Southern Methodist University

Collection of Agustín de Iturbide papers

A Guide to the Collection


Creator: DeGolyer Library
Title: Collection of Agustín de Iturbide papers
Dates: 1746-1824
Abstract: Agustín de Iturbide was the first emperor of Mexico. Some handwritten transcripts of imprints and correspondence related to Iturbide's reign as emperor. Included are letters from Antonio Lopéz de Santa Anna (1795-1876) to Iturbide regarding the Plan de Iguala and Tratados de Córdoba and the elections of deputies of the Cortes; copies of letters from John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), U.S. Secretary of State, to Jóse Manuel de Herrera (1776?-1831), Minister of Foreign Relations of Mexico, concerning diplomatic relations; period copies of official notes between Simon Bolivar and Iturbide signed by Bolivar; and explanation to Lord Thomas Cochran Dundonald (1775-1860), 1824, relating Iturbide's decision to return to Mexico where he was then executed. Also included are two lithographs of Iturbide as emperor, ca. 1822-1823 by Hesiquio Iriarte and Decaen. The Decaen lithograph appears to be autographed by Iturbide.
Accession No: A1980.0140c
Extent: 25 items
Language: Material is in Spanish
Repository DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

Agustín de Iturbide briefly reigned as the emperor of Mexico from 1822 to 1823 following a ten-year period of warfare and instability that culminated in Mexico gaining independence from Spain. Iturbide, representing a conservative outlook that embraced monarchy and strong ties to the Catholic Church, was successful in unifying diverse groups favoring independence, but was forced to abdicate in March 1823 as a result of treachery by his former supporters and in the face of growing opposition to monarchism. He left for Europe with his family, but was executed in 1824 after returning to Mexico in answer to requests from his supporters and to free the country from Spanish forces remaining in Veracruz and a possible reinvasion.

Iturbide was born on September 27, 1783 in the city of Valladolid (present-day Morelia) to Spanish parents of Basque origin. His entire life was spent in the military. He received the rank of colonel in 1813 when the Viceroy of Mexico, Félix María Calleja, appointed him to command a regiment of troops based in the town of Celaya. The initial struggle for Mexican independence had broken out in 1810, and Iturbide later became supreme military commander for the intendancy of Guanajuato in central Mexico.

Although Iturbide was successful in achieving Mexican independence several years later, he remained thoroughly conservative in his outlook. Viewing the rebellion not as an independence struggle but rather as a radical effort "to exterminate the Europeans, to destroy property, to commit excesses, to flout the laws of war and humane customs, and even to disregard religious practices," Iturbide stayed loyal to the Spanish. In 1814 he helped command royalist troops in a battle that resulted in the defeat of José Maria Morelos’s forces. Morelos was executed in 1815; the same year, Iturbide became commander of the Army of the North.

The rebellion against Spain diminished after the death of José María Morelos. Guerilla warfare conducted by small independence groups scattered across the country was more common than larger, organized battles. Fighting, however, settled into something of a stalemate: Spain regained control of its colony, but its forces were never able to completely wipe out all of the independence movements acting autonomously. But the rebel forces were themselves unable to defeat the royalist army or capture major cities. Events in Spain at the end of the decade provided the final impetus for Mexican independence. Spain, long past its golden age of imperial glory, found its empire in the Americas disintegrating amidst domestic political turmoil. Spanish liberals had instituted a new structure of power through the Constitution of 1812. The document rejected absolutism, set up a constitutional monarchy, declared the people to be sovereign, and curtailed the power of the Roman Catholic Church.

