de si los estrangeros pueden tener carniceras,
panaderas, y otros comercios de esta clase. Mxico,
D.F., 16 agosto 1830.
Memoria de los ramos municipales, 1845. Mxico,
D.F., 1847.
. Memoria de 1845. Mxico, D.F., 1845.
. Memoria de 1851. Mxico, D.F., 1851.
Representacin de Ayuntamiento de esta Capital en
defensa de la industria agrcola y fabril de la Re
pblica. Mxico, D.F., 1841.
Barquera, Juan Wenceslao. Disertacin econmica-poltica sobre
los medios de aumentar la poblacin de los Estados
Unidos Mexicanos y su ilustracin y riqueza. Mxico,
D.F., 1825.
Bazant, Jan. Alienation of Church Wealth in Mexico. Trans.
Michael P. Costeloe. Cambridge, 1971.
Becerro: parroquia de Santa Catarina Mrtir. Filmoteca del
Instituto de Geneologica y Heralda, rollo 301, vol.
1621 (agosto 1832).


153
TABLE 15
PRICE OF MAIZE AND BEANS
Year
Maize
(per carga)
Beans
(per carga)
Source
1827
$5
Ward.
1832
8
$10
AACM, tomo 293.
1833
6
10
AACM, tomo 3676, exp.
A
1841
8
0,4
(per'almud)
AACM, tomo 2279, p. 98.
1847
7
10
AACM, tomo 2266, exp.
60.
1848
5
8
"Precios de necesidades
primarias," Monitor Re
publicano, 29 mayo 1848,
p. 4.
1851
7
9
Ayuntamiento de Mexico,
Memoria de 1851 (Mexico,
D.F., 1851).
1852
4
9
Almonte.
NOTE: One carga = 250 lbs.
TABLE 16
RESIDENCE AND MEAN RENTS
Residence
Number
Percentage
Mean Rent per Month
House
235
18
$40
Room
629
47
2
Acessoria
197
15
8
Vivienda
195
14
18
Entresuelo
24
2
20
Jacal
46
3
2
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the
survey from the census of 1849, AACM,
author for
tomo 3406.
the sample


268
four reals and not those that venture
ounces of gold? This is not a policy
of indifference on the part of the
ayuntamiento. The Prefecture should
lend it not only the physical but the
moral force to punish the rich and
the poor together.4
Robbery accounted for approximately one third of the
crimes committed annually. In every year for which there are
statistics, the sex ratio of male to female convicted thieves
was at least 2:1. The articles stolen in Cuartel Menor 17
were of small value. The most expensive theft was that of
thirty-six rebozos worth $13 pesos. Most stolen articles
were worth far less. Not even a tattered serape or a stone
metate used to grind corn were safe. Twenty percent of all
the ward's thefts occurred at work and were of tools or the
clothes of work mates. Most of the thefts occurred in the
unlocked rooms of the vecindades when the occupants were
absent or in the streets when the attention of the victims
was distracted. The robberies appear to have been motivated
by the desire to satisfy an immediate and basic need. Usually
the thief quickly pawned the stolen property or bartered it
directly for food or.drink. The rich were also the prey of
thieves. Tortoise-shell combs went out of fashion among the
upper-class ladies after mounted thieves imperiled their
wearers by galloping through the streets and wrenching them
from their wearers'heads.5


159
13 2
specifics. One doctor argued before the ayuntamiento
that although the gases produced by the trash might cause
fevers, trash strewn in the streets dried too fast to be a risk to
hazard public health. The ayuntamiento remained uncon
vinced. After rejecting burning as a method of trash dis
posal, it decided to dump the trash into Lake Texcoco, an
i 3 3
important source of municipal drinking water.
Streets with no pavement and inadequate drainage
supplemented the oppressive circumstances. The rains of
13 4
late summer collected in putrid puddles. When flooding
occurred, thoroughfares became impassable. The Traza's
13 5
residents bridged streets with long wooden planks. In
the southern barrios, canoes replaced feet as the principal
means of transportation. The polluted waters of Lake
Texcoco vengefully redistributed the filth throughout the
, 136
fringe barrios.
Polluted air assailed the most insensitive nostrils.
In the heart of the city, the fumes of burning cacao and
chile, wafting from respectable houses of commerce, burned
the eyes of well-to-do residents. The stench rising from
animal wastes carelessly strewn around the shops of butchers,
candle makers, and tanners contaminated the atmosphere of
entire neighborhoods. Foul odors from stopped-up aqueducts
or filthy central gutters were constant sources of complaint.
l 3 7
appearance.
The frightful conditions of the barrio molded a man's
1 3 8
Foreign visitors wrote of the "miserable,


411
TABLE 0-2, continued:
Name
Age
Position
1849
Maria Hortencia
60
Wife (widow)
Justa Giron
26
Daughter
Juan Giron
12
Son
TABLE 0-3
FAMILY OF DOMINGO FLORES,
WATER CARRIER
Name
Age
Position
1842
Domingo Flores
34
Father
Teodora Rosales
32
Wife
Ramon Flores
6
Son
Jose Miliciano
4
Son
Josefa Flores
13
Daughter
Justa Flores
2
Daughter
Cristobal Flores
17
Son or brother
Jos Mara Flores
10
Son
1849
Teodora Rosales
45
Wife
Mara Josefa Guerra
20
[?]
Ramon Flores
12
Son
Maria
7
Daug


137
Tlie poor did not eat at home. Food was purchased
from sidewalk vendors and restaurants. The extremely poor
were nourished with chile boiled in lard, beans, and lump
of meat on a tortilla. Lacking eating utensils, they folded
the tortilla to create an empaada (turnover). The more
fortunate carried clay plates and used the tortilla as a
r 36
fork.
Wholesale-food cost lists for the republican period,
similar to those upon which Enrique Florescano based his
3
masterful study of late-colonial maize prices, do not exist.
Fortunately, political crises and epidemics motivated a
series of price-fixing decrees that give some idea of food
costs. In 1832 and 1841, a 42-ounce loaf of coarse bread
cost one real. During the cholera epidemic of 1833, a 30-
3 8
ounce loaf sold for one real. Wheaten bread, however, was
3 9
too expensive for the poor whose staple was maize. The
4 i
price of inexpensive Tolucan maize varied with the harvests.
Table 15 shows its price per carga during the years for which
there are records. The average price for the eight-year
period was $6.75. One real could purchase 5 pounds of maize.
Table 15 also compares the price per carga of beans for a
six-year period. The average price for the period was $9 per
carga, or one real for each 4 pounds.
The published prices seem inexpensive, but do not
represent the true cost of food. The quotation of price per
carga indicates these were wholesale prices. The retailer's


242
of secular visitation. Shortly afterward San Juan de la
3 7
Penitencia refused to establish schools on similar grounds.
The parishes of the city were under heavy financial
strain. Efforts to remain solvent focused upon the poor.
According to Mora, the greater part of Church tithes
supported the upper clergy who lived in idleness and luxury.
The parish priest, deprived of his fair share, depended
upon excessively high parish fees to fund worship and to
support himself. High marriage fees discouraged matrimony
and stimulated incontinency. The burial fee was the "worst
and most immoral" transaction. After the grief-stricken
family had exhausted its resources caring for the deceased,
the priest took advantage of the circumstances to charge
3 8
dearly for a Christian burial. The ayuntamiento reiterated
3 9
this charge when it banned parish burials in 1834.
The question of parish fees is more complex than
Mora would have it. The Church pursued an equivocal policy.
A pamphlet in 1840 admitted that the abolition of separate
schedules for whites, castes, and Indians following
independence had created confusion regarding proper charges.
To clarify matters it advised priests to charge the higher
fees formerly restricted to Spaniards but reprinted an edict
of 1721 ordering priests to provide free sacraments to the
poor. Since the pamphlet was advisory' in nature, compliance
40
was a matter of conscience.


