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Periodical Literature, Mexico

Periodical Literature — Mexico

Colonial Period

During the administration of the viceroy Baltasar de Zuñiga Guzmán de Sotomayor, Marqués de Valero, the first newspaper, supervised by J. Ignacio María de Castorena y Ursúa (precentor of the Cathedral of Mexico and afterwards Bishop of Yucatan), was published in Mexico, January, 1722, with the heading "Gaceta de México y Noticias de Nueva España que se imprimirán Cada mes y comienzan desde primero de Enero de 1722" (Gazette of Mexico and notices of New Spain which will be published every month, and which will begin the first of January, 1722). Later the name was changed to "Florilegio Historial de México etc.", and in June of this year the enterprise was abandoned. In the numbers published, the news items were arranged according to the principal cities of the colony. With the second issue brief notices of the books being published in Mexico and Spain were added and also accounts of important events in Lower California and the principal cities of Europe. In January, 1728, the second publications the "Compendio de Noticias Mexicanas", edited by J. Francisco Sahagún de Arévalo Ladrön de Guevara, appeared. This continued in circulation until November, 1739, when it was succeeded by the "Mercurio de Mexico", edited by the same person. The "Mercurio" was issued monthly and in the same form as the "Gaceta" and "Florilegio". Among its news items were, accounts of religious festivals, autos de fé, competitions for the university faculties, European events, shipping news at the port of Vera Cruz, and news from the Philippines, China, and even Morocco. When there was an abundance of news a fortnightly issue appeared. The desire to keep readers informed on the most important events connected with the Spanish Monarchy, e. g., the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples, is evident. In 1742 the "Mercurio" discontinued publication and no paper existed until 1784, when the new "Gaceta de México", edited by M. A. Valdés, appeared and continued without interruption until 1809. It was issued bi-monthly, modelled more or less on the gazettes of 1722 and 1728; it indicated the price of bread and meat in the City of Mexico and published officially and integrally the royal orders. To Ignacio Bartolache and the Rev. José Antonio Alzate (q. v.), well-known Mexican writers of the eighteenth century, is due the honour of having issued the first scientific publications. The former published (1772) the "Mercurio Volante", which was short-lived; it was characterized as a newspaper giving curious and important notices upon various matters bearing on physics and medicine ("con noticias curiosas é importantes sobre varios asuntos de Física y Medicina"). Alzate began (1768) the "Diario Literario de México"; this was suppressed, but reappeared on 26 October under the title of "Asuntos, Varios Sobre Ciencias y Artes". After eleven numbers were published it was again suppressed, only to reappear (1787) under the title of "Observaciones sobre Física, Historia Natural y Artes Utiles", fourteen numbers of which were issued. In January; 1788, the famous "Gaceta de Literatura" appeared and was issued monthly, though with some irregularity, until 1799. This publication was a literary and scientific review; all subjects were examined and discussed by the learned priest-editor. Here might be read with benefit articles on medicine, botany, mineralogy, Mexican archæology, architecture, philosophy, ethnology, jurisprudence, physics, astronomy, topography, etc. The files are a veritable encyclopedia, and the number and variety of the subjects treated, as well as the scholarly manner in which they are handled, are evident proof of Father Alzate's remarkable erudition. On 1 October, 1805, Jacobo Villaurrutia, established the "Diario de México", the first daily paper published in the colony; it was issued every day, including holidays, until 1816. Among its contributors were Navarette, Sánchez de Tagle, Barguera, Anastasio Ochoa, and Lacunza y Burazába1. The "Gaceta del Gobierno de México", founded in 1810, was the official organ of the viceregal Government until 1821.