Iturbide and other conservatives in Mexico saw Spain’s new government as a threat. Ten years of unrest rendered Spain increasingly unable to maintain effective control of New Spain; conservatives within the colony now advocated independence. Iturbide joined forces with insurgent leader Vicente Guerrero—whom Iturbide, still in the service of the Crown, had just been sent to fight against by the viceroy—to issue an outline for an independent Mexican empire. The Plan de Iguala of February 24, 1821 called for Mexican independence, a constitutional monarchy, Catholicism as the official religion, maintenance of property rights, and union of all Mexicans. Iturbide, more than Guerrero, was the architect of the Plan, which came to be known by its three major provisions, or "Three Guarantees:" Religion, Independence, and Union. A new army was set up to defend the plan’s provisions, and all officers and soldiers from the Spanish royalist army were welcome to join the new independence movement. Iturbide’s Plan proved crucial to uniting enough conservative and liberal Mexicans to make independence possible.

Military successes came quickly, as several major cities were overtaken by independence forces. The Spanish viceroy, Juan Ruíz de Apodaca, resigned. The newly-appointed commander, Juan de O’Donojú, on his arrival in New Spain, met with Iturbide in the town of Córdoba to sign a treaty recognizing Mexican independence. Iturbide entered Mexico City on September 27, 1821, his 37th birthday. A new governing junta was established, which nominated Iturbide as council president. Executive authority was vested in a five-member regency until a permanent head of state could be installed. Iturbide was also designated as one of the five regents. In recognition of his services in securing independence, Iturbide was given the titles of generalissimo and admiral.

By the spring of 1822, Congress had failed to draft a governing document for the new nation, and had not figured out a way to increase government revenue. Congress did move to cut the size of the military, and prohibited members of the regency from also holding any military title or office. Following the rejection of the treaty of Córdoba by Ferdinand VII, Iturbide’s supporters organized demonstrations on his behalf in May calling for Iturbide to be elected emperor. Congress designated Iturbide as the first constitutional emperor of Mexico. He was crowned on July 21, 1822; Congress declared the throne to be hereditary, and an imperial Mexican court made up of his supporters and relatives relatives was established.

Iturbide is credited with creating the tricolor Mexican flag consisting of green, white, and red, representing independence, religion (Catholicism), and union, respectively. The Aztec symbol of the eagle perched on a cactus was placed in the center of the flag to reflect the status of the new nation as an empire, the eagle bore a crown.

The nation which he now governed as emperor faced a long list of problems after a decade of war. National debt reached 75 million pesos during that time. Mines, farms, and industries were destroyed, and unemployment was high. The central government was effectively bankrupt and relied mainly on loans, although imperial gold and silver currency maintained the same metallic purity and weight as that issued by Spain. These problems were probably too great for any individual to resolve, but Iturbide also alienated many of his new subjects. With Iturbide’s failure to keep the military pacified, the jailing of several prominent critics of the regime, and accusations that the government was restricting freedom of the press (clearly absurd), opposition steadily built. The emperor dissolved the existing Congress on October 31, 1822, and replaced it with a new body, but former allies, in their quest for personal power, denounced Iturbide as a dictator.

General Antonio López de Santa Anna proclaimed a republic on December 1, 1822 and was subsequently joined in his revolt against Iturbide by Vicente Guerrero, Guadalupe Victoria and José Antonio Echáverri. Iturbide informed Congress of his decision to abdicate in March 1823. Having reigned less than a year as emperor Iturbide and his family left Mexico for exile in Europe. Congress sentenced him to perpetual banishment.

Events surrounding Iturbide’s decision to return to Mexico the following year are unclear, but upon hearing rumors that Spain might attempt a re-conquest of its former colony, as well as reports that he still enjoyed considerable support in Mexico and might be able to retake power, Iturbide declared his intention of returning. The Mexican Congress, meanwhile, issued a sentence of death if the former emperor came back. Iturbide, unaware of the death decree, arrived in Mexico on July 14, 1824. Under orders of his former friend and general, Filipe de la Garza, Iturbide was arrested several days later in the town of Padilla and executed by firing squad on July 19, 1824. His final words that day were, "Mexicans! I die with honor, and not as a traitor! That ignominy I shall not leave to my children nor to their posterity. No, I am not a traitor, no!" Agustín de Iturbide’s remains were buried at the church in Padilla, and later reinterred at the metropolitan cathedral in Mexico City.