213
stressed mass education through constant activity designed
to maintain the interest of the children. Classes were held
in enormous rooms holding from 100 to 300 students. Desks
for the teacher and classroom monitors stood at the head of
the class. Rows of long tables with benches holding ten
students each filled the classroom. In the middle of the
first table stood a telegraph, a long pole topped by a
metal frame which held a poster of the letter or number to
93
be learned during every class session.
The children entered the classroom and stood at
attention while the teacher inspected them for cleanliness.
Afterward they marched to their assigned tables, knelt in
unison and said their morning prayer. The beginning stu
dents sat at the first file of tables and practiced printing
letters in the sand held in the depressed table tops. Inter
mediate students drew letters on blackboards. The most ad
vanced practiced printing and script with pen and paper.
A decurin (student instructor) sat with each group of ten
and monitored each student's work. In the afternoon each
group sat in a semicircle around its decurin and repeated
aloud and in unison the catechism and lessons in pronouncia-
tion. Later the students returned to their benches for
arithmetic lessons taught in the same fashion as the morn
ing's writing. Throughout the day the teacher functioned
solely to insure the clock-like precisioned operation of
94
the gigantic class. Rapid advancement, prizes, and promotion


108
Deformed and infirm beggars were everywhere.
Alone, guided by perillos (young boys), carried on the
shoulders of sturdy assistants or on horsebackall were
called pordioseros because they began each request for alms
13 2
with "por Dios.' Whether entering the kitchens of the
rich or squatting in the portals of convents and churches,
they were well received. Waddy Thompson, an American diplo
mat, remarked that deformity was an asset because it guaran
teed a man a secure income.1 3 The success of the beggar
was due to the special value that Latin Catholicism assigned
to an act of charity. The presence of the poor was con
sidered to be the living and visible testimony of the pres
ence of Christ and his doctrine. They were allegorically
the other Christ and whosoever aided them assured his eter
nal salvation. The giver of alms benefited more than he
who received. The almsgiver often received more than the
13 4
opportunity to perform an act of perfect grace. An old
cripple observed by Thompson pandered to the crowd's sadistic
impulses by performing epileptic fits during which he rolled
i 3 5
on the ground and howled like a dog. Others rendered a
higher level of entertainment. Two old beggars living under
the portals of San Agustn would recite the following poem
in unison:
Esccheme navegante
que vas surcando tu sombra
atiende; pues que te nombra


408
TABLE N-l, continued:
1messenger
5 street porters
4 carters
1 oarsman
1 starch maker3
2 cooks3
1 storekeeper
3 water carriers
2 coachmen
4 masons
1 merchant3
1 butcher3
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2478, exp. 352. Dorothy T[anke] Estrada,
"Las escuelas lancastrianas en la Ciudad de Mexico, 1822-1842,"
Historia Mexicana, tomo 22, no. 4, pp. 509-510.
indicates female occupations.


275
them into alleys, and robbed them at leisure. Crime
paid handsome dividends. One eighteen-year-old thief had
accumulated a hoard of three hundred silver pesos before his
36
arrest.
Despite the presence of the professionals, the sheer
dimensions of criminal activity is sufficient proof that
most of the crime was committed by the poor, upon the poor.
Some reasons for lower-class criminality will now be dis
cussed .
Alcoholism was rampant among the general population.
Mexican consumption of alcohol surpassed that of France and
3 7
England. The Semanario Artstico wrote,
It is the most heartbreaking spectacle
and unworthy of humanity to see a father
and mother drunk in the middle of the
night in their room whose door they
cannot open with their trembling hands
when one is aware that outside the door
there is a small child who cannot give
them any help and who is forced to sleep
on a cold doorstep. And we will say of
that father that the following day and
every day after that, he will give to
his wife and child a bit of atole and
some bread crusts so that he may squander
his wages at the wine shop.88
In 1845 a police official estimated that over six thousand
people would be jailed overnight and fined for drunkeness
, 39
during the course of the year.


291
craft or occupation into military service." The governor of
the Distrito- Federal smugly justified the impressment of the
unemployed as a means of "putting the multitude of people
without occupation," but who were "sufficiently robust, to
useful work," removing them from the pulqueras and other
7 8
"pernicious places" that they inhabited. In February of
1829 he complained to the ayuntamiento that
the city is full of vagrants either
because the Tribunal has failed to
act in the past months or because
the circumstances have placed many
persons without having objects
to consecrate their labor.
The intent of the Tribunal de Vagos was to spare the
poor, whether employed or unemployed, from impressment while
ridding the city of vagrants. Its magistrates kept faith
with its goal, sparing the unemployed or partially employed
but condemning the truly idle. The seemingly contradictory
situation exists, however, that while all were aware that
unemployment and underemployment were the roots of vagrancy
and crime, all held that vagrancy defined as a personal, moral
vice caused crime. Regidor Manuel de la Cadena, who per
sonally led antivagrancy patrols, clearly stated the ambi
valent position in a report to the government of the Distrito
Federal after making'his first patrol. No one who had ever
lived in the barrios of Santa Ana and El Carmen, wrote the


236
world. Decades after most of the convents and monasteries
had become the victims of reform and modernization, men who
passed their childhoods in the first decades of the nineteenth
2
century would write lovingly and sadly of a vanished glory.
The pealing bells of the Church overwhelmed the public
psychology. During the hours of prayer they inspired the
3
population with a "superstitious fervor." Guillermo Prieto
described the sound of church bells ringing during the
earthquake reverberations of St. Cecilia's Day, 1840, as
4
apocalyptic. During the cholera epidemic of 1833, their
mournful tolling "infused the stricken population with such
terror that the ayuntamiento prohibited the practice."5
The clergy was highly visible. Thompson observed "an
equal number of officers, soldiers, lperos, priests, and
friarsall equally useless."6 The mendicant friars of the
street were Guillermo Prieto's "great distraction and pleasure."
The most prestigious proved their holiness and wisdom by the
raggedness of their habits, uncombed hair, filthy hands, and
7
unshaven faces. Nobody could ignore the carriage, each door
adorned with a painting of an enormous eye, escorted by sol
diers and lay brothers ringing bells, carrying priests bringing
8
the host to sick or dying Christians.
The Archdiocese of Mexico City oversaw the ecclesias
tical affairs of the entire nation. In addition to its
suffragan bishoprics, it had under its direct responsibility
a large, irregular area extending to Tampico in the northeast,


