|26th President of Mexico|
15 January 1858 –18 July 1872
|Preceded by||Ignacio Comonfort|
|Succeeded by||Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada|
|President of the Mexican Supreme Court|
11 December 1857 –15 January 1858
|Preceded by||Luis de la Rosa Oteiza|
|Succeeded by||José Ignacio Pavón|
|Secretary of the Interior of Mexico|
3 November 1857 –11 December 1857
|Preceded by||José María Cortés|
|Succeeded by||José María Cortés|
|Governor of Oaxaca|
10 January 1856 –3 November 1857
|Preceded by||José María García|
|Succeeded by||José María Díaz|
2 October 1847 –12 August 1852
|Preceded by||Francisco Ortiz Zárate|
|Succeeded by||Lope San Germán|
|Secretary of Public Education of Mexico|
6 October 1855 –9 December 1855
|Preceded by||José María Durán|
|Succeeded by||Ramón Isaac Alcaraz|
Benito Pablo Juárez García
21 March 1806
San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, New Spain
|Died||18 July 1872 66) (aged|
Mexico City, Mexico
|Resting place||Panteón de San Fernando|
|Political party||Liberal Party|
(m. 1826;died 1871)
|Alma mater||Sciences and Arts Institute of Oaxaca|
Benito Pablo Juárez García (Spanish: [beˈnito ˈpaβlo ˈxwaɾes gaɾˈsi.a] (
When moderate liberal President Ignacio Comonfort was forced to resign by the Conservatives in 1858, Juárez, as head of the Supreme Court, assumed the presidency following the succession codified in the Constitution of 1857. He weathered the War of the Reform (1858–60), a civil war between the Liberals and the Conservatives, and then the French invasion (1861–1867), which was supported by Conservative monarchists. Never relinquishing office although forced into exile to areas of Mexico not controlled by the French, Juárez tied Liberalism to Mexican nationalism and maintained that he was the legitimate head of the Mexican state, rather than Emperor Maximilian. When the French-backed Second Mexican Empire fell in 1867, the Mexican Republic with Juárez as president was restored to full power.For his success in ousting the European incursion, Latin Americans considered his time in power as a "second struggle for independence, a second defeat for the European powers, and a second reversal of the Conquest."
Juárez is now revered in Mexico as "a preeminent symbol of Mexican nationalism and resistance to foreign intervention."Juárez was a practical and skilled politician, controversial in his lifetime and beyond. He had an understanding of the importance of a working relationship with the United States, and secured its recognition for his liberal government during the War of the Reform. Although many of his positions shifted during his political life, he held fast to particular principles including the supremacy of civil power over the Catholic Church and part of the military; respect for law; and the de-personalization of political life. In his lifetime he sought to strengthen the national government and asserted the supremacy of central power over states, a position that both radical and provincial liberals opposed. He was the subject of polemical attacks both in his lifetime and beyond. However, the place of Juárez in Mexican historical memory has enshrined him as a major Mexican hero, beginning in his own lifetime.
His birthday (March 21) is a national public and patriotic holiday in Mexico. He is the only individual Mexican so honored.
Juárez was born on 21 March 1806, in a small adobe house in San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, located in the mountain range now known as the Sierra Juárez. His parents, Brígida García and Marcelino Juárez, were Zapotec peasants and died of complications of diabetes when he was three years old. Shortly afterward, his grandparents died as well, so after that his uncle raised him.He described his parents as "indios de la raza primitiva del país," that is, "Indians of the original race of the country." He worked in the cornfields and as a shepherd until the age of 12, when he walked to the city of Oaxaca to attend school. At the time, he could speak only Zapotec. In the city, where his sister worked as a cook, he took a job as a domestic servant for Antonio Maza.
His formal education began when a lay Franciscan and bookbinder, Antonio Salanueva, was impressed by Juárez's intelligence and desire for learning. Salanueva arranged for his placement at the city's seminary so that he could train to become a priest. His earlier education was rudimentary, but he began studying Latin, completing the secondary curriculum too young to be ordained. Juárez had no calling to become a priest and began studying law at the Institute of Sciences and Arts, founded in 1827 in the state capital. It was a center of liberal intellectual life in Oaxaca and Juárez graduated from it in 1834. Even prior to his graduation, he sought political office, and was elected to the Oaxaca city council in 1831. In 1841, he was appointed a civil judge.
