Daughter of Juan José Ortiz and Manuela Girón, Josefa was left an orphan and under the care of her older sister at an early age. Born in Mexico City on April 19, 1773, she was educated there in the Colegio de las Viscaínas. She secretly married Miguel Domínguez in the Metropolitan Sanctuary (a small church adjoining the cathedral) in Mexico City.
Her involvement inthe independence movement was significant. History has immortalized her as “La Corregidora” (The Mayoress). As the wife of the mayor of Querétaro, she was a safe and unsuspected go-between for the future rebels, who used the city as the center of their conspiracy and whom she informed about all issues of importance to their cause. She even persuaded her husband to take part in the plot.
Whenthe conspirators were denounced, the mayor was forced to open a formal inquiry and to order a raid on the house where all the rebels’ arms were concealed. Before leaving to participate in the proceedings, he locked his wife in her room, but she managed to warn Miguel Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende and the Aldama brothers.
Once the uprising began, La Corregidora was denounced. She was placed inseclusion in the Santa Clara convent, and then taken to Mexico City, where she was confined in the Santa Teresa convent. At first, her seclusion was humane because she was pregnant, but she was later transferred to the strict convent of Santa Catarina de Sena, where she remained imprisoned for three years.
Once independence was achieved and Iturbide’s imperial regency was established, she turneddown the designation of the Empress’ lady-in-waiting, and she refused to receive a compensation for her services rendered to the insurgency.
She died in Mexico City. Her remains were buried in the convent of Santa Catalina de Sena, but almost 50 years later they were transferred to Querétaro. The Congress of that state named her a national heroine.
VICENTE GUERRERO (1783-1831)
One of theleaders of the independence movement and second president of Mexico, Vicente Guerrero was born into a poor peasant family in Tixtla, in what is today the state of Guerrero. A Mestizo with a strong African background, he had a little education and dedicated himself to farming the land. He started his military career under Hermenegildo Galeana in 1810.
As a captain, he was commissioned by José MaríaMorelos to attack Taxco. He continued under Morelos’ command and fought in southern Puebla.
After the defeat in Puruarán, Michoacán, he was assigned to fight in the south, where he made his way with only one assistant. Guerrero and his peasant army, equipped only with clubs, fought against a vice-regal officer at the head of 700 troops. Guerrero defeated him, took 400 prisoners, and seized alarge quantity of weapons. In all of the battles in which he took part, he showed extraordinary bravery; sometimes he received point-blank shots, and he fought with cold steel.
After Morelos’ death in late 1815, the rebel movement was weakened, and just a few leaders continued fighting. Guerrero was one of them. A number of leaders began asking for pardons. Viceroy Apodaca persuaded Guerrero’sfather to try to convince his son to surrender, but the rebel refused, giving his oft-quoted answer, “My country comes first.”
With just a few troops, Vicente Guerrero continued fighting from his rebel base in the mountainous region of the state which now bears his name. When Iturbide put his plans to achieve the independence in action, he went southwards to fight Guerrero and Alquisiras, buthe failed in his attempt, and the royalist forces were worse of it.
On January 10, 1821, Guerrero received an invitation from Iturbide to give a conference on the independence movement. They met in Acatempan, and the rebel leader agreed to fight with his former enemies and to accept a subordinate post.
Although Guerrero acknowledged Iturbide as the emperor, he and Nicolás Bravo soon...