Chávez, Mariano (1808–c. 1845)

views updated

Chávez, Mariano (1808–c. 1845)

Mariano Chávez (b. 1808; d. c. 1845), president of the New Mexico Assembly and interim governor (1844). Like many of the political actors of the Mexican period, Chávez became wealthy through his participation in the trade between Santa Fe and Missouri during the 1830s. His wealth and elevated social status brought Chávez the opportunity to demonstrate his leadership during the popular revolt of northern New Mexicans in 1837 against the centralist governor, Albino Pérez. Chávez exhorted those who chose to show their allegiance to Santa Anna and his centralist government to follow the leadership of General Manuel Armijo. The Plan de Tomé denounced the rebel governor, José González, and named Armijo as the New Mexican leader and Chávez as his lieutenant. Together Armijo and Chávez defeated the rebels, reoccupied Santa Fe, and apprehended and executed González.

Chávez's status as a rico and his family connections to Manuel Armijo aided his election in 1844 as president of the New Mexican Assembly and explains his appointment as interim governor shortly afterward by Armijo, who became ill. As Assembly president, Chávez swore loyalty to Santa Anna and his recently promulgated bases orgánicas while protesting the neglect of New Mexico by the central government.

During his brief tenure as governor, Chávez distinguished himself by becoming involved in a feud between Father Antonio José Martínez of Taos and Charles Bent and his business associates. In 1844, in response to a petition by Martínez, Chávez revoked the enormous Beaubien-Miranda grant made by Armijo, thereby adding to its already complicated history. The year before, the governor's brother, Antonio José Chávez, had been robbed and murdered by American bandits. Agreeing with Martínez that increasing foreign influence and interest in New Mexico threatened Mexican sovereignty, Chávez sought to enforce a ban on foreigners holding an interest in Mexican land grants, apparently believing that Charles Bent held a share of the Beaubien-Miranda grant. On 15 May 1844, Chávez was replaced by a Santa Anna appointee, General Mariano Martínez.

Known as a wealthy and educated political operator during his short career, Chávez used his moment in power to diminish the growing political and economic power that American expatriates were gaining in New Mexico. Just before sending his son José Francisco to school in Saint Louis in 1841, Chávez apparently said to him: "The heretics are going to overrun all this country. Go and learn their language and come back prepared to defend your people."

See alsoNew Mexico; Pérez, Albino.


Angelico Chávez, Origins of New Mexico Families (1954).

Howard Roberts Lamar, The Far Southwest, 1846–1912: A Territorial History (1966).

Marc Simmons, The Little Lion of the Southwest: A Life of Manuel Antonio Chaves (1973).

David J. Weber, The Mexican Frontier, 1821–1846: The American Southwest under Mexico (1982).

Victor Westphall, Mercedes Reales: Hispanic Land Grants of the Upper Rio Grande Region (1983).

Additional Bibliography

Alba, Victor. Mexicanos para la historia: Doce figuras contemporáneas. México: Libro-Mex Editores, 1995.

Etulain, Richard W. Western Lives: A Biographical History of the American West. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004.

Laezman, Rick. 100 Hispanic-Americans Who Shaped History. San Mateo, CA: Bluewood Books, 2002.

Machamer, Gene. Hispanic American Profiles. New York: One World, 1996.

                                     Ross H. Frank

About this article

Chávez, Mariano (1808–c. 1845)

Updated About content Print Article