Constitutive Act And Reforms Of 1847 (Mexico)

The Constitutive and Reform Act of 1847 (Mexico) was a document approved by the Mexican Congress by means of which the federal structure of the country was recovered. The Reform Act, which also established a series of citizen rights, was promulgated on May 21, 1847.

Since independence itself, in Mexico there had been two different currents about how to organize the country. Some, the most conservative, were betting on a centralized state. Others, liberals, preferred the creation of a federal state, with a clear inspiration from the organization of the United States.

Map of Mexico in 1847 – Source: Hpav7 [Public domain]

With Santa Anna as president, in 1835 the so-called Seven Laws, a conservative and centralist Constitution, were promulgated. A few years later, in 1843, Congress began work on a new Magna Carta that, in practice, maintained administrative centralism.

In 1847, in a context of war with the United States, the congressmen thought that the return of the federal system would unite the country against the invader. The works resulted in the Constitutive Act and reforms, which restored federalism, in addition to strengthening individual rights.

Article index

  • one


    • 1.1

      Organic Bases of the Mexican Republic, 1843

    • 1.2

      Political instability of the country

  • two

    Content of the Minutes

    • 2.1

      Jobs in Congress

    • 2.2


    • 23

      Reform Act

  • 3



Since the end of the First Mexican Empire, the country had been divided between the centralist and the federalist current.

After the Constitution promulgated in 1824, the conflicts between both sectors intensified. In that Magna Carta the elections for the election of the president were established, while the loser in them would take over the vice-presidency.

This forced members of the two currents to coexist in the highest positions of authority, which caused numerous political confrontations.

During that period, rebellions and presidential impeachments were very frequent. Stability did not come, with many presidents in a few years.

General Santa Anna held the presidency for the second time, in 1835. The Congress, with a conservative majority, proceeded to draft the bases of a new Constitution. This received the name of The Seven Laws and put an end to the federal system.

In addition to this change in the system of political organization, the Constitution created the Supreme Conservative Power, which, according to the laws, was only responsible before God. Its powers ranged from declaring a law void to decreeing the closure of Congress.

Organic Bases of the Mexican Republic, 1843

During the following decade the confrontations between the federalists of the Liberal Party and the centralists of the Conservative Party continued. The country was also shaken by various events, such as the separation of Texas, the attempt by Yucatán to declare itself independent, or the threat of foreign intervention.

On the other hand, the population was very irritated by the policies developed by President Santa Anna, who even considered establishing a monarchy.

To try to solve such instability, Congress began work in 1842 on a new Constitution. Deputy Mariano Otero defended the need to implement a federal, republican and representative system.

The conservatives, for their part, were totally against this project. Tensions grew to such an extent that Congress was dissolved.

Already in June 1843, the new Constitution was promulgated, which received the name of Organic Bases of the Mexican Republic. This new text was only valid for three years.

Among its most important articles were the elimination of the office of the Supreme Conservative Power, the restriction of the freedom of the press, the indirect election of representatives and the right to veto of the executive.

Political instability of the country

The war with the United States, which began in 1846, further aggravated the political instability that Mexico suffered. His army was on the brink and opponents staged numerous anti-government protests.

The executive sought a solution for the country to unite against the foreign enemy and for the internal confrontations to cease. His solution was to restore the federal system, trying to pacify the nation in order to confront the conflict with its northern neighbor with more guarantees.

Content of the Minutes

As noted, Mexico was at war with the United States. In addition to the military power of this country, political instability and internal uprisings made it almost impossible to stand up to the Americans.

Given this, the government convened, in May 1847, an Extraordinary Constituent Congress to reintroduce the federal system. The result was the Constitutive and Reform Act

Jobs in Congress

The position of the representatives in Congress was not unanimous. Several of them, headed by Muñoz Ledo, proposed that the Constitution of 1824 be fully recovered, although later it be reformed following the legal channels established therein.

In front of them, the Constitutional Commission issued an opinion that agreed with the idea of ​​restoring that Magna Carta, but pointed out that the reforms should be approved by the constituent itself.

Third, Mariano Otera, in a private vote, openly disagreed with the two previous proposals. This particular vote was the one that triumphed in the plenary session of the congress, which rejected the commission’s report.

Thus, the project that was imposed consisted of a preamble, with four operative points. The last of these proposed that the Act of reforms itself be approved, with a content of 22 articles.


The Preamble to the Act contains, first, a reminder of the independence and origin of the United Mexican States.

In this solemn content, the purpose of remaining united is emphasized, remembering that this was the intention of the drafters of the Constitution of 1824. It also emphasizes the role of federalism in the birth of the country.

By means of this writing, the Act formally reestablished federalism. According to experts, the modifications made to the Constitution of 24, which had replaced the Organic Bases in 1846, had subtracted part of that federal character.

The intention had been to prevent conflicts from occurring and, for this, it was imposed that the three powers, legislative, executive and judicial “can only and must do what the Constitution grants as a power and imposes as an obligation.”

Reform Act

In addition to the reestablishment of federalism, the Constitutive and Reform Act also entered into other aspects that changed Mexican legislation. Among them, the establishment of individual guarantees for all citizens. In this area, he highlighted the implementation of petition and protection rights.

Politically, the Act eliminated the position of vice president and established direct elections for the positions of deputies, senators, members of the Supreme Court and president of the Republic.

As a system of guarantees vis-à-vis the federal states, the Act gave Congress the power to annul the laws passed in its institutions if they went against the federal pact.


  1. Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library Foundation. Constitutive Act and reforms of 1847. Obtained from
  2. Vázquez-Gómez Bisogno, Francisco. The Constitutive and Reform Act of 1847. An example of constitutional control of local laws in Mexico in the 19th century. Recovered from
  3. García Cantú, Gastón. Constitutive and Reform Act, 1847. Recovered from
  4. Santoni. Peter. Mexicans at Arms: Puro Federalists and the Politics of War, 1845-1848. Recovered from
  5. Macías, Francisco. The history of the Mexican Constitution. Retrieved from

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