“Independence and Liberty, or Death, My Homeland Comes First, Before My Father”
Vicente Guerrero is one of the most important national heroes in the history of Mexico. He played a significant role in the Independence of this great state and helped write its first constitution.
Despite his contribution to Mexican history, many people know very little about this noble leader.
Who Is Vicente Guerrero?
Vicente Ramon Guerrero Saldana was born in Tixla, a small village in the state of Guerrero. He is of mestizo origin, born to African-Mexican and Indian parents.
At a young age Vicente joined his parents in agriculture. who were renowned farmers in Tixla.
His Rise to Power
Vicente’s work as a mule driver on his father’s mule run exposed him to the world of power. During his trips to different parts of Mexico, he heard many stories about Independence. This interested him, and he later joined the insurgency against Spanish rule while working as an assistant to his father in a gunsmith’s shop.
In 1810 Vicente’s career as a military officer took a turn around after meeting General Jose Maria Morelos, a mestizo of African descent. Morelos was impressed by Vicente’s work, and he asked him to join him in attacking the Spanish troops in the south of Mexico.
Vicente agreed, and after a few battles, Morelos promoted him to serve as a lieutenant colonel. Vicente would later become commander in chief after the assassination of Morelos by the Spaniards. He later served in a three-person government that governed Mexico from 1823-24. Vicente was then elected as the second president of Mexico in 1829 after Guadalupe Victoria.
Origin of the Famous Quote, “Independence and Liberty, or Death, My Homeland Comes First, Before My Father”
Anyone who has heard of Vicente must have heard of the above quote. It is inscribed on a plaque in Tixla dedicated to Vicente. The selection came about after Vicente declined an offer by the Spanish viceroy, Juan Ruiz de Apodaca, who had sent his father to offer amnesty and persuade Vicente to give up his arms.
Vicente declined the offer despite the promise of a lump sum amount of money and retention of the military title. He uttered the above words to his father, who the Spanish viceroy had sent.
Vicente’s Tenure as the Second President of Mexico
Vicente ruled Mexico as the second president after Guadalupe Victoria. Although his tenure was short, Vicente accomplished so much that he had every Mexican talk about him after his execution. He was, for instance, the first president to formally abolish slavery on September 16, 1829. As a president, Vicente fought to abolish both economic and racial discrimination.
Vicente met an untimely death that shocked the whole state. In December 1829, Vicente left the presidency to fight a rebellion against him organized by his vice president Anastasio Bustamante. Vicente, however, never managed to come out alive. He was captured and executed by the ex-royalist regime on February 14 1831.
His death left the whole nation in disbelief, as many termed it untimely. Today Vicente’s work has continued to sell him to the great people of Mexico, who refer to him as ‘the greatest man of color’. The state of Guerrero where he was born is named after him, with his famous quote ‘my homeland comes first’ being its motto.