40
peddlers, domestic servants, and artisans who labored in
low-prestige crafts. Twenty-nine percent of the sample
l 46
population fell into this category. The vulgar name for
this class was the populacho. A Spanish administrator of
the late colonial period estimated the plebe of his era to
l 4 7
amount to 80 percent of the entire population.
The populacho was the same "poor and idle class of
u 148
half-caste Mexicans that foreigners called leperos.
Although their definitional criteria varied, foreign esti
mates of the percentage of lperos in the population approxi
mated that of the traditional populacho. Henry Ward, the
first British ambassador to Mexico, reported that "twenty
thousand naked lperos" existed in the capital prior to in
dependence and the consequent importation of cheap British
] 49
textiles. Joel Poinsett, his North American rival, esti
mated the same number to lack fixed residences or a means of
support in 1824.1 5 0 A quarter-century later a French consul
using unspecified criteria estimated that 25 percent of the
, 15 1
population were leperos.
The division of Mexico City's society into an upper
class and a plebe reflects a valid occupational hierarchy
supported by economic status. Table 4 compares the size
and mean monthly rent of each occupational group. The mean
rent of the upper classes was five times that of the artisans
and six times that of the populacho. The rent paid by arti
sans was 40 percent higher than that of the unskilled. Because


262
young man Niceto Zamacois witnessed Santa Anna's extrava
ganzas :
The brilliance of these fiestas fasci
nated the people who did not think,
but they were a bitter irony to the
people who suffered.109
Notes
Ruxton, p. 20. Salado Alvarez, pp. 135-36. La-
trobe, pp. 110-11.
2 ^
Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 1-136. Rivera Cambas,
tomos 1-2. Marroqu, tomos 1, 3, 5.
3
Poinsett, p. 139.
^Prieto (1948), p. 249.
5AACM, tomo 3676, exp. 4.
(> Thompson, p. 128.
?Prieto (1964), pp. 169-70.
8
Calderon de la Barca, p. 117.
9
Rivera Cambas, tomo 1.
10AGN, tomo 127, exp. 2.
^Gibson, pp. 378, 398. Marroqu, tomo 1, pp. 101-102.
12 ,
Alfredo Pina, Relacin descriptiva de la fundacin
de las iglesias y conventos de Mxico (Mexico, D.F., 1863).
13AACM, tomo 872, exp. 3.
4AACM, tomo 3686, exp. 37.
15AACM, tomo 3284, exp. 17.
16 Calderon de la Barca, p. 122.
17
Galvan Rivera, 1842. Almonte.
58AGN, tomo 127, exp. 2.
i 9
Many of the names inscribed in the "Libro" are anno
tated "deceased" with dates that indicate that the individual
serving in the office had completed a term of service.


283
TABLE 34
COMPLAINTS AGAINST SUSPECTED VAGRANTS
Complaint %
Vagrancy 29
Attempted robbery 28
Gambling 16
Drunkeness 4
Quarreling 5
Mistreatment of wife 5
Incontinence 2
Disobedience to parents 2
Unspecified 7
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
4151-4158.
TABLE 35
UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG SUSPECTED VAGRANTS
Occupation
Unemployment Rate
Within Occupation
% of Total
Unemployed
Construction laborer
21%
6
Carpenter
20
6
Baker
20
3
Weaver
11
4
Wax chandler
20
2
Servant
19
3
Sweet maker (vendor)
20
1
Shoemaker
11
14
Tailor
17
10
Reason Unemployed
Sickness 32%
Scarcity of work 22
Recent arrival 15
General unemployment rate 15%
Artisanal unemployment rate 15%
Unskilled unemployment rate 16%
SOURCE: Compiled and computed by the author from AACM, tomos
4151-4158.


80
mestizos, Indians, and criminals worked with unsafe machinery
and in unsanitary surroundings. Floggings were frequent, and
49
married men saw their families only on Sundays.
The Marxists overidealized the colonial guild system.
Manuel Carrera Stampa's opinion of the late-colonial gremio
cannot be overstated. Far from being an institution devoted
to the benefit of all artisans, the late-colonial gremio
stifled economic and personal freedom to enforce an ineffi
cient and unpopular monopoly. Apprenticeships were expensive
and discouragingly long. High fees and irrelevant, demanding
examinations thwarted journeymen who wished to become masters
The more desperate overcame these obstacles by running away
and establishing their own shops or working for wealthy non-
5 o
guild masters of large illegal workshops. Regatoneras
(renegade journeymen) were common in the shoemaking, black-
smithing, carriage making, glove making, hat making, leather
working, and painting crafts.51 They sold at lower prices
and operated at more convenient hours than did the guildsmen.
Their competition particularly hurt the master shoemakers who
complained that it forced them to reduce prices "without re
gard for the time and money that they had spent to pass their
5 2
examinations."
To combat illegal competition, the guildsmen resorted
to two expedients. Special courts sentenced arrested regato
neras to labor in public workshops. Dress regulations com
pelled the captive journeymen to borrow money from their


167
the faces, bandy-legged, and epileptic.
The men were like domino pieces of
six and blank, bare skin above and
cotton pants below; the women with a
short woolen shawl floating over the
breast and shoulder and wrapped about
in a long cloth. Pull it back, and
you make the wearer spin like a top.161
Demography
The materials available for the study of Mexico City's
demography at the Archivo del Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de
Mexico are sparse and inaccurate. The "Ramo de Padrones"
contains the municipal censuses of 1842, 1849, and fragments
16 2
of the industrial census of 1850. Although the best
material available for the study of household size, composi
tion, and fertility, they drastically undercounted the popu
lation. Males, fearing the census taker to be the harbinger
of the tax collector or the press gang, were particularly
, 1 63
underrepresented.
The "Ramo de Demografa" contains transcripts of
parish and hospital registers covering the years 1840, 1842,
16 4
1844, 1847, 1848, and 1850. The transcripts appear to
be complete and well analyzed, but they too are inaccurate.
The parish registers underrepresent infant deaths because
priests did not record the deaths of unbaptized infants.165
Many adult deaths also do not appear on the registers.