In 1843, when he was in his late 30s, Juárez married Margarita Maza, the daughter of his sister's patron. The family was of European origin and part of Oaxaca's upper-class society. With the marriage Juárez gained social standing. Margarita Maza accepted his proposal and said of Juárez, "He is very homely, but very good."Their ethnically mixed marriage was historically unusual, but not often noted in standard biographies. However, Enrique Krauze notes: "In this uncommon instance, a white woman had been conquered by an Indian, not a native woman by a Spaniard." Their marriage lasted until her death from cancer in 1871. Juárez and Maza had twelve children together, five of whom died in early childhood; Juárez also fathered two children with Juana Rosa Chagoya before he married; Tereso, who was close to Juárez during his expatriations and fought in the Reform War, and Susana, who was adopted and attended her step-mother's death. His wife's remains are buried in the Juárez mausoleum in Mexico City.
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Juárez's experiences in political life in Oaxaca were crucial to his later success as a leader. His political affiliation with liberalism developed at the Institute of Arts and Science and his ability to rise in Oaxaca state politics was due to the lack of an entrenched political class of criollos, Mexicans of European descent. The relative openness of the system allowed him and other newcomers to enter politics and gain patronage.He developed a political base and gained an understanding of political maneuvering. Following Juárez's graduation as a lawyer in 1834 and service as a civil judge in 1841, he became part of the Oaxaca state government, led by liberal governor Antonio León (1841–1845). He became a prosecutor in the Oaxaca state court and was then elected to the state legislature in 1845. Juárez was subsequently elected to the federal legislature, where he supported Valentín Gómez Farías, who instigated liberal reforms including limitations on the power of the Catholic Church. With the return to the presidency of Antonio López de Santa Anna in 1847, Juárez returned to Oaxaca. He was elected governor of the state of Oaxaca from 1847 to 1852. During his tenure as governor, he supported the war effort against the U.S. in the Mexican–American War, but seeing the war was lost, he refused Antonio López de Santa Anna's request to regroup and raise new forces. This, as well as his objections to the corrupt military dictatorship of Santa Anna, led to his exile to New Orleans in 1853, where he worked in a cigar factory. Other Santa Anna opponents were also in exile there, including Melchor Ocampo of Michoacan, who was fiercely anticlerical. In 1854, Juárez helped draft the liberals' Plan of Ayutla, a document calling for Santa Anna's being deposed from power and the calling of a convention to draft a new constitution. Faced with growing opposition, Santa Anna was forced to resign in 1855.
With Santa Anna's resignation, Juárez had returned to Mexico and became part of the activist liberales (Liberals). A provisional government was formed under General Juan Álvarez, inaugurating the period known as La Reforma, or Liberal Reform. Juárez served as Minister of Justice and ecclesiastical affairs, and it was during this time that Juárez drafted the law named after him, the Juárez Law, which declared all citizens equal before the law and restricted the privileges (fueros) of the Catholic Church and the Mexican army. President Álvarez signed the draft into law in 1855.The Reform laws sponsored by the puro (pure) wing of the Liberal Party curtailed the power of the Catholic Church, confiscating Church land, and restricting the military, while trying to create a modern civil society and capitalist economy based on the model of the United States. The Ley Juárez was subsequently incorporated into the Mexican Constitution of 1857, but Juárez had no role in that document's drafting, since he had returned to Oaxaca where he served again as governor.
The new liberal Constitution of 1857 was promulgated and the new President, Ignacio Comonfort, appointed Juárez as Minister of Government in November 1857. He was then elected President of the Supreme Court of Justice, an office that virtually put its holder as the successor to the President of the Republic.Conservatives led by General Félix María Zuloaga, with the backing of the military and the clergy and under the slogan Religión y Fueros (Religion and Privileges), launched a revolt under the Plan of Tacubaya on 17 December 1857. Comonfort sought to placate the conservative rebels by appointing several conservatives to the Cabinet, dissolving the Congress, and implementing most of the Plan of Tacubaya. Juárez, Ignacio Olvera, and many other liberal deputies and ministers were arrested. The actions did not go far enough for the rebels, and on 11 January 1858, Zuloaga demanded Comonfort's resignation. Comonfort then re-established the Congress, liberated all prisoners, and then resigned as President. The conservative forces proclaimed Zuloaga as President on 21 January.
