The Cádiz Constitution in the Atlantic World
Summary and Keywords
On 19 March 1812, representatives from across the Hispanic Monarchy put forward a constitution in the Spanish port city of Cádiz. This foundational document was a response to their king’s abdication in favor of Napoleon’s brother Joseph Bonaparte, obtained under pressure from invading French troops. The constitution aimed to address what they viewed as a lack of legitimacy because the monarch was captive, as the drafters expected it would be the basis of government in all the corners of the empire, from Madrid to Mexico and Manila. Written under the protection of the British fleet in the last bastion of the Peninsula that remained unoccupied, the constitution instituted a very extensive male suffrage, freedom of the press, national sovereignty, and the abolition of privileges for citizens from all parts of the vast empire. These measures were the reason why the men who debated the constitution were the first ones to be called liberal. The liberalism of the drafters at Cádiz must be considered in the context of the early nineteenth century. When in 1814 Ferdinand VII returned to Spain, he abolished the constitution. But in 1820 a mutiny of troops forced the king to accept it grudgingly. A constitutional monarchy was established lasting until 1823, when the so-called 100,000 sons of Saint Louis crossed from France to reinstate absolutism. This period came to be known as the Liberal Triennium. In 1836 the Progressives reinstated the Cádiz Constitution, albeit briefly when they passed a new charter in 1837.
Until quite recently there was very limited scholarship on the Cádiz Constitution in English, and, as Roberto Breña shows, even the literature in Spanish had been mostly limited to the study of the text itself and its impact in the peninsula. In the past decade, Atlantic history and studies on the Enlightenment’s influence on revolution in general have led to renewed interest in the Spanish constitutional experience. The reevaluation of Spanish American independence movements in light of the Cádiz Constitution have also sparked debate among historians. François-Xavier Guerra (1992) and Jaime Rodriguez O. (1998)1 consider that it is impossible to understand the process of independence if attention is not paid to Cádiz and the enacting of the constitution. Guerra goes as far as to state that the election of deputies to Cortes was the revolution2 (1993) Bicentennial celebrations have led to a dramatic increase of publications on the constitution. Its importance, especially in influencing subsequent constitutions, is increasingly acknowledged today in academic circles.
In this article I will discuss the calling of the Cortes, the elections that brought representatives from all over the empire to Cádiz, the demands made from far-away provinces, and major issues discussed in the constitutional debates. I conclude by assessing the constitution’s reception, as well as the way in which it influenced the advent of modernity in the Hispanic world and beyond. I begin by discussing the development of constitutional thinking in the late eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century. A revision of the events that led to the Peninsular War and the context in which the constitution was put forward follows. The article then analyzes the process through which the constitution was passed, the intellectual debates that surrounded it, the impact the charter had in the wider Atlantic world, as well as the role it played in the process of independence in Spanish America. Finally, it ends with a review of how liberalism developed in the Hispanic Monarchy and the long-lasting legacy of the Cádiz Constitution.
Previous Constitutional Experiences
The first monarchy to be restrained by a constitution, albeit an unwritten one, was that of the English monarchy. Since the Magna Carta was set down in 1215 and even more so after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the power of kings had been limited. Law and tradition ensured monarchs did not take advantage of their position, and by 1689 Parliament passed a Bill of Rights that set further limits to the power of kings. The dissemination of the ideas of the Scottish and French Enlightenment strengthened the idea of restricting monarchical power. One of the most important concepts brought by these currents of thought was that of the division of powers, which developed into the different branches of government: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. The conviction that the best possible government was a representative one, where the people were sovereign, was the definitive idea that came to dominate the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as constitutional thinking developed.
The American Revolution produced the first written constitution of the modern era. It emerged after long deliberation in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and was finally ratified in 1788. The process that led to its creation began when the thirteen colonies rebelled against Great Britain and sought a way in which to legitimize their union as a new polity. The new states had initially agreed on the Articles of Confederation in 1781, but these proved to be difficult for governing. Although the Convention allowed for a great deal of discussion on a new charter, the final text established a republican form of government with a strong legislative branch that would represent the people from the different states. To further ensure the new constitution was legitimate, all the states in the Union ratified it. The U.S. Constitution proved to be very influential. This was not just because it incorporated many of the ideas on representative government that had emerged in the Enlightenment. But it also gained legitimacy through the process of ratification, with contentious debates over its merits between the federalists and Anti-federalists ultimately leading to a workable compromise.3
The French constitutional experience was very different. With the outbreak of the revolution in 1789 came the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which established some of the ideas of equality at the basis of liberalism. This was followed, in September 1791, by a monarchical charter, which built on ideas of popular sovereignty and the separation of powers that had been enshrined in the U.S. Constitution as well as in the short-lived Polish one, passed some months prior. In August 1792, the National Convention declared the First French Republic, and the Jacobins produced a new constitution in 1793. This was the most radical stage of the Revolution during which the principle of popular sovereignty was strengthened, and economic and social rights were provided for citizens. In spite of being produced during ‘the Terror’, this charter greatly influenced subsequent constitutional thinking well into the nineteenth-century. But links between this constitution and the Jacobins made republicanism suspect in the eyes of many. Conflict ensued, and in 1795 a new constitution replaced the 1793 document. It sought a bridge between monarchy and what moderates considered anarchy.4
The French Revolution had far-reaching consequences in the Americas, particularly in the Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue, where a slave revolt erupted in 1791. It was underpinned by ideals of equality, freedmen sought rights, and slaves demanded their freedom, with the French National Assembly belatedly offering citizenship to free men of color in May 1791. Fearing there could be contagion in their colonies, Britain and Spain invaded from neighboring Jamaica and Santo Domingo. Hoping to gain support and boost enrollment in the army, the French commissioner abolished slavery in 1793. A year later the National Convention in Paris ratified this and abolition was enshrined in the 1795 constitution. Inspired by these measures, rebel leaders such as Toussaint Louverture joined in the fight against the invaders and ensured they were defeated. In 1796 representatives Vicente Ogé and Jean-Baptiste Chavannes from the colonies were elected to travel to Paris to the French National Assembly, and there was a sense that the revolutionary regime wanted to find a way to work with the ex-slaves of Saint-Domingue.