Anna, Timothy E. The Mexican Empire of Iturbide. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990.

Bamford, Henry. A History of Mexico. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970.

Foster, Lynn V. A Brief History of Mexico. New York: Checkmark Books, 2004.

Hamnett, Brian R. A Concise History of Mexico. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Meyer, Michael C., William L. Sherman, and Susan M. Deeds. The Course of Mexican History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Robertson, William Spence. Iturbide of Mexico. Durham: Duke University Press, 1952.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection contains correspondence and two undated lithographs pertaining to Agustín de Iturbide, independence leader and emperor of Mexico from 1822-1823. The papers detail the establishment of foreign relations between the newly-created Mexican government and various foreign nations, as well as Iturbide’s abdication, exile in Europe, and motivations for returning to Mexico in 1824. Reports on Iturbide’s execution and reaction to it from the government are also included and an 1746 document signed by King Phillip of Spain regarding the granting of the title of Knight of the Order of Saint James, apparently to a relative of Iturbide, name of Miguel Joseph Iturbide.

Due to the size of the collection, the Iturbide papers have not been arranged into series. They are arranged in chronological order, dating from 1746 to 1824; several undated papers are listed at the end. Most of the collection consists of reports and letters detailing foreign relations between Mexico and the United States, Colombia, Great Britain, and Italy; and Iturbide’s exile and return to Mexico in 1824.

The papers appear to date from the period of Iturbide’s reign and/or shortly thereafter. Because many of them, coming from different people in different places, appear on the same type of paper, it is probable that they are copies correspondence and imprints.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection has been arranged in chronological order. Documents with a year but no month and day have been placed at the beginning of the papers for that year. Papers with no date at all—including the collection’s two lithographs—have been placed at the end, as have documents whose date is unclear.


Access to Collection:

Collection is open for research use.

Publication Rights:

Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the DeGolyer Library.

Copyright Statement:

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following terms in the Southern Methodist University Libraries' online catalog. Researchers desiring related materials may search the catalog using these terms.
Iturbide, Agustín de, 1783-1824.
Mexico -- History -- 1821-1861.
Mexico -- Politics and government -- 19th century.
Iriarte, Hesiquio.

Related Materials

The collection has been fully digitized. Digitized reproductions are available at

The DeGolyer Library also has several broadsides related to Agustín de Iturbide with images of him, imperial decrees from his reign as emperor, or otherwise related to him.

1. "Consagra este numero a la memoría del libertador…" Broadside F1232.I8 V56 (1883)

2. "Esposición del ecsmo sor don Agustín de Iturbide." Broadside F1232.I8 A35 (1824)

3. "A todos sus inhabitantes" Broadside F1232.I8 P7 (1822)

4. "Agustín, por la Divina Providencia, y por el Congreso…" Broadside K .M6 1822 O31 (1822)

5. "En la corte de Mexico a diez y nueve de mayo…" Broadside K .M6 1822 My21 (1822)

6. "Soberano Congreso constituyente mexicano…" Broadside K .M6 1822 S9 (1822)

7. "Como la tranquilidad que felizmente ha reinado…" Broadside F1232.I8 P76 (1821)

8. "Habitantes de las quatro provincias de Oriente…" Broadside F1232.I8 P77 (1821)

9. "Plan del Sr. Coronel D. Agustín de Iturbide…" Broadside JL1215 1821. A5 1821? (1821)

10. "Soberana Junta Provisional Gubernativa…" Broadside K .M6 1821, O5 (1821)

11. Account of the oath of allegiance sworn to the new imperial Mexican government by the Presidio de la Bahía del Espiritu Santa in Texas. A1980.0146c (1822), 1 folder.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Collection of Agustín de Iturbide papers, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Acquired, 1980.

Processing Information

The collection was already processed at the time the finding aid was written. The finding aid was written by Paul H. Santa Cruz, 2009, edited by Anne E. Peterson, 2010.

