Northern Mexico was plighted with drought and disease, a poor area that needed regular commerce and industry to reach its full potential. The mines in that area during the colonial period were poor and exhausted.
During Santiago’s childhood there wasn’t much left of the empire I built– over the course of the years Fernando acquired the majority of my latifundio – ultimately losing El Alamo and Las Encinas to the Sanchez Navarro’s.
Losing El Alamo and Las Encinas was the result of a legal dispute that began with the Garza Falcons in 1762 – this issue resurfaced again in 1788 – only this time it was between Fernando and Manuel Francisco Sanchez Navarro. To determine where one hacienda begins and another ends a historical marker was used, in this case it was a hill named Cacanapos – as the generations passed both hills to the east and west of the neighboring haciendas were referred to as Cacanapos. Because of the two families involved no one wanted any part in settling the dispute – making the issue stay in the court system for the next seven years. In the end the ruling was in favor of the Sanchez Navarro’s. Fernando filed an appeal and that decision was settled in 1802, but it was not until 1804 that both families came up with a solution. The Sanchez Navarro’s gave Fernando an interest free loan for fifteen years, the collateral was El Alamo and Las Encinas. They called in their loan in 1819.
Santiago was eleven years old that year, he felt powerless as he watched his family go through the humiliation of moving out of their ancestral home.
Juana Maria was outside sitting on the steps, crying.
“Why are you crying Juana Maria?”
“We lost everything, what is ever going to become of us now”.
Santiago sat there in silence – feeling her despair, he vowed to himself that when he grew up he would never allow anyone to humiliate his family again – “Don’t worry, when I grow up I will buy them back for you – I promise.” He said with authority and conviction.
“Oh Santiago, I believe you” She whispered wiping away her tears. She was the first person that took him seriously – the first person that recognized his genius. This feeling created an unbreakable bond that would transcend all the challenges they would confront in the future.
Santiago was close to his family – especially to his cousins through his three favorite uncles, Margil, Jose Antonio and Francisco Vidaurri y Villasenor. He had two sisters, Maria Petra and Maria Rita and one brother Jose Damacio.
Eligio, Jose Antonio’s son was several years younger than Santiago but that didn’t stop him from trailing after him and his older cousins. Eligio later in life would prove just how much he idolized his cousin Santiago by naming one of his many sons after el caudillo del Norte – Santiago Vidaurri Borrego y Vela. The boys loved playing at cowboys and Indians as well as games of war – Santiago liked pretending to play at being a great general. The boys often raced to the top of La Mesa – and spent many evenings camping under the stars. Santiago especially loved the silence and solitude and the tranquility – he felt safe and somehow closer to heaven. Santiago dreamed of one day owning this piece of land that not only gave him energy, but that also gave him a sense of immortality.
Santiago’s character can’t be described as mild – he was willful, tenacious and not afraid of confrontation. He did not like having his decisions questioned, and once he formed an opinion it never changed. He was true to his convictions and never wavered.
He was like his father and was studious – he was completely at ease handling a gun as he was using pen and paper. He mastered French by the age of twelve and became attached to my old copy of Voltaire. He favored biographies, especially those of the Emperor Augustus and Napoleon. He was passionate and socially engaging, he was always smiling although he had a serious sense of humor. He could be counted on keeping a promise and was reluctant in giving his word.
Francisco was of opinion that the schools in Candela were superior to those in Santa Rosa – he convinced Pedro Jose to allow Santiago to pursue his education and live with Margil and his family.
Margil welcomed his great- nephew and personally undertook his education. Juana Maria was Margil and Josefas youngest child – being of similar age she and Santiago became playmates often racing each other to the top of La Mesa. Santiago did not mind her excelling in their games as he felt she was his ideal match.
Remembering the promise Margil made to Francisco he allowed the union between his daughter and his great – nephew. Juana Maria and Santiago were married by proxy in 1831 – it was during this time that Santiago became a captain in the army and was part of a special military group whose chief mission was in fighting the Indians.
A couple of years after their marriage, their uncle Francisco Vidaurri y Villasenor became governor of Coahuila y Tejas 1833- 1834. It was during that time that Santiago learned to dream of a future in politics. As a young man Santiago had gone to live with his uncle Francisco and his family.