Under the terms of the 1857 Constitution, the President of the Supreme Court of Justice became interim President of Mexico until a new election could be held. Juárez was thus acknowledged as president by liberals on 15 January 1858 and assumed leadership of the Liberal side of the civil war known as the War of the Reform (Guerra de Reforma), (1858–60), a bloody war that saw Mexico with rival governments under Juárez and the conservatives under Félix María Zuloaga.
With the conservatives in control of Mexico City, Juárez and his government fled, first to Querétaro and later to Veracruz, whose customs revenues were used to fund the government's expenditure.
On 4 May 4 1858, Juárez arrived in Veracruzwhere the government of Manuel Gutiérrez Zamora was stationed with General Ignacio de la Llave. His wife and children were waiting for his arrival on the dock of the Veracruz’s port, along with a large part of the population that had flooded the pier to greet him. Juárez lived many months in Veracruz without incident until conservative General Miguel Miramón’s attack on the port on March 30, 1859. On April 6th, Juárez received a diplomatic representative of the United States Government: Robert Milligan McLane. Following this visit, a treaty between the U.S. and Juárez's government, the McLane-Ocampo Treaty, was signed in December 1859, although President James Buchanan was unable to secure ratification of the treaty by the U.S. Senate. For Juárez's later reputation, the failure of the U.S. to ratify the treaty meant that Mexico's sovereignty was not undermined by giving free passage to the U.S. across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Nevertheless, the aid received enabled the liberals to overcome the conservatives' initial military advantage; Juárez's government successfully defended Veracruz from assault twice during 1860 and recaptured Mexico City on 1 January 1861.
On July 12 of 1859, Juárez decreed the first regulations of the "Law of Nationalization of the Ecclesiastical Wealth." This enactment prohibited the Catholic Church from having properties in Mexico.Because of Juárez's Law of Nationalization, the Catholic Church and the regular army supported the Conservatives in the Reform War. On the other hand, the Liberals had the support of several state governments in the north and central-west of the country, as well as that of Buchanan's government.
Due to the initial weakness of the Juárez administration, conservatives Félix María Zuloaga and Leonardo Márquez had the opportunity to reclaim power. To resolve this, Juárez petitioned Congress to give him emergency powers. The liberal members of Congress denied the petition with the main argument being that the country was under a current constitutional government that had been achieved only through a very bloody civil war. It was not consistent for Juárez, who had implemented that constitution, now to wish to violate the legal functions of the Constitution by giving himself dictatorial powers. However, after two groups of conservatives ambushed and killed major liberal politician Ocampo and later Santos Degollado in 1861, the liberals were outraged and Juárez took "extreme measures" to deal with the conservatives. After the scandal of Ocampo's murder, the liberal-majority Congress gave Juárez the money and power that he needed to defeat the conservatives.
After the defeat of the Conservatives on the battlefield, in March 1861 elections were held with Juárez elected President in his own right under the Constitution of 1857. However, the Liberals' celebrations of 1861 were short-lived. The war had severely damaged Mexico's infrastructure and crippled its economy. Even though the Conservatives had been defeated, they would not disappear, and the Juárez government had to respond to pressures from these factions. He was forced to grant amnesty to captured Conservative guerrillas still resisting the Juárez government, even though they had executed captured Liberals, including Melchor Ocampo and Santos Degollado. In the wake of the civil war and the demobilization of combatants, Juárez established the Rural Guard or Rurales, aimed at bringing public security, particularly as banditry and rural unrest grew. Many brigands and bandits had allied themselves with the Liberal cause during the civil war. With that conflict concluded, many became guerrillas and bandits again, when the government jobs they demanded as rewards for their services to the Republic were not forthcoming. Juárez's Minister of the Interior, Francisco Zarco, oversaw the founding of the Rurales. The creation of the police force controlled by the President was done quietly because it violated federalist principles of traditional Liberalism, which gave little power to the central government and much to Mexican states. The force's creation was an indication that Juárez was becoming more of a centralist as he confronted rural unrest. As a pragmatic solution, the force consisted of former bandits converted into policemen.
Juárez's government also faced international dangers. In view of the government's desperate financial straits, Juárez canceled repayments of interest on foreign loans that had been taken out by the defeated conservatives. Spain, Britain and France, angry over unpaid Mexican debts, sent a joint expeditionary force that seized the Veracruz Customs House in December 1861. Spain and Britain soon withdrew after they realized that the French Emperor Napoleon III intended to overthrow the Juárez government and establish a Second Mexican Empire, with the support of the remnants of the Conservative side in the Reform War. Thus began the French invasion in 1861 and the outbreak of an even longer war, with Liberals attempting to oust the foreign invaders and their Conservative allies and save the Republic.