Period of the War of Independence

The first newspaper devoted to the cause of independence was the "El Despertador Méxicano", edited by Francisco Severo Maldonado. It was begun on 20 December, 1810, but did not last long. The second newspaper controlled by the insurgents was the "Ilustrador Nacional". The editor, Dr. José María Cos, made the type from wood and mixed indigo for the printing ink. When he was able to procure metal type, he continued to publish his newspaper under the title "El Ilustrador Americano". It lasted from May, 1812, until April, 1813. The viceregal Government and the ecclesiastical authorities rigidly prohibited it. The latter obliged the faithful to give up their copies, and denounced those who retained any. The third newspaper, "El Correo Americano del Sur", appeared in February, 1813. The priest, José María Morelos, after conquering Oaxaca and organizing his government, established it and confided the editing first to J. M. de Herrera, formerly parish priest of Huamustitlán, and afterwards to the lawyer, Carlos M. Bustamante. The paper was issued every Thursday until 27 May of the same year. Upon the proclamation of the freedom of the press, two newspapers, "El Juguetillo" and "El Pensador Méxicano", edited respectively by C. M. Bustamante and Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi, appeared; they fearlessly attacked the abuses of the viceregal Government. The "Juguetillo" published only six numbers, and both were suppressed by the Viceroy Venegas in December, 1812. Lizardi was imprisoned, but was liberated shortly afterwards, and continued the publication of his paper, eliminating, however, its offensive tone. Bustamante escaped imprisonment and published two more numbers of the "Juguetillo", the last in 1821. Among other newspapers published during this period may be mentioned: "Clamores de la Fidelidad Americana", published in Yucatan by José Matías Quintana, for which he was imprisoned; the "Boletín Militar", published by General Mina from the printing press which he carried with his expedition; the army of Iturbide published several sheets "El Méxicano Independiente", "Ejército Imperial de las Tres Garantías", "Diario Político Militar Méxicano". The "Centinela contra Seductores" was an anti-insurgent paper, issued towards the end of 1810; the "Especulador Patriotico" (1810-11), a weekly dedicated to the Viceroy Venegas. J. M. Wenceslas Sánchez de la Barquera issued several interesting papers, including "Semanario económico de noticias curiosas y eruditas sobre Agricultura y demás Artes y Oficios" (1808-10); "El Correo de los Niños" (1813), the first juvenile paper published in Mexico; and "El Amigo de los Hombres" (1815). The "Noticioso General" (1815-22), the largest newspaper of the colony, published official documents and news of all kinds. At first it was issued every fortnight, but afterwards it appeared on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

After the War of Independence

When the Independence of Mexico was established newspapers were multiplied. Some approved, others condemned, the new regime, according to the policies adopted by the new Government. Carlos María Bustamante published (1821-26) thirty numbers of "La Avispa de Chilpancingo", attacking the Iturbide administration. In 1822 were published "El Sol" and "El Correo de la Federación", organs respectively of the Freemasons of the Scottish (centralistic), and York (federalistic), Rite. The Liberals controlled two important publications, "El Siglo XIX" and "El Monitor Republicano". Gómez Pedraza, Otero, Payno, de la Rosa, Zarco Vigil, and others contributed to the first, and to the second, which was even more radical in its ideas, Florencio Castillo, Valente, Baz, Mateos etc., and Castelar as Spanish correspondent. The Conservatives published "La Sociedad" (edited by José M. Roa Barcena) and "La Cruz" (edited by Ignacio Aguilar y Marocho). The first number of "La Cruz" appeared on 1 Nov., 1855; its heading states that "it is an exclusively religious paper, founded ex-professo to diffuse orthodox doctrines, and to defend and vindicate them against the prevalent errors". In its prologue it sums up the situation of that time, deplores the attacks on the Church, and the satires against the clergy; it urges the faithful to prepare themselves for the struggle in defence of religion. The paper had four divisions; the first explained the teachings of the Church on points which circumstances deemed it most opportune to treat; the second refuted all errors advanced against this teaching; the third published short essays on religious subjects; the fourth gave accounts of all notable events, in the Republic and in other countries, that had a bearing on the special object of the publication. Unfortunately this weekly lasted only until 29 July, 1858. Its battles against the Liberals were sharp and brilliant, and its contributors gave striking examples of their learning and profound adhesion to the teaching of the Church. During the civil wars the Press in many instances, particularly during the heated discussions that characterized the period prior to the Constitution of 1857, deserted its office of peacemaker and seemed to have for its only object the arousing of political enmities. And it was not without danger that a journalistic career was followed in those days. The "Veracruzano" of 7 October, 1862, referring to the overthrow of the Government of Miramón and the capture of the capital of Mexico by Juárez (1 Jan., 1861), announced the assassination of Vicente Segura, editor of "Diaro de Avisos" and political antagonist of the victorious party, declaring that "in this truly significant manner demagogism fulfilled the first of the guarantees of the system of Liberalism, freedom of the press". Notwithstanding the risks involved in the expression of animus in connexion with this crime, several publications endeavoured to stem the torrent of pernicious ideas which had been loosed. The editor of the "Pajaro Verde" had to close his establishment; and the principal contributor to "El Amigo del Pueblo" was imprisoned. A Spaniard, suspected of circulating pamphlets, was, without proof of any sort, thrown into prison. His printing-press was confiscated, and later he was exiled.

