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The Provincial Deputation in Mexico

The Provincial Deputation in Mexico
Harbinger of Provincial Autonomy, Independence, and Federalism
Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies University of Texas at Austin
November 1992
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240 pages | 6 X 9 | 13 b&w illus, 7 maps |

Mexico and the United States each have a constitution and a federal system of government. This fact has led many historians to assume that the Mexican system of government, established in the 1820s, is an imitation of the U.S. model. But it is not.

First published in Spanish in 1955 and now translated by the author and amplified with new material, this interpretation of the independence movement tells the true story of Mexico's transition from colonial status to federal state. Benson traces the Mexican government's beginning to events in Spain in 1808–1810, when provincial juntas, or deputations, were established to oppose Napoleon's French rule and govern the provinces of Spain and its New World dominions during the Spanish monarch's imprisonment.

It was the provincial deputation, not the United States federal system, that provided the model for the state legislative bodies that were eventually formed after Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. This finding—the result of years of painstaking archival research—strongly confirms the independence of Mexico's political development from U.S. influence. Its importance to a study of Mexican history cannot be overstated.

  • Introduction
  • 1. Origin of the Provincial Deputations
  • 2. Establishment of the Provincial Deputations in Mexico, 1812–1814
  • 3. Growth of the Provincial Deputations in Mexico, 1820–1821
  • 4. Continued Development of the Provincial Deputations in Mexico, 1821–1823
  • 5. Assumption of Power by the Provincial Deputations
  • 6. Attitude of the Provincial Deputations toward a New Congress
  • 7. Evolution of the Pioneer State Legislatures
  • 8. Establishment of Other State Legislatures
  • Appendix A: Deputies in Mexican Provincial Deputations Elected According to Spanish Constitution of 1812
  • Appendix B: Elections in February 1822 for 1822–1823
  • Appendix C: September 1823 Elections
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

An eminent scholar, Nettie Lee Benson (1905–1993) was Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Best known for her work as librarian of the Latin American collection of the University of Texas Library, she was the recipient of many honors, including the Aguila Azteca of La Orden Azteca del Aguila Azteca, the highest honor Mexico bestows on foreigners.


“Benson's work is of such significant importance to the field that it has been considered a classic since first appearing in Spanish in 1955. Her new version in English includes recently found documents that further improve on the original text. No serious work on the period should be carried out without consulting it.”
Josefina Zoralda Vázquez, Professor of History, El Colegio de México


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