Although republican forces under Ignacio Zaragoza won an initial victory over the monarchists on 5 May 1862, the Battle of Puebla, celebrated annually as Cinco de Mayo, forcing the French to retreat to the coast for a year, the French advanced again in 1863, and captured Mexico City. Juárez and his elected government fled the capital and became a government in exile, with little power or territorial control. Juárez headed north, first to San Luis Potosí, then to the arid northern city of El Paso del Norte, present day Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, and finally to the capital of the state, Chihuahua City, where he set up his cabinet. There, he would remain for the next two and a half years. Meanwhile, Maximilian von Habsburg, younger brother of Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, was proclaimed Emperor as Maximilian I of Mexico on 20 April 1864 with the backing of Napoleon III and a group of Mexican conservatives.
Before Juárez fled, Congress granted him an emergency extension of his presidency, which would go into effect in 1865, when his term expired, and would last until 1867, when the last of Maximilian's forces were defeated.
In response to the French invasion and the elevation of Maximilian as Emperor of Mexico with the support of Mexican conservatives, Juárez sent General Plácido Vega y Daza to California to gather Mexican American sympathy for the plight of republican Mexico. Maximilian offered Juárez amnesty and later even the post of prime minister, but Juárez refused to accept a government "imposed by foreigners" or a monarchy. The government of the United States was sympathetic to Juárez, refusing to recognize Maximilian and opposing the French invasion as a violation of the Monroe Doctrine, but its attention was entirely taken up by the American Civil War. Juárez's wife, Margarita Maza, and their children spent the invasion in exile in New York where she met several times with U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who received her as the First Lady of Mexico. Although much has been made of a connection between Juárez and Abraham Lincoln, as two presidents who shared humble social origins, a law career, a rapidly-ascending political career in their home states, and a presidency that began under the auspices of a civil war that made long-lasting reform a necessity, they never met nor exchanged correspondence.Following the end of the war, U.S. President Andrew Johnson demanded the French evacuate Mexico and imposed a naval blockade in February 1866.
When Johnson could get no support in Congress, he allegedly had the Army "lose" some supplies (including rifles) "near" (across) the border with Mexico, according to U.S. General Philip Sheridan's journal account. [ page needed ] In his memoirs, Sheridan stated that he had supplied arms and ammunition to Juárez's forces: "... which we left at convenient places on our side of the river to fall into their hands".
Faced with US opposition to a French presence and a growing threat on the European mainland from Prussia, French troops began pulling out of Mexico in late 1866. Maximilian's liberal views had cost him support from Mexican conservatives as well. In 1867, the last of the Emperor's forces were defeated and Maximilian was sentenced to death by a military court, a retaliation for Maximilian's earlier orders for the execution of republican soldiers (although some historians point to the fact that the original "Black Decree" was from Juárez – who had people executed, without trial, for "helping" his enemies, whereas Maximilian often pardoned people who had actually fought against him). Despite national and international pleas for amnesty, Juárez refused to commute the sentence, and Maximilian was executed by firing squad on 19 June 1867 at Cerro de las Campanas in Querétaro. His last words had been "¡Viva México!". His body was returned to Vienna for burial.
The period following the expulsion of the French and up to the revolt of Porfirio Díaz in 1876 are now commonly known in Mexico as the "Restored Republic". The period includes the last years of the Juárez presidency and following his death in 1872, that of fellow civilian politician Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada. Juárez did not leave power following the end of the French invasion. He won in a relatively clean election in 1867 and immediately requested and obtained special powers from Congress to rule by decree.
In 1867, liberals' old nemesis, General Antonio López de Santa Anna and President of the Republic multiple times, sought to return to Mexico from exile. The U.S. had pledged support Juárez, and prevented him from disembarking in Veracruz, his home region and political base. Veracruz was still in French imperial hands when he attempted to land in June 1867, and the possibility that he might liberate the port from them was a distinct possibility, which could have paved the way for a political comeback threatening Juárez. Juárez diverted him and he landed in Sisal, Yucatan, where Juárez had him arrested before a military court on 14 July 1867. He was accused of being a traitor to Mexico and Juárez sought the use of the law of 25 January 1862 that mandated death for traitors, a fate for Maximilian and two of his generals. The military tribunal decided that Santa Anna should be sentenced to eight years of further exile. Juárez was fully expecting Santa Anna to be executed. Juárez had all of Santa Anna's landed property confiscated and sold off. Juárez issued a general amnesty for all political opponents in October 1870, but explicitly excluded Santa Anna for its provisions. Santa Anna responded angrily, listing his many heroic military deeds for the patria, asking contemptuously where the civilian Juárez was then, calling him a "dark Indian," a "hyena," and "a symbol of cruelty." Only when Juáárez died in office was Santa Anna able to return to Mexico.
