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Unformatted text preview: Juárez Juárez
an d La Reforma La Reform Period “La Reforma” (1 8 5 4 – 1 8 6 1 ) Benito Juárez Benito
The second personality in 19th century Mexican history is Benito Juárez (1806-1872). During his political career three important things happened: • There were two civil wars over populist reforms. • The French invaded and ruled the country for six years. • The the French were driven out and country’s politics became effectively liberal/populist. The clearest way to frame the story is in terms of Juárez’ life story. Juárez was born in San Pedro Gelatao, a small Zapotec village in the southern state of Oaxaca. Orphaned at the age of three, he was raised by an uncle. At twelve he ran away to the capital 40 miles away, because the sheep he was watching for his uncle were stolen from him. Although he spoke no Spanish, he found his sister, who was working a a cook. She took him in and found him employment with a Franciscan who was a part time bookbinder There he learned Spanish and, as payment for his work, the Franciscan covered his tuition. When he ﬁnished the Franciscan insisted that he enter the seminary, but Juárez preferred the law. So he worked his way through law school, mostly by teaching. He was awarded a license to practice law in 1831. He entered politics that same year, serving on the Oaxaca City Council. In his practice he did a lot of pro bono work for the poor, but realized that the poor could only be helped by changes in the structure of the system. This profoundly affected his view of the world. When the Mexican-America War broke out in 1845, he was called on to serve as provisional governor in Oaxaca. The most outstanding features of his governorship were that he halved the size of the bureaucracy, tolerated no corruption, and paid down his government’s debt. Seeing education as a way to end poverty, he had ﬁfty rural schools built. When a politically rehabilitated Santa Ana was returned to the presidency for the eleventh time, he had Juárez arrested and jailed, and then exiled to New Orleans. In New Orleans, Juárez met with a number of revolutionary minded Mexican intellectuals who were part of the populist movement known to history as la Reforma—the Reform. Santa Ana had thrown his lot in with a system of strong central government, supported by the church and the military. In 1855 Santa Ana was thrown out of ofﬁce by the Revolution of Ayutla. The Revolution was aimed at the injustices of the social system that put a corrupt government and church in oppressive position over ordinary people. Both church and military were operated outside the legal system, because they were under special exceptions called fueros. The military success of the Revolution of Ayutla led to a legal revolution. This culminated in the Constitution of 1857, which took power and privilege from church and military. Juárez was the main author of the Constitution. This included disestablishing the Catholic Church, the end to fueros, and a bill of rights similar to those of the US. This rapid and radical change in political power plunged the country into a civil war which lasted until 1861. The Liberals won and Juárez was elected president, and the Church is nationalized. But, as the United States descended into its own civil war, France showed up in Veracruz with imperialist intentions. French Intervention (1862 – 1 867) France in Mexico
In December 1861 England, France, and Spain occupied Veracruz demanding repayment of debts incurred in the civil war. The English and Spanish were interested in collecting port duties, but the French had imperial aspirations. The English and Spanish withdrew. French moved inland and invaded Puebla but their highly trained army outnumbering the Mexicans 3 to 1 are defeated by a militia of Indians on May 5, 1862. • The French had Montezuma’s Revenge. • Cinco de Mayo celebrates this defeat. • The key assault was led by a young general by the name of Porﬁrio Díaz. On counterattack, the French took Puebla and then Mexico City. In 1864 Maximillian (a Hapsburg) was installed as the emperor of Mexico. In 1865, after a series of victories, Maximillian believed he had control of the country. At that point he ordered all captured Juáristas executed within 24 hours of capture. France in Mexico
But in fact, Juárez was in the US, trying to gain support for his cause, because the his government in exile was considered the legitimate government of Mexico. When the US Civil War ended, the US no longer had to worry about offending the French who might support the South. The US government allowed arms to be imported from California, even some 3000 Union Army volunteers joined the Juáristas. With pressure in both Europe (from the Germans) and in the Western Hemisphere from the US, the French withdrew stranding Maximillian. When the Juáristas captured Maximillian, Juárez asked for the death penalty, because of his decree to execute prisoners. On June 19, 1867, he was executed by a ﬁring squad, crying ¡Viva México! Juárez Presidency (1867 – 1 872) Juárez entered México City on July 15, 1867 in a simple black carriage. He immediately called for elections, and was reelected. He began to implement the program of la Reforma. He died of a heart attack in ofﬁce 1872. Porﬁrio Díaz came to power in 1876 and remained in power until 1910. ...
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- Fall '09