Mexico a federal republic of North America, and by far the most powerful representative of the Spanish American states.
I. General. — Mexico is situated between latitude 150 and 320 north, and longitude 970 and 117° west. The area is estimated by Behm and Wagner (Bevolkerung der Erde, Gotha, 1872) at 776,280 square miles; by other authorities somewhat differently. The population amounted in 1868, according to the calculations of the Mexican statistician, Cubas y Garcia, to 9,173,052. The country was, in 1518, conquered by Cortes for Spain, and from that time to 1821 constituted the vice-kingdom of New Spain. Up to 1843, when Texas separated from Mexico and declared itself independent, the area of Mexico was more than double what it is at present, embracing an area of about 1,500,000 square miles, but soon after the loss of Texas, the entire country north of the Rio Grande had, in consequence of the war of 1846 to 1848, to be ceded to the United States. In 1821 Mexico declared independence from Spain, and constituted itself a republic. The attempt of the Creole, Iturbide, to convert the country into an empire (1822), ended after about one year with his expulsion; and from that time Mexico, though continually torn by civil wars. remained a republic, with the single exception of the interval from 1864 to 1867 when Maximilian I was emperor of Mexico. The Mexican population embraces about 1,140,000 whites (40,000 Europeans, 300,000 Creoles, 800,000 Chapetones, or persons of mixed descent, who claim to be white), 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 Mestizoes of mixed descent, and about 16,0.00 negroes; all the others are Indians. Nearly all of these last are Christianized (fideles), only about 100,000 are still unbaptized (Indios bravos), and inhabit in small tribes the northern regions of the republic. All races have equal rights before the law; slavery was abolished on Sept. 16, 1829, under president Guerrero. The general language of the country is Spanish; of the Indian dialects, about twenty have maintained themselves to the present day; those most extensively spoken are the Aztec, or Mexican, and the Otonutian. The population in 1883 was 10,447,974.
II. History of the Roman Catholic Church. — The conquest of the country was soon followed by its Christianization. The first missionaries (after 1522) belonged to the Franciscan order, and one of the first Franciscan monks, Peter of Ghent, reported that the missionaries of his order had, during the first six years of their labors, converted 200,000 Indians; and according to a report of the first bishop of Mexico, Zumaraga, in 1531, the number of the converts had risen to 1,000,000. Even the missionaries, however, complain that the conversion in many cases was little more than nominal, and many hid their idols under the cross in order to be able to worship them with impunity. The Franciscans were, in 1526 followed by the Dominicans. who gave to the country most of its bishops, by the Mercedarians (Order of Mercy), and (after 1553) by the Augustinians. When the Jesuits arrived in the country in 1572, the Christianization of the districts settled by the colonists was nearly complete; but the Jesuits established a number of prosperous missions in the territories of Northern Mexico which at that time did not belong to the Spanish dominions. About the year 1600 Mexico abounded in magnificent churches, convents, and charitable institutions. The cruel treatment of the Indians by many Spaniards often called forth the remonstrances of monks and bishops, who prevailed upon king Charles V of Spain to interfere in behalf of the Indians, and upon pope Paul III to declare authoritatively that the Indians were rational beings, and must be treated as such. At the same time the bishops took good care of their own interests, and the Church of Mexico was one of the wealthiest on the globe. In 1767 the Jesuits were expelled from the country, and about the same time the influence of the liberal and rationalistic tendencies which prevailed in South-western Europe invaded Mexico, and gradually undermined both the Spanish rule and the influence of the Catholic Church. Among the leaders of the war of independence were many liberals. After the establishment of the federative republic, the Church generally sided with the Centralists, or Escosesos (so called after the Scotch rite of Freemasonry), and thereby provoked the bitter hostility of the Federalists, or Yorkinos (so called after the York rite of the Freemasons), who confiscated very large amounts of Church property whenever they were in power. In consequence of the refusal of the Spanish government to relinquish its historical rights in Mexican Church affairs, nearly all the episcopal sees became gradually vacant, until a convention with Rome for the reorganization of the Mexican Church was concluded and proclaimed, in 1831. as a law of the state. In 1851, under the presidency