During the Empire of Maximilian

Four papers, the "Diario del impeno", "L'Ere Nouvelle", "La Razón" and "L'Estafette", supported more or less openly the Imperial Government, may be mentioned. In their attitude towards religion (favourable or unfavourable, according to the dictates of the members of the imperial cabinet) they lacked the freedom and independence which make a paper the representative of the sentiments of the people. Some independent journals ("La Sociedad") were also issued, and from time to time published articles which called the attention of the Imperial Government to their columns.

The Present Time

After the fall of the empire and especially since the presidential tenure of office of General Porfirio Diaz, the Catholic Press has enjoyed a little more freedom. With the exception of the local papers published in the various states, which did not cease to work for the cause ("El Amigo de la Verdas" of Pueblo and others), the first newspaper to continue the traditions of the Catholic journalists of other days was "La Voz de Mexico" (1870-4900). It counted many distinguished writers on its staff, and, as a paper which had never been aught but loyal to the cause it had espoused, it earned the respect and good will of everyone. Shortly before it ceased publication, "El Pais" (now in its twelfth year, and an active defender of Catholic interests) was founded. "El Nacional", another Catholic paper, published for a number of years, rendered good service to the Catholic cause. On 1 July, 1883, Victoriano Agueros founded "El Tiempo", which is undoubtedly the most important of all political daily papers of the republic supporting Catholic interests. In two years its circulation increased from 1000 to 6000 copies. By the vigour with which it attacked the errors of the government of Manuel González it won great popularity, but this attitude won persecution for the editor and contributors, who were several times imprisoned. In 1887 the editorial office was closed and publication suspended for eleven days. But to-day the paper defends its ideals as undauntedly as before. The literary edition (begun in 1883), published every Sunday and to which many notable writers, including Ipandro Arcático (Arcadian name of the Bishop of S. Luis Potosi), Joaquín García Icazbalceta, J. María Roa Barcena, José Sebastián Segura, and others contributed, gave prominence to the work of many native authors, which would otherwise have remained unpublished. Its columns have always been open to the discussion of all questions contributing to the progress and aggrandizement of Mexico. An illustrated Sunday edition, "El Tiempo Ilustrado", has also been added to the publications connected with "El Tiempo". Among the illustrated monthly reviews may be mentioned "El Mensajero del Corazón de Jesús", which has received much favourable notice. The principal organ of the Liberal party, "El Liberal", has the largest circulation of any newspaper in the Republic.

LEÓN, Bibliografia mexicana del siglo XVIII (Mexico. 1902-7); OBREGÓN, México viejo: La prensa colonial (Mexico, 1900); ALZATE, Gaceta de Literatura (4 vols., Puebla, 1831); México á través de Los siglos, 5 vols.; ICAZBALCETA, Biographía de D. C. M. Bustamante (Mexico, 1853); RAMOS Y DUARTE, Diccionario de curiosidades históricas (Mexico, 1899); Le Mexique au début du XX siècle (2 vols., Paris, 1905); México, su evolución social (3 vols., Mexico, 1901); Colección de la Crus (7 vols.); LEFEVRE, Hist. de l'intervention française au Mexique (Brussels and London, 1869); ARRANGOIZ, México desde 1808 hasta 1867 (Madrid, 1872); GARCÍA CUBAS, El Libro de mis recuerdos (Mexico, 1904); FIGUEROA DOMENECH, Guía general descriptiva de la República Méxicana (Mexico, 1889); CAVO, Los tres siglos de México (Jalapa, 1870).


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