Leona Vicario and Rafaela López
October 15, 1911 — La Liga Femenil Mexicanista, Laredo TX
In our fatherland, in this beloved land that has sometimes been unfortunate, there have appeared heroic women, deserving that their names b perpetuated among. Us. When we study History, we find beautiful examples of mothers who sacrificed for their children, of wives who confronted thousands of risks to save their husbands and to exalt their country, and of daughters who feared nothing and defied everything to reach the happiness for their parents and Honor and Glory for their homeland.
Love for the homeland is one of the most sublime feelings of the soul; both men and women have always felt immense love for the place where they received their first material kiss; for the sacrosanct place that keeps the remains of the beings that were deal to them both the feminine and masculine sex have felt patriotic love and all of them have expressed it in a thousand different ways. Men have wetted their native land with the blood that their injuries shed in the battles they held against enemies that wanted to defile this land, and the women, some have directly fought in the battlefield and others by helping their compatriots, by making them strong in the face of the enemy; either by providing them with economical resources or by sending timely news, but mainly by encouraging them with their resignation and their faith, because they are two of the main weapons of the woman.
In our beautiful country there have exited women with a big and noble soul, who sacrificed themselves for the sake of patriotism, that is to say, women who have been true heroines.
Today, with great pleasure; deeply feeling my lack of aptitude, in response to the wishes of this Respectable Society, I present the biographies of some of our main heroines, beginning with Doña Leona Vicario. She was the daughter of very wealthy parents and lived in Mexico City.
From the age of 19, she began to show a deep desire for the freedom of her homeland, and when she learned that the revolution broke out in Dolores, she tried to establish correspondence with Hidalgo and Allende in order to help them in some way, but she was not successful and made contact with some of the insurgent leaders, to whom she sent important news of the enemy’s movement and also helped them with money.
In order for her news to arrive in a timely manner, she sent several communications. On one occasion, one of them was intercepted and Doña Leona Vicario, fearful of being apprehended, escaped and managed to reach a town somewhat distant from Mexico City, until some relatives reached her there and dissuaded her from her attempt, encouraging her to return.
That is exactly what she did, and she was taken prisoner and taken to the Colegio de Belén; There they rendered judgment, and for a thousand medis they wanted to force her to give up the names of the insurgents, but they achieved nothing, neither with flattery nor with terrible threats, did they made Doña Leona Vicario reveal the name of those with whom she communicated.
Every time her judges made her appear before them in order to wrest her secret, that brave young woman answered; “I am resolved to die before I hand over anyone.”
Doña Leon Vicario managed to escape the prison with the help of friends, and she remained hidden for a long time in Mexico. Then she went to Oaxaca, reaching that city exactly when it was occupied by Morelos.
In Tlalpujahua (state of Michoacán) she married a young Yucatecan D. Andrés Quintana Roo, man of excellent education, very learned, an eminent lawyer and distinguished poet, who also supported the cause of national independence. The nation as honored his memory by giving his name to the territory of the state of Yucatán — it has just been formed and is called “Quintana Roo.”
In 1812, an arms factory was established in Tlalpujahua, and the teachers who ran it were sent by her. She supported the families of these individuals, who were forced to sell their jewels. By this time her funds were already depleted, and she could only provide expenses for the manufacturing of weapons.
In addition to this heroine, in the period of independence there were more women who deserved the beautiful title of heroines, as the following stories show.
A Spanish chief took a brother of Mr. Ignacio Rayón, the defender of Cóporo, prisoner, and he offered this brave man the life of the prisoner Francisco if in exchange he would give up the fortress. Rayón, by yielding to an impulse of filial love, consulted with his mother about the situation and this worthy lady in whose being there burnt the inexhaustible and lively fire of love for her homeland, uttered as an answer these words: “The obligation of a military man or of a patriot is to die in defense of his country, and any feeling in contrary of this duty must be suffocated.” A few days later the face of Mrs. Rafaela López Aguado de Rayón, which was the name of the heroine who in this moment we are calling attention to; her face was furrowed with tears; it was because the corpse of her son Francisco lay ravaged by the bullets of the enemy, and, notwithstanding the intense pain that was torturing the soul of that lady, her integrity and her spirit never abandoned the noble heroine, not even for one minute.
Source: La Crónica, October 19, 1911, Laredo TX
Also: Mestiza Rhetorics: An Anthology of Mexicana Activism in the Spanish-Language Press: 1887-1922, ed. Jessica Enoch and Cristina Devereaux, Ramírez (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press) 2019, pp. 130-134.