President Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga
Mariano Paredes y Arrillaga was one of the master manipulators of Mexican politics during the early Nineteenth Century. A staunch supporter of the Spanish, he was born in Mexico City 1797 and came of age during the War for Independence, during which he served as a Royalist officer. When Mexico emerged as a new nation, Paredes remained a staunch monarchist at heart.
Siding with the Centralist political faction, Paredes participated in a variety of government roles and internal scuffles, earning him elevation to brigadier general and a short stint as secretary of war. He edged his way into presidential politics in 1841 by leading a coup against President Anastasio Bustamante and enforcing the policies of the new chief executive, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Three years later, he moved against his new boss, causing his exile to Cuba. Meanwhile, tensions mounted between the United States and Mexico.
Amid this political chaos, José Herrera emerged as president of Mexico and sought a peaceful solution to the issues facing the nation. He was overthrown in a military coup in late 1845 by Paredes, who installed himself as president. He hoped to wage a limited war with the U.S. to increase Mexico’s bargaining power. He also hoped for indemnification over Texas and intervention by European powers. His gamble failed, as U.S. forces consistently defeated the Mexican army in May 1846. By August, Paredes was himself overthrown in a military coup led by a vengeful Santa Anna.
Paredes fled to Europe, returning briefly to Mexico as an outspoken critic of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. He returned to Europe, but drifted back to Mexico in 1849, where he died physically and financially broken.