This all changed with the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte during the civil war of 1799, as he passed a constitution that stated the colonies were exempt from the charter and that they would be subject to future laws. Fearing this was a step towards the reinstatement of slavery in the Caribbean, Louverture called for a constitutional convention, and a charter for the island was enacted in 1801. As Philippe Girard has shown in his study of the Memoir Louverture wrote while in captivity in France, the constitution sought to “make laws specific to the country, advantageous for the government, and useful to everyone’s interests: laws based on customs.”5 The constitution was then sent to Napoleon for approval because it did not seek independence, but rather a renegotiation of the relationship with the metropolis. It confirmed the abolition of slavery, although workers could be drafted via the slave trade, and it declared Catholicism to be the only religion to be practiced in public, in order to keep voodoo out. Unimpressed, Napoleon sent his brother-in-law to retake the island. In 1803, Louverture was captured and sent to France. In his absence, Jean Jacques Dessalines defeated the French and under the 1801 constitution declared the independent republic of Haiti in 1804, naming himself emperor. Recent work on the revolution has illuminated this little understood period.6
In 1804, Napoleon crowned himself emperor. By this point he had disposed of France’s North American colonial territories, selling them to the United States in 1803 to finance his campaign in Haiti. In 1805, naval defeat followed at the Battle of Trafalgar, when the British annihilated the Franco-Spanish coalition. Unable to control the seas, Napoleon focused on the continent, and in 1807 his troops invaded the Iberian Peninsula. The aim was to overpower Britain’s Portuguese allies, so permission was sought from the Spanish King to cross his territory. The whole Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil aboard British ships and set up court in Rio de Janeiro. Mistrust of French troops led to a riot in March 1808 near Madrid in the town of Aranjuez, and King Charles IV abdicated in favor of his son Ferdinand VII. This was because the King was perceived to be under the control of his francophone minister Manuel Godoy. Yet, in spite of popular support, made evident during an uprising in Madrid in May, Ferdinand was forced to abdicate in favor of Joseph Bonaparte while being held captive in Bayonne. He and his brothers were transported to Fontainebleau where they remained under French control until 1814.
From the Bayonne Statute to the First Juntas
In recent years, several authors have remarked that the Cádiz Constitution was in fact not the first in the Hispanic Monarchy. This is because Napoleon promulgated a constitution in Bayonne in 1808 with the clear aim of organizing the realm he had taken under his command. To do so he called for representatives from the entire empire, although these men were not elected but rather handpicked and invited to the proceedings. As Marcela Ternavasio7 has shown, this assembly was influential because it posed two crucial questions. The first centered on the relationship between the monarch and the people he governed and how a written document provided legitimacy. The second delved into the nature of representation and how deputies from the American territories could build consensus in regard to the statute.
Sixty-five representatives attended the Bayonne Cortes. Required to have been born in the province they represented, two came from the Río de la Plata and one each from New Spain, Guatemala, Santa Fe de Bogotá, and Caracas, making a total of six Americans. Although this was far from equal representation based on population or geography, it demonstrated that the idea of American representation had become ingrained. An interesting parallel to note is how the 1796 National Convention had called representatives from the French colonies. The main issues discussed in Bayonne were representation and legitimacy, because the abdication of the King had created a constitutional problem. Had the King died, a successor would have been designated following the rules of succession. But because the monarch was held captive this was not possible. Napoleon had hoped to resolve this by having the King abdicate in favor of his brother Joseph and instituting the Bayonne Statute, but this was not enough to placate the patriotic opposition.
The May 1808 uprising in Madrid was followed by strong reactions in Valencia and Zaragoza. Many localities refused to accept the new government or the Bayonne Statute and instead created autonomous Juntas to govern in the name of the absent King. The crux of the question was legitimacy, as many people considered that the monarchy had been usurped. Eighteen local caretaking Juntas were set up, and the groups ultimately came together in Seville as the Junta Suprema de España e Indias. They claimed to have taken control in the name of the King, as legitimacy was deposited in the people in the absence of the monarch. Missions were sent to the American territories to ensure their backing and the rejection of Bonaparte. This period is known in Spain as the War of Independence, or Peninsular War, as British troops under the command of Lord Wellington fought with Spanish partisans and some of its army against the French invasion.8
The reaction in the Americas was swift, and in all cases absolute support was given to the captive King Ferdinand. Most cities carried out the traditional ceremonies for swearing in a new king, publicly denouncing Napoleon. In Brazil, Ferdinand’s sister, the Infanta Carlota Joaquina, who had arrived in Rio as the spouse of the Portuguese King, made several attempts to be named Regent of the entire Empire. But this proved to be impossible as the antipathy to the idea of being governed from Brazil by the Portuguese by the people of the Río de la Plata was insurmountable. It was in this context that the first Junta in the Americas was created in Montevideo in 1808, followed by frustrated attempts in Mexico City and Caracas. The authorities in this port city wanted to ensure they maintained their position vis-à-vis Buenos Aires, the city that had become the capital of a new viceroyalty in 1776. They also wanted to remain independent from the Braganza influence that came from Brazil. In the Americas, as in Spain, authorities named by Manuel Godoy, deemed to be too close to the French or afrancesados, were not trusted and were deposed. This happened in Buenos Aires to interim viceroy Santiago Liniers. In Mexico City, the viceroy was also deposed and a new one named with an alliance between the Audiencia and the Consulado prevented the Cabildo from setting up a Junta by using a similar argument.
