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Carlos María Bustamante

Lifespan: (14 November 1774 – 29 September 1848)
Profession: Historian, journalist, writer, publisher, politician


Carlos María de Bustamante (4 November 1774 – 29 September 1848) was a politician, publisher, journalist, writer and historian, born in Antequera (Oaxaca). During his political career, Bustamante held various important government posts. Bustamante studied Latin grammar, philosophy and graduated in the arts. In 1796 he began a career in law in the capital of New Spain. He returned to his home town in 1800 and then went on to Guanajuato and then Guadalajara. He then returned to Mexico City where during the practice of his profession as a lawyer he acted in the defence of Manuel Alonso López, who had been accused of assassinating Lucas de Gálvez, Captain General of Yucatán. Bustamante saved him from the death sentence consequently earning the respect of key figures in the capital. Along with Jacobo de Villaurrutia in 1805, Bustamante founded El Diario de México. From 1808 onwards, in Oaxaca, he wrote for El Correo del Sur, a newspaper founded by Dr Herrera. Two years after the War of Independence broke out in 1810, Bustamante joined the insurgency with his wife.

He assisted in the creation of the rebel Congress of Chilpancingo. Bustamante is credited with writing the speech with which Morelos opened its sessions. When the congress of Chilpancingo moved to Oaxaca, Bustamante moved with it but was forced to move on to Tehuacán due to events in the war. Thereafter Bustamante was forced to go on the run, pursued by royalist forces, taking refuge in the Hacienda of Alzayanga. He was eventually captured, however, and imprisoned on the island garrison of San Juan de Ulúa in the port of Veracruz. Following the achievement of independence Bustamante opposed Agustín de Iturbide’s monarchism and despotism.

In 1822, he presided over the anti-Iturbide congress the Emperor eventually closed down in October of that year. Bustamante was, in fact, arrested in August 1822, before congress was closed, and imprisoned in the Convent of San Francisco, along with other supposed republican conspirators. In 1823, following the fall of the Empire, he was released and participated in the constituent congress of 1823-24 which drafted the 1824 Federal Constitution. In 1827 he was named as auditor of war, and from this year up until 1833, he suffered from a number of political persecutions.

In 1837 Bustamante became one of the five members of the Supreme Conservative Power and remained in this position up until 1841. He turned down the post of state counsellor which was offered to him by Santa Anna in 1843. From 1823 up until his death in 1848, Bustamante spent his life in congress, mainly as deputy for Oaxaca. He published prolifically, both his own works and those of a diverse range of authors. Bustamante wrote diaries which remain an incredibly valuable historical record of the time. His autobiography (1833) entitled, Lo que se dice, y lo que se hace, is highly regarded as a historical document. Bustamante also published colonial manuscripts, significantly, between 1829 and 1830, Fray Bernardino de Sahagún’s much celebrated Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España which prior to this was in manuscript form. Counted amongst his most important works is his Cuadro Histórico de la Revolución de la América mejicana, a first-hand historical record of the struggle for Mexican Independence. In addition to his famed autobiography, the Diccionario universal de Historia y Geografía (Mexico, 1853) contains a wealth of detailed historical information, as well as personal insights. Lucas Alamán recorded biographical information on Bustamente’s life, highlighting both his private character and domestic successes. Bustamante was badly affected by the Mexican-American War and was sick at heart and in 1847 his life ended in Mexico City, shortly after the death of his wife in 1846.


Signatory of
Acta de protesta de la cámara de diputados (2 December 1844; Ciudad de México, México D.F.)
Acta de la junta de representantes de los departamentos (3 January 1846; Ciudad de México, México D.F.)