Today in Texas History – September 15

From the Annals of Emancipation –   In 1829, Mexican President Vicente R. Guerrero issued the Guerrero Decree. The decree abolished slavery in the Republic of Mexico.  It would be another 46 years before Mexico’s northern neighbor would do the same via the 13th Amendment.  With the Decree, Mexico enacted what Padre Hidalgo had originally decreed with El Grito in 1810—the abolition of slavery in Mexico.

Guerrero’s hatred for slavery was probably linked to his own Mestizo origins.  Being of mixed race – including African heritage – Guerrero refused to identify himself with as being of a particular ethnicity.  He referred to himself as an “Americano” and his only loyalty was to his patria and not with any caste or class of the Mexican nation.

The Guerrero Decree was not well received among the freedom-loving, slave-owning, Anglo residents of Texas who were determined to hang onto their slaves despite what decrees might be issued in Mexico City.  Anglo resistance to the abolition of slavery was a major cause of the Texas Revolution only six years later.

A Translation of the Guerrero Decree

The President of the United States of Mexico, know ye: That desiring to celebrate in the year of 1829 the anniversary of our independence with an act of justice and national beneficence, which might result in the benefit and support of a good, so highly to be appreciated, which might cement more and more the public tranquility, which might reinstate an unfortunate part of its inhabitants in the sacred rights which nature gave them, and which the nation protects by wise and just laws, in conformance with the 30th article of the constitutive act, in which the use of extraordinary powers are ceded to  have thought it proper to decree:

 1st. Slavery is abolished in the republic.

2nd. Consequently, those who have been until now considered slaves are free.

3rd. When the circumstances of the treasury may permit, the owners of the slaves will be indemnified in the mode that the laws may provide. And in order that every part of this decree may be fully complied with, let it be printed, published, and circulated.

 Given at the Federal Palace of Mexico, the 15th of September, 1829.

Vicente Guerrero To José María Bocanegra

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