The thinking behind the creation of Juntas both in Spain and in America came from adapting old ideas of what was understood to be a traditional unwritten constitution. This was combined with notions of representation that had become widespread with the Enlightenment and put in practice from the American Revolution onwards. The main issue in contention was straightforward and concerned the source of a king’s legitimacy. The prevalent idea was that the people gave the monarch power and thus, in his absence, power returned to the people, who could then pass it on to a caretaking institution such as a Junta or the Cortes. Historians François-Xavier Guerra, Antonio Annino, and Juan Carlos Chiaramonte9 have described this as the “retroversion” of sovereignty. These authors argue that this ancient principle was what made it possible for the Juntas and then the Cortes to reclaim sovereignty.
In 1809, three new Juntas were created in America. The first was established in the Andean city of Chuquisaca, the seat of the Audiencia de Charcas. A second one was situated close by, at the edge of Lake Titicaca, in the city of La Paz. In both cases they sought to distance themselves from the control of the vice-regal capitals of Buenos Aires and Lima. The third Junta was set up in Quito, another Audiencia city whose inhabitants felt they had lost prominence with the creation of the viceroyalty of New Granada in the first half of the eighteenth century. Following on Enlightenment ideas, and in the absence of the king, these three cities took a chance to break away and become more autonomous; they wanted to answer directly to Madrid and the center of the empire rather than to other cities in the Americas. All of them claimed to be loyal to the king and justified their existence using the same rationale as the Juntas had in the Peninsula. At this point it became clear that the peninsular crisis of 1808 had opened the floodgates to autonomous movements that sought to renegotiate their relationship with the center.
Viceroys took immediate action, as they believed they were the representatives of the monarch and that there was no need for Juntas in America. Fernando de Abascal, the Viceroy of Peru, was particularly adamant that his position had to be respected and he sent troops to La Paz and Quito to retake control of both cities. This was in fact an important strategic move which allowed Lima to regain the territories it had lost during the Bourbon Reforms.10 This was one of the main reasons why the city’s merchant guild, or Tribunal del Consulado, was willing to cover the expedition’s expenses. The elites of Cuzco and Arequipa also provided enthusiastic support, as they believed this would return them to their prior positions of preeminence. This was the first war to break out in South America, although at this point it was not yet clear that it would become a war for independence. At this early stage, it was a war between jurisdictions over the control of territory and trade.
The Cádiz Cortes and the Juntas
As war intensified, French troops took most of the Peninsula, until only the Junta Central in Seville remained. The situation grew so desperate that in January 1810 a five-person Regency was established instead. The fall of the Junta Central was the lowest point for Ferdinand’s supporters. On receiving the news, a series of Juntas were set up in the Americas each of which rejected the legitimacy of the Regency. The first was the Junta of Caracas in April 1810, followed by committees in Buenos Aires in May, Bogotá and Cartagena in July, and Santiago de Chile in September. As all previous Juntas had done, they claimed to have risen in the name of Ferdinand. But it soon became evident that some Juntas wanted more autonomy or even independence, as Caracas declared a new republic in 1811.
In September 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo rose in the small town of Dolores, starting a popular revolutionary movement in New Spain that called for the end of abusive government and support for the king. This was slightly different situation, as it was not led by Juntas such as those operating in the rest of Spanish America. Hidalgo was considered an insurgent and was seen with distrust by the elites in Mexico City as his movement had the characteristics of a popular uprising. Troops were sent in from Mexico City and a civil war broke out in New Spain. In South America, conflict centered in the Captaincy General of Venezuela, as the towns that remained loyal fought against the ones that declared independence. In the Southern Andes, in the area close to Lake Titicaca, troops sent by the Junta of Buenos Aires confronted militia armies from Cuzco, Arequipa, and Puno, organized by Viceroy Abascal.
As war broke out between different sectors in the Americas, with some claiming to defend the rights of the absent Monarch, the Regency called for elections for a General Cortes. The aim was to counter the perceived lack of legitimacy they had as representatives of the king. Elections took place in all the localities where the war allowed—where it was not possible, men from across the monarchy who resided in Cádiz were elected temporarily. There was much debate over representation and initially some advocated for a traditional corporate system, but it was eventually agreed it would be individual by locality.11 The electoral process was the first of several transformative steps taken, because although suffrage was limited to men, there were no qualifications based on either property or literacy, although men were expected to be able to read and write from 1830 onwards (Article 25). The only restriction was on those who were perceived to be economically dependent on others, and to be viewed in their communities as local residents, ‘vecinos’. Guerra maintains that the elections were so momentous that they constituted a revolution in and of themselves.12
Elections were indirect with three stages of voting. This meant there was wide representation at the first level—with elections held at local parishes—but the second and third stages of voting ensured that access was much more constricted and in effect limited to elites. The Church ran the process, in large part because this was the institution that held most demographic information. All records on birth, marriages, and deaths were produced and controlled by the Church and as a result the parish became a center of political activity. Their role was not limited to presiding over elections, however, as churches became the spaces where political issues were discussed.13 During mass, priests gave polemical sermons to their congregations, providing their opinions to the many who could not read and write. All sectors of society were involved in voting, and public reading was not limited to the Church, becoming widespread in cafes, taverns, and markets. Publication of pamphlets and newspapers grew exponentially as the freedom of the press was decreed in 1810.14
In September 1810, the Cádiz Cortes was convoked. This brought issues of sovereignty and representation to the center of the discussion, and in particular the role American territories were going to play. Roberto Breña has shown that the relationship between the component parts of the monarchy was not open for discussion.15 Even though there had been a declaration that both sides of the Atlantic were to be represented and numerous American deputies were elected, their number was neither equal nor proportional to population, as not all the people in the Americas were counted. The Cortes of Cádiz rejected the idea of devolution of power within the monarchy. As Brian Hamnett has noted, it was clear that the Constitution of 1812 was based on the notion of a “universal Nation,” bound together by the king, the Constitution, and the Church. All parliamentary representation and the exercise of decision-making were to be retained at the political center in Spain, even though the centralists and federalists within the Cortes had opposing views on the issue.16
Some of the American Juntas, such as those in Caracas and Cartagena, saw in this unequal representation to Cortes a confirmation that they were being given a subordinate place in the Hispanic Nation. This reaffirmed their conviction that they should go their separate ways. Other Juntas, particularly those of Buenos Aires and Santiago, were more ambivalent, and although they did not send representatives to Cortes two suplentes represented Chile, and they remained open to the possibility of accepting the Constitution at a later date. All the American territories, in regions where Juntas had not been set up, carried out elections and sent representatives to Cádiz. Some of the regions, not electing deputies, produced their own constitutions, some even before the one for the Hispanic Monarchy was published (for example, Venezuela and New Granada in 1811).