of Arista, a papal nuncio, Clementi, was appointed for Mexico, but the Chamber of Deputies did not recognise him, and even a portion of the clergy received him with distrust. In an allocution of December 15, 1856, the pope complained that in the previous year (1855) the ecclesiastical jurisdiction had been abolished, the property of the diocese of Puebla confiscated, and the bishop of that city exiled; that in 1856 the Church had been stripped of all her possessions, the bishop of Guadalajara exiled, the sale of the Church property ordered, and the monks prevailed upon to leave their convents; that liberty of worship, speech, and the press had been introduced, many priests fined, a number of convents destroyed, and others suppressed; and that in general the government of president Santa Anna had shown a bitter hostility to the Church. President Commonfort (elected in 1856) was regarded as a still worse enemy of the Church than Santa Anna. Agood understanding between Church and State was for a short time re-established under president Zuloaga (1858); but after his speedy overthrow (1859) the conflict began anew. Apapal allocution of September 30, 1861, deplored the new persecution of the Church in Mexico, when under the administration of president Juarez the possessions of the Church had been declared as national property, churches plundered, bishops expelled, clergymen, monks, and nuns exposed to many annoyances, and so forth. When Maximilian I was proclaimed. emperor, the entire Church party supported him. Maximilian, before going to Mexico, implored at Rome the papal blessing, conferred many favors upon the Church. and received a new papal nuncio in Mexico; but the negotiations for a new concordat failed from reasons that have not yet. been fully cleared up. After the re-establishment of the republican government under Juarez, the Church again complained of the liberal policy pursued by the government, and these complaints continued when Juarez was succeeded (1872) by president Lerdo de Tejada. The new president, as well as the majority of the Mexican Congress, adhered to the principles of religious toleration. In May, 1873, the Mexican Congress adopted a new law for the regulation of the affairs of the Roman Catholic Church, and the relation between Church and State, which contained the following provisions: Art. 1. Church and State are independent of each other. Congress can issue no laws which. establish or prohibit any religion.
Art. 2. Marriage is a civil contract, which is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the state authorities, and regulated by law. Art. 3. Religious societies can possess no real estate. Art. 4. All inhabitants of the republic are declared free from religious vows. The first article of this law was adopted unanimously, the remainder by overwhelming majorities, the minority in no case consisting of more than seventeen votes.
III. Constitution and Statistics of the Roman Catholic Church. — Soon after the conquest of the country by the Spaniards, the first bishopric was established in Mexico. About 1600 the vice-kingdom was divided into 7 dioceses: Mexico, Chiapa, Michoacan, Oajaca, Puebla, Guadalajara, and Yucatan, forming the ecclesiastical province of Mexico. Subsequently the number of dioceses rose to 11, and the number of parishes, in 1856, amounted to 1235. In 1863 pope Pius IX raised the dioceses of Michoacan and Guadalajara to archbishoprics, and erected 7 new dioceses. Accordingly the country is at present divided into 3 ecclesiastical provinces: Mexico, with the dioceses of Puebla, Chiapa, Oajaca, Yucatan, Vera Cruz, Chilapa, and Tulancingo; Michoacan, with the dioceses of San Luis Potosi, Queretaro, Leon, and Zamora; and Guadalajara, with the dioceses of Durango, Linares, Sonora, and Zacatecas. All the old dioceses have chapters. According to the decrees of the third Provincial Council of Mexico, each cathedral shall have 5 dignitaries (dean, archdeacon, cantor, theologus, thesaurarius), 10 canons, 6 prebendates, 6 half-prebendates, and 6 clerks, "with a good income." The new dioceses have as yet no chapter. Besides the regular parishes, there are many missionary stations, part of which were supported by six collegios de propaganda fide. Most of the latter were, however, suppressed by a decree of president Santa Anna, and parishes erected in their place. Under the Spanish rule the bishops were appointed by the king. After the establishment of the republic, the president of Mexico claimed the same right, and appointed bishops for every see that became vacant. But the popes refused to recognise the rights claimed by the presidents, and to confirm the appointments. Thus in 1829 all the dioceses, with the exception of one, had become vacant. In 1830 the canon Valdez, as envoy of the Mexican republic, succeeded in concluding a convention with the pope, which regulated the election of Mexican bishops by providing that