World History
























When Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1821, it was much bigger than it is today.

After achieving independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico was briefly a monarchy and then a republic. Mexico’s new constitution guaranteed basic rights to Mexican citizens, but it did little to end inequality in Mexican society. A small group of white, upper class elites continued to exercise political and economic control over millions of poor peasants and indigenous people. In 1846, the United States went to war with Mexico and took about half of Mexico’s territory, a large region extending from Texas to California and north to Wyoming. In the last quarter of the century, Mexico’s economy grew as the nation began to industrialize, but little of the new wealth reached Mexico’s rural and urban poor.

elites = a group or class of persons enjoying more education and wealth than most people in a country.

Much of Latin America followed a similar pattern. After liberal revolts brought independence from Spain, a white upper class maintained control of society much as it had done under Spanish colonial rule. Conservative strongmen came to power to protect upper-class privilege. Liberals might propose reforms, and the poor might revolt, but little would change. In the late 1800s new wealth came to Latin America from increased trade and industrialization, but it was the elites who benefited. Most people continued to work the land as poor peasants. Latin America was a land of very few “haves” and many “have nots.”