Jan 12, 1832 was the year Santiago turned twenty-four, and the year he was thrown in jail. He was at a bar with friends when Juan Olivares, an unruly soldier began causing trouble. The soldier started harassing the town drunk – who was defenseless and belligerent. Santiago seeing the situation escalate stepped in – knowing that if he stood by and watched the soldier would end up killing the poor belligerent man.
The brawl between Santiago and the soldier was hard-fought and grueling. Santiago’s intention was not to kill the soldier but to simply render him powerless. Santiago did not believe in wasting human life and struggled not to injure the soldier. The soldier had other intentions – he wanted to kill Santiago. Santiago was given no choice but to sever the soldier’s hand – it was in self-defense. There were men at the bar that evening that disliked Santiago and testified otherwise.
During a conversation, Santiago overheard the prison guard’s debate over a letter the warden dictated to them. Offering his services, mainly because he was bored Santiago wrote their letter. Once Santiago was released he was given the job of chief clerk in the municipal jail. It did not take long for Santiago to receive more responsibility; he started signing off on official documents for Dn. Pedro de Valle.
In 1837 Santiago was promoted to secretary-general to Joaquin Garcia – Mexico found herself once again in turmoil, in 1841 a group of Generals ousted President Busamantes and replaced the Governor of Nuevo Leon with Manuela Maria Llano – Santiago then became his secretary and was chosen by General Arista to spy for the Santa Fe expedition. This expedition was sponsored by President Mirabeau B. Lamar. The purpose was to divert the Santa Fe Trail into Texas and establish control over New Mexico. Santiago proved to be very efficient as he was in everything he undertook.
The revolution of Ayutla began in the early months of 1855 – it was a movement based on the declaration of independence and the liberal constitution of 1824. It was written by Juan Alvarez and Ignacio Commonfort.
It was during this time that Santiago developed influence over a group of political newcomers – he often met in secret with Antonio Rosales and other liberal leaders. Their group included Ignacio Zaragoza, Jose Silvestri Aramberri, Lazaro Garza Ayala, Francisco Naranjo and Juan Zuazua. The reason for these secret meetings was because everyone was tired of the unstable government that plagued the northern states. Their chief aim was to rid Mexico of the negative influences that took advantage of the poverty-stricken population. Santiago was a leader by birth – he was appointed the groups political chief.
The momentum for Ayutla began slowly as Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was desperately clinging to his position. He was hoping to discredit the liberals with anticlericalism. The revolution of Ayutal then gained the necessary speed it needed when it was joined by Santos Degollado and Manuel Doblado.
Santiago never to miss an opportunity along with Juan Zuazua issued out a plan “Restaudor de la Libertad.” On May 22nd 1855 Santiago was proclaimed Governor and military commander of Nuevo Leon and Juan Zuazua was appointed Colonial of the states army. This became the beginning of El Vidaurrismo, it was more than just a political movement, and it was a way of thinking a way of life.
Santiago’s aim was to bring la restaurdor de the libertad to all of Mexico – he proceeded to establish himself in local and national politics. With the victory of the northerners – the people of Nuevo Leon were now guaranteed property, security and a stable and enlightened government. Los Vidaurristas infiltrated Tammaulipas and Santiago annexed Coahuila in Feb 12 1856.
Santiago grew up to have more power than anyone including his family would have ever imagined. He had sole control of Coahuila, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi, Chihuahua and Durango. And on Feb 19th 1856 he annexed Coahuila into that of Nuevo Leon. He had complete power over Northern Mexico – more then any man hoped to ever have. Once Ayutla was established he began his attention on frontier politics. He was a political and economic liberal, which was unheard of. In the nineteen centaury most liberals were usually one or the other. Santiago was progressive and favored federalism and admired the government of the United States and used it as a role model for his Northern States.
He knew that trade with Texas was easier and more profitable than with the interior of Mexico City. He believed in taking individual initiative and free economy from government interference. If Nuevo Leon was going to be prosperous he needed a free hand – this being the real reason he banned the church from any interference.
Notes: Not finished
He was an enigma to many – often describing him self in the vaguest of terms.
1861 Santiago constructed a political environment that allowed him control of profit from trade.
Santiago was a man’s man who led many battles himself –and defeated General Guitian after a long and heated battle.
In 1854 the vote for temporary dictatorship was set in motion with a follow-up election and a new constitution.