the chapter were to propose to the government three candidates, among whom the latter would designate one as the future bishop, who thereupon would receive the canonical institution from the pope, The emperor Maximilian again claimed all the rights and privileges which the Spanish kings had possessed in Mexico, inclusive of the right of appointing the bishops. These, as well as other controverted points, were to be settled by a concordat, for the conclusion of which he was negotiating with the pope; but before an agreement had been arrived at, Maximilian lost his throne and life. The Mexican bishops formerly enjoyed all the rights conferred upon the bishops by the canon law as it prevailed in Spain; but the presidents of the Mexican republic refused to recognise many of these rights, and pope Pius IX, in an allocution of December 15. 1856, complained that president Commonfort had abolished the ecclesiastical jurisdiction altogether. The emperor Maximilian also failed to meet the expectations of Rome in this respect; for a note of the cardinal secretary of state to the Mexican ambassador in Rome, dated March 9,1864, reclaimed from the imperial government "the full freedom of the bishops in the exercise of their pastoral office." The income of the bishops during the Spanish rule amounted to from 25,000 ducats to 100,000 ducats annually. The republic confiscated the entire property of the Church, and promised to give to the bishops a fixed income from the public revenue; but the bishops protested against this, and declared that they preferred to be supported by the voluntary gifts of the faithful. The number of priests is variously estimated at from 6000 to 10,000; they are partly educated in diocesan seminaries, partly in convents. Nearly all of them are of Indian descent; the native Spanish priests were in 1828 expelled from the country, in common with all the other Spaniards. The parish priests derived their income formerly from the very high fees which had to be paid for the ecclesiastical function. 'These fees were abolished by a decree of Santa Anna (August 17, 1833), and again by Maximilian (December 27, 1864), and it was provided that they should receive salaries from the state; but the bishops refused to accept this arrangement. Monks and nuns were very numerous in Mexico during the Spanish rule. In 1810 the Franciscans had 6 provinces, the Dominicans 3, the Augustinians 2, the Carmelites and Mercedarians I each. There were in all 1931 monks in 149 monasteries. The female orders in the same year had 57 convents with 1962 nuns. The property of the monasteries amounted to about 10,000,000 pesos, exclusive of the large amount of alms. The female orders had, in 1845, 50 convents, with real estate yielding a net annual income of 500,000 piastres; and had besides a capital of 4,500,000 piastres. The republic abolished the obligatory character of the monastic vows, and suppressed several convents; yet the number of convents did not begin to show any marked decrease until about 1860, when the Franciscans had 30 houses, the Dominicans 25, the Augustinians 10, the Carmelites 10, the Jesuits 1, the Oratorians 3, the Benedictines 1, the Brothers of Charity 2, The female orders were all suppressed by a decree issued in 1863, except the Sisters of Charity. The public educational institutions are under the exclusive control of the state authorities. They embrace one university in the city of Mexico, founded in 1551, 2 lyceums in Potosi and Guanajuato, and colleges in most of the large cities. Elementary instruction has severely suffered from the constant civil wars; but, according to recent accounts (Annual American Cyclopedia, 1872), "in most of the states each municipality has primary schools for both sexes, the teachers being paid out of municipal funds. The Lancasterian Society of the city of Mexico furnishes examined teachers for the elementary branches of those schools, and by its untiring efforts for the advancement of the cause of education generally, is establishing a firm basis for the future welfare of the country." There is, however, also a large number of schools established by the Church, and under her exclusive control, and their number has of late considerably increased. Besides the religious societies found in all Catholic countries, Mexico has some peculiar confradias and hermandados, the members of which engage to pay monthly contributions for defraying the extraordinary pomp at the festivals of the patron saints of the churches. Some of these confraternities are very wealthy. One of these secular brotherhoods is called the "Brotherhood of the Coachmen of our Lord." It was founded in 1758, and the members engage to act as coachmen for the priests who carry the Eucharist to sick persons. The confiscation of the immense Church property was begun by the Spanish government soon after the expulsion of the Jesuits. During the War of Independence, the government of