The term liberalism was coined at Cádiz because of the ideas proposed by a small number of representatives who dominated the debate at the Cortes. The measures they implemented included the granting citizenship to all adult men who could trace their origins either to Spain or America. This gave the vote to Indians, but excluded those considered of African descent. But article 22 established an exception for those who could prove they were worthy. The exclusion of free blacks, however, had great repercussions in the Americas. In some regions, where this population was large, particularly in Caribbean Colombia, many distrusted the constitution, as large portions of the population felt they were not being represented.17 In other regions, where African-descendants were also important, such as Southwest New Granada, around Pasto and Popayán, as well as in coastal Peru, they felt included and their exemplary defense of the king was noted.18
Other important liberal measures included the abolition of the Inquisition, criminal justice reform that placed an emphasis on equal treatment under the law, as well as the definitive abolition of torture (Article 303). Many of these changes were possible to make because the deputies who were particularly convinced of the need for change dominated constitutional debates. They had been influenced by the Enlightenment and had studied and trained discussing the ideas that had become widespread from the eighteenth century onwards. Change also became politically possible because this particular group of men, who included Manuel José Quintana, Agustín de Argüelles, el Conde de Toreno, Álvaro Flórez Estrada and José María Blanco White, had a clear set of aims and were able to use to their advantage the fact that the city of Cádiz was under siege and under the protection of the British.19 In spite of this opportunity for innovation, the option of abandoning either the monarchy or the idea of a confessional state was never considered.
Issues that were important in some areas in the Americas, such as the abolition of Indian tribute, were discussed. Ramón Olaguer Feliú, a native of Ceuta who had arrived in Lima at the age of 9 and was representing Peru at the Cortes, supported this measure proposed by Dionisio Inca Yupanqui, a long-time Cádiz resident of noble Indian origin. This was an important step towards dismantlinge the legal differences between Spaniards and Indians, which until then had been under two distinct jurisdictions: the Republic of Indians and the Republic of Spaniards. Indians were the only ones that had to pay these taxes, seen by many as an injustice that ought to be abolished. Yupanqui was only an interim member of the Cortes, but he brought to the debate a particular American perspective. This was strengthened by the documents produced by many of the American provinces—Guatemala, Puno, and Piura amongst others—that sent deputies to Spain with detailed instructions. Even if their proposals were not fully considered, the fact that these documents were produced shows how much the people from these far-flung localities felt they were part of the constitutional debates.20
The Cádiz Constitution
On 19 March 1812 a constitution was enacted. Envisioned to govern the whole Hispanic Monarchy, the king was head of state, not because of his divine right to govern, but because of the will of the people.21 In spite of many of the liberal measures that were passed, the constitution included a declaration that the monarchy was Catholic and that the faith would be defended. This has confounded some who imagine this declaration incompatible with liberalism. But as José María Portillo Valdés has shown, it was logical considering the deeply religious world from which the men who wrote it came.22 Catholicism continued to be at the center of identity in the vast crumbling Hispanic Monarchy.23 In spite of this commitment to Catholicism, in 1813, the office of the Inquisition was abolished, so some desire for change was present, even though the idea of separating church and state was not.
The constitution covers many topics in great detail. It begins with a definition of the Spanish nation, who its citizens are, and how citizenship can be acquired and lost. It then moves on to declare the Hispanic Nation Catholic. All electoral procedures at the three levels are spelled out, including where elections are to take place, the role the church is to play, and how and when the formal mass or Te Deum hymn is to be performed. When the Cortes will meet is discussed, as well as what they can legislate. This is followed by a section covering the prerogatives of the king, what he can no longer do, succession, regency, and how much money the monarch and his family are to expect. The constitution also discusses the way the government should be structured, with different secretaries, akin to ministers, as well as a State Council. It then goes on to establish the judiciary, noting that the only special courts that were to remain were the ecclesiastical and military tribunals, stripping them however, from the protection from civil trials for civil crimes.
Some of the greatest changes introduced in the constitution were in local government, as municipalities in which more than 1,000 people lived were to elect their authorities (ayuntamientos), while provincial governments (diputaciones provinciales) were to become much more autonomous. Issues of taxation and debt management also are explained. The charter describes how the military, militias, and education are going to function. The final point included in its 384 articles is the way in which the constitution can be modified.
The constitution was clearly written with the intention of being the basis of government in a vast empire for a very long time. Its framers assumed it would be blessed with the support of the monarch upon his release from captivity. Because Ferdinand did not accept it, and hence led to a very short-lived experiment, many commentators have concluded that the constitution did not have a great impact. Indeed in the peninsula, because fighting against the French required so many resources, the constitution was not fully implemented between 1812 and 1814 due to the ravages of war. This was the same in the case of the territories that had declared Juntas in the Americas, but in the older more established viceroyalties of Cuba, New Spain and Peru the constitution was rolled out, as were many of the provisos planned, particularly pertaining to the election of local authorities.24
Reaction to the Constitution
Sworn on 19 March 1812, the day of Saint Joseph, the constitution nicknamed ‘la Pepa’ travelled far and wide, not only to all the corners of the monarchy from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but to the rest of the world. Editions were published from Messina in Italy in 1813 to Philadelphia in 1814, and the document was widely read.25 As has already been mentioned, some areas of the Hispanic Monarchy abided by the constitution more than others, and in some areas of Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, Southwestern New Granada, and Peru the impact of the constitution was particularly strong as far as elections were concerned. These took place for local municipal representation, at the provincial level, and for representatives to the Cortes in Cádiz. The ceremonies that had been designed to welcome the constitution were followed in all the places where it was rolled out, keeping very closely to the script used when new kings were crowned.