104
bility and trust." When the clothing trade was slow, the
'young peddlers of the Parian turned to selling glassware,
] 1 5
hardware, or "whatever else presented itself."
Other vendors were independent businessmen. The cri-
sollero bartered his plates and glassware for old clothes
that he resold in the Baratillo. The mercero carried sus
pended from an enormous pole hanging across his shoulders
needles, files, thimbles, spools, knitting
needles, curetes, balls of thread, hair
pins, shawl pins, earrings, Navalles and
Repalda catechisms, cheap editions of ver
ses and literature by Inclan and Sixto
Casillas, games of clay, plates decorated
with the Siege of Sevastopol, games for
children, and other trifles. His left
hand sustained a yardstick and a small
cane from which hung various thicknesses
of embroidered dobles and woven point lace
for petticoats.116
The enormous inventory marked him as a small shopkeeper sav
ing himself the expense of rent.
Servants comprised 23 percent of the lowest occupa
tional category, but because of the bias of the census, their
117
actual percentage was smaller. Scullions, lackeys, and
errand boys possessed the lowest prestige.. Maids, chamber
maids, and cooks occupied an intermediate position. The
aristocrat of the male servant corps was the coachman, usually
a former hackney driver, peasant, or household domestic who
had risen through the ranks. The wealthy lavished good treat-


222
the tangible benefits that a woman expected from her
"marriage. Her husband deceived her into marrying him by
telling her that he was a journeyman pastry maker. She
later discovered he was not even an apprentice. In four
years of marriage the aggrieved wife claimed that she had
not received one-half real in support. During her pregnancy
she had to beg for food. Poverty forced her to give up her
little daughter. When the infant died her husband would
not even give her the half-real burial fee. After four
years of starvation, lacking clothing, and brutal treatment,
l 2 2
she left him.
The birth of a child was an extremely serious event.
One pastry maker received twenty days off to assist his
123
wife's delivery. Immediately after birth the attending
midwife attempted to mold the baby's features by placing
its head in a tortoise shell and lengthening its flat nose
with her fingers. She then placed amulets in its hands
12 4
to protect it from witches. The mother took principal
responsibility for educating the child for the first seven
l 2 5
years of its life. The Semanario Artstico, however,
warned fathers to vigilantly watch their children and act
as their moral guides because their wives were so carelessly
12 6
educated. Poor children often experienced neglect be
cause their parents who worked from dawn to dusk permitted
them to wander all day in the streets learning vice and
l 2 7
losing all respect for parental authority.


216
same instructor allowed only one out of six free applicants-
to be enrolled in the school. The instructor of another
school did not allow any free student to enroll. A sharp-
eyed inspector discovered the violation when he noticed
that although the school was located in a poor barrio, all
102
its students wore shoes.
A census taken in 1842 counted sixty licensed and
i 03
forty-three unlicensed teachers in the city. A report
read to the ayuntamiento in 1832 called many of the unli
censed teachers "ignorant men whose morality was not very
refined." The report's author concluded that to entrust
children to the care of these men was a misfortune but the
greater misfortune would be to close the schools for lack
of qualified teachers and to deprive the poor of any in-
l 04
struction.
The greatest obstacle to public education was the
poverty of the educational system itself. The Lancastrian
and municipal schools labored under severe financial strain.
Public subsidies were always in arrears, and private stu
dents failed to pay their fees. The financial difficulties
affected the quality of instruction. In November 1840 the
municipality owed the directors of the municipal free
schools $2,500 in back salaries. Although they were bodily
present in the classroom with their students, their spirits
were home with their families wondering where -the next meal
would come from. Some of the free schools lacked textbooks


116
The similar mean rents do not tell whether both arti
sans and unskilled laborers experienced constant employment.
The extremely depressed and erratic economy probably caused
unsteady employment for both groups. The quantitative evi
dence is contradictory. Over half of the suspected vagrants
requiring two or more trades to earn a living were unskilled
laborers. However, 63 percent of the suspects earning in
sufficient income to support a family were artisans. Per
haps during hard times unskilled laborers changed jobs while
artisans refused to abandon their crafts.
The similar incomes of artisans and unskilled laborers
vary with the general rule that artisans could support a
family on their incomes while the unskilled could not. The
conclusion is based on empirical studies of nineteenth-
century European and North American cities. Most recently
Michael Katz and Stephen Thernstrom demonstrated that the
artisans of Hamilton, Ontario, and Newburyport, Massachusetts,
earned considerably more than the unskilled laborer. Thern
strom concluded that in Newburyport the unskilled laborer
earned so little that he had to resort to charity or crime
169
m order to survive.
Torcuato di Telia, in his article."The Dangerous
Classes in Nineteenth-Century Mexico," assumed that a wage
differential between artisans and unskilled laborers existed
in Mexico City. The grounds for his assumption are the con
clusions of European and North American researchers and the


68
1 86
AACM,
tomo
4151,
exp.
30.
1 8 7
AACM,
tomo
4157,
exp.
302.
1 8 8
AACM,
tomo
4154,
exp.
161.
1 8 9
AACM,
tomo
4151,
exp.
159.
19 0
AACM,
tomo
872,
exp.
17.
191,,
Pueblo baj
o," Eco de
Comercio
Di Telia, p. 1.
i 9 2
14 marzo 1848, p.
1
Mariano Otero, Ensayo sobre el verdadero estado de
la cuestin social y poltica (Guadalajara, 1952), p. 51.
193AACM, tomo 3831, exp. 18.
19 4
Jos Fernandez de Lizardi, El periquillo Sarniento,
2 tomos (Mxico, D.F., 1949), tomo 1, pp. 71-76.
19 5
Otero, Ensayo, p. 110.
i;6Wilson, pp. 281-86.
l 9 7
"Nuestros artesanos," Siglo Diez y Nueve, 3 diciem
bre 1848, p. 3.
198t r r7
Lafragua, p. 57.
19 9^^
Jos Mara Luis Mora, Mexico y sus revoluciones,
3 tomos (Mxico, D.F., 1950), tomo 1, p. 284.
1AACM, tomo 3689, exp. 43.
"Populacho," p. 450..


191
The national government and the municipality failed
to compensate the poor for their sacrifice of money and man
power. Public institutions provided minimal relief. Mexico
City's hospitals were in disgraceful condition. During the
colonial period, the religious orders had administered them.
Following independence, the hospitals, most of which were in
decrepit condition, became the responsibility of the ayunta-
l 9
miento. Table 24 lists the hospitals that existed in 1849.
The mitre (archbishopric), under contract to the city,
staffed and administered the 500-bed general hospital of
San Andres. San Pablo was a 70-bed general hospital founded
during the war with the United States. The hospitals of
San Hiplito and the Divine Savior were lunatic asylums
for men and women. San Lzaro was a leprosarium. The hos--
pitis of Saint John and Jesus were small, private hospitals
that took charity cases. Although after 1843 the Sisters
of Charity administered the municipal hospitals, the only
hospital funded and operated by a religious order was that
of San Franciscan Terciaries.
Conditions in the hospitals were extremely poor. A
visitor to the hospital of San Lzaro complained that the
isolated lepers, afflicted with a disease that intensified
their sexual drives, resorted to "horrible and repugnant
,,20
practices against nature." A year later the Junta de
Sanidad reported that since leprosy was not,a contagious
disease, San Lzaro should be closed down. If the lepers