He began instituting major reforms that had constitutional force because of the Constitution of 1857 that could not be implemented due to the War of the Reform 1858–1860, and the French Intervention (1862–67). One such reform was in education. An elite preparatory school was founded in Mexico City in 1868, the National Preparatory School.
Juárez once again ran for re-election in 1871, but not without opposition, from Lerdo de Tejada and from liberal General Porfirio Díaz under the Plan of la Noria. Juárez's enemies also joined Díaz's revolt for their own reasons.The 1871 election was thrown to congress to decide, and since it was packed with his supporters, he prevailed. Amid fraud charges and widespread controversy, he was re-elected for a new term in 1871. During his last two terms, he used the office of the presidency to ensure electoral success, obtain personal gains and suppress revolts by opponents.
On February 7, 1866, Juarez was elected as a Companion of the Third Class (i.e. honorary member) of the Pennsylvania Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS). MOLLUS is a hereditary military society originally composed of officers who served in the Union armed forces during the American Civil War and now composed of their descedants. Juarez was one of the very few foreigners to be elected to membership in the Order. He was assigned MOLLUS insignia number 156.
Juárez died of a heart attack on July 18, 1872, while reading a newspaper at his desk in the National Palace in Mexico City, aged 66. He was succeeded by Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, the head of the Supreme Court and a close political ally.
Today Benito Juárez is remembered as being a progressive reformer dedicated to democracy, equal rights for his nation's indigenous peoples, his antipathy toward organized religion, especially the Catholic Church, and what he regarded as defense of national sovereignty. He is also remembered for his brutality and his executions of political opponents. The period of his leadership is known in Mexican history as La Reforma del Norte (The Reform of the North), and constituted a liberal political and social revolution with major institutional consequences: the expropriation of church lands, the subordination of the army to civilian control, liquidation of peasant communal land holdings, the separation of church and state in public affairs, and also the almost-complete disenfranchisement of bishops, priests, nuns and lay brothers, codified in the "Juárez Law" or "Ley Juárez".
La Reforma represented the triumph of Mexico's liberal, federalist, anti-clerical, and pro-capitalist forces over the conservative, centralist, corporatist, and theocratic elements that sought to reconstitute a locally-run version of the old colonial system. It replaced a semi-feudal social system with a more market-driven one, but following Juárez's death, the lack of adequate democratic and institutional stability soon led to a return to centralized autocracy and economic exploitation under the regime of Porfirio Díaz. The Porfiriato (1876–1911), in turn, collapsed at the beginning of the Mexican Revolution.
Monuments and statuary Benito Juárez is notable for the number of statues and monuments in his honor outside of Mexico.
Film and media
Juárez Complex National Palace In the National Palace in Mexico City, where he lived while in power, there is a small museum in his honor. One can see the furniture and objects he used.
Sala, Comedor, Estudio y Alcoba de Don Benito Juárez.
Juárez's famous quote continues to be well-remembered in Mexico: "Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz", meaning "Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace". The portion of this motto in bold is inscribed on the coat of arms of Oaxaca. It is quoted in truncated form in stone on the Juárez statue in Bryant Park in New York City, "Respect for the rights of others is peace." This quote summarizes Mexico's stances towards foreign affairs.
Another famous quote: "La ley ha sido siempre mi espada y mi escudo", or "The law has always been my shield and my sword", is a phrase often reproduced as decoration inside court and tribunals buildings.
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|Ancestors of Benito Juárez|
Ignacio Gregorio Comonfort de los Ríos, known as Ignacio Comonfort, was a Mexican politician and soldier. He became President of Mexico in 1855 after the outbreak of the Revolution of Ayutla that overthrew Santa Anna.
Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada Corral was a jurist and Liberal president of Mexico, succeeding Benito Juárez who died of a heart attack in July 1872. Lerdo was elected to his own presidential term later in 1872 rather than remaining successor due to his previous office of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Juárez's political rival liberal General Porfirio Díaz had attempted a coup against Juárez, but his Plan de la Noria failed and Díaz was eliminated as a political foe during Lerdo's 1872-76 term, giving Lerdo considerable leeway to pursue his program without political interference. Lerdo was more successful than Juárez in his final years as president in pacifying the country and strengthening the Mexican state. He ran for another term in 1876 and was elected, but was overthrown by Porfirio Díaz and his supporters under the Plan of Tuxtepec, which asserted the principle of no-reelection to the presidency. Lerdo died in exile in New York in 1889, but Díaz invited the return of his body to Mexico for burial with full honors. Not counting Miguel Miramón, an unrecognized president during the Reform War, he is the first president of the recognized presidents that was not born during Spanish colonial rule.
Miguel Gregorio de la Luz Atenógenes Miramón y Tarelo, known as Miguel Miramón, was a Mexican conservative general and politician. He served as anti-constitutional interim conservative President of Mexico in opposition to the constitutional president, Benito Juárez of the Liberal Party. He was one the youngest rulers and the first not born during Spanish colonial rule.
Liberalism in Mexico was part of a broader nineteenth-century political trend affecting Western Europe and the Americas, including the United States, that challenged entrenched power.
Félix María Zuloaga Trillo was a Mexican general and a Conservative leader in the War of Reform. In the late 1850s and early 1860s, Zuloaga served as unconstitutional interim conservative president of Mexico in opposition to the constitutional president Benito Juárez of the Liberal Party.
Juan Nepomuceno Álvarez Hurtado de Luna, generally known as Juan Álvarez, was a general, long-time caudillo in southern Mexico, and interim president of Mexico for two months in 1855, following the liberals ouster of Antonio López de Santa Anna. Álvarez had risen to power in the Tierra Caliente, in southern Mexico with the support of indigenous peasants whose lands he protected. He fought along with heroes of the insurgency, José María Morelos and Vicente Guerrero in the War of Independence, and went on to fight in all the major wars of his day, from the "Pastry War", to the Mexican–American War, and the War of the Reform to the war against the French Intervention. A liberal reformer, a republican and a federalist, he was the leader of a revolution in support of the Plan de Ayutla in 1854, which led to the deposition of Santa Anna from power and the beginning of the political era in Mexico's history known as the Liberal Reform. According to historian Peter Guardino: "Álvarez was most important as a champion of the incorporation of Mexico's peasant masses into the polity of [Mexico] ... advocating universal male suffrage and municipal autonomy."
La Reforma, the Liberal Reform in Mexico, was initiated in by liberal politicians following their ouster of conservative president Antonio López de Santa Anna under the 1854 Plan de Ayutla. The Liberal Reform as a historical period is often considered to be from 1855 to 1861, as one portion of the liberal republic in Mexico, but there is not total consensus on the dates. From the liberals' initial narrow objective to remove a dictator and take power, they expanded their aims to a comprehensive program to remake Mexico governed by liberal principles as embodied by a series of Reform laws and then the embedded in a new Constitution. The major goals of this movement were to undermine the power of the Catholic Church in Mexico, separate church and state, reduce the power of the Mexican military, and integrate Mexico's large indigenous population as citizens of Mexico and not a protected class. Liberals envisioned secular education as a means to create a Mexican citizenry. The liberals' strategy was to sharply limit the traditional institutional privileges (fueros) of the Catholic Church and the army, as well as undermine indigenous communities as a protected group. Liberals promulgated a series of separate laws, collectively known as the Laws of the Reform. These were then incorporated into the Mexican Constitution of 1857. Liberals required that Mexicans swear allegiance to it, which conservatives refused to do. Instead, they formed a conservative government and fought the liberals in a civil war, the War of the Reform. It was waged over three years with liberals defeating conservatives on the battlefield. However, Mexican conservatives sought a way to regain power. They helped install a monarch, Habsburg archduke Maximilian, who was chosen by French ruler Napoleon III. Adherents of the Mexican republic, led by president Benito Juárez, resisted and fought the French intervention, successfully ousting the monarchy in 1867. The liberals returned to power, in a period known as the Restored Republic (1867-1876), often considered the end date of the reform era.