In the Americas, conflict had erupted between those who wanted to maintain their links with the Hispanic Monarchy and those who wished to sever them. In Mexico this had led to confrontations with Hidalgo’s forces, who continued to fight after his death in 1811 and supported the constitution of Apatzingán of 1814. In Venezuela staunch backers of the monarchy allied themselves with some of the poorest sectors of society and began a bloody confrontation that lasted a decade and succeeded in bringing down two attempts for an independent republic. From Lima, viceroy Fernando de Abascal sent out expeditions from Peru that recaptured Quito, Santiago, and the provinces of Upper Peru for the king.26 It is clear, therefore, that the constitution was not accepted everywhere. It was also evident that in some places where alternative constitutions were prepared, such as in some provinces of New Granada, one of the main influences was the Constitution of the United States.
By 1814 the Cádiz Constitution was no longer in effect, although in some regions of the Americas the news that it had been abolished took so long to arrive that it continued to be the basis of government until nearly a year later. Some level of support for the constitution was evident, however. In Saint Augustine, Florida, the instructions to destroy all records of the constitutional government were not heeded and in 1820, when the liberal regime reinstated it, the record books that had been closed in 1814 with the last constitutional meeting were reopened in 1820.27 Florida was not to last very long under the constitutional regime, as the province passed on to the United States some months later, as the United States acquired the territory in the 1819 Adams-Onís Treaty.
The Liberal Triennium
In January 1820, Spanish Colonel Rafael Riego led an insurgent battalion that was camped in the outskirts of Seville and had been preparing to be transported to the Americas. He rose in the name of the Cádiz Constitution, sought support from other military units, and marched upon Madrid.28 In March, another uprising began in Galicia. Finding himself surrounded, King Ferdinand reluctantly signed an agreement to reinstate the Constitution on March 7, 1820. Inspired by the events in Spain and reacting to being governed by a king in distant Rio de Janeiro, revolutionaries in Portugal called for the implementation of a constitution similar to the one of Cádiz. The Portuguese king João VI was forced to return, and in 1822 Brazil declared independence. The repercussions of these revolutions and the importance of the Cádiz Constitution in inspiring them were felt throughout the Mediterranean as the kings of the Two Sicilies in Naples and Piedmont and the island of Sardinia in Turin were persuaded to implement constitutions inspired by the 1812 Cádiz Constitution.
The so-called moderates, or doceañistas, led the first liberal government in Spain. They sought a balance of power between the king and the Cortes. They were defeated in the elections of 1822, and the more radical veinteañistas took over the control of government. They wanted the king firmly under the power of the legislative branch. In this period the constitution was put in practice in the Spanish Peninsula, and many more radical liberal proposals were put forward.29 Amongst them were the end of inheritance by the oldest son (mayorazgo), the end of feudal ownership of land (señoríos), and the selling of the land that was owned in perpetuity by the Church and could not be brought into the market (desamortización) as well as a new abolition of the Inquisition. Religious orders were reformed, religious houses reduced, and the role of the clergy in society reformed. The Jesuits were once again expelled.30
The liberal regime in the Peninsula was convinced that the best way forward was to enter into negotiations with the new governments in the Americas so that agreements could be reached. By this point, many territories in the Americas had irredeemably broken away. It was now clear that the United Provinces of South America, the area that had formerly been the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, were never going to follow the constitution, having declared independence in 1816. Chile was also independent, having defeated the royalists in battle in 1817 and 1818. Most of New Granada, excluding the southwestern territories and the Audiencia of Quito, had by 1819 established its independence from the Hispanic Monarchy.31 By 1821, circumstances both in New Spain and in Peru had changed dramatically. In the north, upon learning of the return of the constitution, a man who had defended the monarchy for nearly a decade, Agustín de Iturbide, called for an end to hostilities with the rebels under the Plan of Iguala that guaranteed the reconciliation. The aim was to install a monarch in Mexico, ideally from the Spanish ruling family. As this was not possible, Iturbide himself was named emperor, ruling over the former viceroyalty of New Spain and Guatemala, which at the time comprised all of Central America except for Panama.32 In the south, Lima and the provinces of the northern coast of Peru declared independence between 1820 and 1821. The rest of the viceroyalty and the Audiencia de Charcas remained under the jurisdiction of the Cádiz Constitution, loyal to the royalist army.33
Forced to accept the liberal regime, but unhappy, the king negotiated with the Holy Alliance to have French troops reinstate him. Support such as this, as well as from the so-called persas, had ensured he returned to be absolute king in 1814. In 1822 the Congress of Verona agreed France would send a contingent, which came to be known as the hundred thousand sons of Saint Louis. They arrived in April 1823 and fought a hard campaign together with Spanish supporters that culminated in August with the defeat of the liberals.34 Fernando VII retuned to the throne as absolute king and once again abolished the constitution. At that point the only places in the Americas that were still under the jurisdiction of the Hispanic Monarchy were Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the southern areas of Peru and the Audiencia of Charcas, where war continued. The abolition of the constitutional regime had an impact deep in the Andes, as those defending the Hispanic Monarchy also were divided between liberals and absolutists. This created a schism within the troops during the final campaign, which led to capitulation in 1824, nearly a year after the liberal regime and the constitution had been deposed.