75
, Republican apprenticeship sometimes occurred with
little concern for the wishes or talents of the youths.
Many delinquent apprentices brought before the Tribunal de
Vagos were searching restlessly for a vocation compatible
2 7
with their interests. Jose Lucas Granada's case shows
the familiar adolescent rebellion against parental authority,
combined with a search for a suitable vocation. His father
attempted to teach him the family trade of sweet making but
the boy balked. The father then apprenticed his son as a
carpenter. Disliking carpentry, the boy ran off and became
a shoemaker's apprentice. Tiring of the cobblers' trade,
the boy returned to his angry parents who denounced him to
the, authorities.
If a boy found himself suited to the trade to which
he was apprenticed, youthful mischief frequently landed him in
trouble. The employer of twelve-year-old Remagio Jimenez
28
complained that the child always wanted to play. Rafael
Gutierrez, a fifteen-year-old tailor's apprentice, left work
2 9
without permission to visit a hat shop with his friend.
Good-natured or negligent masters tolerated these impromptu
holidays. The mother of a fifteen-year-old leather worker
turned her son in to the Tribunal de Vagos for missing two
weeks of work. The boy's master, however, excused him,
saying that the boy was a good worker and that lengthy, un
announced absences were not unusual among apprentices. The
Tribunal considered the master a poor disciplinarian and re
30
apprenticed the boy.


427
Cofrada de Seor Homobono. Patente de las indulgencias y
privilegios. Mexico, D.F., 1836.
Cooper, Donald B. Epidemic Disease in Mexico City, 1761-
1813. Latin American Monographs, no. 3. Austin,
Texas, 1965.
Cosio Villegas, Daniel. La cuestin arancelaria en Mexico,
tomo 3, Historia de la poltica aduanal. Mxico,
D.F., 1932.
Costeloe, Michael P. Church Wealth in Mexico. Cambridge,
England, 1967.
Cue Cnovas, Agustn. Historia social y econmica de Mxico
(1521-1854). Mexico, D.F., 1963.
Cuevas, Mariano P. Historia de la iglesia en Mxico. 5 tomos.
5to ed. Mxico, D.F., 1947.
Dabout, E. Diccionario de medicina. Mxico, D.F., 1958.
Diccionario de la industria, manufacturera, comercio y agr
cola. Trad. Jos M. Flores Verdad. 4 tomos. Mxico,
D.F., 1852.
Directorio de la Ciudad de Mxico. Mxico, D.F., 1857.
Documentos oficiales relativos a la construccin y demolicin
del Paran. Mxico, D.F., 1843.
Dublan, Manuel, and Jos Mara Lozano. Legislacin mexicana
o coleccin completa de las disposiciones legislativas
expedidad desde la independencia de la Repblica.
34 tomos. Mxico, D.F., 1876-1904.
Escriche, Juaquin. Diccionario razonado de legislacin civil
penal, comercial, y forense o sea resumen de las
leyes, usos, prcticas, y costumbres como asimismo
de las doctrinas de los jurisconsultos, dispuestos
por orden alfabtico de materias, con la explicacin
de los trminos de derecho. Paris, 1856.
Exposicin dirigida al congreso de la nacin por los fabri
cantes y cultivadores de algodn. Mxico, D.F., 1841.
Los extrangeros y los adventureros. Mxico, D.F., 1832.
Fernandez de Lizardi, Jos. El periquillo sarniento. 2 tomos.
Mxico, D.F., 1949.


381
TABLE F-4, continued:
Occupation
Number
%
Pork butcher
1
1.0
Drover
1
1.0
Servant
1
1.0
Errand boy
1
1.0
Total
27
17.0
Unknown
6
6.0
SOURCE: Compiled and
tomos 4151-56, 4778-88
computed by the author
from AACM,
CRIMINALS,
TABLE F-5
MINOR WARD 17, 1828-1852,
SKILLED
Occupation
Number
%
Mason
31
15.0
Shoemaker
30
15.0
Weaver
22
10.2
Tailor
13
6.2
Carpenter
13
6.2
Confectioner
7
3.4
Baker
6
2.9
Hat maker
4
1.9
Leather worker
3
1.4
Stonecutter
3
1.4
Butcher
3
.9
Blacksmith
2
.9
Button maker
1
.5
Glovemaker
1
.5
Spinner
1
.5
Turner
1
.5
Metalworker
1
. 5
Min ter
1
.5
Doll maker
1
.5
Chair maker
1
.5
Comb maker
1
.5
Shawl maker
1
.5
Tile maker
1
.5


219
We live in a century of magnificence and
of luxury. We procure the adornment of
the cities and their splendor: sumptuous
palaces, astonishing theaters, great sta
tues, elevated triumphal arches, columns,
pyramids. Yet we watch the poor man ground
into the dirt, the sick suffering without
aid, the abandoned illegitimate child, the
prostituted orphan girl, and the naked and
desolate widow die victims of misery. We
have seen monuments erected, but not the
establishment of hospitals and other char
itable institutions, millions.consumed to
fund public and even private gatherings in
great luxury, but not one cent consecrated
to the sake of humanity.114
Family
Bereft of strong public institutions, the poor Mexi
can relied for psychological and material support upon his
family, the most basic of human institutions. Table 29
lists the types of households numbering more than one member
that appeared on the random sample of the census of 1849.
Nuclear families accounted for over 66 percent of the family
types. The remaining 44 percent were over one hundred
variations of the horizontally or vertically extended
family or unrelated households.
There is no way to assess objectively the quality of
Mexican family relations. The following interpretation is
based upon the impressions obtained from reading criminal
and vagrancy records. Consequently it may err toward nega
tivism. Public law will be quoted only when it is thought
to accurately reflect relevant social attitudes.


155
TABLE 19
PERCENTAGE OF IMMIGRANTS
IN NECATITLN, SAN SALVADOR EL SECO,
AND THE SAMPLE MALE POPULATION
Age
Bracket
Necatitln
San Salvador
el Seco
Sample Male
Population3-
15-19
20-24
M
20
35
16
20-24
F
30
40
20-29
25-29
M
45
30
26
25-29
F
40
50
30-39
30-34
M
30
65
31
30-34
F
30
50
35-39
M
45
40
35-39
F
45
45
40-49
40-44
M *
30
50
29
40-44
F
35
55
50-59
28
SOURCE: For the sample male population, the census of 1849,
AACM, tomo 3406. For Necatitln and San Salvador el Seco,
AACM, tomos 3409 and 3413.
aTotal sample male population = 1364.
TABLE 20
DEPENDENCY RATIOS
Youth
Aged
Total
Necatitln
32
13
46
San Salvador el Seco
58
4
62
Manzana 97
70
5
75
SOURCE: AACM, tomos 3409, 3413, 3411.


