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CHAPTER VIII:
THE ROYAL FORT OF ST. RAFAEL AT TUBAC

G. Conversion of the St. Rafael Company from Imperial to Republican Status

The royal fort of St. Rafael at Tubac ceased to exist in the fall of 1821 when Mexico achieved political independence from Spain. The garrison and the fort remained but they were no longer royal institutions, no longer units in colonial empire. They had been converted by a class revolution into military units in a passing monarchy which disappeared in a year to make way for a republic. The process of conversion was so orderly at Tubac and the other frontier military posts in Sonora that its execution and causes are of considerable interest.

1. Citizenship: A Revolutionary Concept

In a search for causes of the Mexican revolution, one very necessary although not sufficient condition stands out. This is the concept citizen. Anyone who has read any number of official and even semi-official letters and reports of the immediate postrevolutionary period in Mexico cannot help but be aware of the tremendous import of this concept, expressed in Spanish by the term ciudadano. Throughout this report the Spanish term vecino is translated also as citizen-correlating frontier Spanish usage of vecino with the U. S. frontier usage of "citizen" as an ethnic, a racial term for a politically dominant group in a multi-racial country. Ciudadano does not have this same meaning, although the one English 517term "citizen" combines the meanings of the two Spanish terms. The ciudadano was not necessarily a vecino-it was not an ethnic term but a socio-political term denoting a political status of every man regardless of his ethnic background. For that reason the concept of citizen (ciudadano) was of utmost importance in the Mexican revolution, precisely because it cut across social barriers inherent in the concept vecino and symbolized a new-found belief in an inherent value and worth in every man as a political being. This sociopolitical construct, added to the Roman Catholic Church's doctrine of the worth and value of every individual soul created a climate of opinion and resulting pattern of social action in New Spain in the late colonial period between the French Revolution and independence which made the latter inevitable and set the pattern of political intercourse and formal interaction for many decades.

The specific concept of ciudadano which spread through New Spain at the end of the colonial period was imported directly from revolutionary France. The French concept had gained impetus from the successful revolution of the United States, but it was not the same concept that the North American rebels held nor was it otherwise derivative. The English and the French concepts of citizenship and political role derived ultimately from the same sources, but these were much more ancient. Both developed over a long period of time from familiarity with Roman law and the Roman concept of citizen. As reinterpreted and reapplied to existing political systems 518in post-medieval France and England, the concept of citizen became a considerably more democratic construct than it had ever been in Rome. The fact remains that the Romans had developed and spread this concept of the individual worth of men in political terms. Yet the Romans themselves hardly invented the idea, for it was characteristic of quarrelsome Greek city states centuries before Rome was more than a noisome peasant village on the banks of the Tiber. Beyond the Greeks the concept of citizen as an individually worthy and valuable unit of political decisionmaking cannot be traced. Presumably some Greek group invented this idea.

The concept of citizen was an extremely important innovation just because it placed emphasis on individuals, on inherent qualities of individuals of positive valence in social and political action. This concept was diametrically opposed to pre-existing principles of differential and hierarchical ranking of individual men in terms of political roles with a king or similarly-titled potentate at the apex of a pyramid of lesser valued individuals. It was diametrically opposed to pre-existing principles of differential social ranking of individuals in a manner parallel to the political pyramid. It was diametrically opposed to pre-existing principles of religious ranking of individuals in the same pyramidal hierarchy. This revolutionary new concept was all the more congenial and plausible to the Mexicans because the French provided objective verification of it by chasing the King of Spain from his throne, toppling at a blow the centuries-old 519faith of the subjects of the Spanish King in the immutability of the imperial system.

The concept citizen was, given the previous ordering of political control and social action, a revolutionary concept. It has been at the bottom of most of the revolutions in the Western World since its resurrection in post-medieval times, including the Mexican revolution against Spanish Imperial rule. Thus its invention can be viewed as equally important to that of gun, powder, cannon, dynamite or atom bombs. These generally recognized tools of revolution and warfare have been important enough, but they are only means so the occasions and objects for their use are necessarily determined by considerations not inherent in them, and one of the most important of those considerations has been the concept citizen.

2. Anglo-French Dynastic Rivalry

The search for necessary conditions for the Mexican Revolution of 1821 leads also into an exploration of the international relations existing in Western Europe in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth. Most specifically it leads to an examination of the long continued enmity between France and Great Britain.

The roots of Franco-British hostility can be traced far back into those medieval times when the concept of individual equality inherent in the Roman concept of citizenship was well in abeyance and virtually forgotten. As every schoolboy is presumably still taught, a Norman duke sailed across the 520English Channel and landed an expeditionary force on English soil which proceeded to make him King of England by winning a decisive battle at a place called Hastings in the year 1066. The French dynasty thus created in England retained close kinship ties with the French ruling dynasty, not an unusual situation among ruling families.

Eventually personal ambitions tended to override the affective ties generated by kinship, especially when so enticing a plum as a country's crown was at stake. Moreover, the ruling families tended to absorb some local viewpoints. So when the time came when a problem arose in the succession to one of the thrones the stage was set for a falling-out on a grand scale. It happened that the French succession was the one in dispute and the English kings thought they were entitled to take over the French throne because they were perfectly good heirs to it. The French claimants were also perfectly good heirs and closer to the scene of action at the moment of crises, and they had a very grave objection to the English claim. Aggravated dynastic rivalry blossomed into one of the historic hostilities of recorded history. The English and French nations were turned into war machines to attempt to enforce the views of one or the other claimant to the French crown for centuries. This continued fighting naturally tended to produce vengeful feelings among lowly participants who didn't care a whit about the French succession even if they knew about it, so that armed conflict between Great Britain and France became predictable in any circumstance 521in which the ruler of either country thought to see an opportunity to embarrass or weaken the other.