Liberalism and the Legacy of the Constitution
Even though it was short-lived and in some respects not very successful, the Cádiz Constitution is a significant document. It was undoubtedly the basis of the development of liberalism in the Spanish-speaking world at the start of the nineteenth century. It introduced a series of important innovations to a vast region, and it was the template from which most of the independent constitutions in Latin America were produced. It clearly was influential in Portugal and Brazil, as it was put in practice in the former in 1820, and in the latter led to a long debate over whether the Cádiz Constitution supported slavery or not.35 It also played a pivotal role in several Italian kingdoms in 1820, and it inspired some of those fighting for independence in Greece. In sum, it presented an option for a written monarchical constitution that sought to modernize traditional societies by allowing most men to vote and by ending an economic system that benefited only those at the highest echelons of society.
Discussion of the Literature
Initial debate of the Constitution was very colored by the historical processes within Spain and the difficulties found in coming to terms with the legacy of this early liberalism. The nineteenth century saw frequent political strife, much of it underpinned by conflict over the constitution. The Carlists, who opposed the government by the daughter of Ferdinand and wanted his brother to govern instead, were against any concessions to the liberal spirit of the constitution. After 1837, there was no attempt to return to the 1812 Charter, and debates over its legacy began. With the advent of the second republic, the civil war and eventually the Franco dictatorship, the Cádiz Constitution continued to be contentious and seen with very divergent views by those espousing different political positions.
According to Roberto Breña36 “modern” discussions of the constitution began in the middle of the twentieth century during the Franco regime when Federico Suárez and Miguel Artola presented opposing views on the constitution. While Suárez37 saw it as a failure and was very critical to its liberalism, Artola38 considered this liberalism to be its best feature. This literature was mainly concerned with the impact the constitution had on the creation of Spain as a modern nation and understood the charter in the context of a narrow approach that saw no linkages with the experiences in Latin America. Across the Atlantic the Charter was viewed with little interest to those outside the confines of legal and constitutional history and it was not part of the wider narrative on independence. It has only been with the advent of a more Atlantic perspective in the last twenty years that the role of the constitution has begun to be regarded as important in the process of the creation of nations.
Current debates over the constitution tend to focus on whether it introduced a new way of understanding legality in the Hispanic World or not. Portillo Valdés posits that Catholicism underpinned the notions of nation present in the constitution and that it was therefore not particularly innovative as it built on tradition. Likewise, Carlos Garriga and Marta Lorente consider that the framers of the Cádiz Constitution included in the charter a series of notions on legality that were already present in the Ancien Régime.39 Authors such as Ignacio Sarasola and Joaquín Varela Suanzes,40 on the other hand, see the Cádiz Constitution as a highly innovative charter that brought to the fore the main ideas of modernity. Many of these arguments are revisited in the Lorente and Porillo Valdés volume edited in 2011, which aims to situate the Constitution in a wider context, particularly in terms of the debates on concepts such as “nation” and “pueblo,” which are central to the intellectual discussions of the period, both in Peninsular Spain and Spanish America. The participation of the Spanish American deputies in the debates in Cádiz has garnered increasing attention in recent years. Manuel Chust41 has shown that they played an important role by introducing new topics for debate in the Cortes. The work of Jaime E. Rodriguez O.42 has focused on the importance of the Cádiz Constitution in Mexico, and how to a great extent the people of Mexico saw themselves as ‘truer Spaniards.’
New work produced in the past five or six years has continued to build on previous debates on the constitution and have in some cases been more interested in the way the constitution was actually implemented around the world. This is the case, for instance, of the volume edited by Roberto Breña Cádiz a debate: actualidad, contexto y legado43 and the volume edited by Scott Eastman and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian World: The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812.44 Both books pay much attention to the debates in the literature on Atlantic History and the place that the Cádiz Constitution occupies within it.
Relevant primary sources include: Constitution of the Spanish monarchy: promulgated at Cadiz on the 19th of March 1812 (Philadelphia, Palmer, 1814), Agustín de Argüelles, La Constitución de Cádiz y Discurso preliminar a la Constitución (Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 2010); Agustín de Argüelles, Examen histórico de la Reforma Constitucional de España, 2 vols. (Bilbao: Junta General del Principado de Asturias/Gestingraf, 2002); José María Blanco White, Obras completas (Granada: Editorial Almed, 2005); Álvaro Flórez Estrada, Examen imparcial de las disensiones de la América con la España (Madrid: Biblioteca del Senado, 1991); Álvaro Flórez Estrada, Escritos políticos (Oviedo: Junta General del Principado de Asturias, 1994); Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, Memoria en defensa de la Junta Central, 2 vols. (Bilbao: Junta General del Principado de Asturias/Gestingraf, 2002); Memoir of Toussaint Louverture, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) edited by Philippe Girard; Manuel José Quintana, Memoria del Cádiz de las Cortes, edited by Fernando Durán López (Cádiz: Universidad de Cádiz, 1996); and Conde de Toreno, Historia del levantamiento: guerra y revolución de España (Pamplona: Urgoiti Editores, 2008).