63
The symbol for the Candelaria station on the Mexico City
'subway system is a duck. Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 194.
"Barrios," p. 1. Ruxton, p. 55.
66Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, pp. 94, 144, 176, 241.
67
Carrera Stampa, p. 305.
6 8
Rivera Cambas, tomo 2, p. 97. Prieto (1964), p.
375.
69.
Luis de Bellemar [Gabriel Ferry], Escenas de la
vida mejicana, trad. Lie. Garca de Real (Barcelona, n.d.),
pp. 10-15.
70
1\
72
73
74
7 5
Garca Cubas, p. 269.
Thornton, p. 59.
Calderon de la Barca, p. 166.
Tylor, p. 247.
Calderon de la Barca, p. 175.
Prieto (1964), p. 90.
7 6
Calderon de la Barca, pp. 175, 177. Edward Tayloe
Thornton, a Southern aristocrat, was moved to feelings of
disgust by the sight of the social inequality he observed on
the paseos of Mexico City.
77
Mariano Galvan Rivera, Gua de forasteros, 1842
(Mexico, D.F., 1842).
78
Juan Nepucemo Almonte, Gua de forasteros (Mexico,
D.F., 1852).
79
Mariano Galvan Rivera, Gua de forasteros, 1832
(Mxico, D.F., 1832). AACM, tomo 2020, exp. 43.
8 0
Jan Bazant, Alienation of Church Wealth in Mexico,
trans. Michael P. Costeloe (Cambridge, 1971), pp. 90, 91.
81
AACM, tomo 4160, exp. 60.
8 ^
"Joel Robert Poinsett, Notas sobre Mxico, trad.
Pablo Martnez del Campo (Mexico, D.F., 1950), pp. 155-58.
8 3
Jan Bazant, "La industria textil en el siglo diez
y nueve," en Coleccin de documentos para la historia de
comercio exterior del Mxico. El comercio exterior y el
artesano mexicano (Mxico, D.F., 1965), p. 33.
4AACM, tomo 3409,"Padrn de 1849."
8 5
Thornton, p. 59. Poinsett, p. 158.
86AACM, tomo 4152, exps. 73, 79.
87
Agustn Cue Cnovas, Historia social y econmica
de Mxico, 1521-1824 (Mxico, D.F., 1963), p. 281. Secre-


199
that the poverty and overcrowding had forced him to make a
4 2
hasty and unwise decision. Hampered by lack of funds, the
43
hospicio temporarily ceased operations in 1826 and 1841.
Physically the hospicio was a shambles. Guillermo
Prieto described the building as it existed in 1841:
Patios full of sand with weeds growing
to the banks of the drainpipes, loose
and dangling gratings, broken bricks
in. the corridors, pieces of crumbling
roof tiles. In the dining room, hunger;
in -the kitchen, smoke, grime, and bones
replacing meat. In the department of
beggars, filth, cold, and living skele
tons ,44
The Junta de Sanidad reported in 1849 generally filthy condi
tions that included poor ventilation, insufficient baths,
4 5
pools of stagnant water in the wards, and clogged toilets.
In the 1830s the inmates of the hospicio occupied
46
themselves by weaving and tailoring. A loan from the
Banco de Avio enabled the establishment of a paper factory
4 7
on the premises. In the 1840s girls worked as lace makers.
Contractors hired the boys as spinners in textile mills.
4 8
Prieto thought the latter employment to be sweated labor.
Adults worked and received wages from a canvas factory
4 9
established on the premises by a private entrepreneur.
The hospicio's inmates also worked as p'allbearers at the
funerals of the wealthy.50


205
TABLE 24
HOSPITALS, MEXICO CITY, 1849
Hospital
Function
Capacity
San Andres (1851)
San Pablo, Fd. 1847
Jesus
Terceros
San Hiplito
Divine Savior
San Lazaro
San Juan de Dios, Fd. 1.845
Municipal general
500
Municipal general
60
Private general
50
Private general
Male insane asylum
Female insane asylum
90
Leprosarium
Private general
SOURCE: Gilberto F. Aguilar and Roberto Ezquero Peraza, Los
hospitales de Mexico (Mexico, D.F., 1936).
TABLE 25
HOSPITAL OF SAN ANDRES,
ADMISSION AND DISCHARGE OF PATIENTS, 1828, 1846
Previously
Admitted
Entered
Exited
Died
Remainder
Jan. 1 to April
30, 1828:
Free patients
94
390
285
107
97
Prisoners
127
440
411
46
110
May 1 to May 19
, 1828:
Free patients
97
71
71
20
77
Prisoners
110
81
86
8
97
Jan. 1 to Aug.
30, 1846:
Free patients
57
43
34
21
45
Prisoners
74
94
86
11
70
SOURCE: AACM, tomo 2297, exps. 7, 14.


93
whether in the workshop or outside of it, could not maintain
payment. The rules permitted a maximum debt of one third of
the brother's total obligations to the cofrada. If a brother
owing that sum and having less than ten years seniority should
die, he received no benefitsa penalty that would discourage
8 8
the membership of most poor artisans.
The minimum importance of the gremio or cofrada to
the poor artisan does not suggest that the republican artisan
possessed no sense of group identity. The poorest artisan
had a fierce sense of pride in his skilled craft. To insult
a journeyman's skill was.to provoke a fist fight which the
court, normally severe when dealing with brawling, refused to
8 9
condemn. Those arraigned before the Tribunal de Vagos al
ways protested that they were artesanos honrados (honored arti-
. 9 0
sans). None demonstrated a stronger sense of artisanal iden
tity than Amado Daz, a thirty-five-year-old gilder and appren
tice painter who testified that although personal circumstances
forced him to sell used clothes, he "was an artisan and proud
r 9 1
of it.
Significant distinctions of wealth and status, existed
between the journeyman and the master, but artisans shared
the belief of their Victorian English counterparts "that peo
ple engaged in making the same thing werethe same kind of
9 2
people." The owners of the largest public workshops dis
played a sense of identity with, and consequently responsi
bility for, the poorest of artisans. In 1841 the capital's


29
TABLE 2
BRANCHES OF THE JUNTA DE FOMENTO DE ARTESANOS
Carpentry
Blacksmithing
Weaving
Tailoring
Shoemaking
Carriage making
Tinsmithing
Painting
Barrel making
Leather working
Embroidery
Copper working
Tanning
Silversmithing
Watchmaking
Purse making
Lithography
Brass working
Pottery making.
Sculpturing
Architecture (construction)
Button making
Piano making
Goldsmithing
Gunsmithery
SOURCE: "Fomento de las artes," Semanario Artstico, 9 agosto
1844, p. 3.
TABLE 3
MEXICAN BUDGET, 1844
Income
$25,905,348
Budgeted expenses
25,336,430
Foreign and domestic debt
10,000,000
Additional revenue required
9,431,082
SOURCE: Agustn Cue Cnovas, Historia social y econmica de
Mxico (1521-1854)(Mexico, D.F., 1963), p. 368.