Encoded by

Lara Corazalla, 2010.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1

1. Letter from King Phillip of Spain regarding the granting of the title of Knight of the Order of Saint James, apparently to a relative of Iturbide, name of Miguel Joseph Iturbide. 1746.
2. Document signed by Carlos M. Bustamante and appears to be a report compiled for the President of the United States. First page gives 1822 as the date, but final page dated June 22, 1821. Relates the activities of Iturbide.
3. Document related to the commission given to Lucas Alamán in the capacity of Minister Plenipotentiary of the Mexican Empire. Title and document indicate that Iturbide, acting as emperor and in accordance with the Mexican Congress, is appointing Alamán as representative to France for the purpose of establishing formal relations with the French government, 1822.
4. Report related to Mexico and its diplomatic relations, 1822. Documents refer to early diplomatic efforts by the Mexican imperial government with the United States, England, and Rome. Another brief report, which looks to be of different handwriting, follows. Both are dated from January 1822; the first report is dated January 3, 1822.
5. Original handwritten letter from General Antonio López de Santa Anna to Iturbide, from the town of Jalapa. Santa Anna mentions recent elections to the Cortés—legislative body in Spain—as well as the Mexican Plan de Iguala and the Treaty of Córdoba concluded between Spain and Mexico, in which the latter is granted independence. February 1822.
6. Letter from U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams (translated into Spanish) to José Manuel de Herrera, Minister of Foreign Relations for the Mexican government. Adams acknowledges receipt of a letter from Herrera, and says that the President (Monroe) will be pleased to receive an envoy from Mexico, and that the United States plans to nominate Diego Smith Wilcocks as Consul General to Mexico. April 23, 1822.
7. Document entitled "Bolívar e Iturbide, 1822," official notes exchanged between Bolívar and Iturbide related to the independence of Colombia and Mexico. A copy of correspondence but with original signature by Bolivar addressed to Iturbide relays the good wishes of Colombia to Mexico for its newly-gained independence, 1822. Two documents, both having to do with Simón Bolívar. The first, dated October 1821, appears to be addressed to a gentleman by the name of Santamaria, a member of Congress and a minister plenipotentiary (of Mexico?). Letter is from Bolívar. The second is from Iturbide addressed to Bolívar, expressing his admiration for the liberator of Colombia, and offering the "eternal friendship" of Mexico. This document is dated May 29, 1822.
8. Document (probably a later copy of an imprint) from General Felipe de la Garza to Iturbide. The letter dated September 26, 1822 indicates that the general is stationed in the northern Mexican province of Nuevo Santander. It seems to suggest that the liberty and rights of the Mexican people are in jeopardy by the central government, and asks Iturbide to take certain steps to ensure representative government.
9. Document (probably a later copy of an imprint) entitled "Diary of the Trip of His Majesty Iturbide from March 30-May 11, 1823," consisting of 21 pages, apparently documenting the abdication and departure of Iturbide and mentioning the name of Anastasio Bustamante, at the time army general and Capitan General of the Internal Provinces.
10. A document dated (in pencil) 1824, from Iturbide concerning his impending return to Mexico on the occasion of a possible foreign war (Mexico at the time feared an attempt by Spain to retake their former colony).
11. Document (probably a later copy of an imprint) explanation of General Iturbide to the Republic of Central America, dated only 1824. Iturbide says that the same parties who oppose the independence of Mexico oppose that of Central America; further, he hopes that the events of Mexico’s independence are known elsewhere in the Americas.
12. Document (probably a later copy of an imprint) "Explanation of Agustín de Iturbide in London." Iturbide asserts that love of country was the prime motivation of his actions in Mexico, specifically mentioning the Plan de Iguala, which had spelled out the main points upon which a Mexican empire would be based following independence. Addressed to the Mexican Congress, Iturbide offers to return to Mexico if the government believes that his services would be of benefit to the country, dated February 13, 1824.