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Annino, Antonio. De los imperios a las naciones: Iberoamérica. Zaragosa: Ibercaja, 1994.Find this resource:
Artola, Miguel. Los orígenes de la España contemporánea. 2 vols. Madrid: IEP, 1959.Find this resource:
Breña, Roberto. El primer liberalismo español y los procesos de emancipación de América, 1808–1824: Una revisión historiográfica del liberalismo hispánico. México: El Colegio de México, 2006.Find this resource:
Breña, Roberto, ed. Cádiz a debate: actualidad, contexto y legado. México: El Colegio de México, 2014.Find this resource:
Breña, Roberto. “Emancipation Process in New Spain and the Cádiz Constitution.” In The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian World: The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812. Edited by Scott Eastman and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, 42–62. Tuscaloosa: Alabama University Press, 2015.Find this resource:
Chiaramonte, José Carlos. Nación y estado en Iberoamérica: el lenguaje politico en tiempos de la independencia. Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 2004.Find this resource:
Chust, Manuel. La cuestión nacional americana en las Cortes de Cádiz, 1810–1814. Valencia: UNED/FIHS/UNAM, 1999.Find this resource:
Dym, Jordana. From Sovereign Villages to National States: City, State and Federation in Central America, 1759–1839. Albuquerque: New Mexico University Press, 2006.Find this resource:
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Eastman, Scott. Preaching Spanish Nationalism across the Hispanic Atlantic, 1759–1823. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2012.Find this resource:
Eastman, Scott, and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, eds. The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian World: The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812. Tuscaloosa: Alabama University Press, 2015.Find this resource:
Echeverri, Marcela. “Popular Royalists, Empire, and Politics in Southwestern New Granada.” Hispanic American Historical Review 91.2 (2011): 237–269.Find this resource:
Echeverri, Marcela. “Race, Citizenship and the Cádiz Constitution.” In The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian World: The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812. Edited by Scott Eastman and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, 91–110. Tuscaloosa: Alabama University Press, 2015.Find this resource:
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Gargarella, Roberto. Latin American Constitutionalism, 1810–2010: The Engine Room of the Constitution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.Find this resource:
Garriga, Carlos, and Marta Lorente. Cádiz, 181: la constitución jurisdiccional. Madrid: CEPC, 2007.Find this resource:
Geggus, David. The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History. Cambridge, U.K.: Hackett, 2014.Find this resource:
Girard, Philippe, ed. Memoir of Toussaint Louverture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.Find this resource:
Guerra, François-Xavier. Modernidad e independencies. Madrid: MAPFRE, 1992.Find this resource:
Guerra, François-Xavier. “El soberano y su Reino: reflexiones sobre la génesis del ciudadano en América Latina.” In Ciudadanía política y formación de las naciones: perspectivas históricas de las naciones. Edited by Hilda Sábato, 32–61. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1999.Find this resource:
Guerra, François-Xavier, and Marie Danielle Demelas. “Un processus révolutionnaire méconnu: l’adoption des formes représentatives modernes en Espagne et Amérique Latine (1808–1810).” Caravelle 60 (1993): 5–57.Find this resource:
Hamnett, Brian. “The Medieval Roots of Spanish Constitutionalism.” In The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian World: The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812. Edited by Scott Eastman and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, 19–41. Tuscaloosa: Alabama University Press, 2015.Find this resource:
Hamnett, Brian. “Spanish Constitutionalism and the Impact of the French Revolution, 1808–1814.” In The Impact of the French Revolution on European Consciousness. Edited by H. T. Mason and W. Doyle. London: Alan Sutton, 1989.Find this resource:
Hamnett, Brian. “Process and Pattern: A Re-examination of the Ibero-American Independence Movements, 1808–1826.” Journal of Latin American Studies 29.2 (1997): 279–328.Find this resource:
Hamnett, Brian. The Politics of Counter-Revolution: Liberalism, Royalism and Separatism in Mexico and Peru 1800–1824, 1976.Find this resource:
Helg, Aline. Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia 1770–1835. Chapel Hill: North Carolina University Press, 2004.Find this resource:
King, James F. “A Royalist View of the Colored Castes in the Venezuelan Wars of Independence.” Hispanic American Historical Review XXIII (1953): 526–537.Find this resource:
La Parra, Emilio. La libertad de prensa en las Cortes de Cádiz. Valencia: Nau Llibres, 1984.Find this resource:
Lasso, Marixa. Myths of Harmony: Race and Republicanism during the Age of Revolution, Colombia, 1795–1831. Pittsburgh: Pittsburg University Press, 2007.Find this resource:
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Marquese, Rafael, and Tâmis Parron. “Atlantic Constitutionalism and the Idea of Slavery: The Cádiz Experience in Comparative Perspective.” In The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian World: The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812. Edited by Scott Eastman and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, 177–193. Tuscaloosa: Alabama University Press, 2015.Find this resource:
Mirow, Matthew. “Cádiz Constitution in Cuba and Florida.” In The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian World: The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812. Edited by Scott Eastman and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, 194–211. Tuscaloosa: Alabama University Press, 2015.Find this resource:
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Rodriguez O., Jaime E. “We are all now the true Spaniards”: Sovereignty, Revolution, Independence and the Emergence of the Federal Republic of Mexico, 1808–1824. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012.Find this resource:
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(3.) Roberto Gargarella, The Legal Foundations of Inequality: Constitutionalism in the Americas 1776–1860 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
(4.) Brian Hamnett, “Spanish Constitutionalism and the Impact of the French Revolution, 1808–1814,” in The Impact of the French Revolution on European Consciousness, ed. H. T. Mason and W. Doyle (London: Alan Sutton, 1989).
(5.) Philippe Girard, ed., Memoir of Toussaint Louverture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).
(6.) David Geggus, The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History (Cambridge, U.K.: Hackett, 2014).
(7.) Marcela Ternavasio, “Impact of,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian World: The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812, ed. Scott Eastman and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea (Tuscaloosa: Alabama University Press, 2015), 133–149.
(8.) Charles Esdaile, The Peninsular War: A New History (London: Allen Lane, 2002).
(9.) François-Xavier Guerra, Modernidad e independencies (Madrid: MAPFRE, 1992); Antonio Annino, De los imperios a las naciones: Iberoamérica (Zaragosa: Ibercaja, 1994); and José Carlos Chiaramonte, Nación y estado en Iberoamérica: el lenguaje politico en tiempos de la independencia (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 2004).
(10.) Scarlett O’Phelan, and Georges Lomné, Abascal y contra-independencia de América del Sur (Lima: IFEA/PUCP, 2013).
