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Mexico was under Spanish rule (Viceroyalty of New Spain) from 1521. California, New Mexico and Texas were colonized between 1769 and 1786. Mexico declared independence in 1821 and became a Federal Republic in 1824. It lost Texas in 1836. The area to the north (now California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and part of Colorado) was lost to the USA a few years later. Since 1853 its international frontiers have remained substantially unchanged. A brief Anglo-French-Spanish occupation of Vera Cruz in 186 1-2 (from which Britain and Spain soon withdrew) was followed by a French advance on Mexico City and the puppet empire of Maximilian (1864-67), overthrown by Juarez.

The usurpation by Huerta of the presidency led to civil war in 1913-15. 'Constitutionalist' forces set up the 'free' state of Sonora (see below) in opposition in March 1913, reached Mexico City in 1914, and controlled the whole country by 1917 after minor struggles for power had been resolved with several interventions by US forces.

Postal History
When Cortez conquered Mexico in 1521, he continued insofar as possible a system of messengers already well established by the Aztecs. From 1579 the postal rights were farmed to a succession of noble postmasters (Correo Mayor de La Nueva Espana). A law suit established that the Mexican posts were not part of the hereditary monopoly granted to the Galindez de Carvajal family in the Spanish Indies. The most important early route was between Mexico City and Vera Cruz. A calculation of distances for postal purposes was made in 1620.

After the administrator of posts in Madrid had been given a commission in 1742 to improve the Mexican system, a weekly post was established (1745) between Mexico City and Oaxaca, which made possible a monthly through communication with Guatemala three years later. In 1765 the Mexican posts were bought back by the Spanish crown.

Mexico was the pivot of Spanish control in the Americas; it was also the route for mail coming back from the East Indies. The galleons which carried intelligence, treasure and mail sailed annually from Acapulco to Manila. The returning mail was landed again at Acapulco, was carried overland to Vera Cruz and then returned to Spain via Havana. Earliest letters by this route have been recorded from 1783.

British packets began a service to Vera Cruz in 1825. British PAs existed at Vera Cruz 1825-74 and Tampico c. 1840-76. Stamps of Britain were used in 1865-76 at Tampico (oblit. C63), but those supplied to Vera Cruz were never used. The British Mexican packet ran until 1914.

The French instituted a sailing packet in 1827 between Bordeaux and Vera Cruz, calling at Martinique and Haiti, which continued not very successfully until 1835. The Compagnie Generale Transatlantique restored the service in 1862 with a Ligne de Mexique from Saint-Nazaire to Vera Cruz, calling at Martinique and Santiago de Cuba. The packet-boats were reorganized in 1865, the Mexican packet becoming Ligne B until 1901, and continuing thereafter (although without PAs aboard) until 1939.

French consular agencies were established at Vera Cruz (1862-79), Tampico and Matamoros (1866-7), at which stamps of France were used.

The European packets carried not only Mexican mail to Europe brought down by mule from Mexico City, but also local mails between Vera Cruz and Tampico.

Initially stamps had to be validated before issue by a named handstamp on receipt at the district P0; this was to guard against theft of stamps in transit to postmasters. Stamps without overprint were invalid. From 1864 to 1867 stamps were overprinted in Mexico City with a London GPO invoice number and year date. From then until 1883, when the practice was discontinued as the railways started to supersede the vulnerable stage-coach, each main district was allotted a number which was overprinted on the stamps together with abbreviated year date.

Provisionals were issued in republican-held territories during the war against Maximilian 1866-7


When the 'Constitutionalist' forces marched on Mexico City in 1914, they overprinted captured stocks of stamps. A map shows the areas in which local overprints were used, usually variants of E.C. or E.C. DE M. (Ejercito Constitucional de Mejico) or GOBIERNO CONSTITUCIONALISTA.

Mexico from 1856
Click map for larger view

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