215
they had learned to read and write, but before they had
9
learned arithmetic and the rudiments of Christian doctrine.
At other times the parents objected forcefully to the
corporal punishment of the children, threatening the
9 9
teacher with retaliation in kind. Most of the problems
concerning children and parents were caused by poverty.
Parents could not send their children to school promptly
or regularly because they were unfed, lacked clothing, or
were needed to work at home. Table 28 shows the atten
dance record of the students at the School of Friends in
the barrio of Santa Cruz Acatlan. Attendance during the
last six months of the year was nearly double that of the
first six months. When the children of the poor did
attend school, teachers complained that "heroic qualities"
were necessary to overcome their students' "indolence,
distraction, and slothfulness." A modern educator might
attribute these same qualities to malnutrition or intestinal
parisites.
There were other obstacles to public education be
sides those created by the poor. The convent and early
Lancastrian schools were located too far from the barrios
i o i
that needed them. Some teachers refused to educate the
free students. At the municipal school of San Cosme, the
instructor separated the free students from the paying
students on the pretext of separating the slow learners from
the more rapid. He then ignored the free students. The


143
rained, the poorer merchants of the main market place carried
on their commerce
in the mud between fruit peels, feathers,
the remains of fowl, and all species of
offal. The filth and the pestilence was
most notable among the fruit, tamales of
fish, frogs, salamanders, etc., and pre
served fruit, fat tripe, sweetbreads,
meat pies, and other indecent and half-
cooked meats.62
Edibles were further debased after purchase by a customary
washing in the aqueducts or fountains.63
The food was badly adulterated. People watched milk
6 4
taken directly from the cow to be assured of its purity.
The pulque taken with meals was flavored with bananas, lime,
nitrate of soda, and unspecified poisons. Although the Junta
de Sanidad forbade the use of Prussian Blue and other chemical
dyes to color fruit and pastries, confectioners throughout the
city sold pastries colored by these substances. No .less an
authority than the Diccionario de la industria, manufacturera,
comercio y agrcola recommended their use as food colorings.65
Bakers regularly substituted rust for saffron and crmate of
lead for egg in sweetbreads that the poor ate for breakfast.
Flagrant adulteration prompted the creation of the Junta de
Sanidad.
Mexico City's homes were often solid, two-or three-
story buildings of porphry or porous amygdaloid.67 Green,


50
in entering racial antecedents on legal documents. During
the early decades of independence, the legal abolition of all
references to racescrupulously observed in legal documents,
newspapers, and all but the sociological literaturedemon
strated the popular revulsion to the colonial heritage of
racial discrimination. Centuries of oppression had left its
scar upon the mestizo population. Alaman summarized the con
dition on the eve of the wars of independence:
Lacking all instruction, they [the castes]
were subject to great defects and vices,
but with awakened spirits and vigorous
bodies, they were susceptible to every
thing evil and every thing good.177
Foreignersmostly Spanish, French, and British
amounted to 6 percent of the sample population. Prosperity
and superior training segregated the 22 percent who were mas
ter and journeyman artisans from the majority of native arti
sans. Internal migrants were an impressive 27 percent of the
sample Mexican population. Most of them were the laboring
poor. Table 6 contrasts the occupational composition of
migrants to that of natives of the capital. Sixty-nine
percent of the natives belonged to the two lowest occupational
categories. Sixty-nine percent of all migrants from the Dis
trito Federal and 74 percent of those from the states of the
Republic belonged to the lower occupational categories.


325
Siglo Diez y Nueve complained that the poor picked their
heroes at election time in the same manner that they decided
3 8
the champion of a street fight. This view was shared by
the editors of Monitor Republicano who wrote that the poor
were merely the tools of the political parties and were very
3 9
fickle because they were attracted to men and not issues.
As early as 1833, Moradisgusted with the tumult, corruption,
and distortions of indirect elections-^suggested that the
electorate be severely restricted by high property qualifi-
40
cations.
Judged by its own standards, the system of indirect
elections was a failure. It encouraged the formation of
unholy alliances that distorted the opinion of the political
elite. The elections of July 1849 provide an excellent
example of the process. Monarchists and Conservatives
attributed their victory to a groundswell of popular senti-
41
ment. In reality it was due to the incohesiveness of the
liberal electors who formed a majority at the secondary
42
elections. Moderados and Puros, however, fell to squabbling
among themselves. Purosfearing that the Moderados, who
formed a relative plurality, would carry the ayuntamiento
joined forces with the Monarchists and Santanistas to -elect
, .43
a monarchist ayuntamiento.
National governments abrogated the results of unfavor
able elections. After a liberal victory in 1842, General
Santa Anna dismissed the electors and called for a new election.


265
78AACM, tomo 3631, exp. 307.
. 79AACM, tomo 2266, exp. 6.
8Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 308-336.
81Bellemar, pp. 25-29.
8Garca Cubas (1945), pp. 220-27.
3Prieto (1964), pp. 48-49.
84 Garca Cubas (1945), p. 227.
85_ cc
Ruxton, p. 55.
86Prieto (1964), p. 241.
87
Ruxton, p. 55.
88
Liceo mexicano, tomo 1, p. 35.
8 9.
"El juego," Semanario. Artstico, 23 marzo 1844, p. 1.
Thompson, p. 231.
Prieto (1948), p. 105.
9 Calderon de la Barca, p. 272.
93
Mayer, p. 78.
4Wilson, p. 193.
95
Thompson, pp. 132-34.
96Bellemar, pp. 10-15.
9 7^ ^
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 274. Calderon de la Barca,
pp. 127, 271.
98Tylor, pp. 71-72.
9Mayer, pp. 28, 61. Tylor, pp. 71-72.
10Garca Cubas (1945), p. 274.
Garca Cubas (1945), p. 274. Calderon de la Barca,
p. 121. Mayer, pp. 26, 61.
10~Garca Cubas (1945), p. 274.
103Prieto (1964), p. 87.
l 04
Malo, tomo 1, pp. 83-84.
105Zamacois, tomo 12, p. 302.
i 06
Thompson, p. 53.
107
Tylor, p. 19.
108Malo, tomo 2, pp. 83-84.
109
Zamacos, tomo 12, p. 302.


14
clothing that dressed the poor. To the perpetual annoy
ance of the authorities, the market was the capital's main
5 7
entrepot for stolen goods. Its customers and merchants
were well represented among the defendants tried daily be
fore the city's magistrates. Its merchants were an unruly
lot. Dissatisfied with the location, they once boldly moved
their stalls to the Plaza de Santo Domingo. Only the arrival
of overwhelming force convinced them to return to the Plaza
5 8
del Factor.
The Plazuela de San Juan specialized in selling
5 9
shoes to poor people. Other markets scattered throughout
the city specialized in the sale of lime, poultry, mules,
6 o
and building materials. Mexicans boasted that a person
looking for any item had merely to ask for the location of
6 l
the appropriately named street.
Poor Mexicans preferred to live close to their place
of work. At least 40 percent of the vagrancy suspects who
gave both their own addresses and those of their employers
lived two blocks from their place of work. Such localism
made the barrios of the independence period self-sufficient.
Typical barrios like San Salvador el Seco and Necatitln
were poor, containing a few small grocery stores, a public
bath if the neighborhood lacked an aqueduct or fountain, a
6 2
pawnshop or two, and a wine or pulque shop. Artisans
worked in their homes or in a few larger workshops. Cer
tain industrial or commercial specializations existed. San


