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The Republic of the Rio Grande was an independent nation that insurgents against the Central Mexican Government sought to establish in northern Mexicomarker. The rebellion lasted from January 17 to November 6, 1840.


After two decades of strife, Mexico won its independence from the Kingdom of Spainmarker in 1821. After a failed attempt at a monarchy, Mexico adopted a new constitution, the 1824 Constitution. This new constitution established los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, or "the United Mexican States," as a federal republic, similar to the United Statesmarker.

In 1833 General Antonio López de Santa Anna was elected to his first term as president and was, at the time of his election, in support of the federal republic. However, after some members of government angered Santa Anna's political allies by trying to rid Mexico of corruption, Santa Anna decided that a centralized government was easier to control. Santa Anna suspended the constitution, disbanded Congress and made himself the center of power in Mexico. This led to the eruption of a number of uprisings and secessionist movements throughout the country — the most famous among which (because it was the only successful one) is undeniably the Texas Revolution — among which were the (unrelated) drives to establish the Republic of Zacatecasmarker, the Republic of Yucatán, and the Republic of the Rio Grande. At the same time there was activity inside the country of fillibusters, which sought to expand slavery in Mexico. Also, the caudillos that initiated and participated in the rebellion also participate on further violent attempts to secede from the country.


On January 17, 1840 a meeting was held at the Oreveña Ranch near Laredomarker. A group of notables from the Mexican states of Coahuilamarker, Nuevo Leónmarker, and Tamaulipasmarker would start a rebellion seeking secession from Mexico and would attempt form their own federal republic with Laredo as the capital. However those states' own congreses and governments never did any action to support the insurgents and in fact called upon the help of the Central government in Mexico Citymarker to aid the local armies (at the time every Mexican state kept their own military forces in addition to the central ones).

The insurgents designated their own officials. They were:

After the meeting, the insurgents temporarily moved to Guerreromarker, Tamaulipasmarker, for security reasons. After the Battle of Morales in March 1840, the government moved to Victoriamarker inside the Republic of Texas, where it remained until the rebellion collapsed later that year.

Insurgent operations

The respective armies of the insurgents General Antonio Canales Rosillo and Mexican General Mariano Arista met at Morales, Coahuila, on March 24 and 25 1840. The Centralist Mexican forces defeated the insurgent forces. Included in this defeat was the trial and execution of 23 members of the insurgents' cavalry, including Colonel Jose Antonio de Zapata, the commander of the cavalry, on March 29. General Canales and the remaining insurgents that survived the Battle of Morales sought refuge in San Antoniomarker, Texas.

General Canales traveled throughout Texas to build awareness of the rebellion for which he now fought. He also toured Texas to ask Texans to volunteer to fight his cause.

General Canales was in Austinmarker the second half of April 1840, where he met with President Mirabeau B. Lamar. It is said that President Lamar privately supported the new republic’s actions, but felt that public endorsement would hamper Texas’ efforts to secure recognition of its own independence from Mexico. General Canales left Austin for Houstonmarker on May 2 to continue to build awareness and seek volunteers.

While official recognition from the Republic of Texas was not obtained, General Canales' tour was met with some success. On June 1, he arrived in San Patriciomarker, where the rebellion forces had been reorganizing. In addition to 300 volunteers, the army had grown to include 140 Texan and 80 Native American volunteers. The Texan volunteers were led by Colonel Samuel W. Jordan.

General Canales sent Colonel Jordan and approximately 90 Texan volunteers south into disputed territory in late June; they crossed the Rio Grandemarker, and took Ciudad Victoriamarker, the capital of Tamaulipasmarker, without any resistance. A few of those who were guiding Colonel Jordan were still loyal to the Centralist government of Mexico and were trying to lead the Texans towards San Luis Potosímarker, where a Mexican ambush awaited. Colonel Jordan suspected such and diverted his troops to Saltillomarker, Coahuilamarker, where, on October 25, he was attacked by Mexican General Rafael Vásquez. Despite the fact that part of his troops deserted, Colonel Jordan was still able to defend himself and return to Texas.

A failed rebellion

In November, representatives of Generals Canales and Arista met to discuss the war. During this meeting, the Mexican government offered General Canales the position of brigadier general in the Mexican army in exchange for his abandoning the cause of the rebellion. General Canales accepted the offer on November 6. Upon this event, the Republic of the Rio Grande rebellion failed.

Flag of the republic

The Flag of the Republic of the Rio Grande

The republic as a tourist attraction

Remnants of the republic's effect can be seen in:

See also


  1. The text of the constitution is available in Dippel, Horst, ed., Constitutions of the world from the late 18th century to the middle of the 19th century America Vol. 1. Constitutional documents of the United States of America Pt. 6. Rio Grande – Texas, München Saur 2008, ISBN 978-3-598-35756-5, pp. 9-13, “Ley orgánica de la República del Río Grande (1840)”

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