Joseph Welsh: A British Santanista (Mexico, 1832) 1
Joseph Welsh was the British Vice Consul in the port of Veracruz at the time of the uprising of 1832 by General Antonio López de Santa Anna against the government of Anastasio Bustamante. Contravening the orders of his superiors, who reiterated the view that it was his obligation to observe the strictest neutrality in the conflict and not interfere in Mexican politics, Welsh found himself supporting Santa Anna and the rebels. As a result, at the end of March, Bustamante's administration demanded that he be removed from office. The British Minister Plenipotentiary, Richard Pakenham, acquiesced. This article provides a narrative of the events that led to Welsh's forced resignation and explores what they tell us about British diplomacy in Mexico during the early national period. It also analyses Welsh's understanding of the revolt and his views on Santa Anna, providing some insights, from a generally ignored British perspective, into Santa Anna's notorious appeal and politico-military measures.(Published Online March 2 2004)
1 The research for this study was made possible thanks to a research grant from the British Academy, a grant from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland and a travel grant from the University of St Andrews. It has been written with fond memories of the six months I spent with my family, on research leave (July–Dec. 1999), in a house built on the Camino Antiguo a Coatepec, in a part of Xalapa that was once the very Rancho Buena Vista that belonged to Joseph Welsh. It was the realisation, whilst researching Santa Anna's activities in Xalapa, in the Archivo Histórico Municipal del Honorable Ayuntamiento de Xalapa, that there had been another British santanista living in Buena Vista, that inspired me to keep a track of his actions. A preliminary version of this study was presented as a paper at the Manchester Latin American Seminar Series, University of Manchester in April 2001.