Vicente Guerrero-the Black President of Mexico

January 24, 2018

 

Vicente Guerrero, the mostly unknown second president of Mexico, and the only black president of Mexico, lived in a country that had the largest free black population in the Western Hemisphere by the 1800s. This population consisted of over 600,00 blacks, and Vicente Guerrero was a revolutionary leader that fought Spanish slavery in Mexico. Guerrero was the son of a black father and an Indigenous (Native) mother. Guerrero led a war against slavery and was inspired by the Haitian Revolution and its leader, the black revolutionary Toussaint Louverture who overthrew the French in Haiti. The Spanish wanted to maintain the idea of “pure blood” within their racial system of separation called the Casta System, but Guerrero would fight them with a band of black, mulatto, and “Indian” fighters in what is now called Mexico and Texas. In essence Vicente Guerrero became the liberator of Mexico in terms of abolishing slavery. Guerrero would go on to demand full equality and abolish slavery in Mexico in 1829.

         

Texas settlers during this period were smuggling slaves into Texas, even after the Mexican Congress of 1824 passed legislation that effectively ended the slave trade.  However, Texas settlers would have none of this for they came to Texas with a scheme, set up by Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston, to rip Texas away from Mexico. Even before the legislation of 1824, the leaders of Mexico’s new republic, after having defeated Spain in 1821, passed colonization laws aimed at white pro-slavery settlers which forbade the treatment of enslaved people as property. Of course, Stephen F. Austin, and his band of pro-slavery colonists ignored the law because they had acquired large numbers of slaves from the United States. Slave smuggling was carried out by many of the Alamo defenders including the arch-racist Jim Bowie. Bowie’s father was the principle New Orleans slave auction man.

         

The fundamental reason why pro-slavery men rebelled against Mexico was simply slavery, which they attempted to cover up. This cover up has lasted for years and even continues to this day with rounds of racial creation myth about the establish of Texas Independence.  In fact, the pro-slavery settlers fought under the banner of the Mexican constitution of 1824 precisely because it failed to abolish slavery. Hence, we can see the hidden agenda of the pro-slavery leadership of Texas settlers and the likes of Sam Houston, David Crockett, Jim Bowie and William Travis. Despite General Santa Anna being turned into a complete villain by slavers, who could hardly claim any high moral ground, Santa Anna eliminated the 1824 Constitution when he declared dictatorial powers. This act was enough for Sam Houston and others to begin actively planning for war as they had been doing all along. This is why the slave owners fought under the banner of the 1824 Constitution. If the 1824 Constitution could be restored then slavery could flourish in Texas.

         

When black leader Guerrero campaigned for president in 1828 he had to fight the lighter-skinned Mexican elite that was bent on maintaining a system of white supremacy in Mexico. Mexican conservatives launched campaigns against “the black” in an attempt to prevent him from winning the election. Before Guerrero could abolish slavery, he had to face a Spanish invasion at Tampico, Mexico. Santa Anna, who was the governor of Vera Cruz, at the time, a place with a large black population, led a largely black and mulatto army, along with Mexican soldiers, to force a surrender on September 11, 1829. Hence, Santa Anna saved Guerrero’s presidency that would eventually allow Guerrero to abolish slavery a few days later, and during the Diez y Seis celebrations. Unknown to many, Diez y Seis is also a black celebration.

        

When the black president of Mexico issued his decree that slavery was abolished in Mexico Anglo settlers were shocked. They now feared that their ability to create a slave empire in Texas was doomed. Pro-slavery men began to rush into Texas from across the United States to fight in a war that was instigated by Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston. Slavery was the main reason for the war in 1836. Thousands of foreign fighters flooded into Texas hoping to shore up the fight against a country that had abolished slavery many years before Abraham Lincoln. Mexico City began to receive reports that thousands of pro-slavery men were flooding into Texas. This caused fear to develop on the Mexican side. Therefore, an exemption was granted to try and head off the war. Guerrero was betrayed by conservatives and executed in 1831, and five years later Texas slavers would begin their war to rip Texas from Mexico and establish the rule of slavery once again. Guerrero was executed on February 14, 1831 and we should remember that during Black History Month.

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