San Miguel El Grande

These ½ real notes were produced in San Miguel El Grande in 1813.

The following is a transcription of part of the related correspondence between Miguel Malo, Subdelegate of San Miguel el Grande, the Intendant Fernando Perez Marañon, and Viceroy Felix Calleja.

Mr. Intendant Fernando Perez Marañon
The extreme lack of circulating media, and especially the divisionary one, and the avarice of these merchants who only exchange a peso when four or five reales are spent result in a great harm for these habitants, particularly the poor ones… This state of affairs has moved the notorious zeal of the Church dignitaries, of the regular mayors, of the Public Prosecutor and Governor to remedy it before the people, irritated by the conduct of these merchants, plot some unfortunate project.
I have thus called on the morning of the 14th of the present month a general meeting of the local assembly, and after most of its members presented their thoughts on how to remedy these pressing circumstances, it was decided on a majority vote to designate a council composed of the most illustrated neighbours and church authorities to present me with the more suitable projects for the remedy. At the meeting of said council, it was decided to manufacture some paper scripts to circulate in lieu of the coinage with a value of ½ Real under the strict supervision of the judges and subject to all the penalties considered in our wise legislation for its counterfeiters. I am reporting all of the aforementioned events to Y. E. for your acknowledgement and approval. May God guard you many years.
San Miguel el Grande, on July 18, 1813.
Miguel Maria Malo.
Guanajuato, on July 23 of 1813.
Inform His Excellency the Viceroy with a copy of the present communication and of the previously mentioned request, and consult the ordinary councilor for the executive provisions.

Felix Calleja replied:
Even if the individual who presents himself as the Subdelegate of San Miguel el Grande had indeed obtained the aforementioned authorization reported by the Intendancy of Guanajuato in a non-malicious way, it would still represent a reprehensible and reckless attitude by arrogating himself excessive faculties to authorise the manufacture and circulation of the paper money issue. This same medium (i.e. the issue of paper money) was proposed under the direst circumstances by the Intendancy and Council of Merida de Yucatan, yet it was still denied by this authority, and in the end other more viable measures such as the forced loan of the silverware and the additional taxes on the properties were taken.These measures were most prudent since they prevented all the harms and inconveniencies that have always resulted from the use of paper money. In addition, it should be noted that the aforementioned [paper money] issue put into circulation by the Subdelegate of San Miguel el Grande is entirely despicable and it can only be redeemed and guaranteed by himself personally and the Junta which he claims to have consulted: indeed, the Public Exchequer should never be forced to receive these unauthorized notes nor the people who have received it in good faith since considering them to be legitimately approved since authorized by the resident Judge in that locale.
It should also not come as a surprise that this media allows for the deceiving of the people with only a few individuals hoarding the limited coinage that is found in circulation. This suspicion should be all the more present considering the recklessness shown by the Subdelegate, which probably emanates from some personal interest in the matter. Indeed, even the most extreme ignorance could not have bestowed upon him such ample and extraordinary faculties nor explain the laconism and lack of information that emanates from his note in which he informs the Intendancy of Guanajuato about the matter: the latter does not specify the amounts of notes that have been printed nor the warranty to back up their value nor all the other details and circumstances that such a serious measure usually implies.
By virtue of the exposed arguments, Y. E. should disapprove the measure of the Subdelegate of San Miguel el Grande in its entirety, and instruct the Intendancy of Guanajuato to take the measures they deem convenient to question said Subdelegate, learn about the true origin of this most violent procedure (of issuing paper money), recall the notes and reimburse their holders with the value that has been attributed to them and other necessary measures to obtain thorough antecedents of the issue in general.
Mexico, September 20 of 1813. Calleja.

As Carlos Jara ponts out, this documentation allows us to conclude several relevant facts, including the following:
1. The San Miguel el Grande necessity issues of ½ real were authorized by the local authorities and thus ought to be considered as official issues of paper money and as such, the first confirmed issue of Mexican paper money.
2. Despite ordering their recall, the Mexican general authorities agreed to compensate the bearers of the notes, implicitly recognizing their face value to the corresponding owners.
3. The extreme rarity of the notes is obviously due to the great zeal with which the recall and destruction of the notes was performed, following Calleja’s clear instructions.

(based on "Mexico's First Paper Money: the 1813 San Miguel el Grande War of Independence Emergency Issues" by Carlos Jara)