The Second French Intervention in Mexico, also known as the Second Franco-Mexican War, was an invasion of Mexico, launched in late 1861, by the Second French Empire (1852–1870). Initially supported by the United Kingdom and Spain, the French intervention in Mexico was a consequence of Mexican President Benito Juárez's imposition of a two-year moratorium of loan-interest payments from July 1861 to French, British, and Spanish creditors.
The War of Reform in Mexico, during the Second Federal Republic of Mexico, was the three-year civil war (1857–1860) between members of the Liberal Party who had taken power in 1855 under the Plan of Ayutla, and members of the Conservative Party resisting the legitimacy of the government and its radical restructuring of Mexican laws, known as La Reforma. The Liberals wanted to eliminate the political, economic, and cultural power of the Catholic church as well as reduce the role of the Mexican Army. Both the Catholic Church and the Army were protected by corporate or institutional privileges (fueros) established in the colonial era. Liberals sought to create a modern nation-state founded on liberal principles. The Conservatives wanted a centralist government, some even a monarchy, with the Church and military keeping their traditional roles and powers, and with landed and merchant elites maintaining their dominance over the majority mixed-race and indigenous populations of Mexico.
The Plan of Ayutla was the 1854 written plan aimed at removing conservative, centralist President Antonio López de Santa Anna from control of Mexico during the Second Federal Republic of Mexico period. Initially, it seemed little different than other political plans of the era, but it is considered to be the first act of the Liberal Reform in Mexico. It was the catalyst for revolts in many parts of Mexico, which led to the resignation of Santa Anna from the presidency, never to vie for office again. The next Presidents of Mexico were the liberals, Juan Álvarez, Ignacio Comonfort, and Benito Juárez. The new regime would then proclaim the 1857 Mexican Constitution, which implemented a variety of liberal reforms.
Melchor Ocampo was a mestizo by birth, a radical liberal Mexican lawyer, scientist, and politician. He was fiercely anticlerical, perhaps an atheist, and his early writings against Roman Catholic Church in Mexico gained him a reputation as an articulate liberal ideologue. Ocampo has been considered the heir to José María Luis Mora, the premier liberal intellectual of the early republic. He served in the administration of Benito Juárez and negotiated a controversial agreement with the United States, the McLane-Ocampo Treaty. The Mexican state where his hometown of Maravatío now stands was much later renamed Michoacán de Ocampo in his honor.
José Santiago Vidaurri Valdez was a controversial and powerful governor of the Mexican states of Nuevo León and Coahuila between 1855 and 1864. He was an advocate of states' rights. In 1861, he sought an association with the Confederate States of America, which benefited his region economically. Earlier in 1855, he had been a supporter of the Revolution of Ayutla, which brought liberals to power. Vidaurri supported Benito Juárez in the War of the Reform. He later broke with Juárez and supported Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. When the French regime fell in 1867, Vidaurri was captured and executed for his alliance with the French. In Nuevo León he remains an important historical figure.
José María Lafragua Ibarra was a Mexican liberal lawyer, politician, diplomat, and writer. He was born in Puebla, 2 April 1813, the son of Lt. Col. José María Lafragua and Mariana de Ibarra and Veytia. He served in as Minister of Interior in the government of liberal President Ignacio Comonfort. He was the first director of the National Library of Mexico and key author of the Mexican Civil and Penal Codes.
The Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857 often called simply the Constitution of 1857 is the liberal constitution drafted by 1857 Constituent Congress of Mexico during the presidency of Ignacio Comonfort. It was ratified on February 5, 1857, establishing individual rights such as freedom of speech; freedom of conscience; freedom of the press; freedom of assembly; and the right to bear arms. It also reaffirmed the abolition of slavery, eliminated debtor prison, and eliminated all forms of cruel and unusual punishment, including the death penalty.
The Second Federal Republic of Mexico is the name given to the second attempt to achieve a federalist government in Mexico. Officially called the United Mexican States, a federal republic was implemented again on August 22, 1846 when interim president José Mariano Salas issued a decree restoring the 1824 constitution. Like the Mexican Empire, the First Federal Republic and the Centralist Republic it was a chaotic period, marked by political instability that resulted in several internal conflicts. Mexico's loss of the war with the United States saw half the territory Mexico claimed become part of the United States. Even though Antonio López de Santa Anna played a major role in much of this history, he returned to the presidency yet again, selling northern territory coveted by the United States contiguous to territory it just gained in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The sale of the Mesilla Valley was for many the final straw, and liberals promulgated of the Plan of Ayutla, calling for the overthrow of Santa Anna. Santa Anna went into exile and the liberals set about implementing their vision of Mexico.