13. Document (probably a later copy of an imprint), "Letter from Agustín de Iturbide to Miguel Ramos Arizpe about an explanation directed to the National Congress," from London dated March 8, 1824. Also included are other documents, one The undated third document appears to be a summary of several major figures from the period of Iturbide’s rule in Mexico. Two documents; one from Iturbide to Lord Cochrane announcing his impending return to Mexico. The other is a circular letter from Iturbide to his friends in London, also announcing his intention of returning to Mexico. Both dated May 6, 1824.
14. Document (probably a later copy of an imprint), "Decree of April 28, 1824 declaring Agustín de Iturbide a traitor and as outside the law," from the secretary of state, under the direction of the national executive authority, declares the former emperor a traitor and an enemy of the state. Also instructs all public officials to observe this declaration; seems to also be a general warning that enemies of the state will be liable to action against them.
15. Letter (probably a later copy of an imprint), dated May 6, 1824 from Iturbide to [George] Canning, British Foreign Secretary. Iturbide states that love of country and his desire to see Mexico sustain its independence is what has moved him to decide to return to Mexico. He announces his intention to reform to establish a solid government and to seek alliance with Great Britain. He offers his good wishes, at the end of the letter, to the king of England.
16. Letter (probably copy of an imprint), dated May 6, 1824 from Iturbide to Lord Cochrane, Admiral of London, on the motives of his return to Mexico. Iturbide was called to contribute to the security and peace of his country and he appeals to Lord Cochrane’s talents and skills to help the Mexican nation, promising the gratitude of the Mexican people in exchange. Circular letter (probably copy of an imprint) from Agustin Iturbide to his friends in London –Miguel Quinn, Mathew Fletcher, W. Jacob – announcing his return to Mexico, dated May 6, 1824. He feels compelled to consolidate the Mexican government, as Mexico is in danger of losing its independence due to the separation of several provinces, among which, Guatemala, New Galicia, Oaxaca, Zacatecas, and Queretaro.
17. Communication (probably copy of an imprint) from the Mexican Congress, acknowledging receipt of Iturbide’s letter from February 13, and seems to direct the publication of the decree from April 28 declaring Iturbide a traitor. Document concludes with "God and liberty," and is dated May 7, 1824.
18. Document (probably copy of an imprint) entitled "Manifesto of Agustín de Iturbide to Mexicans," from Iturbide asserting that he returns to Mexico not as an emperor, but simply as a soldier and as a Mexican interested in fighting to maintain the independence of the country, dated June 1824.
19. Iturbide’s address (probably copy of an imprint) on board the Spring, dated July 1824. Iturbide returned to Mexico on board of the brigantine Spring, and the document indicates that it was directed to the national Congress.
20. Letter (probably copy of an imprint) from Iturbide dated July 15, 1824 from the Spring, addressed to Matthew Fletcher in London, announcing his arrival in Mexico in the province of "Santander" (Nuevo Santander). Iturbide reports that he will shortly go from ship to shore for a conference with the general in charge of the area.
21. Letter (probably copy of an imprint) dated July 28, 1824 from the minister of war and marine to General Felipe de la Garza from the minister of war and marine. The letter indicates that the "supreme power" of the country greeted the news of Iturbide’s arrival and death with satisfaction. Felipe de la Garza, in the view of the letter, acted in the interest of the nation by detaining Iturbide, supposedly preventing civil war by precluding Iturbide from entering the country. Garza is offered the vacant position of brigade general.
22. Letter (probably copy of an imprint) dated August 8, 1824 is Felipe de la Garza’s reply to the July 28 offer of the minister of war and marine. Felipe de la Garza refuses the position of brigade general.
23. Undated incomplete document, possibly by Anastasio Bustamante. Document is from the General Commandant and Political Chief of the Internal Occidental Provinces to the people thereof. The document mentions some plot or activity directed against the imperial throne of Mexico. Several lines down, Antonio López de Santa Anna is mentioned.
24. Undated lithograph of Agustín de Iturbide with signature below (original or in print?), and name of lithographer given is only "Decaen."
25. Undated lithograph by Hesiquio Iriarte of Agustín de Iturbide, with the caption "Copy from a painting in the gallery of the National Palace."