Mexico drew largely upon the possessions of the Church in order to get the money needed for carrying on the war. The value of the tithe, which in 1810 yielded about 2,000,000 pesos, had decreased in 1826 to about one half, and decreased still more when the Mexican Congress in 1833 abolished the cooperation of the secular arm in the collection of the tithe, leaving the payment of it wholly to the individual piety of the citizens. President Commonfort, in 1855, confiscated all the property of the Church of Puebla. Under president Juarez, in 1859, the entire possessions of the clergy were declared to be a national domain, and their sale ordered. The income from this property was estimated at about 20,000,000 pesos. The regency which was appointed after the French invasion did not dare to stop the progress of the sale, and was therefore excommunicated by the bishops. After the establishment of the empire, the clerical party demanded the restoration of all the property that had belonged to the Church, and which was estimated at one third of the entire real estate of the republic. As a considerable portion of the sold property had already changed hands, the emperor found it impossible to concede the demand, and by decree of December 27, 1864, ordered the secularization of the Church property to be proceeded with. Commissioners were subsequently sent to Rome, to come, if possible, to an understanding with the pope; but they were unsuccessful. Four provincial synods were held by the Mexican bishops — the first three in 1555, 1565, 1585; the fourth by archbishop Lorenzana (1766-1771).
IV. Protestant Missions. — The history of the Protestant missions in Mexico began in 1860, when the government proclaimed religious freedom. Until then, Protestant Christianity in any form had been prohibited. But previously to that year Miss Rankin had (in 1852) opened at Brownsville, in Texas, just opposite the Mexican town of Matamoras, a school for the children of the large Mexican population. She sent a considerable number, of Spanish Bibles, which were supplied by the American Bible Society, into Mexico, and in 1854 established a Protestant seminary for Mexican girls likewise at Brownsville. In 1856 the American Foreign and Christian Union took charge of the Mexican mission. After all obstructions to the establishment of Protestant worship had been removed in 1860, the Reverend Mr. Thompson, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, went (in November 1860) as agent of the American Bible Society into Mexico as far as Monterey. He was cordially received, the authorities giving him leave to plant Protestant missions and to circulate the Bible; but when the outbreak of the civil war in the United States interrupted the communication with New York, he had to suspend his labors, and to return to Texas. When the communication with New York had been re- established by the opening of a port on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, the Reverend Hickey, a colportor of the American Bible Society, who, being a Union man, had to flee the South, went to Matamoras, and accepted in 1863 an agency of the Bible Society for Mexico. He subsequently went to Monterey, collected a congregation, and after a little time administered baptism to a dozen Mexicans. When his duties compelled him to leave Monterey, he selected a suitable man from the converts to continue religious services. In 1865 Miss Rankin went to Monterey, where she erected a missionhouse, suited for chapel, school, and residence of the missionary. The building was completed in 1868, and several of the converts were sent out as colportors and Bible-readers. Two of these men went to the state of Zacatecas, in company with two of the Bible Society's agents. Their labors resulted in the conversion of thirty persons, among whom were two highly educated men, who took up the work after the departure of the colportors, and carried it forward with great success. An evangelical paper, the Antorcha Evangelical, was published, which proved a very efficient aid to Protestant preaching. In 1871 the number of converts amounted to more than one hundred. In 1872 the mission of Zacatecas was transferred by the American and Foreign Christian Union to the Board of the Presbyterian Church, which in the same year also stationed missionaries at San Luis Potosi and in the city of Mexico. In 1873 there were in all from ten to fifteen little congregations connected with the missions of the Presbyterian boards. Two schools, one for each sex, had been formed in the capital, and two also at Cos, a small town of 4000 inhabitants in the state of Zacatecas. The mission at Monterey, at the beginning of 1873, numbered six regularly organized churches, the number of members in these ranging from twelve to sixty. As the American and foreign Christian Union in 1873 suspended operations in foreign lands, Miss Rankin offered the Monterey mission to