203
large central recreational courtyard. The government, in
a fit of prudery, ended the cherished practice of conjugal
visitation. It was not long before indignant prisoners
complained that sodomy and other unnatural practices
flourished. Mistreatment of the prisoners occasionally
took place. In 1841 a prison official neglected to feed
6 5
the prisoners. The general impression is, however, that
the authorities left the prisoners to themselves. Inmates
formed societies within which the strong terrorized the weak,
robbing them of possessions and imposing their own system
. 6 6
of justice. The prison authorities did little to inter
fere with the internal society of the prison. At times
prisoner's wives openly made "aguardiente trips," and gambling
6 7
establishments and cantinas existed within the prison. Not
surprisingly the prisoners were openly contemptuous of their
keepers. A riot and charges of maltreatment were the rewards
of one zealous warden who attempted to arrest and punish the
ringleader of a vicious extortion racket flourishing inside
, 68
the prison.
Little constructive activity occurred within the
prison. Some inmates supported themselves by selling the
handicrafts they produced from any materials that they could
6 9
scavenge. Every day up to 150 naked, filthy prisoners
chained to each other by their throats-and feet earned one
7 o
real, a day by laboring at various public projects. The
most degrading of these was the cleaning of the drains and


122
Francisco Lopez Cmara, Los fundamentos de la econo-
.ma mexicana en la poca de la Reforma y la Intervencin (Mexi
co, D.F., 1962).
35
Representacin.
36The percentage is 21 percent for the 6,000 artisan
estimate and 35 percent for the 10,000 artisan estimate.
3 7
Mayer, p. 83. Calderon de la Barca, p. 286.
38AACM, tomo 4153, exp. 130.
^Wilson, pp. 282-86.
4 0
Herbert G. Gutman, Work, Culture, and Society in
Industrializing America, 1815-1919," American Historical Re
view, June 1973, pp. 531-88.
41 Garca Cubas (1945), p. 241.
4~Prieto (.1964), pp. 85, 86.
4"AACM, tomo 4157, exp. 315b.
4 4
Mexico," Semanario Artstico, 24 febrero 1844, p.
4. AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 9; tomo 4152, exp. 82; tomo 4779,
exp. 346.
45AACM, tomo 4779, exp. 343.
AACM, tomo 4151, exp. 36.
47
Roberto de la Cerda Silva, El movimiento obrero en
Mxico (Mexico, D.F., 1961), pp. 59-62.
4 8
Diego G. Lopez Rosado, Historia y pensamiento econ
mico de Mxico, 6 tomos (Mexico, D.F., 1968), tomo 2, p. 280.
Mara del Carmen Merino Gambio, "Historia sociolgica del tra
bajo en Mexico" (Tesis, Licenciado en ciencias sociales, Uni
versidad Nacional Autnoma de Mexico, 1969), p. 82. Rosendo
Rojas Corias, Tratado de cooperativismo mexicano (Mexico, D.F.
1952), pp. 59-61.
49
Alexander von Humbolt, Political Essay on the King
dom of New Spain, trans. John Black, 3 vols. (New York, 1966),
vol. 3, pp. 463-64.
5 0
Carrera Stampa,
Los gremios,
AACM,
tomo
383,
exp. 21.
52AACM,
tomo
383,
exps. 18,
20.
53AACM,
tomo
383,
exp. 21.
5 4
AACM,
tomo
383,
exps. 18,
20.
55AACM,
tomo
383,
exps. 18,
20.
267-68.


227
Where ties of compadrazco did exist, they supplemented
the extended family as a system of support. The natural
parents of a child could, because of their poverty, surrender
the legal custody of a child to its godparents. When the
child reached adolescence, he could choose to resume living
14 0
with his natural parents. Children of both sexes sought
shelter from family problems by running away and residing
l 4 l
with their godparents. Good godparents then mediated
the disputes between parents and children. Godparents also
obeyed the injunction to protect the child when its parents
died. When Benita Anguina's lover beat her, her godfather
paid him four reals to leave the neighborhood and later
brought him before the Tribunal. Poverty limited the ef
fectiveness of a godparent. The godmother of one sixteen-
year-old girl could not support her and had to entrust her
142
charge to a neighbor who subsequently neglected the girl.
The compadrazco system also linked families with the adminis
tration. The corrupt alcalde of Minor Ward 28 established
ties of compadrazco with a band of cutthroats operating in
his ward. In return for a share of the loot, the alcalde
143
would free the bandits whenever they were arrested.
A casera and laundress once told Robert Wilson a
moving tale of family disintegration. Unbound by the ties
of a church marriage, her husband had deserted her and her
four children. A press gang carried off her eldest son,
and a stray bullet killed her daughter during a revolution.


88
Mexico City was a refuge for rural peons fleeing
debt servitude. Bernandino Perez, an agricultural laborer
from Monte Alto, fled to Mexico City when interest mush
roomed a $7 loan for the purchase of maize into a debt of
$25. He found work in an obraje where his creditor soon
located him. Unwilling to return to Monte Alto, Perez
borrowed money to repay the debt from his employer and
agreed to repay the new loan through deductions in his
, 74
weekly wages.
The courts did not tolerate the physical abuse of
workers. Two criminal cases indicate that free adult
workers quickly sought legal redress for physical mistreat
ment. The maid of Teodora Vsquez brought her mistress to
court for beating her and withholding wages. The case was
never tried because the maid did not appear in court. A
foreman of a pork butcher shop beat several employees whom
he had caught in the act of theft. At the trial the
workers admitted their guilt but complained of their beat
ings. The judge ruled the foreman's action understandable,
but illegal, and fined him $10 admonishing him to treat his
underlings more humanely. He sentenced the thieves to one
month's imprisonment, but to compensate for their mistreat-
7 5
ment, he levied no fines.
The most common form of abuse the Mexican journeyman
received at the hands of his master was the withholding of
wages. The Semanario Artstico explained this problem:


86
The tale of Cosmo Damian was published in a pamphlet
and circulated widely among the artisans of Mexico City.
The sensation created by the tale illustrates that forced
labor of this type was illegal and extremely rare in the
vicinity of the capital. The obrajes of Mexico City, judging'
from the few documents, were large textile shops utilizing
very antiquated systems of production. The obrajeros them
selves often sold their wares immediately after completion,
6 8
a practice that provided the opportunity to cheat employers.
In some obrajes workers lived on the premises and received
meals or a daily cash allowance. In the obraje on Manzana
127, four weavers and three operatives lived with their
r 69
families.
Freedom of movement was the rule. The criminal
records indicate that obrajeros living on the premises came
7 0.
and went as they pleased. Weaving, as the mean rents in
dicate, was not a very prosperous craft. Those residing in
the obraje free from the burden of rent may have considered
themselves fortunate. Residence within an obraje, however,
was not the rule. Many individuals describing themselves
as obrajeros were listed as the tenants of single rooms on
the census of 1849.
Indebted labor existed, but not as a form of capital
ist or prec