3. A Two-Variable Interpretation of Modern European History

Without complicating the analysis of causation anymore, it is possible to interpret the series of events which produced Mexican independence from Spain largely in terms of the two necessary conditions just briefly outlined.

The basic concept citizen had operated in the British Isles for several centuries, and by political action whittling away autocratic powers of English monarchs, the objective reality of citizenship had steadily expanded to more and more nearly approximate the ideal of absolute equality advocated by political philosophers. The history of that whittling is well known and requires no explication. The fruits of it had been transported to the North American colonies of his Britannic Majesty, where the reality of citizenship was further heightened by geographic isolation from the centres of autocratic power in Britain as well as by the selective migration to the colonies. The autocrats, well-satisfied with their existing situations or seeking betterment through the hierarchical system left emigration to the lower classes so colonial society was less stratified than in the mother country and therefore nearer the ideal of social equality.  The system of colonial government did not closely correspond to the social condition of the colonists and this lack of 522"fit" in time produced so much stress on key colonials in so many seaboard cities that the situation blew up in the face of the home government. The colonials were de facto much nearer the ideal of egalitarian citizenship than they were de jure, and they undertook to achieve a de jure situation in conformity with their de facto situation. They did.

The North American colonials succeeded only with a great deal of outside help that came primarily from France and Spain. When the French observed the British having serious trouble putting down the rebellion of their overseas colonial cousins, they succumbed to the temptation to twist the lion's tail in time-hallowed hostile tradition. The loss of its North American colonies presumably would weaken the British Empire, ergo, the King of France would aid the rebel colonist.

In the hindsight of history this appears to have been just about the worst thing the King of France could have done in his own self-interest. While he may have been motivated by the ancient dynastic quarrel and the hostile tradition it had developed, as a king his interest lay in helping the English King George-who was a Hanoverian anyhow with no personal claim to any French throne-put down the rebellion as promptly and emphatically as possible. For the colonists were fighting for an even wider dissemination and realization of the ideal concept of citizenship and when they were successful their republican government proved that citizens equal under law could govern themselves and that a traditional hierarchy 523was not necessary to govern a nation. Once this modern proof of the pudding of citizenship was made manifest in the world the fat was in the fire for the medieval concept of hierarchical society with a monarch at the apex, merrily to mix metaphors. And that fat still burns.

Very soon after the success of the North American colonial rebels, the commoners of France, suffering economically under the burdens of the wasteful nobility plus the King's war to aid the overseas rebels and tempted sorely by the few tastes of citizenship they had had, launched another revolution-the one which translated the local and limited success of the North American colonials into a worldwide message of citizenship and egalitarian political forms.

In terms of the later revolution in New Spain the glorious French Revolution translated the successful revolt of the North American colonists into understandable and pursuable goals. The New World Spaniards probably could not have grasped the import of the North American colonial revolt, nor have attempted to emulate its architects, even though the Spanish king emulated the French in assisting the English rebels and recognizing their independence, thus sanctioning colonial revolt (Bancroft 1885:IV:19). Those cold, idealistic AngloSaxons with their long peculiar history of struggle for equalization of political decision-making on an ever wider population base were hardly sympathetic models for Mexicans.  The New World Spaniards could, on the other hand, quickly 524grasp the import and goals of the French revolutionists who like themselves spoke a Romance language and had brought to earth the strongest royal system in Europe save their own.

The French Revolution further precipitated the independence of Mexico directly through Napoleónic intervention in Spain. The western historian Hubert Howe Bancroft (1885:IV:5-7, 12-22 etc.) has described in several masterfully insightful essays the effects of French intervention on the beliefs and attitudes of the Spanish colonials. Accustomed for generations to viewing the Spanish monarchy as the next thing to divinity, as all-powerful and unassailable, the colonials suddenly saw a diminutive ex-corporal of French artillery send two kings of Spain scurrying for their lives with a few brigades of rag-tag French republican troops nipping at their royal heels (ibid., IV:20). The centres of Spanish imperialism, the colonial administrative apparatus, and the Spanish home government disintegrated overnight into chaos. The Peninsular Spaniards were suddenly far too busy trying to free their country from French invaders to work very hard at imposing their will on the New World colonials. They had to set up local governments to replace the vanished Spanish monarchy, and these were necessarily more democratic institutions. Thus the colonial Spaniards and subject peoples were provided with a ready model of local self-government of a republican sort at the same time they were forced to make for themselves for the first time decisions which historically 525had always been made by the Spanish king and his administrative heads in the mother country.

Through the NapoLeónic Wars and their aftermath, then, New Spain progressed jerkily toward more and more de facto independence from Spain and especially from the monarchy. By the time that institution had been finally restored to the Peninsula, the colonials had experienced more than a decade of greater de facto freedom than ever before and attempts to re-impose royal authority in New Spain in the old form merely produced the same lack of fit between de facto and de jure government which had provoked the original rebellion in the North American colonies of King George III of Great Britain. Mexican independence was the result: the colonials altered the de jure situation to coincide with the de facto situation, discarding the King of Spain and his viceroy and colonial administration to do so-although it took the proud Spaniards some time to admit the fact.

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