the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions, which, in September 1872, had sent from California the first missionaries into Mexico. During the decline and ruin of the empire of Maximilian, the foreign committee of the Board of Missions of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States sent out an agent to collect information in regard to the prospects of an effort for the establishment of a congregation. under the jutrisdiction of the Protestant Episcopal Church. It was found that there was a widespread preparation for a reformation of the National Church, and that a large number of priests sympathized with the movement. Though the government of Maximilian strongly favored the Roman Catholic Church, the foundation of a Reformed Catholic Church, called "the Church of Jesus," was laid. After the re-establishment of the republic, the movement soon assumed large dimensions. The government sold to the Reformers some of the most beautiful churches in the capital. During the greater portion of this time the Reverend Dr. Riley, a clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church, who had been born and educated in one of the Spanish republics of South America, had been the constant adviser and friend of the Reformers. He had brought with him from New York to Mexico a printing-press, and used it for the dissemination of the principles of the Reformed Church. He had prepared a Liturgy in Spanish, conformed in all essential respects to that of the Protestant Episcopal Church. He had purchased one church in the capital and one half of another, and presented them to a board of trustees, to be held in trust for the benefit of the movement. As the foreign committee of the Protestant Episcopal Church was restricted by its constitution to the support of missions of its own Church, and on that account could not comprise an independent Church like that of the Church of Jesus, the American Church Missionary Society in 1873 took the movement under its charge. The Methodist Episcopal Church established a mission in Mexico in 1872. In November of that year the Reverend Dr. William Butler was appointed superintendent of the mission. He accepted, and arrived in the city of Mexico in February 1873. He reported the statistics of the work of the Church at the close of its first quarter as; follows: four Mexican congregations — two in the city of Mexico, 75 persons; one in Pachuca, capital of the state of Hidalgo, 45 persons; one in Rio del Monte, five miles beyond, 10 persons; total, 130 souls; two English congregations — in the city of Mexico, 60 attendants, and Pachuca, 45; being an aggregate of 235 persons in six congregations; 12 scholars in day-schools, and 42, with 9 teachers and officers, in two Sunday-schools. The mission had two classmeetings, about 14 Mexicans and 16 English and Americans attending. A missionary property has been purchased in Puebla. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, also resolved in 1872 to take up Mexico as a missionary field. Bishop Keener proceeded to Mexico and purchased a chapel for the mission, and in 1873 the first missionary was stationed there. The progress of these Protestant missionary labors produced a great excitement among the strict adherents of the Roman Catholic Church. In a number of places mobs insulted the Protestants, as well as the members of the Reformed Church of Jesus. At Chapulhuac three persons were killed and several wounded. The Methodist and Presbyterian missionaries in the city of Mexico, with the representatives of the British Bible Society, solicited through the United States minister, the Hon. Thomas H. Nelson, an interview with the president of Mexico, in order to seek from him an assurance of his disposition to protect Protestants in Mexico in: the enjoyment of their religious rights under the constitution. The interview took place on April 25, 1873, when president Lerdo de Tejada assured the missionaries that the opinion of all the enlightened classes of society favored religious toleration, and that he, the president, would answer for the conduct of all the authorities depending directly upon the federal government.
See Lorenzana, Concilio (Mexic.) primero y segundo (Mexico, 1769); Lorenzana, Histor. de Nueva Espana escrito por su esclarecido conguistador H. Cortez, aumentada con otros documentos y notas (Mexico, 1770); Prescott, Hist. of the Conquest of Mexico; Baluffi, L'America un tempo Spagnuolu, riguardata sotto l'aspetto religioso dall' epoca del suo discuoprimento sino al 1843 (Ancona, 1844); Brasseur du Bourbourg, Hist. des nations civilisees du Mexique (Paris, 1858-60,4 tom.); Muhlenpfordt, Schilderung der Republic Mexico (Hanover, 1844); Richthofen (Prussian ambassador in Mexico), Die aussern u. innern polit. Zustinde der Republic Mexico (Berlin, 1859); Neher, Kirchl. Statistik, 3:337, sq.; Kalkar, Gesch. der rim-kathol. Mission (Germ. transl. [Erlangen, 1867]). (A.J.S.)