Plan of Tacubaya, also known as Tacubaya Plan or War of the Three Years was formulated to abolish the Reform Laws by Benito Juárez. In Mexico the new constitution was rejected by a large part of society, which had the support of the clergy and the army. Comonfort, aware of the limitations imposed by the new regime, proposed reforms to strengthen the government and mitigate "radical" measures; however, Congress rejected them. Given the delicate situation, Félix Zuloaga and other generals convinced Comonfort to convene another congress to draft a new constitution more in keeping with the customs of the nation. On December 17, 1857, Zuloaga proclaimed the Plan of Tacubaya. Comonfort joined the Plan of Tacubaya, which began the three-year war.
The Conservative Party was a Mexican political party that sought to preserve the organization and colonial Spanish values, both in government and in society. Although as a party it was founded in 1849, after the defeat of Mexico in the war with the United States, most of the political ideology directly descended from the Jesuits expelled in the 18th century, and the establishment of a Criollism or Hispanism sentiment, which then emerged and were strongly influenced by conservative European thoughts. It also advocated the preservation and supremacy of the Criollos élite culture over those of mestizo or indigenous. It was a party of the élite, established by white landowners and aristocrats. The Conservative Party disappeared in 1867, after the fall of Maximilian I of Mexico.
The Reform laws were a set of anticlerical laws enacted in Mexico between 1855 and 1863, during the governments of Juan Alvarez, Ignacio Comonfort and Benito Juárez that were intended to limit the privileges (fueros) of the Roman Catholic Church and the military. The laws also limited the ability of Catholic Church and indigenous communities from collectively holding land. The liberal government sought the revenues from the disentailment of church property, which could fund the civil war against Mexican conservatives and to broaden the base of property ownership in Mexico and encouraging private enterprise. Several of them were raised to constitutional status by the constituent Congress that drafted the liberal Constitution of 1857. Although the laws had a major impact on the Catholic Church in Mexico, liberal proponents were not opposed to the church as a spiritual institution, but rather sought a secular state and a society not dominated religion.
The Lafragua law or the Regulation of the Freedom of the Press is named after liberal politician José María Lafragua (1813-1875) and issued on 28 December 1855. It is one of the many Reform laws when Mexican liberals ascended to power in 1855 after the ouster of conservative Antonio López de Santa Anna. The Lafragua law was drafted during the presidency of Ignacio Comonfort when Lafragua was his minister of the interior. The law states that no one should be persecuted for his political opinions and it prohibited press censorship. The authors of newspaper articles should be made responsible for their writings by signing them. They were not allowed abuse of the freedom of the press, especially in religious and governmental matters. It is considered the most moderate of the Reform Laws. This legislation was elevated to constitutional status by Articles 6 and 7th of the [[Constitution of 1857|Political Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857 and reaffirmed by the Organic Law of Press Freedom 1861 issued by the Congress. In contrast, it was not accepted by conservative governments of Félix Zuloaga and Miguel Miramon, who restored the repressive Lares Law during the War of the Reform (1858–60).
Juárez Law was decreed during the liberal reform, named after the Mexican liberal leader Benito Juárez, who became the president of Mexico in 1861. This law took away the special privileges of the Catholic clergy as well as the Mexican military, such as the fuero exemptions. In addition, Juarez Law stated that members of the clergy and the military must be in the jurisdiction of the civil courts and the common law. So essentially, all Mexican citizens were made equal under this law. This law was created under the liberal objectives of equality to be carried out under it. It brought hope that there was change happening. When the law was first established by presidential decree, the increasingly unpopular Mexican president at the time, Ignacio Comonfort, proclaimed the immediate effect it had on the nation. "Yesterday and today feverish rumors were running in this capital of an imminent revolution...To support this law is a duty of the present administration..." On the other hand, days after the Juárez Law was established, the conservatives came out with the slogan "Religion and Fueros!" in order to counter the law and show support to the Catholic Church.
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| President of Mexico |
15 January 1858 – 10 April 1864
Juan Nepomuceno Almonte
José Mariano Salas
| President of Mexico (in exile)|
10 April 1864 – 15 May 1867
Maximilian I of Mexico
| President of Mexico |
15 May 1867 – 18 July 1872
Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada