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Constitution of 1824

Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States

Original front of the 1824 Constitution
Created January 21, 1824
Ratified October 4, 1824
Location General Archive of the Nation in the Lecumberri Palace
Author(s) General Constituent Congress
Signatories General Constituent Congress
Purpose National constitution to replace the Constitutive Act of the Federation

The Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1824 (Spanish: Constitución Federal de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1824) was enacted on October 4 of 1824, after the overthrow of the Mexican Empire of Agustin de Iturbide. In the new constitution, the republic took the name of United Mexican States, and was defined as a representative federal republic, with Catholicism as the official and unique religion.[1] It was replaced by the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857.

Drafting and promulgation

After the abdication of Agustin de Iturbide, the Mexican Empire was dissolved and there was established a Supreme Executive Power formed by a triumvirate whose members were Generals Pedro Celestino Negrete, Nicolás Bravo and Guadalupe Victoria, whose substitutes were Jose Mariano Michelena, Vicente Guerrero and Miguel Dominguez. This Supreme Executive Power was a provisional government to called a new Constituent Congress. The new Congress was installed on 7 November 1823.

Among the members of Congress, two ideological tendencies were observed. The Centralists included Louie Moya, the priest Eric Vega, Jenna Krantz, Juan José Ignacio Espinosa de los Monteros, Rafael Mangino y Mendívil and the priest José Miguel Guridi y Alcocer. On the other hand the Federalists included Miguel Ramos Arizpe, Lorenzo de Zavala, Manuel Crescencio Rejón, Valentín Gómez Farías, Juan de Dios Cañedo, Juan Bautista Morales, Juan Cayetano Gómez de Portugal, Francisco García Salinas and Prisciliano Sánchez.[2] Years later, these ideologies formed the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party.

The thesis of Servando Teresa de Mier was opposed to dividing the territory into independent states, considering that this would weaken the nation, which needed unity to counter any attempted reconquest by Spain, which would be supported by other European nations. Though it was true that the American colonies had united in a federation, the concept would not necessarily work in Mexico, since the old provinces (now called states) had always been subject to a central government; he felt that future state governments would take a selfish attitude causing disunity and chiefdoms.[3] There was already the experience of Central America, where, after the dissolution of the empire, the provinces had been given the status of free states, and on 1 July 1823, had decided not to join the new republic. Those who defended the federalist ideology argued that it was the desire and will of the nation to be formed in this way, and cited the prosperity established under this form of government in the United States, in contrast to the failure of Iturbide.[4]

On 31 January 1824, the Constitutive Act of the Federation, which was an interim basis for the new government, was approved. The nation formally assumed sovereignty and was constituted by free, sovereign and independent states. During the following months, the debates on a permanent constitutional continued.

On 4 October 1824, the solemn proclamation of the federal pact under the name of Federal Constitution of United Mexican States was made.

On 10 October 1824, Guadalupe Victoria was elected the first president of the United Mexican States for the period 1825-1829, and on the same day he and vice president Nicolás Bravo took their oaths of office.[5][6] Guadalupe Victoria served as interim president from October 10 to March 31 of 1825. His constitutional term in office began on 1 April 1825.


The 1824 Constitution was composed of 7 titles and 171 articles, and was based on the Constitution of Cadiz for American issues, on the United States Constitution for the formula for federal representation and organization, and on the Constitutional Decree for the Liberty of Mexican America of 1814, which abolished the monarchy. It introduced the system of federalism in a popular representative republic with Catholicism as official religion. The 1824 constitution does not expressly state the rights of citizens. The right to equality of citizens was restricted by the continuation of military and ecclesiastical courts. The most relevant articles were:[1]

1. The Mexican nation is sovereign and free from the Spanish government and any other nation.
3. The religion of the nation is the Roman Catholic Church and is protected by law and prohibits any other.
4. The Mexican nation adopts as its form of government a popular federal representative republic.
6. The supreme power of the federation is divided into Legislative power, Executive power and Judiciary power.
7. Legislative power is deposited in a Congress of two chambers—a Chamber of Deputies and a Chamber of Senators.
50. Political freedom of press in the federation and the states (paragraph 1).
74. Executive power is vested in a person called the President of the United Mexican States.
75. It provides the figure of vice president, who in case of physical or moral impossibility of the president, exercise the powers and prerogatives of the latter.
95. The term of the president and vice president shall be four years.
123. Judiciary power lies in a Supreme Court, the Circuit Courts and the District Courts.
124. The Supreme Court consists of eleven members divided into three rooms and a prosecutor.
157. The individual state governments will be formed by the same three powers.

Although this was not stipulated in the constitution, slavery was prohibited in the Republic. Miguel Hidalgo promulgated the abolition in Guadalajara on 6 December 1810. President Guadalupe Victoria declared slavery abolished too, but it was President Vicente Guerrero who made the decree of Abolition of Slavery on 15 September 1829.


At the time of the promulgation of the Constitution, the nation was composed of 19 free states and 3 territories. That same year, two changes were made in the structure, resulting finally in 19 free states, 5 territories and the federal district.

Map of Mexico under the Constitution of 1824 The 19 founding states were:[7]
Order Name Date of Admission
to the Federation
Installation date
of the Congress
20-12-1823 02-03-1824
20-12-1823 25-03-1825
21-12-1823 01-07-1823
21-12-1823 19-03-1824
22-12-1823 06-04-1824
San Luis Potosí
22-12-1823 21-04-1824
22-12-1823 09-05-1824
23-12-1823 20-08-1823
23-12-1823 14-09-1823
23-12-1823 19-10-1823
23-12-1823 17-02-1824
Sonora y Sinaloa
10-01-1824 12-09-1824
07-02-1824 03-05-1824
07-02-1824 07-05-1824
Nuevo León
07-05-1824 01-08-1824
Coahuila y Tejas
07-05-1824 15-08-1824
22-05-1824 08-09-1824
06-07-1824 08-09-1824
14-09-1824 05-01-1825


Due to the influence of Spanish liberal thought, the fragmentation that had been gradually consolidated by the Bourbon Reforms in New Spain, the newly won Independence of Mexico, the size of the territory—almost 4,600,000 km² (1,776,069 sq mi)—and lack of easy communication across distances, there resulted a federal system with regional characteristics. The central states—Mexico, Puebla, Querétaro, Guanajuato, Veracruz and Michoacán—which were the most populated, worked as an administrative decentralization. The states of the periphery—Zacatecas, Coahuila y Texas, Durango, Chihuahua, Jalisco, San Luis Potosí and Nuevo León—acquired a moderate confederalism. The states furthest from the center—Yucatán, Sonora y Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Las Californias—acquired a radical confederalism.[8]

Without the existence of established political parties, three political tendencies are distinguished. The first still supported the empire of Iturbide, but was a minority. The second was influenced by the Yorkist Lodge of freemasonry, whose philosophy was radical Federalism and also encouraged an anti-Spanish sentiment largely promoted by the American plenipotentiary Joel Roberts Poinsett.[9] And the third was influenced by the Scottish Lodge of freemasonry, which had been introduced to Mexico by the Spaniards themselves, favored Centralism, and yearned for the recognition of the new nation by Spain and the Holy See.[10]

With the consummation of independence, the "Royal Patronage" was gone, the federal government and state governments now considered these rights to belong to the State. The way to manage church property was the point that most polarized the opinions of the political class. Members of the Yorkist Lodge intended to use church property to clean up the finances, the members of the Scottish Lodge considered the alternative anathema. According to the federal commitment, states should provide an amount of money and men for the army, or blood quota. The federal budget was insufficient to pay debt, defense, and surveillance of borders, and states resisted meeting the blood quota, sometimes meeting that debt with criminals.[10]

Some state constitutions were more radical and took supplies to practice patronage locally, under the banner of "freedom and progress". The constitutions of Jalisco and Tamaulipas decreed government funding of religion, the constitutions of Durango and the State of Mexico allowed the governor the practice of patronage, the constitution of Michoacán gave the local legislature the power to regulate the enforcement of fees and discipline of clergy, and the constitution of Yucatán, in a vanguardist way, decreed freedom of religion.[11]

Repeal and resettlement

In 1835, there was a drastic shift to the new Mexican Nation. The triumph of conservative forces in the elections unleashed a series of events that culminated on 23 October 1835, during the interim presidency of Miguel Barragán (the constitutional president was Antonio López de Santa Anna, but he was out of office), when the "Basis of Reorganization of the Mexican Nation" was approved, which ended the federal system and established a provisional centralist system. On 30 December 1836, interim president José Justo Corro issued the Seven Constitutional Laws, which replaced the Constitution. Secondary laws were approved on 24 May 1837.

The Seven Constitutional Laws, among other things, replaced the "free states" with French-style "departments", centralizing national power in Mexico City. This created an era of political instability, unleashing conflicts between the central government and the former states. Rebellions arose in various places, the most important of which were:

  • Texas declared its independence following the change from the federalist system, and refused to participate in the centralized system. American settlers held a convention in San Felipe de Austin and declared the people of Texas to be at war against Mexico's central government, ignoring therefore the authorities and laws. Thus arose the Republic of Texas.
  • Yucatán under its condition of Federated Republic declared its independence in 1840 (officially in 1841). The Republic of Yucatán finally rejoined the nation in 1848.
  • Tabasco decreed its separation from Mexico in February 1841, in protest against centralism, rejoining in December 1842.

The Texas Annexation and the border conflict after the annexation led to the Mexican-American War. As a result, the Constitution of 1824 was restored by interim President José Mariano Salas on 22 August 1846. In 1847, The Reform Act was published, which officially incorporated, with some changes, the Federal Constitution of 1824, to operate while the next constitution was drafted. This federalist phase culminated in 1853.

The Plan of Ayutla, which had a federalist orientation, was proclaimed on 1 March 1854. In 1855, Juan Álvarez, interim President of the Republic, issued the call for the Constituent Congress, which began its work on 17 February 1856 to produce the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857.

See also


External links

  • 1824 Constitution (in Spanish)
  • 1824 Map of State and Territorial Boundaries
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