(11.) François-Xavier Guerra, “El soberano y su Reino: reflexiones sobre la génesis del ciudadano en América Latina,” in Ciudadanía política y formación de las naciones: perspectivas históricas de las naciones, ed. Hilda Sábato (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1999), 32–61.
(12.) Guerra, François-Xavier, and Marie Danielle Demelas. “Un processus révolutionnaire méconnu: l’adoption des formes représentatives modernes en Espagne et Amérique Latine (1808–1810).
(13.) Scott Eastman, Preaching Spanish Nationalism across the Hispanic Atlantic, 1759–1823 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2012).
(14.) Emilio La Parra, La libertad de prensa en las Cortes de Cádiz (Valencia: Nau Llibres, 1984).
(15.) Roberto Breña, El primer liberalismo español y los procesos de emancipación de América, 1808–1824: Una revisión historiográfica del liberalismo hispánico (México: El Colegio de México, 2006), 109–112.
(16.) Brian Hamnett, “The Medieval Roots of Spanish Constitutionalism,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 19–41.
(17.) Marixa Lasso, Myths of Harmony: Race and Republicanism during the Age of Revolution, Colombia, 1795–1831 (Pittsburgh: Pittsburg University Press, 2007); and Aline Helg, Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia 1770–1835 (Chapel Hill: North Carolina University Press, 2004).
(18.) Marcela Echeverri, “Popular Royalists, Empire, and Politics in Southwestern New Granada,” Hispanic American Historical Review 91.2 (2011): 237–269; Marcela Echeverri, “Race, Citizenship and the Cádiz Constitution,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 91–110; and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, “Loyalism and Liberalism in Peru,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 111–132.
(19.) Roberto Breña, El primer liberalismo español y los procesos de emancipación de América, 1808–1824: Una revisión historiográfica del liberalismo hispánico (México: El Colegio de México, 2006).
(20.) Jordana Dym, “Central America and Cádiz,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 63–90; and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, “Loyalism and Liberalism in Peru,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 111–132.
(21.) Scott Eastman and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, eds., The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian World: The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812 (Tuscaloosa: Alabama University Press, 2015).
(22.) José María Portillo Valdés, Revolución de nación: orígenes de la cultura constitucional en España, 1780–1812 (Madrid: CEPC, 2000); and José María Portillo Valdés,“De la monarquía católica a la nación de los católicos,” in Historia y Política 17, Madrid (January–June 2007): 17–35.
(23.) Scott Eastman, Preaching Spanish Nationalism across the Hispanic Atlantic, 1759–1823 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2012).
(24.) Roberto Breña, “Emancipation Process in New Spain and the Cádiz Constitution,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 42–62; Jordana Dym, “Central America and Cádiz,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 63–90; Echeverri, Marcela, “Race, Citizenship and the Cádiz Constitution,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 91–110; Sartorius, David. “Of Exceptions and Afterlives: The Long History of the Cádiz Constitution in Cuba,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 150–176; and Sobrevilla Perea, Natalia. “Loyalism and Liberalism in Peru,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 111–132.
(25.) Scott Eastman, and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, eds., The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian World: The Impact of the Cádiz Constitution of 1812.
(26.) Scarlett O’Phelan, and Georges Lomné, Abascal y contra-independencia de América del Sur (Lima: IFEA/PUCP, 2013).
(27.) Matthew Mirow, “Cádiz Constitution in Cuba and Florida,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 194–211.
(28.) Gregorio Alonso, “Cádiz Reprised: The Liberal Triennium in Spain and Spanish America, 1820–1823,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 245–263.
(29.) Alonso “Cádiz Reprised.”
(30.) Alonso “Cádiz Reprised.”
(31.) Rodriguez, The Independence of Spanish America.
(32.) Roberto Breña, “Emancipation Process in New Spain and the Cádiz Constitution,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 42–62.
(33.) Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, “Loyalism and Liberalism in Peru,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 111–132.
(34.) Gregorio Alonso, “Cádiz Reprised: The Liberal Triennium in Spain and Spanish America, 1820–1823,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 245–265.
(35.) Rafael Marquese and Tâmis Parron, “Atlantic Constitutionalism and the Idea of Slavery: The Cádiz Experience in Comparative Perspective,” in The Rise of Constitutional Government, ed. Eastman and Sobrevilla Perea, 177–193.
(36.) Roberto Breña, Cádiz a debate: actualidad, contexto y legado (México: El Colegio de México, 2014).
(37.) Federico Suárez, La crisis política del Antiguo Régimen en España (Madrid: Rialp, 1950).
(38.) Miguel Artola, Los orígenes de la España contemporánea, 2 vols. (Madrid: IEP, 1959).
(39.) Carlos Garriga and Marta Lorente, Cádiz, 181: la constitución jurisdiccional (Madrid: CEPC, 2007).
(40.) Ignacio Sarasola, La Constitución de Cádiz: origen, contenido y proyección internacional (Madrid: CEPC, 2011); and Joaquín Varela Suanzes, La teoría del Estado en las Cortes de Cádiz: orígenes del constitucionalismo hispánico (Madrid: CEPC, 2011).
(41.) Manuel Chust, La cuestión nacional americana en las Cortes de Cádiz, 1810–1814 (Valencia: UNED/FIHS/UNAM, 1999).
(42.) Jaime E. Rodriguez O., The Divine Charter: Constitutionalism and Liberalism in Nineteenth-Century Mexico (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005); and Jaime E. Rodriguez O., “We are all now the true Spaniards”: Sovereignty, Revolution, Independence and the Emergence of the Federal Republic of Mexico, 1808–1824 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012).
(43.) Roberto Breña, ed., Cádiz a debate: actualidad, contexto y legado (México: El Colegio de México, 2014).
(44.) Scott Eastman and Natalia Sobrevilla Perea, eds., The Rise of Constitutional Government.